Memories - Caele Agarwath 2

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- - -» {[Memories – part two.]}

     - Wolves;;
Caele, age 23 [human equivalent: age 15]
  Year; 12,966.
Somewhere near Icemark.
Inspiration: ...Do you really want to know? Watch out, this one's a vent. n__n;;;
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So very cold...

Icemark. Or very near it. Driving snow pelted the boy's shoulders and back as he stumbled through the blizzard, breath billowing out in front of him in visible clouds. He wore his armor and a simple fur cloak - white, like the snow - but nothing else to protect against the numbing chill.

He'd been stuck for nearly three days. Hardly any food.. And the worst? He was being followed. With another uneasy glance back, the boy squinted through the blizzard to make out a few blurry shapes moving - and stopping - as he did. So stupid... so damn stupid! His quest... his chosen quest, given a whole eight years after he had been taken aside by Anulo. There was a small sapphire hidden somewhere out here in the snow. He had to find it.

And bring it back to D'issan.


Mental contact was beyond him; he couldn't send telepathic messages nor receive them, for he had not yet learned the art. Beyond help, nowhere to go, lost and alone...

And followed by wolves.

I'll get through this, he told himself defiantly, I have to! I have to find the gem, I have to, I have to... But still, there was no way he'd be able to find a small blue object in this storm. He could barely see the wolves behind him let alone a sapphire. The world lay under a white blanket; the only way he had been able to tell what's following him was that a few of the canids had differently colored fur.

He had to make camp somewhere soon. He glanced back again, shivering, to note the pack had come no closer. They watched him... and were seemingly unafraid that he knew they were there. Deciding this as good of a point as any, he knelt and pulled off the pack off his back, shaking the snow from his shoulders. Pausing a moment to draw the cloak tighter around him, he opened the pouch and took out a small canvas. Placing it on the ground, he pulled another out and a few short sticks. With a quick word of Leanfir - the magic of the drow, learned in secret between training - he froze the sticks together and stretched the canvas over them, forming a tent he could crawl into and be protected by the storm.

He drew his sword and crawled inside, sealing both ends with another spoken word. Exhaustion both from the use of magic and his hard trek took over, forcing the thought of food away in light of sleep. Setting the blade beside him, Caele closed his eyes and tried to ignore the cold, frost spiderwebbing in the corners of his tiny green tent.


He awoke a few hours later to howling; jerking awake, he reached for the blade -

- the blade that wasn't there. With a sudden shock, he stared at the place it had been and shot up. There was a hole in the canvas about a foot long and wide, ripped raggedly on the edge that wasn't wind-ravaged. Those... those damn wolves stole the sword?! N... No! He had no protection! Leanfir wouldn't, couldn't be used as a weapon. He just hadn't trained enough.

Bad situation.

He scrambled from the tent and into the driving blizzard, one arm thrown over his eyes to block the snow. He vainly sought his sword in the snow; but it was gone. They had taken it. His situation worsened.

A sitting duck among the wolves.

An hour passed. Caele picked up the tent and shoved it in his pack, bordering on the edge of panic. He stared into the driving snow and tried to glean sight of his stalkers - eyes. So many eyes. Amber and yellow, brown and blue, green and red; irises of all colors staring at him through the whiteness, through the snow, filled with lust for blood. Unnerved, the boy took a step back, uncertainty and fear threatening to render him motionless.

But now wasn't the time. He shook his head and boldly stepped forward, eying the russet one - the closest - warily. Walking cautiously, Caele moved on and drew his cloak tighter around his shoulders, wind biting harshly and faster against his face.

Another hour. And another. He walked through the endless blizzard mindless of direction, tiredness driving caution farther and farther away. He cursed himself quietly; he had left the pack behind with what little food he had left, the rest of his supplies. Damnit. Pausing to glance behind at the following wolves, he turned -

- and discovered nothing but colorless, windswept ice. The wolves had disappeared; where had they gone? Had they finally given up? More than uneasy, Caele slowly knelt, unable to stand any longer. He dug a small, quick pit in the ground and hunkered down inside of it, drawing his knees up to his chin in attempt to get warm. Sleep came at last as the light faded, bringing with it dreams of dragons.

Dreams that held the howling of wolves; a close snarl. Too close.

Pain shot through one wrist; he awoke with a cry and scrambled backwards, trying to get away from whatever had his arm. Blinking away tears, he looked up - right into a pair of burning eyes. Wolf eyes.

The russet colored one, the alpha, had him by the wrist. Growling, the beast had sunk its fangs into his flesh to the bone, trapping him. Panic clawing into a scream, Caele struggled to get free, suddenly aware of other growls around them. They hadn't gone - they had snuck up behind him. No! How could... he couldn't... animals can't do this...

The wolf gave a sharp tug and dragged him from the hole, making the boy yelp in pain. He fought and hit the canid's muzzle with his free hand, trying to break away; no use. Everything he tried -

- the wolf let go. With a ragged gasp, Caele lurched backwards and stumbled, falling to his knees in the snow. Blood spattered the white as the slavering russet alpha stalked around him, others joining in a ring. Terror froze the young drow's limbs, numbed his mind into immobility; there was nothing he could do. They were going to kill him! They would kill him and he would never get back, never be able to fulfill his promise...

No thought could come closer to fact. Not seconds later a grey wolf with a rough, wild pelt leaped onto his back and shoved the boy into the ground, sharp fangs biting at his shoulder. Pinned. Caele gave a choked cry, breath driven from his lungs.

Trapped. Wolves surged around them both, barking and yapping while their alpha stood atop his prey. He lifted his bloodied muzzle and breathed in to howl, leaving Caele - for the moment - able to use his unpinned arm. Thinking quickly and starved of air, he fought back a wave of nausea and fear to twist around and stab at the canid, using the points of his wristguards as a weapon. Howl turned to yelp; the wolf leaped away, blood seeping from a wound on his flank, wrath burning in his eyes.

He drew himself up shakily as the rest of the pack drew away, forming a tight circle around the two combatants. Caele fruitlessly searched for a weapon he could use, clutching at his torn wrist. There was nothing... nothing but snow and wolves. The alpha stalked closer, circling him; he tried to take a step back and was rewarded with a nip to the heels for it.

Holding back terror by a hairsbreadth, the young drow willed himself to remain calm. He stared the wolf eye for eye and fought his gasping breath, finally halting the tremors that ran through his shoulders. "I have to win," he murmured - one of the wolf's ears pricked forward and lay flat once more. "I have to."

There wasn't an answer. How could a wolf speak? In silence broken only by the pack's soft growls, both eyed the other, looking for an opening.

It came too soon. Caele stumbled over a small hillock with a sharp gasp; the alpha's attack was immediate. He felt heavy paws strike his back and fangs sink deeply into his upper arm, rolling to take the fall. He managed to knock the wolf off of him and scramble to his knees, thoughts racing. If he could beat this one, if a miracle would happen... would he be safe from the others?

Hardly. At a snarl from their leader, the rest of the pack converged; Caele screamed raggedly and tried to protect his face with his arms, fangs tearing at him from all sides. Sobbing in pain, he curled into a ball, covered in ravenous wolves.

My promise is broken, he thought, as unconsciousness surfaced to claim him. He fought it tiredly, world blinking in and out. The wolves snapped and bit at him, tore at his back and ravaged his arms; but he had already stopped fighting. His eyes fluttered close, jerking when another attack savaged his already-torn wrist; he felt himself dragged forward, but didn't care. What else was there to fight for? He had failed. He had tried; and this had been decided as his fate. He would die in the ice.

The drow opened his eyes again, new snow spiraling down from a slate-grey sky to swirl across the blood-painted canvas, touching the wolves' pelts with a dusting of white. The russet male drew away and growled at him; the boy had stopped moving. Caele let his eyes close. The pack had been called off. He was as good as dead. His family would do fine without him.

As he drifted into the darkness, someone called to him; he heard a voice. Standing in a world of shadows swirling and shot through with light, he turned to look, silver eyes searching for the one who had spoken. He saw brief glimpses of images flickering before him: Fyndel struggling through the snow, searching for him; his mother and father talking over the fire, embracing with tears in their eyes; Rennati holding her stuffed dragon - a toy Caele had helped their mother make - close, crying into its plush golden scales.

The voice called again; it was faint, distant. Caele jerked his head up, eyes shimmering to meet those of a beautiful drakess, her blue scales colored with all hues of sapphire. She smiled down at him and flicked her tail forward to catch one of his tears, letting the drop roll off a slender horn and to the obsidian ground.

"What have I done?" Caele whispered, haunted by the visions. He stared up into her eyes and felt his knees give way, trembling with fear and hatred - hatred at himself. "F... Fyndel's out there... Rennati..." He choked, unable to feel her tail as she lay it across his thin shoulders. "Sc... Scylla..."

"Shh," she said quietly, looking away. "It is not your fault, little one; you've chosen to fight the world." Silently, the Goddess slipped forward and into the swirling light, letting it wash across half-spread wings. "You have always wanted to prove yourself to everybody, Caele - and you have, a hundred times over. The task they gave you was fruitless and vain.

"They wanted to be rid of you, the Authoritarians. D'issan's Council is corrupted by a strain of greed." A soft smile. "It is not your time to die just yet."

He blinked and wiped away his tears, looking up at her with wide eyes. Had she just said...? That meant he wasn't dead. But this place, wasn't it the Void? Wasn't that the path to the Soulplane?

"It is," she said softly, rocking back on her haunches. She looked for all the world like a cat sunning itself in a window; it would have been comical without the circumstances. With a sigh, she folded her wings. "Yes, little one; I can tell what you think here. You had accepted death... but I will not let death accept you."

An echo; shouting whispered across the Void, mixed with the yelps and snarls of angry wolves. Caele got to his feet, surprise on his young face. Scylla moved silently to his side and touched his shoulder with her muzzle, feeling him shudder. "Your brother has come looking for you," she said quietly. "He fears for you... he thinks you are dead."

More images. He saw his brother surrounded by the pack, standing over a crumples form - himself, Caele realized - a gleaming sword held in one hand. He fought the russet alpha and struck hard, throwing the wolf off; he stumbled and fell away, yelping, whilst the rest of the pack mulled among themselves. As the big male drew back into his fellows, Fyndel knelt and lay his sword carefully to one side, eying his enemies warily. A few moments more and he had taken Caele's broken form into his arms, wolves all but forgotten.

He had never seen his elder brother like this. Breathing hard, Caele wanted to shrink away and hide from the horror on Fyndel's face; only Scylla held him back, held him from running. She supported him and the light around them grew brighter, brighter and brighter until the images has all but faded completely... And then, there was only whiteness.

Pain. Agony seared through him - then ebbed. White blinked out and returned to shadow, feeling slowly returning. Instead of the Goddess' tail on his shoulders, he was held in someone's arms - with a shuddering, painful breath, he forced his eyes open slowly and waited for his vision to clear.

Fyndel's face came into focus. He smiled with relief and light returned to his eyes, the weariness fighting had brought fading at last. "Caele!" he cried, "she was right, you're okay... thank Scylla, you're alive!"

Caele managed a smile himself. He trembled as his brother helped him into a sitting position; with a measure of surprise, he realized his injuries were gone. The boy examined one shaking hand. There weren't even scars...

Someone chuckled. He looked up into the steel-hued irises of the dragoness that had saved his life, gratitude rendering him speechless. She waved her tail; there was no need for words. Fyndel nodded his thanks as well; the Goddess crouched and leaped skyward, wings driving her into the clouds and away.

Even the wolves had gone. Three remained, silently watching; Caele paid them no heed. He looked over at Fyndel and sighed, his soft smile fading. Suddenly, Scylla's lingering warmth wasn't enough to force away Icemark's cold. "I failed the test," he said quietly, as Fyndel rubbed his shoulders companionably. "I didn't find the sapphire..."

This time it was Fyndel's turn to chuckle. He helped Caele to his feet and made sure his little brother could walk before pointing towards where the three wolves had trotted over to. Close to where Scylla had stood; exactly so. Curiosity overcoming his grief over failing, he clutched his cloak closer and walked nearer, pausing a few feet away from the canines.

Fear stirred through him. He was afraid of the wolves... When the biggest, a steel-colored female, turned to look at him the boy winced and stepped back, eyes wide. They didn't look like they would attack him. Not at all; but those others...

Fyndel lay a hand on his shoulder. "These ones are Scylla's," he said. "They won't hurt you. Go on... The Goddess found something she thought you might like."

Caele glanced back at his brother; a smile crossed the older drow's face. Reassured, he inched towards the wolves and looked to what they surrounded. The dragoness' claws had scored the snow deeply; and within one of the walls, a tiny spot of blue sparkled with its own light. Mystified, the boy reached hesitantly into the rift and let his fingers close about the orb, pulling it out with a gasp.

The wolves, their task complete, turned and jogged away. He stared at the glittering crystal in his palm; he... had passed.

A small grin spread across the boy's exhausted features. He didn't notice the cold and let loose a glad yell, holding the gem aloft; tears of relief built in his eyes and threatened to spill over, turning silver to polished steel. Fyndel unwrapped a scarf he wore underneath the warm cloak he donned, gently laying it across his sibling's shoulders. Caele shivered, still smiling, and wrapped it around his neck, grateful for the warmth.

The Goddess had made her intentions clear; they would return home.

At last.

     - Feline Interception;;
Caele, age 47 [human equivalent: age 16]
  Year; 12,990.
Inspiration: OKAY. So this one was a mixture of long thoughts, plotting, good music and... believe it or not... ants. :D YES. ANTS. AHAHAHA FEAR THE HELL OF ANTS THAT IS BLAZEH ! /types-
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It had been several years since the wolf attack in Icemark; more than two decades, in fact. Yet Caele had grown little; drow age slowly. He was an inch and a half taller than he had been, and now trained six out of seven days each week with Anulo in swordsmanship and his general studies, mere months away from gaining High Rank. He had passed the initial sevenmonth training period with flying colors and had moved on to harder tasks.

Things were going well. While he had not overcome his fear of wolves - there were a few drow with half-wolven dogs - he had pushed the attack to the back of his mind. Caele was going to be a knight soon; and after that, he could work his way out of his father's Authoritarian influence and travel abroad.

Thinking of his future, Caele walked along the hallway that led to his room, pausing by the door to lay a hand on the curved handle, fingers curling around the intricate metal. He had heard something; silver eyes flicked down the hall and caught a little girl narrowly miss her turn for speed, running as fast as her legs would carry her towards him. "Caele, Caele!" she shouted - she skidded to a stop, panting, eyes dancing with light and excitement. "I passed my first test under Uncle Seflar!"

Rennati neared thirteen; about nine and a half in human years. At little over five feet, the girl came to her brother's shoulders, hair done in tight curls around her face falling flat down her back. A gold-brown dress rustled around her knees embroidered in silver; a tiny pendant, a metal dragon curling in on itself, hung from a chain around her neck.

Caele returned her smile softly, kneeling so she could throw her small arms around his neck. Laughing, he hugged her back as the girl chattered on about her teacher - their uncle, Seflar, a wandering illusionist - and how he was so surprised at her abilities. The drow boy rose; she clung to his hand and practically danced beside him while he opened the door to his room, unwrapping the scarf from around his neck and handing it on a nail near the doorframe. He had worn it often since the incident in Icemark; a deep, forest green, it was thin and warm and suited his dark green clothing perfectly. He chose not to wear the customary black most wore when not in training, though Anulo insisted upon it at all other times.

"Father's coming home tonight," he said, smiling down at her. The girl bounced with glee and squealed, before he was allowed his hand back. "Mother says we'll be able to have dinner together with him before they ride away again. You can tell him then -"

"I wish I could tell him now," she cut him off, too excited to stand still. His sister ran and jumped up on his bed, mussing the covers as she pretended to be a tunnelsnake. "I wish I could sneak up on him at one of the meetings, then - boo! I'd scare him and hide myself with a illusion. Wanna see? I can do a illusion of a snake!"

Caele chuckled, pulling one glove off to massage his palm. "Sure, Ren; I'm sure your snake's pretty scary."

"It is, it is!" She sat up, face squinted comically. Her, silver like his, eyes flashed once -

- Caele was knocked off his feet as the ground underneath them gave a sudden lurch. He stumbled and fell with a gasp, Rennati screaming while she clung to the nearest bedpost. He struggled to his feet quickly, eyes wide with shock. The ground stopped shaking; there was shouting outside, wails and... a roar? "Rennati, come on!" he shouted, darting forward to take her hand.

He had to get her to safety... whatever was happening, he had to get her to the upper levels. Caele helped her up and gave her a reassuring smile; it didn't touch his eyes. They ran out of the room - he snatched the scarf from its place on the wall - and jogged down the hall, nearing the stairs. Murmuring words of comfort, he flung the scarf around his neck and drew the thin sword at his side, slowing to a walk at the first landing before the steps started.

"Stay here; I'm going to check what's going on," Caele said quietly, squeezing her shoulder before moving up the stairs. She stared after him, frightened - but her brother would come through. He always had.

D'issan was in chaos. Caele reached the top and blinked in surprise: drow ran from the gates far ahead; massive screeching beasts followed some of them, saber-fangs flashing as the bore down on their victims. Horrified, he stood as one frozen; he couldn't move. They needed him, and he couldn't move. Rennati needed him... they had to get to the upper levels and the central tower.

Where was Fyndel? The thought stayed with him as he reached Rennati, taking one of her small hands in his own. "We have to go up there," he said anxiously, breathing hard from his run down the stairs. He took a moment to catch his breath and ran a hand through her hair, tousling it, then wrapped the scarf around his neck and hung his half-mask from a cord, tossing the trailing edges over his back. "We'll get through this; I'm going to take you to the High Tower where Father does his meetings; then I have to go find Mother and Father both, as well as Fyndel." He wiped a tear from her cheek. "Everything will be fine, Ren. You have my word."

Together they climbed the stairs and snuck past a knot of the battling beasts - Caele recognized what they were with a jolt. "deathcats," he whispered, pulling Rennati into a sheltered alcove. He gathered her into his arms and sank into the shadows as best he could, the silent paws of one such deathcat prowled by. They froze, silent - but it did not notice them. Caele had to close his eyes against the screams of its next victim, terror making his shoulders shake.

Dazed, he rose and slipped around the next corner with Rennati in tow, breath coming in ragged gasps.

The next breath caught. A sharp growl met with a challenge rang across the room they'd stepped into. Caele pulled Rennati behind him and tightened his grip on the sword, eyes widening as he fixed gazes with Fyndel across the way. A deathcat faced off with him, snapping at the white blade his brother wielded. There was a clang, the sound of metal striking flesh and a scream - the Cat's. It fell with a thud, head severed from its body. The screech faded.

Caele grasped arms with his elder sibling in relief, then took a step back and swept his blade to the guard position as Fyndel and Rennati embraced. The elder drow reassured their little sister and rose to stand at Caele's side, golden eyes meeting silver in silent communication.

Don't be afraid, Fyndel seemed to say. We'll get through this. Think of it as another training lesson.

I will, Caele returned soundlessly. I have to.

A snarl made both brothers turn, Rennati clinging to the end of Caele's scarf. He pulled the half-mask over his mouth and nose, hefting the sword as a deathcat prowled from the shadows.

Another joined it.

A third.

Fear danced in the eyes of all three siblings while they faced the predator trio. There was just one thing holding them in front of this impossible threat. Rennati clung to her brother in fright too great for words, silent tears spilling from her wide eyes. Caele and Fyndel put themselves between the deathcats and their sister, white and silver blades catching the light.

Murder glinted from the eyes of all three beasts. No animal, feline, prey-eater or no, should have had that look. These cats were too smart.

One leaped at Caele as Fyndel engaged another, batting at the boy's sword with paws bigger than any lion's. He stumbled back and took a swipe at his opponent's flank, determination fighting paralyzing terror. He was too slow; the deathcat swung wide and shot over Caele's guard, sending the sword spinning across the cobblestone.

Those eyes fixed on Rennati. Caele gave a shout and tried to draw its attention on him while his sister hid behind an overturned table. The eyes flicked back to him; a flash of movement and a scream, the metallic scent of blood... Caele was on the ground, pinned beneath paws sporting four-inch long talons sharp as knives. He tried to protect his head as the deathcat tore at his shoulderblades with saber-fangs. Fyndel ran towards them, pursued by the third and second cats.

His second pursuer broke off... headed towards Rennati. Caele fought to get free grimly, pulling a dagger from his belt to stab at the feline's paw. He sobbed with the pain but held on; I have to protect my sister!

Fyndel whirled, slashing at his own opponent, before turning to face Caele again. Their sister's scream shattered the air; Caele struggled wildly and closed his eyes, pain flashing red and white in his vision. The deathcat pressed down on his back to restrict the boy's breathing, bloodied muzzle half-open inches from its prey's tender throat. The thing hadn't even seemed to notice the dagger wounds on its massive paws.

He couldn't breathe, could barely move; Fyndel was going after Rennati, right? Caele felt the dagger slip through his fingers, made a grab for it - but the Cat sent it skidding away with one paw, tongue lolling in a silent feline laugh. Colors swirled maddening and disintegrated into dull shades of grey and white, shadows banished in some cruel form of semi-consciousness.

Rennati's second scream brought him back. Caele forced his eyes to remain open, forced his vision to focus, to look, to see - and what he did see drove a spike of fear deep into his heart. Fyndel fought two deathcats a little ways away from where Rennati had hid; as the drow boy watched, his brother was disarmed and flung against a wall, sharp crack of breaking bone reverberating through the tight plaza before he slumped to the ground. Silence, broken only by his hard breathing, the low growling of deathcats, fell over the room like a blanket.

Two sets of eyes turned to face him. A third appeared, placing strong front paws on the table Rennati had hid behind. No, Caele thought through the panic and fear. No! She can't be...!

Sudden rage blossomed in his chest. Struggles renewed, Caele fought to throw the Cat off of him - a vain, impossible task. Fury flared in his eyes. "Get off of me," he shouted raggedly, desperately. "Let me go!"

The deathcat almost looked surprised at its prey showing such strength - so surprised that, unbelievably, its hooked claws slackened. Caele wriggled free and clutched at the dagger, twisting around and slashing at the Cat above him. Pain racked through his shoulders and back, black dots danced across his field of vision - but he could still see. Could still fight.

He had to. The deathcat roared in fury and drew away, blood spurting from where the knife had caught its eye. Caele stumbled to his feet and staggered into a run, fear rampant in his eyes. He reached the table and ducked as the Cat there leaped, hearing the whistle of claws just over his head. Caele heard the others whirl and run towards him, the click of talon on stone - he fell to his knees on the other side of the wooden barrier, sobbing breath choked, freezing.

Rennati. Rennati.

Abandoning thoughts of the creatures a few yards away, he took his sister's broken body into his arms, tears filling his eyes and spilling over to plop against the cool, bloody stone below. She wasn't moving, hardly breathing... there was only one thing he could do.

The first Cat reared up, claws set upon the table; he drew a tiny silver leaf from a chain around his neck, snapping the thin cord, and held it up shouting something in drow. A flash of light blinded the feline, made it squall in fury - Caele was rammed to the ground by its flailing paws.

The metal leaf tinkled to a stop a few inches from Rennati's still hand. Silver light touched in green surrounded it, whirled around it, then curled out to brush the girl's fingers. Instantly, her shallow breathing halted with a sigh, blank eyes losing their color. Her head lolled to the side and, before sight left her, she caught a glimpse of her brother struggling... then, darkness.

The same darkness that claimed Caele's vision. Slashed and beaten, unable to strike at his attackers, the boy crumpled underneath the Cat's furious claws. He struggled no more, didn't see the flicker of light nigh a foot away, nor the young Elven eyes wide with fear when they met the deathcat's terrible stare...

     - Dragon Friend;;
Caele, age 72 [human equivalent: age 16 (two years added because of Heartwoodian time flux)]
  Year; 13,020.
Somewhere on the Soulplane.
Inspiration: So after writing lots of drama and death and blood and gore (whee!), I thought it might be time for a little change. xD And I was reading over old BTACD recordings when I came across Saudi and Fyndel, Caele's brother, talking; I though "oh Five I miss that dragon D;". I read more and made up my mind: I was going to write a peaceful scene between good ol' Saudi and Caele chatting. Maybe a little more, you'll have to find out! Oh, and I should mention... This isn't completely pointless fun. c: The last part you can't read until *after* I get to have fun in BTACD. Watch out, r-playahs. Blazeh has big plans. /cackle-

And please, Dark, if I totally screwed Saudi's personality or description, beat me over the head and tell me to change it. xD I went off of what I remembered and what I gleaned from rereading stuff, eheh. n____n;

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Caele sighed, leaning back against the tree he stood by. He watched as Time's beating wings faded into the white distance, disappeared into the clouds, then closed his eyes. Peace - this was true peace. Peace he hadn't known in Vystriana.

Vystriana; how were the others doing? The thought never left him alone. No matter how hard he tried, the boy could never forget the happenings on his home Realm. But there was nothing he could do dead. Not since Linath sealed the Soulplane.

Still. Caele waited a few moments more and pushed away from the tree with a sigh, walking to kneel beside a small pool a few feet away. He brushed the still water with his fingertips and thought of Kalorin - the surface clouded for a moment, then cleared, but all it showed was a flat grey backdrop. Again.

Something was blocking him from seeing her; from knowing whether or not she was yet alive. Frowning, Caele thought of another friend - Arnus, this time. What he saw made pain flicker in his grey eyes. The Elven dragonrider that had saved him so many years ago lay huddled in some dark corner, chains wrapping his wrists so tightly they bled. He trembled, terrified, staring at something out of Caele's sight.

He let the image go, rising. Caele lifted his gaze to the skies and sighed, expression pained. There was nothing he could do - he had been killed. A humorlessly wry smile crossed his lips. His killer was the one he looked over just now: his best friend.

The steady thud of wingbeats interrupted his thoughts. The smile grew and he turned, silver eyes meeting amber as Saudi landed gracefully, wings sweeping wisps of mist away from around his claws. The dragon was magnificent - a great Gold, scales shimmering in the morning light, each polished to a sheen nearly impossible to get without hours of work. A thick mane ran down from the drake's scaly brow down his arched neck, creamy white.

Caele smiled. "Saudi," he greeted, striding to the dragon's side. He lay a hand on the Gold's flank and sighed, averting his eyes. "I'm worried..."

"Stop it," Saudi rumbled, nosing the boy's shoulder. "Worry breeds despair. Do not far for our friends in Felnova -" a pause "- or do you wish to visit them?"

"I can't." He shook his head, frown deepening. "I'm not supposed to leave the Spirit Realm. Time told me not to, anyways."

"And you follow rules," Saudi said. He flicked his tail. "Come. You and I have not flown since during the Demon War. I will not have my rider flightless as long as he stays in these Realms of relative peace."

As the Gold had known, his words brought a grin to Caele's face. With a brief hesitation, the boy jumped to the dragon's back with Elven grace, settling in the hollow just in front of the wings. Chuckling, Saudi raised his wings to the sky and crouched, advising Caele to hold on tight - takeoff time.

Caele twined his fingers in the drake's mane and leaned close, eyes flicking to the horizon they faced. One wingbeat, two, three - they were soaring. He closed his eyes and lay his head on Saudi's neck, reveling in the speed, the wind dancing across his bonded's scales, tugging at his clothes. Looking down, the Soulplane lay below them like a map shrouded in mist - a map growing smaller and smaller with each second that passed.

Saudi smiled slyly. When Caele was distracted, he dipped his wings and went into a dive, twisting through a column of cloud, jovial roar joined by Caele's whoop. He sped up; amber eyes narrowed, body streamlined, a golden arrow streaking through the air. "Hold on!" he growled, then flipped again. Caele closed his eyes and grinned, tall white grass touching the bottom of Saudi's wings as he skimmed the ground upside-down. It was perfection.

The Gold righted himself and slowed to a leisurely pace, looking smug. "We may not have enemies to trail through the sky," he said, craning his neck to catch sight of his rider. The wind tugged at his mane, tossing it around like a fluffy plaything. "But there is no reason to stay bound to the earth for eternity."

Caele nodded. "If I had wings," he said softly, thoughtfully, "I would take up racing."

"I doubt you'd beat me," Saudi replied airily, flicking his tail through the air with a whistle. "I am, after all, a dragon. We dragons do not need to flaunt our prowess in simple races - competitions in hunting, however, we excel at."

"Were there other dragons in the desert you lived in?" Caele asked abruptly, curiosity glimmering in his eyes. Saudi glanced back and raised an eyeridge. "I know of the city there, but you've never mentioned... family."

"Where did that question come from?" Saudi asked, then looked back to the shining sky. "There are dragons everywhere in Felnova, Caele - from the mountains to the sea, the forests to the deserts. There is no place on this planet that has not been touched by dragonkind." He smiled. "It was created by dragons, after all."

"I remember a story from long ago," Caele mused, "about dragons from Felnova coming to Heartwood. Mother told me about it. They sere surprised."


"Since Heartwoodian dragons are mostly evil - the Blacks and the Greens mainly, as well as the Reds; the Whites are neutral and the Golds good, some Silvers, but that's it. A few came through a portal on accident and met one of our Blacks."

"How did they react?"

Caele shook his head. "Mainly, they just stared - but the Black was old. He told the Felnovian dragons of their war with the Elves, fighting the Golds and serving the Undead. 'Nova's dragons were shocked."

"I can't fathom why."

He smiled. "Not unduly so," Caele responded, then reached a hand up to shield his eyes from the sun. Saudi shifted his direction so that they weren't facing directly east, and Caele dropped it again. "One, a young Blue, attacked the old one; he was rewarded with a faceful of acid for his efforts. I can't remember what his name was... anyways, the three that came over couldn't get back. But unlike Verridith, who helped, they didn't want to stick around to aide the Elves in any battle. That was before-..."

When Caele didn't continue, Saudi dipped in the air. "Before?" he prompted, already guessing the answer. Rumor had it that the elder line of drow had come from Evylon; none knew where the younger originated from.

"Before my predecessor... and namesake were driven from Heartwood's walls."


Caele nodded, slowly. "It's an old legend," he said offhandedly, looking away. He looked uneasy. "About how the Dark Elves were born. I... don't think much of it is true."

"Why not, little one?" Saudi asked, pulling into a lazy spiral. "All legends have a grain of truth within them. Many legends - in Felnova, at least - are pure fact. Look at the Dark Five, for example. As hatchlings, we were told of the five great shadow powers that riddled the world with doubt and sorrow, forsaking the True Gods to rule the Realm as they wished. It was a tale told to errant dragon children, that is all. And yet, where do we find ourselves now?

"Then there is a legend of how Fang defeated Snakra in the first Snakekind war; that was several thousand years ago. But it truly happened. History, over time, loses its factual essence and descends into stories and fireside tales, frightening myths to tell hatchlings who misbehave."

"I guess it has truth," Caele said, frowning. "I didn't want to believe it - I still don't."

"Would you tell an old dragon what this fabled story is, hmm?"

The boy smiled, sighed. "You won't leave me alone until I do."

This time, Saudi grinned. "Aye, I won't."

"Thousands of years ago, Elves with dark hair and light eyes weren't uncommon in Heartwoodian society; they mixed with the golden- and light-haired ones like brothers. There was a king then, strong and proud, but he was growing slow with age. They say his mind was taking leave of him as well.

"He had two sons, both as proud as their father. The elder was made to be king after him - the other was a half-sibling to the heir, dark haired like his mother had been. His name was Agarwath." He closed his eyes, recalling the legend easily. "Both brothers had been like friends when the king was still able to lead. After a while, Agarwath got jealous of his sibling - dark ambition drove him to rash decisions. He killed Syleev, his brother.

"The Elves were stricken; the king passed away not a day later, in mourning. So they turned on Agarwath, drove him away. His family on his mother's side revolted, saying that he was framed. They, too, were driven out.

"After a while, suspicion built against all dark-haired ones. More and more violence broke out over it, families declared blood feuds - the next king, Arnus' great-great-great grandfather, banished them. All of them."

Saudi looked thoughtfully at the ground, sweeping his wings through the air twice before alighting. He shook the dew from his scales after Caele dismounted, then sat back on his haunches. His rider continued. "We fled into caves and the underground in attempt to escape, but were hunted ruthlessly. Finally, Agarwath opened a portal into Felnova - there were little under two-hundred Dark Elves left at that point. We fled into the new Realm with swords at our backs..."

The Gold waited, extending a wing so Caele could lean into its curve. The boy sighed, crossing his arms. "Agarwath was killed," he said quietly, "Halatir - Arnus' ancestor - stabbed him as he protected the last straggler. Agarwath wasn't evil," Caele said suddenly. "I don't think he was, anyway. He repented for his actions and saved our people."

"I have heard this before, I think," Saudi replied thoughtfully, head tilted to one side. "There is another version, though, that says he was possessed by some terrible demon and later defeated that darkness to save the lives of those banished."

Caele nodded vigorously. "Nobody would kill their own brother for the crown, not in Elven society," he said softly. Pausing, he turned to meet Saudi's amber eyes. "Would they?"

"Dragons would," the Gold answered reluctantly, frowning. "I have known it to happen. Every race has some shadows to atone for, I think. But I have not heard of it happening often among Elves, it is true. Tell me, Caele. Is your kind so different from ours that they would simply not do such a thing? Think about the reaction of Heartwood to their prince's murder at the hand of his own kin."

Thus they talked for an hour or more - Caele told another legend of the Elves while Saudi listened attentively, then stared in wonderment as Saudi told him the wonders of the draconic world. It was not until wingbeats on the horizon sounded did they stop.

Time circled once, dipping his great head in response to Saudi's courtly bow and Caele's greeting, landing with a flourish of rainbow scale and wing. He shook himself after folded his wings, orange beard like fire in the sunlight.

"Welcome, Great One," Saudi greeted humbly, curling his tail over the top of Caele's shoulders. The boy looked curious - and filled with anticipation. Before Saudi could continue, however, the leader of the Five shook his head.

"I am sorry, One of the Desert," he rumbled deeply, voice resonating through their bones, "to be forced into making this decision so soon - aye, I had not thought I would need to do such a thing for at least a year, if not more."

Saudi frowned. "What deed is this, Great One?" he asked, eyes narrowing. "Is it that you need my rider or I to -"

"Your rider," Time replied softly, smiling with an incomprehensible sadness. "It is time."

Caele stepped forward, eyes wide. "Did you find her?" he asked urgently, gaze pleading. "Is she... alright?"

Time knelt laboriously, laying down like a great sphinx to touch Caele's brow with his muzzle. "She lives," he said simply. "I do not know where her steps lay, but know this; she lives."

Relief colored Caele's eyes. He smiled and dipped his head, black hair falling around his face. "She's alive," he whispered. "Thank you. Thank you..."

Time smiled. "Do not thank me," he rasped, lifting his head to peer at Saudi with cool, golden eyes. "We gods do not control the fate of our people, no matter what others may believe. She lives, yes - because of her cleverness, luck and friends." His tone turned serious; Saudi's scaled brow furrowed. "If I gift you this last gift - as I cannot give another - do you promise to seek her and protect her until the last item can be brought to me? She is hidden from all eyes, even my own. Noamuth seeks the flute, for it holds the power to release Gurthril from her prison. But she is blocked as well."

Caele stood up straight, eyes narrowing in determination. "I swear on my life, and those I protect," he said solemnly; he ignored Saudi's tail tapping one shoulder. "I swear on everything I cherish - everything."

Saudi couldn't contain himself. "What are you planning?" he demanded, rarely at a loss. Caele turned to meet his eyes, pain flickering within the light silver. "Where are you going?"

The boy hesitated. "I'm going back one last time," he said quietly, the smile gone. "I'm sorry, Saudi, I thought... I thought you knew."

Saudi bristled. "I knew you were one of the god's chosen," he growled. "But there comes a time when one must let go, have respite. It is your time, Caele." In a softer tone that held just a hint of pleading, he added, "Don't leave me yet another time alone."

Caele shook his head, then crossed the distance to lay his head on the Gold's chest plates. "I'll miss you," he said, "as always. I wish you could come with me, but..."

Time was already shaking his head. "It is time," he rumbled. "Do not tarry longer."

Saudi folded the boy in a draconic wing-hug, then drew back with a hough. "I will miss you as well, little one," he said quietly, frowning. "Luck be with you."

"And to you," Caele replied, drawing into the shadow of Time's great head. The blackness clung like spiderweb. "Someday, Saudi... Someday I'll see you again. I promise."

In an instant, the process was started. Shadow surged up to envelop Caele in a blossom of ebony, black petals closing and sealing around his head. For a few moments, nothing else moved - then the flower cracked, thousands of tiny lines of light racing down the sides and top. With a resounding crack it broke open, like the shell of an egg.

A creature the likes of which Saudi had never seen stepped from within. A crooning bark, the flash of grey eyes, black scale - and it was gone.

As was Time.

Saudi roared.

part one!

Read the comments there; I = too lazy to say anything 'cept this: Hahahahaha, you guys have to wait to see how this ends. |DD

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pyromist's avatar
Yer writing is always teh pwn. &.jealous; xD