Deep in the heart of Ozark, back in the day of Lord Rexel, there was a certain Celestial Dragon in whom brought about one of the greatest stories of all. . .
Dreath, a mighty Dragon, was larger than any house, almost the size of a hill. He watched as a member of the Midnight Dragons flew across the plains, in search of food. The dark, night colored Dragon gleamed in the late sunlight, catching Dreath’s attention even more.
Dreath knew that even if he lied, he could not disguise himself as a Midnight Dragon, for all Celestial Dragons were of light colors. Light blue, light pink, light green, or silver, as was he. Midnight Dragons were of dark metallic colors, like t
he sky during a storm. And though Midnight Dragons were no enemy, Dreath knew that if he were to make a family with this Midnight Dragon called Syphay, whom he was fond of, he would be an outcast. And yet, he didn’t care. If it meant that in order to follow his heart, he must not abide by the ancient guidelines, he was willing to risk it. Dreath lifted his mighty wings, catching the wind under them and swooped down to Syphay.
. . .And so Dreath and Syphay cared for their first egg as though it was the most precious treasure in the world. Then evil spread over the land of Ozark, and Dragon blood was shed by the seven hooded Zar’Raaf, immortal followers of the evil Lord Vixin.
Syphay was killed, and Dreath was also, in the act of protecting her. On that very day, their egg was somehow moved from Ozark, to a land unknown to the Zar’Raaf, which was later named Ardit.
As you will come to know, Dragon hatchlings of mixed breeds do not come out of their shell until a specified person touches the egg. This person, in whom the Dragon hatchling chooses, is then bonded with the Dragon and becomes it’s companion for life.
This bond then extends the life of the person, and they live as long as their Dragon. Because of the bond they are able to converse through their minds, and can sense when the other is in danger or is growing with fatigue.
This certain Dragon hatchling waited thousands and thousands of years for it’s bonded master. One day, a full grown Brown Tree Dragon in hiding came across the egg, and decided to care for it as best as he could. This Dragon being a male, did not know of the secrets to feeding the Dragon hatchling, and hopelessly abandoned it deep in the forest near the city of Ardit.
It was the season of winter then, and the driving rains and winds pounded the egg into the ground until it was as secure as any rock or stone would be.
————-Part One: Equinor————-

The hunting season came, and a young man just reaching his seventeenth year, from a farm not far but not near Ardit, was finishing up gathering his game deep in the forest when sudden strong winds came up, causing the rain to come down in sheets. Equinor ran through the trees, hauling the meat on his back. He knew that when late winter storms became harsh, as was this one, anyone who was amongst trees, didn’t have a very good chance of living.
Equinor started running even faster, the rain blinding him. As he pushed through branches, he slipped, catching his fall with his wrist on a stone. He barely noticed it’s sapphire color, amidst the pain that shot through his arm as he made an attempt to continue homeward.

The Dragon hatchling suddenly felt a harsh thump on the egg’s surface, and in an instant knew that the boy that had just touched the shell was the one. The little Dragon hatchling inside began to break it’s way through the membrane and the egg shell, to the first glimpse of the world in which it was to live.

Equinor ran into an opening and splashed through a puddle in the midst of it. He saw a glimpse of light from his adopted father’s farmhouse, and continued with an extra burst of speed.
He had been placed in the Menski’s care, to care for him as their own child by his parents while he was yet a newborn, but had never heard word of his parents since. He saw the Menski’s as family, but still felt a hole that could never be filled until he was sure he had his parents’ love. He didn’t really mind the work of a farmer’s son, but he often wondered what ranking his parents were. If he was with them now, would he be a prince? Or would he be among the poorest of poor?
He reached the door and pounded on it,
“Savin!” He called for his step-brother, “Savin, let me in!”
The door suddenly opened and his step-father was there, looking out at him.
“Equinor Sahrvahal Delimerr Keitalova, you are the most. . .ridiculous boy I have ever known!” Gowlan grabbed Equinor’s shoulder and hauled him in the house, the wind slamming the door behind them.
Equinor knew that when Gowlan called him by his full name, he wasn’t very pleased.
“And I’ve known plenty boys in my day, mind you.” Gowlan’s tone sounded perturbed, but Equinor had a gut feeling that Gowlan just didn’t know how to express his relief that Equinor was safe.
Yazmin, Gowlan’s fifteen year old daughter came to Equinor’s rescue.
“Father, I’m sure he didn’t come home to have you rag on him.” She reasoned, placing a hand on Equinor’s arm.
Gowlan turned and left the room, his perturbed presence hanging in the air.
“Forgive father, the crops were destroyed by a flock of birds early this morn.” Yazmin explained.
“That explains it.” Equinor agreed.
“Oh, Equinor! What in heavens name!?” Yazmin gasped at his wrist.
It had swelled, and turned odd colors of purple, green and blue. His skin was broken in places, and dried blood cakes the wounds, as fresh blood oozed out of them. It was also bent backward and slightly to the right. Equinor blinked as he realized just how bad it was.
“You must get that bandaged before it gets infected.” Yazmin quickly got a rag wet with hot water, and laid it over his wrist.
Tears rose to Equinor’s eyes, but he was able to hold them back until she took the rag off. But he clenched his jaw when she re-wetted it and placed it on the backside of his wrist.
“Does it hurt that bad?” Yazmin blinked at Equinor’s watering eyes. Equinor spoke through his teeth,
“I can stand it.” But the hardest part was coming next. Yazmin explained that she must rub away the dried blood, and re-set his wrist, since it had been jolted out of place when he had landed on it.
Equinor sat down and took deep breaths in order to hold the screams down his throat. Yazmin worked fast, rubbing, re-wetting, rubbing, re-wetting, rubbing some more, then finally setting the rag down. She took a deep breath, and placed her hands around Equinor’s wrist in specific places. She looked up at Equinor’s face, and tears filled her eyes. He was swallowing constantly and taking in shallow breaths to try and ease the pain. She frowned, and whispered,
“One last part, Equinor. Bear with me. One, two, three!” She moved her hands quickly, moving his wrist along with it.
Equinor yelped at the pain that shot up his arm as his wrist cracked over a dozen times. He groaned, dropping his head.
Yazmin bit her lip as tears streamed down her face, matching those on her brother’s. She hated to put him through such agony, but she knew he would pay worse consequences if she did not do this.
Finally the pain let down some and Equinor raised his head. His eyes were dull, and he
felt very weak. He looked at his wrist. It looked normal, except for the bruises and scrapes that blanketed it.
Luckily it was his left, and wouldn’t disable him from doing anything.
Yazmin told Equinor to wait, then hurried to her room, and came back with a short, piece of wood, and a long strip of cloth.
She placed the wood under his wrist and then wrapped the cloth around it and his hand, making a kind of splint.
“Equinor, come! You can’t leave an old man to work all by himself!” Gowlan barked from the outside shelter where he was hanging up the meat to dry.
“Father, Equinor couldn’t possibly help you. Come look at him.” Yazmin called.
Gowlan stepped inside the house and stiffened at the sight of Equinor’s agony.
“You’ll not be going alone to hunt again! No, not if this will happen!. . .” Gowlan grumbled. “Heavens, you nearly broke your wrist as well!”
“I didn’t see the clouds coming,” Equinor explained.
Gowlan grunted.
“No one would have, father. Besides, I was deep in the forest! I’ll watch more closely next time.”
“There won’t be a next time for you, boy!” Gowlan exclaimed.
“Father, must we be so tight towards one another? Come, I made a mistake; forgive me?”
Gowlan stayed staring ahead for a moment. The he sighed and placed a hand on Equinor’s shoulder,
“You’re right. Your safe, and that I should be thankful for. I can leave the rest for when I’m not as angry.” Gowlan replied as his wife, Ascah entered the room.
“Yee!” She exclaimed at Equinor’s appearance, “What’s this!? You get out of those wet clothes before you catch a chill! Get! Get!” She shooed, flailing her hands to add affect.
Equinor hurried to his room, making sure not to move his wrist.
As he passed Savin’s door, the handsome eighteen year old poked his head out,
“Agh, don’t you come near me! I don’t want to catch a sickness! Get! Get!” Savin mocked his mother playfully.
Equinor rolled his eyes and continued walking, as Ascah yelled from the front room,
“I heard that! I’m not all deaf yet!” Ascah’s merry voice rang through the air, followed by her and her son’s laughter.
After Equinor changed, he washed his face and hands. He looked into the mirror. He had a handsome but scrawny face for one his age, with a tan earned by many hard days work. His hard hazel eyes stared back at him under his golden-brown mass of hair. His eyes moved over his thin body with his lanky arms and legs and wished he would soon fill out like Savin already had.
When he was done, Equinor seated himself in his usual chair and waited until the rest were seated as well before explaining how he had seen a stone of the oddest color. Gowlan, Ascah, Savin and Yasmin listened, not knowing whether to believe him or not.
“Well, whatever color this large, odd stone may be, I suggest we eat before our supper turns cold.” Ascah said sensibly.
The small family joined hands and bowed heads. Gowlan began,
“Lord, we thank you for the sun and the rain which helps our crops grow so that we may eat. Please bless us and keep us in Your protection through these times. Amen.”
“Amen.” The other three echoed, Savin’s the loudest as usual.
Equinor tried again to gain his family’s interest, explaining how he thought the rock might bring money that would help the farm.
But the others ate in silence, not knowing whether to believe him or not.
Equinor gave up trying to persuade them, and went to his room.
He swept the wood floor and set his books back on the shelf that the fierce winds had knocked down.
Then he lay on his bed and looked at the stars who twinkled in their luminosity.
A soft knock on his door brought his thoughts away from the stone. It was all he could
think of.
“Yes,” He called.
“May I come in?” Yazmin’s voice drifted through the heavy wooden door.
“Sure,” He said.
Yazmin poked her head in before fully entering. She walked to Equinor’s bedside, and sat on the edge.
“I just wanted to you to know that I-” She paused, biting her lip. “Equinor, I believed you when you spoke about that strange rock you saw.” She said earnestly.
“Its ok Yazmin, I really wasn’t. . .” Equinor was about to say that it didn’t really matter to him whether she believed him or not, but the look on her face, was so innocent, he quickly changed his words. “I wasn’t expecting you to believe me. But thank you.”
Yazmin’s face blossomed into a smile,
“I’m not like Savin, or Mother and Father. I believe everything you say.” Yazmin looked at Equinor with a fervent respect.
“But why? What I say that would make you believe me?” Equinor asked, sitting up. “What is it that has your trust, but Savin’s or our parent’s?”
“I just feel it when you speak with such feeling.” Yazmin leaned forward as she herself began to speak with emotion. “I see in my minds eye everything you say. And I feel as if I were there with you when it occurred.” She paused, “Do you believe me?”
“I believe you.”
Yazmin took a deep breath, then stood up, “Well then, goodnight.”
After Yazmin had left, Equinor lay back down and smiled at what his sister had said. Sweet little Yazmin. He slowly drifted into a fitful sleep, and dreamed of going and finding the large stone and selling it for gold to last a lifetime.

Equinor jolted awake. He looked around his room. Why was it so dark? It wasn’t raining anymore, so why was it so dark? He looked at the window and realized that a shadow was cast over it, blocking the moonlight that usually lighted the room up.
He rose from his bed and went to look out the window to see what the shadow was.
As he walked forward, he noticed a golden glow coming from the other side of the curtains. And he picked up the faint smell of smoke.
He pushed the curtains aside, and caught his breath, his heart thumping.
He couldn’t think. He couldn’t move. For locked in his gaze was the cause of the golden glow. He stared right into the heart of a Dragon’s Eye.

Equinor finally took a breath in what seemed like forever. He breathed hard, making up for the great loss. The Dragon’s eye blinked and he noticed for the first time, the sound of breathing.
“Do not fear, Young One, for I will not hurt you.” The Dragon’s voice was like that of chiming bells, both high and low and strangely familiar.
He groped for words to say, but seized when none came to his mind.
“I understand your confusion, for it has been many years since you first saw a Dragon. Come outside and perhaps you will see and then know.”
Equinor obeyed not knowing why, and yet not knowing what else to do.
He climbed out his window and blinked at the Dragon’s manifestation. Every deep purple scale had detailed gold swirls on them. The Dragon was obviously strong and wisdom and thousands of years worth of knowledge was portrayed in the glowing golden eyes. The claws were sharp, yet looked as though they would only hurt if the Dragon meant to. The Dragon in whole was one of the most beautiful sights Equinor had ever laid eyes on. He looked up until his eyes rested on that of the Dragon’s. A flashback of when he had been under the power of a fever, and a Dragon healing him, jolted his memory to that of the beyond. He knew at once who this Dragon was, and longed to tell of how much he had missed the comfort the great beast had brought.
“Melaria, why have you come back?” Equinor wished he could take back his words the
moment they came out. That was the last item on his question list for the Dragon.
“To make you aware of something that will come to pass.” Melaria said, lowering herself so that her eyes were at his height. “This very night, something very strange will happen. You must follow your senses, and not question them, for if you do. . .I do not take care i0.
n mentioning what will come to pass if that should happen.”
“What will happen tonight?” Equinor asked.
“You ask of much, Young One.” Melaria said, her singsong voice showered in amusement. “I am not able to tell you, for if I do, it will break the tradition of this event. I cannot explain any further, for I must go, but heed my words and whatever you do, don’t let anyone you don’t trust see this of which you shall find.”
“Shall we meet again in the near future?” Equinor asked as the great purple Dragon silently lifted her wings and defied gravity.
“Soon, Young One. Soon.” And then she was gone, blending in with the midnight sky.
Equinor silently climbed back through his window, but stared out into the night. H wondered what Melaria had meant -what could she have meant?
A sudden noise caught his attention and he strained his ears to hear it again. It was coming from outside, under the shelter where the meat was. H hoped it wasn’t a coyote. He didn’t want to have to kill it. But he felt a pull inside of him toward the sound.
He doubted this pull inside of him, but then he heard Melaria’s words inside his head,
“You must follow your senses, and not question them; for if you do. . .I do not take care in mentioning what will come to pass if that should happen.” He quickly but silently made his to and then out the back door. He shivered as the crisp outside air breathed over him. He squinted his eyes as a shadow moved.
Equinor lighted a candle and stepped forward. His eyes widened as he saw what the shadow was. Glistening Ruby, no more than a foot high, was a Dragon hatchling.
His eyes met with the little Dragon’s, sending a shiver down his spine, but he couldn’t miss the hunger portrayed in them.
He pulled out his knife and cut slabs of meat into bite sizes for the little Dragon. He kneeled down and held a piece out to the little beast. The baby Dragon delicately took it, swallowing it whole. Equinor fed the rest of the meat to the little Ruby creature until it was surely full.
Equinor watched as it waddled around, smelling things and in, under and through empty bags of food.
Equinor chuckled when the little Dragon came over to him and eyed him with a curious but challenging eye.
He reached out and touched the little creature. A searing pain ran from his fingertips, up his arm and through his body.
He fell back, clutching his wrist. The candle dropped to the floor, and was instantly out. He ground his teeth together, fighting off the pain. He looked down at his right hand, and saw as a silver design began to form on his wrist, just below his palm. It swiveled this was and that, up and down,
around and back again. He stared at it in fascination.
Finally. I thought you were going to touch me! A small voice spoke.
Equinor looked around, but saw and heard no one. The Dragon waddled toward him, and Equinor shrank against the wall, not wanting to have to go through the painful experience he had just witnessed. He swung his hands at the little Dragon, trying to scare it away, but it dodged his blows, and then hopped up on his knee.
Equinor grimaced, waiting for pain to shoot through his body again, but none came. He looked down. The baby Dragon looked at him intently, with a questioning, perceptive look.
“What?” He spat, whispering fiercely. “Get off, you-”
What is wrong with you? The voice was there again, and this time Equinor wasn’t just wondering who and what it was, this time he got spooked. He jumped up, and the little Dragon plopped on the ground with a little squeaky grunt.
Equinor shooed it with his hands, driving away, but it wouldn’t move. Just looked up at him, annoyed for being dropped.
That wasn’t very nice of you.
“Who are you!?” Equinor whispered harshly, looking in every possible place.
Settle down.
“I’ll not settle down until you show yourself!” Equinor whispered, his knife out and ready to defend himself if need be.
I have shown myself. Are you blind? You can’t be.
“Where have you shown yourself, I haven’t yet seen you. Only heard. And no I’m not a blind you fool!”
Didn’t think you were. How else would you have seen me? Ah, well, let’s get to the basics.
“Show yourself!” Equinor breathed.
I have!
Look down, you blind fool.
Equinor’s eyes met with the hatchling’s, but he thought nothing of it. “What are you looking at?” He sneered at it.
I am looking at you. Are you sure you’re not blind?
Equinor peered at the little Dragon. He squinted. “Speak, Dragon.” He commanded.
I have been for the past twenty minutes!
“Was that you?” Equinor squatted.
Do you see anyone else here, other than a little Dragon? I think not.
“It is you.” Equinor’s eyes widened.
Did you just now figure that out!? Heavens! So, maybe you’re not blind. But daft; now that is a possibility. Equinor heard a small squeaky laugh.
“I’m dreaming.” He couldn’t believe it.
I think not. The little Dragon’s voice was young, and lively. And, as he just realized; in his head.
“How can I hear you?”
In your head, like you just figured out. You can talk to me in your head as well. I can read your thoughts, and you can read mine. Unless you put up your personal mind barrier. Now pick me up, and take me inside; I must explain, for there is much. The Dragon was young, Equinor knew, but was also somewhat wise.
He listened to the small creature and took him inside. Once he reached his room, and the door was closed, he set the little Dragon on his bed, and sat down himself.
So, I can talk to you in my head. Equinor smiled with pleasure at his small accomplishment.
Try to put up your mind barrier, and I’ll try to listen to your thoughts. The little Dragon said eagerly.
So Equinor focused on blocking any intruding consciousness. He frowned to add affect. He even closed his eyes. Was it working?
It’s not.
You heard that?
Yes. You don’t know your own secret words to pull up your barrier and lock it. Five words in all; one to locate it, one to take hold of it, one to pull it up, one to close it, one to lock it. It sounds complicated, but, really it’s not hard at all once you learn your secret words. The baby Dragon explained.
I presume you have a name? Equinor asked.
No, I haven’t a name. It’s your job to bequeath the name intended for me.
Maybe I could ask an old traveler some old Dragon names when we go to Ardit to sell our grain and fruit.
A very slight knock on Equinor’s door made him jump. The small Dragon gave a little squeak
and fluttered around.
Equinor hushed it, and tip-toed to his door. He opened it a crack. All he could see was a figure. It wasn’t tall enough to be Savin, but it was too thin to be Gowlan and Ascah was too short to fit the
“Yes?” He tried to sound sleepy.
A candle was lit, and he saw Yazmin’s face in the warm glow.
“Did I awaken you?” She asked.
Equinor thought about telling her she had awoken him, but he didn’t feel right lying to her. Because she
always saw through the lie. But he couldn’t tell her he had been awake, because then she would ask why, and he would then have to lie there, too.
“. . .heed my words and whatever you do, don’t let anyone you don’t trust see this of which you shall find.”
Could he trust Yazmin? What harm could it be to show her the Dragon hatchling? Then the Dragon spoke to him,
Who is it?
My sister.
Should I hide?
No, I think I can let her see you.
Are you sure?
I think. . .yes, I’m sure.
“No, I’ve been awake.” He stepped back, opening the door with him, “Here, come in.”
Yazmin stepped inside, but didn’t notice the little creature on her brother’s bed as she handed him the candle.
“Now Yazmin, don’t be frightened; but I want to show you something.” Equinor led her to his bed, and moved the candle so the little Dragon’s red scales gleamed brighter then before. The Dragon hatchling blinked at Yazmin. Yazmin blinked at it. The baby Dragon gave a squeak greeting. Yazmin jumped, and laughed quietly. She bent over it,
“Oh Equinor, wherever did you find such a charming little thing?” She whispered most delicately.
“It didn’t really find it; more, it found me.” Equinor turned Yazmin around to look at him in the face, “A Midnight Dragon came to me, Yazmin.”
Yazmin just stared at him.
“Yazmin, believe me, please believe me.” Equinor wished he could wipe the look off Yazmin’s face. It was stone. He didn’t know what it meant.
“I do believe you. I told you I believed everything you said. Everything. But Equinor, why is it that you don’t believe me, even when I tell you so.” Yazmin whispered so quietly, Equinor barely heard her.
He was at a loss for words. He just stared at her as she did him.
“I’m sorry.” He finally whispered.
Yazmin turned to the little Dragon and spoke to it,
“You’re a cute little monster, aren’t you?” She tickled the hatchling’s tummy, making it lie on it’s back and peep in laughter.
Yazmin smiled. She turned to Equinor.
“It’s alright, Equinor.” She smiled. And then she was playing with the baby Dragon again. Equinor watched as she continuously made the little creature peep, obviously enjoying the attention.
After a few minutes, Yazmin sat on the bed next to Equinor and they just watched the little Dragon as it curled up to sleep.
“I can talk to it, and it understands.” Equinor said, “Using my voice, or I can speak in my head, and it talks to me too.” Equinor paused. “Unless I’m getting old and hearing things.”
Yazmin laughed softly. “Do yo u think I could, too?”
“I’m not sure. You could try.”
Yazmin looked at the little hatchling and looked intent on accomplishing her task.
The little Dragon awoke suddenly, and looked at Yazmin. Then at Equinor.
She trying to talk to me. I can feel it.
“The hatchling knows you’re trying to talk to it, but it can’t hear you.” Equinor explained as the little Dragon talked to him.
“Only the person bonded to the Dragon can talk to it in through minds. You can talk to him with your voice, but to respond, it’ll have to talk through me.” Equinor looked at Yazmin.
She glanced from the baby Dragon to her brother,
“Then I presume you are that bonded person.” She whispered.
Equinor blinked. That hadn’t occurred to him. He was bonded to the little Dragon.
“I presume I am.” He answered. He then realized that the pain when he had touched the creature, and the mark on his right wrist, was the process of making the bond secure. He stared at the baby Dragon in astonishment. He of all people.
“You must get some rest.” Equinor stated.
“Yes, I suppose.” She stood up, “Will you tell Savin and our parents?” She asked.
“Well, I’m not entirely sure.” He pondered for a moment. “Well, you see the Midnight Dragon that came to me. I don’t know if this sounds easy to believe -I hardly believe it myself, but anyhow.
“When I was six or seven, I had a terrible fever, I don’t know what it was called, I could ask mother I suppose. Anyhow, when I was dreaming, this Midnight Dragon appeared to me and told me to trust her. I don’t know why I trusted her, but I’m glad I did.
“She placed a claw on my chest, and pierced me with her middle nail. It was a painful process, but after she had removed her claw, my fever was gone, and she was escaping from my vision.
“The last thing she said before she vanished was ‘I will see you again, Young One’ and then I was awake and father and mother were so happy. And Savin looked just like them.
“You were too young to remember, but you smiled at me and said-”
“I said I knew how you got well again.” Yazmin finished.
“You do remember! I asked you what you were talking about, but you never told me. What did you know, Yazmin?” Equinor asked eagerly.
“I knew someone special had visited you in the deepest part of your heart and mind and soul.” Yazmin explained. “And that someone had healed you. I saw a Dragon, but I wasn’t sure if it really was one or not.”
“It was!” Equinor exclaimed. Then he quieted down, “Don’t you see, Yazmin? You saw what was happening deeper than what the others could see. You saw. . .a vision.”
“When I first saw this little Dragon,” She said, looking at the hatchling, “I thought back to that day. I told myself I had just been a little girl making things up. But now I know.” She smiled at Equinor, “Now I know a Dragon visited my brother.”
They were silent for a few moments. Then Yazmin urged Equinor to finish what he had been telling her.
“Well, that same Dragon came to me tonight. And she told me we would see each other again. She told me I would find something tonight, but I had no idea she meant this!” He gestured to the baby Dragon who was watching them with interest and trust.
“What else did she say?” Yazmin asked, somehow knowing there was more.
“She said, ‘This very night, something very strange will happen. You must follow your senses, and not question them, for if you do. . .I do not take care in mentioning what will come to pass if that should happen.” Equinor thought back and tried to remember every word Melaria had said. “Then she told me ‘I cannot explain any further, for I must go, but heed my words and whatever you do, don’t let anyone you don’t trust see this of which you shall find.”
They sat in silence again , pondering the Dragon’s words.
“So, the question is. . .do you believe mother, father and Savin are to be trusted?” Yazmin asked directly.
“I don’t know. I don’t know what Melaria meant by ‘you don’t trust’. How do I know? I feel I can trust them, but what if it’s trust of knowing that they won’t hurt the Dragon, and not the right kind of trust?” Equinor wondered out lout.
“How did you feel about letting me the see the baby Dragon?” Yazmin asked.
“I felt. . .calm. . .at peace. . .” Equinor answered.
“Do feel the same way now, about telling father, mother and Savin what you found?” Yazmin asked sensibly.
“Sensible Yazmin. I didn’t even think of that. I think I feel alright. Yes, I will show them the
Dragon tomorrow.” Equinor suddenly couldn’t breath, and he felt a burning as hot as a fire in his stomach in reaction to his decision. “No! I won’t tell them. No, I don’t feel right doing so.” He gasped.
“Alright. It’s settled then.” Yazmin said decidedly.
“But how do you hide a Dragon that will grow larger than this house?” Equinor thought out loud again.
“I suppose we could take it out to the fields and make somewhat of a shelter.” Yazmin suggested.
“Good idea, but what if another farmer or hunter comes by, and sees the little creature out it the open all
alone? What then? Word will spread all over Ardit, past Demdaco and farther than. . .than Ozark!” Equinor
said pointedly. “I’ll have to do something better than that.”
“Yes, we must do something better.”
“Well I don’t intend on leaving Equinor Sahman Derikahs Keitalova Menski, the well known klutz to look after a baby Dragon all by his lonesome!” She said. She was serious. She wasn’t going to back down. Equinor sighed,
“Alright, so we can do better than that.”
“Absolutely.” Equinor added.
“So we take it deep into the forest on our property, but where no one goes.”
“Mmm, better.” Equinor was thinking something more precise.
“We make sure no one goes there.” Yazmin tried.
“My thoughts exactly. Perfect.”
“When you men are out in the crops, I’ll go and make something where I’m sure no one will go. Then later next morn’s eve I can take you there.” Yazmin suggested.
“Good. Now we need rest.” Equinor smiled at his sister. “Thank you Yazmin.”
“Your welcome. Goodnight.”
As Equinor lay in bed, with the little Dragon hatchling sleeping soundly beside him, he thought about Yazmin. She had known a Dragon had visited him that night when he had the fever. She saw a vision. And what about all the times he had been spared of a broken leg or arm from a falling rock or branch, because Yazmin had somehow seen it coming? She had something special. It was some knowledge. A strange knowledge.

The next morning, Equinor rose early, washed his face, changed his clothes and told the hatchling to stay in his room and not to make noise.
I’ll be hungry soon. The baby Dragon reminded.
I’ll bring you some meat whenever you are ready to eat. Just let me know.
Thank you.
Equinor closed his door quietly behind him, and was about to walk to the kitchen, when an arm pulled him back.
“Don’t move!” A harsh whisper stopped him from trying to break free of the grasp on his arm.
Yazmin slowly pulled Equinor into her room and closed the door quietly.
“I have a heavy days work, so I won’t be able to take the baby Dragon out to the forest. We’ll have to wait another day or two, depending on how long my work may take.” Yazmin whispered.
“Then maybe I can find time today to take the Dragon hatchling to the forest.” Equinor responded, “I’ll sneak away, say I need a drink or something.”
I’m not ready to be alone yet. I need to stay here for a while. Please. I won’t be very big by then. The little Dragon spoke.
You can talk to me?
Didn’t we already establish this?
Yes, but I thought we could only converse if we were in the same area.
No, we can converse miles, even worlds away.
“The little Dragon isn’t ready to be left alone yet. It wants to stay for a few more days. It says it won’t be too big by then.” Equinor said.
“Well then, that takes care of our problem.” Yazmin nodded.
You’re welcome.
“The little creature says you’re welcome.” Equinor whispered.
Yazmin laughed quietly,
“We must go eat, but tell the little thing I do say thank you.” She smiled and walked out of her room, Equinor behind her.
She says thank you, little Dragon.
So, did you actually hear my voice through the wall? How did you know what I was saying?
Your thoughts don’t have to be thought, as though you’re purposely trying to let me in on your conversation. I can hear your thoughts before they even form into words and come out of your mouth.
During the meal, Savin commented on hearing noises during the night. Yazmin glanced at Equinor, but they agreed with Savin to seem less suspicious then to say they had heard nothing.
As Equinor worked, he kept up a chatter with the little Dragon, and found that time seemed to pass by more quickly, though it really didn’t Soon, it was dinner time, and he was able to rest at the table and eat; and feed the baby Dragon as well.
Then out to work again, talking more with the little hatchling. Then the sun lowered in the sky, and Equinor was able to go inside early, for rain came down again, watering the plants plentifully.
As Equinor lay in bed, he talked to the little Dragon until he fell asleep.
Equinor! Wake up!
Equinor opened his eyes. On his chest was the little Dragon, peering into his eyes intently.
He looked around. It was still dark.
What is it? You’re not hungry again, are you?
No. Melaria is here, waiting for you outside. I’ll warn you if anyone comes to your room.
Thank you.
Equinor climbed out his window and looked up at Melaria sleepily.
Why so late? He asked, not realizing that he naturally talked through his mind.
More like early. Melaria corrected. The sun is nearly rising.
Why have you come?
To explain. I did not do so before, for I did not have time on my side then. But I do now.
What is there to explain?
You have a Dragon, therefore you are a Dragon Rider. You have abilities beyond your knowledge, and it will take some time to learn them, but you will.
Slow down. I’m confused. Start from me having abilities. What kind of abilities? Equinor asked.
Abilities like being able to jump into someone’s mind, heart, soul, and veins if you so wish.
Incredible. So how will I learn?
You will find out in time. Equinor, hold the things that you love closely, for soon you may not have them anymore.
Equinor! Someone’s coming! Hurry! Inside! The little Dragon’s high voice startled Equinor.
Equinor scrambled in his window and into his bed, explaining to Melaria all the while.
Melaria, I must go, there is-
I know. You forget so easily, I can join in your thoughts just as well as you can mine.
He pulled the covers up and closed his eyes, and a second later the knob on the door turned. He didn’t dare open his eyes to see who it was. So he just waited for the sound of whoever it was to leave. But he never did, for he soon fell asleep, never to know that the intruder was not a member of his family.
————–Part Two: Kerrian—————

A young girl stirred in her bed, as the drivers of the caravan she and her family were apart of, shouted back and forth to start riding, across the small opening in the dense jungle that surrounded them.
Kerrian sat up, her deep ebony hair sweeping to her waist. She smoothed her hands across her golden tan skin, then rubbed her shining green eyes. She looked around in the stagecoach-like-wagon she was in, and saw the familiar belongings of her family. She stood up and walked over to the covered window on the east side of the wagon’s main room. She pulled the curtain aside and stared out as the first rays of the sun peeked through the plants above.
The others of her Jahmzad tribe were gathering up pots and pans, putting out fires, leaving no trace of them being there.
“Kerrian!” Her mother’s voice called sharply, from the front of the wagon. “Get out and help prepare to leave!”
Kerrian sighed, and obeyed. As she closed the door and hopped down from the high foot board, her bracelets and anklets jangled, along with her earrings and necklace.
A white blur growled low in it’s throat and ran toward her.
“Vyazapurikha,” Kerrian murmured, scratching her rather large white tiger cub on the head. “My sweet companion.”
Vyazapurikha looked up at Kerrian, her sapphire eyes gleaming in the early morning sunlight.
“Kerrian!” Her mother continued, “You forget that tiger get to work!”
No one really knew why or how Kerrian had come to befriend the tiger, but no one bothered to ask, they just stared.
Kerrian laughed silently, and smoothed her feline friend’s fur down, remembering when she had first seen the tiger.
Some months before, Kerrian had been gathering berries with the other women of the tribe, when she had come across a large snake and a small white tiger cub staring at each other, not knowing what to do next.
Kerrian had grabbed a rock, killed the snake, and had been just staring at the cub when it slowly cam over to sniff her. She knew that the mother was bound to be somewhere near, and she tried to make the cub leave her, but it stayed at her heels all the way back to camp. Kerrian’s parents had forbidden the cub from traveling with them, but it always managed to follow along hidden by the jungle plants.
Finally Kerrian’s parents gave up, and allowed her to play with the cub, even though she had been sneaking out and doing so already. But the odd thing that not even Kerrian understand, was the mental connection between her and the tiger. Somehow, she could talk to the tiger, but didn’t know how. She often though herself dreaming, but then the tiger would often tell her there was no dream, only reality.
Vyazapurikha chuckled in her voice that Kerrian heard in her head. I still owe you for saving me from that snake, so long ago. Vyazapurikha spoke like she was much older than she was, but Kerrian didn’t bother to ponder on that now.
No. There is no debt to be paid. Kerrian replied. Do not keep reminding me.
Kerrian snapped back to the world around her when her mother kept talking. Shrieking was more like it.
“Chee! What a lazy daughter I have! Why can’t you be helpful? What did I do to make you like this?”
Kerrian ignored her mother’s complaints and began helping her younger brother Teed, gather up the mats and blankets that the men of the tribe slept on. All the men and older boys slept out side on the ground, so that they would be instantly awake and ready if any danger were to cross there path during the night. For a matter of fact, they often had
the women stay inside the wagon’s as they traveled as well, just to be safe.
“Come Teed, Ma isn’t very happy.” Kerrian said as she stuffed mats and blankets on the top of the wagon and tied them down. “We must work.”
“Work!” Teed shouted, dancing ahead of her, “We go play!”
“Shhh, Teed!” Kerrian tried to sound serious, but her brother’s antics was too much. Teed grabbed her hand and dashed into the jungles assortment of plants and trees
alike. Vyazapurikha followed them, not allowing Kerrian out of her sight.
As they ran farther and farther away from the camp, Kerrian began to laugh louder,
and skip in the air like she was a child, though she was not.
They ran for a while, enjoying their freedom and not caring about how much trouble they would most likely be in once they returned to camp.
Teed ran ahead, and disappeared behind a bush. As Kerrian pushed past it, she bumped into him.
She began to giggle, but Teed hushed her and pointed to where his eyes were glued.
Kerrian stopped and gaped. Before them was a camp of Gnomes!
“Cursed beasts!” Kerrian whispered, calling the Gnomes much like what they were.
Vyazapurikha growled quietly in agreement. Indeed. Retreat Kerrian, make no noise.
“Teed come, don’t make a sound.” Kerrian repeated Vyazapurikha, and took Teed’s hand and they quietly advanced. Once around the bush, Kerrian whispered fiercely, “Now! Run! But quietly, Teed!” She pushed him ahead of her.
When they reached the camp, their mother was standing with hands on hips and a furious look on her face.
“Get in the wagon, you two! We’ll talk about this later!” She yelled across the distance that separated them.
“Gnomes! We saw them, Mama!” Teed called, running up to her.
Ma Costa’s expression changed immediately.
“What!?” She squawked. “Where!?”
People heard Teed, and came to listen. A group gathered around them, all eyes and ears glued to the two Costa children.
“Far but not enough.” Kerrian said, breathing hard from their long run. “They could
have heard the drivers shouting to leave. They could be coming now!”
Gasps escaped from mouths around them, and then everyone was running around in a
mad rush, trying to finish up as quick as possible.
“Kerrian!” Her father called. He was a tall, strong man that no one bothered to mess with. “Get in the wagon!”
Vyazapurikha growled at his mood.
“But Papa, I can run along side. I don’t tire easily-!” Kerrian spoke.
“I said GET IN THE WAGON!” He said, cutting her off. “NOW!”
Kerrian ground her teeth together, whirled around and stomped to the wagon.
Vyazapurikha disappeared into the shadows of the jungle, but keeping the wagon in
Sight, just to be sure.
Flinging herself inside, Kerrian bumped into her older sister, Nina.
“Watch where your going!” Nina kicked Kerrian’s leg, causing her to fall on her hands and knees. “Yachee! Don’t do that again!” Nina socked Kerrian in the face, then kicked her in the stomach.
“Nina, stop! And don’t call me a yachee!” Kerrian shouted back. She heard Vyazapurikha growl outside, but she knew the tiger wouldn’t be able to help her.
“Kerrian!” Ma Costa yanked Kerrian up by her right ear, then shook her daughter’s head fiercely. “Don’t you yell at your sister!” She slapped the other side of Kerrian’s face.
“Ma, stop!” Kerrian cried, tears streaming down her face. She pushed her mother’s hand away and bolted for the other side of the curtain -where the sleeping part of the wagon was- but not before Ma Costa yanked her back around.
“No you don’t!” Her mother said fiercely. “I won’t take it anymore!” She pushed Kerrian out the door. “You can run along side the wagon if you’re going to be like that!” Ma Costa called, then slammed the door.
Kerrian spat at the door, wishing it was her mother’s face as Vyazapurikha suddenly was by her side. “Curse you, Ma.” She muttered, “May Zalaz curse you.”
Kerrian heard her sister whimpering and her mother comforting her; their voices
drifting from the inside of the wagon. Kerrian curled her lip,
“And may Zalaz curse you as well, Nina.” She added.
Being a Jahmzad, Kerrian was brought up learning all about their religion. She was taught of all the different gods they worshiped and how each one was for a different purpose.
The god of curses was Zalaz, of whom she hoped would hear her, and answer her prayer. But she really only half believed in the gods. She felt that they were nothing real, just dead people, their names revived to hopefully give a source of reassurance to her people. She wanted something more; some one. Some one who was real.
She felt her eye growing larger where Nina had punched her. She also felt her ear and face burning and her leg and stomach cramping more and more by the seconds. She bit her lip and stared ahead as the pain in her body came rushing to overwhelm her.
I’m sorry I could not help you, Kerrian, I hope you understand. The white tiger spoke in a comforting voice.
I do. Kerrian answered.
“Kerrian!” Her father said, striding up to her. “Aren’t you to be inside the wagon?”
“I am to walk along side-” Kerrian said, her tears still running down her face.
“I told you to get in the wagon, and I meant it!” He shouted, cutting her off yet again. Like lightening, Kerrian’s father’s hand was raised, then a split second later was down
and across her face. Kerrian’s head was whipped to the side, and she felt the burn from
her father’s large hand on her check. Vyazapurikha growled and leapt toward her father, but Kerrian grabbed the tiger’s ruff ruff, “No! Stay down!” Please, Vyazapurikha. Her eyes blurred, and she finished her sentence that had been interrupted.
“-Ma said for me to.” She whispered, her hair veiling her tear stained face.
Her father stepped back, almost ashamed for hitting her. He hadn’t waited long enough to hear the rest of what she had been saying.
He opened his mouth as if to speak, then strode away, to the front of the wagon, where he jumped up and sat down. Then he slapped the reins on the horses backs as the wagons ahead of theirs started moving forward. Soon all the wagons in the caravan were on the way, the horses kept at a trot.
Kerrian, why didn’t you let me toward him? I wouldn’t kill him! Jut teach him a lesson! Her tiger was a bit angry at being held back.
You and I both know that you would have killed him, Vyazapurikha, you’re a tiger.
Kerrian knew she didn’t have to run, and keep beside her wagon -or at least she didn’t want to- so she walked -with Vyazapurikha by her side- and wagon after wagon with the men in their families walking along side, passed her.
As one edged up to her, she heard her name called. A young man walked over to her, and she instantly recognized him as her old childhood friend Murtagh.
“I heard the yelling.” He said quietly, stepping in toe with her.
“Quiet, Murtagh!” She said harshly. “I don’t need you nagging me as well.”
“I didn’t mean to make it worse.” Murtagh said apologetically. “Hello, tiger.” Vyazapurikha growled slightly. Does he address all animals in that way?
No. Well- maybe. “Her name is Vyazapurikha, Murtagh.” She said.
“Right. Vyazapurikha.” Murtagh eyed the growling tiger. “Sorry.”
Kerrian stared ahead.
“Kerrian, why don’t you eat with us tonight? Although your Ma will not be happy, so
never mind.” Murtagh said. He had problems with his family as well, but he knew that Kerrian’s situation was worse than his, and didn’t want her to get in any more trouble than she already was. He noticed her limp, and her inflamed eye, turning odd colors of red, purple and green.
“I don’t care if Ma will be mad. I’ll stay.” Kerrian glared at a tree.
“Kerrian, that’s wrong. . .your Ma hits you. And what will your father do when she’s done with you then, eh?” Murtagh asked.
“I know.”
“So do something different that we both can do.” Murtagh suggested. The two had often joined and disobeyed their parents as young children. When they were both in it, they somehow managed to get out of trouble, so neither of them worried after disobeying together.
Their situations at home were so desperate, Kerrian was serious in her asking,
“How about running away?”
“Running away!?” Murtagh exclaimed.
“Shhh! Someone will hear us!” Kerrian grabbed his wrist to silence him. “Yes, running away. I want to. Don’t you?”
They were silent as they walked along.
“You’re not serious.”
“I am. Are you going to join me or not? Either way, I’m leaving, Murtagh. I’ve made up my mind. They’re hitting too hard. I can’t take it much more, without everyone noticing.” Kerrian said. Then she grinned. “You aren’t afraid, are you?” She asked.
“No, I’m not afraid. I have wanted to run away for a while now, but. . .I never knew you did.” Murtagh said quietly. “I was just a little surprised.”
“Well now you know.” Kerrian said simply.
“Yes. When shall we leave?” Murtagh asked, since Kerrian often made the decisions between the two of them.
“Tomorrow morn, we shall leave.” Kerrian said.
“Tomorrow morn?”
“Why not tonight?” Murtagh asked, “How do you. . .” He paused as his voice skipped several
octaves below and above his normal voice. “How do you know you won’t get beat more tonight?”
“I don’t. But I won’t be ready to leave by tonight. I have something to do before then.” Kerrian said. She did have something to do, and it would have to be when they were stopped for the night. “We’ll be gone before everyone awakens, when it’s still dark out. We can discuss more when we stop to eat. Gather your things up now, when no one will notice.”
“Very well. See you then.” Murtagh disappeared on the other side of his family’s moving wagon.
Kerrian started to run ahead, to where her own wagon was just cresting a hill, but stopped as the leg that Nina had kicked shot with pain up and down. Nina’s kick made a bruise on Kerrian’s leg, to add to the showcase she had in many other places all over her body from previous times. She slowed and walked to the side of the wagon. The door opened, and Ma Costa’s head appeared and she said,
“Come inside, Kerrian. You might as well. You’ve been out there long enough.”
Kerrian obeyed silently, while her mother and sister stepped out.
She began packing as quickly as she could, taking everything of hers. She wrapped some rolls, carrots, fruit and a few tomatoes in paper, stuffed them in her bag, and then grabbed some water flasks. When she was done, she laid her bag on top up the other luggage that covered the small step on the back of the wagon, where no one would notice, along with her rolled up mat and a blanket or two.
Then she sat down on a bench, and stared out the window. She felt a light weight ease on the bench and turned her head to look at Teed.
“I’m sorry about mama and Nina,” Teed whispered, tears in his eyes. “And Pa too.”
“It’s alright, Teed.” She hugged her brother close, and left her arm draped over his small shoulders. “I have something to tell you though, but you mustn’t tell a soul.” She whispered in his ear. “I’m going to be leaving for a while.”
“Why? Where? Did Mama tell you to? How long will you be gone?” Teed whispered, his brown eyes round.
“No, Mama isn’t making me. I don’t know exactly where I’ll go. But I’ll be with Murtagh so I won’t be alone. I will be gone for a while, but I’ll come see you, don’t worry. I’m doing it in secret, so you mustn’t tell anyone until I’m gone.” She whispered, tousling his hair and making sure she made her point.
“Leaving in secret? You’re running away!” Teed wailed softly.
“Hush now. I won’t be gone for long. Hush.” She put a finger to his lips, just incase her mother or sister were near. “When they ask you, you can tell them everything. Just that I’ll be gone for a while, I don’t know exactly where. I’ll be back, Teed, but that’s a secret you mustn’t tell them. Can you keep our secret safe?” She asked quietly.
“Mmm-hmm!” Teed nodded vigorously.
“Alright. Run to bed then, we don’t want them wondering what we’re sharing special
secrets!” She pushed him away, and he ran to his bed, where he was already supposed
to be, for running away with her earlier that morning.
Kerrian wondered why he was punished and she wasn’t, but then she realized that they probably thought it was an excuse to hit her, and that was good enough for them. She felt her red anger toward her mother, father and sister still forming in to bitterness and hate.
When they stopped for their mid-day meal, Kerrian and Murtagh met up and talked more about their plans.
And then they were off again.
Kerrian sneaked away from her wagon, and walked with Murtagh until they settled down for the night, then she ran back to her wagon to find her father waiting for her with a leather strap in his hand. She slowed.
Her father strode toward her.
Kerrian stepped back ward, staring fearfully at her nearing father. She tripped over a mat, and fell on her backside.
Her father reached down, grabbed her arm, yanked her up, and shouted in her face,
“WHERE WERE YOU!? You know you’re to stay with our wagon while traveling!” He loomed over her waiting for an answer.
But Kerrian was silent, not going to give him the pleasure of hearing or seeing her fear. She just stared at him.
He shook her. “WHERE WERE YOU!?”
Kerrian was still silent.
Her father dropped her arm, and raised it to slap her, but before his fist landed on her jaw, she was running away from him. He chased her into the jungle, and cornered her there. Kerrian turned around, and huddled together, knowing he intended to spank her.
But she was surprised when she was turned around, and he began whipping her on her arms, chest, and back.
She tried to scream, but he would only punch her again, silencing her with more pain. She dashed around him, but he advanced on her, and then turned on her with his fists and legs, calling her names all the while.
First Kerrian’s arm cracked. Her face burned from the many fists that had landed there. Her tears stung the split skin, making it worse. Her cries of pain were muffled by the blows that landed on her.
Her father kicked her leg and Kerrian went down.
She scrunched her eyes shut, expecting another blow. But instead she heard retreating footsteps and fluent cursing.
Kerrian slowly raised her head. . .and saw no one in the dark, small opening. She moved to stand, made it half way up, then fell, a cry of agony escaping her ground teeth. If she couldn’t stand so she surely couldn’t walk.
Vyazapurikha! She cried.
A white blur streaked from the wagon line and stopped at her side.
I couldn’t come. I’m sorry. I sensed your distress, but they put me in the wagon! I’m sorry! Vyazapurikha’s voice was a bit gravely from roaring so much.
It’s alright. I need you to help me though. Go fetch my belongings and bring them here. Then help me walk to Murtagh’s wagon and have him follow you here. I need to run away tonight, I can’t take the chance of getting beaten more. Kerrian moved so she sat up against a rock.
I understand. And the white tiger was off again.
Kerrian closed her eyes and tried to think of something other than the pain.
A while later she heard fast feet approaching. Murtagh burst through a group of branches and ran to his friend’s side.
“Kerrian! What have they done to you?” He took her hand and ran a finger over her skin gently, as though she would break at his touch. “Oh my dear friend, I should have never let you go back.” He had tears in his voice. “I should have never let you go back.” He repeated.
“We need to leave right away,” Kerrian said, her eyes still closed. “I need you to help me walk though.”
“Of course-” Murtagh began, but Vyazapurikha snarled and pushed him aside.
Let me carry you. She said.
You’re not big enough to carry such wait.
Are you a tiger?
No. Kerrian answered.
Then how would you know? With all do respect.
And Kerrian knew Vyazapurikha was saying so with respect. She climbed onto the tiger’s back, with Murtagh’s help, and they set off, Murtagh carrying his and Kerrian’s belongings.
They walked through the night, Kerrian sleeping somewhat, and Vyazapurikha keeping a steady pace the whole way.
Murtagh knew that Kerrian’s bruises and scrapes would heal in time, but he still felt partly at fault for not making her leave with him when they had first talked about them running away.
Her face was not a pretty sight. The skin was split, bruised and puffy. She had a black eye, her arms were also cut from the leather whip, and well as her legs, back and chest. He draped a cloak over her to give her privacy. He also thought of lending some of his clothes to her, but then thought better of it. How was she to change clothes when she could barely sleep, the pain was so bad?
When the sun rose, Murtagh made a shelter in a hidden part of the thick jungle leaves and he and Kerrian rested while Vyazapurikha kept watch.
For two days they did this, assuming that they were being followed. Vyazapurikha could hear far better then the humans, and she informed Kerrian in her sleep that there were no pursuers close enough to worry about, for they had gotten a day’s worth of a head start.
For the first time, Kerrian was able to sit up on Vyazapurikha’s back, and stay awake for more than twenty minutes. She pulled Murtagh’s cloak over her shoulders, refusing to be paralyzed by the pain of her raw skin. She looked over at Murtagh to thank him, and gasped.
“Murtagh! You never told me you got beat yourself!”
Murtagh ‘s eyes didn’t change at her accusation,
“There was no need, my situation is not nearly as bad as yours, we both know that.” He said, looking straight ahead.
“Well, maybe so. But Murtagh. . .” She looked at his black eye and puffy lip. His sleeve was torn as well, and dried blood stuck the cloth to the cut.
Kerrian shook her head. Why hadn’t he said anything? Was he afraid she would make him stop and rest? She wouldn’t have- wait. . .yes she would have. She smiled. Murtagh knew her well.

As the days lengthened, Kerrian grew stronger. The only thing keeping her from walking for a long period of time was her leg that her father had kicked, and had injured somehow.
They kept on moving and one day, Vyazapurikha announced the men had decided that Murtagh and Kerrian were dead. They had turned back. Kerrian and Murtagh cheered, and
Vyazapurikha gave a small roar in merriment as well.
All three completely relaxed for the first time in a week. It felt good, and they all knew that the week of tension, fear, hurrying and just the idea itself of running away was completely insane, but the relaxation, and the freedom they now sensed was worth it.
More days passed and Kerrian grew stronger than she had ever been before. So many times, she thought about not being able to do certain things, but then she would run a hands over her biceps and laugh at her doubting thoughts. She could carry larger things, for longer periods of time, could travel more in a day, and was still rested and happy.
One day, they neared a city, and Kerrian grew wary of it, but Murtagh assured her that he had heard of this city before and knew it was safe.
“Are you sure?” Kerrian asked, eyeing the nearing walls. “I don’t want to take a chance.”
“I promise,” Murtagh replied for the third time, no harm will come to us. This city id famous for travelers, they will not see us as any different.”
Kerrian ground her teeth together against another outbreak of protests, and stepped closer to Murtagh as they nearer to the tall iron gates that were open for guests.
Vyazapurihka, stay by my side.
I do wish I could, but I also know that bringing a tiger into the city would cause un uproar.
Ah, yes. You are wise, tiger, wiser than I could ever be.
I may be smart, but Kerrian, you are tired.
Am not. I’ve rested up.
You’ve rested up? For maybe the past weeks, but what about the rest of your life? What about all those sleepless nights as a child because of scrapes and bruises? Come now, you couldn’t have rested up for a whole lifetime.
Alright, you win. Stay close to the walls, though, will you not?
After I’ve hunted, I shall await your return.
Kerrian took a deep breath as her tiger slipped into the shadows and Murtagh stepped through the huge gates. She hurried to catch up, but stopped at a harsh voice and a grip on her arm.
“Who are you?” Kerrian looked to the source of the question, a man who looked to be in his forties. He was obviously known well in the city, for he had several women hanging on him, and flirting constantly.
Kerrian gulped, and forced words out of her mouth,
“I- I- I’m just a traveler.” Lord, where was Murtagh? She glanced around for her friend, trying to look casual.
“Well you look worn, why don’t you come with me?” The man pulled her toward a small stone house, with a sign hanging over the door, reading:
“Dane’s Saloon, come on in! You can rent a room for the night, or you can just enjoy a fine glass of wine!”
Kerrian shuddered and hoped that the man would let go of her arm. She was pleading the heavens to send help.
“You must lie down and rest, for a woman needs her sleep.” The man was looking at her form up and down.
Kerrian pushed him away and then ran out the door, the man not far behind.
As she rounded a corner, she collided with another body.
“There you are!” A person said, and Kerrian felt arms around her waist. She turned to shove her captor, but stopped mid-way when she saw Murtagh’s familiar face. She heaved a sigh, and rested her head on her shoulder.
“My, first moments in the city a little frightening?” He said gently, still holding her.
“A little?” Kerrian gasped, “Not so.”
“Come then, I’ve found a safe nice Inn we can stay at.” He lead her to a homey looking building.
Kerrian felt the peace of the inn surround hear once and was at ease.
That night, Murtagh suggested that they go walking so they could meet with their tiger companion and plan the days ahead.
After meeting and then departing with Vyazapurikha, Kerrian and Murtagh continued walking farther and farther from the city , the moonlight guiding their way.
They came upon a farm, and decided to slip some meat from it’s produce. Kerrian moved quietly through the house, checking each room, for anything or anyone that might announce their presence.
She opened one door, and stepped inside. Their was a sleeping boy about a year older than herself, who looked to be an orphan of the family, for he looked nothing like the others. Their was an unsmooth part of the blanket, and she noticed that it was moving. She uncovered a strange red lizard type of thing. She wanted to look at it closer, but Murtagh urged her that they should leave right away. What they didn’t know as they crept back into the trees was that they were being watched by someone who wasn’t nessecarily a friend.

————–Part Four: Elwin—————-

Deep in the forest of Staxton, where no mortal human would dare tread, walked a young man and woman, with the company of a white tiger. Not knowing where they were, they looked at ease, and yet ready for anything.
Or so it seemed to Elwin.
The she-elf sat upon her loyal steed, trying to watch the intruders closely and keep the ghostly silver horse still.
“Be still, Shadowfox.” Her voice was like a deep river rushing, but also high like the spring air.
Shadowfox calmed at her words.
Her keen eyes caught every detail of the threesome as they neared her.Soon, they would sense her presence, and her plan would be ruined. She turned Shadowfox around and sent him into a fast walk, back toward the Staxton Court.
Upon reaching the Council gates, Elwin lifted her left hand, touched her thumb and pinky together, the other three fingers closely knit, and the gates opened at the Staxtonian signal.
After leaving Shadowfox to a stableboy -though she knew she was perfectly capable of attending him herself, the King always made sure she was “properly” cared for- she mounted the marble stairs that lead to the doors of the Council. two Weapons stepped out to block her path.
“Stop. We have orders not to allow anyone to pass except the King’s reporters.” One spoke, his voice stern like his face.
“I happen to be just that.” Elwin replied evenly.
The Weapons stepped aside, and Elwin strode forward, knowing that the king would be angry to learn that she had delayed giving him any information of intruders.
“Milord, Lady Elwin wishes to speak with you.” The King’s right hand man spoke quietly.
“See her here, Mauford.” The King replied.
Elwin walked forward, then kneeled, as was expected.
“Sire, i bring news of intrudesr from the north border of Staxton.” She said.
“How many? Were they moving quickly?” The King sat up in his chair, alert in every way.
“Three. A young man, woman, and a white tiger. they looked to be my own age..” Elwin informed.
“Intruders, only into their seventeenth year? Quite odd, i might say.” The King put a finger to his chin. His brown beard made him look older, buit he was no more than three years older than the young lady that stood before him.
“They looked harmless, but one cannot be sure, Sire. Perhaps they are spies?”

Give me ideas anyone! Thanx for reading!

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