Where There's No Help...
“Kreittor, I need your help,” Kiaran’s voice was demanding as she stepped into his cavern. Her footsteps echoed loudly against the quiet of his solitude.
The dragon narrowed his large eyes at her as he faced her, still lying on the warm, stone ground. The orange light of the lava radiated off his scales like liquid fire.
“Young one,” he hummed.
“You already know what’s happened,” she said sternly. She wasted no time, standing before him fearlessly. She squared up to him like he were no larger nor more clawed than she. Her fists rested on her hips as she glared at him, a new sort of desperation in her eye. “We need to go get him.”
“You’ll risk your nation to a rescue mission for one man?” he asked flatly. There was a thin cloud of doubt which masked her expression, something which he was likely the only to notice. “Why?”
She clenched her jaws a bit, her glare hardening. Why, indeed? Deciding to ignore the question, she said, “Sterjia’s got him, Kriettor. I won’t let him die by her hand.”
“How loyal,” he seemed to groan in annoyance. “You and I share many things, child. We both are aware of the same things. And one fact that we both know, is the fact that my going to Trindal-VinCar would end disastrous.”
She chewed on a response before finally breaking a little. Her heart was no longer behind a wall and her eyes are unable to stay dry. Anger and fear swelled within her as she glared at the Great Dragon. Her head throbbed and her wounded arm still ached.
It had been a few days since Ryker had woken from their ambush, yet he still had not the strength to heal her. Her nephew was just as upset as she was about Davin’s abduction. She, unfortunately, found herself relying on Cyrin’s rationality. That, in itself, was demeaning enough.
A storm of rage and uselessness swallowed her up, chewing her to bits. Every muscle in her body tensed, her fists shaking at her sides. Raising a fist, she swung through the air, coming just short of thrashing Kriettor in the muzzle. The dragon released a long, deep sigh as he lowered his face to her. He touched his nose to her body in a gentle gesture.
She backed away furiously as she shouted, “Kriettor! I need you! For once, I come to you asking for help, and you turn me away.” It felt like a dagger to the heart. Her only real chance at freeing him.
“You surely do not expect me to sit aside while--Kriettor--I need you to strengthen me. I cannot fight them on my own accord!”
"It is foolish,” he snarled, his multicolored flames licking between his slightly parted lips. ”Even with me and an army, you will still lose."
“I’ll do it without you then.” She turned to leave, but the Great Dragon roared so thunderously that Kiaran fell to her knees from the quaking ground. For a league in every direction, the earth shook in great violence. Stalactites fell from above, some larger than Kiaran. Using an armored wing, Kriettor shielded her.
Tears began to run down her face as she stood, the earth finally calming to an alarming stillness. ”Foolishness,” he hissed. His wing retracted once more.
“I refuse to sit and allow him to be imprisoned by her,” she raged. “I’ll bleed away my life to release him--”
Kriettor’s voice cracked like thunder, piercing her inner ears. Again, she crumbled to the shaking stone floor, holding her ears tightly. ”Again, I say to you: Foolishness! Is this how you will go out, Uvara Sor? Dying to save a single man from imprisonment? Foolishness, Kiaran!"
“What do I do?” she pleaded as she cried. “What do I do?”
"You plan, ta escile," he said, calming back down. ”You cannot fight magic with swords. You fight magic with magic. Take the boy with you, he is far wiser than you’d believe.”
“He is young, I couldn’t...”
"I’ve seen him from the inside, Kiaran, take care to remember my talent. I’ve seen him through you. I know what he is worth, and I know what you are worth. Together, you will begin the war, and you will end it."
“But what do I do about Davin?” she breathed uneasily. “What do I do about him?”
"Do as you plan, Kiaran, and all will unfold before you,” he answered.
“That isn’t an answer, Kriettor,” she growled. “Tell me--”
Instantly, she was pinned by his hot talon. ”Quit questioning me. Do as you are told and fulfill your destiny.” With that, he released her, walked away, curled up with his back to her, and blocked her out. Anything she said, he ignored and slept. Wiping her face clear of tears, she bolted for the exit.
Cyrin waited outside the cave. He refused to let Kiaran go anywhere alone any longer. He could have easily lost her to that ambush if it weren’t for Ruthianna being there. Anger and disappointment in himself writhed within him. The longer he sat outside, the worse it became.
Nurra eyed him in concern, trilling quietly at his feet. Cyrin huffed out a sigh as he begrudgingly pat the dragon on the head. A short distance away, Stella sat with her hands planted firmly behind her, propping herself up. Her gaze was distant, hardly blinking as she lost herself in thought.
Cyrin didn’t know her very well. And he didn’t know Kiaran’s other companions, either. He knew they were strong, and they were important to Kiaran. They played crucial parts in ending the war with Rishana. But when it came to personalities, he knew nothing of them.
He could initially sense a slight difference with Stella. There was an air of discomfort between the others and her. It was almost sad. Considering she had worked hard to help Kiaran accomplish what she had.
“Are you worried for the others?” Cyrin questioned.
Stella’s sharp eyes shifted to him and she lifted a shoulder in a half-shrug. “Yes,” she stated. “Torin will be moving the others into deep hiding,” she said. Her voice was almost distant, just present enough to answer him. Her gaze drifted away gain. “Brick will try to keep things under control in our absence.”
Cyrin watched her a moment longer. “Is there something else?”
She clenched her jaws a bit as she shook her head. There was something else, clearly. But it seemed to be something to keep to herself. Accepting that, he looked back to Nurra who gazed deeply into the dark cavern behind.
He patted Nurra again. “She’ll be back,” he stated quietly.
Stella looked to the trees looming overhead, bright rays shifting through them as the wind blew. She withheld a frown, her heart uneasy. Perhaps...she should tell Kiaran about Davin’s unborn child. But she felt it wasn’t her place.
The cave’s entrance drew her attention and she lightly sighed. Clearly, Kiaran loved him. How would she take the news that he had gotten another woman pregnant?
Surely, she would understand. They had been apart for quite a while. Of course, it would still hurt; that was to be expected.
She let out a sharp sigh again as she stood.
In that moment, Kiaran rushed out and past them. “Let’s go,” she barked. Nurra ran after her, the others rushing to follow. “Kriettor is useless to us.”
“Oh,” Stella hummed uneasily.
“Don’t be so sure,” Cyrin answered. “He’s dipped his consciousness into nature. He’s everywhere.”
“Like a spy who won’t tell his master any vital intelligence?” Kiaran bit. “No. He won’t help.”
“Perhaps he has been. In other ways,” Stella suggested. Kiaran’s eyes shot to her, anger flaring. “Remember when we first approached? The weather was quite...disruptive.”
Kiaran nodded. Perhaps she was right. The weather within Trindal was quite sporadic. Kiaran glanced back to the cave entrance in consideration.
Inhaling a deep breath, she looked forward again and continued on.
Kiaran became busy with rebuilding parts of her country after Brinn’s few, unsuccessful attacks. They were home for nearly a week and she hadn’t been able to properly show Ryker through the palace.
She rushed through her castle, speaking with several different people. There were many things with the upcoming war that she needed to address. However, she, Cyrin, and Stella worked together quietly in regards to Davin’s rescue.
Kiaran was in deep thought as she walked through the corridors. From around the corner came Cyrin. He was the only one she told about Ryker’s relation to her. Everyone else thought she was simply helping an orphan.
“Ryker is in the library. I believe you should talk to him,” he said.
“Is he alright?” she asked as she walked down the hall with him.
His stare was stern as he said, “He has been here for a week and you are the only one he is familiar with. Davin is missing and he is separated from his father. You’ve been busy, so I assume he is...scared.”
She slowly inhaled and agreed to see the boy. Cyrin waited in the hall as Kiaran slowly stepped into the massive library. Ryker was seated at a table, nearly finished with a thick book.
Silently, she took a seat beside him, looking at the words on the pages. His eyes slowly moved to her for a moment, and he went back to reading. It was a book of anatomy, specifically on shoulders for that particular chapter.
“What are you studying?” she finally asked. He shrugged a shoulder. “You’ve been quiet,” she said softly.
“I am in a strange place,” he said.
She frowned at him. “Tell me, Ryker...what is worrying you?”
His fingers fumbled with the edges of the paper, bending them and rolling them inwards. Finally, he sighed, saying, “I am afraid that my father was killed.”
“Why?” she asked quickly.
“I have a strong sense for things like that,” he said, his voice nearly gone. “I fear that he was protecting us once we left...they were looking for one of us.”
“Who?” she breathed.
“I don’t know,” his brows creased as his eyes grew wet. “Whoever it was wanted to get to us, and I know that they killed him within days of us leaving.” He kept his head low, his breathing shaky.
Kiaran kept silent for what seemed like a lifetime. There was nothing she could say...What could she say? She fought for a response, for something to help him, but nothing came.
Tears ran down the little boy’s cheeks. “I wish I could hope he was alive,” he wept. “But I know better.” They sat silently together as he cried.
Once he calmed, he insisted that he should continue his studies. Kiaran left the room, walking with Cyrin once more. “It seems you’ll have to fight for your library,” she said.
“So it seems,” he hummed.
“Have you seen Ruthianna yet?” she asked. He shook his head and worry washed over Kiaran. “She should have been back by now. Do you believe she found some trouble?”
“Unlikely,” he shook his head. “There are many times Ruthianna has left, and each time, as I do now, I have felt her presence. She is safe.”
They had sent her to fly the countryside, searching for any spies or small armies. She was gone about once a week, spending a few nights at a time. And each time, she’d return with something helpful. This time, however, had been her longest absence. But if Cyrin insisted that she was healthy, she’d believe him.
Just ahead, Elsibellem passed the corridor. Her dark hair just met her shoulders, cut at a sharp angle, long enough in the front to frame her face. She walked with a sort of urgency, as if she were on a direct mission.
From her side, Kiaran could feel Cyrin tense. She glanced his way, his eyes on the woman who just disappeared down the conjoining hallway.
“I’ll be back,” he stated, following after her.
Kiaran stood still a moment, narrowing her eyes after him. Nurra drew her attention as he cooed softly at her feet. Facing the little dragon, she held a hand out to him. He leapt up, climbing up her arm and across her shoulders.
Before she could join them, Stella came to greet her. She bowed slightly, her blonde hair sweeping across her lowered face. “Good afternoon, Stella,” Kiaran said.
“Yes, good afternoon,” she replied. She stood back up, her hands gripping each other. She held the air of an anxious child, hardly able to meet Kiaran’s eyes since she had arrived.
“Are you comfortable here?” Kiaran asked. “You could go home if you want. It may be some time before we can get together a rescue team,” she admitted with difficulty.
“No. I’d like to stay if that’s alright,” Stella answered. “And I am comfortable, thank you.”
“Then let’s go to the training grounds,” Kiaran sighed. She knew it was one of few things they could agree on. It was something they could both do to ease the tension.
“Elsibellem,” Cyrin called out as he caught up to her.
She spun around, yet it didn’t seem to be in alarm, but a rush. She walked backwards to keep moving. “My Lord?” she replied.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Oh, nothing. I apologize for--”
He gave her a very cutting look and she came to a dead stop. Her cheeks flushed a bit, her eyes reflecting that of angst and relief. Relief that he could read her and she didn’t have to hide it any longer. Her voice, though, was caught. She gazed at him, and it felt like her world was about to fall apart.
He took a step closer to her, laying a comforting touch to her shoulder. Allowing it for a short second, she seemed to snap out of it. Inching backwards, she stepped out of his touch.
“It’s the queen, Cyrin,” she said uneasily. Quickly, she moved to correct herself, “My Lord. This war is beginning to affect her health.”
Color faded from his face as he watched her. “How bad is it?” he asked quietly.
“She’s feverish today,” she answered. “Um...She’s awake, though. Yet...she’s not eaten in two days, now.”
“Can...I see her?” he asked.
She nodded and led him to the queen’s chambers.
Ryker followed Kiaran through the wide hallways toward the furnace room. She knew he’d love to see it. “This room is rather hot, and many dragons are within it, so beware,” she grinned at him over her shoulder.
“Aye,” he nodded excitedly.
With everything happening, she knew a few things might help him. And seeing this would be something amazing to him. Maybe if she could get him in a better place mentally, she wouldn’t be distracted by the poor boy.
Realizing that thought, she felt guilty. She didn’t mean to seem so selfish, but she could get no work done knowing that he was in such turmoil.
Perhaps it wasn’t selfishness, but rather sympathy. She cared deeply about his state, and it proved as a distraction.
Learning all of these new feelings was tiring. At times, she found herself wishing to do away with them all. But that wasn’t even possible.
Coming to the massive doors, she pulled on the gold handle. Heat burst through the opening, barreling through them. Ryker gawked at the three, massive dragons in the room. Pointing to the huge, red one, Kiaran said, “My mother was on that dragon when I first saw her. It was...terrifying.”
“I’d say so,” he awed.
Each dragon stood at, what seemed like, large metal stoves with several pipes running out of them. The pipes merged into the walls. The dragons breathed fire into the furnaces, heating them. Smaller dragons kept to other, smaller stoves. Kiaran led him through, watching the few people clean the room and feed the stoves wood.
“What are they doing?” Ryker finally asked.
“This is how the castle is kept warm...Also,” she smiled widely, saying, “Somehow, a couple intelligent men were able to create this, allowing us to have hot water at our disposal.”
“What?” he breathed. “How?!” The excitement on his face was overwhelming and Kiaran laughed.
“Well,” she began, “I do not know the specific details...But, the dragons blow flames into the furnaces that heat the water, and the water somehow moves through those pipes.”
“That is incredible. Who did this?”
“Cyrin’s father had worked on this for his entire life, but it was only on paper. Cyrin, actually, finished up the details and had it built,” she replied.
“This is impressive,” he said.
They left the room, the coolness touching their skin. “Kiaran,” Ryker caught her attention. “...If I am only half Drakeling, could I still bond with a dragon?”
“I’d suppose,” she shrugged. “You may find one in time. Do not worry.” Nurra raced down the hall at Kiaran, and she said, “Speaking of dragons...Here is Nurra.” He shot up her leg and side, perching on her arm as she held it out for him. He touched his nose to hers and she smiled. “Hello, Nurra.” Suddenly, the idea occurred, and she turned to Ryker, saying, “Would you like to meet Kriettor?”
“Kriettor?” he gasped softly, “You mean...the king dragon?”
“Yes,” she replied. “He would enjoy your company, I should think.”
“Yes, absolutely--I would love to meet him,” he laughed excitedly.
She felt bad for the way she left things between them. Surely, he wouldn’t abandon her so easily. Perhaps Cyrin and Stella were right. He might be helping in ways she’d never know.
Cyrin sat in his chambers, a firm grip on his chin as he stared into his memories. His thoughts shifted from one to the next, revolving around his time with Ritiann. She had always been strong and caring. Since he took the position to work for her, he had known nothing but the best of her.
The tea cup Elsibellem had clinked quietly on its saucer as she nervously poured his cup. The sound brought him back to the present and he faced her. “She didn’t look very good,” he muttered lowly.
She handed him his drink and she sat across from him. Shaking her head slightly, she kept her gaze on her hands. “She’s put up a front for so long. I don’t think even she realizes how sick she actually is,” she answered.
“Has she seen a doctor?” he asked.
Hesitantly, she nodded once. “Y-yes.” He waited for her to continue, but she didn’t. That didn’t bode well.
Sighing long and deep, he finally sat his tea down without a single sip. “Watch her closely, Else.” She lifted her eyes to him in slight surprise by the sudden nickname. “Tell me of any sudden turns.”
“I will,” she said. “...And what of Kiaran?”
“I will be the one to speak with her,” he said. “Tomorrow.”
"Right," she nodded weakly.
Cyrin watched her a moment, worry and fear in her eyes. "Elsibellem?" She lifted her gaze to him, still void of color as she remained unmatched with a dragon. Silver and weak gray lined her irises, looking like a clouded sky. "You'll be safe. No matter what happens."
She gazed at him, her brows creasing slightly. She worked for Ritiann for so long. It was a wonder what might happen to her if the queen died. Where would Elsibellem work? Where would she go?
That sentence was enough to set her heart to ease. At least a bit.
"Thank you," she breathed into her teacup.