“I love you.” Vincent whispered as he pulled the long nightshirt over his head and stepped out of his pants. He stood up long enough for Catherine to turn down the bed before he laid down. He stared up at the ceiling until he felt Catherine join him in the bed. He turned on his side toward her and opened his arms.
“Are you all right love?” Catherine asked as she snuggled up to him.
“I think so.” Vincent yawned. “Just tired.”
“Go to sleep then. We’ll see what to do in the morning.” Catherine said as she kissed his neck. “Please rest dearest.”
Vincent sighed before allowing sleep to overcome him. Catherine remained awake until she felt that Vincent wouldn’t wake from some nightmare. Then fell quickly asleep.
The next morning, Vincent and Catherine went to Narsissa’s chambers. When they reached them, they found Linden and Mauryanna in states not much better than Vincent’s own. Both were exosted from changing their shapes so often in the past few weeks.
“Are you feeling all right?” Linden asked from his seat next to Mauryanna who looked more tired than he did.
“Yes, although I don’t really know what the definition of ‘all right’ is at this point.” Vincent admitted as he gingerly took a seat across from the full Dragonlords.
“Tiredness is to be expected.” Linden replied. “As is sharp senses…extremely sharp senses…painfully sharp. You should get used to them within a week.” Linden looked to Catherine. “And you Catherine, are you all right?”
“Yes.” Catherine said, squeezing Vincent’s hand. “What do we do now?”
“First off, you two have to tell your friends.” Mauryanna answered. “It might be okay for one of you to disappear without a word but both of you would make it worrisome for everyone, specially you Vincent. You would be definitely missed.”
“Then how do we tell everyone?” Vincent asked. “It’s not like we could pound it on the pipes. No one would believe us.”
“Then we must show them.” Linden replied.
* * * * *
“Now what’s this about Vincent?” Father asked as he sat down at the council table. “First you’re gone for almost two months and then when you get back, the first thing you do is call a council meeting. What is going on?”
“You probably won’t believe me if I explained it as I know.” Vincent replied as he walked to a bookshelf. “As soon as everyone’s assembled, we’re going to go topside via the park.”
“Okay good, okay fine.” Mouse replied as he and Jamie entered the chamber. “Wait on William and Mary. Then go uptop.”
They waited a few more minutes before Mary and William joined the group. As soon as they did, Vincent began to lead them to the drainage tunnel. He could feel Catherine’s ‘All set’ and replied in kind. When they reached the drainage tunnel, Vincent paused before opening the entrance. Linden, Mauryanna, Catherine and Narsissa had agreed that this was the easiest way to explain what was going on, but Vincent was still worried that they would still not understand.
“I am warning you now, what you will see is more than likely more startling that I am.” Vincent explained. “After you see what is out here, I will explain what’s going on and why I’ve been away so long.”
The small group nodded and Vincent triggered the lever and opened the door. He led them to the soccer field where Catherine and Mauryanna were waiting for them.
“Is he ready Mauryanna?” Vincent asked as he approached the pair. After getting an affirmative nod, Vincent turned back to the others. “This is Mauryanna, Linden will be here shortly.”
Vincent had barely gotten that statement out when a cry split the air. From high above them, a great streak of fire lit the night sky. The fire spiraled lower and soon they could see the form of the big, deep red, dragon. Mouse’s ‘wow!’ was overcome by the sound of someone falling to the ground. Turning back to the group, he spotted Jamie lying on the ground with Catherine fanning her face. He looked to Father and Mary, who seemed spellbound by the sight of Rathan, and William who looked as if wanting to run back to the tunnels as fast as he could and not come out ever again.
Linden landed and shimmered back into human form. By this time, Father’s jaw had dropped to his chest and his eyes were as big as tennis balls. Mary was in simular shape, although much paler. Vincent moved closer to the older woman, just in case she followed Jamie into unconsciousness. Linden walked toward the group and when he reached it, Father, Mary, and William stepped back from him. Mouse on the other hand was walking straight toward him and circled him as if looking for any cameras or wires or anything. By this time, Catherine had succeeded in rousing Jamie and getting her back to her feet.
“May we present Mauryanna Kyrissaean and Linden Rathan, both of whom are Dragonlords.” Catherine said, gesturing to the pair as they bowed.
“Okay good, okay fine, now how you do that?” Mouse asked, crossing his arms.
“Yes, I think we all want to know how you did that.” Father agreed, his voice not quite steady.
“It is not something that can really be explained.” Linden admitted. “But if we all would return to the tunnels, we’ll be able to explain as much as we can.”
The group returned to the tunnels and after a little debate, chose Father’s study to meet. Once lanterns were placed at all entrances of the study, the pair of full Dragonlords began their narrative of what they were. How Dragonlords were so rare that they were a dying race. Linden and Mauryanna were two of only about fifty full Dragonlords. The narrative began with Linden’s life and then their life together leading up to this point, adding all of the Dragonlord history as much as possible. When they were finished, the council members had a fair understanding of what they were and their history.
“But Vincent, what does any of this have to do with you and Catherine?” Father asked, looking at his son with some concern.
Vincent looked at Catherine then at the Dragonlords. After getting affirmative nods from all, he looked back at the council.
“You know that Linden and Mauryanna are Soultwins correct?” A nod from everyone that was assembled bade him to continue. “Catherine is mine.”
For a moment, no one realized what he had just said. But after that brief second, Mouse jumped up.
“You’re one too!” He exclaimed, a look of awe on his face.
“Yes, we are both Dragonlords.” Vincent answered. Catherine’s hand was clasped tightly with his. Father’s face was a mixture of emotions: fear, apprehension, confusion, then finally fury.
“What have you done to him?” Father yelled at Catherine, jumping up from his seat. “None of this would’ve happened to him had you not ever shown your face here! Why he ever saved you I don’t….”
“ENOUGH!” Vincent roared, startling Father to silence. “None of this is any of our faults. It’s how we were born. Linden told you of Dragonlords’ markings. His is his birthmark, Mauryanna’s is her eyes; they’re two colors. Mine is the most obvious don’t you think Father?”
As Vincent was speaking, Father finally caught on to what he meant. Vincent’s marking was himself. His physical appearance. Father sat back down heavily into his chair looking puzzled.
“Father, this is why I am the way I am.” Vincent continued. “I am this way because I am a Dragonlord.”
“And you are as well Catherine?” Father asked calmly.
“Yes.” Catherine replied, still shocked that he could think that it was her fault Vincent was the way he was. It was her problem too, she didn’t ask for it either.
“Jacob,” Linden said from the corner of the room by Mauryanna. “None of the Dragonlords know why they’re the way they are. It’s just something that happens.”
“But why do you need to tell us?” Jamie asked. “It’s not like people don’t have their secrets.”
“Jamie,” Catherine answered, trying to let Vincent calm down a little. “Because of what we are, we are now Immortal. As far as I understand it, we can be killed by mundane things, but we won’t die from old age.”
“It’s true.” Mauryanna explained. “Both Linden and I are over six hundred years old.”
“So you’re gonna live forever now?” Mouse asked, excited that he might be able to do so as well.
“Yes, they can choose to, but they don’t have to.” Linden said. “Sometimes Dragonlords get bored with life and just let the draconic side take over the body in one last change, producing one Truedragon and freeing the human soul to whatever lies beyond life.”
For a while, no one said anything more. It was past midnight before anyone said anything more.
“What will you do now?” Father asked.
“What is usually done is that the fledgling Dragonlords, in this case Vincent and Catherine, go to where the Dragonlords live. In the past it has been Dragonskeep, but now we stay in the castles of Scotland.” Linden explained. “There they learn how to control the magics of being a Dragonlord. Changing is the first thing that they will learn how to do. After that, Mindspeach, calling coldfire, healing, and other magics.”
“You said that is the usual course of events.” Catherine noted. “What is going to happen with us?”
“That is what will have to be decided.” Linden answered. “I’m going to Mindspeak the Lady tomorrow and see what she says to do. I don’t think that you two would be able to undergo an overseas flight…although from what I’ve seen, you both will become the two strongest Dragonlords.”
“For now, you’ll just have to learn what little we’ll be able to teach you here.” Mauryanna continued. “But I think we’ll have to wait with the lessons on changing. I already think that we’ve changed too often here for the time being. I’m not sure how people here would react to knowing that Dragons are real.”
“That would be an interesting thought.” William remarked, rubbing his bearded chin.
“For now, I think we all need to get to bed.” Father said standing from his seat. “Tomorrow we will continue this…discussion.”
The group readily agreed and when a time to meet was decided, they dispersed; Vincent and Catherine going to Vincent’s chamber, the other Dragonlords to a guest chamber, and the rest to their respective chambers (although William did so grumpily trying to calculate how much time he would get to sleep before he had to be up to prepare breakfast that morning).
“Well fellow fledgling,” Catherine teased as she and Vincent neared his chamber, “Do you think that they believe us?”
“I’m not sure my love, but I’m pretty sure that they have no way of doubting what we’re trying to tell them.” Vincent replied. “I think we may have Mouse trying to figure out how Linden did that for months.”
“And we know that he’ll never be able to do the same.” Catherine said then grew serious. “What do you think about all this Vincent? I mean, do you want to become what they’re saying we are?”
Vincent sighed, lifting his head to look at the rough ceiling above them. “I don’t know.” He admitted. “But I must say that it feels somewhat good that I know why I am the way I am now.”
Catherine stood in front of him, impeding his progress down the tunnel. “Vincent, I thought that we had covered that before. You’re the way you are because it’s the only way you can be. That’s all. Even if we weren’t these ‘Dragonlords’, it wouldn’t change anything. I would still be me, and you would still be you. I love you Vincent.”
“And I love you.” He replied.
“That’s all that matters.” She whispered then returned to his side, taking his hand tightly in hers.
They walked in silence from that moment on, reaching Vincent’s chamber soon afterward. Catherine took her customary place in the Vincent’s chair and Vincent lounged on the bed.
“Would you like me to read to you?” Vincent asked, reaching back to the shelf above his bed where there were several moderate sized volumes.
They read for a while before going to bed. Catherine still marveled at the ease at which Vincent accepted her in his bed. It was like his former resistances stood for nothing. One matter still to tackle before too long, but it could wait for another day.
The next morning, the group gathered in Father’s chamber, with the exception of Linden as he was going to Mindspeak the Lady.
“What is this ‘Mindspeaking’?” Jamie asked as everyone got settled.
“It’s exactly what it sounds like.” Mauryanna explained. “It’s sort of like a telephone call, without the phone and you don’t really have to speak, only think of what you want to say.”
“Like Telepathy?” Mary remarked as she caught on.
“Exactly like Telepathy.” Mauryanna agreed. Just then, she turned her head toward the entrance and seconds later Linden walked through, looking a little winded.
“Good morning.” He said before going to sit next to Mauryanna.
“So what did the Lady have to say?” Catherine asked, knowing that it was either flight over an ocean or staying here.
“Concerning you and Vincent, you are to stay here as long as it’s safe and possible.” Linden answered, leaning back into his chair. The two new Dragonlords both breathed sighs of relief. Neither wanted to leave their home below the ground. “But we must stay and teach them Mauryanna.”
“Will anyone else be coming?” Mauryanna said, putting her face in her hands and leaning on her elbows.
“Periodically. This being our responsibility, we must see it to the end.”
“Well, may I say welcome then?” Father asked, happy as can be that his son wouldn’t be leaving them too soon.
“Thank you.” The pair replied.
“Now I think I should be getting to the kitchens, it’s almost lunch time.” William said and dragged his bulk from his seat.
“Yes, I think that we all need to get to our respective duties.” Father agreed. “I think we can safely say that this meeting is adjourned.”
Catherine watched as everyone but the Dragonlords exited the chamber. Looking over at Vincent with a pleading look in her eyes, he nodded and she turned to the older Dragonlords.
“Would you two like a tour of the tunnels?” She asked, knowing that at least Mauryanna wanted to get to know their new home a little more.
“Absolutely.” Mauryanna agreed immediately. Looking over her shoulder at Linden, she noted that he was hesitant to accept the offer. He quickly Mindspoke her that he wanted to speak with Vincent. She nodded and turned to Catherine. “How about you take me around and lets give the boys a little talk time?”
Catherine smiled and nodded after checking with Vincent. She then led Mauryanna out the entrance of the chamber and off into the tunnels. Vincent then took his seat again and Linden did the same. They sat almost exactly opposite one another at the table. For a few moments, Linden said nothing, as if he couldn’t think of how to say what needed to be said.
“Vincent,” Linden began, looking at the fledgling dragonlord across from him. “If I’m prying with this question, don’t answer it, but I was wondering if you and Catherine have ever….” He paused and rubbed his neck nervously.
“If you’re asking whether we’ve made love, then no.” Vincent answered calmly.
“You haven’t?” Linden was astounded. When he had found Mauryanna, he could barely keep his hands off of her. Only the fact that she hadn’t Changed yet kept him from her for a time, but even then, they had consummated their love before she had Changed, although not by much. “No, although I must say, over the past few days it’s been harder than ever not to.” Vincent replied, blushing slightly.
“I would expect that Vincent.” Linden said. He pulled his fingers though his hair and yawned. “Truly, you really need to…complete…the connection. It’s the best and easiest way.”
“But I can’t.” Vincent sighed. “I don’t want to hurt her Linden. I’m afraid for her. I never, ever want to see her hurt.”
“Vincent, my friend,” Linden came to his side and put his hands on Vincent’s shoulders. “I assure you that you would never hurt your Soultwin. It’s impossible. The only way that I could ever hurt Mauryanna would be to leave her, and I don’t have the strength to do that. It seems to be the same with you and Catherine.”
“I just can’t know what will really happen Linden.” Vincent now stood and began to pace the room. “There are things that you don’t know about me. Things that are hard to explain, things that frighten me, things that kill. Since I was a small boy, I’ve always had to battle something within me that…that would harm others if I ever let it have free reign. That other side has always warred with me for control. I let that side go when I’m saving Catherine or my world, but that’s it. It comes out when I am in a rage, how will I know that it won’t come out in passion?”
“Vincent, you have to trust me when I tell you, you will never harm Catherine. It’s physically impossible for you to harm her, accidentally or intentionally. You may not think that, but it’s the truth.” Linden watched Vincent slow and stop with his back toward him. He knew that this young dragonlord would have to accept what he said or be torn apart by it.
“I’ll leave you now Vincent.” Linden said, coming to rest a hand on the massive shoulder. “Please think on my words.”
“I will, thank you.” Vincent whispered.
Linden left and Vincent went to sit down in his chair in the alcove above the main chamber. He made sure that he put the chair in a shadowed corner so that he wouldn’t have any intentional interruptions. He sat down and folded his hands in front of his face. If only what Linden had said was true. If only…