Blackwood rose and offered another bow. "Excellent, thank you. I will carry you back myself, if that is acceptable."
Smoke's apprentices were surprised but not dismayed by the sudden big commission. Walnut let out a triumphant whoop at the new. "YES! No more laboratory fireproofing charms for me!"
Smoke laughed. "For now! Pack everything we've got in the way of vermin repellents." They rattled off a list from the top of their head while the apprentices took notes, and finished with, "Check the references to see what other supplies we might need on site. Don't stint on packing: if we might need it, bring it. We'll find space for it somehow."
Smoke threw a few things of their own in a bag, and made sure their personal anti-flea charm (ugh, fleas) was in good order. They packed a couple of books for the trip, then left to meet Blackwood outside.
The draka messenger had shifted from his humanlike form to full dragon: a sleek, graceful creature of glittering dark grey scales, with black horns and a silky silver-grey mane. He was not large by dragon terms, perhaps thirty feet long from nose to tail tip, most of that neck and tail. He curled his head about to help Smoke into the harness on his back, then launched into the air with swift, sure wingbeats. "We'll arrive in four hours," he told them.
He preened a little."I'm a swift flyer."
"Wait, did you just fly in this morning? Aren't you tired?"
"Not at all. A Courthall messenger keeps all hours," Blackwood assured them. He proved to be good company on the flight, equally willing to chat or to let Smoke think in silence, as his passenger preferred. He seemed young but knowledgeable, full of tidbits about the landscape they passed above, and curious about Smoke's work.
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