Category Archives: DragonWolves of Da’esigil

DragonWolves of Da’esigil

The DragonWolves of Da’esigil

By

Lady Adellandra

The Five Royal DragonWolves of Da’esigil: Tiernan of the North, Erinfree of the East, Veluchan of the West, and Ellisandra of the South. There was just one missing and the Central Kingdom needed a Ruler.

 

Four Siblings in the beginning: Erinfree, Veluchan, Dormane and Naechan. Erinfree and Veluchan, as well as their siblings’ consorts of Tiernan and Ellisandra, would stay behind during the Dragon’s Fall. It would prove disastrous, even when a Royal DragonWolf, Tanian, Prince of Mek’anar and son of Lord Drakkar, is found near-death on his way there.

 

He would become the Ruler of the Central Kingdom. Years after the Dragon’s Fall, when it’s found Dormane and Naechan were killed fighting in it, Tanian wonders what happened to his younger sister Anya. He has no time for pondering; for the Kingdoms needed rebuilding and repopulating.

 

The Northern and Southern kingdoms lost their King and Queen, so their Consorts get together and find something in the other that makes them see things differently; Shy Ellisandra of the South falls in love with the Strong Tiernan of the North. Soon, they ask Tanian to give them permission to join the two Kingdoms together, and join with the Central Kingdom.

 

Erinfree is lonely, even when there are things to do and a Kingdom to run – alone. In helping him, she finds he’s beginning to love her. Does she feel the same for him?

Once they get together, it’s Veluchan’s turn. Erinfree enlists him to search for Tanian’s sister Anya. Will her insanity cure his heartache, or will it take the entire DragonWolf Clans to ban together to save her?

 

Prologue: Council of DragonWolves

Chapter One: Behind Closed Doors

Chapter Two: Arrival of the Lost Ones

Chapter Three: Empire of the Dragon Nations

Chapter Four: The Royal DragonWolf Cousins

Chapter Five: A Royal Decree

Chapter Six: Against the Odds

Chapter Seven: Homecoming

Chapter Eight: The Battle for Da’esigil

Chapter Nine: The Falcon Queen

Chapter Ten: The Pretender’s Game

Chapter Eleven: Cjarsa’s Confession

Chapter Twelve: The Rescue

 

Prologue:

Council of DragonWolves

 

Four DragonWolves, one from each of the cardinal points of their Kingdoms, gathered around what was left of the Central Kingdom’s Council Room. They met in private, their peoples unknowing of what was taking place.

Tiernan Stridam, Consort-King to the previous Northern Kingdom’s Queen Dormane, was serious, his spike-tipped, dark green-furred tail twitching in irritation. He never liked waiting for anybody, especially hating that he was now head of a Kingdom he knew little about. Dormane of the North never told him what went on at these silly council meetings of the Four Royal DragonWolf Rulers. So, he was forced to wait and see.

At least he wasn’t the only one, he mused, looking across the table at the Consort-Queen of the South, Ellisandra Da’esigil. She was a burgundy DragonWolf, with bright golden eyes and a gentle personality, everything her so-called mate Naechan was not. Tiernan knew, despite the black mane of hair that covered Ellisandra’s face, the woman was shy and troubled.

On one hand, Tiernan was glad both Dormane and Naechan were destroyed years ago during what was now being called the “Dragon’s Fall,” the war that almost-destroyed the entire Dragon Nations, which included the Four Kingdoms in the Northeast. Dormane used to be a demanding member of the Da’esigil Royalty, which made her the most-hated of the DragonWolf Clans. Naechan was no better, a tyrant to his people and abusive to his so-called mate.

The painful memories of her abusive past came to his mind and he growled. There were many times Ellisandra ran from Naechan sporting bruises, welts, cuts, scrapes and broken bones. She would run to the North, more specifically to Tiernan himself, and he would secretly heal her.

Ellisandra looked up from her spot and smiled gently at him.

Tiernan smiled back, his heart skipping a beat.

Are you quite finished, Tiernan?” Erinfree of the East, a savvy grey-colored DragonWolf teased him.

One more pair of shared smiles between them and Tiernan nodded.

Aye, Sister Erinfree.” Tiernan cleared his throat.

He could hear the groan coming from Erinfree’s brother, Veluchan of the West. The royal blue DragonWolf was standing at the western position of the square-shaped table.

She is not your sister, Tiernan of the North.” Veluchan warned him.

Thank the Guardians for that, eh?” Tiernan eyed a smirking Erinfree, ignoring the blue’s remark.

Erinfree nodded tightly. “May we get on with the meeting now, Lady and Gentlemen?”

Certainly.” Veluchan crossed his arms, nodding he was ready.

Yes, My Lady Erinfree.” Ellisandra sat up in her seat and smiled.

All three pairs of eyes met Tiernan’s. “Aye, I guess.” He mumbled, seating himself.

Good.” Erinfree straightened her skirts. “Word has come from the Dragon Empire. The war known as the Dragon’s Fall has been over for fifty years, and we have been ordered to appear at Mal’estar.”

Who leads the dragons?” Tiernan asked, confused. The last he knew, Lord Emperor destroyed most of his people in a fit of Chaos and disappeared from the Nation in remorse.

Lord Emperor Draconis, of course,” Erinfree told him.

What of his Lady Empress?” Ellisandra leaned forward to listen.

She has been found, and has returned to his side.” Erinfree said softly, looking down at her hands. “That is where the information becomes interesting.”

Erin, who told you this?” Veluchan was curious. He even unfolded his arms and went to his sister’s side.

Lady Aura at Dragon’s Keep.”

Tiernan nodded, knowing exactly who she was talking about. The Lady of Dragon’s Keep was a red-haired, emerald-colored cat-eyed Sphinx-Immortal woman with small dragon’s wings on her back. Dragon’s Keep was a set northeast of the Empire, south of the Southern Kingdom that housed the children orphaned by wars.

When did you see her last?” Veluchan asked.

In the Forest of NeverYesterYear.”

Figures.” Tiernan mumbled. “The one place where you can lose yourself in the past. Wait – that Forest is in the Mystic Realms, far away from our borders. What were you doing there?”

Wondering why the Nations felt differently than they used to.”

They were felled by war; of course they would feel different.” Ellisandra spoke up, clearing her throat.

It was not only that,” Erinfree looked to each of them. “According to Lady Aura, once the Lord Emperor and his Empress reunited, they rebuilt Mal’estar on the borderline of the Mystic Realms.”

Companions of the Realm of Dreams and Draconians of the Empire hate each other.” Tiernan pointed out. “How?”

Erinfree shrugged. “I am sure we will find out once we get there, will we not?”

Who will go to Mal’estar, and who will stay?” Ellisandra asked. “We are unable to leave the Kingdoms without their Royals.”

The four looked at each other, wondering what the other three thought of the situation.

Lord Emperor sends his children, the rumored ‘Lost Ones’, Prince Kronin, and Princesses Locarra and Locanna in the morning.” Erinfree stated softly. “They will stay for three nights while Lord Emperor updates us on the Empire’s affairs.”

Tiernan frowned, heaving a sigh in deep thought. Somehow, he knew they were way in over their heads.

 

 

Chapter 1:

Behind Closed Doors

 

Erinfree was the last to exit the room. She made sure the others were safely out of sight before flying home and to her Healing Chambers in the Eastern Castle.

A very special patient was waiting for her; a Royal Black DragonWolf with markings of Mal’estar’s Empire. He was a Prince, the son of Lord Drakkar, Lord Emperor’s twin brother. He had long black hair, onyx eyes, everything about him was black, just as his father and uncle had been when they were his age.

She slowly walked to his bedside. He was still resting from the healing hours ago. She placed a hand on his head and his ember eyes flickering open to meet her silver.

Erinfree smiled. “How are you feeling, my Prince?”

The Prince nodded his head, smiling back. “Much better, my Lady.”

That is good.” Erinfree took his hand, feeling the familiar tingle of Draconian magic in his touch. “I told them, as you instructed, my Prince.”

Please, Lady, do drop the honorific.” The Prince told her. “You have been far too kind to me, and have earned the right to call me by my name.”

Erinfree smiled again, bowing. “What would your name be, my Prince?”

Tanian Dratianos.” The Royal Black made her blush. “I am named after my Grampere’s older brother Tanius who died in war.”

Erinfree nodded, blushing. Her heart skipped a beat; being able to call a Prince of Mal’estar by his given name was an honor and a privilege not given lightly.

I appreciate the sentiment, Tanian.” She tried the name on her tongue. “I am Erinfree Da’esigil of the Eastern Kingdom.”

I have arrived!” Her patient abruptly sat up and winced in pain, holding his side.

Careful not to rip the stitches.” She helped him lay back down on the bed, reaching to the bedside table to empty a potion bottle into a goblet of water. “Here; drink this, and the wound will heal quicker.”

He took it from her and sniffed it. “Down the hatch,” he said, closing his eyes and quickly drinking it.

Erinfree knew time was short, so she told him what went on at the council meeting.

Kateea, Erin.” The Prince replied. She craned her head curiously, which made him smile. “It means ‘thank you,’ in Draconian.”

The nickname somehow sounded right, coming from his lips. Maybe when he was feeling better, she could court him?

My lady, you must tell them about me.” Tanian instructed. “You cannot keep me a secret forever, for it is my destiny to restore the Central Kingdom.”

I know, and I apologize.” Erinfree looked to her claws. “I wanted you all to myself. Is that too much to ask, for secret company outside of the Four Kingdoms?”

Tanian took one of her paws and kissed the top. “As much as I agree with you, business always comes first. We will figure out what is between us later.”

Erinfree’s eyes widened, and he laughed.

I know what is in your heart, Erin,” Tanian sat up slowly, pulling her down on the bed beside him, “for it is also in mine.”

They stared at each other for a brief moment, her mind in shock as he pulled the stray clump of hair from her face. She watched as he closed his eyes, her body instantly going rigid when he kissed her. Her eyes closed to enjoy it, but it had already ended.

For now, I need my sleep.” Tanian lay down once again. “I have traveled far and fought hard. We will speak business when I awaken.”

Erinfree stood and could do nothing but nod. She stared at him for some time before shaking her head and leaving.

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

Veluchan flew to his Castle in a huff, angered by the meeting’s events. “How dare he call her ‘Sister’?” He grumbled to himself, flapping his wings harder. “Erinfree is mine, not his! How dare he? They’re not even related!”

The gentle eyes of his late-brother’s consort Ellisandra went through his mind, relaxing him.

Oh Sandy…Veluchan sent to her telepathically. I should have done more to protect you from Nae.

Velu, you did the best you could at the time, and I appreciate it.

He and Tiernan had that in common; they always protected the shy Ellisandra from Naechan’s wrath, often fighting with the Southern King. Tiernan would shield her while Naechan and Veluchan fought.

He never liked the way his own brother treated his Queen-Consort and People. He was somewhat glad Naechan and Dormane were killed in the Dragon’s Fall. Neither of them was respected by their respective peoples, the North and South always battling each other.

Veluchan shook his head of the memories, storming in his personal chambers and stripping himself of Royal Armor before seeking his hot spring to relax.

He had to admit, but only to himself; he had feelings for Ellisandra, even knowing she loved another: Tiernan of the North.

Face it, V-Chan, He scolded himself. Fire and Water simply did not mix,

He sunk his head deep underwater to think.

He loved being the Western Kingdom’s ruler. He ruled with a sometimes-kind heart and an iron fist. The Water DragonWolves had the same temperament as he, which suited him well. He had the power in him to control every aspect of the sea around his island home.

Each of the four siblings was given their positions at the cardinal points for their respective elemental powers they controlled. His close sister Erinfree, sweet, fair Erinfree of the East, was able to control the Winds of magic that surrounded her Castle at the peak of Dragon’s Knot Mountain, high in the clouds. Dormane, though she never deserved it, was able to control the earth that surrounded her cave-bound Castle in the North. Naechan, the Fire DragonWolf, was happiest in the Flaming Fields, deep in the Southern Fire Nations.

Erinfree was the only female DragonWolf left of their line, but she had no mate to continue it. Nor did Veluchan. The two who deserved it the least were allowed to claim mates. Dormane was mated to Tiernan Stridam, an Earth DragonWolf from a small respectable family in the North, and Naechan forcefully claimed his mate of Ellisandra Flamerunner by stealing her from her home and torching it. He tortured her for days until she finally gave in and agreed to be his Queen-Consort.

Not everything about Naechan was negative, just as fire was not always a bad thing. Long before the Dragon’s Fall that claimed him, Naechan often spoke of the Central Nations that connected them. He wanted to rule them as well, but knew as well as either of them of the Legend attached. Legend foretold that a Royal Spirit DragonWolf of the Empire would come and combine the DragonWolf Nations into one, naming it the Da’esigil Nation.

Veluchan did not know whether to believe the Legend or not, but one thing was true; the Central Kingdom needed a ruler to rebuild it from ruin centuries before. Though it had been years since he last stepped foot in the Central’s Castle, he was amazed by the way it was deserted, even by Her people. The sight of fallen marble buildings – once filled with beauty and held in place by magic unheard of – saddened him.

Where did the Spirit DragonWolves go? Were they all destroyed in the Dragon’s Fall as Naechan and Dormane had been?

Perhaps when they visited Mal’estar, they would find out?

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

Thank you for seeing me home, Tier.” Ellisandra said softly, hands still clasped in his. They held each other close.

You are very welcome, Sandy.” Tiernan whispered, kissing her. When they pulled back, he could sense the sadness in her demeanor. Taking her chin in his claws, he searched her eyes. “Thinking of Velu again?”

Ellisandra nodded. “He is so lonely. I almost feel sorry for him.”

His mate will find him, as we have found each other.” Tiernan kissed her again. “I must return to the North, but I will return upon the morn, okay?”

Ellisandra hugged him, holding on. “See that you do my dearest one.”

One more kiss and he was on his way home.

Ellisandra walked inside the Castle, bereft and lost in memories.

Oh Sandy…Veluchan’s sorrowful voice echoed in her mind. I should have done more to protect you from Nae.

Ellisandra sighed, sensing he was also lost in memories of the past. Velu, you did the best you could at the time, and I appreciate it.

The empathic wave of sorrow disappeared, and she felt peace in its place.

Ellisandra looked up and spied the Fire Throne that had a huge hole in the back, the charred remains of the tapestries that littered the Hall and the broken busts of Naechan that had fallen years ago.

She smiled now, remembering her first act of defiance against him. Usually, she hated violence and kept her tongue whenever he abused her. That night, he had gone too far and pushed her over her limit.

One night, he returned to her, smelling of drink and supporting a bar-wench on each arm. She became so angry at the sight and the mere thought of what he had been up to in her absence that she could no longer control the empathy-driven Fire Magic. She torched the Throne Room, denouncing her title as Queen-Consort before racing out the Castle doors and taking to the skies.

She managed to nearly run into a dark-green DragonWolf on the way. That Dark-green was Tiernan Stridam, the King-Consort to Queen Dormane of the North. They descended to a hidden meadow, and he allowed her to cry on his shoulder. He was silent and understanding, listening as she told him all about Naechan. He waited until she finished before telling her Dormane was much like her brother.

It wasn’t long before she and Tiernan became close friends, and soon, the two were joined by Veluchan of the West, Naechan’s brother. The two males vowed from then on to always shelter and comfort Ellisandra whenever it came to Naechan’s anger.

Naechan may have held her hand in mating, but it was always Tiernan that held her heart. That was something she would never give up, no matter what happened.

Ellisandra closed her eyes and held the necklace at her throat, sending an empathic wave of love to Tiernan as she retired to her quarters for the night.

I love you, too, Sandy. Tiernan sent the wave back two-fold. Do you have need of me?

Always, Ellisandra teased him gently. I will be fine, for the thoughts of our first meeting run through my mind, giving me solace in these hard times.

Think only of our love, Tiernan began with a purr, and hold in your heart that one day, we will unite our Kingdoms, bringing peace; not only to our Peoples, but our souls.

Ellisandra smiled. That is what she loved about him. He was strong when she was weak, his very words easing her ails. He always knew what to say and do. He was a true King of the North, the Earth DragonWolves respected him more than they had ever respected Dormane.

She fell asleep wrapped in warmth, not from the hearth, but the love she and Tiernan shared.

 

Chapter 2:

Arrival of the Lost Ones

 

The mood was quiet as they met in the rubble of Central Kingdom the next morning. Veluchan rolled his eyes when Tiernan and Ellisandra walked in hand-in-hand and smiling at each other as if carrying on a telepathic conversation only meant for them. Erinfree paced, playing with her tail.

If they don’t get here soon, I’m leaving.” Veluchan spoke up. He was leaning against the far-west wall with his arms crossed and frowning.

What could be taking them so long?” Erinfree stopped pacing and looked to the skies. It was as clear as when she checked it five minutes ago.

You did tell us Mal’estar was relocated.” Tiernan pointed out. “It could be that.”

Ellisandra nodded absently, agreeing.

Could be,” Erinfree continued to pace, biting her claws nervously.

Relax, Erin.” Veluchan told her. “They’ll be here.”

Tiernan sniffed.

Erinfree watched the skies again; this time, she saw four DragonWolves in flight, three black and one light blue. She raced out to greet them, the other three close behind.

When they landed, she gasped. The tall male looks exactly like Tanian!

The four Royal DragonWolves of Da’esigil bowed, instantly knowing who the blacks were. They were the rumored “Lost Ones.”

Sulheya and Kaetaa DragonWolves of Da’esigil.” The Prince spoke, his voice relaxed them, as only a Spirit DragonWolf could. “I am Prince Kronin Dratianos of Mal’estar, and the twins behind me are Princesses Locarra and Locanna.”

The Princesses bowed.

Rise and introduce yourselves, so I know who I’m talking to.” Kronin instructed.

Erinfree curtseyed, not meeting his eyes. “Majesty, I am Erinfree of the Eastern Kingdom.”

The Prince stared at her while the others introduced themselves.

Can you hear my thoughts, Erinfree of the Eastern Kingdom?

Erinfree looked up, and blinked at him.

I smell my cousin on you. You will take me to him later?

Erinfree nodded.

How odd,” The Prince craned his head at Tiernan and Ellisandra. “Is it customary for siblings to mate?”

We are not true siblings, Majesty.” Tiernan explained. “Our mates,” he spit out the word with a growl, “were destroyed in the Dragon’s Fall. They were the Da’esigil siblings, Dormane of the North and Naechan of the South.”

The Prince nodded. “I see. Once destroyed, you sought each other’s company.”

Yes, Majesty.” Ellisandra curtseyed.

As for you, Veluchan of the West,” The Prince frowned at Veluchan. “I sense your mate is nearby; you must have patience.”

Veluchan’s tail twitched in interest. “How?”

I just know.” The Prince smiled, placing his paw up for silence. “I am a Spirit DragonWolf.”

The Prince turned to the sky blue DragonWolf and spoke rapidly in a dialect of Wolf-Speak neither of them had heard in centuries.

With a fist to his heart and a nod to his Prince, the sky blue turned to them and spoke. “I am my Prince’s Sentry, Terran Leaferson. I will lead you to the Empire when my Prince decrees.”

Kronin sighed, rolling his eyes. “Terran,”

Yes, Majesty?”

Call me Kronin.”

Yes, Majesty Kronin.”

Kronin sighed again.

Perhaps we should be toured around the Kingdoms?” The twin on the Prince’s left softly spoke up.

We are here for a reason, Bratton.” The one on the right pointed out snottily.

Prince Kronin growled a quick word in Draconian, one that neither DragonWolf could understand. The word made the twin on the right growl as well.

Pleska, you two!” The one on the left stepped in between them.

After a moment, and a nod from each of them, the twin on the left stepped forward and curtseyed. “My apologies, Cousins of The Northeast. They meant no disrespect toward you.”

Erinfree smiled. “I took no offense, Princess.”

Locarra,” the twin that had been on the Prince’s left nodded. Locarra looked to the others. “Perhaps Tiernan and his mate could tour us around the Kingdoms?”

I want to go with Veluchan.” Locanna pouted.

You go with Veluchan, and I will go with Erinfree.” The Prince announced, eyeing her.

Erinfree lowered her eyes and nodded. “Certainly, Majesty.”

Great!” Locarra wrapped an arm around a very surprised Ellisandra’s shoulder. Tiernan blinked in shock at her and received a smile. “Shall we?”

Tiernan nodded, “Yes, Princess.”

Locarra giggled, winking at the on-lookers. “He’s silly.”

Locanna rolled her eyes and took Veluchan’s hand, tugging him. “Let’s go before I’m sick.”

I couldn’t agree with you more.” Veluchan mumbled under his breath.

Erinfree looked to the Prince, who smiled back, making her blush.

Shall we fly to your Healing Chambers, Erinfree of the East?”

Erinfree nodded, taking flight and rushing ahead of him as fast as her wings could go in an effort to hide her embarrassment.

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

The two were silent as Erinfree led Prince Kronin to the Healing Chamber. She stopped at the doors and turned around,

May I ask a question, Prince Kronin?”

Kronin smiled, and nodded.

How could you smell Tanian on me?”

I have a special gift I have already demonstrated with your kin.” Kronin explained. “I am able to sense the bond between mates, whether or not they know about each other.”

Does that mean?” Erinfree whispered, staring at the doorknob.

Aye, Erinfree.” Kronin placed a hand on her shoulder. “You belong to Tanian, as he does to you. Now, let’s see how he’s doing, shall we?”

Erinfree nodded, turning the knob and leading Kronin to the bed where the other Royal Black DragonWolf was sitting up. Tanian’s eyes closed and Erinfree could see the faint black-white glow of energy coming from the Royal Crest around his neck.

Erinfree cleared her throat to get his attention, but it was too late.

Tanian already sensed their presence. He opened his eyes, which widened when he recognized the Royal Black identical to himself standing beside Erinfree’s petite grey.

If Erinfree did not know better, she would have thought the two were twins.

Kro!” Tanian cried, grasping Kronin’s hand in both of his in greeting. “What are you doing here? How did you find me?”

Sulheya Tan.” Kronin greeted, his silver eyes twinkling as he tapped his free hand on Tanian’s. They pulled back and he continued. “I came on orders from both our Dratyrs, only to find your scent on the Eastern Queen.”

The cousins looked at her when she gasped softly.

You sensed it, did you not?” Tanian turned back to his cousin, leaving Erinfree very red in the face.

Not by choice, I promise.” Kronin teased. “It is a curse that I must bear.”

Tanian chuckled. “I hardly call that Gift of yours a curse, cousin; after all, you are the son of Realmbound Gods.”

Dare you remind me?” Kronin smirked.

Erinfree was amazed by the similarities between them. They acted alike, looked alike, and even sounded alike, their voices chiming in the same tone.

Tanian laughed lightly, winking at Erinfree. “She believes she is seeing double.”

Kronin chuckled; the cousin’s laughs even sounded the same.

Our Dratyrs are twins, the oldest sons of the Royal Dratianos Line.” Kronin explained with a grin. “Our Mutyrs are twins as well, the first set of DragonWolves. It’s only logical we’re going to look like twins.”

Erinfree was lost in thought, tracing the lineages of DragonWolves in her mind. There were only thirty actual family sets left. “What was the surname your Mutyrs carried?”

Mout’ella-Dranna,” the cousins chorused.

In case you are wondering; yes, Erinfree of the East, my Matéré is the Lady Empress of the Dragon Nations, Adellandra Dratianos.” Kronin began.

Erinfree was amazed, the shock forcing her to sit on the bed beside Tanian’s.

How do you feel, Cousin?” Kronin asked seriously, sitting on the bed.

I would not mind one of your special treatments to speed the healing process.” Tanian told him softly. “There is much work to be done, and we will be unable to do it if I am bedridden for much longer.”

I understand,” Kronin nodded, tapping his cousin’s leg. “I will be here for three days while Erinfree and the other Royals are in Mal’estar. I will work on you then; rather, we will work together.”

Are you sure?”

Kronin stood, staring at Tanian. “You are just as powerful as I when it comes to healing, Cousin.”

Tanian looked to his lap. Erinfree placed a hand on his cheek, making him look up at her smile.

I have faith in you, Tanian.” Erinfree whispered. “I have Felt the winds of healing in you. You can do it.”

Tanian took her hand and squeezed it, pulling her to the bed beside him. Kronin watched patiently.

Kateea, Erin.” He told her, kissing her lips. “Your words give me strength. I promise to be in full health for your return.”

Erinfree nodded when they parted. “See that you are.”

A final goodbye kiss and Erinfree left the cousins alone.

Heaving a sigh, she headed back to the Central Kingdom’s council room where she met with a very serious Tiernan, a quiet Ellisandra and a confident Veluchan. They were each dressed in the Royal DragonWolf garb that matched their cardinal colors, ready for their official trip to Mal’estar.

Terran the Prince’s Sentry silently bowed to them, leading the small group as they took flight.

It was time to act as Royal DragonWolves of the Four Da’esigil Kingdoms. The Empire was counting on them.

 

Chapter Three

Empire of the Dragon Nations

 

Veluchan, Erinfree, Tiernan and Ellisandra followed close behind Terran, watching the ground below them as it passed.

A lot has changed since before the Dragon’s Fall. Veluchan thought to Erinfree, who nodded in mid-flight, her eyes still watching the path.

I told you I sensed something different about the Nations. Erinfree remarked. Now we will find out what happened.

Veluchan sighed.

A palace made of obsidian stood tall above the surrounding lands. They flew down to the gates, where a pair of twin Draconian guards waited for them. Their spears crossed in front of them as the small group approached.

What, more twins? Erinfree asked in her mind.

Veluchan whipped his head, frowning at her.

Guards Laren and Tavin, I have brought the DragonWolves of Da’esigil to see their Majesties.” Terran saluted, clicking his heels as he put a fist to his heart and tightly nodded his head. “Let us pass.”

Aye, Sentry Terran!” the twin guards chorused together, each raising their spears.

They were in awe of the booming Marketplace surrounding them. Despite numerous merchants stopping them in their tracks, trying to sell them their wares, Veluchan felt uneasy.

Why do I have the eerie feeling I’m being watched? He thought, keeping his eyes on the path, watching for whoever might be watching them.

You are being watched, Sir.” He heard a snake-like voice whisper in his ear.

Veluchan turned to see who it was, his eyes widened at the mysterious snake-like man dressed in garb that reminded him of someone who lived in the desert. “Do I know you?”

The snake-man smiled, a twinkle in his cobra-shaped eyes sparkled in the sun as he bowed. The many rings dangling from his ears chimed. “I am Sss-Sebastian Cobrianos-sss, Royal Jeweler of the Nations-sss.”

While your company is usually a pleasure, Jeweler Sebastian,” Terran frowned. “The DragonWolves are here on business.”

Sebastian bowed again. “Sss-certainly, Terran. Pleas-se, proceed.”

Terran harrumphed. “Kateea.” He turned to the quartet. “Follow close.”

Veluchan looked back at the smile on Sebastian’s cobra-like face. Something about the man did not sit well with him; what was he hiding?

Lord Veluchan!” Terran’s voice yelled into his thoughts.

He turned to the sound of his name. The four of them were already paces ahead of him. “Sorry.”

Is this Mal’estar?” Erinfree asked as he caught up to them, walking in the palace doors.

This is the Imperial Castle, yes.” Terran told them with a tight nod. “Their Majesties wait in the Throne Room ahead. Come along.”

He sure is bossy. Veluchan heard Tiernan’s voice growl in his mind. Don’t you agree?

Yes, but we must have patience. Erinfree supplied softly.

So Erinfree is on the same wavelength as Tier now, is she? Veluchan thought on his private mind-path, twitching his tail in annoyance.

Please, Velu, calm yourself. Ellisandra’s voice scolded him gently. We are here to represent the Five Kingdoms of Da’esigil.

Act accordingly, brother. Even Erinfree did not sound happy with him.

Veluchan sighed. Very well; I will behave. He sent to all three. Else Their Majesties will believe I am my brother.

Ellisandra and Erinfree giggled at the thought while Tiernan huffed.

Darn mind-speakers,” They heard Terran mumble under his breath.

The four just smiled at one another.

Terran cleared his throat. “Right this way.”

They followed him through an oversized pair of double-doors, each seeing the Royal Family in their Thrones ahead of them.

Terran stopped, bending to one knee as his fist tapped his heart and head bowed. After a brief moment of eye-contact with each the Emperor and his Royal Black DragonWolf Empress, the four of them took that as their cue to do the same.

Sentry Terran!” The booming voice of their Lord Emperor Draconis Dratianos cried, relieved. “Rise and speak.”

Kateea, Majesty,” Terran stood. “I have come from Da’esigil with the Rulers of the Four Kingdoms.”

Wonderful!” The DragonWolf Lady Empress clapped her hands and stood.

Veluchan dared to raise his eyes to see her walking in their direction, a gentle smile on her face.

You may all rise, for you are welcome in Mal’estar.” The Emperor continued, smiling at his mate and going to her side. “You are excused, Terran Leaferson. Enjoy the rest of your day with your family.”

Terran smiled, bowing. “Thank you very much, Majesty!”

Erinfree shared a smile with Veluchan and Tiernan as Ellisandra giggled.

Now then,” The Emperor cleared his throat and eyed them.

May I, my Lord?” The Lady Empress was excited, taking her mate’s arm. “Pleska?”

Lord Emperor sighed. “Very well, Adellandra, but be quick about it. We have business.”

Pleasure to meet you all,” The Lady Empress smiled at them. The Lord Emperor rolled his eyes at her enthusiasm. “I thought my kind had all but died out.”

As you can see, my Lady Empress, we are very much alive.” Tiernan bowed. “I am—“

The Empress looked at him and nodded. “Lord Tiernan of the Northern Kingdom, consort to the late-Queen Dormane, Ruler of Earth whose strongest power is that of Healing; not only people, but the land.”

Tiernan blinked. “How did you know?”

Just wait, Lord Tiernan,” Lord Emperor rambled with a smile. “She is just getting started.”

Lady Empress went to Erinfree. “Lady Erinfree of the Eastern Kingdom, Ruler of the Winds whose strongest power lies with having a Telepathic bond to the skies.”

The Lady dared to place a hand on Erinfree’s head, her eyes closing and a frown on her lips. She whispered something in Erinfree’s ear, which only made her gasp softly. She took Erinfree’s hand and tapped it. “You will have your family, for I have Seen it.”

Erinfree bowed and whispered. “Kateea, my Lady Empress.”

The Lady clapped her hands again, smiling at Ellisandra. “You cannot hide from me, dear Lady Ellisandra of the Southern Kingdom. I know all about you and your Lord Tiernan, and I greatly approve. You have suffered for too long at the hands of one who did not love you. In time, I do believe you will both have a strong bond with your joined Kingdoms. Your greatest gift is one of your kin, for the power of the Flamerunners survives in you.”

Ellisandra smiled, curtseying.

The Lady stepped to Veluchan, who bowed. “My Lady Empress.”

Who can forget the vivacious, Lord Veluchan of the Western Kingdoms?” The Lady grinned. “Ruler of the Waters who claimed no mate and lives alone in his Island home near the sea. Kronin told me about you. Your greatest power has not yet begun to flourish, for you still harbor certain emotions within. Tame the storm within and you will find your chosen mate, wherever she may be. Only then will the Da’esigil line continue to prosper.”

Veluchan did not know what to say about that. She was right, he admitted to himself.

Thank you, my Lady Empress.” Veluchan bowed again, speechless.

You’re all welcome.” The Lady Empress announced, stepping back.

May I have a word, my Lady Empress?” Erinfree asked timidly, curtsying.

Certainly, Lady Erinfree,” The Lady smiled. “Please, do call me Adellandra.” She turned and gestured to Tiernan, Veluchan and Ellisandra. “All of you, I insist.” She turned back to an astonished Erinfree. “Go ahead, Erinfree.”

Thank you, Lady.” Erinfree cleared her throat. “I have rescued one of your own, and am treating him in my Healing Chambers.”

Who do you speak of, Lady?” The Lord Emperor shared a look with his mate.

The Lady’s nephew, Prince Tanian.”

The Lord and Lady listened intently as Erinfree told them everything she knew about the Prince she found near-death in the aftermath of a strong storm.

Veluchan stared at his sister in shock. How could she have done something like that, without his knowledge? Why didn’t she tell him about it sooner? Based only on the gentle way she spoke of the Spirit DragonWolf Prince, he believed something was already between the two of them.

Please understand, V-chan. Erinfree plead to him as she finished her story. He was in need of my help. I could do no other than to help him.

Veluchan growled lowly under his breath.

Is there a problem, Lord Veluchan?” Lord Emperor asked.

Nay, Majesty.” Veluchan apologized. “I knew nothing of the Prince’s appearance in the Eastern Kingdom until this moment.”

Lady Empress – Adellandra as she wanted to be called – looked at Erinfree curiously. “Why did you not tell your brethren? You knew of the Legacy behind your fallen Central Kingdom, yet you kept Tanian’s presence from them?”

Erinfree bowed. “I meant no harm, honest, my Lady Empress.”

I can sense that, even without my Empathy.” Adellandra said gently.

Upon taking him in as your charge, you had a duty to fulfill.” The Lord Emperor was harsh. “Why did you not do so, if you knew who he was?”

Erinfree looked down to the floor. “I know not, my Lord.”

Adellandra placed a hand on her mate’s and said softly. “I do, mia fridishda.”

Lord Emperor looked again at Erinfree after a moment of thought. “She is his mate.”

Adellandra nodded.

The statement shocked Veluchan, but he could do nothing about it.

Enough talk here,” The Lord Emperor announced once clearing his throat. “Let us adjourn to the council chambers.” He turned to those Draconians still left at the Thrones. “Dranus, Alexia, follow us. Adrian, you are in command until we return.”

Aye m’Lord.” The three chorused, moving in unison to join them as Adrian sat in the Thrones his Lord Father had abandoned.

Veluchan and Tiernan shared a look of amazement.

I knew we were in over our heads. Tiernan chimed in his head.

You don’t have to tell me, Tier. Veluchan sighed, following close behind.

 

Chapter Four

The Royal DragonWolf Cousins

 

So, cousin, tell me exactly how you arrived at the Eastern Kingdom.” Kronin remarked, gently commanding Tanian as he worked his magic over his cousin’s wounds. The silvery glow that came from Kronin’s hands warmed his body, and the pain from the scars dissipated. “The healing is taking longer than I expected.”

I’d rather wait, thanks Kro.” Tanian’s face turned red.

Kronin was confused. “Do you have a fever as well?”

Tanian shook his head. “My story is just embarrassing, that’s all.”

Kronin smiled. “By all means; I expect you to concentrate on healing.”

Tanian grinned back, mock-saluting. “Yes, sir.”

Many years have passed since we last saw one another.” Kronin asked, slowly moving his paws over his cousin’s deep wounds.

Tanian hesitated before he spoke, knowing his cousin’s past was just as heartbreaking as his own. “I heard the rumor of Lady-Aunt taking the three of you to live with the Wolf Packs in the Dream Realm.”

Kronin stopped; his voice low when he explained. “That was no rumor, Cousin.” He took a deep breath, closing his eyes.

Tanian lay a paw on Kronin’s. “I apologize; I wasn’t thinking.”

Kronin nodded. “It is quite all right.” He cleared his throat, half-focusing on his Healing magic, half on gathering his thoughts. “It is true; Mutyr did take us to the Wolf Packs of our Grandparents.” He began. “We lived there as Wolfkin, quickly growing into our powers. Gramere Serenade helped us with the Wolfkin Magic, but the Draconian was still in our bloods. You know how Grampere Seraphim despises dragons?”

Tanian nodded. “Aye, all too vividly.”

We had to learn on our own, far from the Packs and in secret.”

I can imagine.” Tanian agreed. “You did it, eventually, and survived.”

That we did.” Kronin’s voice was flat. Something was wrong.

Kro?” Kronin looked up at him; Tanian continued. “Do you still blame Lady Aunt for what she did?”

Kronin blinked out of his daze. “Nay. After we reunited, she explained, and I began to understand. She did it for the good of the Nation and the Family, despite the fact it may have been further cause of Dratyr’s shifting into Kaos.”

Tanian thought of those days as well. His own mother, the Empress’s twin sister, and the Empress fought the last he’d been to Mal’estar. His mother Adarramena wanted her twin to fight in the War against the chaos brought on by Kaos and his partner Thorn, the chaotic version of their Dratyrna – father-in-love – Lord Brakkon. Adellandra was weakened by what Serenade had called the “Vision Sickness” to fight, and wouldn’t against her beloved Draconis, Kaos’ true identity. Adarramena stormed out of Mal’estar’s castle in a huff, dragging him along with her.

Work with me, please.”

In drowning himself in memories, Tanian forgot to concentrate on healing. He reached within himself to the pulsing silvery-white ball of energy he learned was his Healing Magic.

Kateea, Tan.”

Sorry.” Tanian apologized. He smiled when one of his favorite memories came to mind. “Do you remember the day of our first summer?”

Kronin smiled as well. “The Dragon’s Fair and our grand scheme to switch places.”

It took Uncle Dranus three hours to figure out who was who.” Tanian laughed, and winced when he felt a sharp pain.

Try not to laugh too hard, cousin.” Kronin instructed, trying to keep his composure.

I know, I know.” Tanian complained. “I’ll tear the stitches.”

I must admit; they are brilliantly done.” Kronin confirmed by passing a hand over them. The glow from his hand warmed the area, and the pain was gone. “Who did them?”

Would you believe the Lady Erinfree?”

Kronin was impressed. “I have not seen such handiwork since I lived with the Companion sets years ago.” He moved his paw back to Tanian’s chest, where a long L-shaped scar was carved. “The battle scars are healing well.”

Tanian huffed. “They should be.”

Uncle’s work, I presume?”

I never should’ve accepted Father’s Challenge.” He sighed. “He is brutal.”

He and Dratyr are the eldest and best-trained sons of the Dratianos lines.” Kronin shrugged. “Of course they are brutal in combat.”

The scar over my eye was made in training, by father’s Dragon’s Fang.” Tanian growled lowly, pointing to it with a claw.

Kronin rolled his eyes. “Uncle Scar was never one to follow Draconian Law.”

No need to tell me, Kro.” Tanian moaned, closing his eyes and concentrating as they continued the healing session.

It seemed so long ago, romping around with his cousins, Kronin, Locarra and Locanna, shortly before his younger sister Anya was born. The twins were not even a summer’s old when their mother took them away from their home. It saddened him, and made him think of his past. He missed his family.

Where are they now?” Tanian asked him out of the blue.

Kronin smiled, instantly knowing who he was talking about. “Lord Uncle and Lady Aunt are living happily in Mek’anar with her three Earthbound Ancient Mystic children, their second mate Dran’a’vir and your youngest sisters, twins Harmony and Adora.”

Tanian looked at him curiously, yawning.

Kronin tapped his chest, their combined healing magic disappearing. “I will explain everything once you rest. Pleasant Journeys, Tanian.”

He knew Kronin was right; after a healing like that, he needed sleep. “Make sure you do the same, cousin. Pleasant Journeys.”

Kronin nodded, smiling before he left.

Tanian was asleep before the door closed.

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

Back at Mal’estar’s Castle, Ellisandra sat next to Tiernan in silence, listening to the Lord Emperor and his Empress explain the Nations’ short history after the Dragon’s Fall. Erinfree sat on her other side while Veluchan was on Tiernan’s.

The Monarchs told the story in the Lady’s perspective, since both she and Ellisandra sensed their Lord’s discomfort. Shortly before the Dragon’s Fall, she suffered from visions that made her sick to her stomach, her mind distorted and confused. The only thing on it was what she saw: death, discord, destruction and chaos in her beloved home. Determined to save her small family, she awoke her children in the dead of night and flew them away from Mal’estar. Once seeing her children safe in the Wolf Packs of the Mystic Realms, she ran back to the hutch-cave of her childhood to await her Lord’s return.

He never returned, and before long, the Fall had ended and she was reincarnated into another form. She was Silver Moon Cobrianos, Priestess of the Illunian Realm. At seventeen, her father Lord Xavier forced her to choose a mate. Almost as if he was drawn to a place he hadn’t visited in centuries, Lord Draconis returned. They found each other again, and on her eighteenth birthday, they married. Years later, once she had his children, she had the same visions of death, discord, destruction and chaos in the Dragon Nations, a place she as Silver had never visited. The only healer able to ease them from her mind was her own Gramere of the Wolf Packs, Serenade Mout’ella. Soon after Serenade healed her, Silver left her home of the Illunae, unable to focus on anything but her newest visions of a hutch-cave, and answering the call to travel there.

According to Lord O’Dell of the Mystic Realms, she was then found years later to fulfill what they called “Destiny” as his successor. So, she was blooded their kind – an Ancient Mystic – and sent to the Mortal Realm to live and learn her special magic on her own. After thirty years of learning her magic and fighting against his twin brother Orthos, she was reunited with Draconis once more.

Not long after they reunited and declared themselves mates, disaster struck. Orthos’ son Damian destroyed the Mystic Palace and the Elemental Towers. In order to deal with him, the newly-titled Lady Guardian of the Realms and her Lord decreed that Mal’estar would be rebuilt on the borderlines of the Nations and the Mystic Realms.

The Empress stopped in the middle of a sentence when they all heard a loud screech. She shared a look with her Lord as his brother Dranus left to investigate. In a few moments, Dranus returned, but he was behind a Black DragonWolf identical to the Empress, and another Black Dragon with a scar over his left eye.

Erinfree stood, recognizing him on-site. “Lord Drakkar!”

The Royal Monarchs stopped whatever they were going to say to stare at her. She held her tongue and blushed as she sat back down.

Good one, Erinfree. Tiernan teased her on their open mind-path so Ellisandra could hear as well.

Oh hush, Tier. Erinfree frowned in his direction.

Yes, lady DragonWolf?” Lord Drakkar asked.

Erinfree looked back up at him and his mate. “Nothing, Majesty. I just recognized you.” She nervously pointed to her eye, letting him know how she recognized him.

Lord Drakkar harrumphed. “I suppose this scar of mine is infamous by now.”

It should be,” Lord Emperor teased with a chuckle. “I gave it to you, as well as the nickname that goes with it.”

Lord Drakkar rolled his eyes, as did his mate.

Is it true, Brattona?” Ellisandra heard the Lady Empress’ twin press urgently, using the Draconian word for ‘Sister’. “Have you found our son?”

Adellandra looked to Erinfree, who continued to blush. “Not I, Sita, but the Lady Erinfree of the Eastern DragonWolf Kingdom in Da’esigil.”

The Lady’s twin’s attention immediately went to Erinfree. “You’ll take us to him?”

Not right now, she won’t, Adarramena.” Lord Emperor cleared his throat and frowned, raising his voice. “The four of them have business with us. We will all investigate Da’esigil together later.”

Adarramena frowned back, hands on her hips. “You got your children back, Draconis; now, it’s our turn.”

I agree with you, but not right now.” Adellandra placed herself in between them.

The Royal Spirit DragonWolf twins stared at one another for a moment; Adellandra’s face supported a plea while her sister’s was anxious.

Pleska, Duo-Sita.” Adellandra whispered. “This should not take too long. We are only updating them on the Nations’ history, as they’re telling us about Da’esigil.”

I’d give up if I were you, Adarra.” Lord Emperor shook his head. “She’s adamant.”

So am I.” Adarramena whispered. “But, since it is business, and I see it’s just as important, we’ll be waiting outside.” She turned around and looked to Lord Drakkar. “Come, Scar.”

Lord Drakkar happened to catch Ellisandra staring in his direction as he smiled.

When they left, Adellandra turned to her. “You are a silent one, aren’t you, Ellisandra?”

Ellisandra nodded. “Yes, Majesty. I prefer to be the silent observer rather than one who thrives on attention.”

Adellandra giggled. “Then we have a lot in common indeed.”

Adellandra,” Lord Emperor warned in a teasing tone.

Right.” Adellandra nodded, smiling at the four of them. “On with business.”

Ellisandra giggled.

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

After they were updated and Adellandra noted each of their stories in what she called “The Chronicles”, Erinfree and Veluchan were pulled aside by Lord Drakkar and Lady Adarramena.

Tiernan and Ellisandra were escorted to guest quarters by a Draconian Guard, shown where the adjoining bathroom was, and where they would sleep for the night. Tiernan noted there were three nests: a double-wide near the balcony and two single-sized across from it. The shock of seeing them was short-lived.

Of course they knew we were coming. Tiernan thought to himself. The Lady must have told the servants about us before we arrived.

He waited until they were alone to speak aloud. “What about Lord Drakkar struck your interest?”

Ellisandra turned and smiled. “His scar, mainly, and the way he allowed himself to be led around by his mate.”

Why did he smile at you?”

Ellisandra wrapped her arms around his neck. “Perhaps he knew what I was thinking, and liked it?”

Tiernan was patient with her, as always. Something about the way she stared at the Lord made him a tad uncomfortable. “Dare I ask: what were you thinking?”

We may have much in common.” Ellisandra supplied. Before he could say a word, she placed a claw on his lips and continued. “We have very loving mates; patient, kind, understanding.” His heart skipped a beat as he listened. “After hearing Lady Empress’ story, I could only imagine what torment it was for either Royal Dratianos to lose their loves. Finding them again after so many years must have been a very heartwarming experience.”

Tiernan breathed a sigh of relief, kissing her. “You gathered that, just from the Lady’s story?”

Not only that, but Erinfree’s as well.” Ellisandra’s head rested on his chest, and listened to his heartbeat. Her wings folded at her back as his wrapped around her protectively. “I only pieced it together in my mind.” She raised her head and looked him in the eyes excitedly. “To think, our Lady Sister has had the Prince under her care all this time! Isn’t it exciting?”

Tiernan shook his head in laughter. “Sandy,”

Ellisandra crane her head. “Hmm?”

He kissed her again. “We haven’t been alone in months. I don’t want to spoil it with talk; do you?”

Ellisandra purred. “I guess not.”

He looked away from her golden eyes long enough to glance toward the bathroom. “Join me, Sandy?”

Ellisandra attempted to hide her embarrassment in his chest. Tiernan laughed. “I’ll take that as a ‘yes.’”

A kiss to her forehead and he led her there for a long soak in a hot, refreshing bath large enough for two.

Erinfree and Veluchan arrived in the guest quarters two hours later. Tiernan and Ellisandra listened as they explained they would be returning to Da’esigil with Lord Drakkar and Lady Adarramena in the morning.

Let’s get a good night’s sleep,” Tiernan announced, sharing the only double-wide nest in the room with Ellisandra. “I have a feeling we’ll need all the energy we can get for the trip home.”

For once, Tier, I agree.” Veluchan grunted, heading to the bathroom to soak.

Erinfree headed to the balcony, looking out the window.

Ellisandra looked to Tiernan, who nodded, allowing her to follow. He leaned his legs over the nest and listened in as the women talked.

What did they want?” Ellisandra asked gently.

They wanted to know what I knew about Tanian.” Erinfree’s eyes were to the sky when she whispered. “What am I going to do about him?”

What about him?” Tiernan asked. “The Emperor already confirmed he was your mate.”

Erinfree turned back to meet his eyes. “What if he does not care for me as much as I do him? Just because he, Prince Kronin and the Lord Emperor believe he is my mate does not make it so.”

Put your fears to rest, Erinfree.” Ellisandra instructed gently. “Time will lead you where you need to be; have faith.”

Erinfree sighed, smiling and hugging her female companion. “Always the advisor; thank you.”

You’re quite welcome,” Ellisandra pulled away, going back to her side of the nest. “Once your brother is finished, why not soak your troubles in a bath?”

Erinfree nodded and teased. “Is that what you two did?”

Of course.” Tiernan grinned.

As if on cue, Veluchan came out of the bathroom and eyed them. He quietly shook his head and went to sleep, covering his head with a wing. The three of them met eyes and shared secret smiles before Erinfree took her bath and headed to bed.

Finally, Tiernan and Ellisandra were able to fall asleep in each other’s arms; something they have not done in months.

 

Chapter Five

A Royal Decree

 

A loud knock on the door woke them from their peaceful slumbers.

Erinfree spoke for them all once she sat up, rubbing her eyes of sleep with her furred knuckle. “Enter!”

The door creaked open, revealing a beautiful woman, part dragon, part maiden. Her long hair was the color of raven’s wings and tied up in a bun with a silver coronet. The tiny wings at her upper back were folded as she bowed.

Pardon my intrusion.” The woman purred. “The Lady Adellandra has invited you to break the fast with us.”

Thank you, miss–?” Erinfree was unable to grasp the name on her tongue.

I am the Monarch’s Own, Lady Elspeth Dratianos.” The woman bowed again. “Please hurry. The Monarchs will be awaiting your appearance within the hour.”

Thank you again, Lady Elspeth.” Erinfree smiled.

Elspeth bowed again and left the room, quietly closing the door behind her.

Erinfree stretched her wings and arms, slowly waking up. Once seeing her companions and brother Veluchan doing the same, she headed to the balcony to wait for them.

She thought of the telepathic link Prince Kronin had used to speak with her mind-to-mind and wondered if his cousin had one as well. As an experiment, closed her eyes and thought of the injured Tanian, laying in bed and healing from his wounds.

Sulheya, Lady Erinfree of the Eastern Kingdom. Tanian’s voice echoed in her mind in a teasing tone.

She smiled. Tanian’s mind-voice was only slightly different from his cousin’s. While Kronin had been astute and curious, Tanian was playful and loving.

Sulheya, my Prince Tanian Dratianos of Mek’anar. She sent back. How are you feeling this morning?

Like I could fly into your embrace, yet I will refrain for the moment. Tanian chuckled.

Erinfree’s cheeks reddened and she held them. Prince Kronin’s healing worked wonders, I take it?

She felt a ping of jealousy, yet knew how much more powerful the Prince was than she when it came to healing. He was a Spirit DragonWolf, after all. Legends said they were children of Gods and could do anything.

Without you, there would have been nothing left of me to heal. Tanian must have sensed her jealousy. You did wonders on suturing my muscles, closing the wound clean with stitches. I am almost at full-strength, but still tire easily. Both Kro and I owe you a great debt.

Her heart skipped, daring to call him by his nickname. Oh, Tan.

We’ll speak more when you return. Tanian purred in her mind. Kateea for everything, Erin.

You’re welcome, my Prince.

Erinfree’s thoughts focused on the light banter she heard from Tiernan and Veluchan. It’s good they’re getting along; however Water and Earth can without making a mess. She turned to see the three of them, Ellisandra included, playing like pups.

Time to break them up, I guess. She thought to herself before catching her brother’s eye. “We’re expected in the Dining Hall within the hour.”

We’re breaking the fast with the Monarchs?” Veluchan was astonished.

What’s so amazing about that?” Ellisandra asked. “We are Royalty too, in our own way.”

Tiernan nodded.

Correction.” Veluchan smirked at them. “Erin and I are Royalty. You’re just consorts.”

Tiernan frowned, growling lowly under his breath as Veluchan disappeared out the door.

Let him run, Tier.” Ellisandra caught his arm before he could follow, smiling. “We will show him soon enough.”

Tiernan chuckled, quickly holding her and kissing her lips. “You’re right, Sandy.” He turned to Erinfree. “Are you going to stand there, watching or are you joining us?”

Erinfree smiled, walking away from the balcony. “Definitely joining you.” She winked as she opened the door. “I don’t want to miss a minute of Velu’s teasing.”

Tiernan and Ellisandra laughed, following behind her.

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

Veluchan was silent, still as those around him ate hungrily, slowly getting to know their Monarchs. Erinfree was fascinated by the stories the Lady Adellandra told, and so were Tiernan and Ellisandra.

What’s so exciting about Realm travel, anyway? Veluchan thought to himself, spearing his fork into the heap of scrambled eggs on his plate. I’d rather stay in the Western Kingdom and not run into anything potentially harmful to my health.

Have either of you traveled out of Da’esigil before now?” Lord Emperor asked, looking to each of them.

Nay, Sire.” Tiernan answered. “Those who dared leave died in the Dragon’s Fall.”

The Lady gasped, paw on her mouth. “I’m sorry to hear that, Lord Tiernan.”

It is quite all right, my Lady.” Tiernan nodded politely, looking to Ellisandra, who blushed when he took her hand. “It worked out for the best, and we don’t miss them.”

At least, not that tyrant I used to call Brother, Naechan.” Veluchan spoke up with a growl.

The Lord Emperor huffed. “Tyranny.”

Now, now, fridishda,” Lady Adellandra softly warned him. “Think nothing of it. Lord Veluchan was only stating an opinion.”

Both Lord Emperor and Veluchan blinked.

What was that word, my Lady?” Ellisandra asked. “It sounds familiar.”

Fridishda’?” The Lady asked her, to which she nodded. “It’s Ancient Wolf-Speak for ‘darling,’ as ‘Lanta’ is the same term in Draconian.”

How long have you known Ancient Wolf-Speak?” Ellisandra wondered. “Surely, it’s been centuries since anyone has spoken it.”

The Lady Empress smiled, explaining. “I have known it all my lives.”

The conversation bored him, so Veluchan excused himself and left.

Did you want company, Velu? Erinfree asked in his mind.

No, thank you anyway sister. He thought back. I need some time alone.

Don’t go far; we’re to leave for home soon.

Veluchan sighed, walking out of the Palace. I won’t go too far.

He sensed the worry in her mind-voice, ignoring it. There was much to think about, especially now that Prince Kronin and his mother Lady Adellandra foresaw him with a mate.

Before long, he found himself at a waterfall behind the castle.

Finally, a place to think, He stepped into the water and reached his hands to the flow, closing his eyes and engrossing himself in the familiar rush of water that came to his call.

He listened to the euphony of flowing water, a smile upon his lips.

What is it you wish from thee? He heard a musical voice in his mind, the melody reaching his soul. It was feminine, comprising of many voices at once; like that of a Goddess.

I only wish to embrace myself in your beauty, Water Goddess.

The melodic female voice tinkled in laughter. I am no Water Goddess; I am the One called Mal’estar.

Veluchan kept his eyes closed, for fear of severing the link. Mal’estar, like the Empire City?

I am the One who protects the Empire City from malevolent forces, rising up against them, should I have need. The voice explained. I can See in your heart, Lord Veluchan Da’esigil of the Western Kingdom. Your path will be hard and arduous, but you must remain diligent. The one you seek is not far indeed; take heed of my Lady’s advice and follow it.

Veluchan was silent for a moment. I thank you for your advice, and allowing me to bask in your warmth.

You will always be welcome here, Water Brother.

Veluchan smiled, leaving with a sense of hope.

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

Back at Da’esigil, Tanian circled the sky above the Central Kingdom’s Ruins.

You’re pacing cousin. Kronin stopped in midair, flapping his wings and folding his arms. They’ll return soon; you must have patience.

Patience is a virtue I have yet to understand, Kro. Tanian commented. I thought Lord-Uncle told us they were on their way back?

Kronin flew to meet him, stopping him in his path. “Tan, relax!”

I cannot relax.” Tanian huffed. “I haven’t seen my parents in how long?

Kronin shook his head. “You forget who you’re talking to. It was a century before I was reunited with mine.”

Tanian sighed, relaxing. The cousins flew down to the ground, meeting with a very agitated Princess Locanna.

About time, Tanny.” Locanna huffed, arms crossed and frowning. “You’re making me dizzy.”

Any dizzier than usual, ‘Canna?” Tanian ruffled her hair.

She batted his hand away, focusing on her brother. “I’m bored, Kro. When can we go home?”

We will return to Mal’estar soon enough.” Kronin told her. “Where is ‘Carra?”

Probably meditating in the sun somewhere in the Eastern Kingdom,” Locanna shrugged. “Who knows?”

Fetch her.” Kronin commanded. “Now.”

Locanna huffed again, flexing her claws before taking flight.

When did she get so feisty?” Tanian asked him as they watched her leave.

Sometime between the Wars for Power and the War of the Realms,” Kronin shook his head. “Dratyr is not happy with her behavior. Neither am I.”

Tanian looked at him. “How can you be so calm?”

Kronin sat on one of the chairs around the council table. “I have learned patience when it came to my sisters, ever being their guardian.”

Sisters.” Tanian whispered, and Kronin knew what he was thinking.

Have faith.” Kronin told him softly. “Anya will return to us.”

Tanian slumped in the chair across from him. “I certainly hope so.”

The cousins sat in silence, Kronin watching Tanian pout. After a few minutes of that, they heard a voice in their minds.

Stand at attention when Royals approach, Boy-os.

It was the voice of Lord Emperor, Kronin’s Dratyr, Draconis. The cousins stood and bowed when Draconis landed in his DragonWolf form. Behind him were the Four Royals of Da’esigil, the Monarchs of Mek’anar and the Empress of Mal’estar.

I didn’t know you were a DragonWolf, Lord-Uncle!” Tanian cried as he stood.

I am part Wolfkin as well, from my Gramere.” Draconis grinned. “It’s good to see you again, Nephew.”

Without warning, the petite grey DragonWolf form rushed by Draconis and tackled Tanian in a squealing hug.

Oh, my darling son!” Adarramena cried, examining his face with her hands as she pulled back. “I’ve missed you so much!” When she hugged him again, he winced, letting out a low moan of pain. “Tanian, I’m so sorry! I didn’t know you were hurt!”

Mutyr, I’m okay; honest.” Tanian pulled from her embrace and rubbed his side. Erinfree saw this and examined him. He wrapped an arm around her, facing his mother and uncle. “Lady Erinfree fixed me up when I was near-death.”

I only did what any healer would do.” Erinfree admonished softly.

You did a brilliant job, Lady.” Kronin complimented from Tanian’s other side.

We’re here on business remember, darling?” A voice identical to Draconis’ commented from behind his brother. Adarramena stepped to the side as her mate passed to embrace his son’s shoulder. “We’re glad you’re okay, Tanian.”

I would not have been if Erinfree hadn’t rescued me, Dratyr.” Tanian explained.

Are we going to stand here and chat, or conduct business?” Draconis’ voice bellowed above them.

They were silenced as they looked at the Emperor. His arms were folded and his usual onyx-colored eyes were yellow. “Reunions later, business first.”

Oh, fridishda,” Lady Adellandra placed a hand on her mate’s arm, “We have only just arrived. Surely, you men can conduct business while the Ladies escort us around Da’esigil?”

Yeah, you don’t need us interfering, do you?” Adarramena blinked innocently at Draconis. “You, Scar, Lord Veluchan, Lord Tiernan and our sons can handle the business concerning Da’esigil’s Central Kingdom.”

Besides, I want as much information about Da’esigil and its history for the Chronicles.” Adellandra supplied. “Are you going to deny me my duty?”

Enough!” Draconis laughed. “Go, ladies, and tour Da’esigil.”

The twin DragonWolf Ladies squealed in delight.

However,” Drakkar began, making them frown. “You must report what you learned. Am I clear, Adarramena?”

Lady Adarramena winked, wrapping an arm through Erinfree’s. “Of course!”

Adellandra?” Draconis asked. Adellandra grinned, nodding. “Very well; go.”

Kateea!” The twin Ladies chorused, giggling.

Tanian looked at Erinfree, whose arm was still trapped by his mother’s. She was smiling, happy at last.

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

The Ladies toured Da’esigil as the Lords delegated. In several hours, it was decreed: Tanian would rebuild the Central Kingdom, Tiernan and Ellisandra would unite their Kingdoms into one, Erinfree and Tanian would merge theirs as well and Veluchan would join them when he was ready; he had no secure Queen on his Throne yet.

Lord Emperor and his kin left shortly after that, with Kronin, Locarra and Locanna in tow.

So we’re supposed to blindly listen to you?” Veluchan argued. “Pardon my insolence, Prince,” he mock-bowed, “but we don’t even know you.”

We will work as one, Ruling over a United Da’esigil.” Tanian explained. “It will take time, I admit, as I do understand your train of thought, but it will happen.”

Think of it this way, Veluchan,” Tiernan began. “It will give our peoples a chance to work together, as Lord Emperor wishes.”

I don’t care if he is Emperor of the Dragon Nations; I still don’t trust him.” Veluchan huffed, folding his arms. “Do you forget so easily he was the one who sent us into exile during the War? Thanks to him, this is the only home we have ever known.”

Why must you be so negative, Velu?” Ellisandra cried, tears in her eyes. “Lord Emperor has changed; I can Feel it, and so have we.”

Tiernan went to her side. Veluchan kept his frown.

Stop it, this instant!” Erinfree yelled, facing her brother. “I love you dearly, but your cynicism and attitude has gotten out of control.”

I agree.” Tanian nodded. “I’m sorry I must do this, but you are bound to your Kingdom for the time being.”

You can’t do that, Tanian.” Veluchan argued. “You need me to help rebuild Central!”

Not in your current mindset we don’t.” Tiernan shook his head, holding onto a crying Ellisandra. “You’re upsetting the women, can’t you see that?”

Veluchan took a breath and bowed. “My deepest apologies, Sisters.”

Without another word, he flew off.

After a moment, Tanian asked quietly, “You don’t feel that way, do you, Lord Tiernan?”

Tiernan shook his head. “Nay, my Prince.” He smiled, “You will find those of the Earth a much more accepting and peaceful bunch.”

Tanian smiled back and breathed. “I am glad of that.”

Let us part, so we may inform our peoples of the changes in Da’esigil.” Erinfree suggested.

Tanian, Tiernan, and Ellisandra could not agree more as they went to their separate Kingdoms.

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

A month later, the Central Kingdom was in full-swing on repairs and reconstruction. Peoples from the Northern, Southern and Eastern Kingdoms helped rebuild it, working together in harmony, as the elements in nature would. Thanks to Lord Drakkar’s decree, three of the four Kingdoms were slowly coming together as one Nation, the Da’esigil Nation.

As expected, Lord Tiernan and his mate Lady Ellisandra were wed in front of all four Kingdoms’ peoples, bringing hope for their futures. As much as Erinfree wished, Veluchan did not attend the wedding. Nor did he attend her wedding to Tanian.

The few times Veluchan visited her in the Eastern Kingdom, Erinfree knew he was brooding, and worried for him. It was sad to watch the once-strong Water King decline in both health and well-being. It hurt her to see him so depressed; she was lost thinking of ways to help him. He rarely spoke aloud, preferring to use their private mind-path. Even then, he said little. Worried he would lose himself in his depression, Erinfree asked Tanian to see him; not as his Lord, but as his brother.

He only needs something to keep his mind off his troubles, Erin.” Tanian told her as they rested one night.

Why don’t you give him something to do?”

He will not listen to me, you know.” Tanian explained sadly. “I doubt he’ll listen to anyone right now.”

Erinfree thought for a moment before speaking again. “Please try? I feel so bad for him. It’s hurting me, deep.”

Tanian took her hands and kissed her lips. “I know; you’re unable to concentrate on anything else.” He sighed. “Tell you what: I’ll see him tomorrow, once the Morning Council session is over, okay?”

Erinfree smiled, snuggling into his embrace. “Thank you, Tan.”

You’re welcome, darling Erin.” Tanian kissed her as he protectively wrapped his wings around her.

The next morning, Tanian dreaded flying to the Western Kingdom’s island castle.

Veluchan was at the shore behind his castle, staring into the ocean.

What do you want, Lord Prince Tanian?” Veluchan asked softly, not taking his eyes off the tides that brushed against his feet.

I came to talk; not as your Lord Prince, but as your brother-in-love.”

Veluchan huffed. “You are not my brother; merely my sister’s consort who also happens to be Lord of the Central Kingdom.”

Please turn around and look at me, Veluchan.” Tanian said softly. He took a deep breath as Veluchan stood and turned to him.

Speak your peace, than leave me to it.”

Fair enough.” Tanian supplied with an acknowledging nod. “I know you don’t trust me; and probably won’t listen, but I have a job for you.”

Spare me your pity,” Veluchan frowned.

I have a job for you; one that only you can do.” Tanian tried again, ignoring the comment. “Lord Father told me he’d last seen my sister Anya near the Northern Ice Drake Mountains.”

Veluchan blinked, taking a breath. Tanian knew it would strike a chord; having only the love for his sister in common with the Western Blue DragonWolf.

You wish me to fetch her, is that it?” Veluchan asked.

Were she still there, I would fly myself to retrieve her.” Tanian supplied. “No, the trail went cold years ago.” He huffed under his breath. “Literally.”

Veluchan also caught the unintentional pun. “How did he hear of it?”

He was there, sometime during the aftermath of the Dragon’s Fall.” Tanian supplied. “He was originally seeking his troupe, but an Ice Drake Warrior told him about a Black Female DragonWolf among the healers claiming to be his daughter. When he flew to the Healer’s Tent, she was already gone.”

How do either of you know it was her?” Veluchan was curious, interested in the story.

Just as Tanian had hoped he would be. “How many female Black DragonWolves do you see in the Dragon Nations, besides the Royal Children of the Dragon Moon?”

Dragon Moon?”

Tanian smiled. “That’s what Grampere’s surname ‘Dranna’ means in Draconian; Dragon Moon.” He explained. “Three Dranna DragonWolves: Anya’s and my mother Adarramena; Kronin, Locarra, and Locanna’s mother Adellandra; and our cousin Arden’s father, their younger brother Anton. We’re all what the Nations playfully call the ‘Royal Children of the Dragon Moon’.”

Veluchan nodded.

Does your interest tell me you’ll investigate?” Tanian asked hopefully.

For the first time since meeting him, Veluchan smiled. “As a Lord of the DragonWolf Kingdoms, yes; I’ll investigate,” he bowed, “my Lord-Prince Tanian.”

Kateea, Lord Veluchan.” Tanian sighed, relieved.

Hopefully, the investigation would bring peace to them and the entire Nation of Da’esigil.

 

Chapter Six:

Against the Odds

 

Thank you so much for setting this up for us, Erinfree.” Ellisandra replied to Erinfree’s reflection in the mirror. The Eastern Queen was busy behind Ellisandra’s back, tying the bindings of her blue-black gown.

You’re welcome, Ellisandra.” Erinfree pulled on the thick ribbons, tightening it as tight as she could get it without suffocating the woman. “It was Tanian’s idea; so thank him when you see him.”

I will, believe me.” Ellisandra smiled at their reflections.

Erinfree tied both their heads of hair into stunning, elaborate buns, securely braided with colored ribbons that matched their gowns.

We might want to hurry, or we’ll miss the ball altogether.” Erinfree teased, hugging her from behind when she was finished.

Ellisandra smiled, following her friend out the door and to the Central Kingdom’s Spirit Hall, one of the first buildings reconstructed after the Castle itself.

The ballroom was filled with guests from each of the four Kingdoms. Blues were mingling with Greys, but Reds were staying across the room from the Greens. The sight made Ellisandra frown, until she met the eyes of her beloved Tiernan from the stage. He was talking to a mix of DragonWolf musicians.

Once they met eyes, he waved for the women to join him.

Erinfree saw Tanian mingling with several females and frowned. Tiernan and Ellisandra shared a look.

Better save him from his adoring fans.” Tiernan told Erinfree.

Believe me, I will.” Erinfree waved goodbye to the couple before leaving them alone.

The couple smiled at each other, agreeing how each thought Erinfree sounded and looked jealous of Tanian’s so-called ‘adoring fans.’

Tiernan took her hand and kissed it. “Now then, beloved. Where were we?”

They heard a loud crash, and another, looking across the room.

Oh no, not again.” Tiernan mumbled under his breath.

What again? Tier, what’s going on?” Ellisandra asked, following as he raced to the source of the commotion.

Our peoples hate us, and each other.” Tiernan hurried. “Tanian’s already talked to them numerous times, but it seems nothing will stop them from fighting.”

Do you blame them, Tier?” Ellisandra asked him. “They’ve known nothing but violence and war from our predecessors.”

They stopped in front of the fighting DragonWolves. The crash the couple heard was from one being thrown by another into a wall painting of the Four Original Royal DragonWolves of Da’esigil.

Oh no.” Ellisandra held her breath as she examined the painting.

Three male Fire DragonWolves were fighting three male Earths. Two were in fisticuffs while the others were fighting with swords and magic. Fireballs flew across the Hall faster than the Water DragonWolves could stop them.

Tiernan growled lowly under his breath and thought it was time to act as a King instead of a silent Consort. He raised his muzzle to the ceiling and let out a loud roar. The fighting DragonWolves stopped, staring at him in fear.

Ellisandra went to Tiernan’s side, frowning at them.

The ballroom fell silent as everyone watched the scene, listening in.

I have had just about enough of this!” Tiernan growled, glaring from one offending DragonWolf to another. “You will cease from fighting or be dealt with accordingly. Am I making myself clear?”

A rogue fireball flew in his direction from the corner of his eye. He caught it, crushing it in the palm of his hand until smoke fizzled from between his fingers.

The six of them looked to one another and bowed to him and Ellisandra.

Aye, Lord Tiernan!” His three Earth DragonWolves chorused.

He looked to the silent Fire DragonWolves. “You will get along with one another, as we are now one united Da’esigil. No more fighting, no more wars, anger, hatred, or anything of the sort against each other. Understood?”

Aye, Lord Tiernan.” The Fire DragonWolves murmured under their breath.

We can’t hear you.” Ellisandra’s eyes were closed as she continued to frown.

The three Fires took that as a bad sign. They knew she always kept her smile, no matter the situation.

They looked to one another and chorused louder, “Aye, Lord Tiernan and Lady Ellisandra!”

Tiernan nodded to them, still not amused by their behavior. “All of you are excused from festivities.”

The six of them stood and raced out of there in a silent mob.

Ellisandra took a breath and gestured around the room. “Show is over, now dance!”

The mood lightened as the band played music they all could dance to.

Tanian and Erinfree caught up with them later that night.

I applaud your efforts, Tiernan.” Tanian clapped him on the back. “I never knew.”

Nor did I!” Erinfree cried, hugging him. “That was brilliant!”

Thank you, both.” Tiernan nodded his head in respect. “I was just doing my duty as Lord King of the Northern Kingdom.”

What a wonderful job you did, Tier?” Ellisandra asked, reaching up to kiss him. “Let’s enjoy the rest of our night together.”

Erinfree and Tanian smiled at one another, thinking the same thing as all four of them headed back to the dance floor.

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

FrostWeaver the Elder, an Ice Drake Ambassador of Mal’estar and the Northern Ice Drake Mountain Clan, droned on as Veluchan sat and politely listened, losing himself in thought.

Veluchan been there for a week and was no closer to finding Tanian’s sister than he was when he started. Since he arrived and met FrostWeaver the Ice Drake, telling his tale, he was plagued by strange dreams of a female fitting her description: petite, pearl-shaped silver eyes, long raven’s wing black hair, blue-black coat of fur, thick yet soft leathery wings and a silver crescent moon-shaped marking on her left ear.

Each morning he awoke in the tiny tent made of ice he shared with his guide, he lay there, regulating his body temperature so he wouldn’t freeze and thinking of the female in his dreams. Also each morning, his thoughts were rudely interrupted by the Elder Ice Drake who was always ready to start the investigation again.

Lord Veluchan!” He heard the Elder’s voice cry, and the impatient clicking of claws brought him back to attention. “Do I bore you that much?”

Nay, Elder. I apologize.” Veluchan never told him of the dream. Should he? After all, FrostWeaver was his guide to the Northern Ice Drake Mountains. Taking a chance, he opened his mouth and explained.

After a moment, the Elder nodded his ancient head and smiled. “Come with me, my Lord. I have something to show you.”

FrostWeaver rose and Veluchan followed in a daze. He passed the rows of huts that were made of ice and snow, nodding his greeting to those who stopped what they were doing to stare at him.

He was used to it by now; albeit when he first arrived, Veluchan thought it was creepy.

I would stare at me too if I were them. Veluchan thought now. Don’t see many DragonWolves around anymore, let alone those who can manipulate one of the elements.

Here we are.” FrostWeaver stopped in front of a larger hut made of thick leather animal hide instead of ice and snow. The door flap was held open by a lace made of buckskin attached to a small bone woven into the hut’s wall. “This is home of the Clan Shaman, IceWind and his mate, the Fire Dragon, Aliyanna Dranna.”

Dranna? The same surname as Tanian’s Grampere?

They’ll know about Anya?”

Tell them what you told me.” The Ice Drake nodded. “I’ll wait here.”

Veluchan cautiously stuck his head inside the flap, meeting the deep red eyes of a Fire dragon. She growled, “Who are you and what do you want?”

He immediately fell into a defensive stance, heckles raised. Before he could respond, a male voice interrupted. “Don’t scare the poor DragonWolf.”

Veluchan relaxed, looking at the speaker with interest.

IceWind was a pure-white dragon with ice-blue eyes and silver-blue hair. He stood and nodded to Veluchan, introducing himself. “I am IceWind, Shaman of the Clan. I apologize for my mate’s behavior. She’s still somewhat-new to our ways.”

Am not.” The Fire dragon mumbled, letting him in and closing the flap behind him.

Aliyanna.” IceWind said her name softly, which got her attention. She sat next to him by the campfire. He gestured for Veluchan to sit across from him. “What can we do for you, Lord Veluchan of the Western DragonWolf Kingdom?”

He told the shaman and his mate about his mission before telling IceWind his dream.

Aliyanna’s eyes widened. “I know who that is!”

Is it Anya, the one I’m searching for?”

IceWind nodded, grasping a small bag and sprinkling dirt from it over the fire.

Veluchan stood, frightened of the sudden change in the colors of the flame. It was no longer red but blue, and he could have sworn he saw the girl in his dreams in the midst of it.

He reached out to touch the vision, the flickering fire cooling his paw.

Aliyanna gave her mate a scared look, to which IceWind put a claw to his lips for silence.

Veluchan’s eyes closed and he could feel everything around him changing.

 

In his vision, he awoke abruptly to sounds of fighting, war and metal against metal. Screams from women and cries from children, everything around him was going up in flames. Buildings around him collapsed and piers fell through him.

He was in the past, a memory of….what?

Behind him, he heard a voice and turned to see a younger version of Lady Adarramena pushing two DragonWolves out of the way of another fallen chunk of foundation.

Hurry, children!” She yelled, quickly hugging them when she thought it was safe to do so. “Tanny, take your sister and go to the North. Fly as fast as your wings can carry you.”

What about you and Dratyr?” Tanian asked her, not wanting to let go.

We will continue to fight against Kaos.” Adarramena kissed her son’s cheek and hugged the younger Anya one last time. “Now, go!”

The vision changed, and the past was replaced with the present.

She purred sadly, crying in her sleep. She was cold, hungry and hurt. Veluchan could feel the empathic waves of anguish and pain coming from her.

Veluchan stood above her and watched as the DragonWolf in his vision curled up in a ball, wrapping her tattered wings around her emaciated wolfkin body.

He knelt down and dared place a paw lovingly on her head. Unknowing if she could hear him, he whispered. “I will find you, Anya. I promise, you will never be hungry, scared, lonely, or in pain again.”

An empathic wave reached out to his very soul, telling him she heard him loud and clear. That wave thanked him, her body relaxing and weak aura strengthening.

Once he stood up and turned, he was transported out of the vision and back to the fire in front of IceWind.

 

Veluchan was determined to find her now. Not only to ease her pain and anguish, saving her from desolation, but to ease the strong ache for her in his heart. Something about the way she reached out to him empathically told him she would be waiting for him.

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

Lady Adarramena of Mek’anar paced in her DragonWolf form, wringing her dark-grey tail in her hands; a habit she picked up from her own mother years ago. “Where are they?” She asked whoever was listening. “I thought she’d be back by now.”

Will you relax, love?” Drakkar stopped her in her tracks and took her in his arms. He was in his demi-form, half Immortal, half dragon. “Lord Veluchan is searching for her, on Tanian’s request.”

I know!” Adarramena threw up her hands and continued to pace. “What’s taking him so long? He’s been gone a week!”

Patience, my Lady.” Dran’a’vir, the Monarch’s Own announced. “One must always practice patience.”

Adarramena frowned at the dark brown demi-formed dragon. “Don’t you have duties you could be tending to, Dran’a’vir?”

As you wish, my Lady,” Dran’a’vir smiled, bowed and left them.

You were right to send him away.” Drakkar replied. “He doesn’t need to know our business with the DragonWolves.”

Adarramena frowned at him now, folding her arms. “I’m going to Da’esigil.”

I really wish you wouldn’t.” Drakkar shook his head. “Tanian is a grown man. He doesn’t need his parents over his shoulder anymore.”

I worry about him with those injuries.” Adarramena passed by him to go to her bureau.

The Lady Erinfree is taking care of him, so please, Adarra, my love, don’t go and mess that up.” Drakkar followed.

She turned on her heel. “That windbag is barren, unable to secure our family line.”

That was a new one on him. He watched her pack a satchel of healing supplies. “Where did you hear that?”

I sensed it while we talked to her and Veluchan.” Adarramena said softly, rushing around the room and grabbing potion bottles and stuffing them in the satchel.

After a moment of watching her, it dawned on him. “Is that why you want to bother them in Da’esigil?” He demanded. “Not because you’re worried about our son’s injuries, but Erinfree as his mate? I thought you were better than that?”

After a moment, she nodded and said softly. “I am; I just want the joy of grandchildren.”

Grandchildren.” Drakkar huffed. “Need I remind you of Caius?”

Caius hasn’t been seen since before we reunited.” Adarramena said softly, shaking her head.

Fine.” Drakkar supplied. His anger was bubbling to the surface, but he had to stop her from making a terrible mistake she may regret later. He changed the subject. “Why hassle Tanian and his new mate when they’re just getting to know each other?”

She ignored the question, but stopped packing to look up at him. He continued in a softer tone. “Don’t go to Da’esigil with an agenda against Erinfree. She’s a wonderful woman; even you have to admit that.”

Adarramena looked down. He touched her chin with his hands and kissed her lips.

I won’t, and I’m sorry, Scar.” Adarramena said softly. “A lot has happened since we reunited with Tanian. I just want some mother-son time with him. Is that too much to ask?”

Nay, my Lanta.” Drakkar kissed her again. “But he is grown, and can take care of his own affairs.” She scowled at him, but he placed a claw to her lips. “There will be plenty of time to spend time with him after Da’esigil is settled as a united Nation. For now, leave him and Erinfree to it. Please?”

I can’t even go as a Healer, and only a Healer?” Adarramena asked.

Kro already took care of his healing.”

He still needs it.” Adarramena argued. “Did you see how much pain he was in when I hugged him?”

Erinfree is there.”

What does the Wind Queen know about Healing a Spirit DragonWolf?”

Plenty, if she mended him enough to impress the unimpressible Kronin.”

Not even for a weekend?”

Adarra, enough!” Drakkar had to laugh at her stubborn streak. He kissed her, hugging her close and wrapping his wings around her. “I know how you feel, and I want to go too, just to see how he’s doing, but we must leave them to it.”

Scar!” Adarramena argued.

Adarramena,” Drakkar warned softly. He thought for a moment. “Tell you what: once we hear word of Anya’s return, we’ll go. Okay?”

Adarramena smiled. “Kateea Drakkar.”

One more argument averted, he thought to himself, kissing her once again.

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

Blistering winds whipped at Veluchan’s face through the heavy leather mask that covered his muzzle. As an apology for her behavior toward him, Aliyanna gave him a thick cloak imbibed with strong fire magic to wrap around him. It was large enough and thick enough to keep his thin fur-covered webbed wings warm on the hike up Ice Drake Mountain. IceWind had gifted him with boots and gloves made of two layers of hide and a bag full of supplies for their trip.

Thanking the shaman and his mate, the Elder FrostWeaver and two Ice Drake soldiers flew him to the top of the mountain until the blizzard of snow was too thick to fly through. That’s when Veluchan had enough of the cold and wrapped himself in the cloak, boots and gloves.

FrostWeaver led the group ahead of Veluchan and the two soldiers that introduced themselves as Nico Lara and Evan Storm marched behind him. Both soldiers could fight anything they come against, from large snow beasts that look like hairballs with claws and snake necks to Ice imps that spit sharp shards of ice crystals.

Veluchan tried to fight them, but his water magic froze in such low temperatures. He let the soldiers do their jobs in protecting him and the Elder as they trekked up the mountain. Their goal would be at the top, and the vast forest region of his dreams.

That’s where he believed they would find her, sheltered by a tree’s trunk opening, curled up, and shivering to keep warm.

Are we almost there?” Veluchan yelled through the mask, straining to be heard over the high winds whipping about him.

Few more miles,” FrostWeaver yelled back, turning to him just long enough to tell him. “Not long now.”

If only Erin was here, Veluchan thought to himself, drudging forward. She would control the winds long enough for us to safely fly to the top.

I hear you, brother. Erinfree’s gentle tone echoed in his mind. Would you like me to try through our mind-link?

It’s dangerous from so far. Veluchan remarked. I wouldn’t want you to strain yourself.

An empathic feeling of gentle laughter rang through the link. I can do it with Tanian here to boost the link.

Spirits can act as a boost to our own powers? Veluchan was impressed, ignoring the fact she brought him into it.

Aye. Erinfree thought to him. Would you let us try?

Reluctant, but knowing how important it was to reach Anya’s hiding spot, he agreed. He stopped in his tracks and raised a gloved paw up to the soldiers behind him.

What is it, Lord Veluchan?” Evan Storm asked in his ear when he was close enough.

Instead of answering, Veluchan took off the mask and yelled. “Frosty, halt!”

FrostWeaver also stopped in his tracks and turned to him. “That blessed nickname,” he mumbled loud enough for them to hear. He stomped through the deep snow until they were face to face. “Why do you stop?”

Veluchan explained what Erinfree and he had in mind.

It could help.” Evan Storm shrugged.

With nods from FrostWeaver and Nico Lara, Veluchan dropped his gear, took off his gloves, closed his eyes and concentrated.

Ready whenever you are. He sent to Erinfree.

Veluchan raised his arms to the skies, keeping his eyes closed. He could feel Erinfree’s familiar breath of Wind Magic through his system and out his fingers. It itched but he could not scratch. It was a delicate spell, weaving strong magic through the skies and against the winds.

To their surprise, the blistering winds weakened until the air around them was clear.

That should hold long enough. Erinfree’s voice was strained. Go quickly, brother. Rescue the girl.

Veluchan opened his eyes and told them, “Done. Now we must hurry.”

Gathering his gear up once again, the four of them took flight.

Within the hour, they reached the top of Ice Drake Mountain. The moment he saw the vast forest region ahead of him, he knew where he was going.

This way.” Veluchan told them, running ahead. He stopped in front of the largest tree in the forest. In that tree trunk was a wide opening, revealing a grey bundle. It was her.

Just as he did in his vision, he leaned down to the bundle’s level and touched what he thought was her head. “Anyastasia.”

He never knew where her full name came from, but it sounded beautiful.

Anya moaned, moving a wing to reveal her face. She looked up at him with sad grey eyes and croaked from a dry throat. “Who are you?”

I am Veluchan.” He introduced. Rattling off his title and anything else would confuse her. He put a hand to her cheek, which made her close her eyes. “I saw you in my dream.”

Anya’s eyes widened and her lips smiled. She jumped in his open arms and fiercely hugged him. “Kateea!” She cried, snuggling in his wings as they wrapped around her. “You saved me!”

Let’s go home.” Veluchan felt the urge to kiss her forehead.

He stood, carefully taking her with him. FrostWeaver wrapped a fire cloak around her, which warmed her enough so she could eat without her body shaking. When they were ready, and she was able, they flew back down the mountain and to the Clan’s headquarters.

They arrived just in time, for the winds up the mountain had already picked up.

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

We told you to be careful, Erinfree.” Tiernan playfully scolded, waving healing hands over her. “Why won’t you listen?”

I had to try, Earth brother.” Erinfree whispered. “Velu needed me.”

We need you, too.” Tanian whispered, taking one of her paws in his own while the other was on her heart, healing her.

Tiernan looked up at a swiftly-tiring Tanian. Healing Erinfree together was taking its toll on the Prince. “Why don’t you get some rest?”

She needs me.” Tanian argued.

Need I remind you you’re still healing from the disaster that brought you here?” Tiernan remarked. “Didn’t you know how dangerous it is for you to use the telepathic link for magical work?”

I had to,” Erinfree whispered. “Anya has been rescued.”

Tanian’s eyes widened and he smiled. “Thank the Goddess!”

Now all we must do is wait for them to return.” Ellisandra’s voice spoke up from behind Tiernan. She walked into the Healing Chambers with an armload of blankets. Handing them to Tiernan, she announced. “Perhaps when you’re feeling better, you can alert your parents in Mek’anar?”

Tanian nodded. “Definitely. Mutyr will definitely need to know.”

Lady Adarramena comes off as a little overbearing.” Tiernan remarked, covering Erinfree with the new blankets while Ellisandra took the old to be washed. They were soaked in sweat from their healing. “No offense to you, my Prince.”

None taken; I agree wholeheartedly.” Tanian tried to laugh, coughing instead.

Erinfree sat upright to see to him.

Erin, lay still!” Tiernan cried, placing a paw to her chest and pushing her back down.

But Tanian,” Erinfree argued.

Will be fine, won’t you, Prince?” Tiernan asked.

Yes, and please, do drop the honorific.” Tanian moaned. “I’m not your Prince here; I’m your friend as well as brother-Royal.”

That’s all well and good,” Ellisandra chimed in when she reentered. “But you are still the Prince of Mek’anar.”

Tanian huffed. “I don’t feel like a Prince anymore.” He told them. “I feel like one of you.”

Is that such a bad thing?” Ellisandra smiled at him.

Tiernan waited for his answer.

Not at all.” Tanian smiled back at all three of them, squeezing Erinfree’s hand. “In fact, I prefer it.”

That’s good to know, Tanian.” Tiernan tried the name on his tongue. It sounded right.

After all, they were four of the five Royal DragonWolves of a united Da’esigil Nation.

For now, I suggest we leave the two of them to rest and heal.” Ellisandra supplied gently. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done before Veluchan returns with Princess Anya.”

Think you can handle the rest, Tanian?” Tiernan asked him, taking Ellisandra’s hands and kissing her cheek.

Tanian chuckled. “Oh, I think so.” He leaned down to kiss Erinfree’s lips.

Tiernan and Ellisandra chuckled, glad the two were getting along so well.

 

Chapter Seven:

Homecoming

 

It took a week for Veluchan to work with the Shaman and Clan healers. Anya was slowly gaining strength, although she said but a few words since meeting him.

He stayed with her night and day while the healers worked on her, talking to her about everything he could imagine. She listened intently from her bed, slowly opening up to him in thoughts alone.

The Elders say you should be able to travel in the morning.”

Where am I going? Anya’s soft voice purred in his mind.

Veluchan smiled. “I’m taking you home to Da’esigil with me.”

The Five DragonWolf Kingdoms, northeast of Mal’estar?

Veluchan nodded. “You’re catching on. Can you name the Five Royals?”

Anya put a claw to her chin and stroked it for a moment. Dormane of the North, Naechan of the South, you’re the West and Erinfree of the East. Am I right?

She looked at him expectedly.

Partially.” Veluchan didn’t want to remember, but he had to. It was one subject he managed to avoid talking about for five days, for fear it would depress her. “Dormane and Naechan died in the Dragon’s Fall. Their consorts, Tiernan of the North and Ellisandra of the South have taken over.”

Oh. Anya was saddened. I would have liked to meet them. She smiled again when she thought. Who’s the Fifth Royal? I don’t recall you telling me who was in charge of Central.

I didn’t.” Veluchan smiled as he told her. “The Fifth Royal is none other than your brother, Prince Tanian.”

Anya jumped from her bed. “Bratton!”

She stepped to race out of the healing hut but Veluchan stopped her. “I know you’re excited, Anya. I’m excited for you, but we must wait to leave until morning.”

Why not now?” Her voice croaked as she sat back down and took the glass of water Veluchan offered.

It’s a long flight to Da’esigil, and you need your rest.”

Anya placed the empty glass on the stand before wrapping her arms around his neck. She whispered. “Join me?”

Veluchan’s heart thumped and he gave in to an urge to kiss her. “Yes.”

The next morning, Veluchan searched for FrostWeaver.

He already left for Mal’estar, Lord Veluchan,” Nico Lara answered. “Was there something you needed before you left?”

Veluchan shook his head. “Is he relaying a message to Lady Empress about Anya?” Nico Lara nodded. “Good. If everything is in order, we’ll take our leave.”

We wish you pleasant journeys.” Nico Lara rattled the popular Inner Realm blessing, bowing.

Kateea, Nico Lara.” Veluchan replied.

Veluchan went back to the healing tent and found Anya was ready to go.

Lead the way, V-chan. She was smiling.

It took the morning and most of the afternoon to fly from the Northern Ice Drake Mountains to Da’esigil.

They arrived first at his Western island, where he led her to his hot spring.

Welcome home, Anya Dratianos.” Veluchan gestured around the cave. “Would you like to soak first to relax your muscles or see your brother?”

We have been apart long enough. Anya crossed her arms and twitched her wings. Take me to Tanian.

Will you at least speak aloud?” Veluchan asked her. “I love hearing your voice, and I believe so will he.”

Anya relaxed and nodded. “I will try.”

Veluchan pecked her cheek. “That’s all I ask.”

He flew her to the Central Kingdom’s Castle, only to find two other Monarchs waiting for them. The Lady Adarramena was in her dark-grey DragonWolf form as her Lord was in his demi-dragon form. Tanian was nowhere in sight, which made Veluchan wonder. Did he know his parents were here?

That was quick, Veluchan smiled. They must have power-flown here or something.

It’s called ‘teleport’, and Dratyr doesn’t do it often. Anya’s voice chimed in his mind as if it belonged there.

Veluchan nodded to her as he spoke up. “My Lady Adarramena and Lord Drakkar of Mek’anar?”

The Monarchs turned to see him standing there, with Anya clinging to his arm. “It’s okay, Anya.” He whispered in her ear assuredly. “They are your parents.”

Anya looked at the Monarchs and relaxed her grip, slowly walking over to Lady Adarramena.

Anyastasia Marine Dratianos,” The Lady whispered, opening her arms and wings for a hug.

Remember, Anya.” Veluchan replied. “Try to use your voice.”

Anya nodded at him before returning her attention to the Lady. “Mu-tyr.”

Thank the Goddess, she’s okay!” The Lady exclaimed, hugging her tight.

She was near-death in the Northern Ice Drake Mountains, Lady Adarramena.” Veluchan told her. He turned to Lord Drakkar. “She still has trouble using her voice, as you can see, but she can speak telepathically just fine.”

That’s good to hear.” Lord Drakkar breathed roughly. “Where is Tanian?”

Right behind you, Dratyr.” Tanian’s voice echoed, and Veluchan looked to see the DragonWolf holding Erinfree upright. “I was healing Erin.”

You needed it too, my Prince.” Veluchan heard Tiernan exclaim from behind him.

Is this a family reunion or something?” Veluchan asked, sharing a smile with Anya.

I would say so, aye.” Ellisandra chuckled. “Welcome home, Velu.”

She nudged a frowning Tiernan, who coughed. “Yes, Veluchan. Welcome home.”

How is Anya?” Erinfree asked, slowly walking over to the girl.

Anya shirked and fled to Veluchan’s side, afraid of the newcomers.

Tiernan and Ellisandra shared astonished looks, as did Erinfree and Tanian, and the Monarchs.

Veluchan sighed. “Give us a moment.”

He pulled her to the side and just held her. She was shaking in his arms, frightened.

Anya,” He whispered, rubbing her arms to calm her. “Be not afraid of these people, they will never hurt you.”

Bratton, Dratyr and Mutyr I know, but what about the Green, Red, or Grey? Anya purred in his mind.

They are my siblings. Veluchan relayed, turning her to face the group.

As he telepathically introduced them, he led her to meet them. Each time they moved, she relaxed. By the time he introduced Erinfree, Anya was holding his hand.

Congratulations, brother. Erinfree told him with a smile as Anya examined her. She seems very, she paused to choose the right word, devoted to you.

Mine was the first kind face she had seen in ages. Veluchan told her, watching Anya take his sister’s hand and closing her eyes.

Kah-tay-ah.” Anya choked slowly. “Thank you Eh-rin. You helped V-chan res-cue me.”

Anya looked to Veluchan for approval. He nodded.

You’re very welcome, Anya.” Erinfree’s voice was hoarse as well, but grateful. “We’re glad you’re safe and sound.”

Can we go to Mutyr now?” Anya asked him.

You can, I wish a word with Erinfree and your brother.” Veluchan told her.

She raced off, this time to meet the open arms of her Dratyr Drakkar.

It’s good to see you safe as well, brother.” Erinfree whispered.

Veluchan shook his head. “While I thank you, I must ask.” He paused. “Why do you look so pale? Didn’t you heal her afterwards, Prince Tanian?”

I was her anchor, remember.” Tanian told him. “And please, Veluchan, drop the honorific. I have already told Tiernan and Ellisandra: I’m not your Lord Prince here; I’m your Brother-Ruler. I would hopefully like to become your friend.”

Veluchan waved him off. “Aye, I know, but why are you so pale?”

It took more out of me than I originally thought.” Erinfree hid her eyes as she muttered. “I was not prepared.”

Sheesh,” Veluchan joked. “I leave for two weeks and you almost kill yourself with one breath of magic. I’m never leaving Da’esigil again if that is what’s going to happen.”

It won’t happen again; I promise you that.” Tanian said seriously. “May I ask what’s wrong with Anya’s voice?”

What do you mean?”

She’s acting as if she hasn’t spoken aloud in years.”

Maybe she hasn’t?” Veluchan sighed, looking over to Anya, who was talking with her parents. “Why don’t you talk to her?”

I was just about to.” Tanian nodded, kissing Erinfree’s cheek before leaving her.

Time to get you back to bed, my Lady.” Tiernan remarked, taking her from Veluchan’s sight. Ellisandra was on Erinfree’s other side for support, just in case.

Veluchan was left to deal with the remaining Dratianos’.

After a few hours of talking and reminiscing of old times, Veluchan promised to take care of Anya as Erinfree had done the same for Tanian. Lady Adarramena and Lord Drakkar left on good tidings, making their children promise to visit Mek’anar often.

In the two weeks since he left Da’esigil, he’d thought of nothing but finding and healing Anya. Now that he was home, he would think of nothing but loving her.

 

Chapter Eight:

Battle for Da’esigil

 

The attack came from the skies. Loud squeals, screams and screeches were enough to wake the dead, and Erinfree was the first to rise, being closest to the sounds. It was the middle of the night, with Tanian sleeping soundly in the bed beside her. She wrapped the robe around her, tying the knot in front before heading to the highest balcony of her aerial tower.

When she looked out the double-doors, she saw something she did not think she would see.

Harpies.” She whispered, sending the message to her siblings and mate. They don’t look happy. Look alive — their eyes are red with rage.

I see them, sister. Veluchan remarked. Anya woke screaming just as they arrived.

They’re not the only ones. Tiernan remarked. Banshees are coming in my direction.

A plethora of birds headed our way, all of them red-eyed with rage and screaming for revenge. Ellisandra was panicked. Tanian, if you can hear me, what do we do?

As the conversation played in her mind, Erinfree was darting down her tower at full speed, her wings near-closed behind her for wind resistance.

She met up with her mate at the foot of the stairwell, nearly colliding into him.

You heard her,” Erinfree said as her feet hit the floor. “What do we do? We don’t have an army ready to counterattack!”

Do we have any army at all?”

Erinfree nodded. “Of course; it’s small.”

Some is better than none.” Tanian explained. “I’ll send word to Mal’estar and Mek’anar. I’m certain Dratyr and Lord-Uncle will help us.”

Erinfree nodded again. “What woke you?”

Tanian was quiet for a moment, refusing to look in her eyes. “Anya’s screams in my mind.”

Erinfree gasped. “By all means, let’s hurry.”

 

By the time they made it down to Spirit Hall in Central, the others were waiting for them. To Erinfree’s surprise, so were Lord Drakkar, Lady Adarramena, and a Chocolate-brown Draconian in demi-form she did not recognize.

You have both Sisters’ Armies behind you, Lord-Prince Tanian.” The Chocolate told him with a bow.

Kateea. I may be Prince of Mek’anar, but I am King here,” Tanian told him. “What is your name?”

The Chocolate bowed again. “I am Mek’anar’s Monarch’s Own, Lord Dran’a’vir Dratianos.”

I would say it was a pleasure, but it seems we’re under attack?” Tiernan called above the screeches and caws from outside.

Right.” Lord Dran’a’vir nodded to Lord Drakkar, who was also in his demi-Draconian form. “Are the Guardians in position?”

Aye, but not much Guardians can do but keep a shield around Da’esigil.”

Enough talk, more action!” Tiernan yelled, racing out and taking flight.

They haven’t done anything yet, Tier!” Ellisandra yelled, sighing as she took flight to join him.

Tanian and Lady Adarramena looked out the nearest window. “She’s right.”

Lady Adarramena turned to her mate. “They’re in mid-air, eyes red with rage.”

We noticed.” Veluchan grumbled from the door frame.

When they looked, Anya wasn’t at his side. Tanian opened his mouth to ask, but his father beat him to it.

Where’s Anya?” Lord Drakkar asked.

In our infirmary, safe.” Veluchan nodded his head. “Since they’re at a standstill, do you suppose they want to talk?”

Doubt it, but it’s worth a shot.” Erinfree spoke up. “Shields up and head out!”

They heard screams from both above and on the ground, each flying to meet their attackers. Falcons, crows, several species of aerial creatures were hanging in mid-air, cawing to the skies.

What do you want from us?” Tiernan demanded, Ellisandra beside him with her paws aflame, both facing a rather large female falcon in battle armor.

Kreskin!” The falcon screeched, flapping its wings in Ellisandra’s direction.

Tiernan covered her, growling at the falcon. “Fight me!”

You are Kreskin!” The falcon screeched again; this time, those behind him screeched in unison, sounding as one voice.

Kreskin no deserve the skies!” A rather large crow argued from the falcon’s left, ramming Tiernan in the midsection.

Erinfree raced to his aid, using her Wind Magic in two streams; one to separate Tiernan’s attacker from him and the other to stave off any further attacks.

What’s a Kreskin?” She asked, looking to Tanian and his Dratyr, who were both deep in the middle of battling their own.

Abomination!” Tanian yelled down to her. “A little help here, love?”

Right!” Once seeing Tiernan was fine on his own, she directed that stream to Tanian’s attacker, forcing it flying headfirst into one of Spirit Building’s walls.

Lady Adarramena flew to Tiernan and Ellisandra’s sides, a long mage’s staff appearing in her hands and pointing to the female falcon. The falcon was frozen in mid-air, an indigo aura of magic holding her in place.

Why are you attacking us, Cjarsa?” Lady Adarramena demanded.

From the ground, Erinfree could hear Drakkar say, “Falcon Queen?” before he flew to her side. Dran’a’vir flew to Adarramena’s other side, shadowed sword at the ready.

Erinfree felt something hit her upside the head before her vision faded to black and she fell from the sky.

Erin!” That was the last thing she heard before losing consciousness.

 

Tanian shot fireballs at the two Ice Crows that were attacking him, knocking them out of the skies before he raced to Erinfree’s rescue.

He caught her mid-air and set her safely with a healer named Vivianne before racing back out to find her attacker. Once the Harpy was taken care of, he flew to Lady Adarramena’s side.

What’s the Falcon Queen doing, attacking us without reason?” Tanian glared at the red-eyed falcon.

You are Kreskin!” The Falcon Queen screeched again. “Kreskin no deserve the skies!”

The same rhetoric she was spouting when Tiernan first flew out to face her.

She won’t listen to reason.” Dran’a’vir growled, his blade twitching in his hands. The smoky black aura whipped around it, showing he was ready for battle with his Shadow Magic.

Tanian looked from the Falcon Queen and back to his mother.

She won’t listen, period.” Adarramena tightened her grip on her staff, crossing it diagonally across her chest. The orb atop it was glowing a dark rainbow of color.

That’s not good.” Tanian whispered. “This isn’t like her, Mutyr.”

It’s more like Kaos.” Drakkar remarked, twirling his double-bladed naginata around his body before resting it height-wise at his side. “See the black circle around the red glow in her eyes?”

What does Kaos want here?” Tiernan asked. Neither Dratianos had seen him or Ellisandra fly to meet them.

To live up to his reputation.” Adarramena growled. “Weren’t you supposed to be fighting, Lord Tiernan?”

The Jewel Guardian Peridot and his men have it all under control.” Ellisandra remarked. “Told us to tell you what you just told us.”

Dran’a’vir failed to hold a chuckle. “Huh?”

Ellisandra frowned at him. “Pardon me, my Lord Dran’a’vir, but this is no laughing matter.” She turned back to Lord Drakkar. “According to Peridot’s spies, Kaos sent a Pretender named Mashi to befuddle all Avian minds.”

Dran’a’vir and Adarramena cursed “Shista!”

That’s when the Falcon Queen Cjarsa broke out of the frozen spell, the dark-red magic from her eyes swallowing the Lady’s indigo.

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

Veluchan? Where are you? Anya tossed in her sleep, the vision in her mind confused her. She tried sending a message using their private mind-path, but her new mate was nowhere to be found. It was cloudy, dark and cold. She used her Fire Dragon Magic to warm herself, but it did not take off the chill. Her visionary self was searching, lost and alone. Her heart ached for at least a look from Veluchan, to let her know she was safe.

She heard a low, echoed cackle in her mind as a visionary male formed from a cloud of grey smoke in front of her.

Anya stepped back, frightened. “Who are you?”

The man had dark black eyes with red rings around them, a blanket of void-black hair underneath an even-darker cloak, and ivory-white fangs peeking out of a gruesome smiling mouth. He bowed, eyes glinting. “I am Mashi, and you are my newest pet.”

She gasped. I must be dreaming! Oh, why won’t someone wake me?

It will do you no good, girl. Mashi’s voice in her mind was raspy as it echoed. You cannot escape me.

Anya took flight only to find something was binding her arms and legs, weighing them down. She looked down to see a whip wrapped around them. She pumped her wings harder, reaching for the skies, but it was no use. The whip snaked itself around her legs up to her torso. It caught her tail, pinching it so hard she cried out.

Let go!” Anya fought for freedom. “Please!”

Mashi just laughed, pulling her down with him. Once she was on the ground, he wrapped a cloak around her wings. Thorns on the inside stung, rendering her motionless and in great pain.

There is no release.” Mashi grinned, opened his mouth to show his fangs and bit into her neck.

Anya closed her eyes and screamed, hoping of all hopes someone would hear her.

Chapter Nine:

The Falcon Queen

 

Lord Dran’a’vir, Lady Adarramena, Lord Drakkar and Tanian managed to move fast enough to avoid Cjarsa’s attack. A near-black cloud of smoke ribboned itself around Cjarsa’s midsection while another, indigo-colored ribbon of magic wrapped around her legs, A chain-whip was wrapped around her wings and Tanian’s own dark rainbow-colored magic bound her hands.

Kreskin!” Cjarsa screeched, struggling to break free from her bindings. “You will die for this!”

You first if you don’t explain yourself, Falcon Queen!” Tanian yelled. “Why attack Da’esigil?”

Tiernan, Ellisandra and Veluchan were there, listening.

Never tell Kreskin!” Cjarsa shook her head.

Dran’a’vir tightened his hold on her. “Speak, or your guts will be the first to go.”

Cjarsa’s scream echoed, the three remaining Royals covered their ears.

If Tanian did not know any better, he would have thought it was a scream of pain. Were they going too far with their bindings?

Drakkar must have thought the same thing.

Loosen the binding, Dran.” Lord Drakkar grunted, struggling to maintain his grip on her wings. She was fighting for release. “Stay still, Cjarsa, or you’ll shred your wings.”

Dran’a’vir growled under his breath. “I’d rather not.”

Do it!” Drakkar cried, baring his teeth.

It was enough to make Tanian jump. Just who was Dran’a’vir, anyway, and how did he get involved with his parents? Since meeting the Chocolate brown dragon, Tanian smelled something different about him.

Now was not the time to ponder it. They had the deranged Falcon Queen Cjarsa to take care of.

Dran’a’vir huffed, twisting his Blade of Infinite Shadows, loosening his grip before growling at Drakkar. “There. Happy?”

Before Drakkar could snap back, Lady Adarramena cried, “Save it for later, guys!”

Dran’a’vir turned back to Cjarsa, barely hearing the whisper that came from her beaked mouth.

Kaos want Kreskin for collection.”

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

Erinfree moaned herself awake, her head pounding so hard, it felt as if she were ambushed by a boulder. Or two.

Take care, my Lady,” She heard a soft voice supply from beside her. Hands reached out to help her sit up.

Erinfree’s vision cleared, but her head continued to pound. She touched the back of her head, finding a rather large knot. “Ow.”

Do you know where you are?” The female voice asked. Furry grey wolf paws handed Erinfree a glass of water and a pair of white pills she recognized as Soothe Drops.

She was glad someone thought enough to give them to her. The Drops would help soothe the pain in her head.

I apologize, nurse, but no.” Erinfree’s eyes blinked after taking the Drops.

You are in your own healing infirmary.” The woman purred.

When Erinfree handed her the glass back, she finally noticed the woman. The nurse was a grey wolf with long brown hair tied in a braided bun and secured with a single jewel-tipped pin. Her green eyes were smiling as she continued. “After a few hours rest, you should be good as new.”

Are we still under attack?”

The wolf woman nodded.

Erinfree moved, throwing the covers aside and swinging her legs over the side of the bed.

I advise against moving around too much, my Lady.” The woman said. “You just woke.”

I’m aware of that, nurse.” Erinfree replied curtly.

Calm yourself, Erin. She chided in her mind. No need to take your pain out on a complete stranger. Least of all, one who was in charge of your healing.

Vivianne.” The woman nodded, interrupting her. “My name is Vivianne Henrat’nu. I came with my husband, Sir Na’tiel to act as healer.”

Nice to meet you, Vivianne.” Erinfree nodded. “My apologies. It would seem I am a grump if I do not get enough rest.”

It is quite understandable, and I do not hold it against you.” Vivianne smiled. “Now then, if I cannot change your mind from leaving so soon, may I request your assistance with a special patient?”

Erinfree tilted her head, curious. “Go on.”

Vivianne moved so she could see the Royal Black DragonWolf strapped in the bed beside her.

Anya!” Erinfree cried, standing, only to feel lightheaded. For the second time, her vision went black and body fell out of her control, landing itself in bed.

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

Kaos want Kreskin for collection.” Cjarsa rasped.

Ellisandra gasped.

That’s when Tanian remembered the three of them were still there. “Let us handle this, you three.” He supplied quickly, keeping his eye on Cjarsa. “Go see to your Kingdoms’ attackers.”

Are you sure, Spirit Brother?” Tiernan asked.

Tanian nodded. “Go.”

After sharing a look with one another, the three of them flew away from the scene.

Good thinking.” Drakkar nodded at him.

You would have done the same, Dratyr.” Tanian supplied. He turned back to Cjarsa, now that she was silent.

He flew so he was face to face with her.

I ask again.” Tanian was patient. “Why attack us?”

Kreskin no belong in the skies.” A large crow to Cjarsa’s right cawed.

Yeah, yeah, I get it. You believe us Kreskin – abomination.” Tanian seethed. “Now tell me why.”

Two species, two Realms.” A macaw on Cjarsa’s left announced. “Belong to both, yet neither.”

Silencia no gamos!” Lady Adarramena growled, covering her son as he calmed. Her free hand swept out in front of her, tossing the crow, the macaw and any other Avian hiding behind Cjarsa to the ground. “No more games.”

This isn’t like you, Falconess.” Lord Drakkar announced. “I can smell Kaos’ influence on you. Why are you working with him?”

Falcon work for no one but Falcon,” Cjarsa rasped.

Why are you so angry?” Tanian asked, sensing something his parents may not. “What did we do to you?”

Cjarsa stared at him, her red-ringed eyes glowing bright, and then dim. Her beak opened to say something, but it snapped shut, leaving her to mumble something unintelligible from the back of her throat.

Lady Adarramena stared at her, eyelids half-closed in concentration. After a moment, she shook her head. “I can’t get through with telepathy.” She turned to Lord Dran’a’vir, “How about you?”

Dran’a’vir did the same, tilting his head. “Strange. There’s a block in the back of her mind, and it has a different signature than her own.”

Tanian was confused. “What do you mean, different signature?”

Make it quick, Dran.” Drakkar supplied.

Every magic-born species has a different aura, energy and magical signature that distinguishes them from the others.” Dran’a’vir said quickly. “The Avian signature is light and airy, as expected from the Avian race. The one I sense in there is unlike any I’ve ever encountered.” He paused, looking to both Lord and Lady. “And that includes Orthos. In fact,” he said. “If I didn’t know any better, I would say it’s controlling them.”

Lady Adellandra stared at Cjarsa again. “I agree. It has Kaos’ signature all over it.”

So they’re not acting on their own?” Tanian asked, somewhat relieved.

All three Dratianos’ shook their heads.

Question is, what do we do about it?” Dran’a’vir asked. “Scratch that. What can we do about it?”

I’d like to land, if that’s okay with you.” Drakkar quipped. “Together, so we can keep her under our control.”

All agreed. The four of them kept their magic bound to Cjarsa’s wings, arms, legs and torso as they landed in front of Central’s Castle as a team.

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

Ellisandra was flanked by Tiernan as she flew to the Fire Kingdom. When they arrived, she stopped in mid-air.

She stared in awe at the devastation brought on by the attacking Ice Kestrels and other birds of ice and snow. Oversized snow petrels that looked like doves with red eyes attacked the buildings, Ice Kestrels were shooting ice crystals from their beaks at her people, and snow-white hawks were attacking the land.

Tiernan was silent as he watched her. Ellisandra’s eyes turned ice-blue, a sure sign she was royally ticked off. Her palms lit up in flame, but the color was not the red of her magic, but blue-white. In less than a second, her whole body was aflame in blue-white.

How dare they.” It wasn’t a question, but a statement, from a voice filled with anger and hate. “My people. I must save my people.”

Ellisandra roared to the skies and flew off in a bolt of light. Tiernan was unable to keep up.

She was blinded by rage, lighting up every ice and snow bird in her path just by staring at them.

Tiernan had never seen this side of his mate before; it scared him.

From the corner of his eye, he saw a familiar Sky-Blue DragonWolf leading a small troop of Draconian knights.

Sentry Leaferson?” Tiernan wondered under his breath.

Sure enough, it was Sentry Terran Leaferson. The Sky-Blue sensed him watching, looked up and saluted. Tiernan nodded back, watching as Leaferson’s troops maimed the army of oversized emperor penguins.

No time to ponder the sentry’s appearance; for now, he was just thankful for it. It meant less trouble for Tiernan later.

Tiernan caught up with Ellisandra, who was still covered in blue flames.

Sandy!” He tried calling her name, but she was not listening. “Ellisandra! Calm yourself, or you’ll destroy your own kingdom!”

All around him, the Fire DragonWolves were frightened, attempting to hide their families in makeshift burrows, since their homes were destroyed by the attacking Avians.

Tiernan had to do something, and fast. He used his Earth Magic to uproot the ground below, shielding the Fire DragonWolves from harm by hiding them.

When at last all the ice and snow Avians were knocked out, Tiernan turned back to Ellisandra.

She stood in front of the Southern Castle, staring out into the devastation of the land. The blue-white flame that engulfed her was dying out, showing him she was calming down on her own. “They destroyed everything.”

So we rebuild anew.” Tiernan tried. “Sentry Leaferson is taking care of the rest. Your people are safe from harm.”

Ellisandra shook her head sadly. “Not if I can’t control my Flamerunner.”

He was speechless for a moment, so he did the only thing he could think of to do: he caught her in his arms and held her. He did not care if she was lit and he was burning from it; as long as he could hold her.

He wrapped his wings around hers, pinning her to his chest. “Sandy, please.” He tried. “Calm down. I know the sight infuriated you, it did me, too, but you must keep your cool.”

Ellisandra whispered. “I won’t let them get away with it.”

They won’t.” He kissed her, waiting for her to calm down and return to his loving Fire DragonWolf mate. Once she was no longer lit in blue-white flame, he unwrapped his wings from her still-shaking form.

Still holding her, he turned her to the battlefield. Terran Leaferson’s Draconian troop was taking care of them; the last Ice Kestrel speared by Terran’s own blade.

See? I told you Leaferson had it under control. Trust that we’re not in this alone.”

I know, but…” Ellisandra’s voice trailed, tears in her eyes.

Tiernan kissed them away before meeting her lips. “No buts, darling.” He whispered, thinking of his own Earth Kingdom. “Are you calm enough to confront your people?”

She looked up into his eyes, nodding.

Chapter Ten:

The Pretender’s Game

 

The nightmare would not end. Anya screamed until she was hoarse, but she could not move while Mashi bit her, sucking the life essence out of her.

Let go, please.” She whimpered, trying to push away using her arms and legs.

You will be mine, Mashi hissed in her mind.

What do you want from me? She asked back. I am only a mere DragonWolf; nothing more or less.

You are Dratianos and will be mine. Mashi pulsed at her neck harder, forcing her to cry out.

The pictures of her childhood in Mek’anar ran through her mind. Her mother, the Grey DragonWolf Adarramena Dranna with her indigo magic from both her parents; the Fire Dragon Warrior Sir Airemus Dranna and the SageWolf of the Mountain Wolf Forest Packs, the Wolfkin Katarina Mout’ella. Her father, the Royal Black Dragon, Lord Drakkar, brother to the Emperor of the Dragon Nations whose power equaled, if not surpassed his brother Draconis’. Her brother Tanian, a Royal Black Spirit DragonWolf, whose strength and power rivaled her own.

She opened her eyes, her system filling with the rage most Dratianos’ hid within. It was this rage that kept her alive until Veluchan and his rescue party found her. The magic was golden in nature, filling her with power that shocked Mashi away from her.

What the?” Mashi released her bindings with a thought as he stepped away. He watched as wings flapped free of their chains, claws lengthened from the pads of her feet, and eyes glowing gold with rage.

Mashi smiled. This is what he wanted, what he craved as sustenance more than just energy. It was pure, raging power of the Dratianos line.

Anya knew it, hoping to use it to her own advantage.

I am Dratianos, powerful in my own right.” She growled in a voice she did not recognize. “Leave me, or die by my hand.”

Mashi was intrigued more than scared. “Impressive; using the chaos wrought by your Emperor uncle.” He chuckled, freezing her with just a flick of his wrist.

He sauntered over to her. “Yes, dearheart.” He crooned in her ear, licking it. “This is what I need. Rage and Anger are the most powerful of emotions in a Dratianos, thanks to Draconis’ father, your grandfather Brakkon.”

Leave me.” She croaked with a dragon’s growl. The rage within her grew, but she did not know how to stop it. “Now.”

Mashi laughed. “Why would I leave, when you are such a succulent and delicious energy source for me to feed on?”

Anya’s eyes widened, their golden glow fading back to their usual black. “You feed on energies you do not understand.”

Mashi smiled. “Oh, I understand the Dratianos energies all too well, my dear.” He kissed her lips.

He tasted like liquid energy. She spit his kiss back at him.

He laughed again, husky and full of himself. “I know all about the Dragon’s Rage. Ask your father and uncle sometime just how destructive it can be.”

I am not my father or my uncle.” Anya cried. “I am DragonWolf.”

Born of the Dragon and the Wolfkin, of two worlds, yet belong to neither.” Mashi taunted. “Am I right?”

She was silenced for a moment, her eyes turning back to their raging golden.

That’s it, my dear.” Mashi caressed her cheek. “Give it all to me.”

She could do nothing as he wrapped a cold hand around her and bit into the other side of her neck.

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

 

Erinfree was woken this time by a scream. She turned her head before sitting up to see two nurses trying to hold down a flailing Anya. Anya’s screams deafened, the empathic pull from them was wild and out of control.

Erinfree jumped to watch, trying to read her sister-in-love’s mind. “Step aside.”

Yes, Lady Erinfree.” The nurses chorused.

Erinfree instructed Vivianne. “Compress and sedative, now.”

Yes, Lady Erinfree,” Vivianne bowed and left.

Erinfree saw Anya’s claws and feet were tied to the bedposts. Her body twisted and turned, trying to break free from her bindings. She was screaming in her sleep, cursing in Ancient Wolf-Speak. Not knowing much of the language, Erinfree could not translate.

As a healer, Erinfree hovered a clawed hand over Anya’s chest, the other hovered over her heart. She reached for the healing magic of the winds and could faintly see a vision.

 

Let me go, Cretin!” Anya’s body was radiating blue-black as a dark shadowy figure attached itself to her, rendering her motionless.

Why would I when I am enjoying such a succulent meal?” The figure squeezed tighter, making Anya’s body radiate bright blue-black as she screamed.

 

Erinfree was thrown from Anya’s mind, left staring at her body. She was shocked, not noticing when the grey-colored wolf Vivianne walked up and placed a compress to Anya’s sweating head.

Are you all right, my Lady?” Vivianne asked.

Erinfree shook her head to clear the shock from her mind. “I am but she’s not.” She supplied. “Spread the word; there’s a demon taking over Anya, literally sucking the life out of her.”

My mate already knows.” Vivianne nodded. “As we speak, he’s with the Jewel Guardians, working his magic to undo Kaos mind control on the Avians.”

Erinfree blinked. “Really?” Vivianne nodded again. “Where is he now?”

Vivianne closed her eyes and smiled, reopening them after a moment. “He is on his way to the courtyard to meet with Cjarsa and the other Monarchs.”

Erinfree blinked again. Everything was going too fast for her.

Thank you, Vivianne.” Erinfree supplied, leaving. She jumped out of the nearest window and took flight toward her Castle.

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

 

Tanian could hold on no longer. His strength was waning, even his Dratyr could see it.

Dran, take over for Tan.” Drakkar instructed.

But!” Dran’a’vir interjected, giving his Monarchs looks of astonishment.

Shadow, just do it!” Adarramena instructed. “Tanny, heal.”

Mutyr!”

Why must you argue?” Drakkar asked. “Adarra, freeze her again.”

Can’t. She’s already adjusted.”

Cjarsa squealed, finally breaking free from their magical bindings and flying away.

Great!” Adarramena growled. “Dran, heal Tanian. Scar and I will go after her.”

Adarra!” Dran’a’vir yelled as he watched them disappear. He looked to Tanian. “My apologies, Prince Tanian, but I’ve been instructed.”

Tanian growled at him. His entire body ached and he felt he was going to faint. “Who are you anyway?”

In truth, I’m your Mutyr’s other mate.” Dran’a’vir announced. “I could tell you my story as I heal you?”

Tanian glared, huffing. “I don’t even know you. Why should I trust you?”

Dran’a’vir sighed. “Tanian, if you don’t learn, we’ll never get along.” He explained. “I’d rather not let mistrust burden our happy family, for we love one another.” He paused. “All of us.”

All of us?” Tanian was confused.

Dran’a’vir smiled. “Tell you what: if you let me heal you, I’ll tell you everything you need to know.”

Tanian stared at the Chocolate-brown dragon, debating whether or not to trust him. If he was telling the truth, Dran’a’vir was right. They would have to get along sometime, being he was family.

You’ll tell me everything?” Tanian inquired.

Everything.” Dran’a’vir placed his hands on Tanian’s chest. Before he closed his eyes to start healing him, he began his story. “I was born in the Outer Realm nearly a century ago as a boy named Shane Michael Morehouse.”

Tanian closed his eyes to accept the healing energies. Dran’a’vir’s magic was different from either of his parents’ or his own. It had a dark feel to it, yet it was controlled and warm, rather than being wild and cold. He listened to Dran’a’vir’s story as the male’s magic lulled him to sleep.

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

Lord Dran’a’vir was glad Tanian trusted him, though he hardly knew him. Before long, his new son-in-love…Kanota?…was asleep. He called in his mind for Adarramena and Drakkar.

How’s it going with Cjarsa? He asked them, staring at Tanian’s sleeping form.

Peachy. Adarramena answered sarcastically.

We haven’t found her yet, Dran. Drakkar sighed. How are you two?

He doesn’t fully trust me, which is understandable, Dran’a’vir remarked sadly. I told him my story as I healed him. It eased his mind just enough to rest.

In other words, you used Shadow Magic on him? Adarramena groaned. You put him to sleep with Shadow Magic?

He was in great pain, love. Dran’a’vir remarked. Whatever battle he got in on his way here still hasn’t fully healed.

I hate to say it, but he’s right. Drakkar agreed. He was not only drained magically, but empathically. Couldn’t you Feel it?

I was too busy restraining Cjarsa, Adarramena remarked. You know, the Falcon Queen who broke out of our bindings because your son lost control of himself?

Enough! Dran’a’vir roared to them. He hated when they argued like this; it put him in the middle, forcing him to act as the voice of reason. I’ll send Tanian to the Healers, okay?

Their mindpaths were silent, which usually meant they were thinking, and not arguing.

Lord Dran’a’vir?” He heard a male voice above him. When he opened his eyes, the brown-furred, black-eyed DragonWolf wearing green robes and carrying a Wandstaff with the moon symbol of the Illunae on it spoke. “I apologize for the intrusion, my Lord, but it would seem we have a problem.”

Dran’a’vir narrowed his eyes. “Introduce yourself and tell me.”

Again, I apologize.” The brown DragonWolf male bowed. “I am Sir Nat’iel Henrat’nu, a Druid Dwellerkin DragonWolf.”

Impressive lineage, Sir Nat’iel.” Dran’a’vir said. “Now tell me the problem.”

Sir Nat’iel relayed what Vivianne told him: A demon named Mashi was taking over Anya’s young mind, feeding on her energies.

Shista!” Dran’a’vir cursed. “Mashi is no demon; he’s one of Dracora’s Pretenders.”

How dare you insinuate that thing is one of my Lady Countess’!” Sir Nat’iel cried in a voice not his own.

Dran’a’vir growled, standing. At the angry look in his eyes, Sir Nat’iel bowed.

My deepest apologies for my disrespect.” the DragonWolf knight didn’t meet Dran’a’vir’s eyes. “I could not control my darker side. I have ever been loyal to the Countess, for she was the one who rescued me so long ago.”

Sir Nat’iel,” Dran’a’vir spoke softly. The DragonWolf looked up at him expectedly. “Perhaps you should listen before going off on a tangent. You might learn I know more than you about this Mashi.”

There is no time for stories, Lord Dran’a’vir.” Sir Nat’iel stuttered. “We must help Anya before he drains her of her life’s energy.”

Agreed.” Dran’a’vir looked to the still-resting Tanian. “Think you can transport all of us there? I’ll tell you what I know when we get there.”

Sir Nat’iel nodded, standing. He waved his Wandstaff in the air, muttered a spell in a mixture of Romany and Gaelic and the three were transported to the Eastern Kingdom’s Healing Chambers.

Chapter Eleven:

Cjarsa’s Confession

 

Lady Adarramena and Lord Drakkar flew as fast as their wings would let them, but Cjarsa was faster. She spotted Lord Tiernan and Lady Ellisandra flying in their direction.

Catch her!” Adarramena pointed ahead of them. Tiernan and Ellisandra joined their flight-party.

There has to be some way to catch her,” Drakkar growled. “How did she get so fast, anyway?”

My guess is body control.” Ellisandra flew beside him.

Something’s taken over her?” Adarramena asked. “Okay, you two, tell me what you know.”

Not much, really.” Tiernan shrugged, pausing in-flight to use his Earth Magic to uproot trees to hopefully slow her down. “Word has it, a demon named Mashi has taken over Anya’s mind, and Kaos Himself has taken over the Avians.”

You told us so, Majesties.” Ellisandra responded. “I felt it in those that attacked my people. Something is controlling them.”

Let’s not talk about it, let’s just get Cjarsa!” Adarramena growled, racing ahead.

Cjarsa’s screeches were loud enough to deafen their ears, but it seemed Tiernan’s idea worked. Trees used their branches to entangle themselves in the Falcon Queen’s limbs, forcing her near-motionless.

Adarramena stopped in midair, raised her indigo magic and let it wrap itself around Cjarsa’s body. “Dominicus Exordium Bane!”

All watched in midair as Cjarsa’s eyes changed from the red-rimmed black of Kaos’ influence to their sky blue. Her body relaxed, her screeches quieted.

Adarramena let go of her magic, nodding to Tiernan to let go of his.

I’m sorry for doing this, Queen Cjarsa, but I had no choice.”

Kaos.” Cjarsa whispered. “He took my people’s minds. Told them about Kreskin in Da’esigil, wanting to steal the skies.”

I know what he did.” Drakkar told her. “How many of your people are left here?”

Over three hundred.” Cjarsa answered. “Most are wounded.”

Call the retreat.” Tiernan demanded. “Tell them to go home.”

Lord Tiernan, do you think I would if I could?” Cjarsa asked. “They are being controlled by Kaos. None can beat his power.”

I know quite a few who can.” Drakkar growled. “Every Dratianos has so far, including my mate and the Lady Empress of Mal’estar, Adellandra.”

Adarramena nodded.

He is much too powerful now that he joined up with the Pretender.” Cjarsa rasped, taking a breath.

We know about Mashi.” Adarramena supplied softly. “Dran’a’vir will take care of him with the Eye of Horus.”

Isn’t the Eye in the Outer Realm?” Drakkar asked curiously.

Adarramena shook her head. “He wears it on his right hand.” She turned back to Cjarsa. “Can you call a retreat at all? Just for a little while? Tell them they need to heal or something. We need enough time to vanquish Mashi and find the source of Kaos’ control.”

I can try, Lady Adarramena.” Cjarsa nodded. “Go now, while you can.”

 

<*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*>

Veluchan was in the middle of battle beside a few of his best soldiers and those on loan from Mek’anar when a white glow surrounded each ice kestral, water fowl, and firehawk. They all screamed in unison, their eyes glowing white as they stopped attacking, turned around and flew away.

Veluchan watched in awe and total confusion.

What just happened?” Veluchan heard the General of the Waters, Gerry Waterford whisper from beside him.

Not a clue.” Veluchan shook his head. He looked around. Every other Avian that attacked the Water Kingdom were flying away. “Let’s see if we can find out, shall we?”

Waterford nodded, following as Veluchan took flight. They met up with Tiernan and Ellisandra near the Water Tower.

What’s going on?” Veluchan asked them.

Cjarsa called a temporary retreat while the Monarchs tend to Anya.” Tiernan told him.

Veluchan was alert in moments. “What happened with Anya?”

Ellisandra explained the best she could. As soon as she was finished with the name “Mashi”, Veluchan had already taken flight.

Waterford was confused. “This has been one eventful day, my Lord and Lady.”

That it has.” Ellisandra told him. “Erinfree is still in the Healing Chambers; perhaps you should tell the others to regroup, heal, and do what they can to rebuild?”

Waterford didn’t question her authority, even though he was a Western Waters DragonWolf and she the Queen of the Southern Fires. He only obeyed, saluting and heading to the Wind Kingdom to carry out her orders.

Veluchan made it to the Healing Chambers in the Eastern Kingdom in record time. The Chocolate Dragon Lord Dran’a’vir was already there, a ring on his finger glowing yellow while he chanted in Ancient Egyptian. Anya’s body was flailing on the bed, her paws and hind legs tightly bound to the posts. Erinfree was there as well, using her Healing Magic the best she could.

Let me help her.” Veluchan heard Tanian’s voice croak.

I would not were I you.” the Grey DragonWolf nurse announced. “You are not yet healed, my Lord.”

I’m not your lord, Lady Vivianne.” Tanian grumbled. “Anya is my sister; let me help her.”

Just listen to my mate.” A male growled.

Veluchan finally turned to see a dark-brown DragonWolf with black hair and dressed in dark greens. He was carrying a silver Wandstaff with the Illunian crescent moon symbol at the top.

Who are you?” Veluchan asked.

I am Sir Nat’iel Henrat’nu, a Knight of the Countess Dracora.”

Pleasure.” Veluchan grumbled. “Now tell me why you’re here and ordering the Prince-King Tanian Dratianos around.”

I’m a Druidic Dwellerkin DragonWolf who came with the Mek’anar Jewel Guardian, Percy Peridot.” Sir Nat’iel Henrat’nu supplied, gesturing to the grey wolf nurse attending to Tanian’s new wounds. “My mate Vivianne followed as a Healer.”

Veluchan was losing patience. “Fast-forward to why you’re here, in this building, talking to the Spirit DragonWolf Prince-King as if he were a child.”

Velu, it’s okay,” Tanian announced, placing his paws up. “Allow me to explain.”

He can as much as you, and I’d rather have you rest, Brattano.” Veluchan supplied firmly. “You haven’t done much of it since you got here.”

I give up.” Tanian grinned, laying back on the bed. “Administer the healing, Nurse Vivianne.”

Vivianne smiled. “Very well, Lord Tanian.”

Veluchan rolled his eyes and turned around to check on his own mate, Anya.

We may need your help, Brother.” Erinfree whispered. He looked up at her; she was pale.

How long have you been at this?” Veluchan asked her, worried.

For the past three candlemarks.” Erinfree rasped.

Go. Rest. Now.” Veluchan sighed. “I’ll take over.”

I can do this.”

Not much longer without exhausting yourself again, you can’t.” Veluchan countered. “I’ll not have you out of service when we need you most. Now go lie down somewhere and rest.”

Is that an order, little water brother?”

Veluchan groaned. “Yes.”

Erinfree stepped away and almost fell over her own feet. A nurse helped her to the bed beside Anya’s.

See that she actually sleeps.” Veluchan instructed.

Yes, m’Lord Veluchan,” the nurse nodded.

Trusting in the nurse’s abilities, he turned once again to Anya.

Veluchan, why don’t you take Erinfree’s spot?” Lord Dran’a’vir suggested. “I’ve taken care of Mashi for the moment; you could try and heal her mind.”

I will not try.” Veluchan announced, brushing hair from Anya’s face and kissing it. “I will heal her mind and bring her back to us.”