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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:06 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 28 072 (2572 T.A.)
Status: Spring

Within two weeks of Kyrie’s arrival in Makshim, not only had Ahkshi proposed, but the two had been married. By the time anyone had even thought about traveling, winter had been upon them. With Corazin still being so young, Lara and Cantor had not wanted to travel in the winter. Kyrie was in no mood to complain. She found that she was in no hurry to travel again.

The winter passed slowly. Corazin grew, and Kyrie was prepared to swear that even Uruloki was growing a bit. She stayed in Ahkshi’s house with him, an arrangement that both of them enjoyed very much. The house was small but neither of them minded. She helped him with his physician work and took great pleasure in preparing his meals in the evenings. The snow, which beforetimes had been a hindrance to Kyrie’s pastimes (namely, training herself and traveling), had become something beautiful to watch from the warmth of home, especially when she was lying in Ahkshi’s arms.

And yet spring had come, and Lara and Cantor were eager to continue on their way. Cantor had always been well-liked in the town, but when news had spread of his marriage to Lara, even his friends had grown a bit cold to him. They wanted to get to Caras Galadhon, the Promised Land for people of mixed marriages and bloods, and begin to build their home and their life there.

“For all you were hesitating about even marrying Ahkshi,” Lara teased her one morning, “you’re sure reluctant to continue with your travels. What happened to the heart of the wanderer?”

“It has been snared,” Kyrie laughed in return. “You’re right. I’m reluctant to leave. But I did promise, and I know that you need an escort.” She smiled at her sister. “And I have to admit, I’m eager to see how the land has changed since we left. See if I remember anyone from my childhood, or if anyone remembers us. And yet …”

“And yet you are now a wife, and have a husband,” Lara smiled. “I know.” She put one hand on Kyrie’s shoulder. “Have you any regrets?”

Kyrie smiled sheepishly. “Only that I didn’t give in sooner. I think for a while … part of me was afraid. But Ahkshi made me realize that the only thing I was doing was hiding, making excuses. Once I realized that, I knew my only answer to him could be yes.”

The girls were wandering the streets together with Corazin, simply enjoying the peace and the beauty of the day. Ahkshi was working on a burn ointment, and he had insisted that Kyrie go with Lara for the day so that she wouldn’t be bored, and Cantor was working on business deals: selling his things so that he and Lara would have some money to start their new life with.

“And now,” Lara murmured, watching as Corazin toddled ahead of them, “you have been here a full year – longer than you’ve been in any one place since you began your travels. How do you feel about that?”

“To be honest, I’m not sure,” Kyrie admitted. “Normally, I’d be restless after just a few weeks, but I’m happy here.”

Lara smiled warmly. “I’m glad. I can’t remember seeing you this happy before. Do you think you’ll stay here then, after you return from Caras Galadhon?”

Kyrie was thoughtful. “I don’t know. I could. I would visit you and Cantor, of course, and Lynliss and Leo. Gwen and Khetal. But I don’t think I would leave for very long.” She didn’t know for certain, of course, and couldn’t know until the time came. She wasn’t looking forward to leaving, and at the moment, that was all she knew.

“I’ll be ready to leave by the end of the week,” she promised Lara. “I’ll take you and Cantor to Caras Galadhon.”

Lara smiled with relief. “Thank you.”

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:06 am

Location: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
Year: 28 072 (2572 T.A.)
Status: Autumn

It had been a rather uneventful journey for Kyrie, Cantor, Lara and Corazin to get to Caras Galadhon. Kyrie was glad of it: it meant that their trip went faster than it might otherwise have gone. Still, it had taken the remainder of spring, all of summer, and half of autumn for them to arrive. They’d had to skirt around Rheys, a land belonging to humans, for safety, but beyond that the countries they had passed through were all friendly.

The city had changed in the twenty-two years since Kyrie had left with her family. It had grown and its very appearance had changed. She had expected it to be a bit different, but not quite this different.

They found their way to the inn and paid for two rooms, and while Lara and Cantor headed off to see what they could do about finding a place to live, Kyrie wandered around to see if she could recognize anyone or anything from her past.

Looking around, the thing she remembered most clearly was all around her: humans, elves, and every type of mixed-bloods were everywhere. It looked like full bloods like Lara and Cantor were few and far between. Even if it was not a human-elf mix, most people looked like they were of two different races of elves. It made her smile. Things here were peaceful between the races, something unique to this land.

She was wandering aimlessly, no particular destination in mind, and she was surprised when her feet led her down a street that looked familiar to her. Yet it wasn’t until she stopped in front of a large marble-bricked two-storey house that she realized where she was.


A wide smile crossed her face, and she left the street and wandered into the yard. The flower garden was still the same, well kept, and even a small vegetable garden had been planted out back and was ready to harvest. The house, from the outside at least, seemed clean: yet there was no sign of movement.

Unable to help herself, Kyrie stepped up onto the porch and raised one hand to knock, but before she could a voice called out, “Hey! Get away from that house!”

She turned to see a golden-haired human watching her from the road. “I was just going to knock,” she told him, wondering what was so bad about that.

“No one lives there,” he told her. “You’d have been wasting your time.”

Kyrie frowned. “But the yard is so well tended, surely someone must live here.”

The man shook his head. “No one has lived there in more than twenty years,” he told her in a voice that sounded quite serious. “My family and I have been taking care of it in hopes that they might someday return.”

Kyrie remembered her parents asking some of their friends to care for the house in their absence, since they hadn’t known how long they would be gone. She blinked at the man. This wasn’t the husband from that family, but after twenty two years, could it be the son?

“Luk?” she guessed.

He stared at her. “How do you know?”

She broke into a wide smile. “I’m Kyrie!” she exclaimed, hopping off the porch to stand with him by the road. “My parents owned this house, I lived here when I was young!”

He blinked. “What? Kyrie? But – but where is your family? Why were you gone so long? We had no word, we were certain you’d all been killed but didn’t know for sure …” His eyes drifted over her, but it was a different look than most people gave her. Usually, men looked at her lustfully – but Kyrie could tell that he was looking only at her scars, and that he was a little afraid of them.

She smiled at him. “Let’s sit. It’s a long story.”

As he led her towards the house, she let her mind drift to her childhood. She and Luk had been born on the same day, and lived right beside each other, and had been fast childhood friends. The best of friends. He had cried the day her family had left for their trip.

He opened the door for her and stepped aside for her to lead the way in. She stepped in slowly and looked around. The entryway was a large room. Doors exited to the left and to the right, a hallway went straight forward, and also forward was a staircase leading up to the second floor.

Nothing in the kitchen or dining room had changed. The table and chairs had sheets over them to keep the dust off, but she couldn’t see any dust anywhere. The place was immaculate. The marble counters were clean, and even the wall-trough where the water ran, supplying the home with constant fresh water, was free of the moss that periodically needed to be cleaned away.

“Your mother’s been keeping it clean?” Kyrie asked, turning to Luk.

“She and I together over the years, but now mostly me,” he admitted with a soft smile. “I come once a week to make sure it’s clean.”

“Is she terribly busy?” Kyrie asked, moving on to the living room, on the other side of the hall, to see how it had changed.

“Not so much busy as in mourning,” Luk replied, following after her. “Father died a few years ago, and she just about fell to pieces.”

“I’m sorry.” The living room was just as clean as the kitchen had been, and again the furniture had been covered with sheets. “Was it sudden?”

He shook his head. “No. Father was human. He was old. I think he was nearly seventy by the time he died, which to my understanding is pretty good for a human. Mother still took it hard, though, and I really don’t know what I can do to help her.”

“All you can do is your best,” she told him, repeating something he had always told her when they had been children.

He smiled warmly at her. “I know.”

She smiled back at him. He was still such a wonderful person. “And you? How have you been? You’re most certainly married by now, I’m sure.” She started towards the stairs so that she could poke around up there.

He followed after her again. “Well, no, no I’m not married. I haven’t even found a girl I’m interested in. Truth be told, I don’t want to look until I know whether I’m mortal or immortal.”

Kyrie winced at that. “I just went through that. It was a pain.”

“Well, that’s what happens when you have an elven parent and a human parent,” Luk said simply.

“I know.” At the top of the stairs, she turned to the first bedroom. “But I also learned that you can’t hang your life up on knowing whether you’re mortal or immortal. Love happens when it happens, where it happens. You can’t stop it if you’re not what you want to be.”

“You sound like you’re speaking from experience,” he chuckled.

Kyrie looked back at him, a warm smile on her face. “I am. I spent two years debating whether or not to marry a man I knew I loved. I knew I loved him. But there were … other matters that made me question whether I should, including the fact that I had no idea if I was mortal or not.”


“And in the end, I realized that even if we don’t have every moment of our lives to be together, that if I didn’t treasure what time we did have, I would regret it forever,” she replied.

“So you married him?”

She nodded and looked around at the room they were in. It had been her parents’ bedroom, and she had few memories of it. It had been off-limits for her and Khetal. “I did.”

As she brushed by Luk to check out another room, he watched her, puzzled. “But … where is he? Is he at the inn?”

The question made Kyrie smile in amusement. “By the Valar, no. If he were here with me, I wouldn’t go anywhere without him.” But then the amusement was gone. “No, he’s back in Shiezin, where he’s from. He’s a doctor, so he can’t travel.”

She looked around at the room she was in – Khetal’s old bedroom – but she wasn’t really seeing it. She was distracted now. “That was part of my debate. I’m doomed to travel my whole life, and he can’t. His people do not approve of interracial marriages. I can’t bear him the children I wish I could. But love made all of that irrelevant, for both of us.”

Luk shifted from one foot to the other uncomfortably. “I don’t know whether to say I’m sorry or congratulations.”

Kyrie turned to him and smiled. “I would appreciate the congratulations,” she suggested. “I miss him while I’m gone, but it just makes going back to him so much sweeter.”

“Then congratulations,” Luk chuckled softly.

Kyrie giggled. “Thanks. Come, let’s go sit and then I can properly tell you what’s been happening.” She headed back towards the stairs, her eyes still roaming the place around her. “I have no idea what to do with this place now,” she mused. “It’s not like anyone … oh! Never mind!”

She had just remembered Lara and Cantor, who were looking for a place to live. They had such little money, there was no way they would be able to buy a house. There was no time to build before the winter, and the inn was too expensive for a long stay. But this would be perfect for them – and in a way, the house would be kept in the family.

She smiled at Luk. “Let’s sit in the living room. It’s a rather long story.”

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:07 am

Location: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
Year: 28 072 (2572 T.A.)
Status: Autumn

Kyrie and Luk spent the afternoon catching up and preparing the house to be stayed in. The sheets came off the furniture; blankets, cushions and mattresses were aired out; dishes were washed fresh; cupboards were filled with food; counters, floors, stairs and walls were scrubbed; and all the pictures on the walls were dusted and straightened. In the end, Kyrie thought it looked better than she had remembered it being when she had been young.

When they’d finished, Luk had headed home to tell his mother the (somewhat) good news, and Kyrie had headed back to the inn. It was a bit late, but Lara and Cantor were still waiting for her in the dining room.

“There you are,” Lara said with relief when she spotted Kyrie weaving her way through the tables towards them.

Kyrie grinned and slid into the seat next to Cantor, since the chair beside Lara had Corazin sleeping in it. “Here I am. And you two will not believe what I’ve been doing all day.”

“It’s got to be better than what we’ve been doing,” Cantor said tiredly. He rubbed his eyes. “No houses for sale, none with rooms to let, no time to build before winter hits …”

“Good,” Kyrie grinned.

The others stared at her. “Um … Kyrie … he just told you we have nowhere to live,” Lara said slowly.

Kyrie’s eyes sparkled brightly. “I know. And believe it or not, that’s good news. It means you don’t have to undo any deals.”

There was a silent pause, and then Cantor said, “Kyrie … are you feeling all right?”

“Perfectly.” She flagged down a waiter and ordered a drink, then turned back to the others. “I have a gift for you. I’ll give it to you in the morning, though, it’s a bit late tonight. You wouldn’t be able to properly appreciate it tonight.”

Lara and Cantor exchanged a curious glance. “That’s …”

Kyrie grinned. “I promise you, it’s worth the wait.”

Lara shook her head and stood, then picked up Corazin. “Then we’re going to head to bed, all right?”

“Sleep well!” Kyrie said cheerfully.

In the morning, it was she who was waiting for them in the dining room, and by the time they arrived, she had already ordered food for them.

“So what’s the surprise?” Lara asked, in a bit better mood than the night before after having had a night of sleep. “The suspense is killing me.”

“Eat,” Kyrie said firmly.

Corazin was already eating, and Cantor followed Kyrie’s order willingly. Lara however stared at her for a bit longer before she began to eat.

At last, they had all finished eating. “Pack your things,” Kyrie told them. “I’ll get the bill. Just get all of your things together.”

“Are you insane?” Lara asked, staring at her. “We have nowhere else to go.”

“Just trust me,” Kyrie said patiently. “I promise you, this is worth it. And if I’m wrong, then I’m the one who’s paid the bill, and you can always come back here.”

Lara sighed. “All right. I’ll trust you.” She turned to Cantor. “Come on, it shouldn’t take too long.”

Once all of them were ready, Kyrie led them through the maze of streets to the street where her childhood house was located. She said nothing to Lara and Cantor while they walked except for “Keep going,” and “We’re almost there;” and the two were getting very curious indeed.

As they walked down the street, Kyrie spotted Luk standing just in front of the house with his mother, a golden-haired Light Elf just slightly taller than him. They waved at Kyrie and the others, and Kyrie waved back before running forward to meet them.

Luk’s mother put her arms around Kyrie and hugged her tightly. “Welcome back, Kyrie,” she said warmly. “It’s such a relief to see you alive. After so many years, we were ready to give up hope, but we promised your parents …”

“I know,” Kyrie smiled, returning the embrace. “It’s lovely to see you again, Elysia.” She turned and faced Lara and Cantor again. “Elysia, Luk, this is my adoptive sister, Lara, her husband, Cantor, and their son, Corazin. Lara, Cantor, my childhood friend Luk and his mother, Elysia.”

There were greetings all around, and then Lara and Cantor looked at Kyrie, wondering what was going on.

Kyrie took no more time in getting to the point. “Lara, Cantor, when my family left Caras Galadhon, Elysia and Luk took care of our house. It’s been twenty two years since we left, but they’ve been taking care of the house faithfully all that time. Bottom line is, this house here” – she motioned to her family house – “still belongs to me and Khetal. You of all people know that we have no use for it. I want you two to have it, and I’m fairly certain that Khetal would agree.”

Lara and Cantor looked at each other in surprise. “You’re … sure?”

“What use have I for it?” Kyrie smiled. “I’m a traveler. If I’m going to stay somewhere for long periods of time, my husband is in Shiezin and the rest of my family is now in Dolerum.”

“We can never repay you for this,” Cantor said seriously.

Kyrie held up one hand to cut him off. “Let me stay here with you when I visit and you’ll have more than paid me back,” she told him. She grinned at Luk and Elysia. “You two are the ones who deserve the thanks. You’ve taken such amazing care of it after all this time. When Luk and I were getting it ready yesterday, there wasn’t a lot to do.”

“It was a pleasure,” Elysia smiled. “Honestly it was. And I hope that we can keep helping you out.”

“That being said,” Luk spoke up, “the garden is ready for harvesting. There’s enough to get you through the winter if it’s properly preserved. And Kyrie and I did a bit of shopping yesterday for you, so you really should have no troubles.”

“Shopping?” Lara blinked.

Kyrie giggled. “Come on, let’s go inside. I’ll show you around.”

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:07 am

Location: Rheys/Garnelia Border
Year: 28 073 (2573 T.A.)
Status: Late Spring

Traveling back to Shiezin on her own, Kyrie had a lot of time to think. Since it was just her, she took the shortcut through Rheys. It was a land of only humans, but she had always been good at blending with them, and she had no one else to hide, other than Uruloki.

She was very distracted this time around. She’d spent half a year with Ahkshi, then half a year in Caras Galadhon, waiting for good traveling weather, and she had discovered that she didn’t mind staying in one place for longer periods of time. She didn’t feel the same urgency to always be on the go anymore. She felt she could really stay with Ahkshi for an indefinite period of time.

Kyrie, listen, Uruloki interrupted her thoughts.

Kyrie blinked and looked around. It was dark out, nearly pitch black. The moon was hidden behind thick clouds, and she could smell in the air that rain was threatening to fall. There was a light breeze as well, but she knew that wasn’t what Uruloki was telling her to listen for.

From behind her, there was a rustle in the trees, but not the rustle of wind or animals. It was the rustle of people moving at high rates of speed.

“Hide,” she whispered to the dragon, pulling two blades from her waist. She pressed herself against a tree and waited. She was startled when she felt a sudden surge of warmth around her upper body and her sight suddenly became clear, things in front of her appearing just as clear – no, clearer than as if it were the middle of the day. Everything was in strange colours, though. It was weird – it was beyond weird. She had never experienced or even just heard of anything like it – but she didn’t have time to worry about it at the moment, there was something coming towards her.

The rustling grew louder, and suddenly an elven girl appeared from between some trees. Her face was etched with terror, and she was running as fast as she could in Kyrie’s direction.

Coming up behind her was an elven woman who looked just as terrified. Every time the girl looked over her shoulder, the woman motioned for her to keep running, though neither of them made a sound other than their running.

The reason for their fear was not far behind them. Three human men were chasing after them, weapons drawn. One of the weapons had blood dripping from it.

Kyrie caught the girl and told her quietly to hide behind the tree, and when the woman arrived she did the same for her. Then she stepped out and moved to meet the men. She cut one of them down before they even realized she was there, and a second one lived only a few seconds longer. The third one realized that something was there, and he ducked backwards and tried to go around her, using bushes and trees to hide himself.

But to Kyrie, with her strange new vision, he was as obvious as if he were the only thing in the area. Without hesitating, she cut him off and killed him with a single thrust through the chest.

When she returned to the elven woman and girl, the two were clinging to each other and weeping. She cleaned her blades and put them away, then put a hand on each of their shoulders.

“You’re safe,” she told them softly. “There’s no one else after you. What happened?”

The girl was unable to speak, filled with terror, and the woman was the one who told Kyrie between sobs what had happened.

They had come from the country of Caras Galadhon, from a city further north than the main city. They had a brother and sister-in-law there, whom they had been visiting. On their way back home, in Garnelia, they had been taken captive in a human village in Rheys. They’d been kept in a small hut, guarded day and night to prevent their escape. They hadn’t had much opportunity to escape anyways, as the woman’s husband had been injured during the capture. They had begged and pleaded to be let go, but to no avail. At last, however, they had been given the opportunity to leave, to return to their own country, on two conditions: first, that they never pass through Rheys again, and secondly, that they leave their daughter there with the humans. Of course, they couldn’t accept those conditions, but they had asked for some time to consider it so that they might find an opportunity to escape.

This had been their attempt.

“I’ll go look for your husband,” Kyrie promised the woman. She slid one of her daggers from its sheath and held it out to the woman, hilt first. “Take this. If anything comes, use it. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Using her newfound night vision, she turned and headed back into the forest to see what she could find.

It took her nearly an hour, but at last she stumbled on the body of an elven man. She could only assume it was the husband. He had a broken leg which had been crudely set, and there was a slash down his spine, which showed how he had been killed. Kyrie closed her eyes and took a deep breath. This was not how she had wanted to find him. Still, she had promised the woman that she would find her husband and bring him back, and she would keep her promise. She looked around to make sure she was still alone, then lifted the man’s body and slung it over her shoulders and turned to head back toward the place where she had left the others.

When she got back, the woman and child were fast asleep, tears streaking their faces. Kyrie didn’t have the heart to wake them, and she set the husband’s body down on the ground behind some plants and covered it with her blanket. She would keep watch over them all tonight, and tomorrow escort them back to their home. It was the least she could do.

As she settled into a position where she could keep a good watch, she sighed. She remembered now why it was so important that she not stay in one place for too long. There were people like this everywhere who needed her help. How could she selfishly stay in one place and let people suffer like this? There was no doubt in her mind that those humans would have killed them all if they’d caught up with them.

She would just treasure all the more the time that she was able to spend with Ahkshi.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:07 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 28 073 (2573 T.A.)
Status: Mid-Summer

Ahkshi wasn’t home when Kyrie arrived, so she drew herself a bath, washed herself, and then sprawled out on the bed and fell straight asleep. When she woke up, he was standing over her and grinning down at her. She smiled and rolled onto her back, making room on the bed, and he sat down next to her and leaned over her.

“Well,” he murmured softly. “This is the k-kind of surprise I like to f-find when I get home.”

She smiled up at him and ran one finger along his lips. “Join me,” she murmured back.

He chuckled and leaned down to kiss her. “It’s the m-middle of the afternoon,” he grinned. “Up you get.”

Kyrie laughed and threw back the blankets. “Tease.”

“Oh!” Ahkshi smiled when he saw her body. “L-look! Loki bonded!”

Kyrie had been about to get up, but at Ahkshi’s exclamation, she looked down at herself. Twisted around her torso was what looked like a tattoo of Uruloki. She blinked. Where had that come from?

“Wait, you’re telling me that that is Uruloki?” she asked incredulously.

Ahkshi chuckled and sat down next to her again. “Have you been n-noticing strange things lately?”

Kyrie thought about it. “Well … a while ago, when I was passing through Rheys, I told him to hide and I saw things strangely,” she offered.

He grinned. “That must have been the f-first time he b-b-bonded with you. When a Volcano Dragon b-bonds with someone, it becomes a part of you. L-literally. You g-gain its ab-bilities and you c-can c-communicate with it entirely b-by thought.”

“That is so weird.” Kyrie shook her head. “And if I’d like him back on my shoulder instead of on my … body?”

Ahkshi ran his fingers along the tattoo-like dragon. “T-try calling him.”

Kyrie slapped his hand away. “Stop teasing, or we will not be leaving this room for the next several hours at least,” she warned him.

He chuckled, but he leaned back and put his hands behind his head. “Mm.”

Kyrie stuck her tongue out at him, but then she took a deep breath and said, “Ur-”

Before she could get out even a syllable, the warm feeling returned and the tattoo crawled off her body, morphing into the real Uruloki.

No need to call me, he told her, yawning and showing off his tiny pointed teeth. You want me, you think it.

Kyrie laughed softly and held one hand out to him. He crawled up her arm and made his perch on her shoulder. “How did you even do that?”

Uruloki rubbed his head against Kyrie’s neck. No idea. I thought I was going to hide in your cloak.

Kyrie giggled. “Apparently not.”

She squealed as Ahkshi reached over and ran his finger lightly down her spine, sending Uruloki scrambling down to the bed.

“I’ve changed m-my m-mind,” Ahkshi chuckled softly. “Loki, g-go watch at the d-door. We n-need some p-privacy.”

Right. Uruloki didn’t mind that Ahkshi called him Loki. He had too much trouble with the repeated vowel sound. He hopped to the ground, ran over to the door, curled up and promptly fell asleep.

“And here I was starting to wonder if I needed to be gone even longer,” Kyrie grinned. “Now get over here.”

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:08 am

Location: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
Year: 28 105 (2605 T.A.)
Status: Summer

Thirty three years had passed since Kyrie had married Ahkshi, and it was beyond certain now that she was immortal. Sixty six years old, she looked the same as she had at twenty, and she had none of the infirmities that came with being human, other than the odd winter cold. She had spent quite a bit of time with her husband, but she had made herself continue to travel as well, knowing that there were people who needed her help. In the thirty two years since she had realized that she would never be able to stay in one place, no matter how much she liked it, she had saved people from wolves, bears, dragons, and from other people. She had rescued widows, orphans, children who had been kidnapped, young women, and even a few men. Each time she saved someone, she was reminded anew why she couldn’t spend her life with the one man she loved.

But she had gotten used to it, more or less. It had almost become a routine for her: spend the winter (if she could) in Makshim with Ahkshi, and during spring, summer and autumn, travel and help people. Of course, she got some visiting in there, too: Dolerum was one of her most frequent stops, though she did, at least every few years, visit Caras Galadhon.

This was one of those years where she had headed east for her travels instead of west. She didn’t go as often simply because it was so much further away than Dolerum from Shiezin. But it had been nearly a decade this time, and that, she told herself, was too long. She owed her sister and brother-in-law a visit.

The city’s population had grown since Kyrie had first returned to Caras Galadhon. The city itself had expanded a great deal as well. Even the outer walls had been pushed back to increase the perimeter. Still, Kyrie had been there often enough that she could find her way through the changes, and she made her way quickly to Lara and Cantor’s house. As she waited for someone to answer the door, she noted with curiosity that there were strangers coming and going freely from the house next door, which to her knowledge had belonged to Luk and his mother. She frowned curiously, but before she could wonder too much about it, her knock was answered.

“Aunt Kyrie!” exclaimed a lovely young woman with long auburn hair.

Kyrie laughed and embraced the young woman. “Hello, Lily. By the Valar, how you’ve grown!”

Lily giggled. “Well that’s what happens when you take so long to visit!” she accused her aunt. She held her at an arm’s length and examined her closely. “I don’t see any new scars: that’s a good sign.”

“No, no new scars,” Kyrie grinned. “Thank your uncle for that.”

“I would if I could ever meet him.” Lily rolled her eyes. “It’s driving me crazy!”

“Don’t let it,” Kyrie warned her. “I’m sure you’ll have the chance to meet him someday. Now, are you going to invite me in? Or am I going to stand here on the porch with my bags all day?”

Lily blushed. “Sorry, Aunt Kyrie. Come on in. Here, let me take one of your bags for you.” She knew by now that there was always one bag that Kyrie wouldn’t allow anyone else to carry, and she hadn’t bothered offering since she had been five years old.

Kyrie smiled and held one bag out to her. “Thanks. How are your parents?”

Lily closed the door behind them and started towards the stairs to bring Kyrie’s bags to the room which was kept for her. “Doing very well, thanks. Mama’s at the market at the moment, and Papa’s in a session. Corazin is off at work, so it’s just me in the house for now.”

“A session?” Kyrie asked, curious. “What kind of session?”

“Oh, didn’t you get the letter?” Lily smiled as they reached the top of the stairs and turned down the corridor. “About five years ago he was elected one of the senators of the country.”

So he had entered politics. The thought made Kyrie smile. She personally had no use for politics, but if Cantor could do some good, then she was proud of him. “And Corazin?”

“Still working at the gear smith’s,” Lily assured her. “His employer says he has a natural talent for working with things so small, and he loves making the tiny mechanical pieces.”

“And you?”

Lily opened the door to Kyrie’s room and led the way inside. “What about me?”

Kyrie watched as she opened the window to air out the room. “How have you been doing? It’s been ten years, I haven’t seen you since you were … what, fourteen? Fifteen?”

“Fifteen,” Lily replied softly, sitting on the edge of the bed. “I’m fine. I don’t really do anything much. A lot of reading, I suppose. Some sketching, though it doesn’t compare to Mama’s work.”

Kyrie frowned and sat next to her niece. “You sound like something’s troubling you.”

Lily hesitated a moment, then looked into her aunt’s face. “I’m … worried,” she said softly. “About our old neighbour, Luk.”

A cold chill washed over Kyrie. “What happened to him?” she asked quietly. “I noticed there are different people living there now …”

Lily sighed and folded her hands in her lap. “His parents. They disappeared.”

There was a silent pause as Kyrie tried to understand what she meant. “Parents … plural?” she asked, blinking. “I don’t … his father died a while ago …”

“Elysia remarried six years ago,” Lily explained. “A man half human, half Earth Elf. Luk was happy for them, because his mother was finally happy again, and since Leontis was immortal, it meant he wouldn’t grow old and die and leave her alone again. But less than a year after they were married, they vanished. They went out fishing and never came back.”

Kyrie frowned. “Just like that?”

Lily shook her head. “No … a storm swept up while they were out in their boat. There was no warning. It almost didn’t seem natural.”

Kyrie stood up and moved to the window and gazed out at the ocean, which lay just beyond the city. She had always thought the ocean was beautiful, but could she now look at it the same way, knowing it had taken the parents of her friend?

“That’s not all,” Lily added quietly from behind her.

Kyrie turned and looked at her niece. How could there possibly be more?

Lily kept her gaze even, but she had to take a breath to calm herself before she could add, “Elysia was pregnant.”

Kyrie felt herself growing cold, and she sat down slowly on the windowsill. “How is Luk?” she asked quietly. She knew he had held up after his father’s death only because his mother had needed him to, but with her gone, with his whole family gone now …

“He spent all day every day looking over the ocean for signs of them,” Lily told her softly. “He lost his job. He lost the house. He became obsessed with finding them, and he spent all the money he had left on hiring people to take him out to sea. After a year of no sign of them, he gave up … but he’s left society as well. Left the city. No one knows where he went. He shows up once in a while and trades for supplies, so we know he’s alive and safe, but … that’s it.”

“How often does he come?” Kyrie asked, thinking back to her weapons teacher in Jielam.

“Usually once a week, maybe every two,” Lily answered. “But he vanishes without a trace.”

“When is the last time he showed up?”

Lily had to think about it. “A week and a half ago?”

Kyrie rose again. “I’m going to head out to the city,” she told her niece. “If your parents are back before I am, let them know I’ll be back in time for dinner.” She hugged Lily again. “Thanks.”

“For what?” Lily asked, watching as Kyrie ran out the door. She was gone before she could get any kind of answer.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:08 am

Location: Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
Year: 28 105 (2605 T.A.)
Status: Summer

It took Kyrie three days of asking questions before she finally felt she had enough information to try to find her childhood friend. She knew what kinds of things he brought to the city to trade with, and she had learned enough about the land surrounding the city that she felt confident that she could track him down.

The ocean lay to the east and south of the city, as the city was a port right in the southeast area of Caras Galadhon. Luk was not trading fish for supplies, so there was no point in her looking in those directions. To the west was the road that followed the coast towards Kelxit, which was south of Rheys, and to the north lay thousands of square miles of land belonging to Caras Galadhon, some settled, some not.

Wherever Luk was, he was near enough that a trip to the city was close enough that he could make it every other week without it being too much of a hassle, but far enough away that no one had found him yet. Kyrie’s bet was that he had gone north. He was trading things like animal hides, and the animals usually shied away from the roads. Still, that left a lot of area to cover, and she knew it could take her several days, if not weeks, to check it all if she didn’t find him.

She spent three days searching methodically through the forest, and at the end of the third day, she turned back towards the city. She wasn’t giving up, but she had promised Lara and Cantor that she would check in with them every three days, just so that they would know that she was all right, and whether or not she had found Luk.

The city walls came into sight, and for the first time in a long time, Kyrie felt weary. She hadn’t succeeded in finding any signs of Luk – though she really shouldn’t have been surprised by it, considering how much area she had to cover and the likelihood of him being in the first area she checked.

She was so tired that as she approached the city gate, she almost didn’t see that someone was leaving the city just in front of her. In fact, she probably wouldn’t have noticed at all if he hadn’t called her name.

She blinked at the blond-haired man. “Luk?”

The man arched one eyebrow. “You really are out of it, aren’t you?” he asked her. “What’s going on?”

She fell into step beside him. “I was looking for you,” she told him. “Do you mind if I come with you?” She was exhausted, but she was more than willing to force herself to keep going if it meant she could find out how her old friend was doing.

Luk didn’t seem to care one way or another. “If you want,” he shrugged.

That just made Kyrie more concerned. “Luk, everyone’s worried about you,” she told him earnestly. “You just … up and left. No one knows where you’re staying or if you’re all right.”

Luk’s expression changed from nonchalant to guarded. “There’s no point in making me go back to the city,” he told her flatly. “There’s nowhere for me to stay there, anyway.”

“That wasn’t my plan,” she murmured sadly. “I just wanted to let you know … you don’t have to be alone. And I really think it would be best if you’re not. I was alone after my parents were killed, and I had no idea where Khetal was … I didn’t want to trust anyone either, I didn’t want to be near anyone. But when I finally let people in, I found out that it was the best thing for me.”

Luk clenched his jaw and pressed forward angrily, moving more quickly as if he were trying to get away from her.

“Luk, I know how you feel,” she told him, walking just behind him. “It’s not fair. Your father was taken from you, then your mother and stepfather, as well as your unborn sibling. Did any of them deserve to die? No. But that’s part of life. If everyone who lost someone went off and lived alone and angry, where would society be? You need to realize that you still have people who love you and want you to be well.”

“You’re not going to leave me alone, are you?” Luk snapped, his eyes blazing angrily as he whirled to glare at her.

Kyrie shook her head. “Not until I know how you’re living,” she told him calmly. “And until you realize that the world isn’t out to get you.”

“I know the world isn’t out to get me.” Luk turned and pressed forward again, and Kyrie could see in the tenseness of his shoulders how agitated he was. She started after him again. “I just don’t want to be around people all the time. Is that so bad?”

“Well, it certainly isn’t good,” Kyrie quipped.

He glared at her again, and his anger was so fierce that she stopped in her tracks.

She sighed. “As you will, then. Just remember that you don’t have to be alone. Whenever you want, you do have people waiting for you. Me, Lily … all of your friends.”

Luk was rapidly increasing the distance between them. “Mm-hmm.”

Just before he slipped out of sight, Kyrie willed Uruloki to leave his resting place on her body. The two had grown quite comfortable with their bond by now, and they could meld together or split apart with less effort than a thought.

“Follow him,” Kyrie requested once Uruloki was standing in front of her. He was half as tall as her now when he was standing – though admittedly most of his height was neck – but when he bonded with her, he shrunk to the size he had been at birth.

He nodded at her request and folded his wings against his body. He could remain invisible easily enough. He didn’t need any other explanation from Kyrie: having been bonded to her, he knew her thoughts. He turned and vanished into the darkness, leaving Kyrie behind and watching anxiously after the two.

Then she turned and headed back to the city to prove to Cantor and Lara that she was all right.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:08 am

Location: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
Year: 28 105 (2605 T.A.)
Status: Summer

By the time Kyrie returned to Lara and Cantor’s house, night had long since fallen. She tried to slip in quietly, but the entire family was still up anyways, which made it pointless.

“Kyrie,” Lara called her from the living room. “In here.”

Kyrie let her bag fall carefully to the floor at the bottom of the stairs and stepped into the living room. Lily was in the living room with her mother, and both of them were standing in front of easels, bottles of paints laid out between them.

Lily smiled with relief when she saw her aunt. “You’re back,” she sighed happily. “I was getting worried.”

Lara laughed. “By now, if nothing’s happened to Kyrie, nothing ever will.”

“Thanks for your vote of confidence,” Kyrie said dryly, lowering herself onto the couch and leaning back. “I may be immortal, but no one is truly immortal.”

“I have confidence in you,” her sister grinned.

“Aunt Kyrie, where’s your tattoo?” Lily spoke up, noticing for the first time that Kyrie’s abdomen, usually covered with a snaking red dragon, was bare. She had never seen her aunt without it before, and had no idea that Uruloki was a real dragon, not just some ink on Kyrie’s skin.

Instead of answering, Kyrie changed the subject. She preferred people not know that Uruloki was a real dragon. People feared dragons too much, and they would not be willing to accept him.

“I found Luk,” she said with a smile. “North of the city, like I thought. I haven’t found exactly where he’s staying, but he’s fine, physically.”

“Then why are you here?” Lily asked, confused. She noticed the way Kyrie had dodged her question, but she was old enough to realize that she had probably touched on a forbidden subject. “I would have thought that you would stay with him for a while and get more information.”

“Well, I had to let all of you know that I’m fine,” Kyrie replied, still smiling. “I promised I’d return every third day, didn’t I?”

“You also promised you would visit every few years at the least,” Lara replied dryly, “not every decade. We’ve grown used to you not following up on those sorts of promises.” She set her paintbrush in a cup of water and turned to face Kyrie. “But you said he’s fine physically. What about emotionally?”

Kyrie pursed her lips and thought about how to reply. Truth be told, she hadn’t really been able to talk to Luk very long, and she hadn’t gotten much information from him.

“He claims that all he wants is to be left alone,” she said quietly. “He doesn’t want to be around people. I understand what he’s going through, in a way. Of course, my situation was very different … but even so. When I was finally free, the last thing I wanted was to be around people.”

“Free?” Lily asked, turning and looking at her aunt curiously.

Kyrie smiled at her. “I was a captive for a long time.”

Lily’s brow furrowed. She had never heard about Kyrie’s past before. All she knew was that Kyrie had been adopted into the family because she had lost her parents. She knew that Khetal had also been adopted into the family, but she hadn’t had a chance to meet him yet, either, nor her grandparents or her aunt Gwen. Just as she hadn’t been able to meet Ahkshi.

“Mother changed your mind, though,” Lara grinned at Kyrie.

“So did the rest of you,” Kyrie laughed. “I know. That’s what Luk needs, a new family. But whether he’ll let someone take him in … that’s another question.”

A thoughtful look crossed Lily’s face, and she turned back to her painting while her mother and aunt continued their chat.

“He’s a lot like you that way, too,” Lara told Kyrie, setting her brush down and moving to sit next to her on the couch. “But you at least had the strength of heart to give it a try.”

Kyrie smiled faintly and folded her hands in her lap. “Yeah …”

Lara put one hand on Kyrie’s and smiled at her reassuringly. “You’ll see. He’ll open up. He just needs time. People aren’t meant to be alone. Eventually, he’ll get lonely. He’ll come back to civilization. He’s only been out there a little over a year. Give him some time.”

“I just want to know that he’s doing all right,” Kyrie admitted. “We used to be best friends. We grew up together. We did everything together. But he’s a city person. He’s not a forest person.”

“He’s been doing all right so far,” Lara pointed out. “Over a year on his own, winter included, and from the reports that we get in the city, it seems he’s doing all right. He’s healthy. Not losing weight or strength.”

“His colour is good,” Kyrie added softly. “He does look like he’s been eating well … and I suppose he’s not so far away from the city as he would have to worry too much about wild animals …”

“At least not the dangerous ones,” Lara agreed. “See? Nothing to worry about. And I’m sure that you’ll know more soon enough, right?” She eyed Kyrie’s stomach pointedly.

Kyrie smiled. “Yes. Hopefully within a few days. At the most. I’m not sure how it’s going to go, though. It’s the first time we’ve been apart since I found him.”

“You’re remarkably calm.”

“No, I’m remarkably exhausted,” she said dryly. “Truth be told, I’m amazed I made it this far.” She yawned. “On that note, I would really like to go to bed. I don’t know why all of you are still up.”

Lara smiled at her. “Lily wanted to wait up for you and make sure you were all right.”

The comment made Kyrie laugh. “See? It’s a good thing I kept my word this time.”

Lara giggled. “Yes. Now, go say goodnight to Cantor and Corazin before you go to bed. They were worried about you, too.”

“Will do,” Kyrie promised, pushing herself to her feet again. “Night.”

“Good night,” Lara told her warmly.

“Good night,” Lily called over her shoulder as Kyrie left the room.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:09 am

Location: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
Year: 28 105 (2605 T.A.)
Status: Summer

Kyrie’s window faced the west, so she didn’t get the morning sunlight. That, coupled with her exhaustion from the day before, meant that she was sleeping in long past sunrise. When she woke, it was to the feeling of something nudging against her cheek. She opened her eyes and all she saw was red.

“Ugh…” she muttered, closing her eyes again and turning over to face the other direction. She hadn’t had anything to drink the night before, and she could have sworn that she’d gotten enough sleep …


That voice … was familiar … somehow …


“Sun idden up,” she mumbled, pulling her pillow over her head.


Kyrie sat bolt upright, suddenly realizing that whoever it was that was talking to her, was right beside her head. “Wha-”

“Kyrie, wake up!” the voice came again, sounding slightly annoyed this time.

Kyrie turned around and saw Uruloki sitting on her bed, wings folded neatly against his back, his tail flicking back and forth.

“It’s about time you got your head on straight,” he told her, sounding somewhat cross. His mouth was moving, and only after a moment’s thought did Kyrie realize that he was actually speaking aloud, and not in her head.

She stared at him, dazed. “What …”

“I told you it would be a matter of time,” he told her flatly. “Now listen. I spent the night watching Luk. He-”

“How is he?” Kyrie interrupted him anxiously. “How is he faring? Where is he-”

She stopped abruptly when she saw how Uruloki was staring at her, motionless, his eyelids half closed.

“If I may,” he said pointedly.

Kyrie rubbed her eyes sheepishly. “Right.”

He opened his mouth, but before he could say another word, there was a knock at the door. “Aunt Kyrie?” Lily’s voice penetrated the door. “Are you all right in there?”

In less time than the blink of an eye, Uruloki vanished from the bed and took his place as a mark on Kyrie’s belly.

“I’m fine,” Kyrie called back, throwing back the blanket and reaching for her clothes. “Give me a moment to get dressed, I just woke up.”

“You’re sure you’re all right? I heard voices … I was sure I heard a man’s voice in there.” There was a pause. “I don’t suppose Uncle Ahkshi showed up in the middle of the night?”

Kyrie couldn’t help but smile. “Of course not,” she replied, amused by the thought. “Wouldn’t that be wonderful, though?” She finished dressing and called out, “Come in.”

There was a click as Lily lifted the latch, and then the door opened slightly. “So whose voice did I hear?” she asked, her auburn hair unbrushed.

Kyrie smiled at her and motioned for her to sit on the bed next to her. “Looks like you just woke as well. How late did you and your mother paint last night?”

“Too late,” Lily laughed, sitting down. “But you’re not answering my question. Whose voice did I hear?” Suddenly she noticed the tattoo on Kyrie’s belly, and she blinked at it. “Wait, I thought … did I imagine …”

Kyrie patted her niece on the head. “You need more sleep,” she told her. “Come, let me see what you accomplished last night that required you to stay up so late.”

As she moved to stand up, Lily put one hand on her arm to stop her. “Aunt Kyrie, I’m not stupid,” she said softly but firmly. “I heard a man’s voice in here. I know that last night I saw you without a mark, and now today it is back. And if I’m not mistaken, it’s different. It used to wrap around you the other way. Something is going on, and I know you don’t wish to speak of it, but when it comes to voices in our house, I believe that we have a right to know what is going on.”

I don’t know why you keep it from her, Uruloki spoke up inside Kyrie’s mind. You’re being silly.

“That’s a matter of opinion,” Kyrie said flatly, forgetting that Uruloki had not spoken aloud and that Lily would not have heard him.

Lily blinked at the statement. “I beg your pardon?”

You’ve done it now.

“Shut up.”

“Aunt Kyrie!”

Kyrie blinked at Lily, suddenly remembering that she was there. Her face turned a bright shade of red. “Oh … um … sorry. I wasn’t meaning you.”

“Then who were you meaning?” Lily was exasperated. “Aunt Kyrie, I see no one else in here.”

Will you just tell her? Uruloki didn’t sound much less exasperated than Lily.

Kyrie sighed. “Fine. Lily, close the door. I do prefer to keep this to ourselves. Your parents are aware of this, but the fewer people who know of this, the better. For my sake.”

Lily rose and moved to close the door, but she kept an eye on Kyrie as she did so. “Aunt, you’re beginning to worry me,” she murmured anxiously.

“I’m sorry,” Kyrie smiled. “I’m just paranoid. I’ve seen too much sadness when people are too different from others.”

Uruloki didn’t wait, but the moment the door clicked shut, he separated himself from Kyrie again, appearing on the bed all stretched out. Lily gasped with surprise, but Kyrie blinked at him. He was little again.

“What happened?” she asked incredulously. “You’re the size of a hatchling!”

“You two were taking up all the room,” he told her, crawling into her lap. “Besides, I miss being small.”

“Aunt Kyrie … you’re talking to a dragon,” Lily said, astonished.

“Sit down again, Lily,” Kyrie smiled at her. “You wanted to know.” Her niece slid back onto the bed, and while Kyrie waited for her to make herself comfortable again, she stroked Uruloki along his body, the same as she had when he had been a hatchling. “This is Uruloki. I found him as an egg, a long time ago. He hatched just about in my hands and he’s been with me since.”

“With you?” Lily stared at Uruloki.

Kyrie looked down at the dragon, who was making his purring noise again, something he hadn’t done since he had been small. “Well … you might say we’re inseparable, that he and I together are one. But I guess his little venture last night proves we’re not as inseparable as we thought.”


“Kyrie asked me to follow her friend, Luk,” Uruloki spoke up, still purring. “By all that lives and breathes, Kyrie, that feels good.”

“Suck up.” Kyrie grinned at him – but she didn’t stop stroking him. “Anyways, yes, last night I asked Uruloki to watch Luk because I had promised to be back here. He was about to tell me about it when you knocked at the door.”

Lily had the grace to blush, but she leaned closer anyways and said, “Uruloki, please tell us.”

Uruloki sighed with contentment and crawled off of Kyrie’s lap so that he could concentrate. He lay down between the two women, curled his tail around his body, and looked up at them. “I don’t think you need to worry much about him,” he told them both. “From the way he talks, I don’t think he’s planning on staying out there forever. He’s working on a project, as he calls it, and he says that once he’s done he’s going to move closer to the city.”

“Not inside the city again?” Lily asked in dismay.

Uruloki yawned. “It didn’t sound that way. But it does sound as if he’s serious about being left alone out there. He doesn’t want anything to distract him from his project, and he doesn’t want anyone else near it.”

“What is it?” asked Kyrie.

“That, I don’t know,” Uruloki replied simply. “I really don’t.”

“Well, at least we know a little of what’s going on in his head,” Kyrie offered, seeing the look on her niece’s face. “I really do think it’s fine for you to stop worrying.”

Lily blushed again. “You really think so?”

Kyrie smiled and leaned over Uruloki to hug her. “I do. Now come on, I need some breakfast.”

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:09 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 28 106 (2606 T.A.)
Status: Early Spring

Kyrie had spent much of the winter in Caras Galadhon with Lara and her family, and though usually she would have waited for spring to arrive before setting out on her travels again, this time she found herself too troubled to stay there and wait for the good weather. It wasn’t worry for Luk that made her anxious. She knew that he would be fine. She hadn’t gone to look for him again, but Uruloki had reassured her, and she had believed him.

In fact, it was Uruloki that was giving her such disquieted thoughts. Not that he had done anything worrying: their bond was as strong as ever; but because she couldn’t stop thinking about Lily’s comment the night Kyrie had come back home without Uruloki with her. Her first comment, after her relief at Kyrie’s return, had been to inquire after Kyrie’s lack of a ‘tattoo’. Not only that, but she had even known enough to recognize that when Uruloki had returned, the ‘tattoo’ had taken a different position.

Lily might have an artist’s eye, Kyrie reflected, but it had been ten years since she had seen the tattoo, and if she had noticed those two things so quickly, then others certainly would as well. That wasn’t something that she wanted. But that meant that one of three things would have to happen: either he would have to remain bonded to her (a restriction she didn’t care for, as she wanted him to be free); or they would have to remain separate from each other (which she also didn’t care for, as she liked the fact that they could bond); or she would have to find a way to make it hard for others to tell whether or not they were bonded.

Still, she didn’t want to do anything without first speaking with Ahkshi. Aside from being her husband, he was also a physician, and quite knowledgeable in matters of dragons.

It was the middle of the night when she arrived in Makshim, and she made her way quickly to Ahkshi’s house and let herself inside. When she closed the door, she heard him stir in his sleep, and when she pulled her boots off and set them on the mat next to the door, she heard him moving.

“H’lo?” he mumbled sleepily. “Who’z’air?

“It’s me, darling,” Kyrie murmured, smiling softly.


Kyrie shed her cloak and hung it on a hook to dry. It was a good winter cloak, nice and thick, and it did as good a job at keeping the rain off her as the snow. Then she peeled off her outer garments and stuffed them into her bag.

“Don’t get up,” she said softly, the cold air not bothering her one bit as she tiptoed over to the bed. It was one of the better side effects of bonding with Uruloki: as a Volcano Dragon, and thus a subspecies of Fire Dragon, he produced his own heat rather than requiring an external heat source like most reptiles, and when they were bonded he kept Kyrie warm as well.

She pulled back a corner of the blanket and leaned down to greet her husband with a warm kiss as she slid into bed with him. He returned the kiss and as she settled in next to him, he put his arms around her and held her close.

“Mm,” he sighed contentedly. “You’re early.”

Kyrie closed her eyes and laid her head against his shoulder. “I know. I just wanted to get back to you.”

She could feel the chuckle that rumbled through his chest. “It’s good to know,” he murmured, “that I’m not the only impatient one.”

That made Kyrie laugh. “No, you’re not.” She opened her eyes and gazed at him tenderly, and ran one finger lightly along his brow line.

He cracked one eye open and looked at her sleepily. “S-something tells me there’s something bothering you,” he murmured.

Kyrie bit her lower lip, considering how to reply. She couldn’t deny it: that would be a lie; but he was half asleep, and how fair would it be to wake him up just to talk? He had responsibilities in the morning, after all, responsibilities that required him to be at his best.

She smiled at him and kissed him softly. “In the morning,” she told him quietly, putting one finger to his lips. “Sleep now.”

Instead of obeying, he raised one arm and lit a candle by summoning his fire magic. Kyrie squinted in the sudden light and raised one hand to protect her eyes from it. “What …”

“Something is bothering you,” Ahkshi told her, sitting up. “I can’t s-sleep if I know something is bothering you.”

“Ahkshi, please, you need to sleep,” Kyrie said anxiously, sitting up as well and putting a hand to his cheek. “Come, we can talk in the morning.”

He shook his head firmly. “N-no. I have no patients at the moment. S-sleep won’t come anyways.”

Kyrie was tired, but she didn’t want to make her husband more anxious than she apparently already had. She sighed and lay down again, tugging him down as well so that she could pull the blanket above her shoulders. “It’s nothing huge,” she told him softly as he settled in next to her again. “It’s just something that happened while I was in Caras Galadhon.”

It didn’t take her long to tell him about how quickly Lily had noticed Uruloki’s absence or the fact that he had returned to a different position on her body, but she had missed talking with Ahkshi so much that she didn’t just stop there: she went on to tell him about Luk and her worries about him living alone in the forest; she told him about Cantor and Lara and the children (who weren’t children anymore); and then she came back to the subject of Uruloki and how she didn’t like that it was so obvious whether or not the two were bonded at any given moment.

Ahkshi listened in silence for the most part, interrupting only with questions for clarification or to make comments of agreement or understanding. By the time she finished pouring out her worries to him, he was wide awake. He was silent, thoughtful, for a few minutes afterwards, but Kyrie didn’t mind: she was just enjoying being back in his arms again.

“I can s-see why it might worry you,” he murmured finally. “The only way for you and him to keep your r-relationship the way it is would be to do something to your own b-b-body to hide him, whether he’s there or not.”

“But I don’t want to do more than I need,” she sighed. “And yet how much is enough, and how much is too much?”

He ran one finger along her collarbone. “You could keep it s-simple. Instead of getting enough t-tattoos to help him blend, just get one … of him.”

“Of Uruloki?” Kyrie blinked in surprise.

Ahkshi smiled at her. “Yes. Then when he’s gone, it looks like he’s still here, and when he c-comes back, then he knows how to get back in the r-right position.”

There was a thought. She wouldn’t have to deface herself with marks that meant nothing to her, that would really make her feel ashamed of herself, as she had once felt such a long time ago.

She smiled back at him and brushed her fingers against his cheek. “Then that’s what I’ll do,” she murmured. “Now come on, let’s get at least some sleep tonight. You might not have any patients at the moment, but traveling in the winter is exhausting.”

That, and she wanted to be well rested for what lay ahead. She didn’t know when she would get the massive tattoo, but she wanted to make sure that she was prepared for it when the time came.

Ahkshi chuckled and kissed her on the forehead. “As you wish,” he murmured. With a wave of his hand, the candle was extinguished and before long the two were able to drift off to sleep.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:09 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 28 106 (2606 T.A.)
Status: Mid-Summer

Doing the tattoo, piece by piece, it took five weeks for Kyrie’s dragon tattoo to be fully completed. It was a long and painful process, and only days after the makings had become part of her, infection took hold. For eight more days, she lay in bed, ravaged by fever. Ahkshi never left her side, constantly bathing her body with cool water, forcing her to drink water and mead so that she wouldn’t become dehydrated or miss too much nourishment; nevertheless, when the fever finally broke, she had lost quite a bit of weight and strength.

“I hate feeling like this,” she grumbled to Ahkshi the evening after her fever had broken. He was sitting on the edge of the bed and sponge bathing her while Uruloki was curled up behind the door again. “So … helpless.”

He smiled gently at her, his green eyes warm and tender. “I hope you d-don’t feel like you d-did when you were young,” he murmured softly, running the sponge slowly over her bare back. “You should feel s-safe, at the very least.”

“Mm.” She rolled over slightly so that she could peer up at him. “Safe. But weak as a babe.”

Ahkshi made her lay on her stomach again. “We knew this was going to be a probability,” he reminded her. “Tattoos are r-risky at the best of times, and getting one this b-big … it was asking for an infection.” He sponged off some of the dragon’s coils that crossed her back. “I have to admit, though, it was w-worse than I had exp-p-pected it to be.”

Kyrie yawned. “I know. I knew the moment the fever broke, from the look on your face.” She rolled over again and smiled up at him tiredly. “Have I told you I love you?”

He chuckled and leaned down to kiss her on the cheek. “Yes. Now lie down and let me f-finish washing you.”

“Mm.” Kyrie smiled and twisted to lie on her back instead. “I’ll take a proper bath tomorrow. Honestly, right now, I just want to sleep.”

Ahkshi sighed and leaned his chin on one hand. “You know, Kyrie, you’re a w-wonderful w-wife, but you make one t-t-terrible patient.”

“So Lynliss has told me,” Kyrie chuckled softly. “But if I’m a wonderful wife, does that let me off the hook for now?”

Ahkshi chuckled back at her. “N-not this time. I h-have to clean your tattoo at least t-t-to keep the infection from coming back.”

Kyrie groaned. Her skin was still raw and tender, and she was seriously starting to wonder if it had been such a good idea to get this tattoo. Still, she had to admit, it was a much better idea than tattooing most of her body to hide Uruloki in his bonded form. That would have been much worse in terms of pain, time, and infection.

“Half now and half later?” she asked hopefully.

He shook his head. “Let’s get this d-done and over with,” he said firmly. He tilted his head. “I’ve never known you to b-back down from anything,” he told her.

The challenge was clear. Kyrie knew it: could see it, feel it, and hear it. She looked at her husband through narrowed eyes. Her defiance lasted only a moment, however: she knew he was right.

“Fine,” she grumbled, turning her back to him again.

During the rest of the washing process, she was so tense that when Ahkshi finally finished and she could relax, her muscles were aching. Still, she had remained silent through the remainder of it, not letting a single whimper or complaint pass her lips.

“See?” Ahkshi chuckled softly, bringing the bucket of water back to the bath room. “N-now don’t you f-feel better?”

“No,” Kyrie said, more because she felt snarky rather than truthful. “But I did as you asked. What’s my reward?”

Ahkshi grinned at her, and from the safety of the doorway across the room, he replied, “It’s over and d-d-done with.”

He knew he was lucky she couldn’t move much at the moment.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:10 am

Location: Garnelia, Arkandia
Year: 28 854 (3354 T.A.)
Status: Late Spring

For hundreds of years now, life had been routine for Kyrie. Winters with her husband, other seasons traveling, visiting … yet despite the fact that it was indeed a routine by now, it had never stopped Kyrie from enjoying what she did.

Over the years, she had passed many times through the country of Garnelia, to the west of Shiezin, and even spent some days in the capital city, Dekra. She had always been relatively well received, considering her mixed blood, but she had never had any problems there. A few times she had glimpsed the royal family, especially in the last decade, when their youngest was old enough to leave the castle now and again. Even they had treated her with kindness.

She was passing through the city now. She didn’t have to, she could easily have gone around; but she wanted to have a pastry from the bakery (they were especially good here, she found). The first thing she noticed when she entered the city was the silence. Usually a hub of activity, there wasn’t a soul in sight. Instantly, Kyrie was alert. What was going on?

Keeping to the shadows, she moved silently through the city, searching for any hint of what it could be. It was as if the city had become a ghost town: none of the shops were open; there weren’t even any scents in the air. No sounds. No animals. No people. Nothing.

At last, she made it to the center of the city, where the palace was located, and there, she saw people. There were soldiers standing guard at the palace gates, as well as a few places along the outer walls. But even they were different now: instead of wearing the red and white of the ruling family, they were wearing black and gold, colours that Kyrie had never seen in any of the countries she visited.

Something was very wrong indeed.

She glanced up at the palace flags. Gone were the white dragons on the red field, and in their place were black ravens against a field of gold. Clearly the ruling family had been replaced, presumably because of their deaths. But there were six of them, and for all of them to have died within the space of a year? At this same time last year, things had been fine in the city. It stank to Kyrie. Whatever had happened, it wasn’t natural.

She made her way back to the outskirts of the city, her thoughts preoccupied with what might have happened. It wasn’t her business: after all, she wasn’t a citizen of this country, let alone this particular city; and yet, she had a growing urge to somehow try to make things right, if she could. Still, what could she do? She didn’t even know what had happened.

Hungry, she tried the door of the bakery, and was very surprised when it opened beneath her touch. The only light inside was from the large front window, and she could smell nothing at all.

“Hello?” she called out hesitantly, the hairs on the back of her neck prickling. She could feel that Uruloki was also anxious, and she fought to keep his instincts at bay.

I don’t like this, she heard in her mind. Silently, she agreed.

“Hello?” she called again, more loudly this time, fingertips resting lightly on the pommel of a small dagger.

She heard a shuffling sound from the back of the shop, and she waited, tense, to see what was causing it.

“Who’s there?” a nervous voice came from the open doorway.

“A hungry customer, if you’re the baker,” Kyrie replied, though she didn’t relax.

The shuffling continued, and suddenly a boy, perhaps ten years old, appeared in the doorway. His eyes were wide with fear, and he was gripping a rolling pin so tightly that his knuckles were white. Kyrie blinked at him and stood up straight, lowering her hands so that she wouldn’t appear threatening to him.

“I’ve … seen you before,” the boy squeaked, staring at her through wide eyes. “You … you’re not from … here …”

Kyrie shook her head. “No, I’m not. I’m a traveler. Tell me, what’s happened here? The city looks like it’s died since the last time I was here.”

The boy whimpered and lowered the rolling pin, hugging himself rather than brandishing the tool as a weapon. “They- they’re gone. All of them … gone.”

“Who?” Kyrie asked apprehensively.

“All the men! The- the soldiers came and took my father and- and all the men in the city!” He was starting to cry now. “The king and queen are gone and all the family, and then the General took over, and they took all the men!”


Yes, I can figure that out for myself, thanks. Kyrie didn’t mean to be angry with Uruloki. She was redirecting her anger to keep from lashing out at the boy. After a moment, she added a quick but sincere, Sorry.

No problem.

“What of your mother?” she asked the boy. The entire exchange between herself and Uruloki had taken less than a second, and the boy noticed nothing amiss.

“She’s upstairs,” he told her, his shoulders shaking.

He was rubbing his arms as if he were cold, and Kyrie looked around for a fire. There didn’t seem to be one. She of course didn’t feel cold – when she was bonded with Uruloki, she was incapable of feeling any temperature but comfortable.

“Shades, has this place not been taken care of since it happened?” she cursed, moving towards the fireplace with the intent of starting a fire. “How long has it been?”

“Two weeks.” He sniffled and shuffled closer. Kyrie got Uruloki to light the fire before the boy could see that the dragon was anything more than a tattoo, and as she moved to stand up again, she saw that the boy’s bare feet were very dirty. When was the last time he’d been able to wash?

“And things have been like this since?” she asked, her anger growing again.

The boy nodded and squatted next to the fire, shuffling close. “The soldiers … they hurt anyone they find in the streets. They-”

He was cut off by the sound of hurried, anxious footsteps, and a young-looking woman rushed into the room. “Perci!” she exclaimed, darting forward and grabbing the boy by the arm, yanking him away from Kyrie. She turned to Kyrie, fire in her eyes. “Stay away from my son!”

Kyrie had to physically put both hands to her abdomen to keep Uruloki from springing to her defense.

“But Mama!” the boy protested as the woman suffocated the fire to put it out. “I’ve been cold for so long now …”

“No,” the woman said firmly. “The soldiers are looking for such things. They’ve taken your father, they won’t have you.”

“Just what is going on here?” Kyrie burst out, unable to hold it in any longer. “What happened to Their Majesties? And their children, all four of them?”

The woman clutched her son close. “No one knows,” she said in a hushed tone, her eyes darting constantly towards the front window, as if she were afraid of being overheard. “One day there were soldiers in the street. They were wearing different colours, and the flags had changed … now there are always soldiers in the streets, and they take everyone they see. Dead, enslaved, imprisoned … no one knows anything.”

Kyrie’s eyes grew dark as she listened. “I will get to the bottom of this,” she promised. She headed to the window and looked out, then turned back to the woman and her son. “Lock your door behind me.”

And with that, she headed out into the streets to see what she could find out.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:10 am

Location: Garnelia, Arkandia
Year: 28 854 (3354 T.A.)
Status: Late Spring

By this time, Kyrie had spent two days trying to find out what had happened in the city of Dekra, and she had been completely unsuccessful. She was really growing frustrated now: she had seen two young men and even one child being attacked by soldiers, and though she’d been unable to save one of the men, she’d gotten the other man and the child away safely to a hiding place.

Now, as she was moving silently from rooftop to rooftop, the safest way to avoid the soldiers that could come around any corner at any moment, she spotted a young man, well dressed, moving furtively through an alleyway. He was careful about going around corners, always checking before turning them, and he seemed to be looking for something.

He was coming towards her now, towards the building she was on, and from the other side of the building she heard a shout. She moved carefully over to see what was happening. Two sets of guards had met and greeted each other, and were now heading in opposite directions. When she checked on the young man again, she saw that he was going to run into the soldiers if he turned the corner – that the guards would turn their corner the same time he turned his.

She whistled softly to get his attention, and he looked around, alarmed. She whistled again, and this time he looked up. She mouthed the word Guards! and gestured towards the corner. His eyes grew wide, and when she held one hand down to him, he took it gratefully. She helped him up onto the roof just as the soldiers turned the corner and looked around.

The two of them lay flat, scarcely daring to breathe, until the soldiers were long gone. At last, Kyrie sat up and nodded at the man.

“You all right?” she asked him quietly. When he nodded, she smiled. “That was a close one. I’ve seen what those soldiers do to anyone they catch out in the streets. What were you looking for?”

The man rubbed the space between his eyes. “You, I think,” he said sheepishly. “You’re the one who’s been helping people … yes?”

She nodded. “I’ve been trying to figure out what happened,” she explained quietly. “That the palace and the soldiers and life itself has changed so drastically in the space of a week …”

She trailed off. The man had a look on his face that made her stop. “You … know what happened,” she said quietly.

He nodded. “I do. But we can’t talk here, come on. We’ve got to go.”


He grimaced. “To someone who needs you much more than anyone here.”

Kyrie looked at him closely for a moment, then nodded once. If it was a trap, she could take care of herself. Of that, she was certain. “Lead the way.”

It was a complicated path that the man took Kyrie on, and they ended up in the woods, until at last they came to a small cottage. Rather than going into the cottage, however, he led her to a set of cellar doors. All through their trip, he had not said another word, but now, as he opened the cellar doors for her, he said, “Fourteen days ago, the king’s general attempted to assassinate the entire royal family. He believes that he succeeded. The king, queen, and all three princes are dead. They have been given a proper funeral. But the youngest, Princess Mari, survived. She was left for dead. My friends and I found her, and we’ve been taking care of her since then. It was she who told us what happened. But that was the day that we found her, and since then she has not regained consciousness. None of us are healers. We don’t know any place other than the city.”

“So what do you need me for?” Kyrie asked, realizing the gravity of the situation.

The man looked desperate. “You’re a traveler, yes? Do you have any skill in healing? Can you try to help her? Or do you know a good healer?”

Immediately, Kyrie’s thoughts turned to her husband, back in Makshim. She had no doubt that he would be able to help the girl. But he couldn’t leave Makshim; and even if he could, she wouldn’t have time to fetch him, she was certain.

“Let me take a look at her,” she decided. “I’ll see if it’s safe to move her.”

He took her into the cellar of the cabin. Considering that it was underground, it was well lit and ventilated, and Kyrie could see the princess clearly. Or maybe it was her dragon vision that gave her such clear sight, she wasn’t sure. The princess was lying on a bed, and she was so still that Kyrie had to put her hand in front of her nose to ascertain that she was breathing. And yet, at first glance, she seemed to be in perfect health: it was only upon a closer look that Kyrie noticed the blood that soaked the shirt she was wearing.

Safe or not, if the princess didn’t get to a healer soon, she would die.

“Bring her outside,” Kyrie ordered the man without inspecting the woman any more closely. “Now.”

She headed outside herself, and, while she was waiting on the man to bring the princess out, she had Uruloki leave her and resume his full size. After nearly eight hundred years, he was a full grown dragon, a full hundred feet from nose to tail tip, though he could be smaller when he wanted to be. His wingspan was equal to his length, and he could fly for days on end.

She heard a strangled cry behind her, and she turned to see the man carrying the princess, staring up at Uruloki in abject terror.

“Calm down, he’s with me,” Kyrie said quickly. Uruloki lay flat on the ground, and Kyrie climbed up onto his back. “Come on, quickly now. We have to go now or else she’s going to die.”

“You-you’re sure it’s safe?”

“Yes!” Kyrie frowned. “Now come on, quickly! She’s cheating death as it is.”

The man needed still a bit more urging, but finally he and the princess were safely on Uruloki’s back. The moment they were ready, the dragon took to the air, heading for home.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:14 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 28 854 (3354 T.A.)
Status: Late Spring

The flight to Makshim lasted about three hours, and during that time, Kyrie got more of the story from the man who had found her – Chesnet, his name was. He had been friends with the princess’s brothers, and so had known the princess all his life. He had been out hunting with another of the princes’ friends and the two of them had come across the bodies of the royal family. How Mari had survived was beyond him – but then, he wasn’t even certain yet that she would survive.

When the red-rock city of Makshim came into view, Kyrie urged Uruloki lower so that they would not be as easily spotted. They landed about a five minutes’ walk from the city, and from that point, Chesnet carried the princess in his arms. He just about dropped her in surprise when he saw Uruloki shrink and disappear into the tattoo that curled around Kyrie’s torso, but Kyrie snapped her fingers at him.

“Forget it,” she told him flatly. “Come on, the princess needs attention. Follow me. Quickly, now!”

She let him set the pace as she led him through the city towards Ahkshi’s clinic, hoping beyond hope that he would be at the clinic. If he wasn’t, she would have to send someone to find him.

“Akoreyl!” she cried, spotting Ahkshi’s mother in the crowded market. The woman didn’t hear her, and Kyrie motioned for Chesnet to wait for a moment. Then she hurried forward and touched the woman on the arm.

“Kyrie!” the woman blinked at her, her green eyes filled with surprise. “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be out traveling?”

“I’ll explain later,” Kyrie replied quickly. “Do you know where Ahkshi is? I need him at the clinic this very minute. It’s an emergency!”

Akoreyl’s brow furrowed anxiously. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” Kyrie assured her, “but I need Ahkshi at the clinic right now. Where is he?”

“I … think … still at home …”

“Then fetch him!” Kyrie just about shouted. She was impatient now. Couldn’t her mother-in-law see that she was in a hurry? “Tell him I’m waiting for him at the clinic, and it’s an emergency – life or death! Already it may be too late!”

Without waiting for an answer, she hurried back to Chesnet and Mari. She would have been quite content to fetch Ahkshi herself, but the supplies they would need were only at the clinic, not their house, and it would only waste what precious time they had left.

The clinic was empty when they arrived, and so Kyrie told Chesnet to lay Mari on the bed in the largest of the rooms – the room that had the most supplies.

“Undress her,” she ordered him, moving swiftly to collect bandages and rags.

He only stared at her. “What?”

Kyrie glared at him. “This is no time to be modest,” she told him flatly. “Take her shirt off. We can’t treat what we can’t see.”

Suddenly the front door slammed and Ahkshi’s voice rang out: “Kyrie!”

“In here,” she called, pushing Chesnet aside to remove the princess’s clothes herself.

Her husband appeared in the doorway, his face pale, out of breath. “Kyrie,” he gasped. “You-you’re n-not hurt, are you?”

“No,” she replied, too busy to be grateful to see him for any reason other than medical. “Hurry, she’s at death’s door.”

In a heartbeat, Ahkshi was ready to work. He stood next to Kyrie and helped her to disrobe the princess.

“Rags,” he said, his eyes on the patient.

Once the wound was exposed, Kyrie began to mop up the blood. It was difficult: there was so much dried blood from the eight days that it had been bleeding that the rags kept getting caught and pulling at the flesh.

“Spreader,” Ahkshi ordered, holding one hand out, his eyes fixed on the wound.

Kyrie handed him the tool, nudging Chesnet out of the way when she saw that he would be of absolutely no help at all. Finally, after two hours of surgery, they were able to bandage the woman up and let her rest.

“Now only time will tell,” Ahkshi sighed softly, looking down at the woman. Then he looked over at Kyrie and smiled. “You always d-did know how to make an entrance.”

Kyrie grinned right back up at him. It always amazed her that his stutter was completely gone when he was working, and returned the moment he finished. “At least it wasn’t me,” she pointed out.

He chuckled. “Yes. At l-least it w-wasn’t you.” He took her into his arms and kissed her warmly, ignoring the fact that they were both covered in blood. After a moment, however, Chesnet – whom they had forgotten, and who was standing in one corner of the room – cleared his throat, and the two released each other.

“Ahkshi,” Kyrie said, gesturing towards the dark elf, “this is Chesnet. He asked me if I knew a healer who could help him. The woman is the princess of Garnelia, Princess Mari. Someone tried to kill her.”

Ahkshi smiled at Chesnet. “I’m g-glad to have b-been of service,” he said, bowing slightly.

Chesnet smiled back weakly.

“And Chesnet,” Kyrie went on, “this is my husband, Ahkshi. The most skilled healer I know.”

Confusion lifted from Chesnet’s face, and he nodded. “That explains …” He nodded at the two of them and blushed lightly.

Kyrie laughed. “Ah, yes. Shy, we aren’t, and we make no apologies for it. But come, you should rest. There’s nothing more you can do for the princess now except make sure that you’re rested so that you can help her as she recovers. You’re going to have a lot of work to do to help her, after all.”

“Me?” Chesnet paled. “But I-I know nothing of healing! What could I possibly do?”

“You’re g-going to have to ch-change her b-bandages every s-single d-day,” Ahkshi told him, trying to sound firm despite his stutter. “B-bathe the wound. Check her s-stitches. M-m-monitor her t-t-temperature.”

“But I know nothing of such things,” Chesnet protested again.

Kyrie smiled and put one hand on the man’s shoulder. “Then we shall teach you,” she told him calmly.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:14 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 28 854 (3354 T.A.)
Status: Early Winter

More than half a year had passed since Mari had been brought to Ahkshi’s clinic, and since that time the only traveling Kyrie had done was to return to Dekra once to find Chesnet’s friend and tell him that Chesnet and Mari were safe in Shiezin, and that Mari was being treated for her wounds. Then she’s promptly returned home to help Ahkshi care for the princess. She had to be watched constantly, so she and Ahkshi took turns. When they both needed a break, Chesnet took over, though they only left him alone with her for short periods of time.

Within a week, Mari had woken. Only after Ahkishi had given her a thorough examination did he allow Chesnet in to talk with her, and then for an hour afterward, all that could be heard from the room were heart-wrenching sobs that ended only when the princess had fallen asleep again.

For the better part of three weeks, she could remain awake only for an hour at best, and as she grew stronger, Ahkshi left her more and more to Chesnet’s care.

As spring turned into summer, the princess started to leave her bed – by being carried at first, then by wheelchair – and as the summer progressed, she graduated to crutches. By the time summer was over, she was walking on her own, though she was still weak.

Despite the progress of her physical recovery, her mind was far from well. She suffered nightly from violent nightmares that made her cry out with fear, waking in cold sweats, and if ever someone heard her cries and tried to wake her, or even just stood next to her so that she would not be alone when she woke, she would see them as the enemy in her dream and try to fight them.

During the day, she wept for her family, her friends, her country. She cursed the man she called only “The General” for his treason; she cursed the soldiers who had so quickly joined him in his treason; and she cursed herself for her inability to do anything about it.

One evening, as winter was beginning to set in, Kyrie had the task of sitting with her while Ahkshi and Chesnet went to get some well-deserved sleep. The princess was sitting up in her bed, her back against her pillows, elbows resting upon her knees, staring out the window at the moon, which was shining brightly in the cloudless sky. Kyrie watched her silently, wondering what she was thinking about. She had a feeling she knew. She’d been in something of a similar situation before – being completely helpless, that was.

“You know,” she said, startling the princess, who jumped, “I once had to learn something that I believe you should also know.”

Mari turned to look at Kyrie, really looking at her for perhaps the first time since she’d arrived in Makshim. For a moment, she said nothing, her dark eyes examining Kyrie. She had never spoken to Kyrie, and had only spoken to Ahkshi to tell him how she was doing. The only person she’d really spoken with since her arrival was Chesnet, and even that was not within Kyrie’s or Ahkshi’s hearing.

“What is that?” she asked softly, her tone neutral.

Kyrie folded her hands in her lap. “When my family was killed, I was taken captive. For the next several years, I lived in despair. I didn’t care what had happened to me. And the worst did happen. At last I was rescued, but I was sent off to a different sort of torment. And this is what I learned at that point: that when the worst happens, you can’t change what happened. There is no going back. But now you have a choice before you. You can react as I did the first time: you can despair and do nothing. Let things run their course. Leave your people to suffer.”

“I could never do that,” Mari said harshly, glaring at Kyrie.

Kyrie only smiled. “And I’m glad to hear it. That leaves you your second option. Gather your strength. Make allies. Fight back. Save your people.”

Now she had Mari’s attention. The woman turned on the bed and shuffled closer to her, leaning forward to listen carefully. “And what might I do?” she asked. “I cannot fight. I am believed to be dead. The soldiers have shown no loyalty to my family, only to the General. And now I have been gone for so long. How would I even start?”

Kyrie raised one eyebrow. “I thought you would never despair,” she said pointedly.

The princess clenched her jaw, but she had enough wisdom to realize that Kyrie was right. After a moment, she nodded. “Will you guide me?” she asked softly. “I am fully aware of my youth. I have no experience beyond my tutelage. I have never expected to be a leader in anything. I have … had … three elder brothers, and it was they who were being trained to take over the ruling of the kingdom, should something happen to our parents. As the youngest, and as the only daughter, my education was more … shall we say, feminine.”

“Like I said, that’s in the past,” Kyrie replied patiently. “You have the power to change that. It won’t happen overnight, but if you apply yourself you could learn quickly enough.”

Mari smiled faintly. “I dare say I might,” she agreed. “My tutors always did say I was bright.”

Kyrie laughed. “There you are, then. And in answer to your question: yes. I will help you.” She smiled ruefully. “I just hope you do learn quickly. Otherwise this could take quite a while.”

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:14 am

Location: Dekra Outskirts, Garnelia, Arkandia
Year: 28 861 (3361 T.A.)
Status: Summer

Seven years after Kyrie agreed to help the princess, Mari decided that she was ready to go back home. Kyrie had to agree that she was her equal in weaponry, and by far her superior in climbing and stealth. She had a brilliant mind, and was a natural at thinking of strategies and such things. Chesnet had stayed with Mari the entire time, and he had learned more of fighting as well. Now Chesnet and Kyrie were both going back to Dekra with Mari: Kyrie to help her get started; Chesnet permanently.

Rather than flying back on Uruloki, which would have attracted unwanted attention, they walked.

“Remember,” Kyrie cautioned Mari as they approached the very cabin from which she’d taken her so many years before, “your best weapon is secrecy. Once the General knows that you are alive, he will be after you with a vengeance.”

“Vengeance will be mine,” Mari replied evenly. “Have no fear of that.”

Kyrie smiled. “I know. But don’t get your people caught in the crossfire.”

Mari couldn’t help but laugh. “You sound like you’ve done this before.”

“No, no,” Kyrie laughed back. “I admit, there are a good many things I’ve done, but this is the first rebellion I’ve instigated.” She paused, then amended, “Well, the first official rebellion.”

Looking back, destroying the facility in Poleria, revenge though it was, had been a bit of fun. Not at the time, but now.

“At any rate, I’ll help you get the lay of the land, see how things are, find a way to do some good … then I’m off,” she went on. “I think I know of something that could help you.”


Kyrie smiled. “Possibly. I shall do my best, at any rate.”

She and Mari held back as Chesnet checked out the cabin to make sure it was still safe. When he signaled them that it was, they headed towards it.

“How do you feel?” Kyrie asked the princess.

“Nervous,” Mari admitted, “but determined.”

“A good way to be,” Kyrie grinned. “Now come, let’s go see your friends.”

The man who had stayed in the cabin over the years that Mari had been gone was another young man, a little older than Chesnet. He also had been a friend of Mari’s older brothers, and only the thought of keeping the cabin as a safe place for the three of them had prevented him from going to Shiezin after Chesnet and Mari.

“Your Highness,” he greeted Mari with a deep bow when she entered the cabin ahead of Kyrie.

“Rise,” Mari told him immediately. “And let that be the last time you ever refer to me in such fashion.”

The man stood up again, his face flushed. “As you wish. But by the Valar, it’s good to see you again. You are well?”

She smiled. “Yes, Mathias, I am as well as can be expected. I have been preparing to return. I plan to retake my kingdom, soul by soul, until the General can be completely overthrown. I am counting on your support for this.”

“And you have it,” he replied solemnly. “Always.” He started to bow, but checked himself and blushed again.

Mari laughed, then introduced Kyrie to him. “And Kyrie, this is my eldest brother’s dearest friend, Mathias,” she smiled. “A person more loyal than he or Chesnet, I shall never meet.”

“And yet, you will need more allies,” Kyrie warned her. “But be careful. Some may be tempted to betray you out of fear. Remember what the kind of man the General is.”

Mari nodded. “I know. I remember. I will always remember. I have a scar that reminds me daily of just what kind of man he is.”

Actually, she had a number of scars, but the message was the same.

Kyrie put one hand on her shoulder. She would stay a while and make sure things had a good start.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:15 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 28 862 (3362 T.A.)
Status: Spring

“I thought you t-told me you were n-never g-going to g-go back there,” Ahkshi frowned at Kyrie as he poured a thick yellow liquid into a flask for her. “You n-nearly died last time.”

Kyrie smiled and leaned over to kiss him on the cheek, distracting herself from her packing. “And you were kind enough to nurse me back to health,” she teased him. “Don’t you want the opportunity to do so again?”

“Are you m-m-mad?” he asked, aghast.

Kyrie laughed at him. “You’re forgetting something very important, darling,” she grinned, patting his cheek lovingly. “I have something that I did not have the last time. You know that my bond with Uruloki has made me impervious to heat and fire … and if something happens, worse come to worse, he can fly me out of there.”

He capped the flask and held it out to her. “And if the volcano erupts again?” he asked her doubtfully.

She tried to take the flask, but he didn’t let it go, making her look into his face so that she would see clearly how worried he was. She felt her bravado fading as she gazed into his eyes, and when he took her into his arms, she laid her head against his shoulder.

“I will be careful,” she murmured, trying to reassure him. “Trust me, if I feel any tremors this time, I will leave immediately. Quite simply, at that time, I didn’t know what the tremors meant. Now I do. And dragons are common there, so if I have to fly away on Uruloki’s back, then I will do so without hesitation.”

Her husband’s arms tightened around her. “Kyrie … if anything h-happens to you …”

Kyrie smiled faintly. “You say that every time,” she told him, looking up into his face. “And every time I come home safe.”

“I know,” he smiled. “But I’m afraid that m-might change.”

“Not if I can help it.” She kissed him softly, taking the flask from his hand at the same time. “Now come, the sooner I’m gone, the sooner I’m back, and the sooner you’ll know that I’m safe.”

Ahkshi sighed. “I-I-I know … I-I-I just … I-I-I just …”

Kyrie looked anxiously into his eyes, trying to see what he was finding so difficult to say. “What is it?”

He brushed his fingertips lightly along her brow, gazing at her tenderly. “I-i-it’s g-getting so h-hard to l-let you g-go all the t-t-time.”

Kyrie put her arms around him and held him tightly. His stutter had never been so strong, and she knew that it was always stronger when he was worried. He sounded terrified now.

“Then let me make you this promise,” she said softly. “After this journey, I will bring the new egg to Mari. I will stay with her a while, see how things are going for her, if she needs help. After that, I will come back here. If things are well with Mari, I will stay here for as long as you wish.”

“Be it f-forever?” Ahkshi asked her, arching one eyebrow.

Kyrie smiled at him and nodded. “Be it forever,” she agreed.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:15 am

Location: Dekra Outskirts, Garnelia, Arkandia
Year: 28 862 (3362 T.A.)
Status: Summer

Knowing how cautious the trio leading the resistance were going to be, Kyrie was careful in how she approached the cabin in which the three of them were living. There was smoke coming from the chimney, so at least one of them would be home, possibly more of them.

She knocked at the door and waited for someone to answer. If she were to open the door, she would be dead, she was sure, before ever saying hello.

It was Mathias who opened the door, and Kyrie was surprised to see that he was sporting a black eye.

“Kyrie!” He blinked at her in surprise. He recovered quickly and stepped to one side. “Come in, come in …”

She did as she was told, though she couldn’t take her gaze from his swollen eye.

“Ah, accident with a tree,” he explained with a grin, closing the door. “When being chased through the forest by the General’s men, watch where you’re going. More closely than I was watching, at any rate.”

Kyrie laughed aloud at that. “And here I was afraid one of you had been caught.” She grinned at him. “So. Is Mari here?”

“Below.” He gestured towards a rug that had been pulled back from in front of the fireplace, revealing a closed trapdoor. “Hidden cellar. Our place has been searched three times already, but she’s never been found.”

“Clearly,” Kyrie remarked dryly. She set her bags on the floor carefully, then knelt and looked through one of them. She pulled out a rather large item, wrapped in soft cloth, and rose again. “Please give us a few moments alone,” she requested.

Mathias nodded. “Of course.” He opened the trapdoor and called down, “Mari, Kyrie’s returned.”

“Send her down,” the princess’s voice came up from the candlelit depths below.

Mathias stepped aside and motioned toward the square in the floor. Kyrie smiled and, holding the package carefully, stepped down into the cellar.

It would have been quite dark down there if not for her special vision, but at a table that had enough candles to light an entire room, Mari was sitting and writing. When she heard Kyrie’s footsteps behind her, she turned away from her writing and rose, smiling widely.

“Kyrie,” she said warmly, greeting her friend and mentor with a kiss to both cheeks. “Welcome back.”

“Thank you, Mari,” Kyrie grinned back. “I’m glad to see you’re well. What are you working on, if I may ask?”

Mari took Kyrie’s arm and led her over to the desk. “Look,” she said excitedly. “I’m compiling a list of those whom I believe we can count as allies. So far it is mostly the women whose husbands and sons had been taken by the General’s soldiers, but there are one or two others. Now, you’ll remember that the noble families were left alone if they pledged their allegiance to the General, yes? But I daresay that in a few cases at least, that was only lip service, and …”

Kyrie smiled to herself as she listened to the princess. It seemed that things were going well indeed. When it seemed that Mari had come to a stop, or at least a pause, Kyrie spoke up.

“I’ve brought you something,” she told her. “It is a great gift, but also a great responsibility; and I feel it only fair that you know what it entails in advance before I give it to you.”

“That sounds mysterious,” Mari said, sitting down again. “Call me intrigued.”

“Tell me if you can’t see very well,” Kyrie instructed her. “And don’t be alarmed by what you see.”

She urged Uruloki to reveal himself, but remain small, and she felt the by-now familiar warmth that meant he was un-bonding. At the same time, her vision went dark, and it took several seconds for her eyes to adjust to the candlelight.

Mari gasped as she took in the sight of the dragon that materialized in front of her. His scales shimmered a bright red in the candlelight, and Mari found herself mesmerized by him.

“What …”

“My name is Uruloki,” the dragon introduced himself, spreading his wings to show them off before folding them against his back. “I am a volcano dragon.”

“He’s bonded to me,” Kyrie explained. “He becomes a part of me. When we’re bonded, as we usually are, I have all the abilities that he has: I am impervious to heat, to fire, to cold. I can see in the dark, smell things from far away, and my hearing is better than usual.”

“It all sounds wonderful, I think,” Mari said cautiously. “But the way you talk … there’s a catch.”

“If you care to call it such, yes,” Kyrie nodded. She took the rags from the item she was holding, showing Mari the translucent white egg she was holding. In the candlelight, a faint shadow could be seen inside the sphere.

Mari stepped closer and held her hands out to take the egg from Kyrie.

“If you choose to hatch this egg, the dragon inside, male or female, will be your closest friend for as long as you both will live,” Kyrie explained. “If it is male, it will eventually bond with you, as Uruloki has bonded with me. But for the first several years – more than a decade, in fact – it will have no scales, only a thick hide, and you will have to provide for it and protect it.”

She set the egg into the princess’s hands, and Mari held it up to the candles to see it better. As the egg warmed, the dragon inside began to twitch.

“Careful,” Kyrie warned her. “Fire – extreme heat – is what causes the egg to hatch.”

The princess lowered the egg and looked at Kyrie. “How can I tell if it’s a male or female?” she asked curiously.

Kyrie shrugged. “Uruloki told me himself. Aside from that, I’ve no idea. But he told me within a few months of being born.”

Mari nodded.

“One more thing,” Kyrie added, remembering suddenly. “When the egg hatches, no matter who it is who hatches it, the dragon will take the first person it sees as its mother. You should make sure you’re alone when you hatch it.”

After a moment, Mari nodded again. “I’ll do it tonight, after Chesnet and Mathias are asleep,” she decided.

Kyrie smiled at her. “Then you’re going to keep it?”

The remark earned her a smile from the princess. “Of course,” she said simply. “And I think you’ll agree … while it will take some time and a lot of work, I believe it will be worth it. And I think even you would say that this way I will have at least one someone whom I can trust implicitly, and never worry about betraying me.”

Kyrie chuckled softly, nodding. “Yes, I would say that,” she agreed. “And I’m glad to hear you say that.” It meant that she was even a bit wary of her friends, which was a good thing. There was that old saying, after all: one must watch ones enemies closely, but one must watch ones friends even more closely. It wasn’t safe to keep anyone above suspicion.

“Come,” Mari smiled, wrapping the egg back in the cloths that Kyrie had kept it in. “Let me offer you some refreshment. We both of us could use the rest, I think.” She led Kyrie back towards the trapdoor.

Kyrie waited until Uruloki had bonded with her again before following after her.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:15 am

Location: Winum, Dolerum, Arkandia
Year: 29 045 (110 Fourth Age)
Status: Late Autumn

One hundred and eighty three years had passed since Kyrie had last traveled. She had kept her promise to her husband when she had returned from Garnelia after bringing Princess Mari the dragon egg. It had been easy for her to keep the promise, too, for a long time. Of course, it had been something to get used to, and the people of the city did not really appreciate her being there (though they didn’t show it for the most part), but she had spent as much time as possible with Ahkshi. She helped him out at the clinic, made their house more homey, and really settled into the position of being a housewife. Of course, they never had any children for her to mother, but since it was no surprise it didn’t bother either of them.

Still … eventually Kyrie had become antsy. She never complained, never told Ahkshi what she was thinking, but from time to time she had sent Uruloki out (in secret) to give her news of the outside world. Of course, Ahkshi had discovered this eventually, and his only reaction was disappointment that she had tried to keep it from him. Then had come a day when some fresh corpses had been discovered just outside Makshim, a man and a woman, dark elves, who Kyrie suspected might have been fleeing from Garnelia. They both had lacerations all over their bodies, some of which had begun to heal before their deaths, and to Kyrie it said only one thing: torture and murder.

From that point on, she was unable to sit quietly in the city. She became quiet at home, and though Ahkshi asked her what was wrong, she could not tell him. She blamed herself for such deaths, for not being out there to prevent such horrors. She knew he wouldn’t understand, and she didn’t want to make him feel as if he had caused her that pain.

Still, somehow, he had known, and one evening at dinner, he had quietly suggested that she visit her family for a while. The suggestion, small though it had been, had led to a rather lengthy discussion and, after a week’s preparation, Kyrie had left. It was the most difficult departure she had ever made, but within a few days she was used to traveling again, and felt as though she had not stopped for more than a century and a half.

Now here she was, back in the place that, for a while, had been a home to her. Her adoptive parents still lived here, as far as she knew, but there had been no word from them during her time in Shiezin. The last she’d heard about her sister, Gwen, was that she was still living at home and working the family garden. Khetal, she assumed, was still helping Lynliss with her medical research.

She arrived at the western gate to the city without any trouble. She drew some looks as she passed into the city, but she was used to such things, and she ignored the looks entirely. They city had not changed in two hundred years, the last time that she’d been there. Sure, buildings had been replaced, but aside from that everything was the same.

Home sweet home, Uruloki quipped silently from his place on her belly.

Kyrie smiled despite herself. Yes.

She turned the corner and started up the street that led to Lynliss and Leo’s house. She was just debating whether to knock on the door and wait for a response or simply walk straight in when the door opened and Gwen stepped out. She closed the door behind herself and started up the street towards Kyrie. She was clearly preoccupied, but she was paying enough attention to what was around her that she saw Kyrie before bumping into her.

“KYRIE!” she squealed so loudly that it echoed down the street and Kyrie couldn’t keep herself from flinching. Then she pounced on her adopted sister and hugged her so tightly Kyrie felt in danger of suffocating.

“Gw-Gwen,” she choked, though she was smiling (and probably would have been laughing if she had been able to breathe.

Gwen loosened her grip on Kyrie and held her at arm’s length instead, her eyes bright as she looked her over.

“Kyrie, you’re alive!” she bubbled. “It’s been so long! We were all convinced that you were dead! I can’t believe this! Oh, Mother and Father will be so happy to see you again! And Khetal – oh, he’s going to be ecstatic! Come, come, we have to go see them! Oh, I can’t believe that you’re back! Tell me, what kept you away for so long? You didn’t get hurt again, did you? I don’t see any new scars, but then I’m not nearly as observant as Mother or Lara – oh! Have you seen Lara lately? You have to tell me how she’s doing! And her family! We haven’t had word from them ei-”

“Gwen!” Kyrie interrupted at last, laughing heartily. “Breathe! I’ll tell you everything that you want to know, but you have to give me a chance to talk!”

Gwen laughed and squeezed Kyrie’s hands again. “Yes, yes of course. Oh, Kyrie, it’s so wonderful to see you again! But come, you must be tired, come inside and rest.”

“I won’t argue that,” Kyrie giggled. “But I’ll only go if you come with me. You’re not allowed to run off now that I’ve just arrived.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t,” Gwen promised. Her eyes twinkled mischievously. “I was going to bring Mother and Khetal some lunch at the clinic, but when I don’t come they’ll come back home to see why. Oh, I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces when they see you! Come, come, let’s get you inside so you can rest …”

Kyrie grinned and let Gwen ramble as they headed into the house. Ahkshi was right; this had been the perfect way to recommence her travels anew. She was looking forward to staying here for a while.

And then she would go visit Lara and Cantor in Caras Galadhon, and look up her old friends, she thought. That would be nice.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:16 am

Location: Winum, Dolerum, Arkandia
Year: 29 045 (110 Fourth Age)
Status: Late Autumn

Night had long since fallen, but Kyrie and Khetal were not tired. After visiting with Gwen for an hour alone, Lynliss had returned to see why her daughter had not come to the clinic to bring her lunch; and after finding out that Kyrie had returned she had sent for Khetal and Leo so that the family could spend time with Kyrie. It had been an exhausting afternoon, but Kyrie, determined to spend some quality time in private with her brother – the only one who was after all her blood family – had asked him if he was interested in a walk after dinner. The fresh air re-energized her, and her exhaustion had faded away as if she’d had a full night’s sleep.

“So why were you gone for so long?” Khetal asked her quietly as they strolled around the outskirts of the city. It was so late that no one else was about, but they were keeping their voices down anyways so as not to disturb anyone. “I mean- two hundred years, Kyrie. We all thought you were dead.”

Kyrie smiled at her brother. Dark though it was, she could see his expression as clearly as if it were noon thanks to Uruloki’s ability. “Your faith in me is touching,” she teased him. Before he could protest, she added, “I made a promise. Ahkshi was worried about all my traveling … afraid that something would happen to me. Never knowing where I was or whether I was safe was driving him mad, especially since I kept going to Garnelia.”

“You were in Garnelia?!”

“Shh!” Kyrie shushed him. “You’ll wake someone. And yes, I was. The first time was right after the coup. I found Princess Mari and brought her to Ahkshi to be healed. You do realize you can’t repeat this to anyone, right?” She looked up at him anxiously. “To my knowledge the General doesn’t know she’s still alive, and if he finds out …”

Her brother shook his head slowly. “I won’t tell anyone,” he promised. “But … seriously? Her?”

Kyrie smiled slightly. “Yes. I trained her for seven years in Makshim, then brought her back. Ahkshi was worried then, but when after that I went to Wolsic to find Mari a volcano dragon … well, he started to get really upset. I promised him that I would bring the dragon to Mari and then go back to him and stay with him for as long as he wanted. I’d have let you know, but …”

“You never had the chance,” Khetal finished for her softly. “And there’s virtually no way to send messages that far.” He exhaled slowly. “I see. I’m impressed that you managed it.”

“It was hard,” Kyrie admitted. “And the longer I stayed, the harder it got. And then we started finding bodies … people escaping from Garnelia … it was driving me out of my mind, Khetal. Seeing people who I could have helped if I’d been there for them … that’s why I had to leave here in the first place. To prevent others from ending up like us, or like our parents.”

“Did you say anything to Ahkshi?”

Kyrie shook her head. “How could I?” she asked quietly. “I had promised him that I would stay with him for as long as he wanted. I wanted to honour my promise. I wanted to be with him.”

“And yet you’re here,” Khetal pointed out, arching one eyebrow.

They walked in silence for a few moments before Kyrie finally replied, “He could see that I was tormented. He suggested I come here.”

The silence returned as the two continued forward. After a moment, Khetal reached over and put one arm around Kyrie and pulled her in for a hug. Kyrie smiled and leaned her head against her brother’s shoulder. It felt good to remember that she wasn’t alone.

After they’d walked about halfway around the city in silence, Kyrie finally looked up at her brother and asked, “How about you? How have you been?”

“Busy,” he smiled in reply. “At least, I try to keep myself busy. You should see my lab while you’re here: I’ve developed several new medicines since you were last here.”

“So there’s no future sister-in-law in sight for me yet?” Kyrie teased him, her eyes sparkling. “In the nearly two hundred years that I’ve been gone?”

Khetal chuckled. “You know I’ve accepted that that’s not in the cards for me, Kyrie. No one here would ever allow themselves to love me because of our human blood. I’m smart enough not to set myself up for heartbreak.”

“You make it sound like you’ve had to convince yourself,” Kyrie laughed. “What’s her name?”

Khetal shook his head, but he was still smiling. “Seriously, Kyrie, there is no one and there has been no one. So there’s no point in pressing the matter.”

Kyrie giggled again, but she let the matter drop. “At least you’re not as serious as you used to be.” At his surprised look, she laughed again. “Come on, you can’t remember what you were like when you came with me and Lara to visit Ahkshi? It was a miracle you didn’t scare him off. You were like a bear!”

He had no answer to that, and Kyrie put one hand on his arm and smiled at him, calm now. “Seriously, though. You should come with me. You’re holding yourself back here. Free yourself! You deserve that kind of happiness.”

“Thanks, Kyrie,” Khetal said softly, “but really, I can’t. Lynliss needs me here.”

“Oh, she’ll manage without you,” Kyrie retorted. “She was healing people for a long time before you came, she could get used to it again.” She smiled up at him gently. “You can’t tell me you’ve not dreamed about having a family.”

“Don’t be silly, of course I have,” her brother muttered, looking away from her. “But it’s not going to happen out here. Look, maybe I’ll meet someone someday. There’s no need to rush it, is there? It’s better to wait for the right woman than to rush into something wrong.”

“You said yourself, you won’t find someone here,” Kyrie pointed out patiently. “The prejudice is still too strong. So come with me. Travel a bit. Meet some people.”

Khetal was quiet as he thought about it for a few moments. Finally, he nodded.

“Not this time,” he told her. “Right now I’m in the middle of too many things. So this time, when you leave, I can’t go with you. Besides, it wouldn’t be fair to Lynliss. She counts on me too much right now. But the next time you come back, I promise I’ll be ready to go with you. All right?”

Kyrie smiled. “Fair enough.” She hugged her brother impulsively. “Thanks.”

Khetal allowed himself a small smile as he returned the embrace. If nothing else, it would mean spending time with his sister – and that was enough of a reason for him.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:16 am

Location: Dekra Outskirts, Garnelia, Arkandia
Year: 29 050 (115 Fourth Age)
Status: Early Summer

After a year with her adoptive family in Dolerum, Kyrie had returned to Ahkshi and remained there another three years. During that time, the two of them had seriously discussed what might be going on now in Garnelia. It had been a very long time since Kyrie had been there, and truth be told, she was anxious about the princess’s welfare. Ahkshi agreed that it would be wise to find out how things were going, especially as the two of them had such a vested interest in Mari.

Now Kyrie was back in Garnelia, and growing nearer the place where Mari and her friends had their cottage. It was growing dark outside, and she took advantage of the darkness to hide her approach. She heard voices, and she wanted to make sure she wasn’t going to interrupt anything.

There were three males there: two men and a youth; and Kyrie recognized only one of them: Mathias, one of Mari’s companions. But that wasn’t all that was different: there was a second cabin near the one Kyrie was accustomed to seeing, and that surprised her. She would not have expected that the princess would allow anyone to live so near. It would only draw attention to the area and make it more dangerous for her.

The men were stacking wood in a large shelter as if they were already beginning to store it for the winter, and the youth was collecting smaller pieces of wood. Kyrie kept herself hidden until at length all three of the others headed inside: Mathias to the cottage with which Kyrie was familiar, and the two others to the new cabin. Then she made her way towards the door of the princess’s cottage and knocked.

“Kyrie!” Mathias exclaimed in surprise when he opened the door to see who it was. “You’re alive! It’s been forever since you’ve been here!” He looked over his shoulder and shouted into the house, “Mari! Chesnet! Kyrie’s back!”

He invited Kyrie inside, and before the door was even closed, Mari and Chesnet had both entered the room. Mari greeted Kyrie with a warm embrace, and Chesnet and Mathias grinned at her. It took a while for Kyrie to satisfy their curiosity about where she had been for the past two centuries, and then, after a hearty meal, it was Kyrie’s turn to ask questions.

“What’s going on here?” she asked as they relaxed in the sitting room. “Are you starting a community or something?”

Mari smiled and raised one hand to ward off the criticism she knew was coming. “Let me explain,” she said softly. “I know that for my own safety, we should not have anyone else out here. But I do honestly believe that not only are these people not a threat, but actually a boon to us. They have been here nearly twenty years already.”

“Why?” Kyrie asked, still suspicious. She leaned forward intently.

The princess’s smile faltered slightly and her eyes darkened. “Arphenion’s father was tortured to death by the General. Dae’er was nearly starved to death in one of his cells for no reason other than that she refused to be his mistress. Arphenion was her guard, but he saved her by marrying her. The General threw them out of the palace, but in retribution he stole their firstborn child. They escaped here to raise a family away from the General’s eye and they have been searching for a way to get their son back. They would never betray me to the General’s men. In return for us aiding them, they also aid us: we share the food from their garden, and since they have a legitimate reason to occasionally contact the city, suspicion is diverted from any messengers sent either direction. It has greatly facilitated our work here.”

Kyrie wasn’t convinced, but she chose not to press the matter. Mari had been in charge of the situation here for a long time, and she would simply have to trust her.

“So where are you at now?” she asked, leaning back slightly in her chair.

Mari rose and motioned for Kyrie to follow her. “Come. I’ll show you.”

She lifted the rug that covered the trapdoor to the hidden cellar and pried the door open. It was pitch black down there, but Mari descended the ladder without hesitation. Kyrie followed easily, Uruloki’s ability allowing her to see as clearly as if it were daytime.

“Shall I assume that your dragon has bonded with you?” Kyrie asked with a smile when she realized that Mari had no intention of lighting any candles in the blackness.

Mari laughed. “I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you! Yes, he and I bonded a long time ago. Kasal. His name is Kasal.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” Kyrie grinned. “I trust he’s been helpful in your cause as well.”

At that, Mari hesitated slightly. “Well … somewhat … but his scales are still not terribly strong, so I haven’t sent him out often or far. And I think I have some separation issues, too. I don’t want to be without him.”

She led Kyrie to the back corner of the cellar, where her work table was located. With Uruloki’s vision, she could see that it was covered with papers, some stacked neatly, and others strewn about.

“I know how you feel,” she murmured as Mari sat down in the chair and started to look through the papers.

The princess held some sheets of parchment up to her. “Our current arsenal,” she said simply. “It’s not much, but it has been steadily growing. Our biggest problem is getting weapons now. It’s illegal to make, buy, sell or trade weapons aside from bows and hunting knives, so we’ve had to smuggle them in from other countries. Some of our people don’t return. Sometimes their bodies turn up … and sometimes, I fear they simply desert. I can’t blame them, it’s so horrible here. But it does mean that we don’t get the help we really need.”

“What about training?” Kyrie asked, her eyes skimming the page.

“Few still have the skills to pass on,” Mari said sadly. “And many of those who do are afraid to. So it has also been very slow going. The General has also made things more difficult by posting sentries on rooftops. Somehow he figured out that we were using them to get around. Now a tunneling project is in place, though that has also been slow going.”

“Which is why you’re still sitting here after nearly two centuries,” Kyrie murmured. “I see.” She glanced sidewise at the princess. “And your neighbours … how much of this are they aware of?”

Mari smiled slightly. “Dae’er still accuses me of sitting and doing nothing while the people are tortured,” she quipped. “They know nothing but that I spend most of my time in hiding.”

Kyrie laughed softly. “Perhaps it’s better that way.” She set down the sheet that was in her hand and picked up another that caught her eye. “This is your list of allies?”

Mari stepped closer to peer over Kyrie’s shoulder. “The leaders. Encoded for safety, in case this is ever discovered. Each of them has about ten others in their order, and none of them know who the others are. It keeps things close. Less chance of a leak that way.”

“Indeed,” Kyrie murmured thoughtfully. She examined the paper a bit longer before glancing up at Mari. “And your total manpower?”

Mari pursed her lips. “Nearly one hundred. I know it’s not enough, but it’s about the best we can do like this. Only the leaders know that I’m alive, the others are following them only for the cause.”

“As it should be.” Kyrie smiled again and set the paper down. “I must say, you are thorough. I’m impressed with how far it’s come. Any missions planned?”

Mari smiled slowly and tilted her head slightly to one side, looking at Kyrie smugly. “I’m glad you asked …”

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:16 am

Location: Dekra, Garnelia, Arkandia
Year: 29 050 (115 Fourth Age)
Status: Early Summer

Looking back, Kyrie wondered if perhaps she should have left some of her weapons behind. She was hoping not to need them, and in all honesty, her sword was a bit of a hindrance with all the climbing she needed to do. But it was a bit late to think of that now. Besides, she reasoned with herself, it was better to be safe than sorry. If something did happen, if she was somehow detected, she would need her sword to defend herself.

She hoped that would not happen. If it did, she would have failed in her mission.

She knew why Mari had asked her to take on this particular mission. It was very dangerous, and she knew that no one else would have the necessary skills – or, in case of discovery, protection.

Yeah, that’s right, trust me to save your neck.

Kyrie grimaced. Uruloki, I’m trying to concentrate. This wall isn’t going to climb itself.

I told you I could have flown you.

Thanks, but that would have been a bit too conspicuous,
Kyrie sighed. The point here is to remain hidden.

She had made it all the way to the palace walls without being detected, and her mission, if successful, would bring her all the way inside. How she would manage it, she wasn’t sure; but she had promised she would try. She was partially tempted to send Uruloki ahead to scout for her, but now, more than ever, she needed his senses to be her own.

She pressed her body against the cold stone of the wall, her toes finding holds where few would ever dare try. Her fingers were sore already, but she was doing her best to ignore the pain. She wasn’t used to this anymore. She knew she would really be feeling it the following day, but she refused to allow herself to think about that. The task at hand was too important.

Finally her fingers found the top of the wall, and she took advantage of the ledge to take a moment’s respite. She pressed her face against the wall. She was thankful that her feet weren’t in pain yet, though she suspected they would also ache by the time she finished.

Uruloki, take a peek, will you?

The tattoo around her torso rippled and separated. The new image seemed to crawl over her body and up one of her arms until one golden eye was right at her fingertips.


By the time Kyrie had pulled herself up and over the edge of the wall, Uruloki was back in his usual position, hiding in the winding tattoo.

Recalling Mari’s directions, Kyrie headed towards the north tower, keeping low to the walk so that she would not be seen either from below or from other walks. She would have to take her chances at being seen from above – at least until she herself was on the highest point.

Suddenly she heard the door of the tower ahead of her rattling, and she climbed back over the edge of the wall and clung to it with her fingers, bracing her feet to ease the strain on her shoulders. As she listened, the door opened, and two guards came outside, deep in conversation. Quickly, Kyrie moved hand over hand along the wall towards the door, listening as she went.

“-the young master’s learning quickly,” one of them was saying. “Pity he’s got such difficulty with his training, though.”

“He needs a better teacher,” the other replied. “Though at the rate he’s going with his other subjects, he won’t need to do any fighting of his own when the time comes.”

“And if someone makes it far enough to get to him?”

The other’s reply was lost as Kyrie slipped over the wall and through the door just before it closed.

Well, this will certainly make the climb much easier.

Kyrie ignored Uruloki’s remark as she ran carefully up the stairs. She was listening carefully, hoping that if someone else was up there, she would hear them before running into them.

Mari wants to come back to this? Uruloki asked in a confused tone, clearly unimpressed by the cold grey stone.

Will you stop that! Kyrie thought angrily. I need to concentrate!

Suddenly, from above, there came the sound of a door opening followed by many booted feet descending the stairs.



Look up!

Kyrie did as Uruloki told her and saw, about twelve feet above her, rafters that helped to hold the tower up. She ran towards the wall and pushed off, rebounding from side to side, a little higher each time until her fingers grasped the wooden beams. She pulled herself up and perched, waiting for the people to pass below her.

Within a minute, they did. There were six of them, all of them armed and armoured. She was glad she’d found somewhere to hide: she didn’t know if she would be able to handle all of them quickly enough.

Look, Uruloki urged her. Ahead.

Kyrie looked and she grinned when she saw that the rafters, like the steps, continued in a spiral around the tower. Without hesitating, she rose to a crouch and jumped to the next one, and then the next, building up momentum so that each jump became just a little bit easier. At last she arrived at the top of the tower, and she took a moment to rest and contemplated her next move.

Getting old? Uruloki teased her.

This time Kyrie allowed herself a smile. You do remember how long it’s been since I’ve done this, right?

She needed to see if there was anyone in the room beyond the door above which she was perched.

Maybe climbing the outside wall would have been easier after all, Uruloki quipped.

Kyrie rolled her eyes. Just check the door, will you?

Coolness washed over her as Uruloki unbonded from her and, small as a hatchling, glided down to the floor. He scratched at the door and quickly flew back up to rejoin Kyrie. Just as Kyrie felt the warmth that indicated that Uruloki had bonded again, the door opened and a single guard stepped out.

“I could have sworn I’d heard something,” he murmured in confusion, looking around.

From her perch, Kyrie could see another set of feet through the door, and her heart sunk as she realized that she would not be able to get in there. Not without creating a ruckus, at any rate – and that would not be a good idea. She had no idea how many there were exactly, and if there was another exit from the tower they would be able to call for reinforcements.

Mari wasn’t kidding when she said this was going to be hard, Uruloki quipped. So now what do we do?

Kyrie rubbed her forehead with her thumb as she thought about it. I really have no idea …

What about the window?

She looked around for the window Uruloki had mentioned and when she saw it, not ten steps from the top of the tower, she wondered why she hadn’t seen it before. Waiting only long enough for the guard to return to the tower room and close the door behind him, she dropped to the floor and ran lightly to the window. A quick peek out showed her that there was no one in sight, and she climbed out the window. Once again clinging to the wall, she made her way up to the very top of the tower and pulled herself up onto the roof.

Remind me again why we couldn’t have done this at night, when there would be fewer guards.

To be honest, Kyrie herself wasn’t sure. You really feel like waiting here until it’s dark? she asked in reply.

Not particularly.

Kyrie looked around until she saw her destination. A balcony near the top of a tower that was just within the castle walls. The roof of that tower was lower than the tower she was on currently, but the distance was too far for her to jump.

Care to try a partial bond? Uruloki asked.

Kyrie could almost picture him grinning, from the tone of his voice. Partial bond? she repeated, cautious.

Yes, where I unbond only my wings and see if we can fly over there.

At first the idea made Kyrie laugh; but as she thought about it, it became more appealing. It certainly would make things easier.

Not now, she decided. Maybe we can try it over a river sometime first.

Fine, fine.

She concentrated on solving the problem of how she was going to make it to the next tower. Between the two towers, there was a wooden flagpole, and she wondered if she might use that. It was thick and strong, about as big around as her waist, and it was within jumping distance. But if she missed it …

Well, then she would find out if Uruloki’s partial bonding idea would work.

She stood and took a deep breath to steel herself for the task. She backed up as far as she dared, then took a running start and leapt from the roof of the tower. Her foot caught the top of the post and she kept going, using her momentum to give her more distance, and jumped for the second tower.

She missed.

A gasp of surprise and fear escaped her lips as she hit the wall of the tower, and though her fingers fumbled for a grip on the edge of the roof, she failed. As she fell, her feet hit the edge of the balcony and knocked her sideways. She tried to right herself, and one hand caught the edge of the balcony’s rail. Her fingers slipped, and with one last burst of desperation she grabbed for the bars that held up the rail. One hand managed to get hold, and a searing pain tore through her shoulder as her body stopped falling with a strong jerk.

Sweat burned her eyes as she looked down. She was dangling over more than fifty feet of emptiness. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She couldn’t remember ever feeling quite this vulnerable. Then she swung her other arm up and gripped another one of the bars as tightly as she could. The relief in her shoulder was immediate, though not complete. She listened carefully. There didn’t seem to be anyone in the room that the balcony led to: if there were, they would have come to see what the noise was when she had fallen, and there was no movement.

She took a moment to brace herself, then pulled herself up over the edge. When she made it up onto the rail, she rested a moment again.

There was no door between the balcony and inside, and, confident that no one was there, Kyrie stepped in, keeping her steps as quiet as she could, just in case. The room was full of pots of dirt, which reminded Kyrie of Mari’s comment about the conservatory’s beauty, back when she had been a child; and there were also some musical instruments that appeared as if they had been untouched for decades, perhaps centuries. In fact, the whole room seemed untouched: draperies and tapestries were covered in dust and cobwebs; books lay open to crusty, yellow pages; and there was a musty smell to the air, despite the open balcony entrance.

She took another step inside, still looking around carefully, and suddenly she froze. There, not five steps away from her, sitting at a desk with his back towards her, was a man. He was bald and had but a single arm, so she was not afraid of him; but if he noticed her and called an alarm, there would be trouble.

Before she could move, however, he turned and looked directly at her.

“I have been waiting for you,” he told her quietly.

Kyrie swallowed hard. Now what?

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:17 am

Location: Dekra, Garnelia, Arkandia
Year: 29 050 (115 Fourth Age)
Status: Early Summer

“What do you mean, you’ve been waiting for me?” Kyrie asked the man. Her heart was pounding in her chest so hard she was certain he had to be able to hear it. Her eyes were fixed on the mark on his forehead, the mark of the General. This was one of the General’s most trusted men … and she had been caught by him.

No, not caught. Expected.

Why is he alone? Uruloki questioned, as stunned as Kyrie but quicker to recover.

I have no idea. She kept her attention on the man, wary of a trap.

He simply smiled at her. “I knew you would be coming. Not when, exactly, but I knew that you would come.” He paused, temporarily distracted by something Kyrie could neither see nor hear, and then murmured, “If you will hide behind the curtain for a few minutes, I will answer your questions.”

Kyrie’s brow furrowed in confusion, but she didn’t argue. She slipped behind the curtain that hung next to the balcony entrance, careful not to disturb it too much and shake loose the dust that coated it. Just as it fell still, she heard the door to the conservatory creak open.

“What are you doing in here, Maravel?” a new voice asked.

“The General should know by now that this is where I always come to puzzle out my visions,” replied the man who had caught Kyrie.

That explains how he knew you were coming, Uruloki commented.

Kyrie agreed silently.

“He wants to talk to you in his study,” the other man replied. “Within the hour.”

“I shall be there.”

The door creaked again and closed with a soft click.

“It is safe to come out,” the man named Maravel called softly to Kyrie.

Kyrie stepped out from behind the curtain warily. “You are a Seer,” she said quietly.

The man smiled and shook his head. “No, not quite. A Seer controls their visions. Sees what they wish, when they wish. I am a Sage, one who cannot control it. I see what I see, and I am left to puzzle out both meaning and probability. For example, I saw that you would come but not when or why. Given that you are not Dark Elven, at least not fully, I can assume that you are not a native to this country. Why then would you risk your life to make your way in here? For a cause. Whose cause? Who could possibly convince you to do something so dangerous? Only one who herself has every reason to risk someone’s life no matter how much she does not wish to. Therefore I can only conclude that Princess Mari has asked you to perform some task for her.”

Kyrie’s eyes grew wide. He knew about Mari’s survival …

He raised his hand to ward off her question. “I am on your side,” he said quietly. “I am not here because I desire it. I do not recommend making your way deeper into the castle. That you made it this far undiscovered is amazing. To go further is suicide. But I will give you information. That is why you are here, is it not?”

Kyrie nodded.

“Then listen well,” Maravel murmured, “for we haven’t time to repeat anything. Then hide here and wait until dark so that your dragon can help you out of here. You’ll never make it with that injured shoulder of yours.”

Once again, Kyrie was surprised by his knowledge; but she simply nodded and listened carefully as he began to speak.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:17 am

Location: Dekra Outskirts, Garnelia, Arkandia
Year: 29 050 (115 Fourth Age)
Status: Early Summer

By the time it was dark enough for Kyrie to safely leave her hiding place – and the castle – the pain in her shoulder was growing unbearable. She knew there was some kind of damage, and she suspected it was dislocated. Maravel’s assessment was quite accurate: she would never be able to climb out of the castle again as she was. So as soon as it was dark, she hopped on Uruloki’s back and he flew her out to the forest.

Once they’d reached the safety of the trees, they bonded once again to continue the rest of the way on foot. When they returned to the cabin, there was a warm glow in the window of the sitting room. Kyrie tapped tiredly at the door before opening it and stepping inside, and, as expected, Chesnet and Mathias were standing in front of her, blocking her view of the sitting room in case Mari needed to run and hide. Their relief when they saw her was obvious, and they moved aside to let her enter.

“Kyrie!” Mari exclaimed, rising from where she had been sitting in one of the chairs. She set aside her work – some mending, apparently – and ran to Kyrie’s side. “You’re hurt!”

Kyrie smiled, though it was more like a grimace of pain. “Yes … yes. I fell, and I think I dislocated my shoulder. I don’t suppose you’d mind helping me set it?”

“You think I’m strong enough?” Mari asked anxiously.

“Well, whoever is, I’d really like some help,” Kyrie said flatly.

Mathias stepped forward. “Tell me what to do.”

Kyrie sat down on the edge of the couch. “Stand behind me … one hand on my shoulder, the other on my shoulder blade,” she directed him, wincing. “On three, push against my back and pull my shoulder back into place.”

“You’re sure?” Mathias asked, hesitating.

“Yes!” Kyrie exclaimed. “And make it fast!”

Mathias still seemed hesitant, and Kyrie ground her teeth together. “Never mind. Mari, you do it. You’re strong enough, and you’re not afraid to hurt me.”

Mari changed places with Mathias. “Ready, then?”

At Kyrie’s nod, she counted down. “One, two, three.” On three, she yanked Kyrie’s shoulder back into its socket. Stars danced before Kyrie’s eyes and her vision swam for a few moments. Then it cleared. The pain lessened, but did not fade entirely.

“Thanks.” Kyrie sighed and lay back on the couch. “Ugh … I just want to sleep …”

“Do,” Mari smiled. “You’ve earned it. We’ll get your report in the morning.”

“Mm.” Kyrie’s eyes closed. She could feel herself drifting into sleep – until suddenly Uruloki began to shift.

The message! he urged her.

Her eyes flew open. “The message,” she repeated aloud. She sat up again and looked at the other three, who seemed both concerned and surprised. “I must report now. It concerns Arphenion and Dae’er, but I will leave it to you whether or not to tell them.”

Mari was really intrigued now, and she moved to sit. “A message,” she repeated. “Then you spoke with someone.”

Kyrie nodded and sat up straight so that she wouldn’t fall asleep. “His name is Maravel.”

The other three sucked in their breath in surprise, and Kyrie looked up at them. “It seems you’ve heard of him.”

“The General’s new advisor,” Mathias said darkly. “Word is, there’s not much the General does without Maravel’s say-so. Including taking Arphenion and Dae’er’s son.”

“That explains the apology,” Kyrie nodded thoughtfully.

Mari was stunned. “Apology?”

Kyrie rubbed her temples but winced when she tried to move her injured arm. Mari immediately looked to Chesnet. “A sling,” she requested quietly.

He nodded and headed towards the kitchen, where the first aid supplies were kept. Mari turned her attention back to Kyrie. “You were saying something about an apology,” she said firmly, trying to get Kyrie back on task.

Kyrie shook her head. “You may want Arphenion and Dae’er here for this after all.”

Mari looked to Mathias, and he nodded and left the cabin, closing the door tightly behind himself.

“How much of your operation do you mind them knowing about?” Kyrie asked Mari seriously.

Chesnet returned with the sling. As he bound Kyrie’s shoulder, Mari watched. “You trust them all of a sudden, without meeting them?” she asked.

Kyrie winced again as Chesnet tied the sling but tried her best to ignore the pain. “I believe that after they hear what I have to say, they will be trustworthy, beyond a doubt.”

“You are very confident.” Mari was confused.

Kyrie stifled a yawn and couldn’t prevent a yelp as Chesnet placed her arm into the sling. She couldn’t help it – tears sprang to her eyes. She blinked them back. “Yes … I suppose.” She rubbed her eyes with her thumb and forefinger. “Wow … it’s been a long time since I’ve really felt pain.”

“And I do not wish to belittle your pain,” Mari said, moving to sit next to Kyrie on the couch, “but I do wish to know what makes you so confident. Remember how much is at stake!”

Kyrie looked up at Mari. “I have never been a mother,” she said softly, “nor shall I ever be. But I have seen many, and I have wished many times for children of my own. I know that if I had my own children, I would do anything to know …”

She trailed off, unsure how to phrase it without giving anything away.

“You have had word of their son?” Mari asked quietly.

They looked up as the front door opened again and Mathias entered with the man Kyrie had seen earlier cutting wood and a woman who was quite lovely despite the hardships Kyrie knew that she had been through. They stopped short on seeing Kyrie, and the woman looked at Mari in confusion.

“Mari … what …”

The princess rose and smiled uncertainly. “Dae’er, this is Kyrie … she saved my life when the General killed my family. You can trust her with your life, too.”

Dae’er still looked doubtful, but she made her way to one of the chairs and sat down. The man took the chair next to her and moved it a bit closer.

“Arphenion,” Mari introduced him as Mathias closed the door. Then she turned back to Kyrie and murmured, “Kyrie, I trust you. Tell them as much as you feel is safe.”

Kyrie nodded. “Forgive me if I pause … I’m more tired than I’ve felt in a long time.” She took a deep breath and clasped her hands together in her lap. “Today I went on a mission for Mari. She asked me to get some information for her. The details of that are unimportant for now.”

Dae’er looked as though she wanted to speak, and her eyes were on Kyrie’s sling, but she hesitated so long that her husband spoke for her.

“Is that from your mission?” he asked, nodding at her arm.

Kyrie nodded. “A simple dislocation. It will be back to normal within a few days. It’s unimportant. But I have information that is of great interest to you, I believe. I spoke with a man called Maravel. He-”

She stopped when she saw how pale Dae’er and Arphenion had turned. Dae’er’s grip had tightened so much that her knuckles were white, and Arphenion reached over and put his hands over hers. But neither of them spoke, and Kyrie went on slowly.

“He … apologized,” she murmured. “Profusely. For helping the General. For taking your son.”

“I knew he was to blame!” Dae’er burst out angrily. “He knew! He knew everything! He always did!”

“Hush,” her husband murmured, putting his arms around her. Dae’er burst into tears. Arphenion tried to console her, but it took a few minutes for her to calm down just enough for the others to be able to hear. He turned to Kyrie and explained, “Things are complicated where Maravel is concerned. He blames himself for just about everything but when Dae’er was thrown into prison it was he who encouraged me to do what I could to help her in the prison. It really is thanks to him that we escaped at all.”

Kyrie nodded and rubbed her eyes again. “The more you all tell me about him, the more his message makes sense,” she yawned.

“Please continue,” Mari spoke up, putting one hand on Kyrie’s good shoulder. “You need to rest.”

Kyrie nodded. “Thank you. So … apologies … reasons. He’s with the General for one reason alone – fear for his life, and fear for what kind of advisor he will employ if Maravel does not have the position. Mari, he has known of your survival since before I returned you here, yet he has said nothing.”

Mari was astonished, but Kyrie went on.

“Cael has been given to Maravel for his education, and though he has had to teach him certain things for the General, he has also told him the truth about his past, that you are his parents and that he was stolen away. The General knows none of this.”

“Did you see him?” Arphenion asked eagerly, cutting off his wife. “How is he? What is he like?”

Kyrie shook her head. “No, I did not see him. I’m sorry. And please, just let me continue. I’m falling asleep and losing my train of thought and I would like to get this out before I forget any details.”

Arphenion was chagrined. “Sorry.”

Kyrie closed her eyes and tried to concentrate. “He … hmm … Cael … must stay … where he is. He – Maravel – is a sage, he has visions of things that will come to pass … he … has seen …”

She yawned again and this time she felt a chill wash over her. It took a few seconds for her to realize that Uruloki had materialized in her lap, the size of a hatchling once again. She was too tired even to realize that Dae’er and Arphenion were staring in horror.

It was Mari who rose to Uruloki’s defense.

“Don’t worry about him, it is perfectly safe,” she said, holding one arm out between the tiny dragon and her guests.

“Thank you, Mari,” Uruloki said, looking up at her. “Kyrie’s not going to get the message out coherently so I thought I’d help out.”

Kyrie had her head against the back of the couch, her eyes closed, and she was already half asleep. Mari laughed softly and nodded, lowering her arm once she saw that Dae’er and Arphenion weren’t going to try to do anything.

Uruloki settled in. “As a sage, Maravel sees much,” he began. “Some of it is only possibilities, while other things are certainties. Caelamondorion is one such certainty, and has been since Arphenion and Dae’er were married. Until then he was only a possibility, less than a probability. But I digress.”

He looked from the pale couple up to Mari again. “I know how hard you have been working to take the General down,” he told her, “and your work has been vital, and will be when the time comes. But you will not be the one to avenge your family. Maravel has seen that only Caelamondorion has the ability to end this strife. Bring an end to the suffering. Maravel told the General this to save his own life.”

“Then why has the General raised him and educated him?” Mari questioned. “Why not kill him outright?”

Uruloki shook out his wings and folded them once more against his back. “Because Maravel told the General only that Caelamondorion will bring an end to the rebellions. Not in what manner he would do so.”

He looked back at Arphenion and Dae’er. “But the puzzle is not complete. Pieces are missing. That is why the General’s rule continues. Someday it will end, and your son will be vital when it happens. But until then, you may rest easy knowing that he is being taken care of – and that when this is all over, he looks forward to meeting you both.”

Dae’er was still crying, but this time it was from joy rather than grief.

Uruloki looked once more at Mari. “I know this is not the information that you sent us for, but it does answer the questions you asked, does it not?”

The princess smiled. “Absolutely. Thank you, Uruloki.”

She looked over at Kyrie, who was by now fast asleep. “And thank you, Kyrie,” she murmured softly. “Rest well, my friend.”

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:17 am

Location: Dekra Outskirts, Garnelia, Arkandia
Year: 29 050 (115 Fourth Age)
Status: Early Summer

Kyrie didn’t feel it wise to travel with her shoulder still aching, so she decided to remain with Mari and the others for a week or so. After her report, she slept through the night and halfway through the day and awoke with her shoulder throbbing and stiff. She carefully removed the sling and went through some exercises to work the muscles, gritting her teeth against the pain. At length she felt less stiff, though she did head to the stream to wash herself of the sweat that now plastered her forehead.

When she returned, clean and refreshed, a new sling tied firmly in place, she was greeted by Mari, who seemed to be waiting for her.

“Feel better?” the princess asked with a smile.

Kyrie returned the smile warmly. “Much better, thanks. It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything like that. I’m a bit out of practice. It’s much more exhausting than it used to be.”

Mari laughed. “Climbing walls, leaping from tower to tower … yes, I can see how that would be exhausting.” She turned to walk with Kyrie. “Anyways, Arphenion and Dae’er have invited you to have dinner with them at their home. We had a long chat last night after you fell asleep, and they’re very grateful for the news that you’ve brought them. They would like to thank you.”

Kyrie didn’t even have to think about it. “I’d love to go,” she replied with a grin. “I have to admit, I’m curious about them. I know you’ve told me quite a bit about them, but I still have questions.”

“Such as?”

“Such as how they’ve managed to carry on as they have.” Kyrie shook her head in incredulity. “Maravel told me it took them a long time to conceive after their ordeal, so I think I may have a feeling of how desperate they were for a child. But to have their first child taken away from them like that … how did they move on? They seem so peaceful.”

Mari didn’t answer, but she looked thoughtful. Kyrie glanced up at her. She didn’t want to interrupt her thoughts, so she said nothing, but she was curious to know what Mari was thinking about.

“Anyways,” the princess said at last, “you may wish to find Dae’er and let her know that you’ll be there for dinner, and what time they will expect you.”

Kyrie recognized that Mari didn’t want to answer the question she had asked – or couldn’t, who knew? – and let it pass. She nodded at Mari’s suggestion. “I will do that,” she decided. “I’ll just put my bag inside for now.”

When she had done just that, she looked around the area until she found Dae’er working in a large garden behind the newer cabin. There was a wide variety of plants growing in it, and Kyrie’s mind wandered briefly to the tiny garden she and Ahkshi kept for their medicinal herbs. Dae’er was kneeling, pulling weeds from what looked like bean plants, and Kyrie watched her in silence for a few moments.

“Would you like some help?” she asked after a moment.

Dae’er started and turned to look at Kyrie, then laughed. “Oh, Kyrie. I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there.” She smiled. “Sure, I’d love a hand. The boys usually help me but they’re out hunting with Arphenion at the moment, and my daughter is cleaning the house.”

Kyrie stepped into the garden and knelt to begin pulling the weeds. “How many children do you have?” she asked curiously.

“Four here,” Dae’er replied after a short hesitation. “You know where Cael is, of course … here we have Ruaven – he’s twenty three – Hamir is seventeen, and Janos is thirteen. Iadrim is nine, but she acts as though she’s sixteen already.” She laughed. “How she prances about the place!”

Kyrie laughed softly. “You must be quite proud of your family, I think. You seem quite happy out here, even with all that’s happened to you.”

“We are,” Dae’er murmured, tossing aside some weeds. “Arphenion and I were both born and raised in the city and even when we were married and lived there, we were never as happy as we are here. There’s a satisfaction to living off the land, something you never feel in the city.”

“Not to mention, less stress because you’re out from under the General’s watch?” Kyrie suggested, watching Dae’er out of the corner of her eye for her reaction.

Dae’er never faltered in her work, only set her mouth in a grim line. “Yes.”

Kyrie noticed that Dae’er seemed to be throwing the weeds with more force now, and she turned her eyes to the soil in front of her. “I’m sorry,” she murmured. “I’m asking such personal questions … reminding you of terrible times …”

At that, Dae’er stopped completely and sat back on her heels. She was silent for a moment, and then she sighed. She turned to look at Kyrie, and the smile on her face was forced.

“You know what, though,” she said quietly, “it makes the present all the much sweeter. So Arphenion keeps reminding me.”

“And he is right,” Kyrie smiled. She rose unsteadily and wiped her dirty hand on her skirt. “Our lives are like roses,” she said softly. “They begin so fragile, so tender … yet there is nothing to look at, no beauty to them. Their only decoration is thorns. Pain. For us, imprisonment. Torture. Loss. But afterwards … hope. Love. Life. Meeting my husband has made my life blossom. I can honestly say that I am happy. Yes, there are things I regret, and yes, there are things I wish for that I can never have. But I am happy. What makes the rose such a beautiful flower? Valued above the others? Is it not its thorns, which make its beauty more amazing?”

She saw Dae’er glance at her scars, but it didn’t bother her. She was used to it by now. People always had to give them a second look.

Kyrie smiled. “I know. I have not lost something as precious as you. But I have lost the opportunity. You have four children, and the chance of seeing your firstborn again. Is that not itself a gift?”

Dae’er smiled and stood up again. “You are right,” she murmured. “Indeed, you are quite right. I have more hope now than I have had in a very long time. Thank you.”

There was a twinkle in her eye, the first that Kyrie had seen, when she smiled and said, “It’s time to begin to prepare dinner. Would you like to join me?”

Kyrie grinned. “Absolutely. I’ve only one arm, not terribly useful as I’m not left-handed, and I’m dreadful company. Any chance to for me to be in better company than my own is greatly appreciated.”

She was pleased to hear Dae’er laugh aloud at that comment and followed her gladly towards the house.

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