Category Archives: Inner Realm Chronicles: Excerpts

Angel: The Girl With the Animal Touch

(A short story in the eyes of a Hill View High Student: Andrew Davies)

 

I’ve lived in this crazy town ever since I was little. In all those years, I’ve run into a lot of different types of people. Hill View is a tiny town with not-too-many people, where everybody knows who you are and your family is well known throughout. We’re tucked away in the middle, between perfection and forever. Being how small our town is, you’d be willing to bet nothing happens. It doesn’t. You could say we’re your average, ordinary town with average, ordinary people. You could say there isn’t anything I haven’t seen in Hill View, Michigan.

That is, until Angel Pierce came along.

From the moment I saw her, I knew she was something special. With a healthy combination of bright red hair and big, beautiful, bright green eyes, I could tell right away she was the girl for me. She looked tall, and the word gorgeous came to mind. It was a crush at first sight.

I met her on her first day at Hill View High. She strode into the room slowly, hugging her books to her chest shyly. She hid behind our principal, Mr. Anderson. I wasn’t the only one to notice her. Everyone did. The guys began to whisper already, the girls in class scowled at her, ready to pounce with another round of new-girl gossip. I just sat in my seat and stared.

Her hair was tied up in a bushy pony-tail, her eyes were sad as they stared at the floor. She looked distant, not wanting to be the center of attention.

Mr. Anderson whispered in Mrs. Pemberton’s ear. Mrs. Pemberton smiled, clapping her hands and moving to introduce the new girl.

“Class, this is Angel Pierce.” Mrs. Pemberton announced as Mr. Anderson left the room. Angel continued to stare at the floor. “Please make her feel welcome here at Hill View High.” She turned to Angel. “Why don’t you take a seat next to Andrew Davies.”

That’s me! I cried in my mind. I sat up straight and smiled at her when she walked toward me. I tried to hide my excitement when Angel looked up and smiled at me.

I smiled back. God, she was gorgeous! I thought.

Every guy continued to stare at her as she sat down, comments to themselves. The girls began to whisper, already jealous of the competition for their recent boyfriends. They hated her already.

Angel, on the other hand, could sense me staring. She smiled a warm smile that made my heart pound with delight. My mind was already picturing us making out at Clement’s Pond.

I quickly turned away to hide my embarrassment. I didn’t want her to see me blush. I returned to my math work, but couldn’t concentrate.

At the end of the day, I could think of nothing but Angel. Alone, I began to walk home, until I heard a female voice behind me.

“Hey! Wait up!”

I turned to see Angel, running up to me.

When she caught up with me, she smiled. “Do you always walk to and from school alone?”

Unable to speak, I nodded. I could feel my heart pounding.

She giggled. “Why?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know.” I thought of something. “How do you know?”

She blushed, trying not to meet my eyes. “I watch you.”

I raised my eyebrows. “You do?”

She nodded. “I moved next door to you, but only started school today.”

“When did you move in?”

“Two weeks ago. Didn’t you see me?”

Actually, I had, but I didn’t want to tell her that. So I told her, “I guess I hadn’t noticed. Sorry.”

“That’s okay.” She said. “You know what?”

“What?”

“I’m beginning to like it here.” She replied. “I moved from Pleasant Ridge, just across town. Compared to that, Hill View is pretty cool.”

“What made you move here?” I asked softly, wondering.

“My dad got a job at the Reading Industries Hill View plant.” Angel told me. She looked away, seeing two squirrels fighting in a nearby tree. Her smile turned to a frown and she ran ahead of me toward them.

“Be careful, Angel.” I tried to warn her, but she didn’t hear me.

She dropped her books on the ground and sat on the grass. To my surprise, the two squirrels stopped fighting to run toward her.

She began talking to them. “Now, now. Why fight the inevitable? You know you were made for each other. Here.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out a pack of peanuts, shaking the bag into her hand.

I stood still and watched silently. The squirrels chattered as they took some and ate quickly.

“You’re welcome, friends. I want you both to behave, understand?” Angel whispered, petting them. I swear they nodded. “Go. Have fun.”

With that, they raced off and she stood up.

I dared to speak. “What was that all about?”

Angel grinned. “Oh, nothing. I just have a knack with animals, that’s all.”

“You call that a knack?” I asked, incredulous. She picked her books up after brushing herself off. “That was amazing! Did they really understand you?”

She nodded, laughing. “Of course.” She grabbed my arm with a free hand. “Let’s go home and I’ll explain.”

The walk home was peaceful. She surprised me when she grabbed my hand.

We look at each other and I smiled at her, happy she entered my life.

We were almost there when we heard a car horn blowing behind us. I looked beside Angel and saw Bradley Schmidt and his girlfriend Kelly Reading in a jeep. Bradley was in the driver’s seat. Kelly waved, smiling at me.

“Do you know them?” Angel asked, looking at me.

I nodded and they called to me.

“Hey Andy!” Bradley cried, looking out the passenger-side window. “Are you busy?”

“We’re going to the Clubhouse for a treat.” Kelly said. “Wanna join us?”

I looked to Angel. She looked like she needed a treat.

“Sure.” I told them. “What about you, Angel? Did you want to come with me?”

Angel nodded her head, happily. “Thanks.”

We went up to the jeep, opening the side door with no problems.

“Angel Pierce, these are Bradley Schmidt and Kelly Reading.” I said. Kelly and Angel met eyes, smiling at each other. “Guys, this is Angel. She just moved in next door to me.”

Kelly winked at me. “I know.”

I shook my head.

We were on our way to the Clubhouse. When we got there, we sat at a booth. Kelly and Bradley sat next to each other and Angel sat next to me, blushing.

“I wanted to talk to you, Angel.” Kelly said after we ordered sundaes.

“Sure. What about?” Angel said.

Kelly leaned in and whispered. “About your so-called knack with animals.”

Now Bradley leaned in when Angel gasped. “We saw your handiwork at school when you came in.”

I looked to her. “What happened when you came to school?”

“Oh, that’s nothing.” Angel blushed away. “My cat Jinx followed me to school, that’s all. I just told her to go home.”

“That wasn’t nothing, Angel.” Kelly said. She looked to me. “Have you heard of the Mystics, Andy?”

“Sure, everyone in school has.” I replied. “What does that have to do with Angel?”

“Simple.” Bradley remarked. “Kelly’s one, and recognized something in Angel that very few non-Mystics have.”

“What do I have?” Angel asked, just as the sundaes were set in front of us.

“It’s called Unicorn Magic.” Kelly replied. “I’ll explain more later. For now, let’s chow and get home. I haven’t even told Momma I’d be coming here.”

“I’m sure Mrs. Dratianos won’t mind.” Bradley told her, kissing her cheek.

When his lips pulled back, I could see the kiss of chocolate on her cheek. I laughed.

“What’s so funny?” Kelly asked.

Bradley looked at her, laughing too. He took a napkin and wet it with water from his glass. “I left chocolate on your face by accident.”

Kelly blushed. “Oh Bradley, my love. You’re so silly.”

He wiped it off her cheek and kissed her lips. “Thank you, darling.”

Angel sighed from beside me.

“What’s wrong?” I asked her, placing an arm around her shoulders.

“I wish I had someone like that.” She announced, staring at the loving couple across the table.

“Like what?” Kelly asked.

“All lovey-dovey.” Angel said. “Someone to sweep me off my feet and kiss away my wounds. So far, the only person close enough to do that was my cousin, Rick, but he died last year.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Bradley said, and shared a look with Kelly.

“That’s okay. I’m over it.” Angel said. “Did you say your last name was Reading?”

Kelly nodded.

“I don’t know if they’re your family, but my dad got a job at Reading Industries downtown.” Angel said. “That’s why we’re here in Hill View.”

“There’s only one Reading family in Hill View, and that’s definitely them.” I told her.

“You’re thinking of my step-grandparents.” Kelly said. “They’re the ones that own Reading Industries. Daddy Derrick tells me all the Readings, whether married to it or born into the family, inherit a portion of it.”

“Mr. Reading never told me that.” Bradley looked at her. “Neither did Alexander, and he’s the Elder Reading’s youngest son.”

“Never mind that now, Brad.” Kelly told him. “Anyway, if you want, I can explain all about the Unicorn Magic.”

“Now?” Angel asked, looking from side to side. “In front of all these people?”

Kelly shook her head. “No, at my house.” She turned to me. “Do you know where the Mid-District is?”

“Isn’t that by the Catz Mansion?” I asked. “I don’t know for sure.”

“That’s Catz Avenue.” Bradley said. “We’re talking about the neighborhoods of Sycamore and Grosset Roads.”

I thought about it. “Oh, where the Woods’ live?”

“Where they used to live, yes.” Kelly said. “The Woods’ are my mother’s side of the family.”

“So you really are a mysterious Mystic?” I asked, and she nodded.

“Try not to talk too much about it around school.” Bradley instructed.

“For now, did you want to come over, Angel?” Kelly asked her.

I looked to Angel. “I do, but….I don’t know.”

“What if we go to your house?” Kelly prodded.

Angel looked up and stared at her. “I’m not sure about that, Kelly.”

“If it’s your parents you’re worried about, don’t be.” Bradley told her. “I’m sure Andy here can persuade them we’re cool. Right Andy?”

I nodded, gulping. “Sure, no problem.”

 

After Kelly had explained everything to Angel, she and Bradley exchanged glances.

“Are you understanding all this, Angel?” Kelly asked her.

“Kind of.” Angel replied.

“Don’t worry about it too much, okay?” Bradley said, standing and grabbing his coat.

Kelly did the same. “Yeah, don’t worry about it.” She hugged Angel. “Whenever you need a friend, you can count on us to be there, okay?”

Angel looked relieved. “Okay.”

With that, they left.

It was just her and I, alone at last. My heart was pounding a mile a minute, and my nerves were making me shake.

“Looks like it’s you and me now.” I told her. I glanced at the clock. “I’d better head home. Homework, you know?”

“Yeah, I got some, too.” Angel replied shyly. “Lemme walk you home. It’s pretty late.”

“I live next door, but, okay, sure.” I said. Where was my mind when I needed it?

We went outside and headed next door to my house. She stopped to sit on the porch.

“You know, Andy. I had a good time today.” She said. “Kelly, Bradley and you really made me feel welcome in Hill View.”

I sat next to her. “That’s what we do.” I told her, wrapping an arm around her waist. “Even if we’re total jerks, Hill View kids are cool when it comes to new students.”

She moved away from me.

What was she doing? What was I doing? I had the perfect opportunity to kiss her and blew it.

“Was it something I said?” I asked, my hands now in my pockets, ashamed.

“No.”

“Did you feel uncomfortable?”

“No.” She said. “Not with you. I don’t know. I guess it’s the new-girl jitters.”

I laughed lightly. I never heard it like that before. “Don’t be nervous, Angel.” I told her. I tried placing my hands around her waist again. This time, she scooted closer to me. My heart skipped a beat and I grinned, sighing in happiness. I thought back to earlier in the afternoon, when she’d wished she had someone like Kelly had Bradley.

With that thought in mind, I brought up the courage to kiss her.

She was hesitant at first, but she quickly relaxed and kissed me back.

When we parted, I couldn’t help smiling at her. Her red hair had come out of the ponytail in strands that covered the sides of her face. I moved them out of her face and kissed the tip of her nose.

She giggled. “What was that for?”

“Because of your inner beauty.” I told her. “You truly are an angel, Angel Pierce.”

She blushed but snuggled closer to me. “Thank you, Andy.”

“You’re welcome.” I replied. Her head was on my chest, so I kissed her hair. “You wished for someone special, like Bradley is for Kelly, right?” I felt her nod in the darkness. “Let me be that guy for you.”

She looked up at me. “Don’t you have a girlfriend?”

I smiled, shaking my head. “Do you think I’d ask you if I did?”

She grinned, replying in a teasing tone. “I don’t know, Andrew Davis. Maybe, maybe not?”

We kissed again. Her kisses were so sweet and rich, I couldn’t resist them.

Inner Realm Chronicles: Scenes

— Adellandra Dranna Dratianos

Stories of those from the Packs, Nations, Dream Realm and All the Realms of All the Worlds. As told to and influenced by Lady Adellandra Dranna Dratianos. To call these “All-Realm Chronicles” was the only thing I could think of, as they are short-stories (some that turn into longer stories) of those family and friends I come in contact with. They are visions-seen-from-afar as they happened. Chronicled by Adellandra Dranna Dratianos.

Seraphim Mout’ella and Anton Dranna: Lady Alpha SheWolf’s Decree

Katherine Hawk-Stargazer and Lord Brakkon: A Companion’s Heart-to-Heart

Braken Joel Hawk and Draconis Dratianos: Meeting at the FireWall

Katherine Hawk-Stargazer and Draconis Dratianos: Sibling’s Heart-to-Heart


Seraphim Mout’ella and Anton Dranna: Lady Alpha SheWolf’s Decree

I paced the den. My old bones and muscles creaking with the movement. There was something amiss amongst my grandonan’s Packs, I could smell it. I could taste it. And I did not like it. I knew it had something to do with her dragon side but I could never catch her to question her about it.

Seraphim, will you stop pacing? I heard my mate Serenade’s voice in my head. You are making me dizzy.

“Where is our grandonan when we need her?” I asked, settling next to her. She was laying comfortably, holding our new cubs close. “She has not visited the Packs or even patrolled for three moons!”

“She is busy with her children, and duties at Mal’estar.” Serenade supplied gently. “You must remember who she was first.”

I sighed. “Lady Guardian, aye.” I replied, nudging the flanks of two cubs with my nose, inching them closer to their matéré’s teats. “She is also our Alpha, and should act like it.”

I sensed someone behind us and turned. There, I saw, not my grandonan, but her younger satil, Anton Dranna. He was in his dragonwolf form, looking a little worse for wear.

Go, deal with our grandonar, my dearest. Serenade’s gentle voice supplied in my head. I will see to our cubs.

With a nod, I padded out of the den.

“What do you want, dragon?” I asked him, shifting to my Companion wolf form. “Come to make trouble with the Packs?”

Anton shook his head. “I am here on orders from Adellandra.”

My eyes widened.

“She sent me here, as punishment.” He continued. “She claims I do not care too much for my wolfkin side. So, she sent me here for a week’s end to learn more about it.”

I laughed. “Did she now? Funny, how she sent you directly to me.”

“I thought so, too.” Anton remarked. “It’s widely known how much you hate dragons. Knowing Dratyrna Lord Brakkon’s past, I do not blame you.”

“If you are going to stay, you might as well shift to your wolf form.” I told him.

Anton nodded, closing his eyes and shifting to Companion wolf form. It shocked me, for he looked as a younger version of myself when I was a pup!

“I am surprised you know how, Anton.” I said.

“I learned from your kana, Granpere.” He supplied.

“Do not speak Dragon-tongue around me, youngling.” I frowned. “The word you are looking for is Donan.”

“Oh, I know Wolf-Speak very well, Granpere.” Anton responded back. “I’m not the drake I used to be so long ago. In fact, I’m still learning more about my true-self everyday.”

“Is that right?” I asked.

Anton nodded. “You know the three of us were blooded as Ancient Mystics?”

“I know the story.”

“Good.” He said. “I was an infant in the Mortallan Realm, growing up with my Ancient Mystic matéré and Mortal Pérat. All memories of the Realms were erased to the back of my mind. It was only when Adellandra forced them back to me that I started to remember my true-name of Anton Dranna.”

“Mout’ella.” I told him. “You and your sitas may be dragons but you are also wolves. Be proud of your heritage.”

“Once I know more about it, I’ll appreciate it more, Granpere.” Anton remarked. “At any rate, is there anything I can do to make my stay with the Packs more enjoyable?”

“Stay as Pack, Live as Pack, Die as Pack.” I told him. “Learn from us. For now, find Chase Moondancer, our Beta Male. He will teach you.”

Anton’s eyes lit up at the name. “I didn’t know he was part of this Pack structure!”

“The word for it is ‘Familia’.” I told him. “Pack is Familia, and aye, the Moondancers are part of our Packs.”

Anton saluted and turned to find Chase. I turned back to enter the den and seek my mate and cubs.

Katherine Hawk-Stargazer and Lord Brakkon: Companion’s Heart-To-Heart

Takes place AFTER Lord Brakkon’s true-name and form are revealed.

I felt like a confused and caged tigress. Something told me I needed to speak with my Father Braken.

Wolf held me from behind and nuzzled my neck. “Go seek your Pérat, my love.” He purred in my ear. “The pups are in capable hands.”

I turned and hugged him. “What about you? Will you be okay without me for awhile?”

Wolf nodded. “I shall be waiting, impatiently, but waiting none the less.” He smiled, kissing my snout. “Now, go, before I change my mind and have my way with you.”

I giggled, kissing him back and leaving.

I headed not to the border of the Epsilon, where Father and Mother usually were, but the Border Empire of Mal’estar. The Empire now stood tall on the borders of the Realm of Dreams and the Dragon Nations, as my new-old friend Lady Adellandra and her new mate were both the Lord and Lady Guardian of the Realms and Emperor and Empress of the Dragon Nations.

I came upon the gates in my Companion form, a Balinese.

“Halt! Who wishes entrance to Mal’estar?”

“I am the Lady Katherine Hawk-Stargazer of the Canine Valley.” I told the Draconian Guard. “I seek the Lord Brakkon, my father.”

The Guard frowned, staring at me for a moment before he nodded, letting me pass.

I headed directly to the Castle itself, where I found my cousin-friend Lady Adellandra play-fighting with swords against a male. They were both in dragonwolf forms.

“Sulheya, Lady!” I cried, getting their attentions.

Adellandra turned and waved. “Sulheya yourself, Kat.” She said. Both she and the male walked up to me. “You remember Anton, don’t you? My younger satil?”

I shook my head. “I am sorry, but no.”

“Come on, Katherine, it’s me.” Anton shifted to Immortal form and winked. “Antony?”

“My apologies, Antony, I didn’t recognize you in your true-form.” I told him. “I am here for a reason, Lady. I wish to find my Father and get some answers out of him.”

Adellandra grinned. “My friend, you of all people can call me Adella, or Adellandra. You know how much I dislike titles.”

I nodded. “I am still getting used to it.” I told her. “Do you know where I can find him?”

“Dratyrna’s in the Castle with Draconis.” Adellandra remarked. She closed her eyes and frowned. “In the Battle Room.”

“War is imminent.” Anton supplied. “Demons and Dominionites that are left have joined forces against us.”

I shook my head. “When I return, I will let Wolf and Toby know to gather our Troops.”

“For now, Anton Mout’ella Dranna, you’re toast.” Adellandra lightened up and hit her satil on the head with her wooden sword. “See you later, Kat.”

I then headed inside the Castle and found my Father talking with Adellandra’s mate. I stood in the doorway in silence, staring at the dragon male named Draconis. If he was one of Father’s children, he would be my half-brother, I thought to myself.

My father looked so serious as a dragon. I still didn’t know how he came to be a Balinese, and how I took after him.

“Pardon the interruption, Father.” I had to speak up. “May I have a word with you, alone?”

“Anything you have to say to me can be said in front of my kano, kana.” Father replied.

“I kind of wanted to speak to you alone. It’s private.”

Draconis stared at me for a moment. I could feel his dark eyes on me, wondering. “Go, Dratyr. I can tell it’s important, and we will speak of strategic measures later.”

Father nodded. “Thank you, kano.”

Draconis then left the room after nodding to both of us.

“So, kana, what can I do for you?” Father hugged me. “It’s been ages since we saw each other last. How are you, Katherine?”

“Not well, Father.” I told him. “I am beginning to question myself, and you.”

We walked out of the Battle Room and I followed him to the garden behind the Castle.

“What do you mean, question yourself?” Father asked. We sat on a bench. “If it is about my true-identity, I am sorry.”

I smiled lightly. “Aye, it is. How are you a dragon and a Balinese? Why hide in one form when you were born in another?”

“I am a Draconian, a Shape-Shifter dearest.” Brakkon announced. “When I was destroyed by my kano Draconis in his Chaotic form, my soul was reborn as a Companion. The Gods told me, as punishment for my wrongdoings, I had to retain my memories of my past life as the Dragon. I felt my wrongs as the male named “Thorn” needed to be punished. I was renamed Braken Hawk by the Gods, and grew to appreciate the peaceful life of a Companion as I lived with those memories. When I met your mutyr, she helped me Heal my inner self and grow. Mystica taught me to live again.”

“What about your form? Why did you live as a Balinese if you were a dragon?”

“It was part of my punishment.” Father responded, then sighed. “I gave up all titles and royalty I had, just to be reincarnated early. As the God of Death and Rebirth, I would never see the Summerlands. As a joke, my fellow gods gave me the Balinese form and the name of Braken Hawk.” He smiled. “But that is in the past. You told me you were also questioning yourself.”

I nodded, staring at the lilac tree ahead of me. There was a tombstone which read “My Empress” upon it. “I have been questioning myself lately.” I told him. “As I know Mother is a Shape-shifter as an Ancient Mystic, and I know now you are too, as a Draconian, does that make me a Shape-Shifting Ancient Mystic Draconian? Can I shift to any shape I wish, as Lady Adellandra does?”

“Adellandra is an Ancient Mystic Draconian Wolf, among other things.” He told me. “To answer your question, aye, you can. You have two bloods in you, my kana. Ancient Mystic and Draconian.” He paused. “Ever wonder why you and Kit were able to do as you did growing up in Dark Tower? Most Companions only shift to their breeds or species, and normally, Feline Companions do not have the magic of the Mystic that the two of you have.”

“I had noticed that, Father.” I supplied. “Does that mean I can use that magic to shift to any form?”

“Anything you like, kana.” Father smiled. “Try a dragonlet, a smaller version of the dragon.”

I stood and closed my eyes.

“Envision yourself as a small dragon.” He told me quietly.

I peeked open one of my eyes and smiled. “I know how it works, Father.”

I closed it again and pictured my Companion form changing to a small dragon, a dragonlet. I could feel the magic working from within, my Mystic’s Force heating up and engulfing me in a glowing light. My Feline’s tail changed from soft and furry to thin and scaled. On my back, I felt wings escape from inside and my feline face changed as well. My nose lengthened slightly and my eyes changed shape, from feline to reptilian.

I opened them to stare at my Father. “Well?”

“Beautiful, kana.” Father hugged me. “I knew you could do it. With a little more practice of your Draconian Magic, you will have it down pat.” He kissed my forehead then grinned. “Want to show your bratton?”

“Bratton?”

“Bratton is Brother in Draconian.” He told me. “Want to show Draconis?”

I shook my head. “Another time, perhaps. I must get back and tell Wolf to ready our Companion Armies.”

Father’s face went sad. “When you gather them together, tell Adellandra and Draconis. No mere Demon or Dominionites are going to win this war; not if I have anything to do with it.”

“Aye, Father.” I kissed his snout. “Kateea and take care!”

I looked to the skies and thought of flying home.

Braken Joel Hawk and Draconis Dratianos: Meeting At the FireWall

I remember when I first met Lord Draconis Vilinos Dratianos, Emperor of the Dragon Nations. Lady Guardian introduced us when the two of them came through the borders of the Nations and the Realm of Dreams. My Father, Lord Guardian O’Dell had summoned both Nikita and myself from the Realm of the Ancients and our children for a certain task.

“Joel, I have a quest for you.” Father supplied, acting out of his normal character.

He was in his Immortal Wizard form, which he didn’t take often. His eyes were darker than usual and I could nearly smell the taint of Uncle Orthos within him. I just did not know what that scent was doing there.

I looked at my mate, then my father. “Anything, Father. What is it you wish of me?”

“Lady Guardian is going to bring a Draconian back through the FireWall with her.” O’Dell supplied. His voice was low and his tone calm. He didn’t dare look at us, which was unlike him. “I want you to bring them both here.”

I stared at him. “Father?”

“Do as I say, Braken Joel.” Father responded. Though he didn’t look at our eyes, I could see what was in his. I caught a glimpse of a second-soul within him, fighting for control.

I cleared my throat. “Aye, Father. Just tell us when, and we will do it.”

Father finally looked at me.

That’s when I sensed the darkness that was my uncle Orthos deep within my Father’s eyes. I feared for him.

“Go now, they will be arriving in the Province Wood, as Lord Draconis will dispel the Firewall.”

I stood at attention and saluted. “Aye, Father.”

He nodded and excused us.

Nikita was silent until we left the Mystic Palace. She held onto my hand tightly. I could Feel her shivering inside and out.

“‘Kita, I know what you sense darling.” I told her, kissing her hand as we walked. “I sense my Uncle within him, too. Though I do not understand why he would be there, if I saw him be destroyed by both Father and Young Guardian.”

“I was there as well, my love.” Nikita said. “I Saw what happened.”

I stopped us in our tracks and stared at my tigress-mate. “What did you See?”

“Three separate colored winds, going to Lord Guardian, Young Guardian, and the Grand Magus.”

“Did you see the colors?” I wondered, my mind thinking. If Uncle did what I thought he did, we would have to act fast in order to destroy him for good.

“The black wind, it went to the Grand Magus.” Nikita started. “The blue, it went to Lord Guardian, and the red, it went to Young Guardian.”

I blinked. “Thank you, love.” I said, absently. My mind was wandering now, thinking of both Uncle, and the new mate of my cousin Lady Guardian.

This brings us back to the Province Wood. I could sense five individuals, all dragons, outside the Firewall. I watched in shadows as the Firewall was dispelled, as Father had predicted.

I stared at the five that stood there.

My cousin, Lady Guardian, was in a Dragonwolf form, looking regal in her Guardian’s Fighter’s Gear. Her grey wings were clipped at her neckline like a cape, and I could see the magical blade in its sheath, glittering in the sunlight. The Dream Amulet hung around her neck and her long hair was braided, held up in a bun at the top of her head. Beside her was a larger Dragonwolf, near-black in wings and tail. Behind them were a werelion who resembled the male beside my cousin, and a black Spirit dragon, who resembled both the male and the Lady. I recognized the Spirit dragon from before the Wars for Power began. He was in our rescue party from the Underground, keeping watch over his younger dragonlet sisters. In front of them was a much larger dragon-male in the uniform of a Guard. I could see the Crest of the Dragon Nations upon his chest.

As they walked deeper into the Province Wood, I Heard her Call in my mind. “Braken Joel, I know you and Nikita are hiding out here, come greet an old friend.”

I came out of the Wood with Nikita and hugged her.

“Lady Guardian!” Nikita purred. “A pleasure, as always!”

“I agree, cousin.” I supplied, patting her back. Just as I suspected, I could Sense the wind of Uncle within my cousin. “And you bring visitors from the Dragon Nations?”

The larger Dragonwolf-male spoke. “I am Lord Draconis Vilinos Dratianos, Emperor of Mal’estar and the entire Dragon Nations. These are Adellandra’s and my sons, Princes Tristian and Kronin Dratianos. Behind us is my bodyguard, Dranus.”

Draconis and I grasped hands. I felt the power within him, and it reminded me of my adopted father, my namesake Braken Hawk.

“Pleasure to meet you, Lord Draconis.” I announced. Did he know what I Sensed? Just in case, I warned him. “Be wary of darkness hiding within your mate. My uncle Orthos is fierce, especially on the purest of hearts such as hers.”

My cousin the Lady Guardian blinked and sighed. “Thank you, Joel.”

“Oh, Lady Guardian, Lord Guardian is wanting to see you.” Nikita announced. “He’s had Joel and I in charge of the Realms since you disappeared.”

“That’s not like him.” Lady Guardian said. “Not at all, and you know your own father, Joel.”

“You are correct, cousin, I do know Father.” I supplied sadly. “He has changed greatly since the War of the Realms, and I am not liking it. You may also wish to check up on the Grand Magus. She is up to tricks I’ve only seen Uncle doing.”

She was intrigued. “You don’t say?” She asked, then nodded regally. “Take me to them both.”

“Us.” We both heard Draconis supply from behind her. “Take us to them both.”

“Right,” She said, turning back to me. “If you don’t mind?”

I grinned. “Of course not. Why do you think we are here?”

We began walking through the Wood. As we grew closer to the Mystic Sisters’ Palace, her head started to throb.

“Love?” Draconis asked her. “What’s wrong? Another vision?”

She shook her head. “No, an emotion. Hatred, pure hatred for this place. It has to be coming from Orthos’ Empathy.”

Draconis growled lowly.

“Kanos, make yourselves at home, the Companions won’t hurt you, even if you both do look a little strange to them.” She told them.

“May we go to Wolf’s Head?” The Spirit dragon named Kronin asked eagerly.

“If you’re searching for the Packs, they’ve moved.” I told him. “Nikita, why don’t we show them where Chase Moondancer and the Packs are?”

“Certainly.” Nikita purred. “It would be good to see how they fair after the War. It has been awhile.”

“Dranus, you stay with them.” She told him, who nodded.

“Nay, he stays with us.” Draconis supplied.

Again, Dranus nodded without saying a word.

“Braken Joel, please keep an eye on them.” Draconis supplied as they left.

“That I will, Lord Draconis.” I told him.

Katherine Hawk-Stargazer and Draconis Dratianos: Sibling Heart-to-Heart

I was told to report to Mal’estar by the Lady Empress-Guardian herself, Adellandra. Taking the knowledge of what my Father Brakkon told me, I shifted to a dragon-cat, a type of ‘furry’ dragon. It was the first time since learning what I really was that I brought up the courage to do so.

After wishing me love and luck, my Companion Wolf husband left my side to tend to the Companion Armies. Our oldest twin son Raulf went with him. This left his twin Lovell, the gentler kit-wolf cub, to tag along.

“I have never been to Mal’estar, Matéré.” Lovell remarked, using the Ancient Wolf-Speak word for ‘mother’. “What could the Lady Empress want you to report?”

“That, I am not sure.” I told my son. “That is why I am flying to find out.”

“It must be important, aye?” Lovell remarked, shifting to his full-wolf form. “For her to not visit?”

“Aye.” I told him, taking flight. He followed below me, racing as fast as his legs would take him.

We reached the borderline of both the Realm of Dreams and that of the Dragon Nations. I descended but stayed in dragon-cat form. Lovell stayed in his wolf form. We were met at the gates by a tall golden dragon-guard.

“Who are ye to enter Mal’estar?” He asked, eyeing each of us.

Apparently, this Guard did not know who I was. I gave him the Draconian greeting of respect: a fist to the heart and nod of the head as I said. “Kateea, Dragon Guard. I am the Lady Katherine of the Canine Valley.” I placed a claw to my son’s head. “This is my son, Prince Lovell. The Lady Empress wishes an audience with us.”

The Dragon Guard returned the sign of greeting and respect. “Kateea. I am the Guard, Squire Garret. I will escort you to the Lord’s side.”

I was confused. “Where is the Lady?”

“Lady Empress is away from the House, taking care of business in the Vampiric Realm.” Squire Garret remarked.

I sighed. “Very well, lead the way.” I supplied. Turning to my son, I told him to shift. When Lovell shifted to his original Companion form of a kit-wolf, the Squire’s eyes widened.

Shaking his head and leading the way, Squire Garret took us to the Throne Room, where we found my half-brother Lord Draconis with his Branno Dranus, Sir Airemus, the Lady’s true father, and our own father Brakkon.

“M’Lord.” Once he got Draconis’ attention, the Squire continued. “A Lady Katherine and Prince Lovell here to see you.”

Lord Draconis looked up at me and smiled. “Thank you, Squire. Return to your post.”

“Aye, M’Lord.” Squire Garret saluted and left.

Draconis hugged me. “My lovely Lady Katherine. What pleasure do I owe your company?”

“Your Lady beckoned me here, but did not tell me her reasons.” I told him. “My own Sire husband is with the Companion Armies with our other twin son Raulf.”

Draconis craned his head, interested. “Is the Sire readying for a battle?”

“One must always be ready, Lord.”

“Please, Lady Katherine, call me Draconis.” He wrapped his arm around me and led us to the group of dragons. “After all, we are siblings.”

“Half.” I corrected. “Sulheya, Pérat.” I nodded to Father.

“Sulheya and Kaetaa to you as well, Kat.” Father smiled. “Pleasure to see the two of you again.” He placed an arm on Lovell’s shoulder. Lovell stepped closer to me, afraid. “There is no need to be afraid, Young One.” Father told him. “I am still your Granpere Lord Braken Hawk, only a different form.”

Lovell looked at me, still uncertain.

“He tells the truth, Donar.” I smiled, using the Ancient Wolf-Speak word for ‘son’. “Why do you not go with him?” I suggested. “He can teach you great things.” I looked up to Father, who nodded, smiling.

Slowly, Lovell inched closer to his Granpere Braken. I knew he did not trust many, preferring a life of solitude. Once he had Father’s hand, I looked to my half-brother.

“You, on the other hand Draconis, I need to speak with.” I told him.

“Certainly Katherine.” Draconis’ smile never wavered. He turned to Dranus, Father, and Sir Airemus. “I will join you gentlemen later. For now, you are excused.”

With a salute, the three of them left. My son was hand in hand with his Granpere, which made me sigh.

“Now then, Brattona.” Draconis supplied, hand on my back to lead me away. “What is it you wish to speak to me about?”

I turned to him, confused of the foreign word.

“Lady Guardian sent for me, yet did not visit as she usually would.” I supplied, shaking my head. “Do you know why?”

He thought for a moment. “She did mention she wanted us to talk, one on one. Are you sure she didn’t say anything to you about that?”

I shook my head again, and smiled. “Nay and I cannot believe how easily I was tricked.”

Draconis grinned. “Why do you say that?”

“Sending a telepathic word for me to report here, yet she tells you, her mate, that we need to speak, one on one.” I supplied. “Tell me that is not a trick.”

“I wish I could, but I cannot.” Draconis smiled. “Adellandra has always been a little suspicious that way. It’s part of her charm.”

“Charm.” I scoffed. “I have ever been her closest Companion friend, knowing her better than most, yet have never seen this side of her so-called ‘charm.'”

“Who you knew in the Young Guardian Ariana was only part of the Empress’ true-self.” Draconis remarked. “You haven’t known her long as Adellandra, have you?”

I shook my head. “I guess not. I am still getting used to her new name, ranks and form.”

“You say she didn’t visit for awhile?” Draconis asked. I nodded my answer. “Why haven’t you visited here? You’re always welcome, Brattona.”

There was that word again.

“I have been afraid to return to Mal’estar, even to see Father, once I found out who he was.” I told him.

“You have nothing to fear, Katherine.” Draconis remarked. “Not here. You’re family, so you’re protected by the Empire and Nations.”

“That is good to know.” I told him softly. I thought for a moment. “What does ‘Brattona’ mean?”

Draconis smiled. “It’s Draconian for ‘sister.’ I thought you knew our tongue?”

“How can I if I am not around Dragons?” I asked him with a grin. “I am more around the Forest Packs, thanks to Wolfton and his matéré Shelby.”

“Ah, yes, Madam Shelby Stargazer.” Draconis responded. “I have had the pleasure of meeting her and her mate Sheldon during the Wars for Power. I was not aware your own mate was their son.”

“The youngest, actually.” I told him. “Wolfton is the youngest of three cubs; Strath, who is in the Realm of Ancients with his mate and my Sita, Laurynne Silver-Hawk, and Toriam, who is with his young Dweller-kin Wolf-mate of Cherokee Moondancer in the Hidden Forest off Wolf’s Peak with the rest of the Packs.”

“Moondancer?” Draconis was interested in my story. “As in Chase and Celeste, the Betas to the Mountain Wolf Forest Packs?”

“Cherokee is their daughter. Their son Chikité is Head-Knight of the Canine Valley.” I explained.

“I thought your Knight was named Red-Wolf?”

“That was his Warrior name, with the nickname of Red.” I told him. “Chikité somehow Bonded with my daughter Celine. He Turned her into a Dweller-kin Companion not too long ago.”

“What did Wolf think of that?”

“He was not impressed, but, after awhile, got used to the fact nothing he did would tear them apart.” I supplied.

“How about you?”

I thought for a moment before answering. “Me? What did I think of our long-time Warrior friend Bonding with my daughter?”

“That’s right.” Draconis nodded.

“At first, I was apprehensive. I was afraid she was being taken advantage of.” I explained. “After all, she was my first-born and still young. Red-Wolf was a Warrior with the Dominionite Army, same as Wolf. I feel somewhat guilty, because, at the same time, I had just borne Lovell and Raulf. I did not pay attention to her. With the War of the Realms approaching, both Wolf and I were busy with the Companion Army, so we could not deal with her. That left only Red-Wolf to Bond with her.”

“Do you still feel guilty?” Draconis asked.

“Now, I am happy for them. They each found their true mates, just as Ariana – I mean, Adella – found you.” I told him. I thought of the past, long before the War of the Realms and the Crusades. “I remembered when Wolf and I met, and how we felt toward each other at first. We were in love, aye, but there was not much we could do, once both of us were Banished to the Outer Realm.”

“When was this, and who would do such a thing?” Draconis growled lowly.

I grinned. “It is all right, Draconis.” I told him. “It was a long time ago, when Ariana was a young girl. I befriended her in her Dream Realm. No, Uncle Orthos Banished all three of us to the Outer Realm.”

“All three of you? I’m confused.”

“Long ago, before the Crusades of the Dream Realm, I found out my Uncle Orthos, who named himself the Dominionite Master, was plotting to destroy the Realm.” I began. “When I found his laboratory deep in the dungeons of Dark Tower, I also found he had Banished my twin of Kitten’s Claw. He found me hiding and Banished me as well. When he did so, I thought of Ariana Moon, my new-found Ancient Mystic friend, and was sent to her mind.”

“Who was the third? Wolf?”

“Aye, for being in love with me and rebelling against Orthos.” I told him. “It was not soon after Ariana had met the being now-known as Panther Grey that we found Wolf had been Banished to him.”

Draconis shook his head. “I’ve heard about the Crusades from Adella.” He told me, emphasizing the name. “I just never heard your side of it, Katherine.”

He looked deep in my eyes and was saddened. “You have Dratyr’s eyes, yet your Mutyr’s heart.”

I blushed. “Thank you, I guess.”

“Anytime, Sita, anytime.” Draconis smiled.

We heard footsteps from behind us and turned to see the Lady herself smiling. “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?”

“Just a sibling’s heart-to-heart, my love.” Draconis kissed her.

“You sent me here on purpose, did you not?” I shook my head and crossed my arms.

“Aye, and nay.” The Lady grinned. “I figured, since both of you are siblings, and don’t know much about each other, I’d give you a little push.” Adellandra giggled. “Well, did it work?”

I stood and hugged her. “What do you think, Sita?”

Adellandra smiled. “I’m thinking it worked beautifully.”

“So, you didn’t need her to report for anything important?” Draconis asked her.

“Actually, I did.” Adellandra remarked. “The counts and status of the Companion Armies. Dominick is on the move in the Vampiric Realm and we have to stop him.”

“You spoke with the Unicorn and his Lady Baroness?” Draconis asked. She nodded.

“That’s where I disappeared to.” Adellandra said. “Where are Dratyr, Dranus and Dratyrna?”

“I wouldn’t know.” Draconis said. “Although, Dratyr has his grandonar with him.” Adellandra was curious. “Your Sita Katherine brought Lovell with her.”

“Ah, I see.” Adellandra replied. “That could only mean one thing.”

“The battle is eminent?” I asked with dread.

Lady Adellandra, Empress of the Dragon Nations and Guardian of the Realms nodded her head, saying. “Soon, and we must be ready.”