Dragon Master University Chapter 18. Veil of Vale

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XVIII. The veil of Vale

Jona walked into the courtyard, Professor Vale was once again shifted his shape to a smaller dragon, basking in a shaft of sunlight that glistened off his ruby scales.

“Professor? I would like to ask a few things.” Jona asked, his head full of questions on what he had just seen. How much was history, how much was fiction and how much was truth.

“Yes, Jona, speak your mind.” The Old dragon looked at him with good humor, he liked Jona it pleased  the professor to help or answer any questions.

“Professor Koos was lecturing me on lore and law, gave me a view of some lore.” You were once human and had to change into a dragon to save your wife?”

Vale nodded, “Yes, no one bothers to ask me, but the one time that the historians did, they used the crystal to record what had happened. The lady with gray and red hair that assists me now and again?”

“Yes, professor, she is you wife?” Jona asked.

Professor Vale looked at Jona for a second and continued while clearing his throat, “Well, now we know you have attended “Obvious Recognition 101″ at one time or another, what I was going to say, she has spent many years looking for the single spell I used. Rumor has it that I cannot speak the spell due to magic, but the only magic was that I could not speak any human speech at first and by the time I was able to, the spell I thought I used was incorrect.” Vale sighed, “So now she uses her knowledge of magic to stay young as possible, she ages about one year for every one hundred.”

Jona stopped and thought for a moment. “The story I saw from the crystal showed you and her as a young couple.”

“Indeed,” Vale nodded, “We had not yet started a family, no children. In fact it took me years to learn how to change size, I can do a little shape change now, but I am always dragon.”

Doing the math at first, “The story then is very long ago.” Then adding, “You had children since then?”

Vale nodded “Yes, it was long before the current history, many years have passed. She was only twenty-two summers old and beautiful as a sunrise on a snowy day.” then nodding again, “We had a number of children that have had both qualities of the race of dragon and man. Kolo and Kola are both related to me, although many times removed, twenty-five generations or so.”

“My friend Kolo and her brother?” Jona asked

“Yes, not all dragons lay eggs, depending on the clans or branch of the family tree.” Nodded the Professor.

“Clans?”

“This is my break time,” the professor said, sitting up. “but as you want to learn, let’s go to the master room of the Garnet House. Climb aboard.” Vale said as he swelled in size, a four-winged dragon as he changed size, Jona climbed on his back into the saddle area– that was not fully developed as in the racer dragons, but then, Vale was a much older dragon and racing had not been a sport back then.

At the top of Professor’s aerie. There was stone tables of granite and soapstone of verdigris color, with a full view in all directions, Jona gaped at out the lead glass windows, mountainous peaks from all his view were magnificent.

“Dragons are family oriented, mothers are as protective as any human parent. Old stories of virgin sacrifices were simply overstated and elaborately told stories of rogue drakes that were just like any

other being on this earth with prejudices and hatred to others. Some were equal opportunity hate mongers. Ultimately, the councils of dragons gathered and the first peaceful meetings with humans happened.” Vale opened a very wide scroll as it lay over a wide table of intricately carved soapstone. “The first meetings you see marked here on the time line were with the Pirate High Council, perhaps the most free and dangerous group of humans to empire or govern.”

“Pirates? Robbers of the sea, correct?” Jona asked, he knew the stories of the seagoing raiders. “They come ashore, burn and pillage. I have had teachings of such things.”

Vale nodded, “In the most basic sense, they are barbarians and robbers, those are the ones you hear about that are the most unskilled at the bottom of the pirate food chain. They are not they pirates that were here. The pirates that put on the show are those that live outside of the government’s influence and do not pay taxes to an entity that gives diminishing returns. Instead, they donate funds, goods and services when they wish. This is outside of the control of government– another irksome thing for those that desire power above all. They call these men and women pirates as a result, it is easier to prosecute a ban on trading with the people.”

Vale continued, “These are the people in the early days the dragon councils met. It was the pirates that suggested a school, first for just dragons to learn, but then to bring forward a school for teaching the teachers. This is why you are here. A teacher must understand the relationship and be able to teach past the prejudices of both dragon and human. You will be a Master of dragon knowledge to dragons and humans. You will be a Dragon Master, but I digress, you must know what you ask.”

Jona nodded, lost in the history time line as it was laid out before him.

“Dragons live for a very long time, some say forever but that is not the case, they do age and become elderly, but the length of a dragon’s lifespan has not yet been firmly established. No deaths of natural causes as of yet, that have been recorded.’

Vale corrected himself “All but for one, not long after the first peaceful contact with humans there was a dragon named Koshenkpough, a fire dragon. He befriended a human orphan boy when his mother was a victim of a governments abuse of power. His father was a bookmaker and was never around. The child learned much from the dragon and was unable to ever speak his name properly and he nicknamed the dragon, who liked the name and has since been known as “Puff”. Puff was the first Dragon Master to a human, though they did not have the title at the time.”

Jona nodded, “I saw a column with the name of Puff on it. I wondered why such a strange name for a Dragon. So it was a nickname?”

“History is known for renaming people and dragons,” Vale nodded, “Places and events that did not reflect the real names at the time. Let’s continue. Dragons, and although I am one, I am human inside by thought and feeling, but after living as a dragon for so many years, I have learned a few things.” Vale smiled, “One of which as you know I can change size, but not quite shape or I’d be human in a heartbeat.” Vale chuckled. “It would make sitting by the fireplace with RedNova– that’s my wife’s name– Possible. Or go visit her father.”

“He is still alive?” Jona asked.

“Yeah, he is REALLY old.” Vale winked. “He is studying spells for all this time to break what I cast that day.”

“Wow, there is so much more to the world.” Jona was looking over the scroll and the time line that was drawn upon it.

“More than you know now, even.” Vale nodded. “Dragons have developed close ties with humans over the years. The biggest heartbreak that any of them have is that, although dragons live forever, humans do not. Remember Puff and his human friend, the boy grew up and left to live his human life in time, Puff returned to his cave.  Some say Puff was the boy’s mother who had been transfigured, somehow, like I have been. Others say that Puff changed his name and just disappeared into the crowds and might be among us today. We have never established what happened.”

“So if, say a human and dragon were married, they could raise a family?” Jona asked.

“With the right kind of healer and medicine, yes. It might be odd for both of them as the offspring are usually a blend of traits. The curiosity and inventive nature of the human side, the long life and learning capacity of the dragon, occasionally there are different results, some good, and some — well to say evil might be too harsh, but the outcome has been…” Vale paused, “Unfortunate.”

“What is this notation here about vampires and lycan?” Jona asked while reading small print on a time line.

“That, my young protegĂ©, is for later studies. Just keep in mind, any mix of dragons and the other two is fraught with disaster. Already between lycan and vampire exists a war as the two are diametrically opposed.” Tracing his crimson colored hand down the page, ” Here, lists how clans of dragons exist. Some indicate live births, others the day they have had eggs hatch. No one is to say which is better, but smaller dragons tend to have live births and the laying of clutches of eggs seemingly is on the wane over the years. It seems to make a stronger bond to the parent-child relationship in the dragons.”

“How many clans are there?” Jona asked as he traced his finger over the parchment.

“How many clans are there in humans? No one knows.” Vale chuckled. “It has only the main course of history, this does not detail clans and the branches. That would be like trying to follow a drop of water in an ocean.”

“Why do humans hunt dragons?” Jona asked, “Seems that it would be better if the two races would work together.”

“It is the same way on both sides,” Professor Vale nodded grimly. “A few make it impossible for the many. That is why you are here at the school, to help survival of both.”

Jona tingled with the thought of that. A huge responsibility, but a lot to learn still.

“Thank you Professor, I have a lot to learn.”

“Homework, Jona, without it, your grades will not improve.”

“Yes, sir. And I need to practice with Eva on racing, we are working out in a full team race, four of us are doing the course today.”

“Good luck, Jona, do not fall off.” Vale smiled softly.

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Dark Heart, Pure Soul Chapter 14. Heaven on Earth

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14. Heaven on Earth

Cuinn, as he now called himself, looked out the door of his room watching the matriarch of the family teach a small girl-child how to use a loom to make a tight weave of a brightly colored cloth, everything about these people was one of joy and color. Out in the pasture, a young man tended to a horse, sliding his calloused hands over the long legs of the equine. Years of skill and knowledge of what the big animal could do with a single kick now kept the horse calm as he checked the legs for injuries. On the far side, he saw four men who used a fire to point a log that people were going to drive into the ground with the dozen other logs to make an enclosure for the creatures that they kept in abundance.

Once upon a time, he hung on the side of a building and watched as an advanced human race slowly poison themselves with chemicals in the form of drugs to make themselves happy. Here, in the prehistory of that same race, they worked and lived with animals and crops. No one was on the verge of suicide in this group.

He pondered about crime.

Crime? They probably did not even have a word for it.

He had yet to speak to anyone or tell them of his name. Finis had gone, after some length if time, when the eldest male had brought him a tunic of fine wool to wear. The man was rather taken aback with the naked face of the stranger and had asked if he was some sort of girl.

That made the demon laugh inwardly. So he had decided to grow a beard, but it was taking longer than he had expected. It has been several hours and he could not detect any change. As a member of the hoard, he would only have needed a second to change his appearance. This, however, was presenting a challenge, indeed. But he was not going to fail, never would he return as a lowly unnamed slave of anything that crawled out from under a rock.

“You look out on the land as if you have new eyes, fair-faced one.” The sudden voice behind him brought him out of his reverie.

He turned and it was the matriarch of the family, she was tall and slender, her hair behind her head in a single plait that was the color of a sunrise. She was about thirty summers old, by the time of humans able to do space flight, this grandmother, wise and with wisps of gray hair, would be a young woman in the eyes of the society of that far off age.

He opened his mouth to say something, not knowing just what to say and his voice made a croaking sound when he spoke.

“I see beauty in your family and I thank you for your kindness and hospitality. I have been to many places and have lost sight of that which I have seen as beautiful. This family of yours has taught me the meaning of beauty once again.” he smiled softly. “I don’t know the name of your family here.”

His hostess smiled softly and nodded, “The way you found on the road, naked and beaten by someone or something you had made very angry, concerns me. Only this ax that leans against the wall was in your hands. It is unlike anything we have seen.”

She raised one eyebrow as she looked at the ten-pointed ax. “As for our family? We have a few families here. This is what we call a fine (She pronounced it as “finna”), we are a smaller part of a Clan, but when we finish gathering up the sheep and animals that have ranged in the hills here, we will go and meet at the Clan home on the coast, at the edge of the world.”

He nodded understanding, pointing at his ax, “This ax is a weapon and tool that was given to me by someone long ago.” (Or would that be long in the future? Time was not something he could relate to very well, without even including the effort to explain it to this terran.) “I can’t recall his name,” (A lie, but no one needed to know it was Hades, the Emperor of Hell in that time.) “Or for that matter I don’t know my name.”

This was true enough, he had chosen the name “Cuinn”, but wanted to find more knowledge of the people here before he used a name that could be one of a hated history. “All I remember was a man on a horse.”

“That would be my sister’s son, Tosk. He is the leader of the hunt. Nearly always brings back meat for the family and fine. We should find your name, for your spirit cannot be inside you without your name. Who ever struck you and knocked it from you did you a great harm.”

“We would have to drive you out of this area.” She shook her head, sadly. ” Without a spirit, you could harbor a dark demon inside you and brought into our midst.”

He nearly laughed out loud at that. She had no clue about the true nature of the man in front of her. At one point, he would have enjoyed making her weep and turn on any of the host. That was his job and he enjoyed creating bitterness and woe greatly. But now, he looked on her with different eyes.

They knew him not. And yet, and yet they brought in his broken and bruised body and cleaned him up, put him in a bed reserved for guests and clothed him. No other reason he could think of other than it was part of the fabric of this society.

Then, a yell came from below. A rider on a horse was seen riding in on the road was coming towards the enclave. In no hurry, the rider waved at the small group of buildings and the people as the horse and rider made their way up the path. Sleek, tall and black, this horse was unlike the smaller ones that were in the compound. 

The rider looked up at the larger house where he stood in the window and looked out. He felt a thrill of recognition, it was HER. His heart leaped with such joy he bounced on his feet.

“You know this person?” the leader of the clan asked. Gretna was that which all the others had called her. “You act as one of my children when the father returns with a prize of the hunt.”

 “Oh yes, she is known to me. I would go talk with her now.” He smiled and she granted him leave with a smile and nod.

He walked to the black horse with a bounce in his step and a smile on his face.  The new stranger smiled down on him then slipped off the great horse. 

“There you are! I have looked all over for you. I was coming to ask these good folk if you had been seen and that I had lost you.” Her red and gold mane of hair glittered in the mid-morning sunlight. “You are well taken care of I presume?”

“This is Kane, he is my mate.” She said to Gretna. “Ten nights ago he went to get water and never returned,”

“Many foot prints were found near where he should have been and it I feared that the Picts might have taken him.” She looked him in the eye and spoke to the leader of the Fine.

“I thought I had lost you.” She whispered as her fingers caressed his cheek.

He looked her in the eye and mouthed the name, “Kane?” and turned and nodded, “I am Kane! Pleased to meet you and thank you for your kindness.”

Looking back to Bronwyn,

“For a time I have been lost, lost to the world,” Kane said softly. “For I could not speak, lost to these people who saved me for I knew not who I was, taking any name I could, to see if any reminded me of who I was, lost to you because I did not know where you were.”

The newly named human made her smile wider than she had in a very long time.

 “Kane! it is our joy to meet you!” Two men laughed and now greeted him without suspicion. 

They slapped him on the back and welcomed him now as family might greet a long-lost relative.

The crimson haired rider stroked the neck her horse, turning to look at Gretna.

“I am Bronwyn, we are making our way inland, away from the water. Our lives are forever on the edge of the world it seems.”

Bronwyn did not lie. But she covered herself well.

“You are welcome to stay for the night and share our food.” Gretna smiled broadly “If you would trade any stories this will make the night seem short. We have ale, for which we have traded with other clans. Our wool is of the finest on the coast.”

“I would appreciate that and my camp is over in the next valley.” Bronwyn nodded. “I have been lucky to have found him alive and well. I will accept your offer and make the long trip back on the morrow’s first light.”

She walked her horse up the path to the enclosure that was nearly built. Pulling off the bridal she showed it to the men that examined her horse. “I had this made in a land across the water. A whole village used them with the horses. The animals accepted it well and would not buck as badly.”

Gretna smiled broadly and motioned to Bronwyn to come over.

“Let the men play with the new horse, that will keep them busy for most of the day and you know how men are with things that go fast or one as tall. Nor have I seen one as tall as you or your mate Kane.”

The disguised angel nodded and spoke softly to Gretna.

“I wish some time alone with Kane so we can talk and I find out what has happened to him over the last few nights. It is not like him to wander off, and you say he had his ax with him?”

The matriarch answered just as softly, two women that cared deeply for what was theirs and they were in the deepest worry.

“Yes, it is nothing like any of us have ever seen. It gleams like the full moon and has a shape that is impossible for us to figure out how to do with bronze and copper, not counting this moon metal.”

The two women walked up towards the house talking to each other in hushed tones.

Kane felt the fear that all men everywhere feel when two women get together and men are on their tongues in conversation.

Following along behind them, holding to the theory that it was better to keep them close than be surprised about it later when they would come looking for him, later.  Beside the fact that Bronwyn was his liaison here, he knew little about humans and wanted to keep it that way. But now he was in for a battle.

He chuckled darkly, his fortunes had not changed much. But. at least, Bronwyn was nearby and he had an ally. He could not wait to get her alone to find out what she was doing here.

Not one to look down on a fortunate gift, but he just did not know what to think.

That night after the meals had ended and the humans had consumed their fill, only Bronwyn and Kane remained awake.

“What are you doing here? I cannot come back with you, I am here forever, and you are an angel.” He said directly and softly. “You can return any time, yes?”

After she had taken him by the hand and made love to him for the first time in this age, she kissed him a long time before she answered his question.

“I have spoken with my Lord and got permission for you and I to live here and I will help you do what you need to do without being alone.” Brilliant blue eyes sparkled with excitement on the current life. “To keep you from being taken off your path by the imps and demons of your past life. We can do as you wish, but I chose a life with you, life as a human like you. I have no powers, but I will live in immortality like you do. We will span the years together and I can return any time that I wish to the other side. But so long as I am here with you I can’t use any power that I have in my Angel form. When I am here, I am human in form, but I am immortal. I may live as a human, but I am not unprotected from the Dark Side, the Host has many that have supported me. You are not a favorite being, those you have met and brought down in battle do feel some ill will towards you.”

Kane grimaced over the huge angel that had him at her mercy for a moment.

“I think she would have more than a little ill will.” he thought.

Bronwyn continued “They are all wishing us well and good will.” She grinned “Most of them anyway.”

Then Bronwyn frowned slightly, “The cost of this union is that we can never have children, there have been events that have crossed boundaries and plague Angel and Demon alike. But the Lord assures me that this will never be a great issue. But my Lord has denied at every plea, ‘no children’.”

She drew a breath, “This may cause a bit of a tribulation in the future I think, because children are a staple of the energies of the hearth.”

Kane smiled softly, “So long as you are with me, we can make due with anything else. But – No powers at all? What if some of my old brethren got involved. They have no such restrictions.”

“I can use my powers subject to the approval of Gabriel, the Archangel.”

Kane sighed… Gabriel! He and Gabriel had faced each other in battle before and had not found who was the better warrior. This made for some consternation in that Gabriel and Micheal had both been looking and waiting to test him in battle again. This was a terrible worry. He still carried memory of scars and injuries inflicted by those two thunderbolts of the Other Lord. The Dark Lord had healed him when he had returned broken and injured, but never beaten. But never had he been allowed to walk away without scars.

But now he was with his hearts deepest desire. Bronwyn had come to him, giving up all so she could have a life with him and create a life that , to say the least, would be challenging. Here, where the scars could heal, he could cause the very throne of the Emperor to tremble in anger.

This pleased Kane to no end.