5 years later
Don’t make a move, yet, Amadahy, Ethne whispers to the other female Dragons, Pagan, Sen, Kali, you go in from the back after Luvenia makes her appearance. Amadahy, when Luvenia catches them off guard, join her. Minx will stay back with me and come in from the front if you two get into any unexpected trouble. Does everyone comprehend the plan, or should I repeat it all one more time?
We heard you, Ethne! Pagan sing songs, trying hard to hold off on the sarcasm.
Luvenia and I got this, sweets, Amadahy is next to me and winks at Ethne, who nods with her Dragon head down at us in our human form.
I think we get the plan, let’s do this, Minx sits on her haunches next to Ethne, her purple Dragon was barely three feet tall at 13 years old, but her two fangs were so long, it’d put Lochness’ to shame. Her breed was rare, she was a miniature Fire-Spitter. Even the most experienced soldier or Dragon Slayer were often scared of her kind.
Let’s break some bones then, Ethne lowers her head, keeping a close eye on the traveler’s road, and the bandits ransacking a small trader of exotic goods. Three men decked with swords but no shields, have ambushed the opposing small man onto the side of the road.
“Don’t move, little Jim,” the tallest fat solider laughs robustly as he points the sword at ‘little Jim’, “Or this sword’s ramming straight through your puny little guts.”
“Nothing much!” one of the young men growls from inside the back of the gypsy like cart, “Come have a look at this amount of chocolate though, boss, looks like we could sell this for some good coin,” the youngest lad from the three of them rushes to see the loot.
The fat man also waltzes over and ‘little Jim’ takes his opportunity to run into the forest.
Smart; because they were going to kill him regardless.
I could hear the fat man’s thoughts.
Scare em’, kill em’, take their stuff, when does it fail? All that wine is gonna look good when the real boss sees me handy work.
This lot were just another small group of bandits terrorizing the good folk of the Requiem territory. All because of the five absent years of dwindling male Dragons, if any Dragons at all. No more guard masters, no sky trailers and no forest scouters to keep the peace.
Only Hael’s existence and the threat of execution were our protection. The last lot of male warrior Dragons went to help with the war and the last Dragon boom, us, was mostly female oriented.
Tzion, Arrin and Lex were the only males our age that were a part of our generation. And they were all at war. Ginette and Talon had decided to help with the effort. The rest of our Dragon parents refused to let us join in on the fight. Not because we weren’t good enough to go to battle, but because we were the best hope and future of Dragon kind... being female and all. Argh.
Plus, god help the day Hael ever let me go to a war. I frown just thinking about it, five years thinking about Lochness possibly dead, dying or injured was enough to drive me stir-crazy. I was happy to add, though, that I didn’t miss Thaddeus or Sylvan.
At least I pretended not to give a damn.
Me first, Amadahy, I look down at my leather pants, very worn from constant physical activity. My boots below were nice and worn in too, but I often repaired the brown leather so they lasted this long. My top? Was purposefully ripped apart and covered in mud. I pick up some leaves just before I enter onto the common traveler’s road, twining some leaves through my hair.
Step by step, I approach the cabin and the three bandits, my boots crunching on the stones and announcing my approach.
The fat man is the first to see me. He glances over his shoulder and then gets a fright as he jumps around, sticking his sword out at me.
“Company,” he hisses at his mates, who quickly jump out of the back of the cabin, their faces full of chocolate. The younger boy keeps eating while the young man spits out his chocolate onto the ground at the sight of me.
At this point, I’ve stopped on the road and grabbed the bottom of my shirt, peeling it over my skin, up over my busty breasts and straight up over my neck and head. I fling it to the ground and then stand with hands on hips, tilting my head and refusing to blink as I stare down the three men, my eyes focusing on the young man.
“I don’t suppose any of you are looking for a good time?” I ask, sultry, half closing my eyes and reaching up a hand to pick the leaves out of my hair that I just shoved in the strands moments before, “The last lot I found weren’t so nice to me though, not that I mind it rough,” I wink and smile now as the speechless fat man ushers forward the young man, a tremble in his hand with his sword now. He stumbles forward, while the youngest boy is looking at me with disgust.
“Y-you... you looking to get hurt, lassy?” the fat man asks, “You better not speak of what you saw here today...”
“You probably sell your secrets for money,” the younger man states, holding his sword a little more firmly now as he takes another hesitant step forward.
“I sell my body for scraps of food, a few tarnished coins, a bit of wine or a bed to sleep in for the night... I don’t go telling secrets now, that would just be rude,” I smile to myself as Pagan, Sen and Kali have snuck in at this point and are searching through the cart themselves.
And the three bandits have no idea.
Neither do they have any idea that I can read their thoughts.
The little boy doesn’t mind I’m distracting his two cohorts from watching him eat all the chocolate in his arms. The old fat man is distrusting of my presence but slowly calms the more I explain how much of a whore I am. The young man... well... he looks about 20.
His thoughts aren’t so earnest.
“How much for your company for the night?” he asks me, “One chocolate bar?”
I go quiet as I zone on in his deeper thoughts and why exactly he wanted to seduce me. It was strange and suspicious because he was already showing little signs of deep seated distrust for me, which was uncommon unless he had a trigger about whores in his past. I see it now as I dive in further into his brain; his mother use to beat him as a child... his first lady cheated on him with another... the whores he tried to sleep with next made fun of his inability to stay hard for too long.
And then there were his outright, frontal thoughts.
I’ll have this bitch for the night and then when she least suspects it, I’ll stick a knife right through that pretty little neck. She’s a good for nothing whore, just like the rest of them.
“If you want her, you can have her,” the older man speaks gruffly.
“I don’t believe this whore has agreed to my proposition yet, a chocolate bar for your company, my lady?” he changes his endearments which just makes it all the more insulting.
“I changed my mind,” I lose the sultry tone and I continue not to blink as I pick back up my shirt from off the ground and tug it back on, “Perhaps I will go tell the appropriate authorities about you intimidating a man, all on his own, stealing his loot and trying to buy off a princess with a chocolate bar? That doesn’t seem like a very financially agreeable trade... I’m worth at least a few thousand chocolate bars and you’ve only got an empty cart,” I smile and watch them all exchange looks like I’m crazy.
“A princess?” the young lad asks, “You’re insane.”
“I assure you, young lady, our cart is full,” the fat man lowers his sword, “Now you’re going to take back what you said about reporting us, or you’re not leaving this road alive!”
“Check your cart,” I smirk, nodding towards it.
They all pause.
“Check,” the fat man eventually snarls it at the little kid, who turns to go check under the shelter of the cart’s fabric hood. The kid runs faster than lightening, eager for more chocolate.
“It’s all gone!” he screams back after he’s checked.
Real understanding starts to settle in for the other two bandits.
“What happened to it?” the fat man raises his sword once more, narrowing his eyes, “Tell us, ‘whore’!”
“I am princess Luvenia of the Requiem Horde,” I cross my arms over my chest, “And while you were staring at my tits, my friends stole all your stuff and tracked down ‘little Jim’ to make sure he was okay. And now you have no loot. ‘Little Jim’ will soon have his living back under his hand... and you will all make your way back to Haven, get proper jobs, and move on from this bandit business. Or my father? Will have all your heads. Sound like a fair deal?” I raise an eyebrow.
“I don’t believe you’re a princess,” the fat man takes a few threatening steps forward, “I think you’re a lunatic...” he trails off as his eyes suddenly focus on a figure approaching from behind me, “...another crazy woman?”
“Luvenia!” Amadahy calls out my name and I lift one hand, as she throws me my sword, the handle lands in my palm smoothly as she stalks up to my side. She has a semi-shaved head, with her short blonde hair on the sides forming a striped and zig-zagged pattern with a bunch of long hair tied at the top. She holds her own sword at the ready, coming to a halt beside me.
“Now you can either leave, or fight,” Amadahy snarls, “Either way, we’re the female protectors of the Requiem mountains. So man up, or put down,” she nods towards their swords.
“If you were truly Dragons, you’d be in your scales,” the older man points out, thoroughly confused.
“Besides,” the youngest one pipes in, “Fire-Spitters are the only scary female Dragons, I’ve heard of!”
Great, just what we needed! Provocation of little Minxy.
Did someone call for me? Minx barges out of the trees, running three times faster than any Dragon, she sprints out and charges around us, coming to a quick skidded halt between the bandits, Amadahy and I.
She snorts threateningly at the shell-shocked bandits, fire sparking from her nostrils.
The little kid is the first to drop all his chocolate bars and run.
The fat man also does a runner next up, dropping his sword and screaming.
The 20-something year old literally faints, dropping backwards.
“Damn it, Minx!” I shove the sword back at Amadahy, “I wanted a fight.”
Minx turns to face me, her head tilting with curiosity. Her little face is terrifying.
They called for a Fire-Spitter, so I gave them one, she answers back, proudly, you should go back to your room, princess. Playtime is over.
And this was coming from a 13 year old to a 23 year old.
Bloody Fire-Spitters had attitude problems worse than me!
That’s my line! Ethne calls out, her white dragon stomping out from the trees as she trots over, eventually leaning down onto her stomach, her front claws stretched out as she rests beside us, jeez, that was hard work.
“How?” Amadahy raises both hands with the swords, shrugging, “They’re gone, sweets, and we did all the work.”
Don’t forget about us, Pagan calls and we watch as from the edge of the forest, Pagan, Kali and Sen lead out ‘little Jim’, helping return his chocolate bars. They only stole them out of the cart as a good surprise so the bandits would know we meant business.
This was the first time we’ve coordinated so damn well together, Ethne sighs, stretching out her wings as she gets back up to her feet, being able to co-ordinate everyone was exhausting.
You only repeated the instructions ten times, Minx complains, wiggling her butt. Ethne only has time to register what Minx is going to do and no time to do anything else. The little purple Dragon lunges forward, flying through the air at lightening speed. She snaps her teeth through Ethne’s outstretched wing, before flying off for home.
No biting, Minx! Amadahy snarls after the little fledgling, she’s brutal for a thirteen year old, fucking hell.
My wing! Ethne cries out, stretching it towards me I turn and see that it’s bleeding quite excessively.
“She hit a vein,” I point out, “Transform, you can’t fly back.”
“I’ve got you covered, Ethne,” Amadahy transforms then, into her golden-white Dragon form, lowering her neck for Ethne. She complies with a whimper, misting into her human form and resting on Amadahy’s back, gasping from the pain.
Fire-Spitters had extremely strong painful venom in their bite. It drove men to insanity and it really, really hurt other Dragons.
I watch as Amadahy picks up her clothes in her claws and flies Ethne back to the Requiem mountains while I wait for Pagan, Kali and Sen to walk towards me.
“Ginette would have loved to be a part of this,” I mutter as they get closer, thinking about the missed red-head.
“They’re not coming back until the war is over,” Sen sighs, “Talon would have loved it too, but she isn’t here either.”
“We miss our sisters just as much as you miss your father, your brother, and the two pr –”
"Don’t mention them, Pagan!” I snap for the first time in a long time, “You know I hate talking about them. I wouldn’t have mentioned anything about Ginette if I knew you were going to talk about the others.”
I turn on my heel to walk off, my temper only ever high strung around three words; the princes’ names, Thaddeus and Sylvan. The three girls behind me were close sisters, all born from the same egg. They always stuck together and I remember Ginette being close to them. I just happened to mention her name because I could feel them all thinking about her today.
Ginette had always laughed about wanting to be a patroller in the woods, guarding the forests.
She would have been in her element helping us out if she had been here.
Talon too, she was also another female Dragon sorely missed.
I stalk my way into the forests, feeling riled up. At 23, I had actually calmed my temper towards my mother, my father and pretty much everyone. I was now a calm Rogue, content with my own thoughts.
Except when someone mentioned ... argh...
– I can hardly think of their names.
For five years, I went to sleep thinking about them... and waking up dreaming of them.
During the day, I distracted myself by letting in a flood of thoughts from others which I had learned to control.
I remember how the first year had been easy. Absolute bliss. Delightful, even. I had been so happy to have space from my mates. A few months on after the first year, the bad news started to hit home. The letters the messengers brought us...
‘The war was predicted to last at least ten years, or perhaps five, if a great sacrifice was given.’
These were the widely spread words from a leading Mage from the Tempest lands.
A prophecy, you’d assume. No one believed it in the West lands, but now, it was five years on. And the war was still going.
And I missed my father.
My twin brother.
I? Well, I had grown up, matured and read many books. I had read books about... okay, romance, okay? I admit it. And then, over time, I watched with growing interest, how people fell in love in the mountain. Whether it be between slaves, travellers... or Madeline and Hael.
Over time, I started to understand the connection.
Over time, I started to crave it myself.
But, argh, no!
I run through the trees until I find the river and I jump right in, clothes, boots and all. It all needed a wash anyway. I eventually crawl out of the water, lying on my backs on the rocks, my hands running under my shirt and laying on my stomach. I was tempted to make my hands run other places but a blue bird distracts me.
My green eyes focus on the little feathered thing.
“Is that you, Shai?” I whisper, “Traitor to our friendship, huh?” I joke with the bird, knowing it is not truly her, but just a figment of a delusion.
I then look up at the sky, as the scorching sun is blocked out, time and time again, by the wind blowing the branches above me.
At least I think so, until I actually look up to see there is on wind at all.
The trees are still.
The shadows are coming from something else.
My heart is in my throat as I see the huge numbers, gliding past. I count.
Three, five, ten... fifteen.
One, particular Dragon, huge and lithe and as black as the sky would be in hell.
“Dad?” I whisper. My thoughts close off, too scared to reach out and check. I feel tears already in my eyes.
Without warning, the Requiem Horde were finally returning?
Luvenia, I sit upright as Hael connects to my mind, come back home and clean up.
They’re back, dad! I cry out in relief, Lochness, Lex... the... oh my gosh, they’re back!
Yes, the war seems to be over. Don’t stay out too long, Lochness will want to see you. Hurry, now, sweetheart.
I smile, watching the sky as Dragon’s start to dwindle, finally the majority passing by.
I believe they’ve all finally made it back.
Right at the end.
I do a double take, forgetting to breathe as the sun lights up rich cobalt scales and then a much more heavily blue tinted midnight set. I cannot blink as I see these two Dragons swoop down low over-head, blocking out the sun completely.
I feel like I’m imagining things.
I lean my head back against the river pebbles, short of breath as the air is cleared and now it is just sun and blue sky above me.
Thaddeus and Sylvan were alive.
Not only that. But they had... oh my gosh.
They were now fully grown.
They were bigger, larger, more athletic... more powerful than even my fathers.
I had heard this happened to some Dragons from the Horde of Fortune, being on the boundaries of the Tempest lands.
It was from their mother...
The Tempest Dragon Blood in their veins had moulded them to be even bigger and more powerful than the typical Leading Twin Dragon Breeds of the West Lands.
No wonder they had made it back alive.
They were surely the biggest beasts these lands had ever seen.