Diff the Dragon by Angela Lott, illustrations by Richard Bartrop. An Okal Rel Universe Legacy Novella featuring the young Alivda
Angela Lott is the middle child of Lynda’s three daughters. She did two years of Business schooling at the College of New Caledonia and is now working as a receptionist at her local FYiDoctors. In her spare time she enjoys writing, video blogging, reading and watching very nerdy TV shows.
He was getting chilly by now. He rubbed his hands together and tucked them under his arms. He wished now that he had grabbed more than just a robe. Diff spoke up in the middle of the next song. "Are you cold?"
"A little," he said.
"You can come back," Diff announced.
This baffled him until he recalled he had claimed to leave while his voice stayed behind.
"Thank you," Amel accepted.
Diff held open her sheets to him.
He hesitated, but the gesture was so simple and bold it felt vulgar to be self-conscious about his history and nakedness beneath Perry's knee-length robe, even if he was nervous about doing anything that could be misconstrued.
Diff settled immediately against his chest with confidence.
"Sing," she said, tucking one little hand around his waist and adjusting her head to get comfortable on her breathing pillow.
Amel settled an arm on her back, closed his eyes and began to sing again, her weight no impediment.
She tolerated a local lullaby he'd only just accidentally memorized, getting restless towards the end. "Do you know any stories about duels?" she chipped in before he began again.
He did. Lots of them. "The best ones," he warned, "have a Demish bias."
"That's okay," she said. "I can fix them in my head."
"You know, make the people who ought to win, win."
So he recited Demoran classics aloud, in the dark, to Perry's formidable granddaughter, until she fell asleep as sweetly as any three-year-old.
Amel knew he should get up. He moved a little to one side, but even that tiny movement woke up Diff. She pressed herself closer to him, locking her fist in his robe and he found he lacked the strength to break her grip, tiny as it was, even after she fell asleep and her hand went slack.