7. The Beautiful and Deadly Cyirlie

Chapter 7

The Beautiful and Deadly Cyirlie

The clothes I had been wearing before were neatly folded on the table. Lioa turned away as I entered, but I saw a smug grin on her face as she hummed and chopped vegetables for dinner. I was too disturbed by Satel’s sudden departure to care- I numbly headed over to the chair and sat down before I buried my face into my hands. I wasn’t quite as upset as I made myself appear, but I wasn’t sure how I should be reacting.

I wasn’t easily frightened by any little thing- the worst I would feel is a touch of caution for any unknown situation or strange person. But when Satel, a very brave falucite in his own right (except when it came to Didra), was acting afraid of something, I would have to be a fool not to feel the same way. Anything that could contend with such a powerful falucite must be fearsome. However… I hated to fear something intangible- if I have never seen, heard, or touched whatever it is, then why be scared? I would have to settle for wary.

I was certain Lioa was expecting me to be sitting there with a red, mortified face, if not completely zoned out in bliss due to what should’ve been a nice late-morning encounter with my mate. But when she finally got her smug smile under control and turned around to face me, her features fell into a concerned look when she noticed my posture.

“Oh dear, whatever is the matter?” she asked as she rushed over to me and placed one soothing hand on my shoulder. I didn’t reply immediately, wanting to gather my thoughts in order to answer her. Since I wasn’t sure what was going on, I didn’t want to give her the wrong idea.

Unfortunately, her mind was running faster than mine and she ended up coming up with her own conclusions. “…I haven’t given you bad advice, have I? I wasn’t aware there was anything that could offend a falucite when it came to mating… I apologize- let me speak with Lord Satel and clear up the misunderstanding-”

The last time she had seen me I was being whisked away by a horny blond bastard, so seeing my dismay, she must’ve thought something had gone wrong.

“N-no- it’s not that,” I told her as I slowly raised my head and shook it. “It happened after- Satel went to see the elders to tell them he was taking a day off, but when he came back, he said he had to go investigate something and left.”

“Hmph… that’s not like him. If he ever takes a day off, it would be for you. I can’t imagine him being the type to break a promise,” she commented with a look of disbelief.

“He didn’t really make a promise,” I defended, knowing that she didn’t get the whole story yet. “He said he was just delaying for an hour or so and told me to have lunch and wait for him here.”

“Oh!” she called out in relief as she placed a hand over her chest. “Is that all? I was worried you were having a lovers spat! What on Kajros’ Land were you moping for? Never mind- we’ll discuss that in a minute. Now that you’re here, what would you like to eat?”

She still didn’t really get it, but at least she wasn’t under the impression that Satel and I were fighting. Despite her loyalty to Satel, she’d still probably go on a self-righteous mission to defend me if she thought he’d done anything wrong, heh…

“…I’m not too hungry right now. If you have something small, I’ll take a bite of it,” I muttered, having lost my appetite from the mix of confusion and worry. I knew I had to have something though- if there was going to be trouble, then I needed the energy for it.

“Will a Fruit of Kotija do then? I have a fresh, sweet one ready for slicing,” she offered as she reached for the shiny red fruit.

“Sure.”

“Come now, dear, you’re acting as if he won’t return. There’s nothing to fret over,” the short-haired woman reassured me as she expertly cut into the firm, crunchy fruit with a sharp knife.

“…I’m not too sure about that- though I don’t think he’s going to die out there. But Satel was acting strange before he left. He mumbled something about a ‘great evil’ and acted as if he were terrified. He might not come back ‘till late for all I know,” I replied before I glancing over at Lioa.

Her knife slipped and cut the wrong portion of the Kotija Fruit when I mentioned the ‘great evil’, but she luckily missed her fingers and quickly recovered by slicing more. Had I not noticed the fact that she seemed surprised in that split second, I wouldn’t have thought anything of it.

“…Did he really say the words ‘great evil’?” she inquired to make sure she had heard me right. Her kind tone had suddenly shifted back into concern.

“Yeah, do you know something about it? Sounds like a joke to me,” I admitted as I glanced up at her features once more. Just seeing her react to it made me all the more worried.

“It’s no joke, though I fear I don’t know much about it. Lady Maetira was the one who started calling whatever it is by those words, and every time she has a reading about it, the entire homestead goes on high alert. Sometimes Lord Satel disappears for a few days during those times,” she explained before giving me an apologetic look for not being able to say more.

…That was highly disturbing to know. So this so-called great evil was feared by the entire clan? And why was Satel the only one running away? Of course, there’s a chance he wasn’t the only one- Lioa probably just knew of him because someone had to tell her not to make his meals for a while.

“So then you’ve never seen or witnessed this issue they have? Doesn’t that sound a little strange? I mean, what’s out there that can take on an entire clan of falucite?” I wondered out loud as I tried to piece it together.

“Another clan of falucite could- and an enclave of dragons. Even the gods could destroy them if they wanted to,” she listed matter-of-factly. She wasn’t really helping… though she did give me an idea.

There was a clan nearby that Satel and Cegil had good reason to avoid: The Daedeleth. Could they have been threatening us again and I was just now finding out about it? No, that didn’t make sense- what reason would Satel have to keep that a secret from me? Not only that, but Maetira had given them the moniker of ‘fanatics,’ not ‘great evil’.

“It’s not that falucite clan to the north, is it?” I asked anyway to be sure.

“Sweetie, I don’t know,” Lioa replied as she gathered the fruit slices on a plate and then walked over to me. “The strengthened security used to happen every six months before you arrived, and servants like me didn’t need to know the details… Though now that you mention it, everything seemed to stop not long after the Daedeleth approached your elders about the ceremony a little over three years ago.”

That got my attention, though it didn’t exactly confirm my suspicions. It explained why I’d never heard of this problem before, but it also didn’t give me an enemy to focus on. It seemed the Daedeleth prevented the return of this evil rather than being behind it. So what was different now, and was it going to resume its’ six-month schedule?

I managed to eat three slices of the crispy fruit before I pushed the plate back towards Lioa. I had started to feel sick as my thoughts swirled in random directions about Satel’s predicament- or was it the entire clan’s problem?

“I’m sorry I don’t have much information, but maybe you should seek out Lady Maetira or Lord Garroe. Since you are not a servant, you have every right to know what is happening,” she suggested as she picked up a piece for herself.

“But Satel is expecting to meet with me here- and he said he would tell me what’s happening himself,” I said, even though some part of me wanted to do so. I trusted that he would tell me the truth and everything, but how long would it be before he returned? Would it be too late? Could I even do anything for him if I knew?

I still had no clue why he had to leave the homestead- the only thing I could guess was that it was for his protection. I could see falcie needing to leave and not be involved in any potential wars, though if that were true, then that meant Didra and Aared would probably have to come with us. But if that were indeed the case, then why would he be the one to investigate? Wouldn’t that be dangerous for him?

“I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to wait a little longer… but if you change your mind, I can direct him to whomever you choose to see,” she offered before eating her fruit.

“I’ll stay here for now – if he takes too long, then I’ll find someone to ask,” I announced, deciding to give Satel the hour that he promised. Though the only other falucite I had seen today was Cegil (which was a very unusual occurrence), I did not have the feeling that the others were up in arms yet. They were probably waiting on Satel’s confirmation of Maetira’s ‘prophecy of doom’ before taking any action.

We both waited there for a little more than an hour. Lioa wasn’t sure if she should start making her preparations for our dinner, since we might be hiding out somewhere by then, so she instead tried to listen in on servant gossip for me. Unfortunately she didn’t find anything useful, but I wasn’t really expecting her to, so I didn’t hold a grudge. Only a few minutes later I started to get anxious, growing more concerned the longer I waited for him. I couldn’t stop my imagination from thinking up horrible scenarios of him being involved in something dangerous, or of him of getting horribly injured somehow.

I stood and paced around the kitchen to burn off extra energy, but it wasn’t long before I just couldn’t take it anymore.

“…I’m going to see Maetira. Hopefully she might know where he is,” I told Lioa before I started rushing towards the door. I couldn’t expect the blind Oracle to tell me much of anything about the situation, but I could trust that she could find Satel wherever he was and inform me of his well-being. At this point, all I want to know is if he’s safe.

“Okay,” she answered me to let me know she had heard me. “I hope this won’t be the last time I see you for a while.”

If everything was going the way it did a few years ago, then there was a chance I wouldn’t see Lioa until Satel and I came out of hiding. Of course, that was assuming that we would have to take those measures in the first place.

“How long has Satel disappeared for?” I paused and inquired just inside of the door, just to get a gist of how cautious he was.

“Weeks- one time he didn’t come back for nearly two months,” she replied, surprising me a little bit. That was pretty long…

“I hope we’re not going anywhere,” I eventually muttered as I left. I was struggling to understand Satel’s position while still being supportive of him, but I just couldn’t fear something I didn’t know anything about. I didn’t want to go running with my tail between my legs over something that could’ve been silly- but nor did I want to accuse my mate of being ridiculous.

But above all, I didn’t want any of this to amount to anything- I was disoriented enough worrying about Satel. I didn’t want to be separated from my family in addition to that.

Some part of me still hoped that this was just a bad prank, but deep down I think I knew better. Things weren’t going to get any better anytime soon.

********************

Looking for Maetira was harder than I thought it’d be- one would think a blind girl wouldn’t be so hard to find. I suppose that I hadn’t really thought through the possibility that she could’ve been lurking in her territory instead, but it seemed unlikely that she would leave the homestead after having such a reading, so I continued my heretofore-fruitless search.

She was, interestingly enough, one of the few falucite that had a room with a door. This was because everyone assumed she wouldn’t have been able to teleport into a regular falucite bedchamber without being able to see. While she could still teleport, their theories might not have been unfounded- she could only ‘port to familiar people, and while I bet she would keep someone hostage in there if she could, even the elders believed that to be morally wrong.

Still, she wasn’t there when I walked by, and the servants had no idea where she was. If Maetira wasn’t with Didra at this point, then it was likely she was in the meeting hall with the elders. As much as I didn’t want to, I had to suspect the latter. This all started because of her, so she must be there on standby to provide more information.

I begrudgingly made my way to the main hall with the intent to peer into the grand meeting room and see if the blonde sociopath was in there. If she was, then I was just going to have to seek out someone else to ask, because I didn’t want to ‘disturb’ the elders.

But before I could reach the large doors, I heard a distant roar that caused the ground to tremble. It was no doubt the distinctive howl of a dragon, but I had to wonder if I was hearing things. Why would a dragon come to the homestead? I knew they were on good terms with falucite, but never once did one drop in for a visit, nor were any invited as special guests.

Suddenly, I felt a light tingling sensation on my right ankle that quickly spread up into my leg and gathered at my spine. Before I knew it, my entire body was shaking uncontrollably, as if all of my nerves were being used at once. It only lasted a second though, and once I recovered, my ears picked up the sound of talons clicking on the tiled floor. The reason I knew what they were was because one of Satel’s cousins had a greater demon mother of the bird family, and said cousin, who had inherited talons on his feet, often visited the homestead.

The next thing I knew, there was a human-shaped figure fast approaching me from the opposite hall. It was an exceedingly gorgeous woman with long, shiny black hair that curled gently around her face and flowed down in waves to her lower back. Her eyes were narrow and pale blue in color, giving her the appearance of an icy gaze that seemed very intimidating. Her skin was pale and opalescent, and it was accentuated by the white, robe-like dress she wore.

Her expression was serious, and her walk was both graceful and formal- it was clear that she meant business and had no time to spare. I found myself unable to tear my eyes away from her- she was too beautiful. I could tell by the claw-like fingernails, her skin, her almost translucent skin, and her nigh-unnatural height that she was likely the dragon I had heard just seconds before.

In hindsight, I should have just turned and walked the other way. Usually I would avoid people I didn’t already know, especially in the homestead, for fear that my ‘personality’ would cause problems for the family. Unfortunately, my feet didn’t listen to me- they were apparently as entranced by this stranger’s beauty as my eyes were. So thanks to my disobedient appendages, the woman locked eyes with the only other living thing in sight- me.

As she drew closer, I had to crane my neck up so I could continue to admire her features. She was almost as tall as Cegil, and with that in mind, I decided that she must be a sea dragon. They were the only ones with humanoid forms that were slender and tall.

When she reached me, she glared down at me for a long while before she inquired, “Ye look familiar. Have we met before?”

I was almost stunned that she possessed a seafarer accent, but as I thought about it, it made sense. Sea dragons interacted with seafarers a lot, so either we picked up their accent or the other way around.

I took a second good look at her so that I could answer her question. It was actually my first time seeing a sea dragon up close, though it was possible that I could’ve met one before and not really noticed… after all, everyone towered me when I was younger- I was really short back then. But I didn’t recall ever seeing someone so stunning before, even when I was a pirate- which was probably a good thing, because then I would’ve had to question my sexuality. She was the type of vision that pirates dreamed about, but kept a healthy distance to that cold look in her eyes.

“No, I don’t recall meeting someone like you,” I replied after shaking my head. I took extra care not to reveal my natural dialect to her, though I wasn’t quite sure why. Some buried instinct in me was telling me to keep my origins a secret from her. Of all creatures, I shouldn’t have to fear a sea dragon- seafarers have been worshiping their kind for ages. …Well, actually pirates have been doing the worshiping- I was pretty sure that the common fisherman and coastal dweller cursed them as monsters, too.

“Hmph. Ye smell like a falucite, but ye don’t look like one,” she commented as her nose wrinkled to show her displeasure. Did the clan smell that I possessed offend her delicate nostrils? “No matter- take me ta yer elders. Ye should know where they be.”

She had the attitude of a spoiled princess and possessed every characteristic of a person I would normally belittle and talk back to. …Yet I couldn’t bring myself to do so. I was more compelled to do her bidding rather than form an instant dislike of her. I guess what the Wise Man had said about beauty was true- one couldn’t help but cater to a pretty face. If I were to apply that to why I was so nice to Satel and Cegil upon first meeting them, then it made perfect sense. I’d thought they were more handsome than any human men I’d ever met.

Of course my definition of ‘nice’ back then was trying not to rob them blind and treat them like garbage- but that was if I’d met them face-to-face. If I’d run into them on the streets with no prior introduction, it would’ve made them fair game.

Luckily, we were right in front of the door and all I had to do was point at it. It didn’t occur to me that I probably shouldn’t have disclosed any information to her- for all I knew, that stunning dame could be out for blood. She was still a dragon after all…

“They’re over there, but I think you need to make an appointment first,” I responded, earning a scowl from her. She seemed to be expecting something else from me, but all I could do was stare at her blankly. What? Did she want me to walk over and open the door for her? She was pretty enough for me to have a hard time fostering dislike for her, but that didn’t mean I was going to bend over backwards.

“Useless whelp,” she growled as she turned towards the door and stormed over to it. What else could I do? Did I look like a servant or something?

I watched as she pulled open the giant double doors with ease and wondered how far she was going to get. The elders made so few exceptions for those who didn’t go through the proper procedure for gaining an audience. But before I could sate my curiosity, I felt someone grab me from behind.

A strong hand was placed over my mouth before I could shout in surprise and I felt myself being pulled away. The next thing I knew, I was blinked into a different setting and slowly realized that it was the bedchambers I shared with Satel. I didn’t even get the chance to process what was happening before I was whirled around to face my frantic mate.

“Are you okay? Did she hurt you?” the über hat man questioned me as he moved his hands to my shoulders and leaned down to stare directly into my eyes. Once again, he seemed spooked beyond all reason, but this time it was directed at me and my well-being.

“What the? No! What’s gotten inta ye anyway? Ah’m gettin’ tired of bein’ left out o’ everythin’!” I shouted, finally reaching my limit. I wasn’t sure if I had reverted back to my seafarer’s dialect because of anger, or because of a late reaction to my exposure with that dragon.

“You have no clue who that was, do you?” he muttered after he pulled me against him. “That sea dragon is Cyirlie- she’s the dragon priestess who answers to the goddess of storms. She’s also a devout follower of the Fates, so if she knew you are an Unknown, she wouldn’t hesitate to kill you.”

Was that why he was acting so strange? All this because he was worried a dragon would come to kill me? But as the information sunk in, I sobered at the mention of the goddess of storms. So Cyirlie was from the Sea of Elati- even knowing this, I still couldn’t say I recognized her, despite us both coming from the same area. Still, I had to wonder who I reminded her of?

“Ye don’t need ta worry ‘bout that. Ah didn’t tell her me name, an’ she thinks ah’m a falucite,” I reassured him as I tried to regain some space between us. I didn’t exactly want to escape his arms, but I couldn’t talk while being crushed against his chest.

“That’s even worse! She knows how our society works and it won’t take her long to figure out that you’re someone’s mate. If she knew out that you are mine…” he trailed off, not wanting to finish that thought. If she hated Unknowns, then finding out that Satel abandoned his reading would probably piss her off epically. “Oh Maker, you didn’t talk to her with that accent, did you?”

“Ah restrained meself ‘till now,” I answered him, wondering what difference my speech patterns would’ve made. I suppose he was just nervous of Cyirlie somehow discovering my true identity through that tiny clue.

“Damn… The elders can lie for this visit, but they can’t keep it up forever… She’s going to find us out eventually- perhaps even long before we can disappear to our own settlement,” he added, talking more to himself than me.

“Why do they need to lie for us? How is our relationship any of her business?” I asked after calming down enough to drop my accent. They didn’t even have to mention us to her- I couldn’t imagine a dragon priestess having any interest in falucite affairs.

For a moment, Satel looked at me as if I were insane, but then he appeared both guilty and sympathetic when he finally realized how little I knew of the situation. “Come to think of it, I never did explicitly tell you about Cyirlie.”

“Explicitly tell me what?” I countered, hoping that it would make sense soon. I hated not being in the know about something that so far sounded like it was being blown out of proportion.

“I told you before that the Fates had chosen a mate for me. They chose the meanest and coldest dragon in existence- her. Cyirlie doesn’t even love me- she only wants to mate with me because the Fates demanded it,” Satel said in a solemn tone as his eyes drifted away from mine to glare at our feet.

I froze from the news- so she was his intended mate? I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. Should I be flattered that Satel chose me over such an ethereal beauty? Or should I be upset that he wasn’t man enough to break ties with her before now? At first, one would think that this was just a silly story of a man unable to call it off with an ex-girlfriend, but this was no ordinary woman. She was a dragon- and an influential priestess to boot.

I couldn’t really fault him for being so cautious, but did he really have to run away in the past? Was she really so frightening? I had to assume that every time she visited, it was to see if he was ready to mate. Since he was still a falcie, he could argue that he wasn’t mature enough yet and could convince her to hold off. But now… I guess I too would be pretty upset to find another woman at his side.

“Is there really no way to tell her the truth? I can’t imagine someone wanting to follow a reading if they truly loathe the person they’re being paired with. You’d think she would be happy that you found someone else,” I commented, not really getting what Cyirlie was about.

“Cyirlie doesn’t have the capacity to be happy, or to feel anything other than hatred and anger. I think her only loves are the goddess she serves, and the Fates,” the falucite replied bitterly, before adding, “She once told me that once we have a child, she would decapitate me and consume my body… and she was serious about that. Uh…sorry…”

…Yeah, that would convince me to stay away from her, too. Satel realized too late that he’d used the wrong choice of words in front of me, but I’d done my best to ignore it. Thankfully, more than enough time had passed to allow me to focus on the real issue instead- I so didn’t need to be sent back into that paralyzed state again.

“So, will we need to hide until she stops snooping around here?” I inquired, choosing to move the conversation along. The ‘great evil’ wasn’t worth being terrified over, so long as we didn’t cross her path. Now that I understood where he was coming from, I also wasn’t against avoiding a confrontation.

But now that she was back, would this become a regular thing? And why had she stopped coming since the ceremony? Since she apparently wasn’t actually involved in that mess, being that they’d used a fake sea dragon to throw off the Daedeleth, I couldn’t imagine that that was the reason she’d ended her visits. I was about to ask Satel to see if he knew, but he startled me when he suddenly sighed and pressed his forehead against mine.

“She’s going to learn the truth someday. I can only stall now because I’m still young, but once I reach adulthood, she won’t be so patient. I can’t run forever- I’ll have to confront her soon.” He sighed again and closed his eyes. “If only I were more like you- if I could possess an unbendable will, like yours…”

“Me?” I muttered in surprise. I wasn’t expecting to hear something like that. I’d think it more of a fault, really…

“If you were in my position, you’d face her unflinchingly. I’m sure deep down you might be scared, but you wouldn’t let it stop you. If only I could do that…” he whispered as his hands slowly moved to my back so he could pull me against him again. He moved his head to the side so that he could bury his nose in my loose hair.

Did he really think I was brave? Every day of my life, I ran from the memory that changed my life forever. I think the only reason I could stare down death itself was because nothing could live up to the wretchedness of that moment. In a morbid way, if I died, then I wouldn’t have to remember anything again- though I certainly didn’t want to end my life.

“If that were true…” I mumbled against his shoulder, “…then I wouldn’t have froze up like I did yesterday. I’m not brave at all.”

“I didn’t say you were- and I don’t believe that’s the same kind of fear. You just don’t want to accept a certain part of your life, is all. Confronting an immediate danger is completely different from fighting a memory that will always haunt you,” he replied in a soothing tone that almost had me go emotional.

I didn’t know he thought of me that way. I’d always thought he’d mated with me because he somehow thought I was pretty and we sort of got along. It hadn’t occurred to me that I might have had some trait that he admired, so much so that he sought to be like me.

“I may not have your steel will, ‘Tia-dear, but I do have a desire to protect you,” the über hat man continued, sounding more resolved. “If I run now, then you’ll be placed in danger. I don’t want to, but I have to confront her now while it’s still just between me and her.”

I pulled away from him a second time to stare at him in disbelief. What made him think he had to protect me from the sea dragon? He said it himself- she didn’t know who I was, and so long as she never learns it, I should be safe. Was he insinuating that Cyirlie was going to stalk us and find out eventually for herself?

“It doesn’t have to be now if you’re not ready,” I told him, not wanting him to force himself for my sake. It wasn’t as if she was threatening me now- and I wouldn’t hold it against him if he still wanted to run.

“No, this is the first time she has appeared since I’ve mated. I’m morally obligated to tell her that we can’t be together… I can take some consolation that she can’t attack me while in the presence of the elders if I confront her now. She may be an important figure, but she can’t fight against an entire falucite council,” he said, trying to keep the determined look on his face.

…But if she really was a representative of a goddess, they couldn’t destroy her either. Doing so would bring the wrath of Elit upon them, and he would probably destroy the clan.

“What would you do after? Wouldn’t she come for you later?” I asked, making sure he was thinking it through. Sure, she couldn’t attack while in the presence of elders, but he went out on missions and could be left vulnerable when away from the homestead.

“I’m going to have to try hard to convince her that it’s okay to break this reading- she doesn’t even want to be bonded to me, so perhaps she would be willing to turn a blind eye. And if not… well, you’re right- I will have to look over my shoulder for the rest of my life. But that will happen anyway if I delay it, so it’s better to get it over with now. At least if something goes wrong, you can live safely here in the homestead instead of on your own in our future settlement.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I said with a sneer as my accent came back in full force. I didn’t like this talk of him potentially getting killed over this. “Yer not dyin’ jus’ because some wench gets jilted.”

That earned me a weak chuckle, but he didn’t seem very convinced- in his mind, I would be in more and more danger the longer he put it off. I didn’t care who she was- she had no right to kill someone just because they turned away from the Fates!

“You don’t know her like I do, but who knows? It’s been a while since I have last seen her- maybe she’s finally calmed down and is more understanding. I’m not going out there to die- I just want to make things right and ensure you don’t get caught up in it. If I don’t tell her there’s another woman, then she’ll take it out on you if, no, when she finds out on her own,” he added to both reassure and warn me.

Hmph… she sounded like most human women- when a man two-times them, they go for each other’s throats rather than the man who caused it. I sincerely hoped that this wasn’t a ‘female’ thing- but then again, this wasn’t a typical love story. If Cyirlie wanted to destroy him, it would be because he’d denounced his faith in the Fates.

“At least let me come with ye. Ye shouldn’t have ta go alone.” I reasoned with him. If he really had to do this, then I wanted to support him and be by his side. I was his mate, and it was partially because of me that he was in this mess. …Okay, not really- it was the Fates’ fault for arranging it and his for choosing me over her. But damn it, I want to be involved for once!

“It’s best that she doesn’t see your face again, but… if I brought you with me, do you promise to stay hidden? I would feel better knowing that you’re near, but I don’t want you to be targeted should something go wrong,” he said, trying to compromise with me.

That was a hard thing to promise… I still didn’t know what a dragon like Cyirlie was capable of, but I didn’t think I could sit still if she attacked him. I couldn’t even do the same if Cegil was the one being targeted, so I had no chance to resist if it were Satel. But if I said as much to the blond, he would probably not have let me come with him. So I did the next best thing- “Ah’ll try not ta go charging out, but ye can’t expect me not ta come help ye if she does try ta hurt ye.”

Of course, I didn’t think I had it in me to charge her if it did happen. The most I could do would be to rush by his side and make sure he could still move. Satel stared down at me, looking me straight in the eye to make sure I was telling the truth. I seemed to have satisfied his concerns because he mustered a weak smile.

“I suppose that’s fair- it just means I will have to be extra careful not to get within striking range of her.” I think it was supposed to be a small jest, but I couldn’t laugh.

I shook my head before I placed my hands on either side of his head and pulled him down so that he was level with me. I then requested in a calm voice, void of an accent, “Promise me you won’t let her do anything more to you than a black eye.”

I wouldn’t fault her for wanting to do that much, so long as that’s all that she would do to him. After all, what woman didn’t want to punch him at least once? Satel may be cute, but he could still be an ass…

The next chuckle sounded more genuine and he managed a smile for me. “Of course, my sirsa- I wouldn’t dream of leaving you after working so hard to have you in my life.”

And I believed him. I knew he wouldn’t deliberately leave me, but the idea of losing him scared me just as much as the thought of losing Cegil or Lioa. I never wanted to see the death of another loved one ever again.

When Satel deemed himself ready, he guided me to kneel down on the floor with him and then teleported us. The lighting instantly changed to something much dimmer, and the inviting cream colors of our bedchambers turned into the rich brown of the seating area within the meeting hall. We were ducked behind the wood panel that separated the place where the clan sat to watch trials from the rest of the spacious room.

As we both glanced over the panel, we could see Cyirlie at the half round table, addressing the elders. Even though there should have been some kind of echo for a room this size, the sound was very controlled and the voices were clear.

“…Ah fear that if this is delayed any longer, the Fates may take drastic measures ta restore order in the world. One o’ two events must happen- either we find the Hels Meyuun an’ restore the goddess’ voice, or we have the ceremony now an’ ah mate with yer cursed runt,” the dragon announced loudly, her voice taking on a bitter tone as she mentioned Satel. I wished we had shown up sooner to hear the rest of what she was saying. What was a ‘Hels Meyuun’? And what happened to the goddess’ voice?

“This Hels Meyuun business sounds far more dire than a mere ceremony- are you certain you would rather not focus on that? I fear that I fail to see how the Fates would care one whit if two individuals came together in a mating over the other problems in the world- your position, while important, does not make much of a difference in this matter,” Makhis’ra pointed out with his near skeletal hand making a gesture in the air. It seemed the elders were doing what they could in stalling and convincing Cyirlie to go away.

“Aye- it is true that there are other readin’s that would hold more power, but we have no idea how long it would take ta find our missin’ piece. The ceremony would be but a small distraction, but enough ta appease the Fates ‘till we find it,” the raven haired woman explained, further confusing me. Why do the Fates need to be appeased? What could they possibly do if none of their readings are obeyed?

Not once in their immortal existence did they ever try to force someone to follow their guidance- it was just that most creatures were compelled to do it anyway. It was thought by Cegil and other heretics that they were unable to enter our realm of the mortals to do anything, so it didn’t matter if a few people turned away.

“I hate to inform you of this, Cyirlie, but it’s also a distraction that I want no part of.”

I quickly glanced to my side and found that Satel was gone- he was now standing a little more than ten feet away from the sea dragon. His posture was a little stiff, but he seemed to be holding his ground so that he wouldn’t appear weak. From where I was positioned, I could see his profile and most of his attempt at a stoic expression.

The dragon quickly whirled around to face him before her delicate features showed contempt. “Hmph… so here ye are. Ah see that ye still haven’t done any growin’ since we last met.”

“S-Satel! You have returned…early,” Cujol called out in what was most likely a cover up for the lie they must’ve given her.

“I apologize my elders- when I had heard rumors of Cyirlie coming to visit, I had to come. …I will address her this time,” the über hat man announced as he bowed to them.

Behind the dragon’s back, almost all of the old farts gave him concerned looks, acting as if he were being an idiot. Of course, I personally thought he was being stupid in confronting her on an impulse, but I understood why he was doing it. The longer he waited to think about the inevitable day of facing her, the less likely he would be able to muster that bravado.

“Ah don’t care if ye want no part o’ anythin’- we have an obligation ta the Fates and-”

“The Fates were never very clear as to when, where, or how we’re supposed to follow this reading,” Satel boldly interrupted her, earning a dark scowl. “It doesn’t have to be now, it doesn’t have to be real, nor do either one of us have the ability to truly accomplish such a thing.”

I had to wonder what Satel’s issue was- he was standing up to her just fine and I couldn’t see any trace of his earlier fear in his stance. In fact, I couldn’t see a difference in his demeanor than when he confronted any other person, human or otherwise. …Though I suppose he was maintaining a respectful distance from her when he would normally draw himself close to his victims in an intimidating manner.

Was he just putting up a convincing act that he wasn’t afraid of her? Or was he trying to imitate me, thinking this would be how I would face her? After his little confession, I had to wonder how much of my influence was going into his moment of reckless courage.

Cyirlie took a moment to process that as she regarded the falucite with a wary glare. “Are ye implyin’ that ye want ta turn against the Fates? Know that ah show no mercy ta heretics an’ Unknowns.”

“I’m very well aware of that. What I’m trying to say is that you and I are not capable of mating. While they never say so, they expect us to have a child, and that would require intimacy. You made it very clear that you feel nothing more than hatred for me- and I couldn’t possibly approach any closer than five feet within your range. As I said- the two of us mating is impossible. Do you not agree?” he explained, hoping to first use logic to convince her to change her mind.

“Ah do not question the Fates. If they believe we can produce a dracling, then ah’ll put up with ye for that long. This arrangement is not supposed ta give ye a happy life since yer a product o’ sin- and it’s but a test o’ me loyalty ta them,” she answered in tone that stressed how displeased she was with him.

“I don’t believe it for a second,” the über hat man argued with a shake of his head. “Why would they need to test you of all devoted creatures? And what would you do if I continued to refuse you? Kill me? You’d become an Unknown- or are you going to insist that there would be exceptions for you? If so, then why can’t there be an exception for this and spare you the grief?”

“Satel, watch your tongue!” Cujol growled as he stood from his seat. The elderly falucite’s eyes betrayed his true feelings- he was scared for his grandson and worried that Cyirlie was only seconds away from striking with the disrespectful way the blond was speaking to her. Unfortunately, his words went ignored and the standoff between the dragon and young falucite continued.

Even I had to admit that he was pushing it- he had just dangled the ‘will you kill me?’ idea in front of her despite it being the one thing he wanted to avoid. If I didn’t know any better, I would say he was deliberately trying to get her to focus solely on him, so that I wouldn’t have to be mentioned at all.

Cyirlie fully turned to face him and walked over towards him a few steps. The blond only faltered once by taking a step back, but then he stood his ground and hardened his gaze.

“This is no longer ‘bout just me, falcie. Too many readin’s have gone astray and the Fates are beginnin’ ta worry ‘bout the world crumblin’ inta chaos. Somethin’ needs ta go right, an’ if that means to take ye by force, then so be it. The only ‘exceptions’ ah’ll make is how long ah’ll let ye live after!”

I think I heard of this before, though no one believed that anyone would disobey the Fates- they say if too many people ignore their readings, then the world will fall into disarray and it would have to be remade. But that was just rubbish- why should disobeying a stupid reading that made everyone miserable bring about the end of the world? It sounded more like the Fates were having a temper tantrum because no one wanted to listen to them anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover if this was actually some made up story to scare everyone into being good little sheep.

“Why would the ‘mighty’ Fates care about the union between two people who hate each other? You’re better off seeking your mythical sea creature like Makhis’ra said- that sounds more like something they would be concerned about,” Satel growled as he desperately tried to keep a furious expression on his face. And what did he mean by ‘mythical sea creature? Was that what a Hels Meyuun was?

It was starting to get a little obvious that he was scared and that his instincts were telling him to shut up and run, but he stayed put for whatever reason. Was I always like this? If he was trying to act like me, then I hadn’t realized just how pigheaded I was during tense moments like this. I knew I could be obstinate when I had something to prove, but I’d think I would back down if my life were in danger. …Then again, I was usually cornered in such situations, so I couldn’t run anyhow…

Suddenly, Cyirlie’s cold eyes narrowed and her brows furrowed as she gave him a suspicious look. She took another step closer to him as she inquired. “What might ye be hiding? There must be a reason fer ye ta go against me like this. Ye haven’t used that tone with me fer over ninety years, when ye were too stupid ta know better.”

“I’m not hiding anything- I’m protecting. I’ve found my mate and I cannot devote myself to a reading that wants to punish me for no reason!”

“Ye fool!”

As fast as lightning she was rushing towards my mate with her claws held out. It seemed that she was aiming to grab him in a chokehold, but Satel managed to raise his arm in time for her talons to catch on the clothing of his forearm instead. The next thing I knew, all of the elders had risen from their seats, appearing ready to defend their kinsman.

“Do ye have any idea wot ye done!? Yer actions have brought further chaos!” Cyirlie yelled, her fangs glinting in the sunlight that streamed through the large glass windows.

“Fine! How about we become mates in title only? Does it really matter if we don’t live together or procreate? As far as my mate knows and is concerned, her reading has been fulfilled. If the Fates are going to be so sloppy as to give conflicting readings, then why should we obey them completely?” he shouted back as he tried to make her let go of him.

The tall woman’s eyes widened as she pulled back, ripping some of Satel’s frock coat from his arm as she retreated. “No, that cannot be possible… The Fates have ne’er made such a grievous err’ before.”

I had actually learned from Maetira that every living being was tied to the Fates through their name. This was why couples were required to present the name of their newborn to an Oracle so that they could receive their readings later on in life. When the Oracle in Port Sibest gave a reading to ‘Evora,’ she was reading the destiny of an actual monster, not mine. Of course an evora would mate with another monster!

I won’t know what the Fates have planned for me until I reveal my true name, which I intend never to happen. But Satel hadn’t really lied to Cyirlie just then- that was indeed the ‘reading’ I had received, actually mine or no. The Fates hadn’t really messed up, but thankfully, his pseudo-bluff seemed to have saved him.

“Very well- ah have no further use fer ye,” Cyirlie replied before she turned her head towards the elders. “Ah have no choice but ta find the Hels Meyuun by any means necessary. The deaths o’ thousands o’ humans an’ demons will be on yer hands.”

…What did she mean by that? Was she really going to kill so many innocent people just to find something that might not exist? And how would it be the clan’s fault for her actions? Was she just being a spoiled brat because she didn’t get what she wanted?

Makhis’ra didn’t even get the chance to reply to her when she suddenly stormed off. I watched as she brushed against Satel on purpose so she could shove him away. There was a look of surprise, then he slumped over with pain in his eyes before he recovered and kept an eye on her as she stormed her way to the doors. I jumped when she sank her claws into the wood and tore one of them from its hinges like it was a piece of paper.

It wasn’t only a few moments before a roar resounded in the halls and something hard was torn asunder- most likely a wall. Satel wasn’t kidding- Cyirlie was scary beyond all reason.

Now that she was gone, I flipped over to my hands and knees with the intent to stand and run over to Satel, but the blond suddenly disappeared without so much as a word.

“Tia.” Makhis’ra called out after a stunned silence. I winced as I realized that they knew I had been here the whole time. I just hoped that Cyirlie hadn’t also caught on.

I slowly rose from behind the wood panel and found that they were all still standing.

“I do not like that last exchange between the priestess and your mate. Seek out Didra and ensure that he is with her,” the clan leader ordered in a grave voice.

I felt sick to my stomach at his words- he must’ve seen something that I hadn’t when Cyirlie left. The fact that Satel needed to see Didra didn’t bode well, because it meant that he was seriously hurt.

“Elder Makhis’ra, I ask that I may be excused so that I can go with her. I, too, am worried for my descendant,” Cujol requested suddenly, before I could answer. Unlike before, his entire face betrayed his feelings right then- he was extremely worried for Satel. I knew then that whatever had happened was deadly serious.

The old man slowly nodded his head once and replied, “You are excused for the day.”

“Thank you,” he muttered gratefully before he held his hand out towards me in a gesture to approach him. I didn’t waste any time gathering the skirts of my walking suit so that I could jump over the wood panel and rush over to him.

Cujol didn’t bother waiting where he was- he met with me halfway in the same speed that I was moving in. Once I grabbed his large, wrinkled hand, he teleported us away to Didra’s medical laboratory.

As it turned out, Cyirlie had intentionally poisoned Satel when she’d brushed against him. Sea dragons were known to produce poisons when angry, and since she was in a constant state of anger and loathing, she was known as the deadliest dragon in the world. Satel was fighting for his life in a battle that was very rarely won.

To the Next Chapter

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s