Heart of the Dragon Ch. 05byAurora Black©
June 23, 1995
The sounds of rainfall and low, rumbling thunder roused Grace from a deep slumber. Her room was as black as pitch except for the occasional flash of lightning, which doused the whole area in almost blinding light.
She slowly opened her eyes, her vision focusing on her surroundings. Grace briefly stiffened from a sense of unfamiliarity that she felt upon seeing her room, but she relaxed when she remembered exactly where she was. She was not in an alien place, but in her grandfather's house...
Then she remembered what happened.
I am the Dragon, Grace thought as her hand automatically went to her temple, where the earlier pounding had subsided. Her mouth felt strangely dry to her, and her stomach clenched as if someone held it in his fist.
Segments from the discussion with her grandfather earlier that evening came back to her mind. The tale of the Dragons and their abilities, the three Nakimura sisters who remained after the rest of the line had mysteriously died, the young girl who lived the rest of her life in isolation and grief after losing everyone that she loved...and the 300-year long wait for a successor.
Only that wasn't a tale, Grace thought as she left her bed and observed the darkened room. It really happened.
She rose from the bed, the swish of her silken nightgown audible in the brief silence between thunderclaps. She walked slowly in the darkness, allowing the lightning to show her the way. Her purse lay on top of a nearby dresser, and Grace reached in and searched for what she wanted. After a minute or so, her hand closed around a tiny leather pouch and she withdrew it.
Upon touching the pouch, Grace felt unimaginable relief, the feeling making her body feel warm and comforted. She opened the small sack and removed her prize.
It was a ruby pendant given to her by her grandfather when she was very young. The jewel was her most cherished possession; she always carried it with her. It was a deep crimson surrounded by silver, radiant in the palm of her hand. Grace sighed at its beauty as she fastened it around her neck, allowing the jewel to settle between her cloth-covered breasts. She then turned and walked to the connecting bedroom, where Gabriel lay.
Grace silently entered the room, her almond-shaped eyes searching the darkness before resting on Gabriel's sleeping form. He was lying sideways on the bed, his long legs dangling off the edge, his feet facing where she stood. She could hear his faint snores, and she couldn't help but smile as she felt her way through the room to grab a candle and matches. Her nose caught the whiff of sulfur as the match blazed to life, and the candle's light helped Grace to get a closer look at her love.
The white bed sheets were a striking contrast against his hair and skin, and Grace couldn't take her eyes off him. She let her eyes travel over his partially covered body, remembering each time that his lips kissed her, when his hands would caress her face, when he would hold her in his arms and sometimes carry her.
Like tonight, Grace remembered with a chill. When she felt as if her head would explode. She remembered the looks of fright and concern on both Gabriel's and her grandfather's faces during her violent reaction to her legacy, and she shuddered.
They looked at me as if I was going to die.
It was in that moment, in a house that she had known since she was a small child and surrounded by people whom she knew loved her, that Grace felt completely alone.
There will always be the possibility that I could be hurt, Grace thought as she inched closer to Gabriel's bedside. Or killed. And so could he.
She remembered the feeling of overwhelming fear that she had experienced more than a year before, when Gabriel fell under the werewolf curse. It had been a painful reminder that even shadow hunters were mortal...and vulnerable. The sight of him in twisted agony from the wolf's bite and the dangerous, primal instincts that had emerged in Gabriel during that time had slowly ripped her apart inside. Even the memory of that time brought the sting of unshed tears to her eyes.
How could I put him through something like that, if I were to...?
Grace quickly placed her hand on her mouth to silence her sudden sobs as she fell to her knees beside the bed.
Gabriel was only a small distance away; all she had to do was reach her hand to make contact. Grace wanted to touch him, to wake him from his slumber. She wanted him to take her in his arms to comfort her, to ease her fears.
She wanted him to make love to her. She wanted to lose herself in the dark embrace of passion, to experience sensations that she had never known before and to forget what challenges lay ahead for them. She knew that if she could just wake him, he would cover her with his body, make her burn, and gasp out his name. If she did so however, it would have been only a temporary escape from the shadow of what was coming. Nothing would have changed. The danger would have remained.
Her hands remained at her sides, and she fought in vain against fresh tears.
What can I do? God help me, what can I do?
"Do not be afraid, my child."
The whisper of sound escaped her dry lips. Grace felt comforted by what seemed to be her own voice, yet somehow she felt otherwise. She tilted her head backward, raising her arms upward as she experienced a sensation of warmth envelop her. Grace didn't know what she sought as she reached out towards the empty space, but she knew when it found her. When she first felt the other woman's mystical presence, she was no longer afraid. On the contrary. Tears of joy replaced her tears of uncertainty and fears, as she felt a long-forgotten corner of her heart begin to awaken and merge with the rest, bonding together to work as one. She gasped as an embrace of sweet tenderness cut through her despair like a thousand swords as Grace felt her soul growing, expanding, and preparing itself for the path of destiny that she knew she must take.
You possess great strength and courage, my daughter. The journey ahead will be very difficult, its outcome uncertain. Keep your mind and heart open and all will become known to you. We have all waited so long for you to enter this world. Our flesh, our blood, our last hope...
The mysterious presence faded from Grace's consciousness, and she felt a tinge of sorrow at the loss. She didn't think to question what happened; her outlook on such matters had changed so much because of her experiences on Gabriel's cases that she no longer felt the need to analyze so closely when something happened to her - instead of Gabriel - of a supernatural nature. Only this time she knew that this spiritual contact was for her benefit alone.
"All that is meant to be known will be revealed, and everything will happen as fate chooses." This became Grace's personal motto sometime after the last big case.
Grace wiped her tears away with her hands and returned to her feet. She closed her eyes and began taking deep breaths.
I will not panic, I will not yield. I am not a helpless lamb who is led towards its slaughter; I am Grace Nakimura. I have survived many difficult situations in my life so far, and this time is no different. I can handle this.
With that thought in mind, Grace took one last look at the sleeping Gabriel before quietly returning to her room.
Once back in her own room, she set down the candle and slipped her red silk kimono robe over her nightgown. She then took the candle once more and went downstairs. Grace had no idea of the time, but she guessed that it was just after midnight. The house was very quiet, and other than her candle, she saw no other lights around.
She was mistaken, as she discovered on her way towards the kitchen. A fire was burning low in the living room fireplace, and Grace tiptoed to the slightly opened door to investigate.
Grace carefully slid the door open further, just wide enough for her to peek inside. She saw Yukio sitting cross-legged by the fire with his back turned towards her, his head bowed as if in prayer.
She continued to watch her grandfather as he slowly raised his head to gaze into the fire. His voice crackled with sadness and pain as he whispered, "Grace..."
Grace remained silent, unsure of whether or not he had discovered her presence. She got her answer when Yukio's silver head lowered once more without comment. Grace wanted to speak with her grandfather and discuss what happened earlier that evening, but she hesitated when she saw his shoulders tremble and heard him release broken sighs.
Yukio was crying.
Her chest felt tight at the realization, and she stepped away from the living room door as silently as she had arrived. Grace didn't want to embarrass him by letting him know that she had witnessed his distress. The dryness of her throat returned to her mind then, and she told herself that she would return to Yukio after having a cool glass of water.
In the kitchen, Grace slowly sipped her water and allowed it to trickle down her parched throat, soothing it. After she was finished, she remained standing with her back to the sink, looking around as if she hadn't seen her surroundings in a lifetime.
In a way, that was true. It had been many years since she had last visited her grandfather's house, and her current feelings about returning were torn between the Dragon business, warm memories connected with the house, and regret that it had taken her so long to come back.
Grace unconsciously twirled her ruby in her fingers as she let her thoughts wash over her. I was 16 the last time I was here. 12 years ago. My God, how could so much time have passed so quickly? Before I threw myself into school and then the Schattenjager business with Gabriel, this house was my favorite place in the world.
She felt a curious fluttering in her stomach as she whispered aloud, "the second favorite place."
As she walked back to the living room, the sensation in her middle ceased yet Grace felt as if she had crossed the point of no return. From the moment of her encounter with the unknown entity in Gabriel's room, the feeling of helplessness that had surrounded her faded from every fiber of her being, and she became more driven to find out what was going on; to see what else was in store for her.
Grace lightly rapped on the living room door. "Grandfather?"
There was no answer, and as she opened the door, she saw that Yukio was no longer there.
"Damn it. Where did he go?" Grace asked herself aloud as she went to find him.
She checked Yukio's bedroom, his study and the meditation room on the ground floor of the house. There was no sign of him. Grace knew that he couldn't have gone to the kitchen, and she automatically declined the thought that Yukio may have ventured outside.
She walked across the darkened foyer, her gaze drawn to the raging storm outside of the window. Grace could hear the cracking of wood as the wind tore it apart, the sound of the rain hitting the ground with great strength. She felt a chill rip through her body, and she hoped with all her heart that no one was out there.
Suddenly, Grace heard whispers in the distance. She followed the sound and she realized that the voices of two men were coming from the indoor greenhouse.
She slowly crept to the door and listened.
* * *
Yukio had been alone in his thoughts, cursing himself for allowing his fears to silence him over the years and ultimately hurt Grace.
I should have told her about this a long time ago.
He stood there in the darkness, amongst the many plants and flowers that he loved to maintain. It was a precious hobby of his, a source of relaxation for when he was troubled. Working in the greenhouse also allowed him the spiritual clarity needed to concentrate on difficult problems, and more importantly, to find the solutions that always lay just beneath the surface of his consciousness.
Not any longer, Yukio thought to himself. I have found nothing here that can help my granddaughter face her fate. If she had known sooner, she could have been prepared for this. I have thrown her onto a dangerous path with no protection. I have killed her. She is as good as dead.
Yukio closed his eyes as tears streaked down his face. A clap of thunder echoed throughout the house, startling him for a moment. As the noise faded, he heard the whispering of words to his soul, infinitely sweet and as comforting as the voice in which they were delivered to him.
There is still hope, Yukio...
His eyes shot open. Sayuri? Where are you?
Yukio was still alone in the greenhouse, but the words continued to flow from the shadows.
Bring her home, Yukio. Our land yearns for her return; it needs her like rain. She must know everything...
He nodded, the feeling of hope making his heart race. Yes. She will finally know the truth.
The voice of Sayuri softened, filling him with warmth.
Good, noble Yukio. I knew that I had made the right decision when I chose you as her guardian. However, please do not misunderstand my guidance. For Grace to realize what it is to be a true Dragon, you cannot simply tell her in mere words. She must return to the place of her birth, back to Tatsu Island. She must experience the castle and the land, and she will remember! She will remember everything, Yukio.
Yukio took her words to heart, and Sayuri continued.
She will know exactly what she is, and only when she has accepted her destiny, I will make myself known to her...and to the one that accompanies her. You need not fear him, Yukio. His blood is as sacred as ours is, if not more. All that you must do is bring her home, and the rest depends on her; only she can decide what she must do. She is wise, and her travels with her companion have already allowed her to gain some knowledge of what is required of her.
Her voice began to fade away, to mingle once again with the storm. Bring her home, and keep her safe. All will be well...
Sayuri was gone, and in her wake, Yukio felt a new sense of determination.
Yes, my ancestor.
- Add a