The Promise That Could Not be Kept is Burnt Deep into my Chest

Maraphil clambered over the rocks and strange wild plants following the small tingle of magic that she could sense. It was like a beacon in the darkness of the demon’s world. Perhaps it was the way home. She couldn’t be sure, but it seemed like it was dragon magic. She hadn’t felt dragen magic in so long. Since that day long ago when she’d been taken by the demons.

A part of her wondered what her family thought. It had been so long since she’d seen any of them. Most of all she worried for her brother and sister. They had been little more than hatchlings when she’d been taken. She wondered what had become of them. Had they been separated when she hadn’t returned to take care of them? Had someone taken them both? Were they hurt that she had broken her promise to take care of them?

Tears filled her eyes as she clambered over another stone. She could bear almost anything as long as her siblings still loved her. As long as she had not finally escaped only to find that something had happened to them or they thought she’d deserted them. She thought back to that day all those years ago. The family had lived in a small cave, far from most of the larger cavern complexes. The nearest other family was almost half a mile away. When their parents had died from a fever that swept through the area, her siblings had looked to her as the oldest to take care of everything.

“I’m going out to gather some berries,” she said to her brother. “Stay close to the house and don’t open the door to anyone you don’t know. Let Befamy sleep; she’s tired.”

“Are we going to be alright, Mara?” he asked softly. “Without Mam and Pop, I mean.”

“I’ll take good care of you and Befamy, I promise,” she said. “Be good. I love you.”

He nodded and waved goodbye as she flew away toward the berry patch. She would pick enough berries to make tarts for them and some to sell at the market. Her father had always said her berry tarts were the best. They should be able to fetch a few pennies each. The money would be used to buy milk and meat for their meals, fabric for their clothing and books to learn from.

Maraphil planned out the whole thing as she flew to the thicket where the berries always grew the fattest. She landed and began to fill her bucket with the sweet fruits. She might even be able to make jams to sell. Those would fetch an even better price.

With her mind on earning money for the family, she didn’t notice that she wasn’t alone until it was too late. Strong hands caught her around the waist. She dropped the half-full bucket.

Shine on This Life That is Burning Out

Elder Paesha Brightling sat in her office amid the bright colored pillows that made a small nest for her to rest in when she’d finished with her work for the day. The hour was late so she figured that she’d catch up on a bit of sleep while she waited for her appointed meeting. It seemed like mere moments had passed when the bell over the door signaled his arrival.

“Hello,” she greeted warmly. “Thanks for coming to see me. I suppose that I should get right to the point of why I asked you to come. I was wondering what business you had with my sub-elder. He’s been acting a little off lately and – ” she broke off as strong hands caught her and pushed her down into the pillows. “Let go,” she protested. “No, stop…”

The protests continued, growing ever weaker as the attack progressed. Soon they ceased altogether, though Elder Paesha still breathed, if only faintly.

**
Teliya frowned as she realized that the lights were still on in her mother’s office. It was possible that the meeting she’d been in last night had run long into the night and into the next day. Teliya didn’t know whom her mother had been meeting with but it was clan business. She hesitated for a moment before she pushed the door open. “Mother? Are you still up or are you up already?” she asked.

The scene that greeted her was like something out of a nightmare. The office had been ransacked. Pillows and files were strewn all over the floor. Small shreds of clothing littered the floor as well. Her mother lay, naked and bleeding, amid the ruins of her day-nest. “Mother!” Teliya shouted. She turned back to the corridor to yell, “Someone get a healer!” Then she ran to her dam’s side.

She was still breathing if only just. The nature of the attack was obvious from the injuries. “Please, please be alright. Please don’t die.”

To Leave Behind all the Suffering You’ve Brought to Me is so Sweet

His eyes closed as he relaxed. He would continue on his journey soon enough. The cool stream was the perfect place to wait for the heat of the day to abate.

“Well, well,” a smooth voice said.

Myro looked up, covering his nakedness and blushing. He saw a familiar figure standing above him, surrounded by demons. “I know you…” he said, trailing off as words failed him. It was the fire dragen elder. He didn’t seem bothered by the demons surrounding him. Quite the contrary, they seemed almost deferential to him.

“Relax, young Elder Myro,” the older dragen said. He began chanting in a strange and guttural language as he circled the edge of the stream to catch Myro on the shoulders.

“No way!” Myro shouted. He bit the hand on his shoulder and flew straight up into the air. After he crossed the tree line, he shot horizontally as fast as he could. If there was one thing that ice dragens could do, for all their small size compared to their fellows it was fly fast.

He felt very strange as he flew, almost dizzy, but he didn’t care. He focused on one thing: getting away from his attackers. Ahead of him, he spotted a sentinel standing on an overlook. He shot through the doorway and didn’t stop until he saw someone he knew. As it turned out, it was Elder Jesin.

“Elder Myro?” he said in shock. He had caught Myro’s shoulders and now they stood staring at one another.

“I… got overheated and… I found a stream and I was able to cool off and then there were these demons and… the elder – the elder of the fire dragens was there and he started chanting and – and I flew. I’m shaking an awful lot,” Myro said as he wound down.

“Retala!” Elder Jesin shouted over his shoulder. Then his vision began to gray around the edges. “Hang on, Elder Myro,” he said as if from a great distance. Then darkness swooped in and he collapsed into the larger dragen’s arms.

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