The moon was largely hidden behind the dark blanket of clouds, and the deep rumbling that rolled across the sky threatened another one of those storms for which the city was so justly famous. Most of those brave enough to roam the streets after nightfall were now heading for the shelter of home or inn, and the comfort of a warm hearth. A lone figure walked against their number, heading instead towards the great stone edifice that loomed above the city, its spires piercing the very clouds that now sent sparks of lightning racing towards the earth below. Raising her face to the sky, the figure frowned and pulled a dark cloak closer about a lithe frame before quickening her pace towards the castle.
As she approached the high wooden doors of the main gate, she was stopped by the guards who stood their post both day and night, and in weather both fair and foul. She gave her name and her request, and hoped silently that the invitation Samantha had extended so long ago was still good. She was relieved to discover that it was as one guards broke from the rest and directed her to follow. She fell quickly in step behind him and followed silently as they crossed the exterior courtyard, their path illuminated for a brief second by a flash of lightning followed by a terrible clap of thunder. She heard horses whinnying in the distance, the storm stirring their apprehension, and noted a few hands running to tend to them. The guard leading her never faltered from his path, however, and he ushered her inside the castle and into a stone hallway just before the first drops of rain began to fall.
A second guard, wearing the colors of Dominia, met them at the door and asked their purpose. Her escort answered for her in a clipped and efficient tone, "Lady Eowyn requests an audience with the Queen." She frowned silently, her expression still hidden beneath the shadow of her cloak. Such a formal statement, and not what she had said, but she was in the halls of the regents' castle, and the guards had no doubt been instructed in certain formalities. She pulled back the hood of her cloak as she was surrendered to the charge of the second guard, and followed him quietly down the hallway, the scarlet carpet beneath their feet muffling all sounds save that of the guard's sword as it hit against his mail with each step. He led her round a corner and into a small antechamber. There, he instructed her to wait. She nodded wordlessly in compliance and he left the way he had come, the steady chink of metal against metal growing softer and softer until it faded completely in the distance.
She was alone now--a curious state given her current location, but her name had obviously been recognized and she supposed that the guards found little threat in her appearance. She smiled knowingly, amused by their assumption. There was great benefit in being underestimated, and it was a tool which Eowyn had often employed. Not tonight, however, and not here. Tonight she had come to visit a . . . a friend? She paused as she considered the question. Was Samantha a friend? The word sounded strange and foreign in Eowyn's mind, for it was one she seldom used, having spent so much of her life distancing herself from others, both for their safety and for hers. She found Samantha pleasant, to be certain, and generally kind, though it appeared that recent affairs had overborne her will and pressed her to commit acts outside her nature--a fact which caused Eowyn some degree of concern. Concern? Yes, she was concerned, and concern was a hallmark of friendship, was it not? And the child? Unnatural though it was, a part of her felt lighthearted with the news, for she knew that the Queen would be joyful. Was that not that also a sign, an indicator of . . . .
She let the matter drop, finding it to be too taxing, and turned her attention to her surroundings--something she should have been doing all along. The walls, like all of the castle, were of heavy stone, but rich tapestries of woven vines and delicate swirls hung from floor to ceiling in an effort to keep out the chill that would otherwise ensconce itself within the halls. The chamber itself was lit solely by iron filigree torches, reminiscent of some place where Samantha had once lived, the name of which currently escaped her, and a carpet of forest green was spread across the cold stone floor, abutting a large fireplace with a carved ebony mantle. The overall effect was quite impressive, and quite different from the place where Eowyn had first met Lady Samantha. Though the walls were of the same stone, and the torches cast the same half-light across the floor, the screams of the innocent and the cold tools of the inquisitor were mercifully absent. Wandering the room in silence, Eowyn paused by one of the two large and glass-covered windows that graced the far wall, watching as the rain and lightning tore through the night sky. Watching and remembering.
It hadn't been that long ago when Calo had come to her on an equally inclement night and asked for her help. He had told her that Giacomo had returned, had found him, and had destroyed him once again. Giacomo. The name had meant little to her then--a rival from Calo's past who had driven him from his clan and made him an outcast. He had died, however, long before she had met Calo, and existed only as a ghost in Calo's memory. She thought Calo touched at first, when he mentioned the name, but he was insistent--Giacomo had returned. He didn't know how, for how could he have guessed that the enemy he had known had become just another in a long line of hosts to a darker evil. His hatred for Calo had survived, however, and was not satiated by its prior act. And so it sought again to destroy him, again turning his own against him, this time by taking one of their number--Samantha.
Disguised as Calo, Giacomo had delivered the Lady into the hands of the inquisitor, and Calo was determined to get her back. He had gone to the others for help and had barely escaped with his life. No one had believed him, no one save an old friend unknown to the rest. Eowyn still remembered how he looked that night when he came to ask for her help, the rain running in small rivulets down his face, mingling with his own bitter tears. She had agreed, of course, as he knew she would, and followed him to the inquisitor's keep with neither question nor doubt.
Another flash of lightning, fierce and sudden, tore through the darkness outside, and Eowyn closed her eyes briefly against the memories of the keep, and of the way they had found Samantha, chained to a wall, beaten and bloodied by the hands of her captor. Though not without cost, her rescue had been swift, and her human captor had little chance of surviving Sable's wrath once he was delivered to Samantha's intended. But Giacomo . . . . Giacomo was another matter. He had always escaped them, always eluded them.
This time, however, this time it would be different. This time he would not escape. This time he would be held. But Giacomo always hid behind an innocent, shielding himself behind that which his prey held dear. This time it was Jaysa, the Queen's niece, and time was running out for the girl, for every day the darkness grew within her, seeping deeper into her soul, slowly consuming her. Eowyn knew how to save her, and indeed had already placed in motion several key events, but she needed someone's else's help, someone only Samantha could help her find. And so she stood before the window, looking out across the storm-torn sky, and waited for the arrival of the Queen.
The page that had been sent to find her had said one of those few magic names that would tear her away from all other business. Eowyn. Samantha counted her as one of her friends, though the relationship was at times distant and odd and it often revolved around the most curious of circumstances.
Eowyn had listened to Calo. Eowyn had helped deliver her from the Inquisiter's hell. She was a powerful ally, and more than that, the vampiress enjoyed Eowyn's company.
So she quickly tossed the ink and quill on her desk, smoothed her skirts, and hustled into the ante-chamber where Eowyn was waiting.
"Bonsoir cherie." She smiled warmly. It wasn't often people actually took her up on the offer to come and visit. Even if it was a business matter, it was still company. She hated to admit to herself how much she missed her husband when he was away with his duties, even though he returned often to spend the late night and day.
So Samantha was always glad for a chance to not be alone with her thoughts and her worries and, recently, her anger.
"I'm assuming this isn't just a pleasure visit, but why don't you come into the study to sit. It's more comfortable."
Samantha led her guest through one of the three doors in the room, taking her into a room lined not with tapestries, but with bookshelves lined with leather bound books. Many were dusty and not often used, but most of the collection was well-oiled and frequently opened. A pointed glance to the fire pushed the flames higher to warm against the outside storm. Samantha sat in one of the velvet lined chairs and looked at her guest.
"So how can I help?"
Eowyn followed the queen into a book-lined study, silently noting how the woman's pale skin seemed to glow with the new life she carried within her. She was struck with a sudden chill, however, as she thought of the child, and shuddered against the clouded vision that flittered briefly past her eyes. Samantha might have noticed, for she glanced towards the fireplace and the flames leapt higher at her silent command. Had she known more of elves, the queen might have realized that it was not the storm that chilled her visitor, and indeed she may suspected nonetheless, but Eowyn nodded gratefully for the added warmth, and removed her cloak before settling into the chair across from her host.
Samantha waited patiently until the dark eyes of her guest fell upon her once more, then asked, "So, how can I help?"
Eowyn smiled slightly, a gesture that conveyed both the knowledge of the fey, and in this case, a conscious marred by guilt. She would have conversed with Samantha first, for Eowyn had long ago discarded most of those prejudices held by her race, else she scarcely would have chosen to live within the confines of a largely human city.
"Your invitation and welcome have been of help already," she began. "It is not often that I am so well-received." Eowyn's past was both long and secretive, a combination that caused her to be oft regarded with distrust, and though few of the shadows that followed her name had found their way to Stormpoint, she had little doubt that new suspicions had already formed, fueled by her own nature and by the daemon's plentiful lies. But Samantha's rebirth had had no doubt subjected her to similar misgivings, perhaps prompting her to pierce through the heavy veil of suspicion that surrounded her guest.
"So let me first offer you my thanks and congratulations," Eowyn continued, "before I seek further help." She opened a small pouch which hung low from her neck by a single leather cord, and withdrew a smooth stone disc, silver-green in color. She glanced at Samantha only once, an uncharacteristic mischief playing in her dark eyes, and snapped the disc quickly in two. Light burst forth from the two halves, then fell like glittering rain over the queen, reflecting off her ivory features before fading into the half-light of the room.
"It's a skryll," Eowyn said as she placed the two halves of the broken disc in Samantha's hands and answered the question forming on her lips, "a very old tradition. Legend says it carries a gift for the child, one which manifests only as the child grows." She smiled, but something still troubled her, something she couldn't quite identify, but she had little desire to frighten the queen with vague musings and suppositions, and so she pushed the visions aside once more and returned to her host's question.
"But as you've guessed, though I wish you great happiness and am always pleased to see you, my visit is not entirely selfless." She fell silent for but a moment, and when she resumed her tone had changed, her voice heavy with a sadness the queen had not heard before. "I fear greatly for your niece. By now you must have guessed that it is the daemon that plagues her. I can free her from the madness, for the daemon has . . . agreed to release her, but the power she now possess is a seductive one, and she will fight to keep it. I therefore need the help of someone who can reach her, someone who is close to her, and," she paused and stared sternly at Samantha before continuing in a protective tone,"someone who is not with child."
"I understand that Jaysa has a bond, a dragonet given to her by you and Sable. I cannot call this creature without attracting Jaysa's attention, and that is something we can ill afford at present. But you, you and your own bond have a stronger connection to this one than I. I assure you that I will not use the creature against his will, for the choice must be his, but you . . . and he should know that if Jaysa is consumed by the power she holds, her bond will suffer the same fate. And so," she continued in a tone laden with both sorrow and suggestion, "what I need, is an introduction."
Her skin was still atingle with the wash of elven magic and she smiled, wondering how the gift would bless a child that was sure to be extraordinary as it was. Three more months and she would find out she supposed.
She nodded, a small sheepish smile at Eowyn''s admonishment that she was not to try this time.
"Skye is actually at the castle. I've had Twilight keeping him busy before he charges off to rescue Jaysa. We do not need any more legendary dragons becoming angered when their children are harmed." She spoke, of course, of Akton's death and Star's hovering vengence. All the dragonets still spoke of the incident with nervous chirrups and vehement mental images of the death the thieves guild would suffer for destroying one of their brethren.
"Regardless, he is here."
~Twi, petite would you-~
The door to the study slammed open and the guard on the outside peered in worridly as a ball of black and blue scales slid into the room. Uncoiling herself from Skyefire, Twilight hopped onto Samantha's shoulder and assumed as regal a pose as her wrestling match would allow.
~I would bring him but he got a little hastey.~
~So I see.~ Twilight chirruped something that sounded like an admonishment and slipped down to nuzzle the swell of Samantha's stomach. She was as anxious as her mistress, it seemed.
"Skye...Eowyn has a proposition I think. About Jaysa." Samantha could see the dragon's anxiety, his wish to help, and her heart went out to him. Protectively, she sheltered Twilight's form in her hands. If anything ever happened to either of them, the other would be lost, bereft of a bond that had now spanned years. "Can you help?" Can you help,. she added to herself, because it will be to save you both, and perhaps us all.
Now, Skye Fyre was one more for action than he ever was for speaking, but duty calls sometimes, and one must always answer.
Perching himself carefully and gently atop the rather wide and unlit surface of a tall candle, Skye unfurled his wings, then, closing them back to his body, shifted his tail about his body, sapphire scales glittering. He wasn't haggard, but the overwhelming concern possessing his little beast heart was evident enough. He swallowed, small claws twiddling with his tail. So many emotions coursed through him presently; one moment he would cry, one moment he would become ballistic from fury.
~ Jaysa girl? She not well, not well at'all. Skye know, and Aunt Sam keep him all hidden away from her. ~ It wasn't bitterness, so much as it was impatience and a determinedness. His eyes were large, much like that of a hound-dog's sad expression, and he peered meaningfully towards the new lady.
There was an instantaneous connection, not wholly, but enough to understand that this woman was of some branch of Fey and that they would have an excellent communication system in one way or another.
~ Eowyn? Help Jaysa girl? ~ The dimmed hope darted about eyes that should never tire, but nonetheless were weary as if a century had worn them. Here he lifted to the air and took to Samantha's other shoulder, casting a glance towards her own bond that could be likened to a hug needed from Twilight. Though he needed no support, his soul fierce with unnamed rage at the situation, but.. much like his bond, he managed the cool exterior to keep panic out of the list of options.
"Can you help?"
Skye Fyre, with that query, could not even bring himself to find a suitable answer that could express his response so much the positive that he could speak it. Instead, his expression growing chilled, he turned to Eowyn.
~ Instruct. ~
As the object of her visit sat perched upon Samantha's shoulder, Eowyn indulged herself in a mental sigh of relief. She had not seen Skye Fire before, but from what she had heard she had thought him to be blue dragonet. In the warm light of the crackling fire, however, she could see that the flames reflected off gemlike scales of deep-hued sapphire. It was an unexpected discovery, and one which boded well.
The dragonet stared at her with soulful eyes, making no attempt to conceal the flurry of emotions that washed through his tiny frame with the separation from his bond. Anger, concern, loneliness, and a host of other emotions hung heavily in the shadows of his face, but through it all he looked steadfastly ahead into the eyes of this new visitor, and "spoke" with a resoluteness that belied his size ~ Eowyn? Help Jaysa girl? Instruct.~
It wasn't what Eowyn had expected him to say. Indeed, she hadn't expected to find him here at all. But here he was nonetheless, his tiny heart swelling with concern not for his own safety, but for Jaysa's. It was a deep loyalty the little creature displayed, and one which credited both he and his bond.
The dragon grew nervous or perhaps impatient in the long silence, and fluttered his wings gently as if to prompt the stranger before him to speak. ~He has a stout heart~ she thought to herself as he watched her expectantly, ~Hopefully, it will make the difference.~ She held his gaze in silence for moment longer, then began to both speak and think. "You know that Jaysa is terribly . . . " she grasped for a word that the dragonet might understand, "sick." The word was pitifully lacking, she knew, a pale shadow of the girl's actual condition, but the language of their "human" bonds often meant little to creatures such as this one. They drew instead from the minds of their bonds, using shared mental images and thoughts to give meaning to the spoken word.
Eowyn looked downward, appearing perhaps to be inspecting the toes of her boots as they peered out from beneath the hem of her skirts. Her focus was elsewhere, however, and she frowned slightly as she thought--considering possibilities, weighing alternatives. She didn't know how the dragonet would react to her thoughts, if he would be willing to share even a simple and momentary bond with someone other than Jaysa, but in an effort to enhance the meaning of her words, Eowyn offered Skye the opportunity to see that part of Jaysa's mind she had touched at the gypsy camp. She knew it would be difficult for him, for who could stand unmoved at the sight of a friend being consumed in smoldering insanity. Such was enough to break even the strongest of hearts, for in the matter of hearts, strength was often born of compassion, an ironic twist that offered neither amusement nor comfort to those unfortunate enough to discover it.
In the tense silence, broken only by the steady crackling of the fire, Eowyn's own heart ached with sorrow that she should be the one to show the faithful creature the agony that his friend faced--alone and frightened as child in the dark. But he had to know that which he faced and that which he too would become if the Jaysa succumbed to the insanity entirely. And so she offered the vision, placing it before him and waiting.
He was hesitant at first, and looked to Samantha, a clear question burning in his dark eyes. When she nodded, the sapphire neck swiveled back to face the stranger, and he reached for the vision she held before him, timid at first, but quickly growing to accept the foreign mind. He would do anything to save Jaysa, and instinctively he knew that this tiny leap of faith would be easier than anything which lay ahead.
When his apprehension gave way to his concern for Jaysa, the vision became clear and the dragonet's eyes widened, a new wave of fear, anger, and concern washing over his sharp features. His eyes remained locked with Eowyn's, and when the vision ended he closed his lids tightly in meager protection from the pain. A single tear escaped the scaled lids, however, and fell harmlessly on Samantha's shoulder, fading into the soft velvet of her sleeve.
"The 'sickness' that grips her is very strong," Eowyn continued when the creature looked up once more, "but it is also very seductive. She may fight to keep it, attacking any who would help her. Someone has to reach that part of her that wants to be 'cured' and strengthen her will to fight against the sickness." Despite the warmth of the study and the safety it offered from the tempest that howled beyond the walls of the castle, Eowyn's tone carried a chill that left no doubt who that someone was.
It came a soft whisper of a velvet voice that all the silver dragonet's knew as Samantha. Her's was the first "human" voice that had called them to these realms. Tanith had been born in a burst of silver rose petals and charged to his bond, the Malkavian Gabrielle.
~Pretty Sam lady, what you want?~ He sent back. It was odd doing this with any other than Gabrielle. But he was used to odd. Gabrielle's thoughts were a tangle of confusion and anger and fear and innocence.
~I need your help. I need you to come and bring Gabrielle and talk to Skyefire. It's about Jaysa~ All the bonds knew of the others. It was part of the link the dragon's shared. Thus, Tanith knew how Skye had suffered in worry over his beloved Doll-Girl.
~We come, Sam lady. Come quick~
Gabrielle shifted nervously from foot to foot. She was uncomfortable tonight in Samantha's prescence. Her mind was a jumble of fears and wishes to go play jump rope in the rain.
~Hush Silly Gabbie... for the Doll-Girl~
~I know Tanith. But how can we help?~
~Jaysa girl is loopy like you, but she doesn't want to be that way. Or at least part of her doesn't~
~Tanith...What if I don't want to be like this either?~ The dragonet paused and nuzzled his mistress. In her thoughts, he hissed and slashed away at the manifestations of her fears. This time they appeared as giant walking snow-flakes, for some reason. They took different forms. The snow-flake fears melted away and Gabrielle visibly calmed.
Tanith leapt to the floor and sketched a dragonish bow to Samantha and Eowyn. Then he looked at Skye, whose dark eyes were somber and full of longing and anger.
~Gabrielle, you tell them what I say?~
And she did, her voice filling in what Tanith only mind-spoke to Skye.
"Jaysa is sick, but not sick in body. Sick in mind. Gabrielle is sick in mind, but she's always been like that and Jaysa hasn't. Jaysa does not want to be like that. But helping not easy. Hugs and nuzzles only work when well and in mind, that's another world. Like dreaming and not dreaming. Nuzzles help in not dreaming and in dreams you have to make your dream-self do things.
I make pictures of me in Gab's mind. Fight the bad things, let the good things through. Sometimes those things are scary, in Gab's head. Jaysa scared, so probably many scary things. But dream things die just like real things if you scratch them and bite them."
There was a pause and Tanith looked disconcerted.
"I don't know if these dream things more powerful, but you can not fight outside of mind, have to fight inside. Like a little picture of you with a little picture of Jaysa and all the bad things.
Mental...men..mental image. You can get in Jaysa's mind because of bond.
Jaysa be scared. Very scared and maybe hiding. So have to call to her and find her. She trust you, she should let you find her. Be careful no bad things follow though. Find Jaysa and nuzzle her in her mind. That comforts Gab a lot because I there." Gabrielle nodded in emphasis.
"Things confusing in sick mind. Make sure Jaysa picture is really Jaysa picture. Bond will tell you. But lots of shadows and tangled things and fake Gabs...or fake Jaysas. Just find and nuzzle and then convince her to stay alive and try and fight."
Tanith curled back in Gabrielle's arms and looked at Samantha.
~It's best I can do. Sick heads hard to explain, but I love mine.~ He nuzzled Gab again, who hugged him back. Then he cracked his jaws and chirruped something that sounded like "be brave," before he fell silent again. There was an odd moment where it seemed that despite his young age, Tanith was far older in spirit.
As the silvery tear dropped away, Skye winced. The images Eowyn had delivered held for him the most hopeless of feelings he'd never admit to having about Jaysa. If he'd been aware beforehand of exactly what the transfer entailed, he would have refused with the reasoning that sometimes it's better to approach the enemy with blind expectations. Enemy. His Jaysa.
The very idea of his bond holding such an opposing title aroused a self-rage that swelled within his bosom. For that single, mistaken though Skye might never forgive himself. His face primarily filled with a drowning pain before he directed his attention elsewhere. Meanwhile he'd clenched one little claw to the point of white-knuckled pain in a disproportionately sized anger for his diminutive shape. Ah, well, looks always were deceiving.
Returning his gaze to the Elven woman, Skye's oculars were of shiny glass and his jaw of cerulean glimmer set in decisive determination. Tenacity would not be something he was to lack. Now, the dragonet took charge of his emotions, shifting the direction of his fury to whatever source was that of Jaysa's predicament.
"The 'sickness' that grips her is very strong," Eowyn continued when the creature looked up once more, "but it is also very seductive. She may fight to keep it, attacking any who would help her."
Skye tossed his head with a snort at that thought. It certainly wouldn't be Jaysa who would be fighting. ..or would it?
"Someone has to reach that part of her that wants to be 'cured' and strengthen her will to fight against the sickness."
His little reptilian head nodded while he peered to this Eowyn's eyes. She was trustworthy, but he had one burning question. That would wait though, until the appropriate time to inquire. And now he was beginning to understand of what she desired him to do, the pieces of the plan's puzzle shaping up in his mind.
When the two newer entities made their entrance he paid no heed to that he did not know them, because Samantha offered them warmth in the way she did to all those she cared for, and immediately listened to them.
The first portion of what they spoke were things Skye already was aware of, but he made no gesture or notion of this in politeness.
"I make pictures of me in Gab's mind. Fight the bad things, let the good things through. Sometimes those things are scary, in Gab's head. Jaysa scared, so probably many scary things. But dream things die just like real things if you scratch them and bite them."
When Tanith looked anxious, so did Skye. But, he believed, for different reasons. This seemed so simple, but it was most certainly going to prove the opposite. But it will happen, Skye thought, it will happen and Jaysa will be back soon.
Skye absorbed the remainder of what the pair had to say--the both of them for some reason made him rather sad, and he cocked his head to the side a bit, purring back to the other dragonet--and gave a final nod when they'd finished. It all made sense, what Tanith was saying, Skye understood the other of his kind perfectly. Hopefully, very hopefully, the images would cower as positively as he said they would.
With his teeth clenched in determination, eyes narrowed and wings set back stiffly, Skye Fyre straightened his back, chirruped a sincere "thank you" to both Tanith and Twilight, asking each to pass the gratitude also to their bonds, and drew his vision level to Eowyn's. Again, he took the foreign journey of speaking into her mind.
~ Skye understand what's been said here. Have small plan, but can't make promises on it. Skye need your help too, Miss Eowyn, and might need it when time comes to make Jaysa better. ~ He paused to swallow, choosing his next words with nervous impatience. He knew that time would come soon enough, but it wasn't here presently.
~ What we do now? ~
Eowyn listened to Gabrielle and Tanith as politely as she could. Their explanations might be comforting to Skye and perhaps even helpful, but she would have to make certain that the dragonet understood that the "bad things" in Jaysa's mind, as Tanith called them, were not imaginary, and that Jaysa herself might even be one of them. It was a heavy burden for such a small creature and his wings trembled slightly as he listened, reflecting small specks of firelight across the floor. Eowyn watched a few of the specks as they skittered and swirled about one corner of the room, trying to escape the shadows that lurked beyond the reach of the fire.
They were easier to watch than the dragonet. They didn't look back with pain-filled, eyes that deepened the guilt eating away at her, making her regret not only her past mistake, but also her present actions. She had no right to ask Skye to help. She had no right to ask any of them to help, to draw them into what increasingly felt like her own private battle with the daemon, and she was beginning to worry that her own uncertainty might place them at risk. Looking back at the dragonet, she considered letting them go--all save this one. Skye, like her, had nothing to lose by facing the daemon. If Jaysa was lost to the creature, he would be as well, and having felt the touch of the daemon herself she knew that a quick death was far preferable to an eternity of the madness. Still, it was not her decision to make and she would make sure that the dragonet understood the risk, but not here. There was already such a crushing feeling of dread in the room and she had little desire to add further to the despair that she had brought. And so she shifted uncomfortably in the overstuffed chair and continued to listen to the curious pair Samantha had called, smiling faintly at the queen even as she did so.
When Samantha returned the smile, a pale and waneful expression, Eowyn was struck with the sudden realization that not all of the dread which enshrouded the room had come with her arrival. Something had been here before. Aware of it now, she could see that it hung heavily on the walls and wrapped itself as a veil about the swelling form of the queen. It had been here for some time, growing, changing, seeping into the stones of the castle as well as its inhabitants. The realization was accompanied by a stirring chill, despite the warmth of the room, and Eowyn leaned back in her chair, lifting her right hand from the armrest and resting her head against it as she turned her eyes to watch the fire. She wondered if she should say something, but she didn't know how Samantha would respond--especially now. The flames leapt higher, or at least they seemed to, as she considered the matter. They were intoxicating in their growing hunger, and as they danced they sparked a vague remembrance of . . . her eyes narrowed as she tried to grasp hold of the memory, and in the crackling voices of the fire she began to hear another one--one she thought had finally quieted, ~Sister~
~Skye understand what's been said here. Have small plan, but can't make promises on it. Skye need your help too, Miss Eowyn, and might need it when time comes to make Jaysa better. What we do now?~
She turned her head back to the tiny creature, surprised, but relieved to hear another voice, a different voice, within her mind. What do we do now? She smiled sadly at the dragonet, lacking the heart to tell him that there was little to do but wait, but she answered him as best she could, her eyes and "voice" sparking with a greater hopefulness than she actually felt, "Oh, there are few things that I need to attend to."
It was true--one of the few things in the current torrent of confusion that she felt was unquestionably true. In fact, she had many things to attend to, and one of them was still here. Whatever troubles plagued Samantha, Eowyn could at least remove some of the responsibility surrounding the queen and ensure that she and the life she carried within safely escaped the daemon's attention. "Skye, I know that Samantha and Twilight have been of great comfort to you, but I think it would be better for all concerned if you came with me and stayed at the shoppe."
Skye nodded a little, the dragon's scales glittering dimly in the fading firelight. He turned to Sam and made his way to a position comfortable enough to wrap his wings, arms, and tail about her in a very small hug that was very much filled with heartfelt love, affection, and an understanding that his favorite Aunt and Queen would be missed beyond comprehension. Skye shifted down to the swell of her belly and let his eyes close in a moment of surrendered concentration, extending his wings as far as they would go. The tiny claws parted while he pressed his palms to the cloth between he and her skin, but soon a warmthful glow enveloped his form, a radiant ivory shade that made the life within her coo what might have been a giggle.
He offered this small gift, granting the unborn or unborns a special privilege in which it would be possible to call upon him at any given moment, despite distance, time, or Fate itself. When he was finished, he offered Sam a mellow, but hopeful and strong smile, flittering up to peck her cheek with a dragon's kiss.
~ Skye love Aunt Sam. Take care, ~ he said. ~ Of baby and Uncle Sable. Need Skye, just call Skye. ~ He turned then, to Twilight and twittered something that made her elegant head bow while both of the dragonets shed crystalline tears and embraced one another.
Outside of the castle, Skye could tell a storm was brewing. He noticed the way the leaves of the trees were upturned in the wind; and the various ponds they passed along the way had water of the stillest movement. He shivered and opened his wings a little about himself, swatting a wild leaf to the side with his tail to avoid its collision with his perch, Eowyn. He turned to her.
~ Before Lady take Skye to Shoppe.. ~ he peered towards her with a glimmer of softness in his eyes, as if he had just found the diamond in the rough, even if the gem was a bit dusty. ~ Skye think it might be good idea if Lady come where Jaysa stay. Skye need to get somethings. Lady might find something too.~
© 1999 Stormpoint Writers Guild
All rights reserved