Broken Promises

Xanadu Forest - Clearing
Between stepping over tree roots and pushing your way through ambitiously high bushes, you almost stumble into the clearing before you. Some bizarre force of nature has pushed the trees outwards to form a rough circle that is nearly one hundred feet across at its center. Low grass covers its interior, and curious looking bushes appear to have been transplanted from elsewhere, forming an aisle down it's middle. Their blooms are vibrantly colored and each bush has a strong, pungent aroma that suggests something beyond the ordinary about the fauna in this area.

The forest is littered with colors that dance in the breeze, haphazardly hurrying along to an unknown destination. The tree branches above unwillingly shed more of these hues of autumn: red, brown, orange, and yellow, and they join the others when they’re done with their acrobatic dance in the air.

The place has a timeless feel, as if these trees have been around since the dawning of time and within their thick, gnarled trunks and branches they hold secrets unknown to any living man or woman. It’s a place where magic can happen. Where children see fairies and sprites and grown folk seek refuge as, for some reason, when lost within the trees and leaves, things that were troublesome suddenly become easier to think about. Clearer.

This is what Ka'el hopes for. Clarity. A sense of direction. For now, the young weyrling feels more lost than he has ever been, but at least he is not alone. Kanekith understands his rider’s attraction to the woods, for the large bronze shares that same draw towards the solace that the trees represent. For him though, it is a bit harder to navigate, but he has learned to tuck the wings tight against his body and hunker down in order to not entangle himself. As long as the foliage isn’t too thick, he is fine. And currently he is even more so, as Ka’el has led him to a forest glade. A clearing sparse with trees other than those that mark the perimeter. Room enough for him to stretch his wings and see the sky which is painted with even more colors than the forest itself as the sun sinks towards the horizon.

Dusk. Their favorite time of day in their favored setting. What is the occasion?

Ka’el stares at the folded parchment in his hand, his back against the brilliant metallic hide of his lifemate who lies within the middle of the forest clearing, eyes set on his rider. His fingers mindlessly fold and unfold the paper, glimpsing the words written in a familiar hand, then hiding them from view with a fold on a crease that is quickly becoming worn. Unfolding. Folding again. The expression on his face is one that he reserves for moments like these. Moments where there are no prying minds or questioning looks for him to fend off. No one to guard himself against or save face for. The rare moment when it is only himself and his dragon. Their thoughts and feelings together, and he can be real with himself.

He is afraid.



Deep within his chest, Kanekith croons a low sound to his boy, his eyes half lidding and head turning and angling towards him. « This parchment with its scrawls … why does it trouble you as it does? » He doesn’t get it. He has seen many of these come and go. Passed from hand to hand. Brought by dragonback. Read. Discarded or saved. How is this one any different than the others?

“This is from my mother,” Ka’el speaks aloud, unfolding the paper once more and keeping it open this time to stare at the words before him. “My ma…” Thoughts surface. Memories that begin fuzzily quickly become crisp at the edges. Sharp images with vivid colors of home. Family. Masculine faces similar to his own, grinning and laughing as they jostle with one another. And above them all, a woman with kind yet stern eyes. Dark hair that’s beginning to grey. Short in stature, yet grand in stubbornness. Ma. Kanekith ponders this image. The shadow of himself curling curiously around her, taking in her form while prying for more.

This causes his head to shake and the memories are pulled away. Out of reach, much to Kanekith’s annoyance.

“She won’t like you, buddy,” he murmurs, absently trailing fingers against the hide he leans against. Smooth and firm. « I do not need her to, » is the dismissive reply from the bronze who lays his head down, eyes still set on his weyrling. « And you do not need her to. But that is not what bothers you. »

Sometimes it’s good to have someone forever stuck in your head. Words are less necessary that way. Ka’el’s eyes close and the paper is folded a final time. “It’s nearly my turnday, and I’ll be eighteen,” he explains, voice soft although in truth it isn’t needed at all. “A long time ago .. before you. Before any of this, I promised my mother something. And it’s a promise I’ve meant to keep, as she’s kept her part of it for all these turns. But .. it isn’t a promise I can keep anymore.

I was to go home. With my family. … But how am I to go home now? If they see you … when she sees you..” His lips press, pausing his words, and the day seems to grow suddenly dark, as if a cloud has passed over the sun. Impenetrable and sinister, shrouding both dragon and rider together beneath a blanket of silent emptiness. The forest melts into blackness, withered and lifeless, and although Ka’el’s closed eyes open, he stares at an empty black canvas.

« The truth of what bothers you. »

“The truth of it is, I know what will happen because I’ve already seen it with Kei’lan.” And upon that dark canvas, one figure is painted. His jubilant brother. Shaggy haired and grinning. Near him, a fantastic blue dragon with refined features. Silent laughter escapes his sibling’s mouth, eyes twinkling jovially.

“That is how he seems. Always happy. Always together. But I was there when he brought Azrith home. I know what happened.” Like a rock to glass, the image of sibling and his lifemate shatters into thousands of pieces. Tiny rainbows of colors, fragments of a bigger picture, exploding out and back and everywhere, breaking that smile apart, leaving behind the slow and echoed sound of sharp edges hitting an unseen floor with no one there to pick up the pieces.

“She won’t let him back in.”

« In to what? »

“Our family. Her heart. He’s never been home since. She speaks not of him. It’s as if he doesn’t exist in her world anymore. My fifteenth turnday was the first time they were together since he was told to leave.” A slow exhale escapes from his lips, and slowly the world begins to return. Dull at first, as if the colors have been washed away with time, but gradually the vividness of autumn returns, and the chill of the breeze is felt against his face.

“I can write and tell them that I can’t come for my turnday. Lie and say that I haven’t been given permission. Or that I’m on the verge of my Journeyman exams..” Journeyman. A rank he may never achieve in a craft that may no longer be his own. How did his life get so very off track? He turns his body towards Kanekith’s head upon hearing the slow rumble beginning to emit from his dragon, and he shifts close enough that his hand can rest upon his copper tipped nose.

«Blame falls upon me. You feel loss because of me.»

To which Ka’el firmly shakes his head, jaw setting. “We’re a team, and we’re always gonna be a team. You and me. That’s all that matters.” It is a truth that Ka’el has had a difficult time accepting. His family. Those close to his heart. How can they truly not matter? Does a dragonrider really give up everything for his lifemate?

“My ma…will hate me.” It’s a truth that he cannot avoid. Every lesson he receives, every moment spent with Kanekith, the stronger the bond between him and his dragon becomes is a motion of a saw against the rope that bonds mother to son. He cannot hide this forever, and the day will come when the horror that he saw aimed towards Azrith and Kei’lan will be sent his way. But somehow .. preparing himself for that blow doesn’t ease the dread that comes whenever his eyes land upon that letter, folded or not. “And she’ll never want to see me after seeing us.” He has to figure this out.

Eyes veil again and he rests fully against his dragon. Tomorrow is another day. Another day of preparing to be a well-informed dragonrider. Competent and strong. Today is ending, and as the sun slips past the horizon, Ka’el remains, allowing his thoughts to drift to memories he has tucked away in private places. Memories of his mother and himself. Memories of soft lullabies and fond kisses. Memories of over protectiveness and stern lessons learned. And best of all, memories of moments where her eyes beamed with pride of his accomplishments, even when they were smith related, and the sound of her voice claiming that he will always be her little boy.

If only it was true.

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