This night, like many others, Vincent couldn’t find any rest and went to the park to try to ease his turbulent mind. Devin had come back for a time and he wasn’t leaving Vincent one moment of peace. Not that Vincent minded though, it was just getting tiring. Devin had been acting rather strangely as well and it was unnerving. Vincent just had to get out for a while. He thought about going to Catherine tonight, but it didn’t sit well on his heart. She had been very busy lately and needed her rest. He was just content to walk the park.
Vincent reached where they held the concerts and noticed a sign that said there was a Grieg concert this coming Friday. Catherine deserves a break and this is perfect. He thought. He mentally noted the time and started back for the drainage tunnel.
When he passed by the soccer field, he got an urge to go running through it. Just as abruptly as it came though, it was gone and he
continued on his way. He would ask Catherine another night; he wasn’t in the mood for climbing eighteen stories at this point anyway.
The next morning, Vincent awoke with a start. He had been dreaming that he was flying through the sky over New York
heading toward Catherine’s apartment. When he looked down, he saw reptilian claws not his own hands. As he neared Catherine’s
balcony, he saw her run in terror, screaming. He woke up right after that, a roar of frustration on his voice. He shocked himself so
much; he almost fell back on the bed. The dream had been more like a nightmare and as he got his bearings again, he tried to make
sense of it all, but it was fruitless.
He went about his normal activities for the day and for the most part his mind let him concentrate on the task at hand. Devin
was following him around and constantly watching him. Even Narsissa had come up from her chambers and was keeping an eye
on him. He tried his best to lose them in the tunnels but Narsissa’s way of appearing where you least expect her made each and every
attempt fail. His patients was drawing to a close and if either Devin or Narsissa asked him if he felt alright, no matter how much he
loved them, he was going to hold them up by their collars. They seemed to get the hint and just followed him. It was late afternoon
before Vincent got a moments privacy. Even that was short lived, because Father and he had planned to play chess that evening
before he went Above. Father wasn’t fooled by Vincent’s disguise and immediately asked what was wrong.
“Nothing Father, just having a bad day.” Vincent replied advancing his knight.
“It can’t be nothing if it’s troubling you that much.” Father said trying fool’s mate on Vincent. “Please, tell me what’s wrong.
Does it have something to do with Catherine?”
Vincent smiled. “For once Father, it doesn’t.” He explained. “Have you noticed Devin and Narsissa following me around
today? And everytime I try to discover why, they ask, ‘Are you all right Vincent?’ It’s just getting tiring.”
“I have to admit, they have been watching you closely today.” Father answered rubbing his chin. “I wonder what’s up.”
So do I. Vincent thought bitterly. Vincent easily captured Father’s king within the half-hour and he left to go see Catherine.
The climb to her apartment seemed easier than usual and Vincent marveled that he wasn’t at all tired. He reached the balcony within
ten minutes, a new record for him when he wasn’t in a hurry. He looked into the darkened apartment and into the bedroom. He
saw Catherine sleeping restlessly, and that didn’t sit well with him. He tapped softly on the doors and Catherine was awake
instantly. She rushed to open the balcony doors and into his arms. They stood like that for endless minutes, neither wanting to break
the contact. Vincent finally pulled away only a little, so that they could speak easily.
“It’s good to see you again Vincent.” Catherine said looking into his crystal blue eyes. “What brings you to our window?”
Vincent couldn’t help the smile that appeared on his face when Catherine spoke. “I came to invite you to a concert tomorrow
evening. They’re playing Grieg.” He explained sliding his arms down to clasp her hands in his.
“I would love to come. What time do you want me at the threshold?”
“About seven. That should give us plenty of time to get to the music chamber.” Vincent said and thought back on how Devin
and Narsissa had been following him lately. “Catherine, we might have some unexpected company for the concert.” At her bemused
face, he continued. “Devin and Narsissa have been following me lately. I can’t get an explanation from either of them so, they might
decide to follow us.”
"But why? Can't they take 'Leave me alone' for an answer?" She asked looking into his eyes. "Nothing is wrong is there?"
"No Catherine, nothing is wrong. I'm as fine as I can be. This attention is unneeded, and annoying. I wish I knew what i could say to make them leave me alone."
Catherine shrugged and stepped into his embrace once more. They stood like that for about a half an hour before Vincent felt more than sensed the growing tiredness of the woman in his arms, yet she seemed totally relaxed. Upon closer inspection, he found her asleep in his arms. He smiled and lifted her into his arms and moved toward the door. He placed a tenitive kiss on her cheek before returning to the balcony and to the tunnel world.
Vincent trugged wearily through the tunnels to his chamber. Devin and Narsissa were no where in sight and he thought that he eluded them for the day. That thought was short lived when he found a snoozing Devin in his chair. That was the last draw! Vincent stomped over to Devin and lifted him by the colar of his shirt. Devin snapped awake almost immediately and grabbed Vincent's arm.
"Vincent put me down!" Devin cried as he was lifted three feet into the air.
"First answer me one thing, why have you and Narsissa been following me?" Vincent demanded, not liking where this conversation was going from the get go. Devin struggled maddly in his hand.
"Following you? How? You know these tunnels better than anyone else, you could lose someone in a second if you wanted to." Devin replied hastily. "Vincent please, I'm sorry. Please put me down."
Vincent put his brother down carefully, angered at himself at how he handled the situation. "I'm sorry Devin, but to see you there in my chair after I had thought I had escaped your tracking for a time. I just couldnt help my reaction."
"I understand, just don't scare me like that again." Devin replied fixing his colar.
Vincent looked at Devin; it seemed to Vincent that Devin was not going to tell him anything. "Please Devin, tell me why you've been following me?"
"I'm just worried about you little brother." Devin said as he walked out the door. "I'll see you in the morning, little brother." The emphasis on 'little brother' was noticeable to any within hearing range and it bothered Vincent deeply.
Vincent began to pace his chamber, crossing it in three quick strides. This was not right. "Deven would never do anything like this unless he thought I was ill. I am not ill." Vincent fumed. He begged anything that Catherine slept through this emotional onslaught. Something was wrong, but he didnt know what.Everytime he tried to go deeper into the tunnels, Narsissa would stop him. There was definitely something wrong, and it seemed that it was with him. No one else did anything to limit his movements, perhaps they don’t know. He mused pausing momentarily in his relentless pacing. The night wore away and Vincent didn’t get any sleep for his restless mind. He was frightened for what this could mean to Catherine. He didn’t even want to think about it.
Meanwhile, Catherine was doing her best to get at least one hour of sleep before she had to get up for work. Vincent’s comments disturbed her for some odd reason. Although he had assured her that nothing was wrong, something seemed wrong. She rolled over and looked at the bedside clock. It was about three minutes before she had to get up and go to work. She laid her head back on the pillow and looked up at the ceiling. Strange, the patterns of little bumpy things seemed clearer than ever before and the white paint seemed brighter than ever. She shook her head and waited until the alarm sounded. When it did, she felt that she had been deafened. The sound seemed so loud that it took about five minutes after to relieve the ringing in her ears.
She reached over to her bedside lamp and flicked it on. She hadn’t realized that as she looked at the ceiling, she was in complete darkness. She shook her head again and got up to take a shower. Everything seemed brighter and harder than it should have been. The morning sun was hotter as she hailed a cab to get to work. This was getting frightening, but just as she was stepping out of the cab and into the district attorney’s office; it changed back to normal. Catherine almost did a double take. From going to amazingly bright and sharp, to normally dull and plain. She went straight up to her office thinking it must’ve been her imagination.
The day was long and hard for both Catherine and Vincent, and both anxiously awaited the concert that night. Devin and Narsissa continued to follow Vincent without release. Catherine was being constantly bugged by Joe who seemed overly concerned about her welfare. She knew what Vincent must have been going through with Devin and Narsissa on his heels at every turn. When she escaped Joe, and reached her apartment she hastily got dressed for the concert. Vincent on the other hand had trouble escaping his chasers. Devin followed him into his chamber as he readied himself for the concert. It was growing too much for him and Devin had about ten seconds to leave before Vincent threw him out. He voiced this but much more eloquently.
“Sorry Vin. I didn’t mean to intrude.” Devin said stepping out of the chamber. To Vincent’s surprise, when he look out to find Devin, his brother wasn’t there. Vincent was relieved and continued to dress for the concert. After ten short minutes, he went to meet Catherine at the threshold.
“Are you sure Narsissa?” Devin asked quietly. “He hasn’t shown anything that you’ve been saying.”
“Child, Vincent will change and neither of us can stop it.” The old woman explained. “We have to watch him, and his Soultwin.”
“Soultwin? You mean Catherine?” Devin responded confused. “What would Cathy have to do with this?”
“She is changing too. I fear that this night our Vincent will change from what we know him to be.” Narsissa said toying with some stones in her hands. “In a short time, there will be a stranger here, he will look for Vincent and Catherine. They must find one another.”
“I don’t understand but, if it’ll help Vincent then…” Devin said and walked out of the chamber shaking his head. What Narsissa had been telling him was crazy. Dragons don’t even exist out of books. He walked to the drainage pipe entrance to wait for the stranger. Things were getting stranger and stranger.
The concert slowly ended above them. Vincent and Catherine found themselves tangled in each other’s arms. Vincent slowly stood, an odd sensation sweeping over him. It wasn’t like what he felt when he received messages from Catherine. It was like someone calling him from a far distance. Catherine stared at him curiously. It wasn’t like Vincent to be this quiet. Without warning, Vincent turned to the tunnel behind him and bolted. Catherine stood in shock as she watched Vincent fleeing through the tunnels, not down but toward the surface, toward the park.
ABOVE! Vincent had to get Above in the park! Something was dreadfully wrong and he had to get to the park, and quickly. He sensed something unlike anything he had ever encountered before. His cloak billowed behind him as he sped through the tunnels leading toward the park. He didn’t try to wait and switch the mechanism for the sliding door that led the park; he didn’t feel it as he ran through it. He heard the frantic screams of someone outside the drainage tunnel. He ran forward and came to a skidding halt beside Devin who was staring and muttering incoherently. Vincent looked to where he pointed and saw something that existed only in Fantasy.
There on the soccer field that was clearly visible from the drainage tunnel was a large blood-red dragon. It was at least twice as wide as the nearest skyscraper and just as tall. It stood there for maybe five seconds before it dissolved into a red smoke. The next instant, a man stood there with his hands up. His dress was just as Vincent’s was but it seemed older. The man looked up into the sky. Vincent and Devin heard an ear splitting roar and turned their gaze skyward. Another dragon just as big as the first was spiraling downward toward the park. It was a dark blue and green. It too landed and changed, this time into a woman with shocking red hair. The pair walked toward the terrified onlookers.
Devin had stumbled to his feet and looked as if he was going to feint with shock. Vincent stood there as one turned to stone. He made no move either to or away from this couple who were approaching them. As they neared, Vincent regained his senses just enough to lift his hood to his head. The pair stopped just ten feet from them and stared. Then the man stepped forward to come five feet away from Vincent.
“Do not be afraid.” He said in a voice coated with a rich accent. “We will not hurt you. My name is Linden Rathan. I am a Dragonlord.” The man was at least as tall as Vincent was if not taller. He had as blond hair as Vincent did and a deep reddish birthmark just above his right eye.
Vincent stared for a few more seconds before finding his voice again. “You’re a what?”
“We are Dragonlords.” Linden repeated. “My companion is Mauryanna Kyrissaean. We are looking for Vincent.”
Vincent took a deep breath before replying. “You have found him. What do you want?”
Linden looked at him curiously. “Why do you hide yourself Vincent?”
“I do not wish to scare people.” Vincent responded curtly.
“Please, lower your hood. I assure you, you will not frighten us.”
Vincent hesitantly lifted his hands to his hood. He gazed at a still in shock Devin before he lowered his hood. Linden just stood there smiling. Mauryanna took a few tentative steps forward so she could see better. Neither looked shocked nor frightened by his appearance.
“Vincent? Are you out here?” They heard Catherine call from inside the drainage tunnel.
“Catherine, stay there. I’ll be in shortly.” Vincent answered not letting his eyes leave the pair standing before him.
“The Lady was right Linden. He is different.” Mauryanna spoke quietly. “It is true, after all these years.”
Her words puzzled Vincent who felt something deep inside him stir. “What do you want?” He repeated.
Linden looked to Mauryanna then nodded. “Do you know anyone by the name of Narsissa?”
“What do you want with her?” Vincent demanded clenching his hands into fists.
“Only to speak with her.” Linden assured him. “Can you take us to her?”
“Can you keep a secret?”
“We have been a secret for far too long.” Linden replied easily.
Vincent nodded and turned back into the tunnel entrance. Devin followed quickly not wanting to be left with the strangers for too long. Catherine saw them all coming down the passageway. Vincent hurried to her side and took her hand. He was not going to let either of those people, however he felt that he could trust them, near her. They walked through endless passageways. Vincent was ever on guard if the people should try something. It took them nearly an hour to reach Narsissa’s chamber, when they did; they were surprised when the woman met them at the entranceway.
“Linden? Mauryanna? Come in children. What took you so long?” The old woman said leading them inside.
“Narsissa, how are you?” Linden asked quietly taking the woman’s hand in his. Narsissa smiled and waved his concern away. “Is this who we are looking for?”
“Both of them.” Narsissa replied happily. She looked from Vincent to Catherine then back again. “Children, sit down. You have a lot to learn.”
Vincent, Catherine, and the Dragonlords sat down in Narsissa’s chamber and looked expectantly at one another. Vincent and Catherine’s hands were still clasped and the Dragonlords had sat together on a small couch. Linden was the first one to speak.
“My name is Linden Rathan. Although you may think that Rathan is a last name, it isn’t.” Linden explained casually. “Rathan is the name of my Draconic half. The form I take when I am a dragon is his.”
Catherine looked at this man who was speaking like one gone mad. “What are you talking about? Dragons are just fairy tales.”
“Catherine, he’s telling the truth.” Vincent intervened. “I saw him as the dragon he speaks of. Devin did as well.” Catherine looked to the corner of the room where Devin had placed himself. He nodded and Catherine paled visibly.
“Do not be afraid. Nothing is going to harm either of you or any of your friends.” Mauryanna said leaning forward just a bit.
“Mauryanna is correct Catherine. Neither of us would hurt anyone.”
“Then why do you want Catherine and myself, and how do you know our names?” Vincent demanded. His temper was rising by the second.
Linden took a deep breath before continuing. “Vincent, would you believe me if I told you that both Mauryanna and I are over six hundred years old?”
“That would be a tale for Mouse and the children.” Vincent replied not convinced that these people were telling the truth.
“Then if I were to tell you that within two months both of you would become as we are?”
Catherine gasped. Had she heard right? Were they going to turn into dragons? Vincent tightened his hold on her hand before speaking again. “What are you talking about? We have no such magic. Not even Narsissa can change a person’s appearance. Specially to something that was more than four times as large as the person was.”
“It is a type of magic that has existed for hundreds of years. Though, there has been no other Dragonlord for almost five hundred years.” Linden explained carefully. “If you do not believe anything else, then believe this. You and Catherine share a Bond do you not? That Bond is what all Dragonlords have with their Soultwins.”
Vincent and Catherine looked at one another. Were they truly going to become Dragonlords? Vincent turned to his love with fear in his eyes. What was going to happen to them if they do change? So many questions that needed answers were asked, yet no answer came in that silence. Vincent and Catherine turned back to the Dragonlords, not knowing what to expect.
“What will happen to us?” Vincent whispered fear in his eyes.
“I can’t truly say Vincent.” Linden replied. “It takes us differently. Sometimes we start to experience changes in our senses. Other times we just have a sudden urge to find an open area. For the latter, it’s so sudden that you don’t know what’s happening until it happens. The former, well when I was still thought to be the last Dragonlord, people would think that they are going mad or something and committed suicide. If we weren’t there to help them, many of them ended up that way. It’s sad really but with you two, you two were the first future Dragonlords the Truedragons have sensed in some thousand years.”
“I still don’t understand this whole thing.” Catherine complained. “I still don’t believe you when you say that there are really Dragons still around. They’re a fairytale.”
“I would be glad to give you a demonstration Catherine.” Mauryanna suggested.
“You cant, not now anyway.” Vincent interrupted.
“It’s almost dawn and joggers come out early in New York. I don’t think you want to share this with all the population, just as I don’t.” Vincent replied. “You can stay here if you wish. Or I can arrange to have chambers made up for you.”
“They can stay here child. No need to go to any trouble on these two. I have plenty of room.” Narsissa said.
“I agree. We do not wish to alarm anyone with our presence.” Linden ventured standing. “I think it would be a lot safer for all of us if we did. Good night.”
Vincent and Catherine walked out of the chamber arms around one another. Vincent led them back to the hub then to his chamber. Once inside, Catherine turned into his strong arms.
“I’m frightened Vincent.” She whispered clinging to him as if he was her lifeblood.
“I know. So am I. You will stay here tonight.” Vincent said into her hair. “I don’t want to be away from you too long.”
Catherine hugged him tighter when he said that. He was truly worried and frightened. The Dragonlords frightened him, almost nothing frightened Vincent, and with Catherine scared it only doubled the effect. Thank god, that tomorrow was Saturday, and Catherine didn’t have to go to work. It gave them time together to think about this new challenge. Vincent took them over to his bed and lay down. Catherine was still awake and he could feel her tears on his chest. Vincent pulled a quilt over them before blowing out the last candle on his beside table. They fell asleep in each others arms.
The next morning, Vincent and Catherine went Below to the crystal cavern. They needed time alone and together. They didn’t know what was happening, but they would go through it together or not at all. The crystals shone brightly from the unknown light source and Catherine forgot momentarily about the reason Vincent had brought them there.
“It feels so magical here.” She whispered as she looked at all the colors. “This is where you got my crystal?”
“Yes.” Vincent replied putting their packs down on a relatively flat section of the cavern. Catherine went from wall to wall touching crystals and holding them in her hands. “Be careful Catherine, some of these can be very sharp.”
“I will Vincent.” Catherine answered coming closer to him. “What will we do Vincent? How can we truly know that they’re telling the truth? It’s just a coincidence that we have something that all Dragonlords have, isn’t it?”
“Maybe, and maybe not.” Vincent said taking hold of her hand. “Come, sit with me.” He took her to where he had placed their mats and sat down. Catherine sat down right next to him and leaned into his shoulder. “We will do what we have to my love. And we will do it together. No matter what, I will be here with you and for you. I don’t want to lose you.”
“I love you Vincent.” Catherine murmured before turning to kiss his neck. “We will do this together. It cant be all that bad can it?”
Vincent didn’t answer her question, and Catherine took that as something to be worried about later. For now though, they would be together always and nothing was going to part them. Vincent sat there with his Catherine in his arms and pondered the situation that seemed to have found them.
The Dragonlords seemed certain that this was going to happen to them. Narsissa as well. The old woman had never been wrong about anything at all concerning Vincent so it was puzzling to him that she could be wrong this time. It was impossible that such a thing could exist and not become the biggest science experiment the world has ever known. Vincent shuddered at the idea. There had to be some sort of logical explanation for all this and Vincent wasn’t going to give up until he found it, or turned into a Dragonlord.
Maybe Catherine was right. Maybe it wouldn’t be all that bad. Vincent had no idea what to expect and he was worried about Catherine being Above without anyone to help her most of the time. He had sensed some changes within her for the last few months. He had dismissed them as something very small since they were only tiny changes. Vincent pulled Catherine closer and made his mind up.
“Catherine, I want you to stay here with me until this is all over.” He whispered into her hair. He felt Catherine relax within his embrace.
“Oh darling, thank you. I would love to stay.” Catherine replied turning so that she could hug him.
They stayed in that chamber for three days. Vincent was extremely worried when Catherine began to show signs that what was said to happen was happening. Everytime though, she would return to normal without anything happening. Vincent worried that nothing noticeable was happening to him. It puzzled him that this could be happening to both of them. He wondered whether or not this was going to be as bad as he had thought in the beginning. Catherine’s ‘spells’ were coming more often and Vincent was feeling that he needed help with it. With the onslaught of a strong spell, he picked up Catherine and started back to Narsissa’s chambers. He had to find help because he couldn’t handle it himself.
The Dragonlords were at home in Narsissa’s chambers deep below the city. They reminded them of their ancient home Dragonskeep. Linden and Mauryanna soon discovered why the Lady chose Narsissa to be her contact in this age of man. The woman had untold wisdom and foresight. If Linden hadn’t watched the mage books burn, he could’ve sworn that this old woman was a mage in disguise. Linden watched her day in and day out, certain that this woman had to be at least eighty years old, yet still ran about like a twenty-year-old.
“Where did you think they went?” Linden asked Mauryanna on the very afternoon Vincent was returning.
“I don’t know. Perhaps back to the inhabited area of the Tunnels.” She suggested. “We won’t know anything until one or both come back. That infernal tapping, what is it?”
“Their communication systems. I haven’t quite figured out the code yet but I’m working on it.” Linden replied sipping at his tea. “I think this is the five o’clock message but I’m not….”
“Dragonlords! Where are you!” Vincent roared running through the entrance to the chamber. When he spotted them he brought Catherine to a couch and laid her down before turning on them. “Help her, nothing was happening until you came here. Now help her!” He growled looking into Linden’s eyes.
“How long has this been going on?” He asked quietly.
“About three hours.”
Linden turned a worried face to Mauryanna. This wasn’t supposed to happen for this long. “How long will it take before the park is empty?”
“A few more hours. Why?”
“I think I may be able to help her, but I’m not sure.” Linden replied. “Please understand that what I have planned might cause her to Change sooner, but it’ll ease the pain nonetheless.”
“I hope you know what you’re doing Linden.” Mauryanna whispered bending to examine Catherine. “You know what can happen.”
“What can happen?” Vincent demanded spinning on Linden.
“If what I do doesn’t help her, she’ll end up Changing far too quickly and that can be disastrous.” Linden explained whispering. “It happened to Mauryanna. Afterward, it took over a year to get her to be able to change again.”
“It was painful at times.” She said. “But this in itself is not supposed to be happening so we have to chance it.”
Vincent bent down to Catherine’s head, kissed it, and then looked back to the Dragonlords. “If there’s a chance that we can help Catherine, then let’s do it.”
They waited for four more hours before the Dragonlords began back up the tunnels to the park. Vincent followed slowly carrying Catherine in his arms. Narsissa had begged him to let her help carry Catherine to the surface but Vincent won the battle. It took him forty-five minutes at a hurried walk. When he arrived, Linden had already changed into ‘Rathan’ and was waiting patiently in the soccer field. Mauryanna waited for them at the entranceway to the drainage tunnel.
“Give her to me.” She ordered. “I won’t let anything happen to her.”
Vincent handed Catherine to her hesitantly. He was still nervous about all this but there was a chance that this was going to help Catherine and nothing was going to interrupt this. He watched as Mauryanna took off toward Linden at a flat out run still carrying Catherine. When she was within fifty yards of the dragon, she placed Catherine on the ground. Linden raised his head then lowered it parallel to Catherine’s head. Vincent heard a rumbling sound and then saw a blue light emit from the dragon’s mouth. He panicked. Linden was going to roast Catherine. Vincent tore off toward the dragon roaring. Mauryanna caught up with him and stopped him in his tracks. She kicked his feet out from under him causing him to fall on his backside. Vincent jumped up immediately, his fury shinning in his eyes.
“Stop Vincent. It’s healing fire. It cannot burn her.” Mauryanna cried holding back Vincent’s hands which were set to tear her apart. “Calm down. Nothing will be accomplished by you trying to rip apart my soultwin.” Vincent stopped struggling when she said that. A puzzled look swept over his face. “Yes Linden is my soultwin, just as Catherine is yours.”
Vincent understood how she felt, although he couldn’t understand her calm exterior. Catherine would stop a herd of stampeding horses if his life depended on it. He watched as Linden blew blue fire out of his mouth, first cautiously then with more force. The fire licked at Catherine’s hair and clothing causing it to blow as if it was in the wind. Linden repeated the fire two more times, nothing happened though. Vincent searched the Bond hoping that he could still feel her. He was relieved when he felt her mind at rest. He went forward cautiously keeping an eye on Linden. When he reached Catherine, he heard a booming voice.
Do not worry Vincent. She is fine. I must speak with you though when we reach Narsissa’s chambers again. Linden said bending his head toward Vincent. You have a fighter there, and she’ll be fine.
“Thank you.” Vincent said lifting Catherine gently in his arms. He started to walk back when he sensed Linden Change once again. Catherine wasn’t even warm to the touch past what was natural. Vincent was about halfway between the drainage tunnel and the field when Linden and Mauryanna caught up with him. The trio walked silently back to Narsissa’s chambers. When they reached them, Narsissa pointed Vincent in toward a bed where he could lay Catherine. Vincent returned after assuring that Catherine was comfortable. The Dragonlords had sat down again in their respective seats and Vincent returned to his. They sat in silence for a few minutes before Vincent found his voice.
“Thank you, both of you. I don’t know what I would’ve done without you two.” Vincent said feeling tears prick at the back of his eyes. “What will happen now?”
“That is what I wanted to speak with you about. It seems that while I was told that you wouldn’t be effected by my changing close to you, your Soultwin was. Whatever would’ve happened because I changed too close to you was transferred to her via your Bond.” Linden explained. “It seems that your Bond is stronger than normal Dragonlords and so indirectly I caused her to react this way. I do have good news though; it seems that Catherine went through a very brief Change not too long ago. She does not have to worry about an upcoming Change as much as you do my friend. I could tell you her Draconic name if you wish?”
Vincent did a double take. Catherine had already Changed? How can this be? She hadn’t been on any trips recently that would’ve taken her away from the city and from him. He knew with all his heart that she hadn’t Changed already. “How do you know this? She hasn’t left the city recently and I know that nothing has happened before tonight.”
“Something must have happened because I felt her Draconic half at rest. Unless this is totally wrong and shouldn’t be happening to her and she should have just been one of those all of the sudden ones. If that is true, we need to be more cautious about what happens to her.”
Vincent smiled at Linden’s pure concern for Catherine. Had it been anyone else suggesting all this Vincent would’ve thought him or her insane. He couldn’t control his curiosity any longer. “What’s her Draconic name?”
“Her name is Catherine Angelfire.” Linden replied smiling. “A suitable name for one with such a strong and kind soul. It’s an odd name though, for a Dragonlord anyway. Like mine is Linden Rathan and then Mauryanna Kyrissaean. I wonder what yours will be.”
“We won’t find out until later now will we?” Vincent said standing. “Now goodnight, I am going to bed.” To neither of their surprises, Vincent walked off toward the same chamber where he had laid Catherine. When he entered the chamber, he was quite surprised when he saw Catherine’s eyes open and darting about the room. “Shh, you’re safe now. No one will hurt you here.”
“Where are we?” She asked struggling to sit up.
“Do you remember anything from the past few hours?” Vincent asked coming to her side and helping her.
“No, what happened Vincent?”
“You were struck by another one of those ‘attacks’. This one was stronger than before and I…I needed help.” Vincent explained. “I brought you to the Dragonlords. It was Linden who spared you the pain that you were going through. Him and his Healing Fire. Don’t ask, I don’t know what that is.”
Catherine was already feeling drowsy again. It was becoming a struggle just to remain awake. “I’m back Below though?”
“In one of Narsissa’s chambers down here.” Vincent replied standing. “Go back to sleep, I’ll be back.” Vincent walked to another part of the chambers where there was a wardrobe. He took off his cloak and outer clothing until he only wore his thermal shirt and pants. When he returned to the bed, he found Catherine asleep in her sitting position. He took the initiative and helped her get into a more relaxed position.
“Thank you Vincent.” She murmured dreamily curling to one side. Vincent lay down beside her and she turned into his arms. “I love you.”
Vincent kissed her forehead. “As I love you.” They both fell asleep not long after that still wrapped in each other’s arms.
The next morning, Vincent woke much earlier than he had wanted. The chamber around him seemed buzzing with noise, although there was nothing in it other than himself and Catherine. He sat up slowly and stretched. That had been one heck of a night. First Catherine getting sick then the Healing Fire up in the park. Vincent shook his head in frustration. Glad that Catherine slept soundly beside him, he crept out of bed and got dressed. As soon as he was presentable, he went out to try to find some food, and the Dragonlords.
When he walked out of the chamber, he was greeted by smiles and good mornings. The Dragonlords sat beside a small coffee table that held their tea and muffins. There were two more muffins and teacups waiting. Vincent walked to the opposite side of the table to the Dragonlords and sat down. He poured himself a cup of tea and sipped at it before speaking.
“I still don’t think you’re right about Catherine.” He stated flatly. “She has undergone no changes recently, and I would know.”
Linden looked slightly puzzled then realization lit his face. “Then it’s a question of when now, for when I glimpsed her Dragonsoul, it was both in pain and at peace. Something will happen soon if not already and I don’t know when.” Linden rolled his eyes skyward for a moment before he mumbled something that even Vincent with his keen hearing almost didn’t hear. “Gods, I wish Lleld was here.”
“Who’s Lleld?” Vincent asked.
“An old friend. She’s a lot better at this than I am.” Linden explained. “Well, I guess we had better watch Catherine carefully for the next few days. Since nothing has happened yet, something will and soon.”
“I understand.” Vincent replied finishing his tea in one gulp. “I’m going to move Catherine back up to the hub then. It’s closer to the drainage tunnel than this place is. After I get her some breakfast that is.” Vincent picked up the remaining tea and muffin and went back to the chamber where Catherine slept. He placed the food on the bedside table before leaning down to kiss Catherine. “Good morning sleepy head. I hope you’re feeling better.”
“Quite better actually.” She replied sitting up. “And quite hungry as well.”
She ate her muffin and tea silently, watching Vincent with a curious eye. He seemed to look at her a totally different way, as if he didn’t believe that she was there at all.
“I’m going to take you back to a chamber that is closer to the park.” Vincent said quietly. “That way if anything happens and one of us…”
She nodded and returned to her tea. After she had finished her tea and got back on her feet, a little wobbly, they began to walk back to a chamber near the park. It hadn’t been used in a few years and it was full of dust and cobwebs, but there was a bed and a dresser just waiting for them. Vincent would go back to the hub to get food and clothing while Catherine cleaned up a little. When he returned, Vincent found a whole different chamber. Catherine had found new sheets and had dusted off most of the furniture. He put the food in one of the dresser drawers before turning to Catherine and drawing her in his embrace.
“We’ll get through this, and when we do, I don’t want you to ever leave the tunnels again.” Vincent whispered into her hair.
“Oh darling, thank you. Thank you!” She cried hugging him tighter. Then something dawned on her. “Oh no! What about Joe? He’s probably frantic with worry about me. I’ve got to tell him something.”
“Write him a message and I’ll deliver it to his office tonight.” Vincent said and led her to the only table in the room. He had brought his journal and a few favorites that he could read with Catherine. He went to his journal and tore out a page from the back, then handed it to her and his pen.
She wrote a quick note and gave it to Vincent to deliver to Joe. Vincent put his cloak on and got ready to deliver the note. The night was coming fast and he would have perfect darkness in about one hour. When he was about to go, Catherine stopped him and gave him a quick kiss.
“Come back safely.” She whispered as she watched him make his way to the drainage tunnel.
When he was out of sight, Catherine fell upon the bed and stared at the ceiling. The amount of everything was just too overwhelming. With her and Vincent changing into ‘Dragonlords’, she didn’t know what to expect. It was a good thing that she had put a simple explanation and an ‘I quit’ in her note. Now she had no ties Above to force her to return. All her life was centered Bellow and if she could it would stay that way. Vincent already wanted to marry her and everyone loved her down here. The one thing that would startle them is the fact that she would not age as they did. The Dragonlords themselves looked no older than forty when they were actually over six hundred years old. This was going to be very strange, very strange.
She was lazing back against the headboard when suddenly her mind went blank all for one thought, get in an open area. A wide-open area. She went straight for the first thing that popped into mind, the park. At a sprint, she was at the entrance to the park in no time. When she paused, she could hear footsteps behind her and gaining fast. When the mechanism was released and the door wide open, she charged through running as fast as she could.
The park was errie this late at night and although she knew no one was there, she still looked to the bushes and shadows trying to find any sign of life. Even the crickets were silent. She ran to the soccer field, the biggest area in the park, and stopped. Something was happening and she had no idea what. She felt her body melt away somewhat and suddenly found herself much, much taller than she should be. She felt as if she didn’t have any control over her body anymore and she was lifted off the ground. High above the park she flew not knowing what was happening. Another name popped into her head and stayed, although she had never heard this name before, she felt as if she knew it forever. Angelfire!, it cried, then she was lost in pure blackness.
Mauryanna couldn’t believe what she was feeling. This fledgling was just about as magical as a Truedragon. When she saw the form the woman had taken, she was awed. She was a pure white dragon! Mauryanna had never heard of any dragon being that color. She was lost in admiration when she was nearly bowled over by a cry in the night. Her thoughts returned to the situation at hand and she quickly Changed.
Kyrissaean quickly caught up with the outraged dragon. The dragon was smaller than she was but only slightly. Catherine’s marking, was a scar that ran from right underneath her ear. When she had gotten Catherine back to the ground again, she pushed Angelfire back and Catherine reformed before her. Just then, she saw a movement across the park. Vincent was running full pelt to where she and Catherine were. She Changed back and helped Catherine sit up.
Vincent was horrified at what he had seen and felt. When he witnessed Mauryanna in her dragon form with another dragon, he knew the worst had happened. He slid to a stop just beside the two women that were kneeling in the grass. He knelt beside them and Catherine fell into his arms. She was breathing heavily and clutching onto him convulsively. A movement on the edge of his vision made him look up. Police cars were coming in the dozens with lights blazing. He had to get them out of the open.
“Come on!” He whispered picking Catherine up in his arms. “We need to get back!”
Mauryanna nodded and started to run back to the tunnel entrance. Vincent followed suit and caught up with her in the drainage tunnel. Vincent pulled the lever and the door slid shut behind them. Only then did he slow down.
“What happened?” He asked breathing heavily.
“She went through her first Change. She’s now the youngest Dragonlord.” Mauryanna explained silently. She looked down upon the sleeping form in Vincent’s arms. “I sensed it at once and came up here to help.”
“Thank you.” He breathed and they began to walk back to the chamber that Vincent had set aside for himself and Catherine. When he had placed Catherine on the bed, he turned to Mauryanna. “What will happen now?”
“We just wait for you.” She replied and turned back to the tunnel and walked away.
The next few weeks were spent watching Catherine absorb everything the Dragonlords had to say. Vincent, when not with Catherine, walked through the tunnels trying to understand everything that he was going through. He felt much, much stronger than he used to and his vision seemed to have gotten stronger along with everything else that was his. His senses, his strength, and the Bond had gotten stronger within the span of a week. Something big was going to happen and soon and he was ready for anything.
When Catherine had told him about the flight in the park, he was shocked at the severity of the physical change. She explained that although it had been a little painful, the pain was bearable. She had said that it was the second most exhilarating thing she had ever gone through in her life. When he had asked what it was second to, she had replied that his embraces were the most exciting thing she had ever felt in her entire life.
The days wore on and the Dragonlords were getting edgy, and worried about Vincent. He seemed to be suffering no symptoms that would lead to the belief that he was in fact a Dragonlord and they worried that Catherine was soultwined to a mortal. They would look at him oddly at times and sadly at others. He had wanted to ensure them that he was fine, but he couldn’t. He didn’t know why but he couldn’t.
“Would you like some tea Vincent?” Catherine asked as he walked in to their chamber one evening.
“Yes I would, thank you.” He took the offered cup and sat down in one of the big high-backed chairs that were in the room. He sipped at his tea watching Catherine for some time before speaking. “It’s nearly dark. I think I’m going to go for a walk in the park tonight. It rained this afternoon. Perhaps you would like to come?”
“That would be great Vincent.” She said turning to him. “At least someone doesn’t treat me like a ‘fledgling’ or whatever. It’s good to be remembered for who I was before this. A walk in the park is just what we both need. That and a break from those two Dragonlords.”
“You’re one of them now, you do realize that don’t you?” Vincent asked setting his cup on the table.
“Yes, but you’re going to be one of them as well, so don’t think that I am the only one.” She contorted. “Come on, let’s go for a walk. It’ll do us some good to get out of the tunnels for a few minutes.” Something didn’t feel right though. Something she couldn’t place, but it had something to do with Vincent. Perhaps she should warn the Linden and Mauryanna. Something’s not right. She thought to them. Something’s up.
Got ya Catherine. We’ll be up in a few minutes. Mauryanna thought back. Don’t worry, everything will be fine.
I hope so. Catherine thought and closed the link. She took Vincent’s arm and they walked to the park.
Below them, Linden and Mauryanna were preparing themselves for what was to come. Linden was almost absolutely sure that Vincent would be even stronger than he, the biggest Dragonlord and so he and Mauryanna were gathering their strength together before they met up with him.
When they were prepared, they followed the couple up to the park. They felt that nothing had happened yet but something was brewing within the fledgling Dragonlord. They hurried as fast as they could to the drainage tunnel entrance. When they reached it, they could feel the chaotic magic in the park. The Dragonlords prayed fervently that all would be well with the First Change of this most unique Dragonlord. When they got to the park itself, they could not see Vincent or Catherine, so they walked further on acting as if they too had come to take in the night air.
They spotted Catherine and Vincent under a big oak tree near the soccer field that they had changed in. Nothing seemed wrong but nothing ever did when a fledgling was near his or her First Change. They watched him eye the soccer field many times even as he was listening to Catherine. They knew that he was near his time and were preparing themselves for the hurried change that would take place.
Then, when they had begun to think that it was a false call, Vincent ran full speed into the field. When he reached its center, he immediately began to dissolve into the familiar red smoke. Mauryanna turned her head when she saw Catherine jump to her feet and begin to run after Vincent. She had only seconds to stop Catherine from joining her soultwin before Vincent would be completely changed and off the ground. Linden had already begun to hurry to the soccer field to try to change as soon as Vincent was off the ground. Mauryanna barely reached Catherine when a black dragon with a blond streak took off from the ground. She quickly reassured Catherine that everything would be all right then waited for her soultwin to change before following him.
Vincent was high above them by now and Linden had to pump his wings harder and harder as he tried to catch up with him. Another name rang in his mind as he searched Vincent’s mind, Obscuroligar. Fitting name, Linden thought to himself as he caught up with the fledgling.
The dragon roared its fury in Linden’s mind as he hovered beside him. Vincent was no ordinary Dragonlord in that he was as strong as he should be with years of training, not his first change. Obscuroliegron’s control was vying with Vincent’s keen mind and it seemed that if Vincent didn’t tire out, Linden was not needed. But as soon as he let his guard down for a moment, Obscuroliegron lashed out at him. The claws missed but they tossed him incredibly off balance and he knew that in he didn’t regain his balance soon, he would fall out of the sky. Right when he was about to brush the tips of the tallest Central Park trees, he was lifted and set right by Mauryanna.
Let’s get him. She cried in his mind.
They flew back to Obscuroliegron and each latched onto a wing, preventing him from flying. You will retreat, Obscuroliegron, and await your time! They roared into his head. You will retreat!
Slowly he descended to the ground and Changed beneath them. Linden and Mauryanna released his wings and waited for the chance to change back to their human forms. Once Catherine had reached him, gotten him to his feet and out of the way, Linden landed, quickly Changed, and joined him and Catherine under the oak tree. Mauryanna wasn’t far behind and they were soon getting the new Dragonlord back to the tunnels. Catherine held him erect as Linden tripped the mechanism that opened the sliding door. The group then went back to the chamber that Vincent and Catherine had shared for the past few weeks. When Catherine got him to the bed, he turned to a huge chair instead. When he was seated, the others sat down in the remaining chairs.
“So, I’m a Dragonlord now.” Vincent whispered, looking from face to face. “We’re immortal now Catherine. We can live forever if we wanted to.”
The other Dragonlords looked at him. “Well you could think of it like that.” Linden said. “Or you could think of it as if you have mastered the task of longlivety. Whatever way you think of it, nothing ever helps.”
Vincent nodded his head and turned to Catherine. “We need to tell everyone.” He said and she nodded gravely. “Although how I can do it escapes me.”
“Perhaps if you let us introduce ourselves to everyone first then it would come easier.” Mauryanna suggested.
“Not everyone. That would be chaotic.” Vincent replied. “To the council then. They would be able to explain about what was going on to everyone else.” He paused before continuing. “Do we have to go with you? I would very much like to stay here as much as possible.”
“Well, it is preferred that all the other Dragonlords get to know you and help you with your training.” Linden explained.
“Training?” Catherine repeated slightly confused.
“You need to learn how to Change back and fourth and you need to learn how to use Mindspeach. The little we have taught you is only enough to speak with jerks and long pauses.” Mauryanna explained. “Trust me, it doesn’t take more than two years tops to get the main point.”
“Where will we be?” Vincent asked rubbing his hands together.
“Well, our ancestral home, Dragonskeep, collapsed on us about two centuries ago. We’ve been at the old castles in Scotland ever since.” Linden said yearning to see the old keep once again. “I suggest that you get some rest Vincent, then tomorrow we can go and speak with your council. Welcome little ones and good night.”
The two older Dragonlords stood and walked out of the chamber and back to their own before Vincent’s head laid back against the chair back. Catherine came to his side as soon as they were alone and put his hands in hers. Their Bond had increased dramatically and she could now feel his physical torments as well as the emotional onslaught. With her hands tightly clasping his, she could feel his strength failing and picked him up, out of the chair, and into the bed. She had discovered her strength when she had helped him back to the tunnels.
Once she had placed him on top of the covers, she began to turn to let him get undressed by himself. He stopped her dead in her tracks.
“Please Catherine, we’ll always be together now.” He whispered. “Help me please.”
She turned to him willingly. The stress from the day clearly showed upon his face and as she reached for his vest, he did not move away. She quickly had his tops off and was looking at his magnificent body on display for her. He was clearly uncomfortable with the situation and made no move to hide it, but he made no move at all. When she looked away to get a nightshirt, she felt Vincent fighting himself at what was going to happen. Or at least she thought that he was fighting, this was all too new to her and she still didn’t know which emotions were which and so on. When she turned back to him, he whispered something like an ‘I’m sorry’ before he wrapped his arms around her and embraced her tightly. Catherine was caught totally of guard and fell into his lap. What happened next, she couldn’t have prepared herself for if she had warning.
Vincent, with one hand around her waist, brought the other hand up to cup her face. He pulled her face to his and met her lips with his. The kiss was brief but powerful and promising. When they broke apart, Catherine was breathless. She finished helping Vincent with his clothes before her heart began to calm down.