Foreword: For the legals see chapters 1-4. If you don’t want to hear all my excuses for not spitting out a new chapter sooner than now and just want to read the story please skip down to the brackets (***). Old Keloi Translation can be found at the end of the chapter.
First of all, I hope you all had a great holiday season and spent it in the presence of loved ones. I just shifted to Melbourne in October, so this was my first year away from my friends and family back in New Zealand. I have been living with my aunty Emeretta and quickly adjusting to life in the great metropolis that Melbourne is. I got the best Christmas present ever this year. I finally got to meet my grandfather. After 24 years I finally got to meet him! I was so stoked, so no work progressed there. New years was great. It was my first real quite new years since I turned 15. I went up to my uncles place to see my cousin Tania, who had come over from NZ to spend new years with my uncles and cousins. They went into town at about 11pm and me and my cousin Nathan went up to another cousins house to see the new year quietly in with quite a few bottles of champagne and chocolate coated strawberries, we all went into the lounge with our bottles and our flutes and spent the rest of the night talking, drinking and with me dropping off to sleep at the very decent hour of 4.30am new years day. I have just spent the last 3 days locked inside my room pen furiously scratching away at paper as I drew up my draft for this chapter so I hope you appreciate my efforts.
I also have a few people that I would like to thank for all their help and support in my endeavour to create a readable work of fiction. First is my mother who has supported me in this endeavour as she does with all things that I have undertaken, her silent support, ready shoulder and warm hugs and kisses have seen me over more than one writers mountain. My aunties Ruthless and Em for their confidence, ideas and fresh, though somewhat unique, perspectives. Naku hoa (my friend) Ty, for his beta-reading skills, ready friendship and for giving me some really great inspiration without which I wouldn’t have done nearly as good a job as I currently have, and last but by no means least, to all my fans for your excellent support, feedback and in some cases brutal honesty, I love you all so much for all your support. This is for you guys…
At the sound of the gong the priests who had earlier lined the room rearranged everybody into groups, each group needing to be appraised of their options and their required functions.
The remaining unsuccessful summoned were arranged first and led out by the priests through the rear doors and into the darkness beyond which led to the cloisters. The adepts and their new novices were next to depart, by the same means, leaving behind the new keepers, their adepts and their dragons.
The remaining adepts organized themselves into a line so they could present themselves to the new queen and lord keeper, before moving on to their respective keepers.
The first adept that stood before the queen and Pelath was huge. Pelath guessed him to be about 7’5” tall and his enormous back, shoulder and arm muscles, which were clearly evident in spite of the loose flowing robe, made him resemble more a walking mountain than a human being. Pelath gulped audibly.
The adept bowed before the queen and Pelath, a hand reaching for the clasp at the neck of his robe. Pelath’s eyes went a little wild as the largest hands he had ever seen emerged from the folds of the deep blue robe. Fascinated he watched as the large fingers worked on the tiny clasp and its hidden mechanism with surprising grace and dexterity for their size.
Snap! Click! Whiz!
Pelath looked with astonishment at the clasp and what appeared tp be nothing more than a decorative silver rope plait meant to keep the robe closed.
At the snap, a little decorative lapis dragon at the centre of the clasp popped out.
At the click, the dragon started to turn in a counter clockwise direction and what had appeared to be just a decorative silver rope plait broke up into hundreds of individual strands that weaved their way through the garment.
The whizzing was caused by the little lapis dragon moving in increasingly faster rotations, the garment segmenting and falling to the floor, resembling more a pile of rags than an actual garment, as the silver spun ever faster to the centre of the clasp.
The sight that greeted Pelath as he looked up at the now disrobed giant took his breath away. If he could picture Faedoran, lord of Light, in human form, here he stood.
The adept before him practically oozed masculinity.
He was obviously of Darul extraction, evident in his size and musculature, but he also appeared to be part dryad, from the white blonde color of his eyebrows, long eyelashes and hair, which fell to his shoulders in long, curly ringlets. His eyes were a deep, sparkling forest green, which glinted with his joy in the moment and the ceremony.
He wore an official long keratha, blue in colour indicating his adept status, fastened at the front with his badge of office. It had a picture of a dragon entwining a tower, the symbol of a Lord-Holder.
The giant looked down at Pelath and gave him a quick smile and a wink, causing him to blush a little, before turning to address the queen.
His eyes downcast in respect, he dipped his head in reverence before proceeding to speak.
“Your majesty. Lord-Holder Hadrian Kelesed de Toren, Family Toren of the Kelesed line of decent, of Tarn-Eyid-Ebulien Dragon Keep, at your service.” The words flowed from his tongue, low and seemingly quiet, or it would have been, if it weren’t for the deep sonorous bass that caused his every word to fill the cavernous hall.
He dipped his head once more to the queen before turning to face Pelath again. Pelath stopped breathing and found himself responding unconsciously to Hadrian’s presence
Amusement. Sarcastic. One wonders if one should dismiss all present so you can begin mating. Seriously, one advises you start using your lungs again. Tell him these words exactly. ‘Your address has been accepted lord Hadrian, we extend to you the comforts of Aletium Keep, over which we now preside.’ Don’t get flashy or anything just say the words.
Sigh. Say the words Pelath.
SAY THE WORDS!
Pelath nodded and addressed Hadrian clearly and directly.
“Your address has been accepted lord Hadrian, we extend to you the comforts of Aletium Keep over which we now preside”
Hadrian was caught momentarily by surprise, he glanced quickly at Tor giving her a look that Pelath wasn’t quite quick enough to read, but it looked a little conspiratorial. When he looked back at Pelath however, he had the biggest smile ever plastered to his face and looked about ready to burst at the seams.
“Coolness! Do I get to choose my room?” He rumbled with barely suppressed excitement.
Pelath didn’t know what was going on, his confusion evident as he turned to look for guidance from his dragon.
Impatience. Tell him yes and send him on his way, we don’t have all day and he tends to waffle.
Understanding. You are confused yes? Requires explanation of etiquette yes? Very well. You have just given him permission to establish permanent quarters here in the Keep. Tell him yes and get a move on.
“Woohoo!” Hadrian yelled, the sound booming round the hall before clapping a hand over his mouth, a look of chagrin crossing his face.
“Sorry”, he whispered to Pelath, blushing slightly
Hadrian composed himself and extended his hands, palms facing forward in the gesture of a formal greeting.
“Greetings, I am Hadrian Kelesed de Toren, family Toren from the Kelesed line of descent, Lord-Holder of the Tarn-Eyid-Ebulien Dragon Keep. It is my pleasure to meet greet you and to return your gift of hospitality. Your quarters will be prepared at Tarn-Eyid-Ebulien Keep, where you will always be welcome Lord-Keeper”
Pelath reached forward and placed his palms in Hadrian’s enormous hands, the warmth of the contact making Pelath feel a little giddy and light headed. They clasped their fingers together in acceptance.
Pelath looked up and deep into Hadrian’s eyes and was drawn into the depths of his soul. He saw honesty, integrity, fierce determination and loyalty, all of which was permeated by a love and devotion for one person, his anchor through centuries of war and minor skirmishes with Legion creatures and the expansionist independent kingdoms to the south. Centuries? He didn’t look a day over 25. How old was he…
Pelath snapped out of reverie and laughed a little sheepishly before beginning.
“Greetings, I am Pelath Udanavore, of house Udanavore, City of Aletium, and it appears that I am the new Lord-Keeper of Aletium Dragon Keep. It is my pleasure to accept your greeting Lord-Holder Hadrian Kelesed de Toren, family Toren of the Kelesed line of descent, of Tarn-Eyid-Ebulian Dragon Keep. Along with my hospitality, I would also like to extend my friendship for I suspect we are entering dark times and friendships will be hard to find in the days to come”, Pelath said mysteriously.
A slight frown creased Hadrian’s brow briefly before understanding dawned on him. He smiled, showing off his perfectly straight white teeth. Pelath noticed his canines were more pronounced, another trait of his dryad heritage, slightly longer than normal and terminating at a sharp point, making him appear even more masculine in an animalistic kind of way.
“Akadumia Lakina mar ne?” Hadrian Asked Pelath in Old Keloi. (1)
Pelath pondered a little before replying.
“Chaygmeg tulased ned. Sal-uyena ayayet akattet yar emune tar-awen okolo akadamedey yened. Tor-holeden tumen quiestetlet piru met?” Pelath replied with a little grin. (2)
Hadrian laughed merrily and looked fondly down at Pelath and their still clasped hands.
“It is rare thing indeed to find such wisdom in one so young. As you correctly guessed, I don’t have many true friends, hardly allowing myself to trust many others to have any real friendships. With life spans such as our own, mortals pass quickly before us, and the others like us all have their intrigues, but I feel I can trust you enough to call you a friend. I will accept your friendship if you will accept mine,”
“Deal!” Pelath accepted, his face lighting up in a grin, his amber eyes changing to bright gold and swirling almost psychedelically in his happiness.
Hadrian blanched slightly and felt his pulse start to race. Pelath’s eyes! They looked just like…
Hadrian shook his head to clear it, receiving a slightly concerned look from Pelath, who had noticed his reaction.
“Ok little bud, two more questions then I’m outta your hair.” Hadrian piped before Pelath could ask him any questions.
Relief. Finally, one was beginning to think one would have to endure this seemingly endless dialogue all day. Hurry up and put him out of his misery.
Pelath began to blush, then noted a slight flush begin to show on Hadrian’s otherwise perfectly bronzed complexion. ‘Shit! He heard?’ Pelath thought to himself. He heard a chuckle come from somewhere among the adepts. Hadrian’s gaze flicked momentarily to look down the line; he started to blush even harder looking self-consciously at his nervously shuffling feet.
“Go on,” Pelath said soothingly, “ask your questions.”
Hadrian looked up at him a grinned before continuing.
“Ok first question. You wouldn’t be the Pelath Udanavore, scion and heir apparent to the wealthiest family on this continent, by any chance would you?”
Pelath sighed theatrically.
“The one and the same”
“Dude! Is it true your family has more money than god?”
Pelath pondered thoughtfully for a while, then answered in all seriousness.
“I know we have more money than the Temple, but as for Denasi’s personal fortune I’m not too sure. I think we might be able to tie even give or take a couple of hundred dollars…”
The room, which was once silent, erupted into laughter. Pelath just grinned.
Hadrian laughed so hard his sides were beginning to ache and tears were starting to roll down his cheeks.
Pelath watched as Hadrian’s half naked body convulsed with wave after wave of laughter. Aside from the muscles and negative visible body fat, there was not a single trace of body hair from his neck down, another dryad trait. He was as smooth as silk and he literally rippled when he moved, by all the gods he was hot.
After the laughter had subsided, Hadrian dropped with fluid grace to one knee, his fingers expertly manipulating the hidden mechanism on the clasp. He placed it on the ground just as the little lapis dragon snapped out again. It clicked and started moving in a clockwise direction this time. When it started whizzing, hundred of tiny thread shot out from the clasp moving, seemingly of their own volition, around his body and attaching themselves to the pile of random looking clothing scraps. As the whizzing got faster, the tiny threads quickly pulled all the pieces of the garment together at his feet, reconstituting the robe in a matter of seconds.
Hadrian stood with his now completely reformed robe lying limply over his left arm. He dipped his head once more to the queen in reverence, with his trademark grin still plastered to his face.
“Your majesty”, he said taking his leave of her. Tor nodded her head and gave him a little wink before once again resuming her distant, regal manner.
He turned to look at Pelath, and without warning wrapped his huge arms around Pelath in a friendly embrace that left him blushing and his senses reeling.
“See ya later little bud”, he replied before sauntering off down the line, without waiting for a response.
Pelath tried to see where he was headed but Tor started talking to him, requiring his immediate attention.
Advisement. The others wont introduce themselves. Hadrian was a special case. As a Lord-Holder he has certain privileges that aren’t available to other people. Lord-Holders and Lord-Keepers require an introduction because of their station, all others are spared little consideration until after your ascension ceremony. Only one more person you need to greet formally and one can hardly wait for that conversation.
Pelath noted a hint of wry amusement at the end of that statement, but decided not to pursue it.
One by one, the rest of the adepts filed past, disrobing in the same manner as Hadrian had, dipping their heads in reverence to the queen with a “Your majesty” and bowing to Pelath with a “Your lordship” before recollecting their robes and moving on down the line.
Tor kept a running commentary in Pelath’s head about who was who and what they did.
The first to approach after Hadrian was a tall, painfully thin, almost skeletal man, approximately 6’5”, appearing to be in his middle ages with wispy greying blond hair. His grey eyes scanned Pelath from top to toe, before he allowed his otherwise impassive face to give break out in a genuine smile that made him appear years younger.
Toran Ebuked – High Mage to the Ruling Council of Chimoya and their territories. Nice enough man, doesn’t say much though but with his abilities who would need to…
Toran was followed by a short dumpy, grandmotherly woman, probably not much bigger than 5’, who had a permanent smile plastered to her plump features. She appeared to be old beyond all comprehension but her presence alone seemed to be all that was necessary to maintain her existence in the mortal realm, and her rich woody brown eyes were surprisingly clear and youthful.
Artilus Ben-Ishet – High Summoner of the Arkoti Plains people and sacred keeper of the tribal title “Setkan Kibaunara” – “She-Who-Remembers-The-Past.” Interesting woman, but you can talk to her later. Moving on…
The next man to approach made Pelath want to laugh. He looked like he had gotten too close to a power point, his frizzy hair standing on end, making him look wild and a little touched in the head. His watery eyes darted around the room aimlessly, never stopping long enough to focus or concentrate on anything in particular, but Pelath noticed a shrewdness about him that was belied by his posture and stance. He stuttered his way through the short greeting, his eyes locking with Pelath’s at the end. He suddenly felt like a bug under a microscope beneath his gaze and Pelath quite quickly realised that this man missed nothing, his wild and seemingly haphazard appearance carefully cultivated to keep others off balance. Pelath grinned at him and winked, and was rewarded with a barely perceptible smile, that most would have assumed to be a nervous tick, but communicated his understanding and his pride at Pelath’s perceptiveness.
Wyatt Toren – Principle of the college of Magic in the city of Anendorian. Most think him mad but beneath that carefully cultivated image of wondering insanity lies a mind more expansive than you could possibly comprehend. He’s one of those special people who wonder the fine line between genius and insanity, and most of the time you cant tell which is which with him.
Following Wyatt was a child who appeared to be no older than 13 or 14. He had short cropped, sandy blond hair, ivory complexion, wiry musculature and wore only a knee length keratha and a simple silver band around his right arm. It was his eyes that got to Pelath though. They weren’t the eyes of a young child. These eyes had seen centuries, possibly even millennia uncounted and the weight of all that accumulated knowledge was clearly evident in their sapphire blue depths.
Bartelloya Anaradi – Third degree Oracle and one of the most powerful mages to walk this continent since the old ones were destroyed. He took this form over two hundred years ago and it appears to be holding out better than the last ones did, or so I have heard.
A woman in her late twenties or early thirties approached next. She was quite pretty with jet back hair that fell to just above her knees in a long, straight, shiny sheet. She was quite tall, about the same size as Pelath, maybe just a little shorter. Her skin was pale as moonlight and her emerald green eyes enhanced her natural beauty ten fold.
Teglita Anaradi – Not related to Bartelloya, though they do share the same common ancestor. She is a dragon keeper and an adept in the arts of Shadow.
Another woman approached who could have been Teglita’s identical twin but for her blonde hair and lavender blue eyes.
Pelegra Ben-Coraben – dragon keeper, adept in the arts of light and mated to Teglita. Those two are so close they almost seem to be one person; more often than not finishing each other’s sentences.
Looking at the next adept, Pelath could only describe her as being average. She was 5’5”, with mousy brown hair and average looks. She wasn’t fat nor was she thin, she just looked… soft. She was the type of person that if you were introduced to her at a party, you would forget who she was the moment you turned your back, but for the overwhelming presence of power that she radiated.
Miconia Akani – High Mage to King Radyuka in the city of Tor Ecenoi. She is adept in the arts of sound, you’ll see what I mean soon enough; by the Gods that woman can sing.
The second to last adept bore a striking resemblance to Miconia, though she looked slightly older, was a little taller at 5’7” and was thin to the point of emaciation, which enhanced her facial features instead of neutralizing them. Her hair was a deep rich auburn that fell just past her shoulders in waves and her dark brown eyes sparkled with delight.
Moromuntia Akani – Sister to High Mage Miconia and principle at the Tor Ecenoi College of Magic. She is adept in the arts of darkness.
As the last adept came forward Pelath recognized him as his own and was relieved. He was struck by how odd the sensation felt, but quickly dismissed the feelings as he prepared for an introduction.
Pelath looked at his adepts clasp and did a double take. Instead of seeing the normal lapis dragon, this one had a seam of deep green jade that ran through it from its emerald eye to the tip of its tail.
He glanced up at the still robed figure, who made no move to remove it. Pelath waited and watched to see what would happen next.
Explanation forthcoming. Lord-Keepers forgo formalities. Watch this one carefully.
Pelath just nodded and silent raised his wards without so much as a whisper, as Lakina had instructed him.
He was aware when the tendrils of thought slipped across his sensory grid, he was aware when his mental shields kicked in and viciously repelled the perceived threat and he was aware when Tor’s laughter rumbled through the vaults of his mind.
He watched and mentally chuckled to himself, as the adept seemed to stumble slightly from the effects of the ward before recomposing himself.
Tor threw her head back and roared with dragon laughter, which sounded much like the roar of a lion, but filled with mirth, joy and a certain childlike mischievousness. She composed her self, her emerald green eyes changing to bright green turquoise, as she stared lovingly a the robed adept.
Love. Joy. Amusement. That will teach you!
The adept laughed. He held his hand up and drew a miniscule amount of his personal potential and began to mutter an incantation under his breath. He brought his hand to the hood of his robe. Pelath noticed that his hands had a fluid grace to them that was enhanced by his long slender fingers. The skin on his hands and arms was a creamy mocca colour and Pelath watched fascinated at the way his forearm muscles rippled as his fingers manipulated the potential into the narrow confines of his intent.
He held his palm open beneath his robes hood and blew. A blue mist descended from the palm of his hand to the floor.
‘ Ok lets see what I’m dealing with’, the adept thought to himself.
He closed his eyes… and fell into the awareness that was the mist-mind.
The adept felt the cyclic hum of Pelath’s sensory grid almost immediately. He felt it pulse, and then momentarily pause as it registered his awareness and its implications in the otherwise benign spell.
‘This could be tricky’, he mused, impressed more than he expected himself to be.
Pelath felt the spell register on his sensory grid as benign but curious. ‘He must have a reason for doing it this way’, he thought and the realized he was being tested. He lowered his wards, trusting the intentions of his adept, who could have easily tried to hurt him before now.
The mist mind felt Pelath’s wards and shields collapse and the excess potential helped it to increase its size and scope. The adept had intended to take this slowly but Pelath’s willingness to trust his intentions made him pause to think…
The adept willed the mist to spread and it did so moving out to encircle the floor beneath Pelath’s feet. He felt the circular energy imprints of the now dormant shield wards, which hummed slightly as the mist moved over them.
As quickly as it had all began, it was over, the adept willing himself back to his own body before banishing the mist.
“Wow! That was a trip!” The adept gasped out, almost breathless with excitement, banishing any remaining tension in the air.
“Your wards are the craziest shit I have EVER seen, and that’s saying a lot”
He turned to address Tor, “Girlie, you know ‘bout all this?”
Mischievousness. Fondness. Yes Ty, I did.
“And you didn’t tell me?”
Considering question. Sarcasm. And where would the fun be in that if one had?
“Your not being very nice you know?”
One was not aware that being nice was on ones job description, speaking of which hypocrite, you haven’t introduced yourself properly
“I take it you two know each other then?” Pelath asked, his eyebrow raised and a grin plastered to his face.
“Far to well to be bothered with formalities” the adept replied, “I helped raise Girlie here”
The adept deftly flicked the hidden mechanism on his robes clasp, and like all the others it snapped, clicked and whizzed.
He stepped forward, extending his hand for a friendly shake.
“Hi, I’m Tylani, Lord-Keeper of Tarn-Eyid-Ebulien dragon Keep. Its nice to finally meet you properly Pelath and please call me Ty, all my friends do.” He gushed with barely suppressed excitement and enthusiasm.
Pelath extended his hand to accept the greeting and looked into Ty’s eyes.
Snap! – Eyes locked as hands clasped, electricity flowing through the contact and amber eyes gazed up into amber eyes.
Click! – Emotion swirled in each of their gazes, their eyes changing colour so fast they seemed to glow in varying hues from darkest brown to brightest gold before once again settling on amber.
Whiz! – Oblivion rose and enfolded them both in its warm embrace…
End Chapter 5
Old Keloi Translations
(1) “I take it Lakina was given you instruction?” - Hadrian
(2) “You could say that. She taught me enough to be aware but not too much to hinder the learning process. Does that answer pretty much all your questions?” - Pelath