Urytemil and Thalixen sat in their room waiting quietly. Their room was bigger than the others so they had told everyone to meet them late that afternoon. Thalixen was dreading seeing everyone. She had locked herself away in the room since the supper; partially because she was still hurting from seeing the shape Tahlmus was in and partially because she knew she couldn’t keep the secrets which they were hiding. While she knew Tahlmus was fulfilling what Bahamut wanted, it had killed her to see him in dirty tattered pants and bandages. The parts of his body that weren’t covered in bandages had scars.
They were old scars. She knew they were from one of his fights with Mystic, but those scars were the images that woke her up every time she tried to sleep. One minute she’d see Tahlmus dressed nicely, his arms wrapped around Coral and Kavan; the next he was standing in front of her in nothing but a pair of boxer shorts, scars all over his body. His lips were moving, but he only words she could hear before waking up were, Look at me. Look at me, mom. This is all because of you. Tears were always streaming down her face when she awoke.
Tears were on her cheeks now, as everyone started walking into their room. They had an act to keep up and now that Altair was trying to court Coral, they needed a better plan. At least she wasn’t going to have to say much as she watched Urytemil’s eyes run over everyone gathered in their room. “Where’s Coral?” Urytemil asked as Mystic and Atargatis came in. Thalixen allowed herself to glace over everyone in the room, as they shrugged in answer to Urytemil’s question. “She knows she isn’t supposed to wander the castle alone,” he grumbled as he looked over the group once more. “Wait a minute, where is Anders?”
“Solas, dear,” Thalixen said with a small smile. She loved her mate, but he still hadn’t learned how to tell their grandsons apart.
“It’s Solas that is missing.” Anders started to giggle as Thalixen spoke.
“Oh… sorry Anders,” Urytemil said sheepishly as his face grew warm. He wasn’t used to making mistakes like that. The group stayed silent for a few minutes as they noticed Urytemil go deep into thought. Well, almost silent. A few grumbles from Ardeszeld could be heard.
Urytemil was about to speak, when he heard voices in the hallway. “Auntie Coral said she didn’t want to see you.” The response couldn’t be heard. “She’s spending time with me.”
This time they could Altair’s voice. “I’m sure Miss Coral would like the company of someone a little older.”
Urytemil made a move for the door, but Thalixen stopped him. “Let it play out a little longer.”
“Nah, I’m Auntie Coral’s favorite.”
They could hear Coral chuckling. “He’s not wrong, your majesty. He is my favorite.”
“Come now Coral wouldn’t you prefer the presence of a more mature man…” Altair’s voice sounded strained like he was trying not to lose his temper.
“Oh, do you know where we can find Uncle Kanes?”
“What? Why would I…?
“Well, Uncle Kanes is older, and more mature. Oh and Auntie Coral loves him. So you had to mean him right?”
“Urytemil,” Thalixen whispered as she nodded to the door. He took the hint and quickly left the room, making his way to Coral, Solas and Altair.
“Why you little,” Altair raised his hand and started moving it towards Solas with every intention of slapping the boy who was still standing smugly in front of Coral.
“Your majesty,” Urytemil said taking hold of Altair’s hand before it reached Solas. “You wouldn’t be thinking of harming my grandson would you?” Altair’s eyes shifted towards Urytemil. He was angry. He couldn’t hide it, and it angered him even more with how calm Urytemil was. “Because we had an agreement; my beloved and I give you Tahlmus, our first born, and you protect our family.” Altair just growled and walked away.
“Thanks Urytemil,” Coral whispered. Her throat was tight and tears stung the corner of her eyes.
“Come along you two. We are having a family meeting,” Urytemil replied putting his arm around Coral’s shoulders and leading them back to the bedroom.
Coral stayed silent as the group discussed different ways to try to help Tahlmus. In between bouts of tears Thalixen kept saying they had to follow Bahamut’s plan. That he would guide Tahlmus. There was a lot of back and forth discussion and as much as Coral wanted Tahlmus back, none of the ideas sounded good.
After what felt like hours, Coral finally stood up. “I’m tired and this is going nowhere. Mystic should tell Tahlmus what is going on when he can see him. Maybe Tahlmus will have instructions for us. It’s him, Altair wants and if we aren’t careful, he’ll use us to get it.”
“How can he use us? Tahlmus won’t allow it,” Kanes stated. “He will protect us with his magic.”
Coral shook her head. “If that was the case, he wouldn’t have asked Mystic to silence him. He can still use his magic, but I think Bahamut has forbidden him to use it until his say so.”
“So, if we mess something up, Altair could threaten to kill us and Tahlmus would have to let it happen.” Coral paused letting the weight of what she said hang in the air. “We’ve been told more than once, Tahlmus’s life is not his own. We can’t act like he has choices,” she finally continued looking mostly at Urytemil. “If we want Tahlmus back, we have to do what he needs.” Coral finished before turning and walking out of the room.
Tahlmus really liked when Karia blushed. It made her look adorable, but when he told her, she had started crying. He hadn’t expected that reaction. “You made mate cry,” Andrekaon shouted in Tahlmus’s thoughts.
“I didn’t mean to,” he whispered back to his inner dragon.
“I… I’m sorry Karia. Did I… Did I say something wrong?”
“Elf, I swear you are an idiot,” Andrekaon was still shouting in his head. “How’d you ever get a human wife?” Tahlmus cringed inwardly. He really didn’t understand what he had done wrong. He tried to look shocked as Karia confessed Felazair’s threats, which he had heard.
“What did the King ask you to do?” Tahlmus tried to ask with confusion in his voice.
“We already know the answer elf. Why are you asking?” Andrekaon’s voice was still angry in Tahlmus’s head.
“She doesn’t know that we know,” Tahlmus snapped back at his inner dragon.
“He wants personal information on you. Something he can use to get you to reveal your hiding spot.”
Tahlmus was glad Karia had her head bowed as she finished speaking because he knew he couldn’t hide the confusion he felt. “What does mate mean by that last bit?” Andrekaon’s voice was a little softer and very confused.
“I’m as lost as you are,” Tahlmus replied to him softly.
“Why don’t you read the last chapter in that book of yours? I really want to know how it ends. Afterwards we can talk,” he said to Karia who looked up at him with a small smile on her face. “At least she’s not crying anymore,” he thought.
“Lucky you elf. You better not make our mate cry again,” Andrekaon voiced in Tahlmus’s thoughts. Tahlmus didn’t reply. He just sat there listening to Karia read. Her voice was soothing and soon he could feel Andrekaon relax.
Tahlmus watched as Karia closed the book. She didn’t see the writing on the back cover, which he was grateful for. “That turned out to be very good,” she said smiling at Tahlmus. He smiled back.
“It was very good,” he replied. They sat there in silence for a couple minutes; just enjoying each other’s company. “Karia,” Tahlmus started slowly. “What… what has the King told you about me?”
“He… he said you were very bad, that you stole from the Kingdom and he’s trying to find where you hid everything you stole.” Tahlmus couldn’t hide his bewilderment. “Why do you look surprised?” she asked.
“She doesn’t know what we are,” Andrekaon’s voice sounded in Tahlmus’s thoughts. “This might be bad.”
“Because… I… I didn’t steal anything,” Tahlmus said slowly. “The King took me prisoner because I have draconic magic; very powerful draconic magic.”
Karia looked stunned. “Just like the boy in the book,” she whispered.
Tahlmus nodded. “Except I am not the first born; Ardeszeld, my half-sister, is the first born.”
“Half… half-sister?” Karia asked struggling to comprehend what Tahlmus was saying. It was so different from what the King had said.
Tahlmus nodded again. “We have the same mother, but she was born as a dragon. I was born as an elf after Thalixen was cursed, but … uh…” Tahlmus paused. He wasn’t sure how to explain what he had come to know. “My father was… or is a dragon.”
“I… I don’t… I can’t…” Karia started stuttering.
Tahlmus took her hands in his, and he could feel her relax. “Listen, I can’t explain everything right now, because some of it can be hard to believe, but I’ll give you some information to take to the King.” Tahlmus paused searching Karia’s eyes for some form of understanding. She looked scared and nervous. “Ardeszeld may only be my half-sister, and I haven’t known her very long, but I am really close to her. We have shared a lot. We have developed a strong bond because of our similar life experiences.”
He could tell Karia’s body was calm, but her eyes showed fear. “What… what will he do if I tell him that?”
Tahlmus shrugged. “Find a way to use it against me.”
“Because I need to protect you,” he said wrapping his arms all the way around her. “I’ll explain another time. Just promise me you will go straight to the King and tell him what I told you.”
Karia nodded against his chest. “I promise.”
“Good girl,” he whispered leaving a kiss on her forehead. She then pulled away and he watched her leave.
“Mate will be alright?” Andrekaon’s voice sounded worried.
“Yes, Karia will be fine,” Tahlmus replied confidently. “Heal us.”
“Now you want to be healed?” Andrekaon scoffed.
Tahlmus let out a low growl. He wasn’t in the mood for his inner dragon’s snide remarks. “Yes, I told Karia to go to the King with personal information. I have no doubt he will act on it within the next few days. We need to be ready for whatever that is.”
“What could he do with that information?”
“Best case scenario, Ardeszeld has to fight us and we let her rough us up some.”
“Worst case?” Andrekaon asked.
“We have to watch her die,” Tahlmus replied as he wrung his fingers, hoping that since he said the words they wouldn’t come true. Andrekaon stayed silent, but he could feel his inner dragon’s shock, confusion, fear, and anger. “We can’t do anything to the King until Bahamut says we can,” Tahlmus whispered answering Andrekaon’s unspoken question.
“Does this Bahamut know we only got a year?” Tahlmus could feel his inner dragon’s agitation growing.
“I don’t know.”
“Then why do we listen to him?” Andrekaon growled.
“He’s a God.”
“He’s also our father.” Tahlmus could tell his inner dragon was too stunned to say anything, and he wasn’t sure what else he could say as he felt his body start to heal.