The damn birds were singing as if they were in my ears and I flung my arms about to chase them away. It did nothing, that futile gesture, as they were no where near me and my eyes opened to daylight and the brilliant green leaves of a home tree.
I went to rise and the pain doubled me over sending a torrent if invectives from my lips. Almost as sudden they escaped I stopped, for the drow tongue came and in this place it seemed not right and the birds singing and voices I faintly heard had stopped at my invectives.
I looked about for my sword and it was by the bed, carefully cleaned and polished the hilts and scabbards looked as if the day they were blessed. And my hair, was again white the ends of red reflecting in the sheen of my scabbards.
I reached for it slowly and the familiar hilt felt warm as I touched it. I pulled it to me and sat it across my lap as I rose to sit in the bed. Cleaned it was yet something was strange. I looked about and still saw no one yet I heard the faint voices.
My side hurt and I shrugged off the coverlet and raised my arm to look at the wound. Artfully bandaged it was. It was then I heard a soft gasp and dropped my arm as I turned toward the sound.
There was young maiden of the church of Corelleon, her mouth agape as the bowl seemed to fall slowly from her hand. Behind her was a priest whose eyes went wide even as she turned to block his view as the bowl hit the floor.
I wondered then looked down and noticed I was topless as I sat in the bed. My breasts enjoying the sun and fresh air as my hair did.
“Patriarch do not look! Tarien Hune is not clothed!”
I laughed loudly hearing her words and seeing her try to push the older man out the door. His voice and hands raised as he backed out and I could see the mirth upon his face. The door shut quickly and silently as the young woman turned about, that scolding look all us healer’s had for one who is misbehaving instead of healing.
“Tarien Hune! You must call if you need to rise.” She was by the bed before I stopped laughing pulling the light cover over my chest. “Clothing is required for one of your station my lady I will fetch you some.” She did not leave until I brought a hand up to hold the cover over my breasts.
I watched her go out the door wondering how her body looked under the chaste clothing of her order. And as the door closed hearing the muffled words of her invective to the priest about seeing a noble woman naked and to knock before he followed anyone in a door.
I pushed myself back against the headboard my fingers still caressing my weapon even as a knock came upon the door. Before I could answer the old priest had opened it and shut it behind him.
He was tall, moreso then any of his people, the sun elves, normally were.
The hooded robe kept his face slightly shrouded yet his golden hair flowed out from under it. I could see the fine chiseled chin and then the scars that ran down both sides of his face, the one from the right continuing down his neck to disappear under his clothes.
“Long has it been since one of your people was here Tarien Ar’Cartel d’Hune.” he gestured toward a chair and as I nodded he grabbed it and brought it next to the bed sitting in it with a rustle of his vestments. “And from what I understand, it was also you who was the last of your people to be in this place.” I saw the smile on his face as his hands folded up on his lap.
My eyes looked about and I saw nothing familiar of this place. Even amongst the people, a decision to move a planting or painting for aesthetics could take centuries of thought, so it was common to see something if one had been in a place before.
A small laugh came from the priest. “No not this room or hospital Tarien. This land.”
Out of reflex my fingers stopped and hovered on the hilt of my sword and my hand closest to the priest stayed there as my mind focused.
The sound of his disapproval and his body slouching in the chair brought me to calm reason again. “From my understanding the last time you were in this place you walked out in disgust and pain and..” he reached out cautiously and softly tapped my hand, “your skin turned to this color.”
I know my eyes widened as I felt my body tremble and shake. I moved to the side of the bed opposite the priest and stood pulling the cover about me and tying it tightly to cover me. “If this is a trick I will kill you.” came my trembling voice the fear belying the bravado I tried to show.
He stood and spread his arms wide the sleeves falling away so I could see no weapons then put together before him his palms showing to me as he walked around the bed.
His voice though had changed and it struck a memory as the sound of it came. “Come Tarien Hune in this place there is no deception.”
And it was as if the air flowed together around me and I saw this elf before me again. Older then me he was at the time yet we stood not as friends but enemies. Around us the dead and dying, the temple burning. I could hear it, taste it and feel it all again. The sword in my hand as it was then screeched a most inhuman sound as the vision disappeared.
The priest had backed away when the sword screamed its displeasure. “It would seem it has not forgotten me either.” He laughed and reached up slowly to push the hood back from his head. The face in the vision matching the one before, but for the scars.
I cocked my head to look up at him trying to dig the name and memory from so long ago. There was a pounding on the door and voices yelling if all was alright. “We are fine!” I shouted. “Leave us be.” where had that tone of imperious command come from in my voice? Another memory slipping in?
The priest shook his head. “I healed you as a penance Tarien d’Hune. The last we saw each other you gave me these scars. Do you remember the Temple of the Sunrise in what was once the lands of the Keltomir?”
My eyes closed and my heart skipped then sank. It was that temple, where both sides had learned a piece of a relic was they needed for their own ends was. It was where the last of my loyal soldiers fell and where my age old guardian finally made herself known again.
The Vyshaan troops and the advance troops of the Illithyr had decimated each other. It was at that time, we arrived. We had by this time adopted the symbol of the Huntress as ours to distinguish ourselves from any others. In a vain hope it would show we fought for neither side, but would fight both if they continued their madness.
In reality all it did was make us targets for all, yet it mattered not to us. For we succored wounded from both sides, buried the dead from both sides. For they were our brothers and sisters. Struck with some madness, yes, but still our brothers and sisters.
And as we came upon the place before the temple the great forests and trees about it burning where it was not already knocked flat. The Vyshaan troops who were closer to their reinforcements, were amongst the field, killing wounded in the most evil ways. We watched as they hewed them repeatedly or placed them upon spears and shafts, to wriggle like bugs until they died.
The growling amongst my people was heard. I sent our messenger forward to ask if we may assist in burying the dead and healing the wounded from both sides, as this was the way of the Huntress.
We watched as our messenger was pierced with over a hundred arrows as he approached. And the tall figure in gold and red robes and armor stood at the top of the temple steps with many archers.
And his voice boomed “I’quelin dhaerow naa ba dhaerow!” And with those words spells and arrows leaped towards us, as did the foot soldiers.
There was no order to this battle. No commands. It was bloody slaughter to the last. And as I gained the steps and looked upward toward this priest and his archers who loosed at me and were amazed they could not hit me, for I was not where they aimed, he commanded them to stop and his hands came up slowly to remove his helm and I did the same and dropped mine to the ground. My last link besides my blood with my family.
“I see you dhaerow. Do you see me?” his voice boomed his fiery hair began to flow with the heated wind from the blazes all about.
“I see you priest of a mad god. Shall we begin?” he nodded and the arrows flew and he began his spells and I was amongst his archers. They fell swiftly but not without some fight as I felt a spell directed toward me strong and pernicious yet it faded as I turned about to the caster.
His mouth was open and the confusion was in his eye even as the great morning star and sword he carried came out. It was then the dance began for Glenn awoke with a song and pounding rhythm all could hear and the priest’s eyes narrowed as he now knew why his spells failed.
I do not remember the long story of our fight. For this priest was also a singer. And he dropped the great morning star as we fought.
In the end, I slashed him thrice, once across his belly and once up to the right then down on the left and he fell. My wounds were grievous. I stumbled and turned to look back down the steps and I beheld the entire ground full of unmoving bodies, none moved not even twitched. Some locked in their final embraces of combat. I felt the tears run down my face even as movement from the corner of my eye warned me I could not move fast enough and I was on the ground pinned by a weight greater then any I remembered.
I heard the deafening roar of a dragon and closed my eyes laughing.
I was dragonbait!
My eyes looked upon this one and narrowed for a moment. For during our entire battle we never spoke except songs and spells.
My fingers grasped Glenn’s hilt tighter and the blade awoke and began to hum. I pointed the sheathed sword at him and he moved back toward the door. “You helped cast part of our people into darkness. You and yours were beaten and have now slowly returned in disgrace. But what of MY people, no chance for redemption because of the likes of you?!”
My free hand let go of the bedclothes as I stepped forward my voice rising. “YOU branded me dhaerow and slaughtered MY soldiers!”
He backed away as I felt the full flush of that past pain come over me. My rage was great and he bowed his head even as I brought the blade up to crack his head like a ripe melon.
The door burst open and I was caught in a grip almost as strong as mine and pressed against the wall the overwhelming scent of saffron about me.
“Fool! Get out she is angered and not thinking and will kill you!” I heard Elle’s perfect yet accented elvish scream at the priest as she fought me with all her strength to keep me against the wall. Her mind touching mine trying desperately to calm me. “Lissa stop this. Do not do this here. Not here. Not now.”
And I screamed at the retreating priest. “You want penance!? You go bring our people back one by one! You go sing to those graves that are now unmarked with the winds of centuries! I will send you where that foulness in your soul deems you belong and it is not here in Arvandor!” I went to shove past my kyorli.
The next thump of Elle pounding me against the wall made me stop. I looked up into the eyes of my oldest friend and her huge eyes looked down at mine and I collapsed against her sobbing, the holy weapon falling to the floor with a clatter and my world full of saffron and darkness.
I awoke to the dark and the incessant swishing of scales against the wood floor. Opening my eyes slowly I saw the form of Elle in a chair. Beside her from the chair her tail fell and the end swept back and forth. Just from that I knew she was not asleep and I sat up and looked at her. Her golden eyes turned from the window toward me. Both of us seeing the night time glow in each others eyes.
I went to leave the bed and stopped at the weight upon my stomach. I looked down and it was the young novice who volunteered to attend me draped across my body asleep.
“What in the Pit is she doing sleeping on me?” came my whispered question. Elle’s smile was disconcerting that in this humanoid form her fangs and maw showed through. “To keep you here as I must also.”
I cursed in my mind and I saw Elle shake her head and tap it. Damnable link! I have had a sargt, kyorli, athi or guardian since I could remember. And always a dragon. They always seemed to find me or I them, most unwittingly.
“I have bollocks everything up quite well.” I muttered outloud yet softly, as my hand went out and gently touched the young priestess’s golden hair. “Do you even know what you have done by volunteering to aid and care for me young one?”
I heard the creaking of the chair as Elle stood and walked toward the bed. I felt her hand strangely warm and heavy upon my shoulder. “She does my friend. I was there when she stepped forward. When all there gasped in astonishment.” The rumbling chuckle Elle made was strangely comforting in its familiarity. “I think I was the last remaining bit to sway her and others and I have questions of you also.”
I nodded as I looked down at the young woman, she could not be much over a century in age. In my eyes she had just thrown her life away and cast her lot with those who may never fully come again to Arvandor.
“Elle why did she do it?” I turned my head and looked above my shoulder to Elle. “Her words were hauntingly familiar my friend. I choose to aid she who we can all see now is truly the Tarien Cartel d’Hune, heir of one of the missing Houses. She has always strove for the people, light or dark, for are we not all of the Tel’Quessir?”
I felt the smile creep across my face slowly. “Just what have they been teaching the children these past centuries?”
“Apparently everything.” came Elle’s voice as I felt her hand squeeze my shoulder. “Now dress let us go to what for some reason I know is your favorite spot here upon Arvandor. The Rose garden.”
I stiffened and I know she felt it even as I slipped carefully out from beneath the young priestess and pulled soft leathers and boots on. I grabbed Glenn and hooked it to my belt and I felt it almost purr.
“Just where are we Elle?” I asked softly closing the door behind us with a soft click. The guards stood and as they did Elle growled at them and they stood against the wall as we strode past. One looked amazed and the other had the scathing look of hatred.
“We are in the priests quarters of the temple of Corelleon. Where else does one put a high priestess who is being honored by the church?”
Elle chuckled as she said that because she could feel my boiling silence of where I was housed with honor.
Slowly we walked in silence. Past priests and layman alike. Guard and civilian and head would turn and look upon us. Not often in Arvandor did one see a drow walking, let alone side by side with a gold dragon in her bipedal form, her tail and eyes twitching about.