Ruthianna soared through the air, Kiaran clutching at her horns. Gerrock sat behind her, clutching his arms around her waist tightly. The sky was admirable, the clouds whisking around them like smoke. Garrock was the farmer’s son, the one who had once held Ruthianna in captivity. It was difficult to get Ruthianna to understand what was to be done. But eventually, she agreed to trust in Kiaran.
Finally, they landed in the sands of Rishana. Climbing off, she helped the man off the dragon. They waited for mere moments before the ground rumbled.
The sands shifted fiercely as Kita pulled her snake-like head from the depths of the ground. Sand rolled off her head like water, crashing to the ground. Holding a hand out, she spoke coolly, “Kita, we need your healing touch.”
The creature easily leaned in and gently touched its nose to the top of the man’s cowering head. Grasping his head in his hands, he fell to his knees, groaning in pain. Kiaran touched a hand to Kita as the dragon pulled away, disappearing back into the sands.
Kneeling beside the man, she rested a hand on his back, providing comfort. He fidgeted and fought with himself as he whimpered. Finally, he dropped his hands and his eyes stared widely at the ground as he began to cry.
Slowly, he looked to her saying, “My head…It is clear.”
Smiling, she helped him up. He dusted himself off and she replied, “It is miraculous what these creatures can do, is it not?”
He nodded, his gray eyes moving to Ruthianna. The dragon looked to him, her beautiful eyes peering at him. Gently, he touched her nose, speaking softly, “I apologize, dragon.”
Mounting her once more, they left.
The air was refreshing as Kiaran stood just outside her home in the tribe. Only a handful of people were rescued from prison. Kane, Lianna, and one of Connie’s brothers, Ark, were among the survivors. The old woman, Kimana was missing, though no one recalled where she had gone. The village was on its way to normalcy, though it would be impossible to heal fully from it.
Turning, she entered the small house to the room where Kane rested in his bed. He was badly beaten and torn apart; he was wrapped tightly all over in bandages. She could see the sanity slowly being tugged from him. Sitting in the chair beside him, she eyed the bar tattooed around his tan arm…His wife…
Her eyes moved to his face, taken back that he was staring directly at her. His voice was raspy and deep as he spoke, “Ruby.”
“Your wife?” she asked softly.
“Yes,” his brows creased as he fought back emotion. “That is why that woman wanted me. When she could not get what she came fore, she told Murdock where we were and he sent soldiers after us.”
“What do you mean? Coralea? She said you have stolen something from her,” she replied slowly.
“Her daughter,” he answered. “She was arranged a marriage and she ran away to stay with me.”
“I see,” she breathed.
“It did not last too long, as you see,” he added. “I regret every second of taking her from that woman. She should have stayed in that town and married that man. She never would have died.”
Kiaran reached out, gently touching his great forearm. He jerked beneath her touch and she drew back. “You cannot relive that moment, Kane,” she reminded him. “It will be your downfall.”
“I see no point in continuing,” he groaned. “Our people are dead, my wife--“
“Kane,” she demanded, “We have people, just a smaller number of them. They still live and love in this tradition, this culture and you cannot let this die out.”
He turned his head away. Closing her eyes, she sighed heavily. Her heart swelled as she clenched her jaws and bit at her lower lip. Her hands moved to either side of her head, feeling her normal ears...It was odd that only a few weeks ago they were pointed.
Cyrin stepped into the doorway, keeping his voice held back. She looked to him and followed him outside. Hesitantly, he asked, “I know it is early of me to ask, but have you decided what you are to do now?”
She dropped her gaze slightly as she nodded. “I must speak with Torin.”
“He is at the lake,” he replied.
She darted away, keeping out of anyone’s sights. Finally, she reached the edge of the water, following the shoreline until she reached the area where she frequently escaped her troubles. There he stood, staring blankly at the water. His arm was heavily wrapped and strapped to his chest. It was broken in battle, but would heal well.
He stood shirtless, wearing a vest of reds. Raven had trimmed and styled his hair once more, still looking like a horse’s mane. Blue feathers and painted beads were strung throughout his strip of hair.
She swallowed hard as she slowly moved to his side. There was silence between them as Nurra climbed up to her shoulders, trilling. Gently, she sat him on the ground and he disappeared into the forest. Without looking to her, he spoke, “I believe I know what you have decided.”
She nodded slowly.
“Well, Lady Krutia,” he continued, “I shall join you.”
“No,” she breathed slowly as she shook her head. His eyes shot to her as she added, “Torin, they need you here. This is your home.”
“My home is with you, Kiaran,” he pressed. His face was lined in bruises still trying to heal. A light scar ran along his cheekbone.
“Stop,” she lifted a hand firmly. “Raven will need you here, Lianna will need you. I can handle myself at Avestitia. Torin…please.”
Their eyes burrowed into one another, until, finally, he said, “I trust you.” His voice was soft and weak. “When will you leave?”
“Soon,” she mumbled. “There is something else you must know.”
“What is that?”
“Kane is not stable to continue leading the tribe.” The wind shoved through them effortlessly. “I believe Raven would do a fair job of it. She knows the culture better than you or I. My goal is to spread the Zeil’s ways throughout Avestitia. We still need the tribe, but I cannot stay here.”
“When did you finally come to this realization?” he questioned.
“While I was with Kriettor…My mind was clear enough to come up with a proper decision.” Looking to him, her eyes changed, nearly to fear. “Torin, something much worse is on its way.”
“What do you mean?”
“I saw it while being with the dragon. It is much worse than Murdock—I am doubtful that the buffoon even knew of Kriettor.”
“What is going on, Kiaran?” he pressed.
“Keep on your toes while I am gone. I will let you know when we are to act, and how we are to go about it.” She held a hand on his somewhat good shoulder and looked him dead in the eye, “Promise me you will protect these people.”
She nodded and pulled him into a quick hug. “There’s one last stop I must make before I return home.”
She turned to leave, but he grabbed her elbow. "Kiaran," he said uneasily. She looked back at him, though she didn't want to. It was already difficult enough. "...Take care of yourself."
"...I mean it," he said lowly. He paused a moment, then released her. After a moment of watching one another, she slowly turned and left.
It took a very short amount of time to reach the City of Rishana on the dragon’s back. She hadn’t seen Davin since she had left him the day of the battle. The dragon circled over the area, the wind ripping at her clothes and hair. Nurra sat between her legs, her hands on either side of him gripping the saddle. The city was in poor condition, most of the buildings broken and a few still smoldering.
Finally, the dragon landed in the courtyard of the castle. She climbed off and patted its broad shoulder. Racing up the stairs, she entered the castle. The few people within bowed to her, whispering, “Dragonbound,” her new name. Kiaran Dragonbound. She smiled a little at the title.
Walter rounded the corner, raising a brow at her presence. Smiling wider, she said, “Where can I find Davin?”
“The war room,” he answered.
“...Is he in a meeting?”
“No, not anymore,” he shook his head. “Come on, I’ll take you.”
She followed him down a few hallways until they reached a closed door. Opening it, he stepped aside, allowing her to enter. The door closed behind her and Davin looked up from the table. He stood over it, his hands plastered to the papers sitting on the table. He wore heavy clothes, his bandages hiding beneath them. She had expected a smile, a kind hello--something. But he did nothing. He simply watched her.
“I met Alana’s grandson,” he said lowly, looking out the window.
“Aye?” He nodded once. “How was her husband?”
He lowered his gaze and the silence thickened for a moment. “He was still in denial of Alana working willingly against the king...” Inhaling deeply, he finally forced the words out, “He tried to assassinate me.”
She stared at him in shock and began to ask what had happened to him, but his eyes shot to her and she bit her lip. It was obvious. He was put to death. She swallowed past the lump in her throat and they both remained quiet for several minutes.
Davin’s heart sank a bit, unable to find anything suitable to say. He had just been crowned as king, and she was soon leaving. For the Zeil or for the kingdom of Avestitia...It didn’t matter, she was going to be gone. He frowned and ran a hand over his wounded arm. Standing tall, he frowned further.
“Frowning doesn’t suit you well,” she said with a tender voice. The words only seemed to make it worse. Her brows creased as she walked to his side. “I am sorry.”
“Why?” he asked lowly.
She shrugged and touched her fingertips to his hand. “I am going to Avestitia,” she announced. “Perhaps...” she cut herself short, redirecting her sentence. “We shall see each other again.”
“We will,” he nodded, wrapping his fingers around her thin hand. The warm sun touched them, though neither of them found any comfort in it.
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