Friday, January 25, 2013

Chapter 27: An Act of Kindness


Seirian wakens from a deep sleep. It's some hours before first light, and he has no idea what woke him. Arienh stirs beside, and Seirian finds he needs no other reason to be awake as this unlikely hour.

"Father!" the call that woke him comes again, "I need you!"

"It's Morvyyn," Arienh says, "What does he want at this hour?"

Seirian groans, reluctant to leave the warmth of his bed and his mate. "I'll find out."

"What happened to you?" Seirian gasps, finding his son struggling beneath an inert Talfryn's weight, both of them covered in blood.

"Talfryn is wounded. Bad," Morvyn groans as he lifts, carrying his friend last few steps to the couch.

"Are you wounded?" Seirian asks, glancing at his son while kneeling to tend to the unconscious Talfryn.

Morvyn shakes his head, "Most of this blood isn't mine. Talfryn took the brunt of the attack."

"Who attacked you? What were you two doing?"

"We were just out, enjoying the night, walking by the old mortal tomb, the one with the stone circle. A small group of humans set on us. They had the advantage of surprise, and their weapons. But we took them."

"You killed them all?" Seirian asks, "You left none alive to report seeing you to their kind?"

Morvyn nods, not meeting his father's eyes. "Father, they had something, magic, perhaps, that hampered my ability to heal. I would have tended Talfryn's wounds myself, but I was unable."

Seirian's mouth hardens into a grim line, "Aymeri's not going to like this."

"Talfryn?" Evenfall shrieks, coming out to see what the fuss is, "Oh, Talfryn!"

"He'll be fine," Seirian assures the fairy, "And if your noises hadn't woken Aymeri up, she certainly just did," he says to his son, "Go, get yourself cleaned up. And be prepared to answer for this."

"Why would you stray so close to the human settlement?" Aymeri demands once he's been told the story, "You have a whole forest to roam in. The human held lands are forbidden, to all of us."

"At that hour, the humans are all locked in their houses. Even in daylight, they stay away from the old stone circle," Morvyn protests, "We hadn't expected on encountering warriors."

"That's why all human places are forbidden," Aymeri says sternly, "Even the ones they don't often use."

While Evenfall frets over his wounds, Talfryn listens in silence to the argument between his father and Morvyn.

Unable to sit quiet for long, Talfryn rises to join the argument, before Morvyn caves and tells the elder dragons what they were really doing out there tonight.

"Why do we let the humans choose what lands to keep?" Talfryn demands, "We could destroy them all and roam as freely as we did the in early times."

"This again," Seirian groans under his breath. How many thousands of years has he had to listen to, and participate, in this argument?

"We're not going to destroy the mortals," Aymeri says, his voice just below a shout as he reins in his anger and exasperation. "They avoid our forests, and we, in turn, avoid their village. That's the way it's been these many ages. That's how we survive."

"Survival? Is that all we should expect? We're dragons, father! We should rule here, not those mortals."

"Rule them?" Aymeri asks, "You speak like the mortals, yourself, son. When have dragons ever been interested in ruling anything? We govern ourselves, and keep to ourselves."

"And where has that gotten us?" Talfryn demands, "We dwindle while they prosper, claiming more of this land for themselves. What happens when they overcome their fear of the forest and take even this from us?"

"I am done arguing this with you!" Aymeri can no longer hold his shout down, "We have yet to fully recover from the last war we fought, and yet speak so casually of entering another."

"We fought our kind in the last war," Talfryn points out, "But, united against the mortals..."

"I said this discussion is over!" Aymeri says, "You will stay away from the humans, do you understand?"

Morvyn kept his peace through the argument, allowing Talfryn to take the blame. As much as he wanted to step in and defend his friend, if Aymeri knew the truth of why they were out there, it would go that much worse for both of them.

"This is my fault," Morvyn says to Talfryn when they are at last alone, "I shouldn't have asked you to come with me."

"They took me by surprise, and I was standing watch," Talfryn says, "If they'd come on you alone with your girl..."

Morvyn has to admit the truth of Talfryn's words. Engaged as he was in lovemaking when Talfryn shouted for his help, it had taken Morvyn a few moments just to gather his wits enough to join the fray, By then, Talfryn had killed two of his attackers with his bare hands, and had already taken the wounds that Seirian had bandaged, and all that was left for Morvyn ws to finish off the last of them and carry his friend home. If it weren't for whatever force or magic that had dulled his own healing abilities, Morvyn could have taken care of Talfryn right there, and they'd have gotten away without telling their fathers about this event at all, blaming their black eyes on a squabble between each other.

"You felt it, didn't you? The magic they had?" Morvyn asks.

Talfryn nods. "In the moment I was attacked, my instinct was to transform. But I couldn't. And the fact that they could come onto me like that...I didn't hear them, didn't smell them. No human has that kind of stealth." Talfryn hesitates a moment before continuing, knowing his friend won't like what he has to say,  "Do you think it was a trap?"

"A trap? You mean, you think Gaelle set me up?" Morvyn asks, "No, she wouldn't..."

"She's a human," Talfryn replies, as though that says everything.

"And she believes I am a human, as well," Morvyn points out, "These men who attacked us, it's like they knew what we were...They weren't from her village, I know that much."

"How do you know that? They all smell the same," Talfryn asks.

"Their voices," Morvyn says, "They speak differently."

"You're far too acquainted with our mortal neighbors," Talfryn laughs, "You should find a pretty fairy girl, and leave the humans alone."

"I've had fairies, remember?" Morvyn laughs in return, "I prefer the human girls. They're more like us."

The heavy rain at dawn was a good sign. Sterren rose early and made for the Lady's tomb, knowing the rains would bring out the red toadstools and other mushrooms she needed for her potions. The mushrooms were out in plenty, as she expected, but what she didn't expect to see was the carnage of battle, dead men lying among the stones that marked the ancient tomb.

"Help me," a voice rasps from the ground, as one warrior, still alive despite his wounds, reaches out to her.

"What happened here?" she asks as she kneels, turning him over to inspect his wounds.

"Battle," the fallen warrior rasps, as though it weren't obvious enough. A quick inspection of the field proves that he is the only survivor here, and Sterren struggles to lift him, helping him walk back to her village, to her house, where she can tend his injuries.

"You've cracked a rib, but it should mend well," Sterren informs her patient as she wraps the last bandage over his hand. Lucky for him, it's his left hand; his sword hand remains free of injury. "Who were you fighting? We don't have much trouble with bandits out here..."

"Wild men," the man says, his voice accented like the northern traders who were becoming a more and more common visitor to these shores.  "They came out of the forest."

"Truly?" Sterren asks in surprise. Their forests did hold many secrets, home to the fair folk, protected by the great wolf, Ametair the Hunter, a dark place no man dared to enter, except for the wild tribe of savages who lived in harmony with the forest's dangers, and were part of it. But this is the first she'd heard of them leaving the forest to attack anyone, and Sterren can scarce believe it.

"They were not from your village, surely?" the man asks, and Sterren grows quiet. The last thing she'd want is to point a finger at her own people in this crime. These northmen were not known for their mercy or peaceful ways.

"And if I may ask, what were you doing out there alone, so early in the day? Not that I am ungrateful for your timely rescue..." the man continues.

"Gathering mushrooms. The rains bring them out." Sterren answers.

"You should be careful; those old places, the stone circles, they attract...dark magic."

"You mean the fair folk?" Sterren asks with a smile, "I don't fear them. They can be dangerous, but they aren't as fearsome as all that. Some might even be friendly."

"You've spoken with them?" he asks, his voice growing harsh.

Sterren presses her lips together, realizing she's said too much, little though it was. "No, of course not," she says, "I just believe it's foolish to fear something you've never seen. Tell me, what is your name, sir?" she asks, changing the subject.

"Reinier," he answers, "Reinier Landgraab."

Sterren gasps, realizing she's tending the wounds of a legend. "Reinier the Dragon Slayer?"

"That is me," he says, rising up from the bed to stand in front of her.

"And you have truly slain dragons?" she asks, hardly able to believe it.

"You don't believe the stories?" he asks, "I could show you my trophies, if I had them with me. But a dragon's tooth is too large and cumbersome to travel with."

"I believe the stories, sir. But that you're standing, here, in my home..."

"And that I, the great warrior who has slain such mighty beasts should have fallen to mere men must take some of the shine off my glory..."

"Oh, no," Sterren says with a blush, "I wasn't thinking that at all."

"It's not a story I would hear sung of me in the taverns," he says with a smile.

"I...I won't tell anyone," Sterren promises, blushing again.

"I've taken countless injuries, but never have they been tended to by such gentle hands," he says, taking her hands in his, "What is your name?"

"I am Sterren. Sterren Avendale," she tells him, nearly quaking at his touch. Even with his bruises, he's the handsomest man she's ever laid eyes on, and for such a renowned warrior, his manner with her is so gentle, so tender...

"Sterren," he says her name, like he means to remember it forever, "I haven't the gold with me to pay you for your service. I must go now, see to my men who are fallen, and return to my father, who will be worried. But I will return in a few days time, to see you paid, this I promise."

"Oh, that's not necessary," Sterren says, her voice grown fluttery as he continues to hold her hands in his, "I would never leave a wounded man to die from his injuries. You don't need to pay me for an act of kindness."

"I must have some excuse to visit you again, lovely Sterren," Reinier says with a laugh, letting go of her hands to dress himself before taking his leave.

"Morvyn! My love!" Gaelle gasps in surprise as her lover appears suddenly from behind the trees, "I was so afraid for you, after those men came..." Gaelle had fled at his insistence, and had spent the morning in fear for his life, too terrified to even return to the Lady's tomb to see for herself whether he lived or died.

"And you are well? Unhurt?" Morvyn asks.

"I am fine," Gaelle assures him, "But look at you, your eye..."

"It's nothing. I came to see you were well. Now I must go."

"Wait!" she pleads.

Morvyn caresses her cheeks, "Just being here with you now, in broad daylight, is a risk," he says, "Your father would not be pleased to see you with a savage, would he?" Never mind what his own family would have to say if they knew he'd taken a mortal girl for a lover. "We'll have to find another place to meet at night. When I find somewhere safe, I'll find you," he promises, and runs off before he can be seen.

"I was just delivering a potion to the Brannon farm," Sterren says, coming on Gaelle as she returns to the village, "Treveur asked me about you." Her smile is teasing, as it's well known in the village that young Treveur Brannon had being paying her court these past months, and all were in anticipation of a great wedding feast.

Gaelle does her best to respond to the teasing as she would have just a month ago, before her wildling lover had changed her mind about her future prospects, when the idea of marriage to Treveur was the only thing on her mind. For Sterren's part, the playful teasing is her way of expressing her own romantic giddiness without revealing her secret visitor and they way he held her hands and called her lovely, promising to return to see her again.


The house my dragons are living in is made from the Outskirts of Wyzima Tavern by VeraJ. Her lot is originally a community lot dive bar, so I made many changes to make it a residential lot for my dragons.
I wanted the dragons to develop alongside human culture, but to also be visually different from the human style, and her lot, based on a location in the Witcher, a medieval-esque rpg game, did that perfectly.
Of course, I didn't include any exterior shots of the dragon lodge in this chapter, but, sooner or later, I will.

The human village is Candletown, by candlelight82. Again, I've made many changes, adding more medieval CC and stuff from SN.

The world I'm using is Rownshire, and empty world suitable for any medieval/ancient setting, by Macthecat. I'm still using the v.2 version, I only just noticed v.3 now. It looks awesome.

Also, a shout out to my friend Aeon, for the poses. I use lots of poses by lots of creators in all my stories, but this chapter is particularly dependent on Aeon's poses, so I thought it would be nice to credit him especially and give the link. And a plug for his story, the Annals of Simopia, which I think readers of Summerdream would enjoy.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Chapter 26: All We Have is Now


Aymeri went off to war. Brys went with him, as did Tearhne, their mate. Seirian stayed, because his daughter was but a child, and someone had to care for her. It was not just his nest that was so emptied. When the dragons heard of what Aithne and her followers had been doing, many answered Aymeri's call and followed him.  Those few that remained, those with young children to guard, made temporary nests with in Aymeri's camp, living together while they waited for word from the battlefield, waited for the return of their loved ones.

It was three years of waiting, years of fear and anxiety, hope and anticipation, before the dragons came home. The dragons that still lived, that is, and few enough they were. Everyone of them that had stayed behind felt the sting of loss as they learned of the death of a loved one, many loved ones, mates, parents, brothers, children. Entire nests were lost to this war, and no nest went unscathed. 

Seirian was not the only dragon to lose a mate, far from it, and he reminds himself of that fact whenever his heart turns to self-pity. When he wonders if his healing skills could have saved her, or saved Brys, or saved any of the others who had fallen, he reminds himself that other healers were there and could not save them all. His blood brother, Tegan, was a healer, like him, and was unable to save Tearhne, though Aymeri told him he'd tried. And Tegan himself had fallen, unable to save himself.

"Seirian," Arienh calls his name, her voice a hushed whisper, her hands knitted together nervously as she kneels before him.

"Is your fever worse?" he asks, leaning forward to touch her skin and ascertain her condition. 

"It's not a fever," she says, her voice heavy in the way of one who burned too hot. Her skin under his hand was hot as a coal. But she was right, this was no fever; Seirian caught the whiff of her musk as he leaned in, and quickly backed away a few inches.

"You're fertile," he says, trying to keep an even voice, "I should have recognized it when you first came to me about feeling feverish." It should have been the first thing he thought of, except that it was far too early in her cycle. A female dragon as young as Arienh would go some ten years between fertility cycles, and as they age those cycles grow longer. But Arienh's son by Kirwyn was born barely a year before the war; she should not be fertile again for at least five years. "You should go, quickly, somewhere far from any dragons, until it passes," he advises, "You won't be safe anywhere near any male in that condition." The overpowering lust the scent of a fertile female evokes in the males is the root of all their laws, the strict controls they place on their society. Self control just isn't enough when your senses are reduced to their basest, most animalistic form. Even now, Seirian feels the beast rising in himself, and she's only just started her cycle.

"And if I don't conceive a child during this cycle, how soon before it begins again?" she asks, bridging the distance between them, moving in close to him.

"I have no idea," Seirian answers, drawing a ragged breath, inhaling her. The idea of a female not conceiving during her time was unheard of. Every female chooses her first mate before her first cycle, and bears a child during each cycle, that is just how it's always been. "You're early on this one by years, I cannot say if the next would return to normal, or be even earlier still. Our numbers are so few now, perhaps your quickened cycle is nature's way of restoring the balance."

Many nests were broken by the war, many dragons found themselves without mates. As much or as little as some of them may have mourned, dragons are creatures of tradition and habit, and little time passed before those who had lost their mates had been absorbed into other nest. Seirian had himself turned down several offers from females seeking to replenish their dwindling nests, even Tearhne's mother Dechtire, who had survived the war but lost half her nest had sought him out. Arienh, who had one mate, Kirwyn, and lost him, had made no offers at all, instead continuing to live in Aymeri's nest with her young son. None of them had considered what would happen when the unmated female started her next cycle.

"Perhaps it's time you thought about taking a mate," Seirian advises, trying to think of a likely candidate and failing.

"I have been thinking of nothing else since this morning, after you came to check on me," she answers, inching just a bit closer. 

"Me?" Seirian realizes what she's getting at. He shakes his head, and tells her what he's told every female that made him such an offer, "I am bonded to my brothers for life, mate or no mate. Aymeri is my first, and I'll have no other."

"That was how I felt about Kirwyn," Arienh sobs, falling against his chest for comfort. "And that was the only thing we ever argued about. He loved being First, but it meant nothing to him without any brothers in his nest. He wanted a powerful nest, he wanted status, and complained about being the 'first of one.' But I put off taking new mates. He'd suggest names, I'd turn them down, and we'd fight."

His skin heats from contact with hers, her scent, so close to him, is overpowering. Still, he has the strength to push her away, the will to control his animal instincts, but he doesn't need it. Through the war, they'd helped each other raise their children, spent evenings together in conversation, worried together and comforted each other. Why shouldn't she turn to him now, and what reason does he have to refuse her?

"I don't want a powerful nest full of powerful males, I just want one mate to love and rase children with. I just want you, Seirian."


When his niece, Zamira, was mature enough to take on the responsibilities of the tribe's spirit talker, Kvornan left his home and wandered the great world. Wherever he encountered people, he taught them how to build the stone circles, how to align them properly so the shadows would mark the seasons, solstices and equinoxes.

He'd tell them stories of his tribe, and of his mother, who had been beloved of the chief of the fair folk, and bore him a daughter. 

And most of all, wherever he went, he asked of Jennail, of House Tricou, but none he spoke to had ever heard either name, or heard of such a girl.

For years he wandered, spreading his knowledge, but never finding what he sought. Finally, when he was old and gray, he returned back to the land of his birth, hoping to see his sister and her children one more time before he passed. If Kairi still lives, he thinks, laying down in the grass just a few miles from the first stone circle, the one he erected above his parents' tomb, the tomb he will soon enough be buried in.

The time is now, he realizes, and just as he never found Jennail, he'll never make it back to his village.

"Kvornan, wake up," Evenfall says, brushing a gentle hand over his forehead, "Please."

"Evie?" Kvornan asked, surprised by the sights that greet his open eyes, "Have you come to see me to the spirit world?"

Evenfall nods, her grief taking her voice. She had let her discomfort and fear of mortality rob her of her final moments with her mother, and Kvornan is all that's left of her mortal life. She will not let him go on his final journey unattended.

"I made a promise to your mother, to help you. I have failed her," Auberon says grimly, joining his daughter by Kvornan's side, "You have done all that I cold have asked for and more, spreading your mother's name and story throughout the land, and I have done nothing that was any help to your quest."

"I never asked for you help," Kvornan says with a weak smile, "It may be that Jennail never existed in this world at all, and there was nothing you or I could do to find her in it.."

"My vow was made to Uvie, and only she can absolve me of it."

"Father," Evie chides gently, "Now is not the time."

"All we have is now," Auberon insists, deaf to his daughter's meaning.

"All I have is now," Kvornan laughs hoarsely, "You have forever."

Feeling his last breath on him, Kvornan squeezes his sister's hand, "Thank you for coming to see me, for saying goodbye. When I'm gone, bring me to the circle, so the people can lay me down with my parents."

Evenfall turns away as the life leaves her brother's body, so she does not notice what her father does.

Auberon stretches out his hands, summoning Kvornan's spirit to him before it flees.

"You will have forever, this I promise," he says as he compresses the spirit into solid form.

"What is that?" Uvie gasps as her father hands her the glowing jewel. But even as she asks, she knows, feeling Kvornan's life emanating from it. "What have you done?"

"I've bound his spirit to this stone," Auberon answers her, as though it were not perfectly obvious.

"Why would you do such a thing?" Evie asks, "The mortals believe their spirits move on to another realm when they die. Now he's trapped here."

"We still may yet fulfill his mission, find this girl he's spent his life seeking," Auberon explains.

"And how long will we wait before you accept that it's not going to happen, and let him go?" Evie demands.

"I would never give up," Auberon admits, "And that's why I'm putting his fate in your hands, Evie. You may release him as you see fit. Tonight, even, if you believe that is what he'd want."

Auberon places the jewel in her hands, and leaves her alone.

 Evenfall brings his body to the circle of stones, laying him in the center, as he asked. She cries softly as she keeps vigil overnight, watching that predators do not disturb him. Several times, she draws the jewel from her pocket, meaning to crush it and free his spirit, to go wherever mortals believe they go. But each time, she puts it back unharmed, unable to do it, unable to let go. When the sun peeks over the horizon, Evenfall departs, leaving him for the tribe to discover and make their rites over.


This is the last chapter in the pre-historic period. Next chapter will bring us to the Middle Ages.
And, gosh, I'm sorry these last three chapters have been a parade of funerals.