Tahlmus stirred as he heard the sound of a key in the cell lock. He tried to open his eyes, but whatever spell Bahamut had used on him was still wearing off. Waking up was going to be slow. “Just yell for me when you are ready to leave.” A male voice reached his ears. He recognized it as one of the guards who had thrown him in the cell the first day.
“Thank you,” her voice reached his ears. His heart started race as his adrenaline kicked in.
“What is she doing here?” he wondered as he struggled to open his eyes. He felt her presence next to him as he finally got his eyes opened. Tahlmus groaned as he tried to turn his head to look at her. His muscles felt worse than they had before.
“I’m sorry,” her voice came to him again. “I didn’t mean to wake you.” Her voice was soft, apologetic and her scent; it was flowery mixed with a hint of a new book smell. It made his heart beat faster. His desire and longing grew as the scent felt like it would overwhelm him.
“Why is she affecting me like this?” he wondered as his eyes were finally able to focus on her. She was sitting close to him, just off to his right, facing him. She was within arm’s reach. “It… it’s fine,” Tahlmus’s voice came out gravelly. “I… I was having a nightmare anyway,” he lied. He actually couldn’t remember what he was dreaming about, but he didn’t want her to feel bad.
“What… uh… What brings you down here to see me?” he asked trying to stretch out his muscles. Falling asleep sitting up hadn’t been in his best interest. He’d have to be sure to tell Bahamut to lie him down after putting him to sleep.
“I… I thought you might want some warm milk,” the female elf said softly, her cheeks turning pink as she held out a small glass.
Tahlmus managed to reach out and take the glass with both hands. One hand brushed against hers and he felt a spark as he accepted the glass. She quickly pulled away from him. Luckily, he’d had a good grip on the glass. “Did I scare you?” Tahlmus asked worried he’d done something wrong. “I don’t want her to be scared of me,” he thought as he watched her study her hand.
Her eyes flicked up to him. “Uh, no, not exactly. It’s just…” he watched as she bit her lip, which stirred up more emotions in him that he didn’t understand.
“That’s ok,” he said softly before taking a sip of the milk. The warm liquid felt god against his dry throat. “You don’t have to explain.” An awkward silence fell over them, as they both turned their eyes towards the glass in their hand. “Do you mind if I ask your name,” Tahlmus finally asked surprising himself. “Her name shouldn’t matter,” he thought, “why am I asking her?” He watched as she blushed. Seeing it, made him smile and forget his thoughts.
“My name is Karia.”
Tahlmus tried to hide his shock. He could remember quite a bit of his elvish. Her name meant dragon hunter. “Ironic,” he thought, “as she’s here with me… an elf with draconic magic.” He knew his name was a bit ironic as Tahlmus meant blade companion, and he used magic instead of blades.
“My parents… my adoptive parents told me I had affinity for sharp objects before I started showing signs of magic. Once I started learning magic, weapons went by the wayside,” he thought, as his mind flashed back to the last conversation he’d had with his adoptive parents. The two sat in silence for a while. Tahlmus savored the glass of milk as he tried to decipher the feelings she brought out in him. No one else had caused feelings quite like this.
Karia had seen the slight change in his expression after she had given her name. She wasn’t sure what to say, so she sat there staring at her milk. “What am I doing here?” she asked herself silently. She was feeling things that were unfamiliar to her. The spark had been there again when his hand had brushed against hers. “Why? Why? Why?” she wondered, as she started to mentally beat herself up. She was so close to being free of the King. This prisoner was just an assignment. “Why now? Why him? What is it about him?” The questions circled her mind. The sound of glass touching concrete broke through her thoughts.
Looking up, she saw him setting his glass on the floor next to him. It was empty. “What did you think?” she asked. She winced inwardly as she hoped her desire for his approval had not come through in her words.
“It was very good.” His words were soft, and his eyes locked with hers. After a few seconds, she watched a shy smile cross his face. “I’m Tahlmus by the way.” Karia smiled at him as she watched him blush. She thought it was cute. “I… I don’t think I thanked you earlier.” His voice was still soft and his eyes went to his hands which were in his lap. “For bandaging me up, for reading to me, and for the food,” his voice was now a whisper.
Karia blushed at his words, as she noticed his eyes slowly make their way back to hers. “It… it was nothing,” she replied feeling nervous. “Just doing what the King asked me to do.”
She heard Tahlmus smirk and watched him lean his head against the wall with his eyes closed. “I doubt the King asked you to read to me,” he paused, “or feed me,” he finished softly bringing his gaze back to her.
Karia felt her face grow warm. “Well, I mean… maybe not in those exact words,” she tried to say without stuttering. She watched a small, shy smile appear on his face. “He knows something is off,” she thought. He hadn’t said anything, but she could see it in his eyes. The rest of his face had showed nothing except the smile, but his eyes; they were dull, hard, and unbelieving.
Not being able to look at him any longer, Karia shifted her eyes to her glass of milk, which was still half full. She gave some thought to drinking it as the only sound that could be heard in the cell was Tahlmus’s labored breathing. “Probably cold by this time,” she thought. “I’ll never get to sleep now. This was a bad…” Warmth radiating from her right hand interrupted her thoughts. Shifting her eyes she saw his hand gently holding her wrist, his thumb moving back and forth in slow ovals on the back of her hand. Karia glanced up into his eyes as the warmth continued to spread, relaxing her muscles; making her feel calm. His expression had softened, and his eyes held something now; something she couldn’t read. They were brighter than before, almost the color of Felazair’s scales; they were softer, gentler, there was a hunger in them.
“You should probably sleep,” he whispered. Upon hearing his words, her eyelids grew heavy. Her hand lost its’ grip on the glass but it did not fall. Karia tried to form words, but she couldn’t as her senses started to fade. “Sweet dreams, dear Karia,” was the last thing she heard.
Bahamut watched the interaction between Tahlmus and Karia. Neither knew what was going on. Had events gone the way Bahamut had hoped, the two young ones would not have met in these circumstances. The unfortunate side of allowing Earth species to make their own choices was that it meant what was supposed to be, sometimes had to be brought around by different means. It was also made difficult due to the fact that he could only watch and persuade those that believed in the draconic pantheon. Those who believed in other Gods were out of his control.
Winky had not been a part of his initial plan. Tahlmus was never to have crossed with the Dark Lord. Bahamut had to admit, things had turned out better so far. Tahlmus had found the Sirens, a human problem, and defeated the Dark Lord, a human and an elven problem. However it had led to the current situation, which Bahamut didn’t exactly care for. He did not like seeing creatures suffer, and here was his son still recovering from the first of many rounds of physical suffering.
“My only indiscretion as a God,” Bahamut sighed as he thought back to the day everything had started. He had known the curse was coming, but he’d yet to find a dragon spirit strong enough to do what needed to be done. Despite his promise to not go to the place of the elven Gods and spirits for fear of his secret coming out; he needed to go. He had spoken with the elven Gods first, pleaded his case. “I need a very powerful, morally centered spirit,” he’d said as he then explained what needed to happen.
Reluctantly the elven Gods agreed to let Bahamut meet with the child spirits they felt met his criteria. They had left Baelvain for last. The one named Guardian Spirit was the youngest one in the family. The family was the most important in the spirit world. Their authority almost matched that of a God. When the matron of the house came out, Bahamut had felt the guilt and pain return. She had been his one moment of weakness. She had barely paid him any mind until the Gods had finished the explanation and told her of Bahamut’s request.
She looked like she would be defiant and argue which worried Bahamut. “Because you Gods ask it of me, I shall bring Baelvain to you,” she had said; her words surprising him. She had been gone for only a minute when she reappeared bringing the child spirit with her.
As the spirit child approached, Bahamut had felt the power. It almost rivaled his own. The matron stopped in front of Bahamut with the child. Her voice sounded in his head, “Take him. Use him as you will, but he does not find out that you are his father.” Bahamut silently agreed and left with the child.
While travelling, Bahamut told the child of the curse that he’d have to break. “I know,” the child had said. “I also know, you are my father.” Bahamut had wanted to ask how the child had known. “I’ve been watching,” the child continued. “I chose Thalixen. It has to be her.” Bahamut opened his mouth to speak, but the child turned to him. “You must be the father.” Bahamut had looked dumbfounded. He wasn’t used to being told what to do. The child had explained a lot of things that day.
“It seems The Great One has kept all of us in the dark,” an old yet familiar voice pulled Bahamut out of his thoughts. Turning he saw Elgar’nan, the All Father of the elven Gods.
“What are you doing here? Why mention The Great One?”
“I am here as you are; watching over one of my own.” Elgar’nan paused. He had learned a lot as he had watched Baelvain walk his path on Earth. The child spirit had been a mystery to him, and for the most part still was, but he did know more than Bahamut.
“I mention The Great One, because you see, the matron had fulfilled her duties. Baelvain should not exist.” Bahamut looked at Elgar’nan. The shock was evident on his face. “We had agreed to let you take Baelvain because we had an inkling he would fulfill what we needed to happen as well as the tasks you claimed you needed him for.”
“You needed to be rid of the Dark Lord,” Bahamut stated.
Elgar’nan nodded. “Yes to protect our people. It wasn’t until after Baelvain had left, that the matron came to us; told us everything.”
Elgar’nan nodded again. “She was blessed by The Great One to have one more spirit child. She sought you out, as she had been told to do. The Great One needed a strong spirit child, one made of the three races the child would be tasked with protecting.”
“The Sirens, the school, the children… that was all The Great One’s doing,” Bahamut let the words pour of his mouth before he realized what he was saying. Elgar’nan just continued to nod. Bahamut was also realizing that The Great One had done to the matron, what he had done with Thalixen. Just as a part of him resided in all of Thalixen’s offspring, a part of The Great One would have resided in the spirit child. “Why’d The Great One keep us in the dark?”
Elgar’nan shrugged. “We may be tasked with taking care of our own, but The Great One still ultimately decides all. Who are we to question?” The two stayed silent for a few minutes. “You should explain the mate bond to him though. It is not the way of the Elves. He never would have learned about it. Probably wouldn’t have even tapped into it had he not gained the understanding of his draconic side.”
Bahamut just nodded, and Elgar’nan disappeared. He would have a talk with Baelvain. There were a couple things he needed to know for the next few days. Explaining the mate bond would maybe help with the tasks he would have to perform.
Tahlmus ran a hand over his face after he had sent Karia back to her bed. The warmth he’d felt from holding her wrist had relaxed his muscles enough for the time being, that he could move without pain.
“Shouldn’t have done that.” The familiar voice came to his ears. Removing his hand from his face, he looked towards the sound of the voice. His eyes widened as instead of the old man in a traveler’s cloak with canaries, he saw a very large Platinum dragon standing just outside the cell door. The Gold dragon followers were not with him.
“Shouldn’t have done what?” he managed to ask as he got past the initial shock and awe. The gold scales on Gold dragons made them beautiful creatures, but the platinum scales of Bahamut surpassed that in ways Tahlmus never would have imagined.
“Used your magic on her. She’s smart you know. She’ll figure it out and tell the King. You can’t trust her to keep that secret.”
Tahlmus sighed and nodded as he stood, walking over to the cell door. He was surprised at how well his muscles were working. It’s almost like there had been no pain or tightness at all. “But I want to trust her,” Tahlmus said. “I want her to trust me.” He went on to explain all that happened when she was around; his heartbeat, the adrenaline, the warmth when they touched. “I don’t understand. None of my wives made me feel like this,” he finished.
“Because Karia is your mate.”
Bahamut started to explain how at a certain age, it tended to vary a little based on the dragon and its’ upbringing, dragons became more ‘aware’, he had called it, of love. He described there was one unique mate for a dragon and how they could tell when they found their mate. He explained the sparks, the warmth, the scent, and a few other small things. “Elves do not experience this, neither do humans. Their means of love are different, as you well know; so Karia won’t understand what’s happening. She will feel some of the same things, such as the sparks and the warmth. She won’t get the scent, nor will she feel the ache in her chest when you’re apart , to the extent that you will.”
Tahlmus shook his head. “But… my wives…” He wasn’t sure what he wanted to say.
“Humans, that your elven side fell in love with.”
“But you said Karia was my mate…”
“For your draconic side.”
“None of this is making sense,” Tahlmus whispered as he winced. His body was starting to ache again. He turned from Bahamut, going back to the wall and sitting down. His muscles were on fire again.
“Sleep on it,” Bahamut said, “but remember these words; she will tell the King everything you tell her, no matter how trivial it may be. Also do not let her know you are healed until she has finished reading that book to you.” As Bahamut’s voice faded away, Tahlmus felt himself being moved to a lying position, and the overwhelming desire to sleep.