The Eleventh Shantel

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Clutch: Machesri Clutch 11: Estrella [mc27f] & Neelam [mc22m]

Jarod bustled about, green wings flitting this way and that, keeping an eye on the center square.  He reached down to pick up a stray water bucket and toy hatchling on wheels around the fountain and moved them to the edge of the burrows, hoping their owners would retrieve them.  It was the first Shantel in some time; there were only three guests of honor, but they were some of his great grandshrapes and had attracted quite a crowd.  The Terran-Arboreal paused to frown at the fountain walkway.  The stones lining it were dirty and sinking into the ground.  There was no time to do anything about it now, but he would have to have a team of groundworkers re-lay the stones before the winter set in.  Realm Centre straightened as best as possible, Jarod turned his attention to the large crowd waiting to press into the gathering spot.

There was a buzz of excitement, as there always was at any large gathering.  The arrival of guests had been a relief from a period of hard work at the Realm.  This season had brought torrential rains, the likes of which hadn't been seen for many years in the Refuge.  Flash floods had careened down from the mountain cliffs, and several rivers had overflowed.  Mudslides had even buried several areas.  Luckily, the settlements had been placed away from the cliffs, but the flooding had caused many dragons to evacuate to higher ground.  Most of the spring had been spent rebuilding burrows and helping the clean-up efforts on the Isier River.  Even the much-awaited Spring Festival was cancelled.  It had been a tough season.  When the Shantel was announced, the residents of Bishen Realm, and even of the surrounding areas, had banded together and prepared a vast feast.  It had been far too much for the scant group of growing dragons and their kin, so many more guests had been invited from around the Refuge and beyond.  Most had come for the feast the night before, and many had decided to stay to watch the Shantel.  As a result, the crowd was far larger than any normal Shantel, which was amusing considering that this was such a small clutch of shrapes.  At least, it would have been amusing if Jarod wasn't managing everything.

*The Realm Centre is ready now.  Please let our growing shrapes and their families enter first, and don't crowd!*  He gave the mixed group what he hoped was a stern look.  His deep blue Cape of Serenity swayed gently as he flapped his wings, adding weight to his already commanding presence.  Jarod nodded to Mjollnir, and the Mountain Haze Terran stepped aside to let the throng pass.  He fluttered over next to her and landed.

*Do you think everyone will fit?*  Mjollnir turned her liquid eyes to the elder Bishen.

Jarod shook his head.  *The square isn't large enough.  If we're going to keep drawing crowds this size, we're going to have to talk about expanding... or maybe building a larger center, farther away from the dwellings.  We'll have to speak to the Kailan about it after the excitement has calmed down.*

Mjollnir nodded, surveying the Realm Centre.  Some of the larger guests were respectfully staying on the edges of the square, and the taller ones were allowing others to sit on their backs or heads for a view.  Even so, it was definitely crowded.

*We better get up front.*  Jarod rose with a few flaps of his large wings and gained altitude to soar over the crowd.

The Mountain Haze peered at all the gathered creatures with a bit of trepidation before starting to edge her way around to the front, where the Kailan's platform was.  When she finally reached it, she saw Jarod lining up the shrapes.  There was a glorious Sunshine Arboreal, a sweet and brilliant Green Arboreal, and a rare and interesting Sea Splash Terran.  She'd never seen a Sea Splash before, and she remembered that many had never seen a Mountain Haze when she had made her first visit to the Realm.  Jarod paused in midair and nodded his head at her and then pointedly at the Kailan's cave.  Mjollnir bobbed her head and moved to the entrance.

*Kailan, sir, Jarod has the shrapes prepared.  Whenever you are ready...*  She respectfully kept her eyes averted, instead examining some mundane pebbles near the entrance.

*Yes, Mjollnir, come in.  I will need you to take these...*  The Kailan motioned her in with a wing and nodded to two beautiful items, carefully set in a tote on the floor.

Mjollnir peered at them curiously.  Getting a sneak peek at the Shantel objects was always a treat.  She gasped in surprise but frowned with concern the next second.  *Kailan, sir... there are three shrapes...?*

The Kailan smiled warmly at her, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.  *Yes, one of our magical objects requires a bit more magic today.  Now, shall we?*  He cocked a leathery red brow at her and stretched his wings briefly before slithering to the entrance and lifting off.

Mjollnir followed, still mystified.  She watched as the wise, old leader landed gracefully on his rock before the silent crowd.  Jarod sat proudly to one side with his mate, Athena, and Mjollnir carefully placed the box within tail's reach of the Kailan before taking her place on the other side.

The Kailan surveyed the crowd with deep-set black eyes, letting the tension grow for a long moment.  Then, he spoke.

*Greetings to our young shrapes, and all our welcome visitors.  Those of you who dwell in the Refuge know that this has been a long and trying season for us all.  Now, we gather in joy to celebrate the arrival of three new Bishen.  Far they have come for this moment, and we are all glad to see their return after such a long absence.  May we all take pride in their accomplishments, and may they and their companions feel welcome for as long as they desire to stay.*

He paused again, moving his eyes slowly over the three shrapes below before settling on the Sea Splash Terran.

*Caoin, step forward.*

The beautifully colored male with the twisting horn quietly moved a few steps toward the rock.

The Kailan brought a white orb up with his tail and it suddenly sprang into a flitting, twinkling shape, bringing a 'oooo' from the crowd.  The glowing pixie darted around the Kailan's head before he pushed it with his tail toward the Terran below.  It then zigged down and hovered in front of Caoin's face before grabbing his horn and landing on his muzzle.

*To you, Caoin, I give this Ancient Treasure Pixie.  It may give you a few trials at first, but it always seeks treasures from the past.  Anything of age and value will draw it.  May this pixie lead you on many adventures and grant you discoveries lost to time.

*You also possess a hidden gift, Caoin.  With time, you could develop your mind farther and unlock skills such as empathy or even teleportation.  Your bond has planted the seeds; you need only to embark on a mission to unlock them.*

Caoin nodded his head ever so slightly, still entraced by the bright pixie standing on his nose, then carefully backed into his previous place.

The Kailan watched, then nodded to the Green Arboreal female.  *Pihlajatar, come forward.*

The Green seemed so full of cheerful energy; it was hard not to wonder if maybe she should be the Sunshine in the clutch.  She fluttered forward and chriped happily, bobbing her head to the Kailan.  Then, she fixed wide black eyes on him expectantly.

The Kailan pulled forth a beautiful ribbon of silk.  *This is a Pink Silken Bow.  It will ease the start of friendship between you and others... not that you need it.  Through their friendship with you, your friends will discover healing and light.  You will inspire health in those you love, and this is a great gift indeed.*

The Green took her ribbon, careful that it not touch the ground, and slithered back into line.

Finally, the Kailan called forth the brilliant Sunshine.  *Djose Kianga, please, come forward.*

The Sunshine gracefully slithered forth, flaring her wings slightly and arching her neck in a respectful bow.

*Your nature is of the sun and air, but your heart lies below the ground.  To you, I grant a Sunflower Tattoo.  This marking will link you with the earth you so love and the plants that grow from it.  Just as the sun provides life to the earth, so will you inspire health in all that grows from the soil.  In return, the earth will give you strength, so that in darkness, you will not be lost.  May you continue to grow stronger over time, just as the mighty forests.*

The Kailan suddenly nodded to a Green Terran who had been unobtrusively watching from one side.  She stepped forward, a beautiful yellow sunflower grasped in her mouth.  When she reached Djose Kianga, she paused and took the bloom in her talons.  Pressing it to the shrapes neck, she murmured quietly to herself.  As the gathered assembly watched, the flower seemed to melt into the Sunshine's skin, growing and weaving vines and blooms down her neck to her shoulder.  There was a collective sound of surprise and awe at the magic.  When it was done, a brilliant tattoo graced the young dragon.  The Green Terran bowed to Djose Kianga, then to the Kailan, and silently moved back into the crowd.  Djose couldn't see what had occurred, but from the gasps of the crowd and the look on her bondmate's face, she knew it must be impressive.  She felt good and warm inside, and the ground beneath her suddenly seemed alive.  It made her feel as good as the most brilliant sunlight could.  She moved back into line happily.

The Kailan flared his wings and turned his gaze to the three new Bishen.  *You are now Bishen of the Machesri Clan.  May you continue your journeys and find peace and happiness.  As far as you travel, never forget that you are always welcome here at Bishen Realm.  Now, go and continue your adventures.*

The Kailan nodded his head, and there was suddenly a flurry of conversation and excitement.  Those who had attended past Shantels knew the ceremony was over and rushed to greet the new members of the Clan.  With many joyful congratulations, the Eleventh Shantel of Bishen Realm came to a close.
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