Blane’s hand shook as he dusted the sheet of silver with ware-skin powder and placed it on the firebrick. He sucked in a breath as his torch sparked to life with a whoosh, the purple flame crackling as his magic stabilized it. Trying to remain steady, he focused the heat evenly over the silver. The metal shifted from a dull bronze to a glowing red then to a silvery purple.

“Dirigible-blights, it’s melting again.” Blane grimaced, dowsing the torch in the water with a splash that covered his workbench. He nearly threw it across the room. If only they had dragonfire. There was no reason for the metals not to meld. 

He tucked a strand of his black hair behind one ear and exhaled as he mopped up the water with a rag. He had double-checked all his measurements, but still they were guessing that this was the way the experiment should work. 

“Oh, Emerino, this shouldn’t be so hard. The science works out, so why does the binding continue to fail?” Blane stroked his ring tenderly. The silver dragon’s green eyes flashed once, then the ring uncurled into an iridescent green dragon about the length of a scone and the perfect size to sit on the back of Blane’s hand.

Emerino moved to Blane’s wrist, and spoke in a melodious falsetto. “I wish your father were here to help. He’d have the answer. Maybe you should read through his journals again.” He chittered affectionately, flapped his wings and shot up to his favorite perch. Under the fall of Blane’s thick hair where it met his shoulder, Emerino rubbed twice against Blane’s neck and curled into a knot. 

“The journals. Good idea.” Blane smothered a yawn and wondered what time it was. He glanced through the study’s glass doors at the fading light in the garden. The worn wooden chair creaked with the force of his shifting weight. 

“Yes, I should sleep. All right, I’ll try again later.” Blane gently tipped his head into the dragon’s nuzzle. As he reached over to light an oil lamp, the front door chime tinkled. Emerino twitched.