I walk my way into the Requiem Mountains, deciding not to fly directly up to my chamber. I was far too eager to stroll my way up to see the excitement of the mountain. That, and I had an unexplainable amount of nerves running through me.
I couldn’t help but think, what my mates would be like now... what would they think of me? The last encounters I had had with them weren’t very positive. I maimed them, insulted and humiliated them. Perhaps they had forgotten after they were preoccupied with the war.
Well... I had been a factor in the war starting in the first place. If I had left Roi in Althor’s hands, perhaps Althor would never have found Shai and admitted to her about killing her sister, which apparently drove her to such a rage, she decided to give reason to Tempest Mages & Dragons to start a war. Ironically, not even for Shai’s sister’s murder; whoever that was. But for Zayda, and she had died in childbirth now more than two decades ago.
So the war was late, but I had often sat awake at night wondering if it was truly my fault it all began in the first place.
I try not to think about it as I end up skirting through all the side caves, watching on through the peep holes to see the chaos of the slaves welcoming home the half of the Horde we had been missing for five long years.
My mind is completely barraged with thoughts of others. People were yelling thoughts with excitement, gasping, some people fainting. Much like the young bandit who collapsed to the ground, after witnessing Minx do her little show of terror.
I eventually come to a stop as I pass the side cave corridors near Deep Cavern, because I notice everyone setting up the area for celebrations. The slaves were just starting.
I turn from my peep hole to continue and I halt when I see my way is blocked by a menacing tall figure. Black hair but with kind eyes; only kind for me.
“What’s my baby girl been up to?” he asks in a rough drawl, no doubt assuming my torn, dirty top was from my Rogue adventures which meant he could only beam with pride.
I stand gawking for a few more moments before pouncing on him.
“Dad!” I jump forward and wrap my arms around Lochness’ neck, holding him close while feeling tears come close to my eyes, “You’re alive... you’re home, you’re safe!” I eventually pull back and he backs out into the light so I can see the huge new scar across his shoulder and down his chest, “Oh my gosh –”
“Don’t ask,” he growls, looking me up and down. He can’t stop smiling, he is happy to see me. I don’t want to admit it, but it almost looks like he is also trying to hold back tears.
“Mum... what about her... have you gone to see her?” I ask and Lochness shakes his head, “She must be going crazy –” he slowly raises a finger to his lips and I go quiet.
“I’m going to surprise sweet little Maddie, Luv,” Lochness winks and then allows me to pass by as he stands to the side, putting out a hand and showing me the way, “Go along, we will speak later. I brought a gift back for you. I look forward to giving it to you.”
“A gift?” I bite my bottom lip, so happy, feeling this encounter is just like a dream. I can’t hold in my emotions much longer, “Alright, I’ll see you at the celebrations, tonight,” I remind him as I skip by, a tear running down my cheek. I’m a bit embarrassed to show him any real tears so I hurry along before any more pour out.
I do not mind, little Luv, Lochness comforts me for crying and I gulp down my embarrassment.
I’m strong, like you, I defend myself, trying to deny my tears. Lochness just chuckles through my mind as I sprint my way further up the mountain. My heart was beating in excitement and I felt jittery as I eventually slow my pace.
I was near the top, on the level that most of the Dragon’s lived and resided. I’m about to pass it when I hear a door slam open and a naked, white headed female comes prancing out.
“Oh, no you don’t, Luvenia!” Ethne spots me about to pass by, “I always feel you sneaking by... you’re getting ready with us.”
I’m completely intercepted as she waltzes over towards me and grabs my arm. Her white colour, gave her empathetic abilities, much like silver dragons. They were rarer, and she could always feel a presence close by, no matter whom it was; she would identify the being with just a single prod of magic.
So now I’m trapped in her grasp and I’m dragged as I’m brought towards the door she has just come prancing out of.
“Well, apparently I have no choice,” I growl as she pulls me into a room scented with roses and lavender.
Hael had helped construct a play den of sorts, for us female fledglings to have fun and feel safe in. As Ethne drags me through I see all the fledglings naked and sprawled out in the steaming pool. The rest of the room had a library, a circular fire pit with a flu, a huge wardrobe along the back wall with dresses galore with dressing tables off to the side to put on face paint.
When we weren’t in the forest, we spent time relaxing here.
“Luvenia!” all the girls smile and welcome me in unison as Ethne drags me over to the bath and then steps in. I have to jerk my arm out of her hold before she drags me under the water with her.
“Let me undress!” I snap, while quickly taking off my still damp and sticky clothes.
“You know, of course they all had to come back now,” Amadahy complains, resting in a corner with her knees up to her chest, “Just as we were fixing everything.”
“It doesn’t mean we can’t continue what we’ve been doing,” Sen points out.
“We are the female fledgling protectors of the Requiem forest,” Pagan also adds in, while Sen braids her hair and Kali braids Sen’s, a braid train of three close sisters, “Why would they not be happy about that?”
“There’s a reason we’ve been sneaking around, Page,” Ethne sighs, floating back in the middle of the water, “We. Aren’t. Allowed.”
“No one said we aren’t,” Kali murmurs, “It’s not like Hael knows anything.”
“It is a matter of trust and respect earned,” I remind them, finally naked as I take a few steps up and then descend into the hot steaming water with them, “We’re doing that by organizing it ourselves.”
“Princess,” Amadahy gives me a sad frown, “Good luck joining in on us with your princes’ back.”
“I have not even seen them yet and they tend to do their own thing anyway,” I snap.
All the girls go quiet and give each other knowing looks.
“It’s been five years since these males had any females,” Amadahy reminds me, slowly, “They’re going to want to fuck your brains out; and if you don’t want them to... they’ll probably make use of some whore slaves.”
“Speaking of females...” Ethne interrupts before I lose my temper, she knows that her tactic of distraction will work to keep a fight from breaking out. Amadahy and I had a turbulent friendship at times. Sometimes best friends and sometimes at each other’s throats. She wasn’t from around here. She arrived four years ago with Minx as two partners in crime as Rogue’s across the lands.
They had no boundaries and were just beginning to light up Haven with their fire when Hael stopped them and reeled them into our Horde.
Now they were a part of the female fledglings.
Well, there was our group and then there was a couple of other fledglings that would keep to their parents’ side; they didn’t particularly like the influence of our main group.
“Speaking of females...?” I remind Ethne, who is giving everyone a funny look, wanting us to guess the rest of what she was thinking.
“Ginette and Talon should be back,” Ethne grins from ear to ear, “I mean, I can’t feel their connection but it’s been so long I’ve probably lost the familiarity.”
Everyone looks to me now, hoping I do a power-search of the mountain to work out who was here... and who wasn’t. I shrug and close my eyes, my mind wandering far, picking up on many thoughts.
I open my eyes when I’m done, a little confused.
“I’m sure they are here,” I reconfirm, “It’s just a bit hard to find them with so many excited slaves and Dragons preparing for the celebrations –”
It is at that moment the door is slammed open and we all turn to see a little purple headed fiend running in with a towel, her hair a monstrous boof of unbrushed tendrils, her feet and knees covered in dirt and meat in her teeth after, no doubt, ravaging through an early meal.
“Can I join –?” Minx asks.
“No,” Amadahy and all of us order Minx in unison, pointing towards the door she just came in through, “What did I say about biting?” Amadahy growls at Minx when she has the audacity to be close to tears.
“But I was just playing... before...” she murmurs.
“I was a bleeding mess,” Ethne stands up, also pointing towards the door, “Out, you little monster!”
“Don’t hurt her feelings,” Amadahy hisses, just as Minx bursts into tears and runs out the door she just came through, “She’s just a kid. A violent kid but still a kid... you didn’t have to make her feel any worse, sweets.”
“I was poisoned by her,” Ethne complains, “The only reason I’m not dying in a puddle of my own vomit is because you got me the antidote in time! Minx would have laughed as I lay dying –!”
“Shut up, Ethne!” we all yell at her in unison. She got too over the top dramatic sometimes. We were used to it.
“I will,” Ethen shrugs, “Only because the princess told me to,” Ethen sits back down with a pout, crossing her arms over her chest.
Just as peace descends, we all hear the door start to creak open again and Ethne jumps to her feet, rage consuming her once more.
“Don’t you dare come back in here, Minx!” Ethne roars, trying to sound threatening. Except she quickly drops her hand and drops her ass back down into the water like she’s just seen a ghost.
I turn my head and I think everyone in the bath stops breathing. Standing in the door frame, with ridiculously wide shoulders, green-green wide eyes and emerald sparkling hair, a much squarer jaw and a height to where he is almost knocking the top of the door-frame is a not-so-mini-Hael.
“Jeezes,” he closes his offended eyes when he see’s my naked breasts above the water line and my wide, excited eyes at his return, “Didn’t really want to reunite with you naked, sis, gross – ” he backs out and slams the door.
“Is that your brother...?” Amadahy speaks in a quiet monotone and I just glare at her in return.
“Why?” I ask, in a snarl.
“I thought everyone was crazy about the princes from the Horde of Fortune?” Amadahy points out.
“Kali!” Ethne exclaims, in shock as Kali’s head is lolling on the side of the pool.
Kali lifts her head a moment later, grinning and laughing her head off.
“Gotcha!” she also exclaims, “Wow, I tell you what... I would have fainted if he stayed in the room any longer.”
All the girls start to giggle and even I’m smiling.
Welcome home, Lex, I prod his mind and my smile drops off a bit as I feel a turmoil of strange, ravaged... feelings. He seemed... I can’t pin point it.
Yeah, argh – gross. I’m finding something to wipe my mind clean of whatever I just saw... blergh, I feel his disgust and it just amuses me.
Nice to see you too, alive and well, I give him some kindness and he doesn’t reply, I feel he is suddenly engaged in conversation with someone else.
“He took a while to sprout,” I shrug my shoulders.
“Ask him where Ginette and Talon are,” Pagan asks me, her eyes excited for an answer.
I nod and connect to Lex again.
Hey, where are Ginette and T – I stop asking the question as a sudden wave of intense fury and sadness rolls it’s way through my brain. I have to close my eyes and put my hands to my head, feeling overwhelmed with sadness and the feelings of terror.
“Well?” Pagan asks as everyone goes quiet, waiting for an answer.
“Wait,” I murmur.
I’m listening for his response.
It takes awhile for him to connect back with me.
I’ll see you tonight, sis, he says as calmly and as politely as possible, a contrast to what I felt on the forefront of his mind.
“Not sure yet,” I answer Pagan, licking my lips, “They must be lost in the crowd and the mess.”
Everyone agrees and then goes on to chat about tonight’s celebrations, fast approaching.
Out of curiosity my mind sweeps through the mountain again, keen to pick up on some more thoughts. The general vibe, as I had expected, was changing.
Excitement is turning to anxiety. Happiness to depression. Laughter of joy to tears of loss.
It was something I had overlooked.
But now I realised.
Some Dragons didn’t make it home. It didn’t mean Ginette and Talon... – No. It didn’t mean anything at all. No firm answers yet, but...
...I wasn’t sure how to tell my friends there might not be such good news coming.
So, for the few hours of peace that we have left, I keep the knowledge that there is shocking pain to come... to myself.