Friday, September 28, 2012

Chapter 19: The Changeling


"Uvie, wake up," Ardax pokes at her until her eyes open.

"My baby! Evenfall!" she gasps "What happened to her?"

"She was like that when I woke up," Ardax says, "I've never seen anything like it."

This...creature...she holds, it's not her daughter, Uvie knows this in her gut. It looks up at her with it's lifeless and yet still somehow seeing, comprehending eyes and smiles in a way that makes the distressed mother shudder. She puts a mental call out for Auberon, he should know what magic transformed, replaced their child as she slept beside her, but the only response she gets is silence. His magic still courses through her, she feels its surge, but he is no longer there to answer her call.

"I want my daughter back," Uvie sobs, clinging to Ardax.

She could not reach Auberon, so Uvie makes a desperate plea to one who might know where he is, or how to help her. Bringing Ardax and the false Evenfall to the water's edge with her, she cries out for Ico, begging for her aid.

Her distress call carries through the water, and Ico responds. Uvie took a great risk in helping her escape from her mother, and Ico will repay that in any way she can.

"When I woke up, this lay beside me, in place of my baby. I tried to call Auberon, but he did not respond," Uvie tells her.

"This thing has no life, though it has been enchanted with some sort of semblance of life," Ico says, kicking it gently with her toe, "Your daughter was not transformed, she was taken. And this fetch was left in her stead. A cruel prank," Ico sighs, and frowns, "And I know exactly who would do such a thing."

"Auberon's disappearance...he has been known to leave the world from time to time. But that he would do so soon after the birth of his child, his first...I will look into that as well. I fear these events are not unconnected," Ico says, "Do not worry, Uvie, I will get your daughter back for you."

Ico leaves the sobbing mother, taking the fetch with her.

Ardax holds Uvie close to him as she cries. He knows the pain of losing a child all to well. "Don't despair yet, there is still hope she will be found," he says gently, knowing that words are never enough.

Ico returns to the camp to find Moth has come with news of his own.

"Auberon sleeps and willnot wake," Moth says, his words coming in a fast, heated jumble,  "Summerdream cursed him, andtook hischild. She..she threatened to curseme aswell if Id didnot leaveher sight."

Ico suspected it was Tania that took the babe, but hearing that she put Auberon under a curse is a surprise. "She's become a menace to us all," she says, her voice taking on a growl like her Aymeri's, "I will go and end this, now."

"I will go with you," Tegan announces.

Ico raises a brow at him, and he shrugs. "Aymeri would go with you if he wasn't out with Kirwyn. It never hurts to have a dragon by your side, and I might be able to talk that crazy fairy down."

Ico can't help  but smile, just a little, even in these dire circumstances, "I'll be glad of any help. And she is still somewhat....attached to you."

Moth leads them back to Tania's chamber in the house Auberon created.

"Oh, Tania, what have you done?" Ico sobs as she sees Auberon, cursed and unconscious on the bed.

"I did what had to be done," Tania says, "Auberon had gone to far in his love for this girl. I had to stop him, and bring his child back to our kind, her kind. Auberon will not be safe until that girl is gone, so he will sleep until she is dead."

Ico groans. Fairy curses cannot be undone, not even by the fairy who casts them. A more powerful fae can sometimes modify a curse cast by another, but only Auberon might have the power to alter Summerdream's curse, and he lies asleep. "How could you be so cruel?" Ico asks.

"How could you be so ignorant and thoughtless?" Tegan shouts his question.

Tania casts a wary glance in his direction. "What concern is it of yours, dragon? Auberon is not your kind, nor is his mortal lover."

"It was not that long ago that we stood on the verge war with each other, fairy. While we talked of war, this one's name was frequently raised; he was our one worry, the only one of your kind who posed a serious enough threat to give us pause. And you, without any thought for your people's safety, have taken out your greatest defense, out of simple jealousy and spite."

"But, we're not going to war," Tania says meekly, the force of his reprimand cowing her.

"I know you saw the dragons who left this area because they wouldn't accept the peace. I was with them, and I've seen what they are becoming. They may be gone now, but they could come back at any time to try to reclaim what they left behind, to bring the war they were denied. What will you do then, fairy, while the strongest of you lies under your curse?"

"I didn't know..." Tania protests.

"For someone so ancient, you have the mind of child," Tegan snarls, "You never think past your own selfish desires. You tell yourself you did this for the good of your people, but you know in heart you did this for revenge. You've taken a child from her mother, claiming it is best for the babe, but you didn't think about what it would mean to set the mother's whole tribe against your kind."

"Let me bring the child back to her mother, Tania," Ico says softly from beside the bed, sensing that Tegan brought Summerdream to her breaking point, and now is their one chance to get her to hand over the child without a fight.

Her nature as petulant and impulsive as ever, Tania pouts, "Take her, and leave me alone, all of you."

"What about Auberon?" Tegan asks as they leave Tania behind to sulk like a punished child.

"There's nothing we can do," Ico says sadly, "Once a fairy's curse is cast, it cannot be undone. He will sleep and only waken with the death of his child's mother."

"Your kind have far too much power," Tegan observes, "And no laws to govern yourselves."

"You may be right," Ico sighs.

Ico returns Evenfall to her mother before the sun sets, and explains the curse that was laid on Auberon. "I will place a ward on Evenfall, that no harm shall befall her, and especially that no fairy may cause her harm. Summerdream may yet try to interfere with you, and I will try my best to protect you. Auberon is my friend, as are you, Uvie."

Uvie clasps her daughter close to her, vowing to never lose her again.

"I'll never see you again, not really," Uvie cries when Auberon joins her in her dreams that night.

"I was a dream long before I entered your world," Auberon says, "I wish this was as real for you as it is for me."

"But you won't see your daughter grow," Uvie protests, "She'll never know her father."

"I'll see her through you, my love," Auberon says gently, caressing her face, "And she will know me through you. Our daughter is fae, she will not age and die as a mortal, and when I am awakened, I will be with her."

"I wish I could give you more, my love," Auberon says he takes her in his arms, "All we have now is our dreams."

Ardax watches over them as they sleep. Uvie didn't blame him when she woke to find her daughter missing, he put that blame on himself. He'd failed to protect Thari and their children, and he'd failed again to protect Uvie's child. They been lucky, this time, to get Evenfall back, but Ardax will not trust luck, or a fairy's ward, to protect them a third time, and so he stays wakeful, and watches.


In folklore, stories of changelings are fairly common. Fairies (or trolls in some cases) will steal a newborn child and leave a changeling behind in its place. The changeling is sometimes a fairy baby left in trade for the human baby, sometimes an elderly fae left to end its life in the comfort of a human home, and sometimes it's a fetch, a wooden creature imbued with life, made to look like the taken child. For this story, I went with the 'fetch' model of changeling, using the IF doll for its creepiness.

For those who haven't been reading my Brannon Legacy, I have been doing a crossover of this story there. In my legacy, I started mashing Moth's words together to imitate his fast speech pattern, and I decided to start doing that here as well, so that explains the new way I'm writing his speech here. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chapter 18: Changes Will Come


Tania had been angry at being put under a spell, but that wrath became as nothing when she learned that Auberon had got his mortal lover with child.

"I hadn't even considered the possibility," he tries to explain, "I've never fathered a child before..."

"You think I am not aware of that?" Tania shrieks, then collapses into tears, "Why...why would you give her a child and not me?"

"I have never purposefully withheld a child from you, you know that Tania," Auberon sighs, "Whether  you conceive or not is not in my control."

"So it's my fault?" Tania sobs.

Auberon sits beside her on the fountain's edge. "There is no blame, either way, for what we are, Summerdream. The mortals are just more fertile than fae. If I had known..." he cannot finish the sentence because he doesn't know what he would have done differently if he had considered the possibility of a child resulting from his union with Uvie. Very possibly, quite probably, he would have done everything the same. "I am sorry, Tania," he says, "I never wanted for there to be this discord between us."

"No, I suppose that cannot be helped is not in the nature of the fae to consider the consequences of our actions, is it?" Tania asks as she rises to leave him.

"I am worried; my people are worried," Uvie tells him as she lays back in his arms, "It goes much faster than normal."

"What is normal, for you kind?"

"Nine turnings of the moon."

Auberon rests his hand over her expanding belly. "She is fae, at least in part," he says, "And she grows inside you at the speed of a fae."

"She?" Uvie asks, laying back as Auberon rests his head on her belly.

"Yes, you carry a daughter," Auberon answers, wishing that he could see more than that, feel more than just the spark of magic the girl inherits. He's seen Shayeleigh's son with her dragon, and shares their worry over the boy's strangeness, not just for the fate of little Ametair, but for what it could mean for his own daughter. Uvie is no dragon, but she's not fae either, and who can say what their child will be.

"The people are talking," Ardax says as they gather herbs together in the forest.

"The people are always talking," Uvie sighs.

"You haven't named the father of your child. And since you keep mostly to yourself, because we are so often together..."

"They think you are the father," Uvie finishes for him, "I know. And I have told them you are not."

"If you do not name another, they will not believe you."

"I can heal wounds with a touch, summon fire from the air, and yet they will not believe I can bear a child without a father," Uvie sighs, "Even though the pregnancy goes unnaturally fast, they won't believe the spirits gave me a child because I asked for it..."

"Maybe if it were the truth, you could convince them," Ardax says, "but your child does have a father..."

"Ardax, you know I cannot tell them who the father is," Uvie says, her eyes pleading.

"I don't like being seen as a man who would abandon the mother of his child, Uvie."

"I am sorry for that," Uvie says, "But I beg you not to reveal the truth..."

"I have kept your secret, and will continue to keep it," Ardax promises, rubbing her belly affectionately, "Let me be a father to your child."

"You want me to take you as a mate to stop the gossip about you?" Uvie asks, a bit disappointed that he would be so swayed by wagging tongues.

"Your child should have a father in the tribe, Uvie. You should have a man that will stand by you, be there for you. I am not asking for the love you've given to this...fae...who fathered your child. I know that a heart cannot be told who it will be given to. My heart died along with my Thari, and yours lives for one who is not of the tribe, who will not be with you to raise your child. Let me stand in his place, for your child's sake."

"You have been a better friend to me than I have deserved," Uvie says, feeling ashamed of the way she had treated him when he came to her tribe, and of the way she had just moments ago thought of him. He had kept her secret even though it meant being the subject of gossip himself, and now he was offering her not just cover for her lies to the people, but to act as a true parent for her child, "My daughter could ask for no better father," she says, with just the slightest hint of bitterness at the thought of her child's real father, who would not be there for her in the way a parent should. 

Riain and Shayeleigh watch their son, scratching in the dirt, sniffing the air as though for prey.

"It's not a dragon thing?" Shayeleigh asks again, desperate for an explanation, "You are hunters, are you not?"

"We hunt," Riain says, "We have a keen sense of smell, But this...He is not a dragon, my love."

"Does it not upset you that Aymeri has refused you what Shayeleigh's dragon has given her?" Tania asks.

"Are you trying to set me against him?" Ico laughs, "It won't work. Aymeri hasn't 'refused' me anything. In truth, I have no great desire for a child and am quite happy to have so far not conceived one."

Tania sighs, "I have long desired a child, Auberon's child. But it is his mortal lover who is favored."

"She is mortal," Ico points out, "You will still be here long after she passes, and you may yet conceive a child. Don't be so impatient."

"That's easy for you to say; you prefer to wait. I want a child now, I have wanted one for such a very long time. And yet it seems everyone else is given what is denied me."

Aymeri sweeps Ico off her feet and carries her off before she can tell Tania that not everything is about her.

Left alone, Tania's gaze falls on Tegan, seated by himself at the water's edge. The frisson of desire that tingles in her spine when she looks on him is just the lingering effects of the spell Auberon put on her, she tells herself, and with a blush that no one sees, she turns away and leaves the camp.

Uvie screams as the pain becomes unbearable. It should be far too early for her to start labor, but nothing about this pregnancy has gone as normal. 

"The birthing chamber is no place for the chief," Ardax says when Tor joins them.

"I am here for my people," Tor says simply, "She should not be giving birth so soon. They will want to know what happens here."

Though painful, the birth goes quickly, and soon Uvie holds her daughter in her arms.

"Her's not right," Tor observes.

"She is healthy and alive, that is what matters," Ardax says firmly, knowing that this won't be the end of it.

"I will call her Evenfall," Uvie says.

"I suppose the gossip now will be that you are not her father, after all," Uvie says. "I am sorry, Perhaps it would have been better for you not be my mate now. I would understand if you chose to disown me publicly..."

"Truly, I don't care what the people say," Ardax answers, "Evenfall may not be my child by blood, but I will raise her with you just the same. That was always my intent, and no gossip will turn me from that."

Auberon could not attend his daughter's birth in person, wishing to remain unknown and unseen by her people. But in the dark of night while they all sleep, he appears to look on his child.

He holds the girl in his arms, feels the spark of her magic as she nestles close to him, and he worries. It is too early to tell what she is, human, fae, or like Shayeleigh's Ametair, something new.

Gently, he lays his daughter back with her mother. If the child is fae, she might be better raised amongst his own kind. But he hasn't the heart to take her from her mother, no matter what she is.

For just a moment, he lies beside Uvie, resting his arm over her sleeping body. She dreams, and he could be with her in those dreams, but tonight, he leaves her to dream alone. It is not very fae to think about the consequences of one's actions, but Auberon cannot help but worry about what changes will come to the world from his giving his heart to a mortal girl, and creating a child with her. 

Long before the sun begins to rise, Auberon leaves the hut.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chapter 17: Like a Honeybee to a Flowerbush


"You've gone too far, Summerdream!" After her plan to use the male healer as her minion to kill Uvie and take back his heart failed, Tania fled from Auberon's wrath. It was only after some days searching the furthest corners of the realms of dream that Auberon thought to look much closer, into the dreams he holds dearest, those shaped by himself and Uvie together.

"It is you that has gone too far!" Tania shouts back at him, "Giving yourself to a mortal! All I have done is try to save you from your folly. You may think it's just a harmless dalliance, but I've seen how she is changing you. And I had to stop it before the Auberon I know is gone forever."

"You are wrong, Tania; I know very well that this is no harmless dalliance, and I see the way Uvie has changed me, continues to change me every moment that I am part of her."

"For one," he continues as he knocks her back with his thought alone, "She has given me the quality of mercy. If it were not for that, things would go much harder for you now." Auberon weaves a spell around Tania before he ejects her from his dream, "You will know love, Tania. When you wake from this dream, you will burn with love for the first person your eyes light upon. You will not be able to rest without his touch, you will do anything to feel his lips on yours, to be with him. You may take this as a curse, a punishment, but if you are wise you will learn from the lessons love will teach you."

Tania wakes from her slumber confused, not remembering where she is or why she chose a place frequented mostly by dragons as her resting place. 

As she looks about her, Tania's eyes fall on a dragon, looking about him as though lost. Even at this distance across the pond, Tania is struck by beauty and smitten with a desire unlike anything she's ever felt before.

It had been a long journey back from the new lands, and now that Tegan has arrived, he's unsure how to proceed. Before they all left, Aymeri was known to have made a nest with Riain and their fairies, but Tegan doesn't know the location of that nest.

His thoughts are interrupted by a fairy who approaches, and giggles as she tells him her name is Tania.

"Well met," Tegan says, gruff and reluctant, never having believed the day would come when her kind would be so confident as to approach his without fear. But that is the new way, and he will have to accept it if he's to stay here.

"Oh, you're injured!" Tania cries out when she notices the cut across his brow, "Let me take you to a healer!"

"I am a healer," Tegan says as he pulls her caressing hand from his cheek, "It was much worse before, and it's healing now. Your concern is unnecessary."

Despite his pushing her away, her hands fly to his face again as soon as he releases her. "It would be a shame if it left a scar on your beautiful face," she purrs, leaning close to brush her breasts against him.

Tegan has reached the limit of what he can tolerate, and he grabs her wrist roughly. "Leave it alone," he growls.

"I was just...I just want help!" she pleads.

Her eyes, large like a doe and full of sadness, move Tegan to some kind of pity, and he lets go of her arm. "Do you know where the dragon Aymeri makes camp with his fairy?" he asks her, offering her the chance to help him in a way that he actually needs, if that's truly what she wishes.

"Oh, yes!" she exclaims, throwing her arms around him in an enthusiastic embrace, "Come with me, I'll take you to them!"

"The way you closed the hunters' wounds," Ardax says, true awe in his voice, "Your magic is unlike anything I've ever seen."

It had been a bad hunt, the prey had turned predator, and several of the hunters were gored by antlers before the others could take the rampaging beast down. Though Uvie prefers not to show the full extent of her powers, many hunters would have died that day if she had not done everything she could to close the wounds, stop the bleeding. After their work was done, the healers went together to the water to wash the blood from their hands.

Uvie stays silent, hoping she can leave the subject of her magic behind.

"With such power...I fool myself to think I am capable of offering the slightest help. You don't need me," Ardax says, his voice heavy with sadness. He'd lost everything he loved, all that he had left was his ability to serve the people. 

"That's not true," Uvie protests, "I have been given a great magic, but I haven't your way of talking to people. Magic cannot do everything, and you are very much needed."

Ardax shakes his head, "The spirits taught me how to see inside a person, how to listen and understand. You will learn that in time, as well."

Uvie glances away, into the water. Her 'spirit', Auberon has given her much, but she'll never gain understanding of her own kind from him, as he so often struggles to understand her. "I am not a true Spirit Talker, Ardax," she says, hurriedly, getting it out before she can change her mind. In the past few days she's come to trust and rely on Ardax and he's become her only true friend amongst the people. It is time she trusted him with the truth, she decides, and tells him the whole story, from her mother capturing Ico to her swallowing of Auberon's heart in the spirit realm. "And so I am bonded to him, like a spirit guide, but more, as he and his magic reside inside me. And yet less, too, as he isn't like the spirits of our tribe at all. He says he is 'fae'," she finishes, looking nervously to her friend for his reaction.

Ardax listens intently, as is his way. "My spirit has been uneasy since we arrived here," he says, "Now I understand why."

"Please, you won't tell anyone, you won't---"

A wave of nausea hits her, and Uvie rises, running behind a tree to vomit.

"That's the third time today," Ardax observes, "And it was the same yesterday."

"I don't understand," Uvie says when the nausea is gone, "I have no other signs of illness. What is wrong with me?"

"You have no fever," Ardax says, touching her face, "I have seen this before...many times. You are with child."

Aymeri rises in a defensive stance when Tegan approaches.

"Don't be afraid," Tania whispers in Tegan's ear, "It's just posturing. Dragons are a lot like birds, puffing out their chests and displaying their feathers..."

"Posturing? Dragons are nothing like...birds," Tegan sputters the word in disgust, more than a little insulted by the fairy's observation, "And I'm not afraid of Aymeri. I'm a dragon, and his elder."

"Tania, come," Ico says, prying the fairy off the dragon's arm.

"But, I want to stay with Tegan," Tania protests, her gaze lingering at her beloved.

"Trust me on this," Ico says, "The last thing you want is to be hanging on when dragons are conferring about dragon business."

"I am Tegan," Tegan says beginning the traditional formal greeting required when a male enters another nest, even though this is no proper nest without a female dragon, "Formerly Third to Scaea."

"Formely?" Aymeri asks. Scaea was one of the females that took her nest to follow Aithne, and as far as Aymeri knew all her mates had gone with her.

"Aye," Tegan says, "I am nothing now, a dragon without a nest. So, I've come to join you, if you'll have me."

"I would, gladly, but your brother Seirian is my second. Females never take a blood brother of one her mates. I could speak to Tearhne of this, but she's grown..weary...of being the first to break tradition." What Aymeri doesn't speak of is how strained his relationship is to his mate at the moment. Though she has decided not to cast him out, they haven't be able to talk as they once used to, without recrimination, without anger, and he only goes back to the nest to see his son and his brothers.

"I'm not looking to mate with Tearhne," Tegan says, "What you did, Aymeri, standing at the council, daring to speak the truth, that was admirable. I am here to follow you, not your mate."

"You left with Aithne, didn't you?" Aymeri asks.

"When the council was done, I had hoped that was an end to it. I believed the old ways were best, but if the council decided otherwise, I could live with that decision. But when Aithne put out her call to leave, Scaea answered. And so I went with my nest, my mate, to live the old way somewhere else. But things very quickly changed. We had no council, only Aithne to lead us, and though she spoke of tradition and law, she set us on a course that would change everything we were. Dragons always kept to ourselves, didn't we? Yet, she became aggressive, she said we would maintain our secrecy by destroying anything that might see us and know us for what we were. She ordered us to attack the camps of the mortals who lived in the lands she'd chosen for our home. She set us to burning their huts, taking them as prey. But they aren't prey, aren't simple beasts. You only have to look one in the eyes to see, they have intelligence. I watched as my mate took a woman and her young, and I could call myself mate to her no longer. And so I left, to return home," Tegan glances over at Kirwyn, the scars he bears, and he does not speak of the own beating he took when he informed his nest that he was leaving them. Tegan has not come back seeking pity. "Our old ways were good," he continues, "But I have seen that change is unavoidable, and I have no choice but to follow Aithne's path or yours, Aymeri." 

"He's so handsome, and rugged," Tania babbles on, praising the many qualities of her new found love.

"You just saw him in the forest, and fell in love?" Shayeleigh asks, unable to hide the doubt in her voice.

"Wasn't it the same for you? Both of you? Why should it be any different for me?" Tania protests.

Ico and Shayeleigh share a worried glance, neither of them wanting to point out the vast differences in their personalities. Ico finally breaks the short but tense silence, "He doesn't seem to return your feelings." Though she'd only seen them together for a brief moment, it was enough to see the way Tegan shrugged her off and tried to maintain some distance as Tania hovered around him, pouring affection on him that he clearly did not want.

"Nonsense," Tania says, "He does love me, I know. But he's a dragon, and too proud to admit it."

Ico and Shayeleigh exchange glances again. "I think she's been ensorcelled," Shayeleigh says under her breath, and Ico nods in agreement.

"But by who?" Ico wonders.

"Who but Auberon," is Shayeleigh's answer.

They mostly meet in dreams, but Auberon responded quickly to her call, her insistence that he come to her in person, to meet her in the spot where they had first met, the day he was looking for Ico.

"I am with child," she tells him as soon as she has him in her arms.

Auberon has no words at first. After so many lovers in the long span of his years, that the first to bear him a child would be a mortal girl..."Of course," he muses, "Your kind is more fertile than mine. You would have to be, because of your mortality. If you weren't, your kind would die out quickly..."

"Auberon," Uvie calls him back to the moment, "I am carrying your child. You must take me with you, to live with you."

"I cannot," he says, caressing her cheek, "You cannot live amongst the fae. You belong with your kind."

"But I don't," Uvie protests, "I belong with you; we belong together."

"We are together, always, Uvie," he says, his voice low and seductive, "I am inside you."

"Auberon," she gasps, trying to maintain her focus. But it's a futile attempt, his charm is irresistible, and when he magics away their clothes and presses her close to him, she can only succumb to the pleasure he offers.

"I will never abandon you," he promises her as he lays her down in a bed of flowers.

"I am part of you always."

As the sun sets, Aymeri and Ico take to playing in the waters, behind the screen of reeds and cattails for privacy.

Shayeleigh and Riain have retreated to their tent, and Kirwyn has gone off in pursuit of his Arienh, leaving Tegan alone with Tania by the fire.

"You are a persistent one," he says gruffly as she wraps her arms around him and rests her head on his shoulder.

"It is my love for you that drives me," she whispers, "I will die of love if you don't hold me and make me yours."

"As a healer, I can tell you, no one ever dies of love," Tegan says, trying unsuccessfully to wrest himself from her grasp. "Your friends say you are under spell," he adds.

"Oh, I am. Under the spell of your love," she murmurs as she slides her way around him. Like a serpent, he thinks, wrapping herself around him, choking him, "How can continue to deny me, when I love you so much?" she persists, her hand reaching down between his legs.

In the end, Tegan is just a male, and there's only so much he can bear before resisteance becomes futile.

"You're going to make me regret this, aren't you?" He asks as he lifts her in his arms to carry her into the forest.

"Never," she assures him, "I will love you until the end of time.

"I need you," she whispers hoarsely as he lays her down on the forest floor.

They make love through the night, fulfilling her insatiable need in as many ways as imaginable.

She continues whispering her words of love as she falls asleep wrapped around him.

In the hours before dawn, their camp is invaded again by the unicorn, bringing a pack of wild horses with them. The noises waken the two dragons and their fairy lovers, who come out to watch the spectacle.

The unicorn gazes at Shayeleigh, and her child begins to kick at her. "Oh," she gasps, "I think it's time"

 His horse companions have fled, but the unicorn remains, watching as Shayeleigh gives birth to her son.

"He's not a dragon," Riain observes as he holds his son for the first time. He snuggles the boy close to his chest, "He's beautiful. Like you," he whispers to Shayeleigh.

"We'll call him Ametair," Shayeleigh says, naming her son. The unicorn approaches one last time to look on their child before he runs off again.

"What do you think it means?" Riain asks her. 

"I can't say," she answers, "Unicorns are even more secretive than dragons. We know so little about them." That this one seemed to have come specifically to see their son born into the world is a mystery neither parent can comprehend.

"I knew I was going to regret this," Tegan groans as he wakes to find a threatening Tania looming over him,  preparing to cast some kind of magic on him.

"You seduced me, took advantage of me!" she shrieks.

"I think you've got that backwards," Tegan says with a wry smile

"Back off, Tania," Ico says, coming upon the couple at the right moment.

"He dared to touch me! Me! He must be punished!" Tania insists.

"You spent all of yesterday hovering about him like a honeybee to a flowerbush," Ico says, "He took nothing that wasn't thrust in his face and freely offered. I'm not surprised he wasn't able to resist, you were so persistent in your affection," Ico mentally chides herself for leaving Tania alone with the object of her lust, she should have seen how it would end. "Your anger should not be directed at Tegan, but at the one who put the spell on you."

"Auberon," Tania hisses, her memory coming back to her.

"Yes, Auberon," Ico says, unaware of what Tania had done to earn Auberon's wrath in the first place and thinking this spell was some prank of his. "We are not his playthings," she mutters in anger.