Alymndes 23: Epilogue

Two subdued children stood in front of seven Dragons.
Amrel had felt that it was about grand time to make some important introductions, and had brought Matthieu and Mareeva to Geoffroy’s apartments.
Following the death of her lover, she had decided to move to his abode, not so much out of sentimentality, but to avoid a traumatic change in Matthieu’s life. The news of his Captain’s demise had hurt the boy hard and deep. Had it not been for the love and care of Jonas’ adoptive daughter, Amrel might have had no other alternative but to resort to her Dragon’s psychic powers like her brother had done to the little Dunlago girl.
Amrel had taken charge of both children’s education. She had requested Gerhart to transfer Gratien to Beaucastel and put him in command of the Royal Guards, although the Knight had categorically refused the suggestion of a promotion to Captain or to wear the blue dragon on his tabard. Firebrand, who had followed the new Lieutenant in the capital, had not lost time to become a feature of the Palace. Some humans and members of other Races had quickly learned not to cross her. Since Matthieu had become Gratien’s page, she had one day offered Jay to serve as Mareeva’s chaperone. Amrel had laughed, but nonetheless gladly accepted. What with the proximity of the Royal warrior guards and her duties at the Court of Queen Marghrete, the little girl was effectively benefiting from a very extensive upbringing.
“Matthieu, Mareeva,” the Blue Dragon began, “I do not need to introduce you to Jonas. But you did not know that Mentor is in fact the Father of Jonas, which means he is your Grandfather, Mareeva. Actually, all of us in this room are part of the same family. Wilfred, Ironfoot, She-Who-Talks-To-Dragons, Jonas and I are all brothers and sisters. And this lady here is our Mother.”
She said the last pointing at a woman of great bearing sitting by the side of Glamrun. She was dressed all in white. Her free flowing hair was of the same hue. One would have been hard-pressed to guess her age. She very much possessed the looks of Amrel, but her face appeared wiser, calmer and maybe a little forbidding.
Mareeva suddenly felt overawed. Her Grandmother – could she really call her so? – looked so distant, so unreachable.
A beautiful smile illuminated Zamrel’s face.
“Do you not recognize me?” a voice resonated inside her head.
A cry of unrestrained joy escaped from the little girl.
“Wolf! You are Wolf!”
Mareeva ran to embrace the White Dragon who welcomed her inside her open arms.
Matthieu looked askance at Amrel. The young boy was dumfounded by the revelations. For all his brightness, he had difficulties to accept them.
Amrel smiled as she kneeled down in front of the boy to gaze at his eyes. She lightly kissed him on the cheek. Matthieu turned red with embarrassed pleasure. It was the first time that the feared Lady Geraldine gave him such a public mark of affection.
“Matthieu, “the Blue Dragon started, “you and Mareeva are going to be invited into our family. Will you accept us as your brothers, sisters and parents?”
Unchecked tears of joy ran on the youngster’s cheeks. Amrel embraced him.
She stood up and took his hand.
“Come!” she invited him.
The Dragons had risen to their feet to form a circle. Ekan and Zamrel held Mareeva’s hands. Glamrun and Amrel held Matthieu’s and the other Dragons linked their hands to complete the circle connecting them all.
“Mareeva and Matthieu, close your eyes. It will help!” Amrel encouraged the two children.
Soon the two youngsters felt taken away into a new world. They saw the tale of the Dragons unfold from Glamrun’s discovery of Zamrel’s eggs hidden inside a cave lost deep in the Iron Crags. They witnessed the rapid coming of age of the young Dragons, Zamrel’s apparition and the departure of Amrel’s brothers and sister to Alymndes. All was not pleasant as Mareeva discovered her true origins. On the other hand nothing was revealed about Matthieu before he met Amrel in the streets of Beaucastel.
The two children were taught the true nature and purpose of the Dragons. They flew over the five nations of their land, met their people and shared their lives.
When Matthieu and Mareeva finally opened their eyes, they found themselves back inside Amrel’s apartment in the company of the seven Dragons.
The boy in particular felt overwhelmed. Mareeva, for her part, found herself in conflicting moods. Now that her mind had been cleared of the blocks that Ekan had imposed, she remembered her mother, although only vaguely. She also knew that it would stay as such, a remembrance that would be completely blurred away some day.
The Dragons around her kept silent, their eyes and minds intent on their reactions.
Mareeva turned to the young page.
Matthieu looked at her.
“Can you hear me?” a voice asked inside his head.
He looked wildly around him searching for the origin of the call.
The voice resonated again inside his head.
“Matthieu, can you hear me?”
This was Mareva’s voice, he was sure. He looked at his friend.
She was smiling, but her lips were closed.
He instinctively thought in answer:
“Is it you, Mareeva?”
“Yes! You can hear me! You can hear me!”
Matthieu turned to Amrel.
“Am …, Lady Geraldine! I can hear Mareeva in my head!”
“Yes, you can!” the Blue Dragon warmly answered.
The boy frowned for a while.
“Then, are we Dragons, too?” he tentatively asked.
“No, you are not. Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, apart of knowing our true names and being able to communicate in mindspeech, you are and always will be humans! Now, you must realize that these are great gifts and secrets that you must protect at the cost of your lives, if necessary. We shall not be always by your side, but you shall become our eyes and ears. You can call or link with us any time and we shall immediately appear with you. But you must be very careful when using your gifts, as you know that there exists a very dangerous enemy who shall prey on us at the smallest mistake!”
Ekan commented:
“For your sake, you shall stay together until we see fit you may go your own way. You shall equally spend your time in Beaucastel and Dunlago. We shall also send you on regular trips to the Steppes, the Elf Forest and under the Iron Crags.”
“And you shall have to study and show us your worth!” Glamrun emphasized.
“Do not worry! I shall be here to help!” Mareeva told him in mindspeech.
The young page’s hand massaged his forehead. He was feeling all the signs of a coming headache.
“I see that we shall have to teach you how to escape the nets of conniving females!” the voice of the Red Dragon rang in his head.
“I wonder!” retorted the White Dragon’s voice.
“Zamrel! Did I not tell you not to pry on someone’s private thoughts!” Glamrun’s annoyed voice said.
In a lightless cavern deep inside the Mountains of Fire north of the city of Andragon, a sinister dark shape lay immobile.
Sacrach was sleeping.
His slumber would last long by human reckoning. He needed to restore his strength before he reappeared in the outside world.
This time, he would not make the mistake of spreading himself thin before falling onto the puny creatures that had dared oppose him and thwart his justly deserved domination and ownership of Alymndes and whatever other lands that lay beyond the seas. He would take unending pleasure in teaching his foes the folly of defiance. He would be the Master, and everyone else his obedient subject, lest he, she or it be helplessly exposed to is unforgiving wrath.
Cold sweat was running down the back of Quasan.
The General had his right knee on the floor. His head was bent so low that he could see only the robes of the woman he was facing.
Once again he had brought bad news. The black wyverns had ravaged villages as near as Zor-ta and Tursan in the south. Warlords in distant islands were openly defying the Empress’ rule and assembling armies and fleets.
Hsu Yia, Empress of Narosan and the surrounding islands had no wish to personally interfere in the affairs of her lands, lest she revealed her true nature. But her benign rule had finally come to an end.
She had to act.
But before that, she needed help.
A lot of help.

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