Onyx Dreams Ch. 31bykitazkitten©
Isaac sighed softly as he looked at Brenna from the door way of the mountain monastery. It was a refuge to all those who sought hope, strength or redemption. Right now it seemed as if the dragon before him needed all three. She had arrived battered, bruised and bleeding and her spirit crushed. Her body was healed now but the latter was still in a weakened state. What happened to her had done more damage than any weapon ever could. Her heart had been ripped out by the one person she loved most. He couldn't believe his own son could have been capable of such deeds. Truly he had fallen far indeed.
Brenna lay on the rocks behind the monastery, allowing the sun to soak into her hide. The warmth brought her no pleasure. She hurt inside and nothing Isaac tried was helping. Cyrus choosing Kaie over her had cut deep into her heart and soul. She was confused and alone. She wanted Hayden. She wanted to go home. But she couldn't seem to find the strength or the power to open a second portal. And she was too proud to call for help when it was her fault she was like this.
He walked across the soft sand and gravel mixed path towards her, a few of his students following behind with a barrel of special boiled herbs to help ease any linger physical pain there may be. Stopping a short distance away he bowed low and spoke clearly, "Hail Lady Brenna, may I approach and be honored by you in conversation?"
~You may approach.~ Her voice was devoid of emotion of any type. She opened one eye to study Isaac and his students as they came closer.
He motioned for the barrel to be brought forwards and placed before her, the student scurrying back to the monastery once it was done. Isaac slowly approached, gently placing his hand upon the barrel before looking up at her. "This is to ease any discomfort you may still have Lady Brenna. May I ask how you are feeling today?"
Brenna sniffed at the barrel half-heartedly. ~I am the same~ she stuck her tongue into the liquid and drank it. Even the bitter taste did not stir her.
He sighed once again and reached out, gently touching her snout. He wished there was something more he could do. He wished he could find her mate Hayden. The one she spoke of while she dreamed.
In the ether of the world, that one wish was heard...
Kennice was tossing in her sleep. She felt hot and afraid. Caught in the midst of a nightmare she struggled to awake and failed. A scream was wrenched from her throat as she drowned in the terror of the nightmare...
Hayden stood above, looking down at her shifting body, trying to awaken. Leaning his snout down, he gently nudged her, attempting to help her escape from her nightmares.
She awoke with a scream in her throat, eyes wide in fright. She yelped, rolled and hit the floor in tangled heap with the sheets. It took her befuddled mind a moment to realize where she was. "Hayden?"
"Indeed my rider, it is I. You were thrashing in your sleep. I felt it best to awaken you from such dreams. I hope you are alright." He looked down at her, gently blowing warm air over her to try and help calm her.
Her heart was slowing and she tried to remember what it was she'd been dreaming about. But it proved elusive. After a few minutes she gave up and stood on shakily legs to sit down on the edge of the bed. "I am fine."
"That is good to know, because you must get ready, we have a friend to bring home." There was a happier tone to his voice, like a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
"A friend? Who?" She hurried to the side room and put on the clothes that had been laid out for her. "Hayden? Who is it?"
"My mate, Brenna. She has been found and I must ensure she returns home where she will be safe to heal and recover properly."
"Wait! Isn't she Cyrus' dragon?" Kennice demanded as she came back into the room.
"Former...He has abandoned her for our enemy, Kaie. He is lost to us I am afraid. Right now we must concentrate on retrieving our kin."
Kennice bristled at Hayden's dismissive tone. Cyrus was not lost! Biting her tongue she nodded. "Lead the way."
He nodded and turned, holding his leg out for her to climb up, "We will be travelling by portal to the one who has cared for her since she fled Cyrus. Hold on tight."
He moved out of the cavern into the cold morning light and spread his wing, taking off into the air until he found the spot her was looking for. Taking a deep breath, his scales began to glow and glitter in the sunlight. After a moment he exhaled, a long pure white flame escaping his mouth, the air shimmering from the heat and the magics surrounding it.
In front of them, the portal began to form. The space in front of them warped and rippled, the realities between the two worlds bending and twisting to meet the shape that was demanded of it. Finally the portal was ready, the edges of it a golden colour of regalilty and status. Hayden nodded to confirm it was ready and spoke softly, ~Hold on tight, this may be a little bumpy.~ He pushed away with his wings, soaring around in a long circle for a few moments before lining up with the portal and streaking through.
Kennice couldn't help it; she let out a startled shriek as the force of the portal's wind blasted her. She lay flat against Hayden's hide, eyes closed and prayed to the gods that they made it through to the other side. The roaring in her ears was painful too.
After what seemed like an eternity, they reached the other side, the stark spring light pierced the skies above them, beaming down heat that never quite reached those in the frosty valley below. The last tendrils of winter still clinging on as spring marched into control of the year. ~Rider, we are here.~
"Thank the gods! I think I'm in one piece." Hastily Kennice checked herself over. Everything seemed to be in order. She let out a sigh of relief and then curiosity got the better of her and she craned her head about trying to see where they were.
The sight was something incredible to behold. Green pastures stretched for miles and miles in every direction, the sunlight glistened off the grasses and trees as far as the eye could see. To the right was an aged, yet sturdy monastery, its architecture suggesting it had seen much more than anyone suspected. In the gardens near the gates the shapes of students could be seen, bent over the long furrows of winter vegetables and berries. Harvest time was upon them and nothing was going to dissuade them from collecting their crop.
To the left was the purpose of their mission, the aching and emotionally crippled form of Brenna. Even from the distance they were, the feelings of betrayal and self loathing could be felt.
Kennice clutched her head as the unfamiliar emotions slammed into her mind, causing an instant nosebleed. "What...is...that!" she gasped. She was suffocating from the pressure of the pain. "Make...it...stop!"
Hayden too was caught off guard by the force of will being subconsciously exerted by his mate. However, he shook off the rush and forced the torrent aside, blocking off the mental connection between Brenna and his rider. Slowly he descended to the front of his mate. Isaac had gone indoors long ago to attend to the running of the monastery, leaving Brenna to her thoughts. ~Brenna...~
~Go away, mind demon!~ The anger and loathing lashed outward with venomous force and guilt colored the end of the sending.
Hayden immediately reared on his back legs and roared, spreading his wings wide, casting two long shadows over Brenna. The sudden sheer force of the bellow causing the ground beneath his talons to shudder and tremble.
It was the roar that penetrated Brenna's self-pity. ~My king?~
~Yes Brenna, it is I. Your King...and mate. It is time to come home, you have suffered long enough my love.~ He leaned his head down, his snout gently rubbing against hers.
~I cannot return! I am tainted! I did the forbidden and tried to open a portal. And for naught! He chose HER!~ She keened her anguish and swung her head away from Hayden.
Kennice simply sat feeling helpless. How did one console a grieving dragon?
Hayden drew in a deep breath and exhaled it sharply over his mate. ~You question the command of your king? Your mate? I will have no more discussion over this. You are coming home. What happened here will be discussed when we return. Now rise, I am taking you home.~
Head bowed low, Brenna sluggishly came to her feet, her wings unfurling. Her hide was dull, not glowing with the sheen of health. She said no more, simply waited on Hayden's next command.
From across the field, Isaac came running. "Wait! Lady Brenna!" He halted in front of her. He placed a hand on her snout. "I have faith in you and my son. He will find his way back to the light and to you."
Hayden ignored the small form of Isaac, instead spreading his wings and lifting off into the air, opening another portal, its powerful aura rippling out across the air in front of them. Once it was stable her turned to look at Brenna, his voice now firm and commanding, like that of a parent. ~Come Brenna, we have much to discuss.~
Brenna's tongue snaked out and licked a startled Isaac on the face. She slowly took to the air, gradually gaining altitude until she was by Hayden's side.
He leaned forwards and pushed with his wings, moving through the portal, into the realm of dragons, awaiting the arrival of his mate on the other side.
Brenna did not hesitate. She obediently followed, leaving behind the world of men and her traitorous rider.
On the other side, the portal led to the healing caverns of the dragon realm. Their expansive walls giving off a faint glow of energetic magic. Immediately they began to glow brighter as Brenna entered. There were a few older dragons present, suffering from various minor ailments, along with a few younger, less careful dragons that had injured themselves during training. Beside The portal was an open bay, a glint of onyx colour on the post by the large nest. ~This is where you will stay Brenna. It will take time for you to regain you confidence. I am sorry for my shortness with you earlier, but I had to ensure I got you home before the enemy could hurt you any more.~
~Yes, my king.~ Her tone was meek, emotionless as she glided to the nest and settled herself.
He sighed quietly and looked around till he spotted the ruby dragon in charge of caring for the injured occupants. The portal had closed now, revealing further tunnels that lead to more caverns in the area. Moving across to her, he bowed his head. ~I leave my mate in your caring talons, Lady Haster.~
~Of course, my King. She will have the best of care. On my honor, I swear it.~
He nodded once more before heading out of the caverns, breathing in the crisp air of his realm. ~I am sorry you had to witness that Kennice. I did not want to expose us for any longer than necessary.~
"I understand why you did. I just don't understand Cyrus. How he can be so cruel to her? It makes no sense. My heart tells me that he is good but he keeps doing such mean things."
~It is the way of his kind, my rider. They take things as face value, yet see treachery in everything. It is unfortunate he was targeted by Kaie...she is skilled at manipulating people.~
Kennice was frustrated. She wanted to help Cyrus and Brenna. "You have to take me back. Maybe if we find mother and father they can help us save Brenna and Cyrus."
~No! I will not endure you further unless I have no other choice. You must accept that he is lost to us, Kennice. He has sided with the dark ones and nothing will change his mind. He proved that when he tried to end your life at your wedding!~
"But did he really? He was not the one who came at me. Kaie did," she stubbornly defended Cyrus.
~You saw what he did to the preacher? Your husband, Rhys? What he attempted to do to the rest of your family. Surely you would have been next if we had not taken you to safety.~
"I'm not sure. And Rhys is not my husband. We did not finish the vows." Kennice's eyes grew wide. "We're not married!" Dazed she considered the implications for herself and the land.
~My apologies, I do not yet fully understand all human customs. But in all honesty, I am rather glad you are not married, he did not seem right for you.~
"I know. Cyrus said the same thing. I wouldn't have married Rhys if Cyrus...well it doesn't matter now. I made a mistake and if I can make them so can Cyrus."
Hayden was silent for a long moment before he nodded slightly and began walking back to the main halls. ~Perhaps...have you had any more visions that you are able to remember?~
"None. And truthfully, I think I would gladly forego them. They scare me." She shivered and moved closer to Hayden's body.
~Unfortunately that is the price one must pay for being granted such a gift. The true ability, however, comes from being able to interpret them. Perhaps you should spend a bit more time with Nightseer, he may be able to shed some light on your visions.~
At the mention of Nightseer, Kennice smiled. She liked the old dragon. The younger one was exhausting but Kennice had dealt with children in the village who behaved the same way and she'd grown accustomed to such wildness. "I would like that."
~Then I shall see if I can arrange something for you, no doubt he will enjoy the company.~ He continued walking along the wide stone path before them, the low hills gradually becoming spotted with small houses, and then the unbelievably tall towers of the main dragon keep came into view. It was a still a long way off however, but Hayden knew the distance would not matter, if needed he could fly there in a matter of minutes.
Kennice glanced about in awe. The land here in the dragon realm was beautiful. She had not been in this area before. Apparently there was more to the realm than the giant dragon mountain where the dragons and most of the riders resided.
"Where are we exactly?" She noticed that people were tending the fields and she could hear the laughter of children.
~These are the descendants of the families of the original dragon riders, from the first war of the human realm. They have been here for hundreds of years. In this realm, time flows differently. They were brought here to keep them safe from the barbarians of the human world, so they could not be used as hostages against the riders.~
"So family members are brought here? Why was I not told this? Mother and Father could have been here and safe."
~There is a reason for this. The magics here affect families in such a way that if they are not bonded to a dragon, they adapt to the magics here...and cannot return to the human realm. Families are only granted entry if there is no other option.~
"Oh." Kennice hid her pain at the answer deep in her mind and heart. It seemed that no matter what she chose she was going to lose someone precious to her.
~But fear not my rider, all is not lost yet. We have still to hear back from some of our allies who may come to our aid when we need it most~ He pushed back the feeling that he knew he was lying. It was unfortunate that the gryphons and unicorns had become so withdrawn from the human world that they no longer cared for its fate.
"I hope they come soon. Kaie is warping Cyrus and destroying my world. I cannot let her harm its people!"
The keep grew ever closer with each step, the towers glinting in the sunlight, but something felt....different about it, like something vital was about to change. ~Kaie is an ancient being, my rider. She has been hiding in the shadows and manipulating people for centuries in your world.~
"Why did you not stop her then? You could have spared us all a lot of grief if you had." She wasn't feeling too sympathetic. For being such a great race they seemed to not help others much.
~There is something you must learn, Kennice, something very important. If someone who wields magic, dragon, gryphon unicorn or...~ He fell silent for a moment, not wishing to name the final race that lurked in the dark corners of the dragon realm. ~Well anything, human too. If they do not wish to be found, then it can be very, very difficult to track them. Those who wield dark powers are especially gifted at hiding their presence.~
She felt foolish. She knew that. It was one of the first lessons Erykia had drummed into her mind. "I'm sorry, that was inexcusable of me. I knew this. I'm frustrated. I want to know if my parents died or if they live."
~I have been listening to the ether, scanning for hopes of finding my mate, which we did. But while I was listening for her...I did also catch wind that your parents were alive and well.~
"There must be some way to communicate with them. We need a plan."
~The time will come Rider, sooner than you think.~ By now the great gates of the Keep were approaching, the great wide doors slowly opening wide to accommodate the massive bulk of Hayden.
Kennice knew she had to be content with this little knowledge though it did not completely abate her worry. She craned her head neck about, trying to take in everything around her.
Hayden grew more cautious as he entered the keep. The feeling of uneasiness was stronger here. He could feel something lurking within the walls of his stronghold. What he could not tell, however, was whether it was a presence of light or dark.
"Hayden." She found herself whispering as his feelings of unease crept along their bond. Taking a calm breath she closed her eyes and focused on her magical senses. Cautiously she extended her reach and then found the source of wrongness. "Hayden, to your left in the shadows," she hissed.
Hayden's head snapped to his left, searching in the shadows, casting out his mind to find the source, but to no avail. To him, there was nothing there but shadows.
A soft, dry voice like that of a throat parched for centuries drifted from the shadows Kennice was looking at, "I'm impressed Miss Davenport. It has been some time since anyone not of my kind has been able to sense me properly." From the shadows stepped the source of the voice, or rather from the shadows itself it stepped. The shadows clung to the figure, like they were reluctant to let go out it, as if he had been born of them.
Hayden took a step back and hissed, bearing his fangs. "You!"
"Who are you? You feel...." She trailed off, unsure of how to describe how he felt to her magical senses.
"Someone who watches...records...someone your king has learned to fear long ago. But fear not Miss Davenport, I am not here to cause any trouble."
He slowly walked around to the front of Hayden, his boots clacking on the hard tile floor. "I must speak with your Seer...and with your rider, there is much to discuss. Forces are moving beyond even dragon comprehension."
Kennice felt Hayden tense beneath her. "Why just me and Nightseer? Why not Hayden? Shouldn't he be there as King of the Dragons?" she demanded.
"This is not a matter that concerns him. Even if it were, there is nothing he can do...he does no possess power enough to comprehend such things."
She bristled. "Don't talk about my friend that way!" She glared at the intruder, not caring if he was bigger than her.
His eyes flicked up at her, staring deep into hers, his gaze seeming to penetrate her very soul. "You would prefer he try to fight and die within seconds?"
"No, I don't want any more dying. Enough blood has been shed as it is." Suddenly weary, she sighed. "Hayden, please let me down."
Hayden glared down at the figure before them but relented. He knew the power his kind held at their command and it was only by his will that they were still alive. They had been known to destroy entire nations on nothing but the breath of a whim, in little more than a flash of a thought. ~Very well...but be careful.~
She climbed down his offered leg and slowly walked over to the visitor. She dropped into a curtsy. "I am Kennice Davenport, sir." Never hurts to be polite, she thought, even though being this close to him made her headache from the power of his magic.