Author Archive

An Odd Legacy

Posted July 2, 2014 By L.A. Marr

An Odd Legacy

“And last do I bequeath to my youngest daughter the contents of the box found on my office roll top desk. It is approximately one foot long, eight inches wide, and four inches tall. It is covered with oriental carving.” Said the barrister in the same somber tone he had been using the entire time he pronounced the will.

Amber’s father’s estate was not very large, but it was large enough to require a will, executor, and formal reading. More people arrived to hear it than she had imagined. It was true, in life her father was well liked and had many acquaintances, but not so many that she expected this. There was even the mayor of the small town of Dinsburg where her father lived. The reading went more-or-less in the manner she expected with a few surprises. The eldest, her brother, maintained control of the family business, a vast factory that manufactured industrial glass items. Her eldest sister and her husband received their family home, and her middle sister the contents other than the furniture. This showed her father’s off-set sense of humor. He knew that each would have items the other wanted and that there would be a long bit of arguing before they settled equitably. He used to say that their arguments were akin to reading a combination of the sports section of the newspaper and the part that spoke about international politics. They would bob and weave, throw punches and dodge. All the while negotiating over what appeared to be nothing at all. Finally they would announce the winner. This many precious heirlooms would take years to squabble over, providing plenty of entertainment for all who observed.

There was the not uncommon allotment of funds to the houseman, cook, and personal secretary. Some bit about the executor settling bills before distributing any money and that he had already been paid. And then there was her gift. She had been mostly absent the last years of her father’s life, checking in occasionally from whichever port or country she was currently visiting. She paid for her own travel by working at each post of call and rarely asked for anything nor expected anything now. Her father enjoyed her stories of her travel or the people at each destination. He especially enjoyed the recounting of the traditions, myths, and history of each place. Her sisters, saying always that the youngest was more favored, insisted that their father was financing her wanderings. They were more than startled to see that there was nothing, anywhere in the books, to say he was. She had not even taken any of her allowance. They would insist that she do that now. Amber had asked a few things from the estate, the contents of her bedroom and her father’s grand roll top desk. These things were willingly agreed upon even before the will was read. Amber mourned the fact that it would mean she must take up a small apartment or cottage to put them in, but they were worth it. She had found the perfect cottage that sat out in the country but within bicycle or walking distance of a small village. There she could obtain what she needed for daily life. The one bedroom home was just large enough for her furniture, a sitting chair by the fire, and a small dining table. She would find it comfortable.

The box. What an odd legacy. It was some type of pale wood, carved with what she thought was Western Chinese figures. Once in a while there would be an accent of what looked like gold. The box was oddly warn, as if it was carried for many miles in some past lifetime. She had seen it in a nook of the large desk, but had never thought to ask her father what it was. It was her only gift. Everyone had expected a small fund, perhaps enough to serve her retirement, but not just a box. With her family and the executor standing about while finding the best place to observe, she slowly slid off the lid. The box was lined with some worn red silk. It carefully cradled an ivory pen with carvings, an ink bottle, ink well, and some paper that had been used for blotting. A shaker whose contents of fine sand were nearly gone completed the set. After everyone got a look at the contents and deemed them trivial, she slid the lid closed and prepared to leave. The barrister had a paper for her to sign acknowledging the receipt of her inheritance and she asked that he arranged a cab to carry her home.

A legacy grows

The light shown bright at the small cottage as Amber hung her coat on the peg behind the door. She wandered to the desk where she again slid open the box to wonder. Taking out the items she arranged them on the desktop in the manner that a left-handed person would need and sat down in the imposing chair. Picking up the pen she pretended to write. Setting the pen back down she looked again in the box, spying the corner of a folded paper in the pocket that ran along the length. Carefully she extracted it to see that it was a letter from her father that was dated more than a year ago.

“Amberly, by now you have likely been given this treasure, probably at the event of my demise. It is the last reminder of a part of my life that has been all but forgotten. You see, I like you spent the great part of my youth traveling. Each place I visited along the way I would write the stories of my journey to my mother which were enjoyed by all. It was in India that I acquired this beautiful pen set and its box. It was with this that I wrote my installments. I had a leather bag that the box and paper rode in, it was never far from my side. I traveled about seven years then got word of my father’s death and the need for me to return to assume his duties with the plant. So I returned home, placing this much loved and much used box in its place in what had been my father’s (and his father before him) desk. So, here it is for you as well. I hope that my passing won’t interrupt your own travels too long. Please continue to write, sending any copy to my barrister as he will hold them safe until you return. With my greatest love, your father.”

Folding the paper back up and returning it to the box, she stared for a moment at the pen. A new understanding and value graced them. Smiling, she turned to her bedroom. A new life was about to begin.

[Someday I will become inspired again and finish this. For now I hope you find it as delightful to read as I do L.A.M.]

Lone Wolf

Posted May 17, 2014 By L.A. Marr

The Wolf Mates For Life

She crested the hill and glanced across the plains, then turned to acknowledge her mate as he joined her. Together they surveyed the wind, looking upwind to judge the scents they were sorting. Satisfied that there was nothing of interest, they traveled on their journey.  They shared equally the lead, he would crest a hill before her, and the next hill she was seen atop it first. They traveled as if the world revolved around them, which, from their understanding of the world, it did.

His coat was brownish to her darker gray.  If you looked closely, you could see her muzzle was grayer. Why she had not mated as a young wolf but instead ran alone as an adult was never known, all that was certain was that she had a mate now and in the way of the wolf was not likely to leave him.  His origins were unknown. Had he ran alone or in a pack? Had he once been the mate of another? Whichever the case, they seemed to be bond now and worked seamlessly as a team. What one noticed, the other did a split second later.  If she decided to change their track, they moved as one wolf.  If he slowed to study something, she was his shadow. To watch them you would think that they had been together their entire lives.

When the prey was spotted, they moved without thought.  He went for the drive and she for the intercept.  He was the power of the pair, and her lighter build gave her speed. Her trick was to trap or turn the prey, his was the stun and the blow. One could see that the team was perfectly balanced. This didn’t mean that they killed every time … but it did mean that when they did death was swift.

After the hunt they turned again as one, this time she lead the distance to their den, and he followed while keeping a watch for any foe. They stopped along a stream and drank their fill, and then again to play in the moonlight.  Satisfied that all was well in their world, they curled up on a rock near their den and slept. Her nose covered by her tail, his head resting on her flank. She would stay with him as long as he would stay with her, a wolf mates for life.

The death of a dark wolf

Two hunters stood on a hill and watched the lone wolf in the distance.

“Are you sure it has to be done?” the younger one asked his elder, “She has to be one of the most beautiful wolves I have seen in a long while.”

“Yes,”the elder responded, “She totally savaged her mate. He tried to hunt with her for many days, but her snapping and savage attacks drove him away.”  He continued, “She has some type of disorder in her mind, and she will not get better. We can’t have her savaging any others, what if next time it is a human, not a wolf?”

“Well I suppose,” said the younger, readying his bow, “It’s better not to put it off any longer. She’ll be going to a far better place where her illness will not continue and she won’t be in pain any longer.”

The two hunters were seen slowly creeping in the snow towards the hill where the wolf had her den.  They used the shadows to hide their movements until they were within range. The sound of a bowstring releasing broke the cold silence, and the dark wolf was still, the slight silver of a long ago scar showing by her ear in the moonlight, her dark coat sleek. She would not hurt those she loved any more.

((bipolarmania is a horrible illness, it takes a lot out of not only the affected, but everyone around them who try to help them.  the damage done to relationships before it is diagnosed can be the most devastating. one moment the person is loving and fun, the next moment there is nothing in the world those around can do right and the wounds given will not heal. The only solution sometimes is to distance from the bipolar person, before the pain is so deep that it spreads.  I’m so very sorry that I’ve hurt those around me, and it will take a long while for me to learn how not to behave this way. I’ll not hold it against those who avoid me, but I will cry for those that I have loved and lost.))

 

Darkness to Light

Posted October 21, 2013 By L.A. Marr

Aleyne stayed close to the underbrush, sometimes even going through it if she could and still travel noiselessly. She was watching again to see who traveled the pass tonight. What had started from a request had become an obsession born from concern and fueled by her anger.

After Commander Trodara had requested that they help find out more about the bandits, Raul had spent a good deal of his time following them. Other scouts joined him on the pass to give better ears and more keen eyes for the search. He would return to Ethaia every few weeks to rest and give updates about what he had learned. The bandits were not a casual danger, they were organized and deadly. They would ambush a party on the pass without any chance of warning, overwhelming the travelers by sheer numbers. If anyone resisted they were simply killed. They did not take hostages for ransom. In some cases they killed the party from ambush leaving no one alive. No survivors, no witnesses, and no chance of capture. The simple request had grown from learning about a small group of bandits who were attacking once a month to investigating a large group that was raiding caravans and killing travelers nearly every day. If the rumors were to be believed, they were even breaking into homesteads to steal.

The scouts protected the travelers as they could, driving away the bands and fighting them if they stood. The soldiers from the fort were nearly helpless. When they could they would help fight and they would apprehend the bandits whom the scouts left alive. But the bandits knew when the soldiers were out on patrol, so they simply stayed on the other end of the pass.

Aleyne and Iacaus often joined Raul on the pass. They attacked the bandits when they were found and escorted travelers as a type of vigilante protection. When Aleyne was not able to leave with Iacaus, she would travel on her own to meet them. Tonight was such a night. As she was searching for them she had come upon a group of bandits lying in wait along the road. A black wolf on the pass gave her the ability to see past the bandits and she knew there was a group of travelers approaching. She did not have time to get past the bandits without being seen. If she went down the pass they would attack her, and there were more than she could fight alone. She heard Onyx speak to her silently. He was concerned she would do something foolish. She snapped back, “No, I would not do something stupid, but I will not sit here and watch them attack. I refuse to.”

Onyx was as frustrated as she was. “I cannot land anywhere near. They always choose the heavy forest.”

“I know… If you can see Lome,” referring to her elven-bred stallion, “Send him to me on the road.” She worked her way to the edge of the packed path.

“Aleyne…” Onyx sounded frantic.

“Just send him, Onyx. Please do not question me.”

A few minutes later cantering hoof beats were heard on the road behind Aleyne as Lome came up. The bandits heard them also. She had ridden the stallion without saddle or bridle so that he could wander freely while she stalked the pass. So the bandits only saw a loose horse and turned back to wait for their prey. Suddenly an Orcish war cry echoed from the trees and the black horse thundered past on the road. Two black wolves ran with the horse and a black dressed elven girl peppered their party with arrows as she rode towards the travelers who were just beyond the bow range of the bandits.

In anger the bandits gave chase to be met by Aleyne standing on the road with her sword and the now-warned travelers. All that now faced her knew who she was. Suddenly Aleyne felt familiar steps coming alongside and she gave a quick smile to Iacaus. “I am glad you waited for us,” he teased. Raul and two other scouts stood by the wagons. Two others were in the shadows along the road. A few of the bandits broke and ran back into the woods when they saw the improved odds.

Now it was a standoff. The bandits knew that Bladesinger would not attack first and she would not chase if they ran. They had not done anything wrong, yet. They had the better number of armed men. They also knew that most, if not all of them, would die to the superior fighting skills of the scouts. Raul clicked, calling the scouts back. The travelers had decided to stay at the inn midway between the forts and to travel again in the morning. He had offered to escort them on their journey in the daylight. Aleyne lingered as they retreated, finally standing nearly alone on the road. The bandits knew she was hoping that just one of them would try to fight. Even harder to do than watch the bandits flee without chasing them, was to turn and walk away. All parties knew the game was over for the night, but neither wanted to be the first to yield. “Come,” Raul spoke. “The travelers are safe. This is the reason we are here. Let them go.” Glancing once more at the eyes behind the masks, Aleyne turned. She shared the same expression as her wolves, that of a wild animal being denied its prey.

 

Arihelnes

Posted March 10, 2012 By L.A. Marr

(( This story was written while I participated in a MMORPG game. I’ve got several about the characters I’ve played, although the names of some have been changed. Perhaps I will someday place them in a compilation, or even develop them into a story that will fill a book. Enjoy them for now. ))


Arihelnes crouched motionless on the rise above Lothen. The city once was occupied by her ancestors, but now stood abandoned. She had an arrow twirling between her fingers, her bow was un-slung from her back. Brows furrowed and eyes full of sadness, she said to her companion, “it is so beautiful, how wonderful it must have been to live there.” Without another word she rose and melted into the brush as she followed the trail back towards her home, Cael following behind. The long strides characteristic of elves carrying them quickly along the path.

Ari (as she was known to the few family and friends she had) was unlike her high-elf kinsmen. She dressed in the simple clothes of a woodsman – a ranger – and kept mostly to herself. Anyone she met – elf, man, or otherwise – she treated with polite indifference and not the arrogances associated with her race. She was hard to befriend, but loyal even unto death with those who she trusted among her fellows. Such strength of loyalty was uncommon even within the elves.

Her companion, Caellian, was a handsome wood elf with sturdy features. He was taller than Ari and perhaps a little older – although they were both approaching 50 years (teenagers in elven standards) They had been friends all of their young lives. He was the anchor to her sail, the thinker of the group and the one not likely to follow a whim.

Later as the sunset bathed their home in hues of orange, reds, ambers, and shadow, Ari and Cael watched the night come from the highest reaches of the city. They had journeyed the limited lands of the Fae and honed their skills, traveling often to gaze upon Lothen, and now it was time for their world to expand. Ari knew not where their journey would lead, or who else would follow along the same path, but she knew she wouldn’t be traveling it alone.

Hope

Posted January 25, 2012 By L.A. Marr

sword-newIn distant books, the Megilindir’s sword becomes mythical. It will be known by the name, “Hope.” Often Aleyne on her travels will be asked the name of her blade, and equally often her response will be met with puzzlement and confusion. Here is an excerpt where, while at Athandraul on the occasion of the combat trials and fayre, she has opportunity to tell the meaning of Hope


Aleyne lifted the blade, turning it in front of her as if she had never seen it before. The blade shimmered, with each turn it flashed like a beacon as the rotation went from edge to width to edge again. It seemed to glow brighter as she spoke. “Does anyone know the name of this blade?”

Eyes transfixed on the deadly beauty before them, almost in unison they shook their heads. “Mythical blades choose their own names. You can far imagine my surprise when I learned the name of this blade is ‘Hope’”

A puzzled murmur rippled through the crowd. “I too was puzzled until I began to think. One of the things in life that is eternal is hope. Life begins with hope, life ends with hope, and anything worth doing in between those two points needs hope to succeed. Hope is a journey.”

Again a pause, still the people pondered what she spoke. “Why a blade? I have thought about that often. A blade stands for strength. A blade represents justice. A blade metes judgement. A blade is life. A blade gives death. A sword is more than something used for fighting and killing. It takes sides always, the same as it has two edges. In the right hands it is always welcome. In the wrong hands it is hated. What does that have to do with hope?”

The eyes around the fire were now locked on her, ignoring the blade. “Hope. A scholar in a distant land wrote a long time ago. If all else is gone, there will remain three things: Faith, Hope, and Love. Interesting thing for a scholar to write. You can’t have one without the other two. But what of this sword? You can’t win a battle unless you have hope. There is not hope unless there is faith. Love is the driving power. If you didn’t love, there would be no reason to fight.” She let the blade drop. It righted itself and stuck into the earth, still shining. Its pulsing light now nearly as bright as the fire. “When I was born, my future was a promise. All had hope for the life I was destined to lead. When I die, my hope will be complete. I will walk into my reward knowing that I held hope high.” Suddenly the sword leapt into her hand. She held it up, the blinding light casting no shadows. “During the journey we call life, I cannot do anything without hope. It is by my side constantly. It protects me. If I train, it will guarantee my goal. Just like a sword. Hope is the journey, we can’t live without hope.” Slowly the blade dimmed. Wild, unimaginable colors glowed from within as it became like a normal blade. Deadly sharp, wielded by one of the best swordsman in the kingdom – perhaps the world. Just an ordinary blade. But in it rode hope. The glue of the three steps of life. Faith. Hope. Love.

Iacaus

Posted September 4, 2011 By L.A. Marr

Iacaus

September 4, 2011 by

Iacaus turns down chance to come to Ethaia

“You should see that young lady track, Iacaus. Raul has finally had a pupil who was worth his effort. The rumor is that he bought her scout clothes when she was 13 years old. That would have been four years now. And that she is better than any other scout except the old man himself.” Utiatias circled, sword drawn. After himself, Iacaus and a elf named Janeyl were the best swordsmen in the kingdom. Janeyl beat them both with the bow. The elves lunged and withdrew, no matter what the other did, the first was unbeatable. Finally Commander Kaecon called it a draw, setting the referee’s flag down. “I wonder how she is with sword, I’m told she prefers that to dagger or bow.” The three men were walking to the commons area to go to Kaecon’s office. Utias spoke again, “Are you sure you won’t join us, Iacaus? We could use another body guard it and wouldn’t hurt to have another squad leader. I’ve got Eoske, but there are two squads.”

“No, you go play babysitter for a spoiled brat, diplomats are bad enough. I’ll pass.”

“What do you mean diplomats are bad enough? You are not guarding diplomats any more. All you have been guarding has been the lint under your bed.” Kaecon looked sternly at Utiatias, he shrugged. Iacaus was nearly killed on his last assignment when the person he was guarding insisted on going into a dangerous part of the country. He had lost his dragon friend who gave his life to give him a chance to get away. Since then Iacaus had not worked at all. Utias knew that, but his trying to get Iacaus to join them using teasing was not going to work, he would come on his own if he came at all. Kaecon was sure he would, he just needed time.

Iacaus watched Kaecon and Utiatias head back to the store room to check on some of the equipment there. He had been hearing about this project since he was old enough to serve. Many thought it was a large waste of time, waiting for the princess to come of age to serve her. That made sense, she was the only heir the kingdom had at the moment, even if she wouldn’t have her own children. But this bit about her being a leader in her own right, without a kingdom, when she wasn’t even to her majority. Just because of a ballad found on the wall of a monastery. That was too far fetched, stories like that never happened any more, even if the one it supposedly foretold was the crown princess – who didn’t even know she was a crown princess. If the one man wasn’t his commander and the other his friend he would have told them where their ideas led.

Iacaus reconsiders

It had been over a year since his last conversation with Utiatias and Kaecon. Iacaus thought about them occasionally and this was one of the rare times he was. Suddenly Iacaus heard a commotion on the landing in front of the stables. About twenty five horses with riders milled around. Some were waiting to go into the stables, other were forming up to leave. He blinked and stared, the leader of the squad was Utiatias. He hadn’t seen him since he left on his ridiculous journey a year ago to be part of a platoon to take care of that half elf girl. He looked around quickly and saw the girl leading a black charger into the stable – followed by two large black wolves. She was dressed in black as well, with a black cloak that went to the ground and had a hood. It looked like some type of amateur attempt at being a scout. The city guard commander saw him standing and staring. “Come on, grab your horse, the Princess’ party ran into some trolls and we are going to make sure they have gone.” He got his horse and led him to the front of the stable to mount, followed by the princess who was making her way towards the commons. He glanced at her to see more what she looked at andnoticed she was staring at her escort with a yearning look, wanting to go back out with them. He then noticed her tunic was covered with blood.

Urging his horse on, he caught up with Utiatias quickly, his expression asking all. “We got into some trolls and they gave up fighting and moved on. If Aleyne hadn’t sensed them they would have been all over us before we could respond.”

“Aleyne?”

“The Princess, Aleyne. Nobody calls her by her title, it’s either Aleyne or My Lady.”

Iacaus, who most of his service with the diplomatic corps, knew that the only people called by their name were not worthy of respect, “She is that bad?” he asked with doubt in his voice.

“NO!” Utiatias said almost sternly, “She is that good.”

Iacaus paused his conversation while they investigated the place where they had fought and picked up arrows. He was finding many that were not fletched in the manner of the elf ones, they had more of a twist and black fletching. Each had made a fatal shot, more so than any other arrows on the hillside. “These are odd arrows.” He held up one to show Utias, “Who ever used them killed with every shot.”

“That wouldn’t surprise me,” he replied, “She designed those arrows with extra twist for distance, the bowman makes them special, the black feathers was his idea.” Iacaus looked down the hill at the distance. “Funny thing is,” Utias continued, “other than Janeyl nobody else can get any accuracy at this distance using those arrows, and half the time she can above Janeyl.”

“Who does?” Iacaus was prepared to be impressed, nobody beats Janeyl.

“Well, the Princess of course, who else would?”

Iacaus froze, staring at Utias who was getting on his horse. “You are going to tell me that an eighteen year old girl is better than an archer who has trained her whole life and can beat anyone in the country?”

Utias looked at him seriously, “And I’ve never beaten her with a sword either.” He turned and rode up the hill where the tracker had picked up the trolls’ trail.

Iacaus put his horse in its stall and groomed him, then wandered through the barn looking at all the horses that had come with the escort. Most he recognized as belonging to friends of his, others he knew from the fields where the horses were bred and trained. He got back to the barn and there was the Princess’s charger, the two wolves resting near her feet.

“Why would anyone keep wolves.” he wondered out loud.

A voice behind him said, “They are here of their own free will, nobody has told them to stay.” said the stable girl.

Iacaus asked, dubious, “Why would they willingly come to serve a human?”

“Because the human’s heart is pure and she is a true warrior.”

Iacaus looked at her a moment and walked out of the stable shaking his head. Who was this girl, someone from a legend?

The following day he was at the stable and Janeyl came in to saddle her horse and the girl’s. She saw him and started giggling.

“What?” he said to his friend.

“I’m sorry, seeing you reminded me of something that happened at the pool last night.” He listened. Not much made Janeyl giggle, she was usually a somber girl. “Aleyne has not seen a naked man before. She jumped in the pool like it was the one at home and nearly came screaming back out when she saw that some of the occupants were undressed.”

This time he giggled at the thought of anyone being afraid of a naked body. “I bet she would stay in the pool if I approached.”

“You’re on,” Janeyl laughed. “It wouldn’t be easy, I’m going to win.” She took the horses outside and stood by the queens bodyguard, who also had two horses.

Later that day he stopped by Kaecon’s office in the commons. Quietly he asked, “Do you still need help and Utiatias too?”

Kacon looked at him and with a serious tone answered, “It’s not a job, it’s a life. It’s not something you can walk away if you don’t like your duties or the princess.”

“I know, but I’ve been watching what everyone has been doing, I think I might even enjoy the Princess.”

Kaecon considered him silently had then got a twinkle in his eyes, “I think perhaps you would.” Just then Janeyl bust into the room.

“Damn those trolls, damn that road.” Kaecon looked at her startled. “Dad, I need to leave, it isn’t going to work.”

He nodded and turned to Iacaus, “Do you think you could be a body guard for tonight, I can find someone else tomorrow.”

“OK, only for one day. But why are we guarding her in the city?”

“She has received threats from citizens that think a half elf should not rule.”

Iacaus nodded at the need. “Where is she now?”

“She was going to our flat and then the pools when I came here.” Janeyl said.

Iacaus left for the pools.

Kaecon watched him go and smiled.

“What are you thinking?” Janeyl asked.

“That he would balance Aleyne well, she is wild as a colt and he is patient as the water. They would be a good match.”

Janeyl thought of her friend of the last year, she had never thought about her some day needing a mate. Her father was nearly always right about what he saw in people, she hoped for Aleyne he was with this. “Go, find Ayondri.” He said with a smile. And she left his office heading for the stable.

Iacaus meets Aleyne

Iacaus had left the office and head up to the bathing pool, Aleyne was there with her head in a corner of the pool, trying not to see anyone but trying to rest. She would drift off and then be woken when her face hit the water. Looking at her, he saw a pair of horrible scars. One was on the top of her shoulder, the other under that same arm. They were the type of scars only caused by fighting, probably a mace in this case, and they were very old. How could an 18 year old have scars that old? Across her shoulders the skin was dimpled because the muscles were tight, he winced and entered the pool, speaking quietly as he approached. “Let me rub those shoulders for you, I know how that feels.” She jumped up to leave and then surrendered to the temptation. It would feel so very good to have the kinks rubbed out of a back that was still sore from their fight with the trolls today.

He finished and she climbed out of the pool, When he announced that he was taking Janeyl’s place for a day, she was upset but accepted it. He watched her go thinking he could watch this girl until tomorrow. She was pleasant and sounded like she would make a great companion to converse about any number of things.

In the morning he wasn’t sure what time she started her day so he got there early and leaned against the rail. A short time later she emerged wearing scout clothes and hurrying to the stable. She spoke about her animals and then mentioned her dragon. Nobody had said that she was dragon-bond, but for some reason he was not surprised. When they entered the stable there was kicking and screaming coming from the corner stall where her mare was stabled. The stable girl was working to get a halter on the stallion. Aleyne rushed into the stall and he pulled her back, there was no way of knowing if the stallion was pleasant or not.

“What are they doing?” she asked, she apparently had never seen horses together before.

“They are making a baby horse.” Iacaus said, half joking.

She looked at the mare and looked at him, “Do I need to put up curtains?” He laughed until tears filled his eyes. Then he did something he had never done with someone he was guarding before, he gave her a hug. The stable girl had things controlled so he suggested they could come back later.

As they were coming from the stable a large dragon landed in front of them. He was looking as big as he could be and menacing.

“What are you doing!” Aleyne exclaimed running to Onyx.

Then Iacaus spoke to him indragon tongue, “If you think you are going to back me off when it is my job to protect her you will have to start working at it now.” The dragon backed off and lowered his head. Iacaus’ eyes were full of tears. Aleyne looked between Iacaus and Onyx with amazement.

Seeing their confusion Iacaus said, “Cinder died saving me and the woman I was protecting from a large compliment of trolls. We were going to die, but he fought them while we ran. I ran from my best friend to save someone I didn’t even know.”

Now Onyx had his nose on the ground with quiet croon and Aleyne was trying to slow her tears. Iacaus gently nudged the side of Onyx’s head with his foot.

“Now you, you don’t have to worry about me taking your place in Aleyne’s life, you will always be her friend. But silly dragon, she will have one or many human or elf boyfriends in her life. If you ever do that again because you are jealous, I hope she will shoot you. I will lend her the arrow if she needs one.” Onyx apologized with his head again, and Iacaus shoved him off. “Go now, I want to watch a beautiful dragon fly, it’s been a while since I have.”

Aleyne asked Iacaus, “You knew my dragon’s private name?”

“Yes, I always do, I guess it is a dragon’s final reward to their friend.”

As they were walking up the steps to the housing level, Iacaus realized that he wasn’t upset about the dragon, in fact he welcomed him. He was ready to work around dragons again.

As they ascended, the girl asked again about Janeyl, and he gave the same answer as before. She even accused him of being Janeyl’s love interest.

“Me?” Iacaus said startled, “No, I am someone who is going to join your staff. I will help Kaecon with the estate, along with helping Utiatias since we are doubling the guard.”

She dropped her head and mumbled about being too much trouble.

Iacaus did something he’d not done since his sisters left with his parents when they went on sabbatical, he ruffled her hair. “So many people want to work in a job that is expected to last forever and doesn’t pay. We have to turn them away. There is something about you that is dynamic, you run the platoon off their feet and your personal bodyguard past sane. But they cry with you, they feel your anger and your sorrow, they love you Aleyne.” He paused to realized that he had learned that himself only in the last few days, and that he believed every word.

Aleyne went into her flat to deposit her sword and put on a bathing robe, she came out with a hurt look on her face. Iacaus reached for her with a question. “Her things are gone, all of them. There isn’t a note.” For the second time he gave her a hug then followed her to the bathing pool. While she bathed she asked questions about the elves and the city.

Her bath was done and she still had questions but she was getting cold. Noticing her shivering he started to suggest that he leave so she could go. Suddenly she asked him if he would come in and sit so she could ask more questions.

As they talked Aleyne grew more tired, finally drifting to sleep. Not exactly sure what he should do, Iacaus got a blanket and put it over her, then went and sat across the room. As he sat he realized that he really wanted to be this girl’s body guard. He hoped Kaecon wouldn’t mind if it did. He could do his other duties as well.

When morning came Aleyne opened her eyes and saw Iacaus sitting across from her on a chair. His soft gray eyes were watching, long chestnut hair loosely tied at the nape of his neck. “I wasn’t sure which would be proper to stay or to leave, so I just stayed. I hope you don’t mind.”

His heart jumped when she replied, “No, for some reason I don’t.”