Heror and the dragon continued to talk until Heror asked about the dragon's name. Then the dragon went quiet. Heror just frowned and adjusted himself. He could hear Claire whimpering and sat up slowly, stood up and sat next to her with his legs crossed and his hands crossed on his lap. "How you hangin in, there?"
Claire whimpered and triex to clean up and compose herself. "
Heror took a deep breath. He looked outside for a moment. The rain had calmed down to a light shower, and the crescent moon was visible, glowing throwing the thin nimbus clouds. He sighed and looked down at his feet. "Wanna hear a story?"
Claire bit her lip, looking away. "I want my life back..." She whispered.
Heror looked back outside, frowning inside. Cheering Claire up was going to be tougher than he thought. He didn't really know what to say, but he didn't want to sleep and leave her alone to stay miserable, so he just stayed quiet for a moment, and sat there calmly, gazing outside at the droplets of rain glistening in the moonlight.
Claire closed her eyes, fresh tears streaming down her cheeks. Her mother would hold her, and sing to her until she calmed. Her brother would sit with an arm around her, giving reassuring words. Her father would promise everything would be okay...
Heror still stayed silent. Some people hadn't liked the royal family. Thought they were stuck up, and lazy, and selfish. Even though he wasn't one of those people, he was just now realizing, as Claire sat crying next to him, that the royal family was still a family, and he realized how hard it was to fill in the holes left by a family. He looked at Claire. "I'm sorry," he said quietly. Then he choked a little. "It is sort of my fault, you know. We underestimated his strength, and he barged right through and took you. We weren't careful enough."
Claire shook her head. "Everyone turned against us in a heartbeat. I thought I could trust them. I thought they'd be loyal to my father...he did his best to be a good king..."
"He was a good king," Heror said, his head low as he stared at the ground. "There's just... some people who get jealous, and hateful, greedy... and if they're powerful enough, they just might make their ideas heard."
He ran his hands across a pebbles, caught it with his index and middle fingers, then tossed it outside of the cave and into a puddle.
"That's why we have to stop people like that," Heror said, looking back up at the moon.
Claire sniffled. "I should just destroy the ring and myself with it." She mumbled. "At least then Galvas would be one ring short."
"Don't say that," Heror said. "If you gave up, everyone would give up on you, too. You'd be gone, with the ring, true... but everyone would turn to Galvas for leadership... the few people who are still loyal to you would turn and Galvas would win."
He paused a moment, letting the sound of the rain calm him down for a moment.
"That scrawny Galvas isn't worth your life. He isn't worth two bronze coins. You have to stay strong."
"There's nothing I can do at this point, Heror. He has three of the rings. Mine might be the most powerful, but it's nothing against the three together. There's no way to take him down with the amount of loyalty he has now." Claire shook her head. "It's over. It's hopeless. I'm alone and I can't do anything alone."
"You're not alone, Claire," Heror debated, glancing at her. "I hate to make this sound dramatic, but I would die for you. Like you said, I'm your protector, or something. And besides, I think the dragon makes us and Galvas even."
The dragon mumbled a bit and exhaled.
"Now that's the spirit!" Heror exclaimed.
Claire sighed deaply. "The dragon doesn't like me." She muttered, closing her eyes.
"What makes you say that?" Heror asked. "He's just shy of strangers. You told him you'd respect him, remember? That'd be enough for me if I was a dragon."
"Last I checked nothing has changed between me and him. He still hasn't done anything or said anything to me that signifies trust or loyalty." Claire shook her head.
Heror looked back at the dragon. She wasn't right, but she wasn't wrong either. It was a tough scale for Heror to balance. He looked back at Claire and smiled reassuringly.
"He hasn't even told me his name yet," Heror said. "I think if he's not trying to kill you, then he trusts you well enough."
Claire just shook her head again. "Well I don't trust him. I can't trust anyone anymore. It's just going to get me killed."
Inside his head, Heror was about to go crazy. Why was she being so pessemistic? Well, then again, he wasn't really in a good position to ask those kinds of questions.
"So will paranoia," Heror countered. "You can choose to be miserable like this, but it's just a choice. And you can change choices..."
"I want to just give up, Heror...I don't want to live in a world without my family..." Claire mumbled. "What use is it, really? You don't expect me to step up and be queen if we succeed?"