After a few minutes Tahlmus was able to breathe properly, which allowed him to think more clearly. He knew, he’d never forgive himself if something happened to any of the Sirens, and he definitely couldn’t let them die protecting him. “They’ve suffered enough already,” he thought. “I can’t sacrifice one of them.” A few more minutes of thinking and Tahlmus was pretty sure he knew what he would have to do.
Taking a deep breath he tried to push it from his mind. Coral had requested his presence, since Urytemil had been early. He knew she strongly desired kids and not only did he want to give her what she desired, but he found himself wanting to have kids with her. He had never discussed having kids with Winky, but since speaking with Coral, he knew he wanted to have them with her. So he walked down to Coral’s room, trying to push everything from his mind so he could focus on Coral.
It took less than a minute for Coral to open the door when he knocked. He opened his mouth to say something, but she just pulled him inside. “I felt the evil presence leave a while ago. What took you so long to come here?”
Tahlmus carefully took her hands in his as he wondered how much he should tell her. “Urytemil gave me some bad news,” he started hesitantly. Coral just looked at him with questions in her eyes. “One of the students we selected is Mystic’s son… so he will be here at the orientation.”
“What are we going to do?” Coral asked.
“I’m not sure,” Tahlmus lied as he tried to avoid Coral’s eyes.
“You know you shouldn’t lie to your wife.”
Tahlmus sighed looking into her eyes. “Remember when I explained my visions to you, and how sometimes if I share them, then things end up worse than if I had kept it to myself?” Coral nodded. “This is similar. I can’t tell you, otherwise things will go wrong.”
Coral sighed. “I don’t like it.”
“I know,” he said caressing her face. “But if I tell you, I could lose you… and I can’t lose you,” he finished in a whisper.
“Just promise me I won’t lose you,” Coral whispered.
“I promise, I will always be here,” he replied pulling her close.
Feeling reassured, Coral pressed her lips to his. Tahlmus let her gently push him to the bed where they made love.
As noon rolled around, Tahlmus magicked up some lunch, so they did not have to leave each other’s company. After they had finished eating though, Tahlmus reluctantly got Coral to agree that they had to tend to other responsibilities. The school year would be upon them soon and there was a lot left to do. Sadly Coral agreed, and after magically changing their clothes, Tahlmus led Coral from the room. She went off to fulfill her daily task, while Tahlmus went to find Fleur.
Focusing on her, he noticed she was in her room. “An odd place to be at this time of day,” he thought to himself as he made his way to her room and knocked on the door. It took a few minutes, but Fleur finally answered.
“Tahlmus,” she squeaked with a worried look on her face. “What..uh.. I mean..”
“Is everything ok?” Tahlmus asked. Fleur gave him a half smile as she moved aside for him to come in. On her bed nestled in between the pillows, was a golden dragon egg. “Whoa,” Tahlmus whispered as he exhaled. It took him a few seconds to remember he had to inhale. “That’s… that’s a golden egg.” His voice still did not go above a whisper.
“Is that bad?” Fleur asked more nervous than before.
Tahlmus shook his head. “Not bad,” he said, “but raises a lot more questions.” Muttering a spell a book appeared in his hand. “You might want to read this,” he said handing her the book, before walking over to the bed where the egg lay. Fleur immediately opened the book and started reading about golden dragons.
As Tahlmus stood next to the bed, he felt the sudden urge to reach out and touch the egg. Almost as if it were calling out to him. He started to reach out his arm and as his fingers got closer the egg started to move. It didn’t concern Tahlmus. As his fingers touched the egg, it started to crack. Fleur’s eyes went wide. She had been trying to get the egg to hatch since she had walked into her room and seen it the day before.
“It is true,” a voice sounded nearby, as a dull yellow baby dragon broke free of the egg. Fleur let out a short scream, running over and hiding behind Tahlmus who had slowly turned to look at the voice.
“What are you doing here Urytemil?” Tahlmus asked. As he spoke he realized, the words he was saying would not be understood by anyone but a dragon. “How am I speaking draconic?” He wondered as he wrapped his arms around Fleur protectively. He also noticed the baby dragon move between him and Urytemil.
“I felt the egg hatch. It’s true then… you’re… I must go, remember the choice you have to make. I’l be back in six days.” Urytemil then disappeared from sight and the baby dragon went over and nuzzled Tahlmus’ hand. He pet it absently while deep in thought over Urytemil’s words.
“What’s going on?” Fleur asked. “What language were you speaking? What did he want?”
He could feel her still shaking so he pulled her close into a hug. “It was draconic,” he whispered the answer to one of her questions. “And I’m not sure what is going on, but I got the feeling that there is more to my past than what was in that journal.” Fleur just nodded. “So,” he started moving Fleur just enough that he could look her in the eye. “What should we name this lil guy?”
Fleur’s eyes lit up. If they were going to name it, she would be able to keep it. Then she frowned. “I don’t know how to properly name dragons,” she said. “What do you think we should name it?”
“Andrevin,” Tahlmus replied without hesitation. He wasn’t sure where the name came from, it was just there. He looked down at the baby dragon who looked to be smiling at him.
“What does it mean?”
“Great Storm,” Tahlmus replied as the baby dragon was communicating with him. It had already known its name.
“Seems fitting, all things considered,” Fleur stated. Tahlmus was sure she hadn’t noticed how she had tightened her grip on him.
“Tell you what, how about I stay with you, and we will get Andrevin here all settled in.”
Fleur grinned and nodded. So they set to work making a comfortable area for Andrevin to settle into. When supper rolled around he magicked up some supper and spent the night with Fleur.
Tahlmus awoke early the next morning. Not wanting to wake Fleur or Andrevin, who had ended up curled up at the foot of the bed, he very carefully got out of the bed, and made his way over to the door. Andrevin was quickly by his side, and Tahlmus immediately knew why. “No,” he whispered. “Stay here with Fleur. Protect her for me.”
Andrevin seemed to nod before going back to the bed, curling up at Fleur’s feet. “Thank you,” Tahlmus said through thought before leaving to go to his office. A lot was going on that didn’t make sense. Gold dragons were extremely rare, and hatching them was even harder. This one had hatched at the touch of his hand… almost like it was waiting for him.
Once in his office, he focused on gold dragons and cast the spell to find any books he had left, that mentioned gold dragons. Only one book came forth. On the front cover was a picture of two gold dragons and off in the corner an evil lookin wizard stood watching them. The book was called The Last Gold Dragons but Tahlmus could not find the name of the author. Shrugging he sat down and started to read.
The story was about two gold dragons who ruled a nearby kingdom together. They were fair and just and the kingdom was thriving. Everything was good until one day, a King from a far away land came seeking to do trade. The gold dragons, being wise, could see through the facade the King put forth. They refused his trade agreement. Enraged he threatened the gold dragons, saying they would lose all they held dear. The gold dragons did not believe him.
Upon arriving back in his kingdom, the King hired the most powerful wizard, and the highly sought after voodoo priestess. Together the wizard and the priestess implemented the King’s plan. The magic performed cause the female gold dragon to permanently transform into an elf. At the same time the male gold dragon was transformed into a black dragon. Before the second part of the spell took effect., the female made the male promise to keep their egg safe and to only give it to the son which she would bear many years down the road, as according to the prophecy. The male had been able to make the promise before the next part of the spell took effect and the female no longer remembered that she had been a gold dragon.
The male dragon was forced to flee the kingdom with the dragon egg. While he could remember being a gold dragon, and he’d maintained his power, he could not overcome the innate instincts of being a black dragon. At the very end of the book written in draconic was part of the prophecy, which the book had mentioned. Parts were too faded to read, but Tahlmus’ eyes grew wide as he read the parts he could see.
The gold dragon turned elf will conceive twins under the light of a full moon. …. The golden egg shall be given to the twin whose power will be greater than he knows. … the dragon from this egg will be his brother and his protector. … The egg will not be given to him until he take a wife with a love for all creatures. …
The rest of the prophecy was too faded to read. “I’m… I’m part dragon,” Tahlmus whispered in disbelief.
“Sort of,” a draconic voice sounded in his head. “You have all the powers of our mother, that’s why you have the ability to sometimes see into the future. But you are mostly elven.”
Tahlmus looked up and saw Andrevin standing with Fleur in the doorway of his office. “What about Kanes?” Tahlmus asked in draconic. “The journal said we’d be stronger together.”
Andrevin nodded. “Kanes received the dragon heart, but not the power. Together you can become a gold dragon, more powerful than both, our mother, and my father.”
“Can we turn back?”
Andrevin nodded. “And you’ll still be two separate people, but you are the only one who can break the curse. The descendants of the wizard and voodoo priestess must die by your hand. Then Urytemil will turn back to a gold dragon, and our mother will be risen from her grave as a gold dragon.”
Tahlmus’s head started spinning with all the information. “but how do I know…”
“You already know who the descendants are,” Andrevin interrupted.
His eyes darted to Andrevin’s as two names became clear in his head. “No,” Tahlmus stated. “No, not her. There has to be another way.”
Andrevin shook his head. “There is no other way, it must go as written.”
“No,” Tahlmus said. “No it doesn’t. I will find another way,” he finished before turning to Fleur, who had just been listening to the interaction unable to understand what was being said.
“I think it’s time for breakfast, don’t you Fleur?” He asked switching back to normal language.
Fleur nodded and accepted his hand as he walked up to her. They started walking down the hall, Andrevin following silently behind them. “No, you go back to Fleur’s room. The rest of the SIren’s are not ready to see you yet,” he said through thought. Tahlmus could tell Andrevin wanted to argue, but the baby dragon did as he had been told.
Tahlmus did his best to be interactive during breakfast. The ladies all had so much to say since he had not appeared at several meals. His mind though was trying to solve the two problems he had. First was protecting his wives. He had no intention of one of them being sacrificed. The second one was going to take a lot more reading, and a lot more thought.
He did manage to notice that Lillianna seemed different. She was able to interact with him, and not do so seductively. She didn’t try to use her magic on him either. “The elixir is out of her system,” he thought as breakfast finished up and one by one everyone started heading off to work on their daily tasks.
Tahlmus watched them leave until it was only him, Celestial, Coral, Fleur and Laguna left, and none of them made any attempts to leave. What’s going on?” Celestial asked.
“Yeah, you’ve been distracted since you came to see me yesterday,” Coral stated.
“It was bad today during breakfast too,” Laguna said.
“You’ve also started speaking draconic… what did Andrevin say to you this morning?” Fleur asked.
Tahlmus sighed as he felt Coral’s magic trying to probe his thoughts. “There’s… uh… there’s a lot more to me and my past than what was in that journal,” he started, “…and… and some of it is a little hard to believe,” he continued sifting through his thoughts and blocking Coral’s magic. He sighed again. “Urytemil gave me a week to make a very difficult choice, that I really do not want to make.” Tahlmus took a deep breath, trying not to fidget. “Andrevin told me.. well… he told me some things I still can’t quite believe. He… uh.. he also told me a couple tasks I have to perform and I… I don’t want to complete them, but I haven’t found a way around them, yet.”
“We can help,” Celestial said.
“Yes, let us help,” the other three chorused.
Tahlmus smiled sadly and shook his head. “This is something I need to figure out on my own,” he said as he started to stand. All four women looked at him with sad eyes. “Well, ok maybe you can help a bit. There’s a book on my desk. Read through that, and I’ll try to explain things tomorrow,” he said. Celestial, Fleur and Laguna all rose to leave. He kissed each of them before they started to walk out. Coral however looked at him. Studying him. He knew that she suspected his lie. They were too intimately close for her not to.
He walked over to her, offering a hand to help her stand, which she accepted. “You’re not going to tell us everything, are you?”
Tahlmus shook his head. “I can’t,” he whispered running his hand through her hair. “I need to protect you… all of you.”
Coral just nodded before Tahlmus placed his lips on hers, hoping it wouldn’t be the last time he got to see all of them. Their lips parted and Coral left. Tahlmus then made his way to Lillianna’s room. With the elixir out of her system he’d be able to have a proper discussion with her.
“Come in,” he heard after he had knocked on her door. He walked in and noticed her by the window gazing out, with a snowy white owl perched on her shoulder. The owl’s head turned to look at him, its’ eyes were bluer than the sky on a clear day. Tahlmus knew it was no ordinary owl.
“It’s my familiar,” she responded to his unasked question. “He comes when I need him most, though he is always with me.”
“The tattoo on your shoulder,” Tahlmus stated wondering how he knew that.
Lillianna nodded. “He also warns me of danger. So however Mystic approached me with that elixir, he did so without raising alarm.”
“It’s out of your system now.”
“I know,” Lillianna stated turning to look at Tahlmus. “I had wondered why Aesop hadn’t come forth in a while. I understand now that it was the elixir that kept him from being able to do so. But you didn’t come here to discuss my familiar did you?”
“No… I… I came here to ask for Kanes amulet.”
Lillianna went over to her vanity without thinking. As she reached for the amulet, a thought struck her. “Wait…” she turned back to Tahlmus. “you wouldn’t be asking for his amulet unless you were going to seek him out.” Tahlmus fidgeted with a couple loose strings on his robes and found he couldn’t look Lillianna in the eye. “but Celestial ordered you to stay. She will kill me if I give you this and let you go.”
Tahlmus sighed, running his hand through his hair. He hadn’t wanted to reveal anything. He didn’t want to burden Lillianna with that truth, but he now knew he’d have too if he were to gain the amulet. “Before I say anything, you have to promise me you will say nothing to the others. Not one word,” he stated.
Lillianna nodded. “I promise.”
“According to Urytemil, I have to sacrifice one of my wives. I have to decide which one Mystic will take and torture to death. I can’t let any of them die protecting me. The only way I can see to prevent that right now, is to go rescue Kanes and face Mystic.
Lillianna still clutched the amulet next to her heart. Celestial had been very adamant about making sure Tahlmus didn’t leave. She didn’t want to betray her new family.
“Lillianna please, let me do this. I can’t let Mystic take one of my wives, and I can’t let him continue torturing Kanes to try to find me. I have to end this now.”
Lillianna could see the desperation in his eyes. She reluctantly handed over the amulet. “Don’t make me regret this,” she said.
“I’ll do my best not to,” he said as he accepted the amulet. “Remember not a word,” he stated before he disappeared from sight.
“Follow him Aesop. Keep an eye on him and return immediately if something goes awry.” The owl gave a quiet screech and disappeared. Lillianna went back to staring out the window, hoping she had made the right decision.
Tahlmus found himself standing at the edge of a forest overlooking a very large, grandiose estate. Studying it from the tree line, he could tell there wasn’t much as far as physical security was concerned; no guards, no soldiers. Tahlmus carefully let his magic flow out. As far as he could tell there wasn’t much for magical protection either. “He’s either really confident in his safety, or it’s a trap,” Tahlmus thought. He used a little more magic to more thoroughly scan the estate. The only presence he sensed was in a cell far below the estate grounds. “That must be Kanes,” he thought.
Taking a deep breath he transported himself into the estates cellar. Staying to the shadows, Aesop followed. The cellar was cool, damp and dark. Tahlmus summoned his light wisp and started walking by the cells. The further along he walked the strong the presence of another magical signature close to his own. He still had not found it though when he reached a set of stairs, leading down to another lower level. He took a deep breath and followed the stairs, as quickly and quietly as he could. He knew the trouble he’d be in if caught increased with every second he was within the estate walls.
The stairs led to an open area with one single cell. As Tahlmus neared the cell he could feel his magic fading. “Same as the Dark Lord,” he thought, “but stronger.”
“It can’t be,” he heard a voice say as he approached. Tahlmus willed the wisp closer to the cell putting more magic into the spell as the light started fading the closer he got. “Please tell me I’m not imagining things,” the voice said as Tahlmus finally saw a face that resembled his own.
“I’m going to get you out of here Kanes. Then we have to figure out how to defeat Mystic together.” Kanes started to point at something behind Tahlmus, when he heard the laughter. Turning around he saw a good looking middle aged man standing in the stairway.
“I’ve dreamed about this day since you two were born, and now it’s finally here. He laughed maniacally at Tahlmus’ confusion. “I never actually expected you to find me here at my humble abode, but I had prepared for the occasion, should it happen. Now, here you both are, and so accommodating to be near the special material that suppresses draconic magic.”
“That’s why it felt stronger,” Tahlmus thought. “Go ahead and gloat,” he said as he slipped the amulet to Kanes, who quickly put it on. “You aren’t going to have us for long,” he finished as he managed to get the cell door unlocked. It had taken a lot of effort but he had done it. Kanes stepped out, standing next to Tahlmus.
Tahlmus could sense his twin brother’s fear. He cold also tell, that Kanes couldn’t access any of his power, even with the amulet on. Having seen the cell door open Mystic had stopped laughing. “How’d you do that?” he whispered. “Great great grandfather Ezio’s formula was supposed to be infallible.”
“Do not let them come after me,” Kanes heard in his head. He turned to Tahlmus to ask what he meant when his surroundings disappeared. “Your great, great grandfather Ezio was a manipulative, lying cheat. He took advantage of those who were suffering. My guess is that it was the priestess who came up with the formula and she didn’t give him the key ingredient,” Tahlmus stated after Kanes was gone. He could hear Mystic growl at him.
“You will not leave here alive,” Mystic said as he started casting spells at Tahlmus.
After reading the book on his desk about the gold dragons, Celestial, Coral, Fleur, and Laguna had all come to the conclusion that Tahlmus and Kanes were the sons of the golden dragon turned elf. They had no idea what it meant, and they knew they had to speak to Tahlmus.
Coral could sense the last place Tahlmus had been was outside Lillianna’s door. The women assumed that Lillianna had special magic that kept Coral’s powers from being able to sense if Tahlmus was inside or not. So they went to Lillianna’s room and knocked. A couple minutes later Lillianna opened the door, reluctantly letting them in.
“Where’s Tahlmus?” Celestial asked, after looking around and not seeing him.
“I don’t know,” Lillianna tried to say while looking Celestial in the eye. While it wasn’t exactly a lie; she didn’t know the exactly where Tahlmus was, it wasn’t the completel truth either as she knew where he had gone.
“He’s nowhere else in the estate and this was the last place he visited,” Coral staled moving towards Lillianna.
“Where did he go?” Laguna asked.
“Or maybe we should ask where you sent him,” Fleur stated. The four of them slowly converging on Lillianna.
“Please,” she said. “He made me promise not to say anything.”
Celestial eyed Lillianna. “What did he tell you?”
“Please,” she started. “I promised him.”
“Him and Kanes are the sons of a gold dragon turned elf,” Laguna finally said before the silence lasted too long.
“We need to talk to him,” Celestial stated again.
Coral who had been slowly learning to control the powers that Tahlmus’ magic gave her went rigid as she managed to read some of Lillianna’s thoughts. “You let him go after Mystic,” she whispered in surprise, that quickly turned to anger.
“She what?” Fleur asked.
“She gave Tahl the amulet as he had asked and let him leave to go find Mystic,” Coral was red in the face, yelling. The others started to get angry too.
“Ok… ok…” Lillianna said. “Yes he went after Mystic, but it was because if he didn’t, Mystic would end up killing one of you.”
All four women stopped their advance on Lillianna, looking at each other. They all opened their mouths to speak when a person appeared in the room. He looked exactly like Tahlmus, but stumbled as he appeared, falling to the floor. The magical signature was similar, but not as powerful.
“Where…” the Tahlmus look alike started. “Where am I? Who.. Who are you? He asked noticing Coral, Celestial, Fleur and Laguna. “I… Lillianna,” he exclaimed as he spotted his love. “Lillianna, I…”
“Kanes,” Lillianna interrupted, she was excited to see him, but Tahlmus should have been back with him. “How did you get here? Where’s Tahlmus?”
“He… He must still be with Mystic,” Kanes said looking around and noticing that his twin was nowhere to be found.
“Wait, what do you mean?” Celestial asked trying not to let the panic enter her voice.
Though he stuttered, Kanes managed to explain how Tahlmus had tried to save him, only to have Mystic show up. A trap that had been put in place for the possibility that Tahlmus would eventually show up. “I could feel Tahlmus’ magic on me,” Kanes stated, “probing me. He probably figured out that I wasn’t powerful enough to overcome the metals’ magic suppression properties…” seeing their confused looks he then explained how the cell holding him has been specifically formulated metal that suppressed only draconic magic.
“That stupid boy,” a voice sounded behind them. They all turned and saw Urytemil standing in the doorway. “All he had to do was determine which of you,” he started pointing at Celestial, Coral, Fleur and Laguna, “he was wiling to sacrifice to Mystic. It would have bought us more time to get Kanes back so that they could learn to work together.” The group heard Urytemil growl as they gathered closer together. “That stupid twitterpated, boy.” He growled again. “He wouldn’t sacrifice you, so he’s sacrificing himself and if that metal suppresses draconic magic that would explain why I can’t locate him.” Urytemil looked around at the humans and Kanes in disgust. He growled one more time then left.
After a few minutes of silence, Celestial finally found her words. “What do we do?”
“We need to find Tahlmus,” Coral stated.
“But how?” Laguna asked.
Lillianna was about to open her mouth when Aesop came flying through the window squawking, and hooting incessantly. She quickly calmed him down to where he could communicate with her so she could understand.
“Oh no,” she whispered. “Can any of you heal major wounds?” She asked turning to the others.
They all shook their heads no. “Atargatis can,” Coral stated. “Do we…”
“Go get her now,” Lillianna interrupted. “Tahlmus is in trouble. Coral quickly ran off to find Atargatis.
Tahlmus tried to use simple defense spells to protect himself from Mystic’s flurry of attacks. He was hoping in only using simple spells he could get far enough away from the metal to access more of his power to transport away.
It was working, but not as quickly as he needed it too. Mystic’s attacks were getting stronger, and the simple defensive spells weren’t blocking all of them. He could feel the magic tear into his skin, but he kept moving towards Mystic. As he felt enough of his power return he felt one of Mystic’s spells hit his hand. Looking down it was almost completely severed. If he didn’t heal it, he would bleed out, but if he healed it, he wouldn’t be able to transport back to Tevinter.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw movement. His brain was quickly able to register it as a snowy white owl, the blue eyes had been visible in the dark. “That’s how it will have to work,” he thought realizing Lillianna had sent her familiar to watch over him. He healed himself just enough to stop the bleeding, while still fighting off Mystic’s attacks. Once that was done, he used his remaining energy to transport as close to Tevinter as his magic would allow.
Bruised, scarred and still bleeding from his wrist, Tahlmus remained conscious long enough to see that he’d managed to get to the forest near the beach where Coral and Fleur first found him. “Hopefully they’ll find me again,” he thought before his eyes closed and his world went black.
Will they get there in time… find out in the Part 9.