Laughter had him looking up to see that three others had joined the knight all as big as him.

Flushing, Derlin finished his task before jumping to the ground.

As soon as his feet touched the earth, Neor flipped over and shook out his wings, careful of the groomer at his side.

“Dragon’s blessings, I’ve never seen anything like that.” A bright blond-haired man with piercing blue eyes stared at Derlin like he’d never seen a groomer before. “Didn’t he snack on the last groomer?” The knight slapped Sir Lyrit on the back.

“Took a bite out of his leg.”

“Are you the new groomer?” the blond asked.

“Yes, sir.” Derlin stood tall, giving a respectful nod to the knight.

“I’m Sir Shaller, this is Sir Brewn and Sir Tasch.” He indicated the two brown-haired knights who looked enough alike to be related. “They’re cousins,” he said as if reading Derlin’s thoughts.

“Gentlemen,” Derlin said with a proper bow.

“Ooh, I like this one.” Sir Shaller said with a wide smile. “He’s polite, nice to look at and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a groomer get a dragon to roll over. Hell I don’t think I’ve seen a fighter that can do that.”

The knights walked around Neor examining Derlin’s work. For a moment he felt like he was back at grooming school waiting for his grade.

A low whistle came out of Shaller. “Nice work. You even got the edges of his horns trimmed. I didn’t know you could do that and not get gored.”

“I only do it if the dragon is cooperative,” Derlin agreed. He wouldn’t go near the horns of a dragon who didn’t like him. There were a few bad tempered creatures out there who would stab anyone not their owner just for fun.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen your dragon look better,” Shaller told the other knight.

“I have to agree. Excellent job.”

A coin flew through the air. Derlin instinctively caught it so it wouldn’t hit him in the face. Opening his hand he saw it was gold.

“What’s this for?”

“For getting the horn tips.” Lyrit said with a smile. The look was good on the man.

“Um, thank you.”

Turning back into the stall, Derlin collected his stuff.

“Neor center field,” he told the newly groomed dragon.

The dragon turned to Derlin. With a low rumble Neor took a leap and flew to the field a few hundred feet away. Once landed, the dragon calmly munched on a sweet patch of grass. Derlin carefully fixed the latch and started towards the next stall when a large hand clamped on his shoulder.

Sir Lyrit stared at him in confusion. “What did you call my dragon?”

“Um. Neor. Sorry, I tend to give the dragons pet names.” No way in hell was he going to let the knight know that it was the dragon’s real name.