Disclaimer:I do not own Warcraft or its sequels. Blizzard does.
Like always, huge, HUGE thanks to my beta Dusty the Umbravita.
I looked down at the assembled Red dragon eggs, scheduled to be sent via portal to Wyrmrest. There were no others in the entirety of Grim Batol, that much we could sense, and the eggs of all three other Flights had been sensed, retrieved and returned long ago. Months had passed since Grim Batol became the home of our Flight, and since then our numbers in the area had gone from two hundred fifty to roughly seven hundred, thanks to Pallasion, who was still out there. It saddened me that a few of our kind had to be... eliminated, not willing to accept that they were fooled, clinging to the belief that the Reds were corrupt and the mortals evil. But it had to be done; if they were left alone, everything would be for nothing. But it still made me feel hollow; they thought they were in the right. Thank the Titans they were extremely few and far between, much less than the one-every-ten ratio I had expected.
I remembered what the Twilight Father had said, shortly before attacking. There is no good, there is no evil.
How true. It's all truly just a matter of perspective. What's evil to us is good for the Old Gods, and vice versa. Maybe the universe would be better without morals; then we wouldn't have this nonsense philosophical conundrum that rears its ugly head every now and then. I mentally slapped myself. Better without morals - what kind of idiotic idea is that?
Verthelion perched next to me, both of us in our true forms, ready for them to be sent off. He looked my way. "The last ones."
I nodded. "I hope they won't be too traumatized. I mean, being prepared for corruption by the Faceless is a painful process. I know."
"That's out of our claws. All we can do is return them to their Flight."
I sighed, then flew down and shifted to my mortal form just above the ground. I ran a hand over the shell of one of the eggs, illuminated in the flickering light of a faucet of magma. I turned my head to the side, looking at Verthelion. He and I were, aside from the eggs, the only ones in the room. Far off in the corner of my senses, I could detect the faint hum of activity far above my head as the Red Flight moved around the Vermilion Redoubt. "Who's turn is it to see them off? You, me, Mercliona, who?"
"It's mine. You should hunt, you know."
Reluctantly, I nodded. I did need to keep my strength up. "All right. Take care of them."
He smiled. "Like I haven't the past dozen times?"
I rolled my eyes. "Oh shut up," I said, gently nudging him. With that, I returned to my true form and flew out of the area, looking down to see Verthelion opening a massive portal to Wyrmrest just before he and the Red eggs vanished from sight. I came to the main spire of Grim Batol, with members of our Flight occupying it, flying around, standing, or talking idly amongst themselves. The trogg infestation had been one of the first things we dealt with, and in days they had been burned out. Now that the final eggs of the other Flights had been returned to their proper locations, there were still a few things left to do. We still needed to welcome those of our Flight arriving from Pallasion's little journey around Azeroth, which came almost daily, in addition to raising the whelplings from the eggs that had been converted, those who had been taken from their brood-mothers, and were no longer part of that Flight.
The dragons in the Vermillion Redoubt were too few in number to cause a major impact in the surrounding wildlife as they hunted for food, but with our arrival, we were forced to eat in our mortal forms, save for the whelplings, lest the ecosystem be thrown into absolute chaos. That was another thing, and once Pallasion's group returned, we could set about the remaining things to do; One was to build our Shrine in Dragonblight, and the Amethyst Sanctum under Wyrmrest. After those were done, we could reliably set about carrying out our charge.
I sighed, and gently flew down. I could hunt later. In the past few months, I had gotten to know Grim Batol like the back of my paw. Shifting to my mortal form, I jogged through the corridors at a brisk pace towards my destination. Left, right, right, left, forward, up, left, so on and so forth until I reached the room set aside for the injured from previous battles, such as those with broken bones that healed the wrong way and had to be re-broken, or injuries from any number of reasons.
Such as troggs.
After all the time we had spent here, there were two who still needed to be here. I looked around the empty room, completely devoid of any life. A couple mats of twigs and leaves dotted the area, but nobody inhabited them. The infirmary was roomy, and as such it could easily hold my true form, which I shifted to. A couple pillars reached into the cavernous ceiling, chipped from the abuse they had undergone before we arrived. Torches blazing with eternal twilight fire lit the expanse, showering it in a flickering, comforting dark blue glow.
I sunk into the twilight realm, where I could see the two occupants of the room laying in the mats, the drakes Plutolion and Charoliona. They had arrived after being sent here by Pallasion some time in October, among others. The siblings gave us a scare; they had been in critical condition, thanks to the Cult. Multiple broken bones, half drowned, and with multiple scorch marks. The earth, fire and water ascendants on their trail had been dispatched quickly, and we only barely managed to pull them out of the danger zone. But here they were now, bickering like siblings, not unlike Theralion and Valiona.
The thought of Valiona made my heart constrict.
"Oh, really, really now?" I heard Charoliona challenge her brother.
"Yes, really. I'm telling you, the egg came BEFORE the chicken!", Plutolion hollered back from the opposite side of the room, still laying on his mostly healed forelegs. I chuckled silently to myself, still unnoticed. I had to see this.
"How could the egg have possibly come first? When the Titans ordered Azeroth, they would have made the chicken first, since if they made eggs first, how would the young chickens take care of themselves? Explain that, smart one!"
He hesitated, lowering his head for a moment, whispering to himself before looking back up. "Who says they had to take care of themselves? Nobody knows how long the Titans ordered Azeroth, they could very well have created the eggs, have them hatch, and watch over them until they become adults, before leaving Azeroth!"
"Oh ho, I am going to have fun with that! First of all, why would the all-powerful, immortal Titans have gone through the extra effort when they could have just created the full-grown chickens right off? Furthermore, you say that 'nobody knows how long', so you're basically going on about - " Here she broke into an imitation of her brother's voice. "Oh, well you can't prove me wrong, therefore I must be right!"
"I SAID NO SUCH THING!"
"Ah, siblings," I said, making my presence known, making their heads jerk towards me. "Reminds me of me and Fuluthlion, or better yet, Valiona and Theralion." I turned towards Plutolion. "How're the legs?"
He shuffled them, wincing as he did. "They're better. All right, Selriona, which came first? Chicken or the egg?"
I pondered this a moment. "I don't know. When you're better, you can ask the Bronze."
Charoliona chuckled at him, resulting in her brother releasing a blast that narrowly missed her horns, crashing into the wall behind her. "What brings you here, Prime Consort?" she asked me. I had long since gotten used to having a title. The rush of blood to my head at the mention of it was now little more than a trickle.
"Healing," I stated simply, walking over to her. I tugged on the shadows of the twilight realm, sending them to her and infusing her with healing energies. Her healing ribs had long since passed the situation where magic helped more than natural healing, but every bit counted, despite the diminishing returns. And I wasn't really concerned about her having a tolerance to healing when she needed it; things had settled down majorly now. After healing her, I walked over to Plutolion and healed his forelegs the small amount that I could, before flying out of the infirmary, leaving the twilight realm. The dragonspawn menders would bring them food, which gave me time to go hunt.
Business as usual.
I twisted through the the bridges spanning our home, moving towards the top of Grim Batol, and walked out. How odd. Just a few short months ago, Verthelion and I walked in this way to establish Grim Batol as our Flight's home. The idea seemed surreal to me. I had a hard time imagining Grim Batol as anything else, even though it was fresh in my memory. The drakonids guarding the entrance paid me no mind as I walked out. Looking down the mountain, I had a hard time picturing how the dwarves meant to get back to Grim Batol once they left it. I couldn't see any ledges, any footholds, nothing mortals could use to climb.
I shrugged my wings. It hardly mattered to me. I spread my wings and glided down. Once at the bottom, I took in a deep breath through my nostrils, picking up a herd of stag to my left. I licked my tongue over my fangs and flew over to them. A few minutes of flying through the cloudless sky later, I spotted them, and began to descend on one sticking out of the main group, one with the smell of blood. An injury. Too bad for her. The last thing it saw was a shadow all around it increasing in size before I impaled it on my claws, making the others sprint away.
I took my weight off my kill and began to examine it. Lots of meat, no sickness. Easy to cook so my mortal form could handle it.
I briefly sat and brought a foreleg to my stomach area, feeling the multitude of bumps there as my eggs grew, and smiled. My mortal form showed no differences. Where my eggs went while I was transformed, I don't know. Probably the same pace my tusks or my wings do. I had to eat more than usual, to support both myself and their development. Once the shells had stopped growing, I would lay them within Grim Batol in the twilight realm, unless the Amethyst Sanctum was finished before then, the likeliness of which was zero to none. For the time being, though, I grabbed the poor animal I had slaughtered in my fangs and flew back towards Grim Batol, ready to cook it, and devour what part of it I needed, and then send the extra into the twilight realm, where any decomposers died within moments to my aura. Nothing rots there.
Soaring within Grim Batol, I soon brought myself past the sequence of corridors that led to my specific, individual home, where I slept, where I cooked, where I ate. A scale model of Azeroth was pushed to the corner, a spherical ball the size of my head painted with the most precise detail. Dotting it where multiple violet sticks, each in a place where some of our kind had hidden before being discovered by Pallasion's group. A pattern began to emerge; many were in the mountains, and most in the mountains surrounding Hyjal and the Twilight Highlands. No surprise there. We had been numerous there.
Stag still clamped in place by my jaws, I walked over to an indentation in the ground, in which burned eternal twilight flame. I'd found out how to create such fire a month after moving into Grim Batol. The trick was getting our flames to need no fuel. A lengthy process, entirely useless in combat, but oh-so practical for these purposes. I shifted to my mortal form and switched to carrying the stag in my hands. Most humans wouldn't be strong enough to carry it so easily, but of course, I'm not human. I placed the stag near the twilight fire pit, and pulled out a skewer, which I impaled into my prey and hung over the fire pit, shadowy fire lightly burning it. For most, this would render the meat unfit for consumption via shadow energy, but I had no such problems, of course.
For a few minutes I did nothing more than ponder new spells, which I had an uncanny skill with, and practiced a few, such as two shadows orbs that would track locations and release an eviscerating beam of shadow in between them. The result was more than satisfactory, and when I combined it with arcane energy from my capacitor, I could make them teleport next to an enemy and impale them on said shadow beam. After that, the stag was done. I pulled it from the skewer and cut off a good sized chunk of it, which I promptly consumed. I stored the rest in the twilight realm, and decided it was time for sleep. I hadn't found the time to do so for four days, so I'd sleep for five hours.
I returned to my true form and laid in the comforting swirls of shadow within the twilight realm, sighing as they caressed my scales, and fell asleep.
I groggily woke up in the same place, but instantly I knew that thought was wrong.
Because in front of me sat Nalestrasza.
I groaned, and pulled myself to my claws. Nalestrasza didn't always have a reason for appearing in my dreams. She did whenever she wanted to, for whatever reason, important or trivial, selfish or selfless. No doubt there was some mind-boggling mathematical formula behind it, which 'Only I have the mental capacity to even begin to grasp', as she would say.
"Oh good, you're conscious. Again. We have a very narrow window of opportunity for this, so I'd rather we didn't dally unnecessarily." When I didn't move, she growled. "You useless - Do I need to use electric shock?"
I gave her a glare that very clearly said 'Shut up Nalestrasza', but stood anyways. "What's this about a window of opportunity?"
"Well, let's see. Creating a shared dream is very hard. First off, you need to be asleep, and then the one I'm going to connect you with ALSO has to be asleep, and the two have very little chance to coincide with our kind. But of course, you never thought about that, did you? Of course not. This is all just flying over your head."
"What shared dream?" I asked, anger already beginning to burrow deeply into me, making me extend my tusks.
Wordlessly, my Red counterpart shook her head, before talking. "You remember the shared dream I gave you and Verthelion while he was chained in the Vermillion Redoubt, right? Please tell me you remember that. Even you can not be THAT stupid."
I growled at her. "I remember."
"Well, I'm creating another shared dream, but with someone else. The circumstances for doing this are very strict, like I said, and it takes me a lot of effort to align your brain waves accordingly, and use some of your magic to absorb their mind into yours briefly, to overcome the distance barrier. Without too much distance, I wouldn't need to use mana, but that isn't the case here. She is literally on the other end of the world. Without leaving Azeroth she could not be farther away from you. Is this making sense to you?"
I rolled my eyes. "You're giving me a shared dream with someone, and going on about how hard it is for you."
"Hehe," she said in a nasal, insulting voice before returning to normal. "At any rate, time's wasting. Here we go. Change of scenery..."
My room within Grim Batol melted away, being replaced by a spot within the mountains of Feralas. Flowers of all colors blossomed along the vibrant grass, filling the air with the aroma. Red eggs were in groups and clusters around, protected from enemies by the natural environment and their brood-mother, resting in the middle of the mountainous clearing. She growled and shook her head, opening her eyes to take in the situation. She lazily looked at her eggs, then snapped her eyes towards Nalestrasza and I, growling menacingly.
I gulped. "Nalestrasza! What have you done, that's my - "
My brood-mother growled, standing up, just before Nalestrasza said, "Hi... mother." Oh, the awkwardness.
"Mother? But, no. This is just a dream."
My counterpart shook her head. "Shared dream. We're really here. I've been waiting for this opportunity to have Selriona talk to you."
Calestrasza, my mother, snapped her head towards me. "Selriona. I remember you. And so you torment me even in my sleep. Can I have no solace from your Flight?"
"Her idea - not my - not tormenting," I stammered, before getting a grip over my tongue and retracting my tusks. "It was Nalestrasza's idea to create this dream in the first place. She's the one who DID it!"
She turned to Nalestrasza. "N-Nalestrasza? You're... you're alive within her body? You were not lost when you became corrupted?" Corrupted. That sent a stab of pain through my heart.
Nalestrasza scoffed. "Lost. Nobody was 'lost' when Selriona was changed by the Faceless. It doesn't work like that. Only reason I exist is because she was forced to drink a Nightmare potion, of which one of the side effects are a sentient subconsciousness. IE, me. Selriona really is your daughter."
Calestrasza shook her head. "But... no. That doesn't not make sense. She is a Twilight dragon! Whatever child of mine was in her body was lost the moment she was pulled out of our Flight."
Nalestrasza gave out an exasperated cry before leaning against a boulder, repeatedly banging her head into it. "Idiots! Idiots! Idiots! I'm surrounded by idio-o-ots!" she wailed. "First her," She looked at me. "And then you? Oh, why?" She began hitting her head again.
Despite the situation, I sighed, looking at my mother. "Yes, she is always like this. Apparently, she is the ninety percent or so of my brain that I don't use, and is incredibly smart. No denying that, but it leads to an ego complex like no other."
Finally, my Red counterpart stopped hitting herself, looking back at us. "Come on. Do you honestly think that when Selriona was turned into a Twilight, that whoever she had been up to that point up and died, and that a new consciousness took hold?"
"Well you're wrong! I have access to every single one of her memories, and if your theory was true, she wouldn't have any from her time in the Red Flight. But she does, and so you are wrong. Even you morons have to understand THAT logic!"
I sighed. "Nalestrasza, you have such a way with words." Something in my mother's words caught me, making me look back at her. "Wait... tormented by our Flight? You don't know?"
"Know what, Selriona?" She spat out my name like it was venom.
"Apparently you don't. Not surprising, if you're really here. Kinda isolated. You wouldn't have heard." I sighed, looking down briefly. "Our Flight has been accepted as one of the guardians of Azeroth. Our Queen gave us an Aspect. Verthelion."
She stumbled back, hitting a few eggs, but she simply passed through them like they were mist. "No. No. Why would she..."
"Because we helped kill Deathwing," I murmured. "We're freeing the others of our Flight from the mental trickery, and rebuilding. Our charge is to contain anything corrupt on Azeroth."
"No..." she mumbled, looking down. "No, you're not here!" she said suddenly, looking up at me. "This isn't a shared dream. You're still a figment of my imagination, because such a thing CAN NOT be true!"
Nalestrasza cut in. "I'm sorry to tell you this, but it is true. The Twilight Flight really is attempting to redeem itself, and Selriona really is your daughter, whom you have literally no good reason to hate. You can choose to go on, be an ignoramus, and not believe what we have said, or you can redeem the horrible idiocy you have just demonstrated and accept the truth."
I hung my head in embarrassment. "Wow, Nalestrasza. Really." My mother seemed to be shocked into silence at the barrage of attacks on her intellect. I looked at her. "Like I said, she's always like this."
Hesitantly, she spoke. "You... fought Deathwing?"
I nodded. "Yeah. Doesn't that warrant, you know, some amount of trust? Mother..."
Calestrasza didn't say anything. Instead, she walked forward and nuzzled the side of my head,. "Nalestrasza raises a good point. If you're not real, and just a dream, I have nothing to lose by saying this. And if it's not, then from what she says, you really are my child, and I apologize for what I said in Darkshore." I vaguely noticed Nalestrasza had vanished, but I mainly focused on my mother's words. My heart soared. I felt like I could do anything.
My mother accepted me. She didn't hate me. After all that she had said in Darkshore, she didn't want to kill me. I felt a tear come to my closed eyes.
"I-I forgive you, brood-mother." I felt a tug on my being, and opened my eyes. The tug came again, pulling me away from Calestrasza. "What the - " I was pulled again. "Oh, I'm waking up." I looked back at her. "Mother... does this mean that we're on good terms?"
She nodded as I was tugged again, my hind legs slipping as the ground disappeared from under them, forcing me to hold on to the ground with my forelegs. "It does. I am sorry. I would say I forgive you, but there isn't anything to forgive." With that, a final, massive tug ripped me off the mountain, sending me flying and spinning, the world turning into a whirlwind of greens and browns and orange and yellows until it finally stopped, turning into the chamber I fell asleep in. I stood up, and looked around.
"Okay Nalestrasza, now what?" I asked her, wherever she hid. "Nalestrasza! Come out! There had better be a good reason for doing that!" When she didn't say anything, I willed the dream to change to another location. It was at the moment when I didn't find myself in Wyrmrest that I felt incredibly stupid. I sat down, chuckling nervously to myself. That didn't happen, Nalestrasza! I know you're laughing in there, so SHUT UP! I thought to her.
I shifted to my mortal form and ate another slab of the preserved stag I held in the twilight realm, before surfacing halfway into the physical world. I moved both selves out of my room, restless, but before I could leave, I came across a drakonid, walking in. He looked up at me, bowing. "Prime Consort, there is a mortal outside Grim Batol. They say they need to speak with you."
I extended a tusk in curiosity. "What's being done with them?"
"We're not injuring them, but it's ignoring all our commands to leave. Says they really do need to talk with you."
I clicked my claws along the ground in the twilight realm, and turned my head in the physical realm. "Why would a mortal need to speak with the Prime Consort of the Twilight Aspect? Furthermore, what mortal would know we're here?"
The drakonid shook his head. "No, not the Prime Consort. They asked for you by name."
This made me coil back in shock. By name? What mortal could know me by name, and that I was here? One of the Kingslayers, maybe. Ellemayne? Kolkna? "Um, yeah. Yeah, I'll go see what it's about. Thank you for telling me. You can return to your post." It still felt weird, being able to give commands, even to a drakonid. I shrugged in the twilight realm. I'd get used to it.
The drakonid nodded, and began to hurry out as I followed behind him. I paused for a moment, taking in the majesty of Grim Batol for the thousandth time, before taking off for the entrance.
A mortal who called for me by name. What could that possibly mean? Was it a trap? How could it be a trap? The guards said there was 'a mortal'. Not mortals. Mortal, singular. How did they know where I was? It could be a huge security leak. Our Flight had enough to do with rebuilding itself, we did not have the resources to go around convincing the mortal races to not kill us on sight. It was much, much easier to simply hide from them. So if they could find us, if even one knew where we were...
But they asked for me by name. What could that mean? Again, there were only a handful of mortals who knew my name. Samuel was... Titans know where. Stormwind still if I had to guess. Amanthe was with the Argent Dawn. There weren't many Kingslayers who knew my name, who I had given it to, but they could tell each other. None of it added up. Nothing to do but go to them, and see who they were.
I walked out of the entrance to see two drakonids keeping a human at spear-point, snarls resonating in the air. It was the moment that I saw the human that my heart stuttered in my chest. She looked up at me, blood quickly draining out of her face to make her skin the same color as her Argent Dawn robes, and I looked back at her, trying to figure out how she found me.
"Amanthe," I whispered, before turning to the two drakonids who had turned my way. "I'll handle her from here. Thank you for not killing her." They nodded, and walked back to the gates of Grim Batol. I took to the air and swooped at her, grabbing her in my claws and flying away so that we could speak more in private. Once I found a secluded spot in the form of a hill amidst her shrieks and my repetitions of 'calm down', I gently put her down. She backed up from me almost immediately, her heartbeat thundering in my ear-plates amidst her smell of fear. Woops.
"It's nice to see you again, Amanthe."
She froze and narrowed her eyes, in spite of her heart hammering away in her ribcage. "Selriona?"
I shifted to my human form, violet mist curling off of me as I did. I spread out my arms. "Yeah, it's me."
"By the Light, don't do that! You nearly gave me a heart attack!"
I chuckled nervously, the two of us slowly approaching each other. "Sorry about that. So, what are you doing here? I thought you were in the Argent Dawn! How did you even find me?"
She smiled. "You make it sound like you were hiding from me."
I rolled my eyes. "Yes, that's what it is."
She chuckled, and grabbed me by the shoulder. "It's good to see you, too. Sorry about, you know. Hyjal."
I shook my head. "Don't blame yourself for that. You didn't get the window of opportunity to free me, it happens. Point is, I'm out. So, when are you going to tell me how you found me?"
"Heh, well, in the Argent Dawn they taught us how to detect twilight energy using the Light. I used it to track you down. It was all hells trying to pick up a signal, though, but once I did, it was fairly simple to find you. Bit time consuming, though."
I smiled. "You missed me."
"Hey, what are friends for? So, um, wow, you're big."
"You should've seen your face when I walked out. You were so pale!"
She lightly shoved me. "Oh haha, laugh it up! I didn't know it was you, I thought you were going to kill me!"
I flinched a little. "Why would I ever do that?"
"Like I said, I didn't know it was you! And I damned sure didn't expect to be detained by those drakonids." She eyed me. "What have you been doing?" she mock accused me.
"Oh, it's a long story. You might want to sit down."
So she did, and I related the story to her, picking up from where Alysra freed me, leaving out the Infinite (Since it might upset her to hear that I had seen her die), explaining about how the Old God tried to wear us down, Lor'danel, Pallasion and Murdonia, Vajarn's group, our goal, everything up to and including our changing of Grim Batol into our Flight's home. By the end of it I had returned to my true form, taken to laying on my stomach with my head resting on my forelegs.
She whistled, patting me on the snout. "You've been busy, haven't you?"
I chuckled. "Like never before. So, what made you leave the Argent Dawn? Didn't you like it?" I asked, raising my head.
"Well, I had a lot of time to think," she said, sitting next to me. "The Argent Dawn, was, well, I loved it. They treated me like family, I survived fighting the cult in Hyjal no problem, but, well. It wasn't really anything too complicated. I missed your company."
I chuckled. "And here you are."
"Yeah. There's also something else I want to talk to you about."
I turned my head to her. "About what?"
"Well, um, there's really no easy way to put this. It's kind of a spur of the moment type thing, what with learning that your Flight has a charge now, and, um, if I went back to the Argent Dawn I'd look like a huge idiot for leaving in the first place."
She hit me along my nostrils. "I am not!"
I smiled. "Yeah, you are."
"All right, so I'm just going to spit it out." She took a deep breath as she closed her eyes. I couldn't help but smile. Amanthe, my dear friend, had found me. What exactly she planned on saying that worried her so much - "I want to be your Dragonsworn."
I jumped back from her, extending my tusks as I flailed my wings, miraculously and rather ungracefully landing on my claws, staring back at her incredulously. "What? Did I hear you correctly? What? Why?"
"In the Argent Dawn I was useful. I fought the Twilight's Hammer. I actually helped Azeroth in a major way. I wasn't planning on going back to them, but I still want to be able to help, and helping you carry out the charge - "
"Amanthe, have you given this, ANY thought?" I demanded her. "Like, at all?"
"Like I said, it was a spur of the moment thing."
I groaned. "Oh, this reunion has just gotten fifty times more awkward. Amanthe, you do realize that this is a no return option, right? Once you do this, you're in it forever. You should really consider this. Sleep on it, or something!"
She shook her head. "Once I'm in, there's no turning back, which means you'll never get rid of me."
I chuckled. "Okay, I'll admit there is that bonus. I mean, together with my best friend irrevocably? Yeah. But, look! Our charge is to contain anything corrupt on Azeroth. Demons, arcane corruption, Old Gods, that sort of thing. They aren't pleasant things, and you'll have to deal with them if you do this."
She seemed a bit put off by this, but I didn't seem to be able to change her mind. "I've fought the Twilight's Hammer recently. I know what I'm up against. I think it'd be worth it."
I pulled in all six tusks halfway. "Amanthe," I said, lowering my voice. "You won't be able to properly raise a family. I might need your help at any moment, and you'd be bound by oath to help. Really, think about this!"
That caught her. She sat down, breathing deeply, mumbling under her breath. "No family... in exchange for... Light..."
I kept talking to her. "Amanthe, you should sleep on this, all right? I'd love to be with you, you're my best friend, don't take this the wrong way, but I don't want you to do something you're going to regret, especially since you won't be able to go back on it."
Amanthe nodded. "All right. I found a little cave on the way here. I'll sleep there, and, um, meet back here at noon tomorrow?"
I nodded. "I'll bring you there." I stood up, walking over to her. I took flight and grabbed her in my claws. "Just tell me which way."
"To your right. Straight ahead that way." I nodded, and flew in the indicated direction. Within moments, I spotted the cave, both by myself and with her statement of 'That's the one'. I placed her down at the entrance, and shifted to my human form so I could peer inside. The cave was a nice, roomy thing. It was bone dry, and multiple off shoots inside made it possible to live there for quite a while. No smell of any other life form inside, either. Unoccupied.
She turned around to me. "All right. So, see you at noon. I'll have thought it over by then."
I smiled. "Yeah." She turned around. "Hey." Amanthe turned her head towards me. "I missed you. It's great to see you again."
She grinned. "Likewise, you big sack of scales." With that, she entered the cave. I flew back to Grim Batol and began counting the hours, as I helped the new arrivals settle in.
I was at the location a few hours before noon, anxiety churning in my crop. Amanthe's decision would influence the rest of her life. I didn't want her to choose to go through with this only to regret it. I'd be damned if I secretly didn't want her to do so. A smile developed on my human form's lips. Not to have her technically have to do what I told her to (Since I would never, ever in a million life-times exploit that), but just so that we would be together. Hmm. Being with my mate, Verthelion, and my best friend, Amanthe. I could not see any problems with that.
As the sun climbed to its highest point in the sky, casting its yellow rays along the valleys surrounding Grim Batol, I saw Amanthe trekking up the side of the hill. Her blonde hair stuck out in every direction. We both took a deep breath before I spoke. "So, decided yet?"
She nodded, a grin tugging at her lips. "Yeah. I'm going to go through with it." My heart did a flip. "It's worth it. So, how do we do this?"
"Well, from what I know, it's really rather simple. But, I'm just six years old. I should be a whelp."
She chuckled. "It's hard to get over the fact that I'm older than you."
"And that's a fact that will never change. Get used to it. So anyway, from what I know, I need to supply an oath-stone, which I've made." I took a flat round rock from my robes. I'd spent a few minutes infusing it with magic, a trivial process, at least by my standards. Dark blue runes glowed along the flat face of it, shivering in power. I handed it over to Amanthe.
"And you simply need to absorb its power. That will essentially be taking the oath."
"And what exactly is this oath?"
"Well, it's different for every one, but this one is basically that you pledge your life to supporting our charge, like we do by nature, and it binds you to me as your patron. A few... perks as well. I'll explain those when you get to it," I explained.
She rubbed a hand along the twilight runes, looking down at it, then up at me. "This doesn't change anything between us, does it?"
I shook my head. "Not in the least. I'm your patron in title, nothing more."
She nodded, and I stepped back, returning to my true form. She placed her hands on the stone, and closed her eyes. A dark blue light exploded out of the oath-stone, surging into her skin, continuously until the stone crumbled to dust, expended. Amanthe took a deep breath and opened her eyes. I was positively giddy. I could test this out now.
'Testing. Amanthe, can you hear me?'I thought to her, making her jump.
"Was that - "
'What, the telepathy? Yup. One of the things I put in the oath-stone. The other is that you won't be hurt by the twilight realm. Try it. Think to me.'
'What, like this?'
I shook my head. Whoa, that felt strange. She continued. 'What exactly is the range on this?'
'I don't think there is a limit. If we get too far away, though, we may have a headache. But I'm not worried about that. Azeroth isn't big enough for that to happen.'
She shuddered. "All right, that is just a whole new kind of creepy." She looked my way. "Um, are you sick?"
I cocked my head sideways as I sat down. "No, why?"
"Forgive me, but I'm not exactly an expert on dragon physiology. Are you supposed to have a bump on your stomach?"
I thought for a moment, but then I realized what she meant. "Oh, that's one of my eggs. I'm fine."
She jumped. "Eggs? You're pregnant?" she asked in a surprised voice. "Congratulations!"
I narrowed my eyes, confused. "Mammals get pregnant. The term you're looking for is gravid, the state of a reptile in which they carry eggs."
She smiled. "Right, gravid. So, wait. You and Verthelion..."
What was she playing at? "Verthelion and I... you know I have no idea what you're getting at."
"You... did it?" she asked, blushing for some odd reason. What was wrong with her?
I cocked my head. "No clue, sorry. You know, after all the months I spent in Stormwind, you think I would have this figured out by now."
"Oh for the love of the Light. You two, um, mated?" she finally squeaked out.
I sighed. "Amanthe, you know that we don't go around gasping at basic bodily functions needed for the continuation of a species. Um, think of it this way. If a human came up to you and started bragging about how they are the best at, say, breathing, and that they take deeper breaths than anyone else, how would you react?"
"I would not care?" she said.
"Right. Now if someone came up to you and said that they have trouble breathing, you'd help them, right?" She nodded. "Well with us, it's the same with all bodily functions. Sleeping, eating, excreting, mating, drinking. Really, you have no reason to be embarrassed around me." I thought for a moment, and chuckled. "You have no reason to be embarrassed, period. I'll never understand."
She shook her head. "No, you never will, and I never will."
"So, where are you going to live?"
She put a hand on her chin. "Hmm, I'm thinking maybe the cave I just slept in. It's quite nice. Dry, sheltered, large, ventilated. I could live there, and hunt for food - "
I smiled, mirth gripping at my heart. "What's that you said? Hunt?"
She groaned. "Yes, rub it in. It was a good idea for you to teach me how to hunt, and I was wrong when I said that it had no use for me to know. Rub it in, Selriona."
I chuckled, moving next to her and draping a wing over Amanthe. "You know, things are much better now than they were before."
"Yeah. So, what next?"
"Well, Pallasion is still looking for those of our Flight in hiding. New people are arriving practically every day. I could use some help getting things in order, like food. But for now, let's see if we can get something of a bed in your home? A few pine branches overlaying each other..."
I felt her scratching at my legs, sending tiny lightning bolts up the nerve endings. "Yeah. Let's get to it then..." I could feel her smirk. "Patron."
"You and I both know you don't have to do that. Titans, I've barely gotten used to being referred to as Prime Consort."
"... I know."
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