Chapter 1 - Dragoonsbane Lake
It was a quiet morning much like any other, where the sun came down dappled upon the fern-covered forest floor and the trees stood tall, covered in a deep green moss, that young Y'ves found herself thinking of a tart. As much a fan of sweet things as any woman her age, she often found herself thinking of tarts. However, it was not often that she found in herself the enthusiasm and intent necessary to gather the berries and bake one herself, and that in itself was enough to make an otherwise ordinary day one of adventure for young Y'ves.
In light of this observation, Y'ves strapped on her shoes and picked up one of her small wicker baskets, one she usually used for laundry. She wouldn't squander such an opportunity when it so very obviously extended its hand to her, as any sort of adventure to her was an adventure more than worth having. Living alone, while exhausting in its workload, also afforded little time for her to enjoy a good venture into the woods, so what little she could do for herself she relished in.
As she stepped out of her door, nearly forgetting in her haste to close it, the scent of the cool breeze whipping up from the lake caught her, and she turned to the shore, her eyes closing as she took a little more of it in. Although the warm weather had softened the cool bite of the lake water, she had yet to take a swim in the lake that year, another adventure she was eager to embark upon.
Ah, but as adventurers must take their adventures in stride, so too must young Y'ves. This is what she told herself, at the very least. One exciting thing at a time, else she should burst with pure anticipation.
"Ah..." Y'ves breathed out to herself, gazing upon the scene in front of her. Ephemeral and fleeting though it was, spring was breathtaking for little Y'ves, and something she could hardly stand to miss. She recalled with some resentment the spring she was laid in bed with a fever, trying to go outside and gaze at the life growing at the shore of Dragoonsbane Lake at the behest of her dear mother. How funny it was, she thought to herself, that some springs later she would be the one disparaging her mother for attempting to go outside and experience the bliss of spring one last time.
The bittersweet thoughts were distracting Y'ves from her enjoyment of her adventure, so she chose with a little furrow of her brow to try with all her might to put them out from her mind and once again relish in the rejuvenating energy of springtime at Dragoonsbane Lake and the woods surrounding it.
As the scent of a flowering plant met with her senses, the soft breeze carried along the scents of the nearby forest, the slightly dank smell of the moss covering the rocks and trees and the musk of the leaves underfoot from the fall preceding that long winter which Y'ves had weathered comfortably, if a little irritably. The ever-restless young woman desired for her emerald green eyes to be always satiated in their thirst for new sights and her hands ever making contact with something she had never touched before; even her tongue desired for tastes she had never experienced nor could conceptualize. Like this, it was no surprise that winter didn't bode well with the young woman. A travelling heart is never complete at rest, or so her mother had said.
Approaching the mouth of the woods as she turned away from the lake and began walking to the treeline, Y'ves stared up at the new buds of tree leaves and felt that strange ache in her chest that she often felt in times like these. It was an ache born not only of the deep satisfaction she found with the beautiful view of nature's annual renaissance before her, but also one of faint longing, as though her aether longed to escape her body and connect fully with that of the deep wood. An ache, she thought to say, of separation.
But separation from what? That she couldn't say. She merely felt that her journey was incomplete, perhaps, no matter how many hours she spent trekking the woods near the home where her mother had passed.
Once again Y'ves found herself having to clear her mind, her racing thoughts becoming messy and dissonant and ruining her sense of peace in the woods.
To help herself think, Y'ves began to walk, her legs moving slowly in front of her even if only to help her focus on something other than her clouded past. She walked at a rather leisurely pace, following the shoreline about 30 yards to her east in order to scan the most fertile and welcoming places for the bushes which carried the berries she desired.
Her quiet, focused state of mind was disrupted by the sound of a voice to the west. Her head snapped in that direction, only to see... Him.
Y'ves sighed faintly as a tall man with black hair and dark brows approached her, supposing he must've been hunting for something. He almost always was, after all.
"Y'ves! Imagine seeing you out here. You're closer to Daeset than your own house this far out," he said to her in an enthused tone of voice, to which Y'ves gave a small, polite smile. "Am I? I hadn't noticed. I was looking for, erm.." Y'ves paused, her amber eyes searching his for a moment before they snapped out to the lake. "I was looking for berries, yes. I must've lost attention."
The strange man gave a hearty laugh and crossed his arms. "Forgive me, but you must've lost focus for quite a long time, Y'ves," he teased her gently, making her laugh a little. "... Oh, U'haeri, please spare me the lecture," she replied in a tone denoting much sarcasm.
"... Why are you out this far anyway, U'haeri? If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were following me."
"No, no, ma'am! Not nearly the case," the blue-eyed beanpole insisted, shaking his head emphatically to serve as an indicator of how serious he was. "Rather than doing something like that, I was attempting tracking. That being said, it's much more difficult to track something based on only a sighting than it sounds."
A small sigh escaped him, and he looked over at Y'ves, expression neutral for a moment before his eyes narrowed. "You can likely see much of the lake from your home, can't you?"
"Oh, the entire shoreline," Y'ves replied with a nod. "Why do you ask, my friend?"
A small pause punctuated U'haeri's strange expression at those words, but he continued on anyway, despite his enthusiasm being dampened by a small bit.
"You haven't seen anything unusual around the lake, have you?"
"No," replied Y'ves, her eyes narrowed. "But I must know why you're asking me all these questions, U'haeri."
The spring heat seemed to close in around them in the proceeding silence, until finally U'haeri spoke.
"Y'ves, I have been sent to track something. I don't know that I can tell you what it is, but it cannot be allowed to remain here, lest it should grow bigger and something like the great war should happen once again."
Y'ves' eyes grew wide, and her mouth opened slightly. "You can't mean-"
"... Aye. I mean it," he said to her. "Be careful on your own out in those woods, Y'ves. Although we've had but brief sightings thus far, it sounds from the information I was given that we may be witnessing the birth of yet another.. Dragon."
Those words made Y'ves' face grow a little paler, and she stared at U'haeri with wide eyes, small waves of shock going over her until she calmed down enough to give him a nod. "... Should I see anything, I'll notify you right away," she said with a quick, dutiful nod, her eyes soft. She gave him a friendly smile afterward. "Well, it's been quite the conversation, but since I have what I came out here to get, I'm loathe to do much more than return home," she said.
"I understand. Please don't take your time," U'haeri urged her. "It's not as safe in these woods as it may seem."
Y'ves gave a final nod, curtsied to the man politely, and turned around to walk home.
She was stopped, however, by that same voice which had stopped her journey through here in the first place.
Y'ves turned around, looking at Uhaeri as she stopped in her tracks.
"... Be well. It can't be easy to stay in that cottage all alone."
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