Lady Jura and I both took a seat on the small sofa in her chamber. Across from us sat Lord Hudraer in one of the two high backed chairs. He cleared his throat. “I apologize Lady Jura for intruding on a private moment such as this, but as an Elder within the clans it is my duty to make sure turmoil is resolved.”
She smiled warmly. “I’m fine with that, Hue. I’m sure that my daughter being the first Dragon born Tempest in two hundred years is also something of great importance to you personally as well.”
He shifted uncomfortably under my gaze. “Let’s just focus on answering some questions for Alizeyah so she can learn what she came to learn and return home.” He offered me a smile that didn’t quite touch his eyes.
“Why would she go home? She’s here now and we are without a High Priestess. She will stay as a member of the Clan and take over her Aunt’s role here.” My head snapped around like I had been slapped. I stared at Lady Jura, who was now gathering my hands in her own.
I took a deep breath and forced a smile. “Lady Jura, I have an entire life in Seoul. I have a career that I love, a quirky set of friends, an amazing apartment that has a HUGE deposit, and there is someone waiting for me who is special.” The last part was hard to say. I wasn’t sure but I thought I saw Hue frown a little. “The point is, people are expecting me and if I don’t go back they will worry. More then that though, I don’t know you. You and my father abandoned me to die as a Changeling.” Something stopped me. “If you left me as a Changeling, what did you do with the Human child you took?” I was afraid of the answer.
Lady Jura contemplated her words carefully for a moment. “Your father was a Commander within the Elven Guard from another Realm. That realm had been sealed off from the Human realm for nearly a thousand years. He ended up in this Realm before moving on to the Human realm. I believe that’s how he met Lord Hudraer.” Was she purposely avoiding my question? She cleared her throat and began speaking again. “Your father came to the Human realm in hopes of reaching the OAC. At the time it was governed by a powerful Mage they hoped would be able to imprison a beast that had been terrorizing their four Kingdoms.”
Ok, so my father was a soldier, there was no shame in that. “Ok, so are you going to tell me about the Human child and how I ended up there and you here?” I kept the annoyance from my voice the best I could.
“Calm down child, I’m telling you the entire story.” She reached out to pat my knee but I shifted it out of her reach. With a bit of a hurt look she continued her story. “My sister and I were in the employ of the Mage- Something about the way she said it made me realize they were concubines. “-when your father arrived to speak with the Mage and beg his assistance. The Mage refused saying the Kingdoms had doomed themselves when they closed the fairy circles between the worlds. Your father was devastated to have failed his people. Avrae however told him she knew a way to help if he would take us with him.”
Lady Jura reached out to caress me again and I side stepped it by standing to walk around the room. Her eyes were sad but I still felt deeply betrayed by this woman. She pursed her lips and began speaking again. “With his help we were able to leave the employment of the Mage. Your father and I fell in love and were bonded despite the fact we were Fae and Darkling. That just didn’t happen much in those days. The Mage swore to claim revenge on us. We fled the Human realm for safety. Your Aunt and Father were able to banish the beast from his realm but we couldn’t stay. The Mage knew where to find us. So your father brought us here to Hue and the other clans. I was pregnant with you by this time.” She stopped and sniffled a little.
Hue cleared his throat. “Your father along with myself and a few others were out on a hunting expedition. A creature called an Itheaga appeared, and before we could do anything to stop it, your father was dead. It was the same creature your aunt and he had banished from his own realm. The creature doesn’t pose much threat to a Dragon if we can shift to our dragon form. We are immune from its poison and our fire can toast most things… enough to at least send it running.” He rubbed his hands together then reached out to take mine. Little pricking tingles ran through my hand as he urged me to take a seat.
Jura smiled and bit her lip. “You were only half Dragon and so we didn’t know if you would be vulnerable or not. Your aunt wove a spell for me, to help me find you parents. I found a family who had just lost their baby girl to cancer. With the spell, I took away their pain and gave you to them. As far as we knew, the Mage knew nothing of your existence but I was afraid if you stayed he would find out. You being raised as a changeling in the Human world was far safer. After all, nobody cared about a Changeling child. The Elven Mage was eventually killed by his protege, a Lady Alathea. She couldn’t condone his cruelties any longer. When the council replaced the Mage it was safe for you and us but I didn’t want to disrupt the life you had built for yourself. I knew someday, you would come looking for answers.”
Ugh. I felt bad. It would have been so much better if she were selfish. Now there were emotions to work through. “I see.” It was all I could say.
“You see?” asked Hue. “Your mother pours out her heart to you and that’s all you can say?”
“I’m not trying to sound cold, I’m just trying to process it all. How old are both of you?” I asked trying make my point.
Hue responded “two hundred twenty one” and Jura mumbled something about being nearly six hundred.
“Alright, you’ve known what you are, your entire lives, right?” They both nodded. “I didn’t know any of this was even truly REAL until four or five months ago. I am comping with thirty odd years of being told all this was imaginary. Great love stories only exist in story books in the Human world. I’ve been married and divorced, moved around the world and speak a handful of languages badly. All that being said, I probably seem a little emotionally stunted when compared to people who have had centuries to learn to process feelings.” I sighed heavily. “So, when I say that I see or understand something please keep in mind I’m probably processing it slower than you would.”
Jura stood up, walked over to where I sat and threw her arms around me sobbing. She was happy I was home after all these years. I rolled my eyes and patted her on the back. “Please forgive me, I swear I did it only out of love.”
“Yeah, I get that.” I commented. I thought about all the love and laughter I had shared with my Human family and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. “You gave me to the most loving and wonderful family that exists. I can’t hold it against you too long. Although, I really hate that I now feel somewhat indebted to Alathea.”
Lady Jura pulled back, she and Lord Hudraer both gave me a confused look. “You know Lady Alathea personally?” asked Jura.
“Yeah…. about that.” I laughed uncomfortably. “She was supposed to be my Elven trainer but was too busy boinking everything in her path to help a “Half-breed” like me.” I even added the air quotes.
“Elves!” Hue said shaking his head. “Will you at least consider staying a little while? I’m sure everyone here would like to get to know you better.”
I shook my head. “I need to get back, but I can come visit if you’ll allow me to.” I reached up and fumbled with the bead near my neck. It was the only clothing that hadn’t been burned away. “I have to find a trainer, I have books to finish writing and adventures with my friends to still go on.”
Jura looked from Hue to myself. I’ve seen enough motherly matchmaking glares over the years to recognize it. “You should stay longer. You and Hue should get to know each other better. Both of his parents were Tempests like he is. The two of you could learn a lot from each other.”
I turned and really stared hard at Lord Hudraer. “You’re a Dragon Tempest? and… BOTH of your parents were?” I cleared my mind trying to sort through the words. “And you didn’t believe me at first?”
He stood and walked a few paces away looking rather uncomfortable. “My father was eight hundred when he met my mother. She was several hundred years old as well. They had been bonded a few centuries before I was born. I have three sisters and one other brother, and I am the only Tempest out of my siblings with both of our parents being what they are. Knowing the odds, you’ll have to forgive me for not believing you immediately.” I growled a little at him and swallowed my anger.
Lady Jura smiled in a way that wasn’t at all comforting. “Of course dear, you should come back and visit us often. Bring those friends of yours and the Werewolf you’re seeing.” I stiffened uncomfortably.
I looked down at the dress I was wearing. It was a simple halter made of flowy silver grey fabric. It clung to my curves and dragged the ground. “May I return this when I visit again? I don’t really feel like walking around Seoul naked.” She patted my hand and nodded.
“We have a festival in a few weeks, why don’t you plan to attend that and bring your friends? You will be our guests for the weekend.” Lord Hudraer seemed sincere but there was something in his tone that told me he was hesitant at inviting my friends as well.
“They’re good people, I swear.” I told him.
“I believe you. I will believe anything you tell me from now on,” he said with a smile. “Oh, one last thing before you go.” He grabbed hand with a suddenly pointed claw piercing the base of my palm. Raising it to his lips he swirled his tongue over it. I breathed slowly hoping my knees wouldn’t go weak. When he lifted his head the cut was already gone. “Now a part of you will stay here, and you can always find your way home any time you wish to visit, day or night.”
I looked at him withdrawing my hand slowly. “Thanks, I think. My home is in Seoul.”
“Dragons and Elves live a very long time.” His smile was haunting.
I turned to Lady Jura. “It was nice meeting you Lady…. Mom. I’ll try and make plans for the festival.”
I closed my hand over the bead and focused on home. The air grew filled with static and felt thick. It began to shimmer around me and with a flash that made my stomach flip flop I was in my little apartment.
“It’s about time you showed up! We’ve been worried sick. You’ve been gone three days without a trace. Ian tracked you as far as Seoul Forest and lost your scent.” Dani wrapped her arms around me tightly in an affectionate hug. “So, where were you?” she asked.
Ian wasn’t there but I made it a point to send him a text so he would stop worrying. “Well, in fairness I was there for like a day, day and a half at most. Sorry to worry you. I went to find my mother.”
“Well?” She paused looking at me expectantly. “Did you find her?”
“Yes.” I smiled.
“Are you going to tell me more?” Her voice was a little strained with irritation.
“Yes, but not until Ian gets here. I don’t feel like telling the story too many more times.”
Twenty minute later my front door was flung open and a very intense looking, kilt wearing, long haired, tattooed Werewolf rushed in. With his boots still on he pulled me from the couch and crushed me against his chest. “Kat, I was so scared. Don’t do that! At least tell someone where you’re going. Marthailain and the rest of the OAC didn’t even know where you were. He buried his face in my shoulder and smelled me, stiffening around me. Pulling back he pinned me with his gaze. “Dragon, you’ve been marked by a Dragon!” He stopped and smelled me again. “And something has changed.” He tilted my head back and stared deep in my eyes. His turned black and seemed to glow a radiating silver. “And your Darkling half is fully awakened.” I wasn’t sure why but he looked hurt and betrayed.
“Dragons?” Dani asked.
“Yes, my mother is a Dragon. I found her and her people.” Ian’s face seemed to soften a bit but still looked sad. “What do you mean I was marked by a Dragon?” I could tell that was a source of pain.
“One of them tasted you.” He kept his words an even tone. I thought of the kiss when I was trying to understand their speech. “I can smell that he has taken your blood. You will be able to find him no matter where he goes because part of you is with him.”
“Oh, that!” I said sort of surprised. Ian quirked a brow. “Yes, because I wasn’t sure where I was besides the Lair he took a drop of my blood so I could find my way back to the Lair anytime I wanted to visit. I used my mother’s letter to find my way there but never really figured out where I was. I just know that the realm connects this one with a place called the Four Kingdoms.” Ian seemed to relax now.
“Nothing happened between you and the Dragon? He just did it so you could go back?” He seemed unsure.
“Yes, what would have been happening? My mother was there and he’s some sort of important something within the clans. Oh, we were invited back in a few weeks for a festival. I was given permission to bring you and Dani.” The rest of the worry left him.
Dani interrupted. “This is all very nice and I totally would LOVE to meet some Dragons but could you let her tell us about what’s been going on?” Ian released me and I sat back down on the couch. I spent the next two hours retelling my encounter with the Dragons.