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    submitted 13 June 2013 @ 06:38
    edited 13 June 2013 @ 09:30

Finally ... After The Sighting

Written by Shurlea

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( Two Years Later ... )


Quietly closing the apartment door behind her, TeeDee waddled over to the railing to look down at her mother below. Her hammer sang out with the tempo created striking the heated metal. She didn't have to see what her mother was making, she could tell by the sound. With a firm grip on the hand rail TeeDee felt her way down the stairs.


“Hi Mom!” She waited until her mother broke from her task before speaking, knowing herself what it did to have the focus distracted. “How are you feeling?”

That had been days ago, Shurlea reminded herself plunging the hot twisted iron into the cooling vat. “Good as new.” She smiled, her gaze dropping to rest on her daughters round belly. “How about you?”

“Other than a lower back ache, I'm doing fine.” TeeDee breathed, her hands went to the small of her back and stretched backward.

“Back ache, huh?” Arching a brow Shurlea studied her look alike carefully. “For how long?”

“It started a few days ago.” She winched a little straightening. “But it's becoming more persistent. I guess the baby got bored drumming on my ribs and has moved to my back.” She laughed.


Looking over to the work bench, the stool started to slide across the floor, stopping when it reached the anvil. “Have a seat. Are you all finished with the nursery?”

“I am.” TeeDee rolled her eyes as she climbed up on the stool. “But Lurdach keeps changing the mural. I swear if he could, he'd glue Wee Folk to the walls to make it more realistic.”

Snorting, Shurlea shook her head. Lurdach had drug her upstairs so many times to see the work in progress it wasn't hard to imagine him wanting to add some final touches. The wrap around mural covered three walls depicting many scenes of forest life. Her favorite part was the meadow with a cottage off to one side with mountains in the back ground. “He just wants it to be perfect.” She grinned, “And why not, it's his first child.”

“Well if he doesn't stop hovering, it's gonna be his last child too.” TeeDee threatened, the impish grin belied her ire.


Walking over to the rack of square metal bars, Shurlea selected one and pulled it down. “So where is Mr. Copter now?”

“Still sleeping.” Sliding off the stool, she moved to get out of her mother's way. “He's meeting with Rob later on to go over some ideas for the house he wants to build.”

“Really?” Stirring the coals she dropped the new bar in. “You don't seem too enthused about it.”

“I've got more pressing issues to deal with.” Thinking of the orders that had come in, along with the tax preparations looming on the horizon. TeeDee ceased her circular belly strokes and grimaced as another spasm griped her lower back.

Shurlea dropped her head as she turned back to her work. “Yeah, you do.”

%%%

“My poor baby.” Shurlea thought out loud to herself as she dressed. Here it was three days later and her daughter was still having sporadic back spasms. TeeDee's only complaint being that they were stronger and seemed to last longer. Oh she had a pretty good idea as to the cause, but now was not the time to make that revelation. Best wait a while longer and let things progress on their own.

Now was a good time for a distraction though, and she pulled the top bureau drawer open and found the keys.


“Hi Mom!” Celest called out as she came back into the warehouse, going over to hang her practice sword on the rack.

Looking up from her work, Shurlea watched her daughter. “How was practice?”

“Good. Boring, but good.” Turning back to join her mother, “I wish we had a real place to practice. You know, like we had when we were kids?”

“Yeah,” she nodded. Maybe it wasn't a lost cause after all, Shurlea reconsidered. “Do you think Tee will continue with the classes after the baby comes?”

“Who knows.” Celest shrugged and moved to get a bottle of water from the mini fridge under the work bench. “She's so big now her belly'd be in the way. All she is good for is to show someone how to hold a sword, and 'dach would be having heart palpitations the whole while.”

“I'm sure it won't be much longer.” Looking up with a smile, her gaze met her daughters.


“You know something.” Celest blinked and came closer. “What is it you're not saying?” Her mother had a way of telling you something with out you even knowing you had been told. It was her way to get you to pay attention to what she said and really listen to her. It also made you think about what she said.

She knew she was busted, and Shurlea laughed. “Your sister has been having lower back spasms for days now. While they are getting stronger, they're not any closer.”

With a few quick steps Celest joined her mother. “The baby is coming?” She asked excitedly, practically bouncing.

Shurlea shushed her and hissed. “Keep your voice down. It might be days yet, but the end is in sight now.”

/////

TeeDee came down to join her mother and sister for lunch. They sat under the carport looking out at the fenced in yard. “Your sister and I were wondering, do you intend to resume your classes after the baby comes?” Shurlea asked, sending a meaningful look to her first born.

“I'd like to.” TeeDee admitted with a sigh. “I miss it, that's for sure. But I don't think his Lairdship would be too happy about it. Besides when the baby comes I'll be too busy.”


“Mom wasn't too busy.” Celest piped up. “And she had six. Plus Spike, and then his sisters.”

“Yeah!” The sibling argumentative ways sprang up and they were off. “Mom had dad helping her too.” TeeDee snapped back. “Why don't you take over?”

“Me?” Celest shot back, “I have the bar.” Truth be told though, she had entertained the idea of them partnering up. Once, but things had changed.

“Oh puleeeeeeze, Cee.” TeeDee rolled her eyes. “Uncle Sigg runs the bar, and Spike is there most of the nights. The bar is just a hobby for you. Just something to do.”


Spearing one of the little pink mushrooms in her salad, Shurlea bit into it, savoring its flavor. “Now girls, don't bicker. I've got something I want to show you. Maybe it'll give you something to really think about and seriously consider.”

“What?” The sisters asked together, their differences forgotten.

“I'm not telling.” Shurlea laughed over her tea glass. “You'll just have to wait and see.”

Another spasm started and TeeDee sat back trying to get comfortable. Her mother advising her on a breathing technique to distract herself. “Whoa!” She exhaled as it started to subside. “That one was a doozy.”

%%%

The keys jingled as Shurlea tried several different ones before unlocking and opening the door to the warehouse across the alley and next door to McGee's Construction. “Here it is. I bought this shortly after our return.”


Being the first to go in, Celest tried the light switch and the front area lit up. “That's strange.” Shurlea said looking around as she followed her daughter in. “I've never received an electric bill for this.” She made a mental note to get with Entergy and settle this account. With her luck it was still in the name of the now defunct company. She chuckled to herself wondering if they'd take her first born in exchange. Somehow she doubted it.

“Why did you buy this place, Mom?' TeeDee asked as they looked around the office space.

“Because at the time it seemed to be a good idea. Your yard was too small.” Shurlea peeked into the bathrooms, they were serviceable she decided.

“You bought this for me?” Flattered, TeeDee really didn't know what more to say.

“For you, your sister, and Spike. You three were all a part of it, and we all needed someplace to spar.” It seemed like ages since they had the freedom and discipline of the arena. Practice out in the back yard was limiting, if the neighbors weren't sending the police over with complaints of the noise, her son's turned a session into a free for all, trying to knock each other into the pool. The few times Zigg had coaxed her out hadn't fared much better and they all but gave up.


Getting into the spirit of things, Celest's curiosity got the better of her and she wandered around. Looking out the large office window she watched Geere ride by on her way back to her shop. Meandering around she passed through the double doors leading to the rest of the building.

It was a story and a half metal building with a gently sloped, peaked roof. Being windowless, it was pitch dark with the exception of daylight streaming fine beams of light through the cracks where the metal panels had separated. Her nose wrinkled as her senses were assailed with the smell of damp and moldy earth. Something scurried away further back in the darkness.

“Rats!”

%%%

“What did you find, Cee?” Her sister asked from behind as the over head lights flickered on.

The dim outlines became apparent when the interior brightened and all three women looked around in surprise. “What are all these tables for, mom?” TeeDee asked.


“I have no idea.” Shurlea answered and went over to the closest to inspect. She stopped and stared down. This had to be some kind of mistake she thought and poked a finger into moss covered gravel. The tables were the size of a sheet of plywood with raised sides, supported with six legs. “Mushrooms!” She declared. “Someone is growing mushrooms here.”

TeeDee and Celest passed by several tables and stopped to study one in particular. “Cee.” She pointed. “Aren't those the ones you like so much? That you get at that little market?”


Celest stared down at the delicate coral pink mushrooms. She had never seen so many at one time in one place, much less how they were grown. There were tables full of them in various stages of development. Some of the tables appeared to be filled with nothing more then sand, fine gravel or dirt. Strolling through the rows she recognized the different varieties and knew from personal experience how each tasted. “Oh look, Mom, these are the ones Lurdach likes so much.” She heard her sister say.


At the far end of the building was the loading bay. Something long and lumpy sat against one wall, covered with several canvas tarps. Making her way over Celest's stride slowed as she got closer. Her head cocked, she could swear she knew what it was too, the orderly shape and form was rather obvious to her. Grabbing at one of the tarps she pulled it away, confirming her suspicions.

That wasn't all that was confirmed as she pulled the other tarps away and stepped back to study the seven gleaming, black motorcycles. Over the seats, folded neatly, were riding leathers. Going over to the nearest bike she picked up a jacket, the style and stitching nothing like she had ever seen before. Something snapped and she remembered.


“Mom! Get Tee out of here!”

As she turned back, she saw them.


%%

The warehouse interior lit up like the forth of July as Shurlea rushed over to get her pregnant daughter. Whatever reason her oldest had was good enough for her. The blazing light triggered a fleeting reminder of a time gone by as she reached out and pulled TeeDee into a protective hold.

About to beat a very swift retreat she looked over her daughter's shoulder and saw there was no need. Her husband and his brother appeared in front of them and they hadn't come alone, she realized. Seven more men appeared in close proximity. The whole club had showed up.


Taking a moment for a quick appraisal she looked around the huge bear of a man who stood at her back. There was one other she recognized standing with someone else at the rear. She got the impression he was just as surprised at being there as everyone else. That didn't stop her lip from curling when their gazes met. She turned away reminding herself that now was not the time.

Her sister's warning cry had barely registered when the air exploded with a power of many flavors, some she even recognized. Her mother's arms wrapped around her and TeeDee was pulled away from where she was standing.

No sooner had she regained her balance when another pair of hands pulled her and she found herself pressed tightly against a hard male chest and she heard Lurdach's panicked voice. “Amin liy, are you harmed?”


“No.” TeeDee muffled into his chest as she tried to pry and push herself away. “I'm fine. The baby is fine too. Give me some air, please.”

“Are you certain?” He almost demanded, trying to tamp down the panic that welled inside of him. His arms not wanting to obey and his love struggled to free herself.

“Yes, I'm certain. Now give me some breathing room.” Her voice rose with irritation. Looking over to where her sister stood, “I don't think I'm the one you should be concerned about right now.”


Although being called in so suddenly like they had been had happened before, it was rare. He had been at the barn checking on the new production system, his brother he assumed had been at the bar when they were brought in. Sharing a look with his twin, Zigg made a cursory scan to find everyone here. Whoever had called them must have felt it was warranted.

Turning to look behind him he saw his daughter with Lurdach, Shurlea's back was to him. From over her head he met Xanno's glacial eyes. “You?” He mouthed. Shaking his head no, Xanno indicated with a slow dip of his head the scenario over at the other end of the building.


Turning back he saw the cause, his other daughter. He would have beamed with pride at her near perfect stance. But the realization of something else registered and a sick feeling plummeted to the pit of his stomach.

Celest had dropped her guise, her wings partially unfurled. Feet planted firmly apart, she stood with her sword raised as her heart raced so fast all she heard was the blood pounding in her ears. Her fixed gaze never leaving the men pressed against the far wall who had been hiding in the shadows. She blinked once, and then again, studying them.

They were unarmed and judging by the looks on their faces, as confused as she was. Some broke from her visual hold and apprised the group standing near the center. All seven of them were dressed in jeans and assorted tshirts of different colors and designs. They were all very tall and their skin obsidian black with crystal white hair. Just as she remembered them. The tallest one moved to step forward and she shifted her weight, readying herself.


After so long of watching from a distance it was humiliating to be discovered like this. He cursed ap'za and himself for letting down his guard. They had grown complacent in this surface world. He deserved to die and stepped away from his men.


Lurdach gaped at the sight near the other end of the building. Memories of a long ago history came back, his arms relaxed their hold and dropped to his sides as he stood dumbstruck.

“What is it, Lurdach?” Shurlea's voice barely a whisper.

“Dhaeraow.” He breathed. “They are the Dhaeraow,” and started to wend his way through the circle of protection.


%%

Wetting her lips, Celest kept her sight on the one who broke away and approached. He was a negative to Lurdach. Somewhat taller, the facial features very similar, down to the hawkishness of his nose. His white hair was cropped short on top, the long hair on the sides held by small bands of gold that matched the ones in his ears. When he drew to a halt their eyes met and her breath hitched. They were pale lavender. Then he did the last thing she would have expected, he knelt, pulling his hair over to one side, baring his neck and bowing his head. “Usstan rytho'lo dosst jusron.”


She had absolutely no clue what he just said as she stared down at him. A hand touched her shoulder and she looked up into Lurdach's face. “Lower your blade, sister. They will not harm you.” Then said to the kneeling man, “Eller naa neh ant nae mor.”

His head lifted hearing words of the Fae. His white brows pulled together and his lip started to curl, it was ingrained in them not to trust the Fae. “Ele zhal'la Usstan z'renith dos?”


Lurdach had to remind himself that this one came from another way of life and their history was fraught with endless turmoil. He was tempted to snap back a curt, “Because I told you so,” but that would be poorly received. Instead he tried a different tactic. “I'atara naa en'thar com.” He doubted that would be acceptable, the Dhaeraow were not known for their kindness.


Celest cocked her head listening intently to the exchange, both were melodic but while Lurdach's voice was lyrical, this others was harsh, like classical music pitted against heavy metal. “What'd you two say?” She asked out of the corner of her mouth, her sword lowering a fraction.

“Basically.” Lurdach shrugged a shoulder giving her the short version, “ He said he deserved to die and I told him there was no need for it.”

“Why would I kill him?” She blinked, “He's not even armed.” That didn't mean he couldn't pose a different kind of a threat, and an unknown other was a threat.


He was about to comment on that when the sound of the roll up door echoed a rattle, being lifted open from the outside. It rose a few feet, letting bright sunlight in.

Little legs and a torso wriggled under and Brianna's face showed as she quickly pushed the door back down and hollered out, “I brought peanut butter sandwiches!”


Brianna straightened and found not only her friends but a whole lot of other people too. The one she settled on was Celest holding up a sword and her friend kneeling on the floor in front of her. Tears of anger filled her eyes and she screamed, “No!”

Throwing down the bag of sandwiches, she charged.


Celest wasn't thinking, stunned at seeing Brianna crawl from under the loading bay door. Before she realized it, the little girl attacked her, landing a solid punch to her solar plexus and a swift kick to her shin. Her stomach hurt, but not like her leg. “Brianna, why'd you do that?”

“Don't you hurt my friends.” She cried. Her little arms flailing as her fists landed wherever she could get them and landed another kick to the same shin.

Dropping her sword and hopping back on one foot, Celest clutched her smarting leg, trying to fend off Brianna's assault.


Lurdach watched, amused. Then his very distant cousin rose from the floor and in a swift and graceful movement scooped Brianna up. “Br'anna, how many times have I told you, you must not let your anger take over. If you lose control, it will control you.”

Brianna turned in his arms, clutching his neck she cried. “She was going to hurt you. D'rak, she was going to kill you.”

Long and beautiful fingers stroked her hair and patted her back as he tried to comfort her. “And I deserved to die, for I have failed.”


Lurdach's amusement changed to outright shock hearing their exchange. There was a whole lot more here that he needed to learn.

Twisting to get a better look, Brianna glared over at Celest. “I won't let you hurt my friends.”

“I kindda got that idea.” Celest grumbled, gingerly testing her leg by putting weight on it. While pint sized, the kid had heart and she knew that if it ever came to it, she'd have to go through Brianna to get to them.


%%

Along with his brethren, Sigg moved up to get a better view. They still held back watching and waiting. The confrontation elicited a round of snickers and laughter, lightening the tension when Rob and Maggie's daughter showed up.

Shurlea came over to join them. Standing next to her husband her arm circled his waist and wasn't surprised at the tension she felt in him. “Did I hear Lurdach correctly? Did he really call them Drow?”

“He did.” Sigg answered with a nod and met his brother's gaze when he looked his way.

“That's impossible!” She snorted, “They don't really exist.”


“Apparently they do.” A deep voice said from behind her. “What do you know about them?”

Turning to look over her shoulder at the huge man, Shurlea had to lift her chin. “They're a fictitious race.”


Xanno met the steady gaze of swirling silver and gold, “They do not look very fictitious to me.” His chin jutted to the other end of the building. “'How' do 'you' know about them?” His suspicious tone turned demanding. In all his existence he had never seen nor even heard of these people.

“I played D&D as a kid.” She retorted.


What little patience he possessed was being sorely tested and Xanno scowled down at her. “What is D and D?”

“Dungeons and Dragons. It's a role playing game with magickal people and creatures.” Was the guy totally clueless? Surely he knew this much. As old as he appeared to be he must have encountered some of the real things that made up the game.

A 'doh' expression crossed her features as she realized she had just proven herself wrong with a reminder that there was a grain of truth in everything, and this grain was huge.


Watching her reality check, Sigg quirked a smile. “What was your character and alignment?”

Oh, she knew that smile way too well, straightening to her full height, “Halfling Mage.” Then turned away from his amusement before he could get another poke in. “Chaotic neutral, of course.”

She cringed at the burst of laughter. “So that's where you got your training.” And then reddened, there was a lot of truth in that.


Looking back and forth between Lurdach and the one still holding Brianna with great care, Celest cast a glance over to where she had left her mother and sister. Noticing for the first time the group who had joined them. Four she knew, one she had seen before at Sanctuary and they all had something in common, leaving it safe to assume who the others were also. “'doch, how did you know to find us here?”


With words of assurance and some coaxing, Lurdach convinced Brianna that no harm would come to her friends. He turned at her question, “You called me here, don't you remember?”

No, she was pretty sure she hadn't, limping over she bent to retrieve her sword. The receding adrenaline was taking it's toll and a tiny little ache was starting to grow between her eyes. All she wanted to do was go home to her bed and curl up in the dark. “What are we going to do with them?” She asked with a sweep of her blade.

He cast her a studious look, “Would you trust me with this?”

Watching as Brianna was lowered to stand, Celest noticed how carefully she was treated. Her little friend seemed completely at ease in the presence of these men who had shown no real cause for concern. Lurdach had certainly always played it straight with her, and he seemed to know more than she did. Their eyes met and held for a moment, and she nodded. “Yeah.”

%%

Watching her turn away Brianna sprang, “Hey Cee, wait up!”

Celest looked back as Brianna caught up with her and grabbed her free hand. “What?”

Her little chin tilted up and blue gray eyes blinked. “I'm sorry for hurting you.”

“It's OK.” Celest smiled wearily. “You were only trying to protect your friends.”

“You're not mad at me?”

“No, Bri. I'm not.” It was then that she noticed that Brianna's new front teeth were nearly all grown in. She was going to have a pretty smile like her mother's.

Brianna pulled at her hand and took a step, “C'mon, I'll walk you home.”

Starting to match her gait, Celest snorted a laugh. “Yeah, you do that.”


Her gut tighten again as she approached her parents, she almost felt like a little girl again having been caught doing something wrong. “Dad, what are you and uncle Sigg doing here and who are all these other people?” She gave Xanno a cursory nod of acknowledgment.

He was between a rock and a hard place and there was no way to avoid what was coming. “You summoned us here.” Xanno and her uncle both were nodding along.

She looked for her mother and saw she was headed back to her sister. “No, I didn't. I don't even know them.” Flipping her hand out.

“Oh but you did.” Xanno gruffly argued. “And now you need to come with us.” Taking her by the arm he tightened his grip.


“Way to go Xann.” Sigg muttered low, “You need to get out of that cave of yours more often, you've got the tact of a bear as well.”

Shooting him a scathing look, “There is no room in this for flowery speech. She needs to come with us.”

He couldn't argue with the facts, but damn it could have been handled better. Sigg shook his head and wondered if the Fates had a hand in this. Out of old habits he turned to one of his brothers at arms for confirmation and saw Shurlea with TeeDee. He groaned inwardly and whispered to his brother, “You handle this, I've got something to do.” And walked away.

Zigg rubbed at the back of his neck, searching for a way to break the news. “Cel, you did something not many people can do.”

“What? What did I do wrong?” No explanation came, everything turned black.


TeeDee moved over to lean against one of the tables, she felt another spasm coming on. A chair appeared and a hand was held out to her. She heard the lyrical voice say, “Have a seat.” Welcoming the relief she reached out then heard her mother.

“”Get away from my daughter.”

%%

When she looked back to check on TeeDee, Shurlea noticed how tired and stressed she appeared and turned away to join her. Whatever was going to happen would be in more capable hands now. Her stride quickened and she snarled out a warning.

“Don't you ever touch one of my children.” A blast of power pushed the two back and she got between them and TeeDee. Indescribable rage surged through her, her attention fully on the goth giant, then turned her sights on his companion in a custom wet suit. “What are you looking at?”


From beside her a hand clamped down on her shoulder and squeezed. “Back off, Shurl. They were only trying to help.” Sigg's power filled words, stern.

Her lids shuttered to slits as she sided him a look. “Let me go, Sigg, or I'll hurt you too.”

He knew she'd put up a good fight, but in the end she was out numbered. Stepping into her personal space Sigg leaned in, “Let. It. Go.” He commanded.


His words reached in and found the turmoil. The familiar touch held her in place while the anger boiled away. Her vision began to clear as her breathing calmed. “That's a good girl.” His firm grip on her shoulder eased and patted her. He looked over at the two, “Why don't you go on ahead, we'll catch up later.”

She shivered, and not in a good way. A new and different kind of chill cut through to her core. Pushing aside the lightheadedness, Shurlea reached out for her daughter, “Come on baby, let's go home.”

In the middle of a spasm, TeeDee shook her head. “Not right now, mom. Give me a few minutes.”


Lurdach, with the Dhaeraow leader whose name he learned was D'rak moved over to his men. His reception was cool if not bordering on hostile, yet he managed to keep his smile, especially in his eyes as he was introduced around. They were all related he learned, from the same house. Being third, forth, and even fifth born sons in a very matriarchal society they turned their destinies to the only thing they could. That of a warrior, they were soldiers of their house.


He noticed that D'rak kept looking past him and followed his line of vision. Beaming with pride when he realized what or rather who he was looking at. “The one who carries life is my Amil.”

“She is mother to your house.” D'rak stated matter of factly.

He had to think on that. TeeDee was mother to 'his' house, but in the eyes of the Dhaeraow, they were of one family and readjusted his explanation for their understanding. “No.” His head shook, “That would be the other. She is mother to our house. This is our first child.” He added.

That seemed to pacify and D'rak nodded. “May you be blessed with a daughter.” His words repeated by the others.

He had never given any thought to gender preference for the child they waited on, that they were having one was more than he had hoped for. Having a daughter appealed to him, Lurdach's thoughts spun as he tried to imagine who she would look like, what kind of a person she would grow up to be. “Thank you. I would like that.”


TeeDee breathed a sigh of relief as the ache passed. On a scale of one to ten, she gave this one a confirmed twelve. “OK, mom. I'm ready.” Taking her mother's hand she got to her feet and realized something embarrassing. “I've wet myself, mom.” Feeling the damp travel down her legs as her maternity slacks soaked it up.

With pursed lips Shurlea shook her head, watching the spot spread she defined the situation. “No, baby, I don't think so. Your water broke.”

Everything else was immediately forgotten and with a silly grin Shurlea leaned her head back and hollered, “Lurdach, it's time!”

%%%

It took a moment for the words echoing off the warehouse roof to register. “It's time?” He asked himself, time for what? Then it clicked. A grin spread from one pointed ear to the other, “It's time!” He repeated, “It's time.”

While confused, D'rak accepted the profuse gush of apologies and watched as Lurdach practically ran away. Again he had to wonder about these surface dwellers. Other than the initial coupling, men were never given any consideration when the birthing came. He humphed as he watched Lurdach pick his Amil up and carry her away. Everything he had been taught about the Fae seemed to also contradict his experience. Turning back to his men, “We should return to our work. Soon it will be dark again and I must resume our search.”



Deep in a secret chamber far far away from the world as we know it, the Cthonians and their guest appeared. No one had been here in so long it was nearly forgotten. Celest dared to peek around and silently marveled at the mixture of sleek ribbed vault and ornately carved stone rising high above them. Her stomach protested the knot that was starting to form there, “Dad?” Beseeching her father, not understanding what she had done wrong.

He tried to reassure her, patting her shoulder. “It'll be alright, Cel.” At least he hoped so.


Xanno watched as Sigg appeared beside his brother, “You two are to wait outside.” He barked emphatically.

“Why?” Sigg asked, not liking the odds.

That glacial gaze rested on the two blood brothers, “Because you're both biased.”

“Of course I'm biased. She's my daughter.” Zigg said as his brother growled out, “Damn right I am.”

“Which is why you will not be attending and will wait outside.” Laying a hand on Zigg's chest, he gave him a shove, “Out! The both of you.” He ordered.


The reasoning he understood, but Sigg still wasn't happy with this, neither of them were. “She should have someone with her.”

He knew what Sig-ig-ga was about and Xanno shook his head. “She is a big girl, she can explain herself.”


The brothers were at an impasse and they knew it. “This isn't right, Chen Qing.” Zigg trying one more time, appealing to the towering brother at arms dressed in a full length red and black silk mandarin's coat as he walked by.

“And it is not wrong either.” Eyes so deep a jade green that they appeared black met the kaleidoscope of colors, as he stopped behind one of the chairs at the long table. “Her time has come.”


Their twin thing kicked in and Zigg nodded, the brothers ceding to the majority. “C'mon Brah.” Zigg starting to lead the way.

The last thing they heard as the heavy doors started to close behind them was, “Celestia Weltall, take a seat.”

%%%

A shadow moved, shifting from one deep spot to another then became still again. This was hopeless, D'rak was beginning to think. They had been searching far longer than they had expected to with nothing to show for it. Not even a hint.

Digging deep into the light weight, black jacket pocket, he pulled out several mushrooms to snack on. By feel he set aside his favorite for later and bit into one of their staples. His thoughts drifting back to the home they had left behind.


“Delmah.” He scoffed. Very little of their home remained after the battle of three major houses. Two pitted against one. Their losses had been great, the toll devastating. The mother to their house and every last child she bore, daughter and son, were executed. Their house for all intents and purposes had been exterminated. The slaves and all but a small contingency of soldiers were divided up between the two victorious houses.


His thoughts dwelled on the after math. He and his cousins regrouped, staying hidden. While not a noble thing to do, it was an order that came down from the mother herself, for theirs was a warring society fraught at every twist and turn with impending death. Their line must continue on.

F'lar had been the one to find the aged adviser to the house as they searched for survivors in the carnage. How the woman had lived for as long as she had gave honor to their name. As she laid dying, she called him over, and in low hushed tones shared with him a lesser known history of their house.


In the dark no one could see the hint of a smile that held a secret.



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