Ametair's fists hover above Morvyn's face. "Your fault," he growls as he punches, again and again, "Your fault."
Morvyn's hands fly up to defend himself from the blows, but he doesn't fight back. This was the reaction he expected from Aymeri when he told him how his secret affair with a mortal girl played a hand in Talfryn's death, this was the punishment he craved. Aymeri tried to tell him Talfryn's death wasn't his fault, but Morvyn is not yet ready to accept forgiveness for his mistake; he wants the anger, the blame, directed at himself. And from Ametair, it's exactly what he's getting.
"Filthy wolf, take your paws off him!" Tania's shrill voice cuts through the soft song of rain fall.\, "Leave him alone."
Ametair leaps off Morvyn, snarling at the fairy intruder, "This is not your concern, Summerdream. This is my den, and you aren't wanted here."
"This forest was mine before any of the rest of you came here," Tania says sharply, waggling an admonishing finger at him, "I go where I please, wolf, and you can do nothing to stop me."
"Run along now," she continues, dismissing Ametair from his own house, "I must speak with Morvyn."
Her condescending tone chafes at the werewolf, but there is little he can do against her power. Glaring and growling under his breath, Ametair lopes off into the forest off his own free will before she bends him to her will as he knows she could.
"Did that filthy beast hurt you?"Tania says, her voice trembling with concern as she kneels in front of Morvyn.
"Tania, please," Morvyn sighs, "This was really none of your concern, and I didn't need to be rescued."
"But he was hurting you!" the fairy protests, "If I hadn't come---"
"He wouldn't have done me any serious injury, Tania," Morvyn says, "You don't understand dragons."
"But he's not a dragon," Tania points out.
"Ametair is different, but he's still one of us. What is it you wanted anyway?" Morvyn finishes, and moves on to her purpose. He hasn't seen her for at least a century or two, maybe more, and he can't even guess as to what would make her seek him out now.
"I just missed you," she says, smiling suggestively, "I wanted to see you."
"I don't believe that," Morvyn says, standing up, "I know you, Tania. You want something. And not just my company."
"Ico is pregnant. Have you heard?" Tania says, taking Morvyn's arm as he tries to walk away.
"Yes, I did hear. And I'm sure you didn't come looking for me to deliver news I already know," Morvyn says, trying to wrest her fingers from his arm as she tightens her grip on him.
"It's not fair," the fairy complains, "I've wanted a child for so long now, and Ico didn't even care if she had one or not. I want a baby, Morvyn. I want your baby."
Morvyn shakes his head, "Tania, we've had this discussion before. We had our time, and it's done. To be honest, I'm happy that no child ever resulted from our play, because that's all it ever was between us."
"I'm a fairy, not a dragon," Tania pouts, "I'm not asking to join your nest and live with you like Ico does with Aymeri. I just want a baby!"
Morvyn turns, pulling her hand off his arm forcefully, since she won't let go, "And that's precisely why you won't have one from me," he growls, showing an anger he normally keeps hidden under a calm facade, "I've had many lovers, but I won't be a father unless I have a mate."
Tania's lips tremble as though she's going to cry, "Can't we at least be lovers again?" she whimpers.
Morvyn rolls his eyes, "We haven't seen each other in well over a hundred years, Tania," he sighs, "I don't believe for a second that you actually want me now. And even if you did, well..." Morvyn doesn't bother to finish the thought, refraining from expressing his complete lack of desire to be with her again, "But, I must thank you, Tania, for reminding how pathetic self-pity can be," he finishes, walking off this time with determination, "Sitting here letting Ametair beat me up was pointless and helped no one."
Aymeri was right about one thing; it was a human who killed Talfryn, a human who hunts dragons for sport, with weapons made of a metal that weakens his kind, taking away the natural advantage his kind have over theirs. When he first met Kelyn, after his escape from the dragon slayer's prison, Kelyn told him that dragons in the north have learned to use weapons. Morvyn intends to never put himself in a position to be captured again, but if another dragon slayer ever comes after him or his kin, he'll need to be better prepared.
Half way back to Aymeri's nest, he runs in Kelyn herself. "I was just coming to lok for you," he says in greeting.
Taken by surprise, Kelyn finds herself flustered, and stammers, "Me?" She had been out looking for Morvyn when she ran into him, and blushes at the thought that he'd come out with the same purpose.
"You fight humans with weapons. I want to learn how," Morvyn explains.
He was looking for her, but not with the same purpose, she thinks, and is oddly relieved at that thought. She's not as ready for this as she'd thought. Kelyn nods, her confidence bolstered by the fact that she does have the skill to teach him, and that would at least be a first step in getting to know him. "I killed one dragon slayer, but another always rises where one falls," she says, "Your sister wanted to return here because she thought this land was safe. But I say, wherever there are mortals, there is danger, and we must be prepared."
"You can teach me to fight with a weapon?"
They begin the lesson right away. The sword feels odd in Morvyn's hand, and his defense is weak against Kelyn's attack.
"You're getting better at deflecting my blows," Kelyn notices after some hours of practice, "But all you are doing is defending yourself. You have yet to strike your own blow at me. Now, try to hit me."
Morvyn raises to swing, unsure of himself, and as Kelyn raises her own sword in defense, her foot slips on the wet ground, turned to mud by the morning's rain, and she falls.
Morvyn drops his weapon to extend his hand to help her up.
She takes the offered hand and pulls him down, pinning him to the ground beneath her.
"Never let your guard down," she says, "The mortals will use any opening to attack you. And you must learn to do the same."
"You aren't my enemy," Morvyn points out, "But in the future, I'll remember not to trust you." He speaks with a smile, to show he's joking.
Her earlier embarrassment returning as she notices the position she's put herself in, Kelyn rolls off him. "This is serious," she says harshly, "The dragon slayers are not a joking matter."
"I know," Morvyn say, his voice growing grave, "I was taken prisoner by one, and I saw..." he stops, unable to speak about watching Talfryn's death, "You've lost loved ones to this dragon slayer?" Morvyn continues, wanting to understand her distrust for all humankind, "Your mate?"
Kelyn looks sharply at him, "I never had a mate to lose," she says defensively,"And you're hardly in a position criticize, still living in your mother's nest."
Morvyn raises an eyebrow, knowing that what she just said could, and would be, construed as an insult by most males. But he shrugs it off, and laughs lightly, "I wasn't criticizing you," he says, "I suppose I shouldn't have assumed you'd taken a mate. I just never heard of an adult female who hadn't taken at least one. But then, it wasn't until I'd come of age that I learned that the nest I grew up in was so incredibly out of the ordinary. I was surprised to discover that Aymeri's nest was the only one in our whole history to have fairies in it. Or to be lead by a male, for that matter."
"And that's why you've never your left your mother's nest?" Kelyn asks pointedly, "Your sister has told me that you turned down many offers."
"I'm surprised that I'd be a subject of gossip up where you come from," Morvyn says, "What else does Inira have to say about me to dragons I've never met?"
Kelyn looks away, mumbling, "Nothing really," wishing she'd kept her mouth closed. What Inira had told her about Morvyn was meant both as an enticement and a warning. "My brother would be difficult to get," Inira had said when she and Fearghus invited Kelyn to journey south, back to their homeland, with them, "But if you mean to finally settle on mate, you would do well to consider him."
"Well, to answer your question," Morvyn carries on, breaking the uncomfortable silence that had risen, "Growing up the way I did, in a nest of dragons paired with fairies, and my own parents mated exclusively to each other, did color my view of the world and my expectations. When I came of age, I started getting offers from females from around the area. Some I barely knew, some I'd never met, some were powerful with large nests, some were just starting out and had only one or two mates, but in all cases, I just couldn't see myself adapting to the traditional lifestyle. And that is why I still live in what you call my mother's nest."
Kelyn nods, growing more uncomfortable with the turn of the conversation. Like her, he'd chosen a a path others of their kind had never considered, but unlike her, he'd apparently hasn't had to justify himself over and over again. Her eyes downcast, Kelyn picks at the grass beneath her hands, saying nothing. Inira had told her much about her brother, but now that she's in his company, nothing of what Inira said seems to matter. She had said he was handsome, but the description did not prepare her for the way that just looking at him can take her breath away.
"You must have had to explain yourself over and again," Morvyn says after a long silence. Kelyn looks up, startled, as he speaks what she had been thinking, "I've had to justify myself more times than I'd like. So I won't ask you to explain yourself to me. Even if I am curious," he finishes with a teasing smile that makes Kelyn blush, and smile herself in return.
"Maybe I'll satisfy your curiosity someday," she says, standing, "But right now, you still have much to learn about swordplay."
Treveur stops to pull Gaelle into his arms for kiss. It's not a log walk from his farm back to her father's house in the village, but the frequent stops they make along the way adds an hour at least to the trip.
Ametair guards the forest from human intrusion, and never leaves it. But tonight is different. The humans have not satisfied themselves with keeping to their place, staying out of his forest and out of the way of his kind, dragons and fae alike. They took Morvyn captive, they killed Talfryn, and they've crossed the line, and they need to be punished. So tonight, Ametair has come out of the woods for the first time in a very long times, longer than human memory, to find the girl that betrayed Morvyn, and make her pay for the death she brought to them.
When he gets the girl in his sight, he howls, summoning his pack to his side for the hunt.
"Did you hear that?" Gaelle whispers, trembling as she stands behind Treveur for protection.
"Wolves?" he gasps, "Wolves rarely come this close to the house."
"What should we do?" Gaelle asks.
"Run! Back to the house!"
Running would do them no good against Ametair's incredible speed, but just as he begins the chase, he's pulled back by arms as strong as his own.
"Let me go," he growls, struggling to break free of his father's grip.
Riain pins his son against the barn wall. "Would you expose yourself to their kind?" he snarls.
"I would kill them. Both of them," Ametair growls in return.
Riain holds Ametair back, listening as the couple make their escape, only loosening his hold on his son when he hears the heavy wooden door close with the humans safely behind it.
"If there's to be revenge, it's Aymeri's decision to take it, not yours," Riain says, keeping his voice low.
"I'm not a dragon; I'm not bound by your laws," Ametair snarls.
"You're my son," Riain answers, "You are not alone in this world, and you do not act alone. We don't leave the forest, and we don't interact with the mortals."
"They struck first," Ametair protests.
"The one who killed Talfryn is dead, killed by a dragon," Riain says, "You will leave these humans alone."
"What can you tell me about your people?" Ceyrth asks Ico. He'd come all this way to meet one of her kind, and learn about them.
"I don't have people?" Ico says, making a question of the statement, not understanding Ceyrth question.
"He means your kind. Fairies," Aymeri explains, and then turns to Ceyrth, "They're a lawless bunch, without clans, nests, or even families."
Ceyrth's eyes widen as he takes in this information. "But you must have a history," he says, "Where did you come from?"
"I was born from the waters," Ico says simply, "That is where I am from, and what I am."
That was not at all the answer Ceyrth was expecting, and her story, brief as it was, opens up a whole new set of questions. "You have no parents," he says, and she shakes her head slightly.
"Water has no mother or father," she says.
"And the rest of your kind? Where are they from?"
Ico tilts her head to the side, "We are what we are," she says, as though that is explanation enough.
"My people have a story," Ceyrth says, "The world, in the beginning, was full of life, the animals, the birds, the forest itself. And there were spirits who dwelled in this world, who were the world, or aspects of it, in conscious form. The spirit of the world decided to create a new kind of life, so he went to the great tree at the heart of the forest, and told her of his idea. His words took form inside the body of the tree, and she gave birth to the first alfar. Dragons, I am told, have a similar story, of the first dragon nest being born from a volcano. But you fae don't have one story of the creation of your kind. Like the spirits that made us, you simply are."
Ico shakes her head again, "You should speak to Auberon. He knows all our histories."