I bring my mother back to the mountains while Lochness slowly regains consciousness in the Requiem Forest. Madeline requested for me to fly and fly fast. So I agreed and I raced her back to her bedroom, where Hael is waiting, reclining on her bed... reading a book... about war tactics. I think.
I don’t stay to find out.
“I love you, mum,” I give her a smile and she nervously glances from myself to Hael while she stands in the doorway. She quickly steps forward and gives me one last hug while Hael passes me a warm smile. I wondered how long that smile would last.
I knew Madeline was hiding from Lochness and was equally awaiting for him to inform Hael of her ‘antics’ while using her Dragon Slayer magic to teach me a life lesson.
“Good luck,” I laugh as I release her from my arms and she winks and laughs as she grabs the door.
“I don’t need it, Luv, they do,” Madeline chuckles and shuts the door while I turn and decide to go for a walk, hopefully avoiding Sylvan and Thaddeus for the moment. I was glad I slapped them, to send a clear message.
I would no longer be walked over or influenced to forget who I was, to be moulded into something they’d prefer. My mates would learn to deal with my identity which was now obvious and very real to me.
I would fight to uphold it as Madeline advised, even if it wasn’t to the tastes of my mates or friends.
I go for a walk up to my bedroom, where I know Minx and her friends will be. I’m about to interrupt the sleep over and tell her to go to Amadahy, to go back to their families... when I happen to run into Amadahy herself, turning into the same cave corridor as me. She had just left my room and was passing by the Royal Chambers.
“They that quick in bed, huh?” Amadahy jokes and I stop her with a hand on her shoulder before she sneaks past.
“No,” I snap back, “Minx and the others are leaving my room this instant, I did not approve it and I want my bed back.”
“I just checked on the girls,” Amadahy slaps my hand off her shoulder, “They’re fast asleep, princess. Would you really be so cruel as to wake up the little fledglings and mortal babes when the parents have a hard time enough getting them to sleep?”
“What are you up to, anyway?” I change the subject, “It’s late now, what are you scheming?”
“Nothing,” she snarls back at me, “Why do people always assume I’m up to something? I like to wander at night. The Tempest Lands are always dark, windy and cold, much like these mountains at night.”
“Home sick?” I ask, raising a brow and she just rolls her eyes.
“No, I’m just used to the dark, the sunlight over this land is blinding, and painful,” she shrugs, “I prefer shadows, most of my kind do.”
“Interesting. Maybe I’ll leave Minx and her friends to sleep. I have another idea. Where are the girls?” I ask, referring to our close friends.
“Sleeping in the Playroom, all nuzzled up... you heard the news, right?” she asks, raising a brow, “Ginette. Dead. Talon - missing or dead.”
“I know,” I respond with a sigh, “I don’t like... communal grief, it makes me uncomfortable. If they are both dead, crying will not help. Avenging them will,” I raise my head, “We’re not going to stop our ventures... you gave me the idea to hunt bandits down with them and we saved that man of trade that day. I think we shouldn’t give up our plight so soon, just because the warriors have returned. We should fight with them - when the war comes. We must prepare.”
“Tempest Wind training, I assume?” Amadahy raises a brow.
“Exactly, I saw the male Dragons training this morning, while the wind was high and fast,” I explain, “We need to do the same thing.”
“Well, I can help with that,” Amadahy grins and puts a hand on my shoulder, turning me and linking her arm through mine as we walk, “Let’s wake them up. Tell me, how were the boys flying?”
“Short tactics, for close contact fighting... like... one would hang high, one low for defence from the bottom and the top. Vertical flying -”
“I thought so,” Amadahy interrupts, “It’s an Eastern Sky Technique. My technique, however, the Eastern Sprite Manoeuvres are designed to battle the Sky formation. It is the best way to battle them. You can not win fighting Sky with Sky. I can teach us, if they are willing to try and co-ordinate again.”
“You are a gods gift, Amadahy, you may help us win the war,” I think about it for a moment, about how my princes were leading the war training... but they were missing this vital information, “I want you to train us, and when we develop the technique to perfection - we will display it to Thaddeus and Slyvan and I will ask them to have you help mentor with them. If we ask outright, they will refuse out of pure arrogance. But if we practice the technique first, we will show them you can help us,” I suggest, hoping she approves.
“I doubt the men will accept my help, they assume I am a she-bat, a possible traitor in the making. Because of my upbringing. I am also in danger of being held hostage for war bargaining as I am their princess. I hope you have some influence with your fathers. I don’t believe they’d use me against the Tempest Breeds in war... unless they get desperate for ways to fend them off,” Amadahy admits a real anxiety to me while I frown in response. She was right, her presence here was a risk to herself, including her pet.
“What about Minx?” I ask her and she sighs in response as we reach the Playroom door and she unlinks her arm from mine to grab the handle of the door.
“She is not afraid of war,” Amadahy murmurs and I smile to myself... I wasn’t surprised to hear that.
Amadahy swings open the door and we enter to find pillows and blankets spread with girls laid out, sprawled and fast asleep. I quickly use my green fire to light all the lanterns and sticks, to flood the cavern with light. All the girls instantly groan and wriggle around in confusion as they wake up.
“Move your small asses!” Amadahy yells out, “An abrupt war is coming and you’ll be complaining about waking up while Tempest Shadows slip into your beds to rape you and then slit your throats. Move!” she frightens them enough to sit up suddenly, their eyes wide as they look around, checking for danger. Amadahy moves around and grabs Kali, Sen and Pagan, hoisting them up to their feet from their pile of blankets. Then she moves to Ethne and grabs her up by the hair, laughing wildly as Ethne scrambles up and slaps her ass as hard as she can.
“You bitch!” Ethne shakes her head and rubs her hair with her hands while they all stand, a little dazed and confused, “What the hell is this?” Ethne asks me, “We’re in mourning -”
“It’s over,” I snap, “We’re training. Midnight training. You got an issue? You will when you’re dead, except you’ll be dead, so your life will boil down to a meaningless time-span of nothing... if you don’t get up quick, smart and ready to kill.“′
“Wouldn’t it be smarter to... run... if Tempest... Shadows? Came to our beds with knives to slit out throats?” Sen asks, raising a hand while Kali stands behind her and braids her messy hair while Pagan weaves together Kali’s. At least that meant they were ready to train.
“Tempest Shadows are assassins,” Amadahy wriggles her eyebrows, “They are Silver Breeds, highly intelligent, extremely heartless and passionately void of caring. You could hold your babe to your chest and they’d gladly burn that little thing alive while you watch, before they start on you. I know my kind. We aren’t all Silver, but if you see a Silver... you run... or you fight and win... otherwise... you’re gonna die, and it’s gonna be painful.”
“That being said,” I sigh, “Who’s ready to train?”
“But midnight?” Ethne complains anyway, glaring at both Amadahy and I, “Why midnight?”
“They will strike at any moment and night time is more likely than any, that or a cloudy day,” Amadahy explains, “Move your sweet ass, sweets... or I’ll have to spank you. You act like a child.”
This has Ethne blushing bright red and the triplets all laughing their heads off as they now finish braiding Pagan’s hair.
“Let’s start training!” they all smile and I shake my head at the enthusiasm and Ethne’s still very beetroot red face.
“I like the way you girls think,” Amadahy winks at the three purple headed triplets and is the first to head out, “Let’s work together - to beat some Tempest ass.”
“Wouldn’t mind if we do,” I stand back and wait for the girls to rush out while Ethne just pouts and still looks sad about midnight training.
We all head to the top of the mountain, where the night is chill and the winds are a bit stronger. We mist into our Dragons and find a plateau big enough for all us to stand on in our scaled forms.
Amadahy sits back on her white haunches and assess all of us, she is the biggest female Dragon with her blood and she has horns running down her spine and tail - something Dragons in the West didn’t have.
Everyone, listen to the wind, Amadahy uses a dramatic mental tone, and close your eyes if you need to focus.
Like, seriously? I ask, Or -
Seriously, princess, I wasn’t joking.
We all quieten and sit back as well, our ears attuning to the winds around us. I can’t just hear it, I can feel how it blows across my scales, and at what angle. The noise it makes seems to be attuned to it’s speed. Or at least I think that’s what Amadahy is trying to get across.
Who heard it? Amadahy asks and we all silently stare at her with tilted heads, it’s the claw of death, while you were all meditating, the wind tells you where the attack will come. If you feel a rush of wind, that is when they strike, with the support of the Sky Gods. It is why we will attack with Sprite Manoeuvres.
What’s that? Kali asks.
Sounds awfully fancy, Sen adds in, chuckling.
Will it look like dancing in the sky? Pagan also asks, excited.
It is simply flying through your other senses. Sixth senses. Hearing. Feeling. Knowing. The Sky technique is more simple, an army of Dragons follow it as it is the easiest to train. Sprite training is for assassins. I am white - which means I am classified as Silver blood, truly. So are you, Ethne. We were born for this. Kali, Sen, Pagan, Luvenia... this will be harder for you to learn. But not impossible, not if you train your ears and other senses.
Why don’t we try it in flight? I ask, It might make it more clear.
No, not until we sit hear for a good hour listening to the wind, Amadahy closes her eyes again.
An hour of sitting in the chilly cold? Ethne asks, shocked, I’ll need a warm bath after this!
Later. I will join you, sweets, Amadahy growls back, Now, close your eyes. Don’t think about anything else. You never sound like it but you were built for war, Ethne, so act like it. Or try to. Please. At least while we train.
Whatever, Ethne sighs and wacks her tail into mine, interrupting my meditation.
Watch it, I growl back, swiping my tail back at her except she gracefully arcs up and I miss her.
Too slow, Black-Scaled Bitch, Ethne teases me and I snap open my eyes, jumping on her with my smaller Dragon form and knocking her into the triplets. I curl my claw over her wing, into her side, while one of my deadly long fangs is against her neck.
White-haired wimp, I tease back, now who’s too slow!
I’m not a wimp! Ethne pushes back against me and I press my fang deeper against her scales until it pricks and blood spills. She stills instantly, a whimper escaping her Dragon throat while the triplets shoot fire in hoots of laughter and Amadahy stalks forward and puts her Dragon head under my neck, shoving me off Ethne.
Get back in line, Luv, Amadahy commands, You always complain about co-ordination failing between all of us. Sit your scaled ass down.
Yeah, princess, do as you’re told, Ethne sits back up and I growl under my breath. I quickly turn and slink away to sit a hundred feet from them, my scales crawling with agitation. I sit and close my eyes from afar as we all attempt to meditate again.
Except this time, there’s loud mental laughter from Kali and Pagan as they shove Sen off the edge of the mountain plateau, awarding us a high-pitched mental scream in fright as she plummets before she opens her wings to save herself.
Why do I bother? Amadahy roars, thumping her tail on the plateau, everyone spread out. Don’t be within a wing’s breath of each other. Let’s. Start. Again.
Sorry, Kali and Pagan apologise in unison, while grinning cheekily. Ethne also sits and stills completely, as if in deep thought. She actually looks really attuned as I spy on her through a half open eye. Huh, maybe she’d catch on quicker than all of us.
A minute passes and I wonder where Sen has gone. Will she return or did she abruptly leave in anger?
I peek open my eye again from afar to see Amadahy now wide eyed and looking around in a panic.
...girls... Amadahy whispers through our minds, so quietly, I hardly detect the message... open your eyes and stay still. We have company...
All the girls open their eyes and I see Kali and Pagan in a sudden panic as they realise Sen has not returned.
Sen! They both scream out for her, while Amadahy pounces on them and shoves them into the ground.
Shut up, Amadahy silences them with a growl, we are in grave danger.
I slink away behind some rocks, my small Dragon form able to hide well while I gaze over the plateau. I close my eyes for a moment and try Amadahy’s technique. I couldn’t see anything... but perhaps I could feel.
As I relax in my hiding spot, I notice frequent inconsistencies in the wind hitting my scale.
Large wings. Slicing the air. At least two pairs.
Amadahy slowly releases Kali and Pagan and the girls slink around very slowly looking for danger.
We don’t have to look long.
Eeep! we hear a feminine shocked cry as a purple lithe Dragon flies up the opposite side of the plateau, the air behind her like a mirage. I watch something invisible push into her, crashing her into the rocks until she slides across the surface from her fast landing, hurt and whimpering as two flickering images hold her down.
Not just a visual distortion.
My senses scan the skies but I feel no other presences, these were rogue, perhaps they were assassins. Except, they haven’t killed her yet. I watch as the image becomes solid of two horned Dragons. One with a black scar across his face, and the other with a black scar across his stomach, towards his wing.
They both sniff Sen, raising their heads and gazing into each other’s golden eyes, they shake their heads in disgust.
Not her, they both communicate, irritated as their heads snap up and watch the rest of us female fledglings watching on.
What do you want? Amadahy snarls at them, stalking forward and spreading out her wings, baring her teeth to protect the girls behind her. The Silver Breeds tilt their heads in turn, in perfect synchronisation, who are you if you do not bare the brands of the Tempest lands?
We’re not from the Tempest lands, one of them answers, the one with the scared face, his eyes scarily focused upon Amadahy, assessing her threat and her level of dominance.
Where? Amadahy further asks for their answers.
Water Fallen Lakeside, allies of the Dusk Horde and the West, twins of Storm, the Shadow in the Sky and Silver our violet eyed mother...we are roaming. For our mate.
Very cute, but you’re not sniffing my girls without their consent, Amadahy snarls back at them and they slowly walk over Sen, who is still whimpering, like she doesn’t matter, to approach Amadahy with shimmering wings that bend to the mirage of their strange power.
They stand before her, both aggressive and unmoving.
We are Rawk and Zoraul, we do not ask, we command, so roll over or we’ll simply ask you twice... if you do not comply a second time, we’ll assure you do, with threats of losing your wings. One at a time. So, she-bat, If you haven’t guessed. We’re not very patient.
All their words ruffle me the wrong way.
These Dragons radiated power and confidence and dominance. They led, they did not follow.
I simply hide where I am, my tail twitching with irritation.
Because, they were brothers but not just brothers.
Just what we needed in our lands, another set of Twin Leading Breeds!
I just hoped they sniffed everyone like the barbaric idiots they were, quickly, and then went on their way.
If I had to deal with another set of domineering bastards, I’d bloody start killing them!
I raise my head, power glowing through my green eyes.
There were multiple reasons Thaddeus and Sylvan rubbed me the wrong way. Why Hael and Lochness’ dominance made me cringe. Why these twins also evoked the same reaction.
Perhaps my power was more obvious than I realised.
Madeline could slay Dragons. Lex could reverse spells with White Fire. Thaddeus, with mixed mage blood, could slay Dragon Slayers.
Me, I had Dragon Slayer blood and Twin Leading Breed blood.
And suddenly, it is all too obvious.
I drained Lochness, but I did not kill him because he was my father... so I simply shared his magic.
But, no other Dragon grated on my nerves more than a Twin Leading Breed.
Perhaps, because I was born to slay them.
I was a Slayer of Dragon Lords.
Perhaps that is why Sylvan, with his prophets eye, said to me I played an important role in the war to come.
Perhaps, that is why Lochness gave me the scale of a Leading Breed in war that they had slayed.
I had a set path, my destiny in my blood.
Now, my purpose was even more clear than it was two hours ago.