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Lady of My Heart Ch. 04
Healing a Dragon and sealing a bond
As I climb wearily from the wagon that carries Sylvie and a guardsman with a broken ankle, I look ahead of the column to see Dragon and Captain Coby immersed in conversation. Unhitching my hart from the back of the wagon, I mount up and ride toward them. I try to shake off the weariness. Healing is hard work and at this point I have done all I can for poor Sylvie. She is quiet now and sleeps a healing sleep. I hope that my father and the other healers there can do more for her, once we reach the palace.
As I ride forward, I am worrying about what the Dragon is going to think of me when she discovers my secrets. I have not told her who I truly am, though she really hasn’t asked me much of my life before we met. I could possibly keep it from her once we reach the palace, but I see no need to be dishonest about who I am, or rather, who my father and brothers are. I also don’t see any point in staying at some flea-ridden inn outside the palace gates, when I have a perfectly good suite of my own inside.
Ames rides up beside me just as we top a small rise and see the capital city of Burchet laid out before us on the northern edge of the plains. The capital with all its spires and domes gleams in the evening sun. We pull our mounts to the side of the column, allowing them to pass, and stop to behold the view. At least the rain has let up for a while, though the roiling clouds off to the west herald yet more bad weather.
“You look tired Ames; how fares your patient?”
“She is sleeping now. I hope there is more help for her at the palace.”
“Andy and I were discussing the selection of inns, it seems a few new ones have sprung up since I was last here, and there is even one that has a bathhouse!”
“Well, we don’t really need an inn. Let’s ride at the back of the column a while. I need to explain something to you.”
Don’t need an inn? Ames seems awfully nervous for some reason. I rein Bore around and follow Ames to the rear, wondering what it is that has her so anxious and what she has to explain to me. Approaching the end of the line, I give the rearguard an icy glare, sending them back to give us some privacy.
“Now, what is it, love? You seem very anxious.”
“Well, we haven’t really discussed much of my past and I didn’t see a need before now to tell you about my family. You see….”
Ah, she is worried I will not find her family to my liking. Whew! I thought I was in for real trouble.
“I am sure I will love your family, dear, no need to worry. I can get along with most folk and I promise to be nice no matter what.”
“Dragon, you don’t understand. We don’t need to find an inn because I have my own apartments in the palace.”
“In the palace? Ames, who are you?”
“It’s not me really, it’s more the rest of the family. I am just a healing mage that learned a little battle magic from her big brother.”
“But then who is your family? Why are you being so weird about this?”
“Can we just wait till we get there and I can introduce you to them all? I know this is strange, but trust me please.”
“Ames, you have my heart and I would trust you with my life in an instant. Say no more. I promise to love you just the same, even if you introduce me to an ogre as your father and a harpy as your mother.”
Eraat huddles in fear near a blackened and bloody stone altar on a ridge above the edge of the plain. It has done what had to be done. Now Master will have a way into this world. The earth trembles and lightning flares. Amid the tremendous crack of thunder, a hulking shadowy form emerges. Eraat screams in terror as the figure lets forth a tremendous howling bellow.
“Eraaaaaat! You have failed me!”
Eraat curls into as small a ball as it can manage and whimpers; it knows what is coming.
“Master! Forgive me Master! The mage, she is too strong for me. I tried to use the warrior against her but I was foiled again and again.”
“You think allowing them to reach the capital and join with the arch mage and the ass of a wizard that took my stone was a good idea? Now we will have to raze half the city to get the stone and my revenge. I promise you, I will have them both!”
The hulking figure gestures. Blue flames crackle and pour forth to surround Eraat and it screams until it loses its voice and then screams silently.
Reaching the gates of the city, I begin to see what power and privilege Ames is used to. The gate guards wave Captain Coby and his men through, while Ames and I are asked to pull to the side. I fully expect to be questioned about my reasons for being here, only to find that a coach is readied. The two of us and all our gear are transferred to it. I am amazed at the change in Ames’ demeanor as she deals with the men.
“Place our mounts in the royal stables please, my good men, along with the rest of the arch mage’s beasts and tell the stable hands to treat the war horse nicely or he will show his ire.”
Once we are bursa otele gelen escort in the coach and rumbling off toward the palace, I cannot help but question her.
“Ames? The arch mage? Why the coach ride?”
“Yes, Dragon, my father is the King’s arch mage and in charge of the palace infirmary as well as regulating all the mages that travel with the troops in battle. All of the gentry are brought to the palace in coaches. It saves having to provide as many mounted guards through the seedier parts of the city.”
Pulling down the shades on both sides of the enclosed coach, she moves over onto my lap and draws me in for a kiss.
“Now, are we going to use the first time we have had alone together for over a week to discuss my family and palace policies or for something far more enjoyable?”
How can I possibly pass up such an invitation? I return her kiss with the fervor of a lover denied pleasure far too long and slide my hand beneath her bunched robes, searching for her center. She shifts over to straddle my lap and reaches between our bodies to untie the drawstring on my trews, sliding her hand down inside to cup my sex. The kiss continues as we both find our goals and moan into each other’s mouths.
She is so hot and so wet she seems to burn my fingers as they sink into her. I have to gasp as she enters me in one swift plunge, thumbing my clit. I break the kiss, sliding down her neck to her shoulder, biting gently there, and then laving the nip with my tongue as she seizes my earlobe in her teeth.
The carriage begins to rock just a little more than it should as our motions, hidden with in it, increase in intensity. I feel a huge orgasm building in my loins and moan against the skin of her neck. She starts to clench around my fingers and I know that she is nearing release as well, then it happens. She reaches out to touch my mind and I reach back, the mental embrace doubling our pleasure and sending us both tumbling into ecstasy. Pleasure arcs back and forth between us leaving us both gasping for air as the coach comes to a rumbling stop, and we must hurry to right our clothing as someone raps on the door.
Ames whispers into my ear as she climbs off my lap.
“Just wait till I get you into my bed, I am not finished with you!”
I scramble to keep up as she descends from the coach amid a gaggle of women that somehow knew of our arrival.
“Bessimara, have all the bags, both hers and mine, taken to my chambers. We are going straight to the baths. Also, send for Stephan. I need to see him within the hour. If we are not back from the baths when he arrives, have him wait.” The woman servant sets to work.
“Dragon, please tell me all of your clothes are not so travel weary.”
“No, I have dress leathers and armor as well. Why?”
“Good, you will need them! Ambrian! Find my mother, father and both my brothers. Tell them I wish to meet in my father’s study before dinner. Josanne, see to the unpacking, bring my emerald gown and accessories to the baths, and…Dragon, where is she to find your leathers?”
“In the black pack with my ….”
“You heard her, Josanne, the black pack, bring the leathers you find there to the baths as well. Follow me, Dragon, we have but a couple of hours till we must meet with my family.”
Damn! She reminds me of one of the sergeants in the mercenary troop yelling orders at recruits. I think I might like this side of her that I have not seen until today.
Eraat huddles in the back of the cave, watching Master toy with the Shepherd. It was easy to find him leading his flock back towards the city at dusk and Master was pleased when it brought him here. Maybe Master will not be so mean to Eraat now. Master gestures and the Shepherd’s body levitates rotating slowly, as Master drains it of both life force and information. As Master finishes the body drops to the floor, now only a shriveled dry husk.
“Eraat! Go to the city. Do not allow yourself to be seen. Find the king’s younger brother Morbern drinking in the inn near the river. Bring him to me, alive and unharmed. We will need an army and an army needs a cause, even if it be a drunken jealous sibling.”
Eraat scurries from the cave to do the Master’s bidding.
I stand before a mirror in the baths. Ames is surrounded by several maids, fussing with her dress and hair. I take a quick survey of myself, hoping I will meet with Ames’ approval. Skintight leather britches in navy blue, a sky blue silk shirt that matches my eyes perfectly, topped by a navy leather vest and a sweeping navy blue cape embroidered with my signature dragon in gold.
At my throat hangs the memento of my last trip to the palace some twenty years ago. It is an outsized replica of the king’s seal in gold, awarded only to those the king would praise for courage and honor in battle. I earned it while working with the king’s forces as a mercenary.
I’d been sorely wounded and had apparently done miraculous and courageous deeds. I did not escort bayan know then, nor do I now. I had not awakened from the wound fever until several days after I’d been brought to the capital for treatment. I have only vague memories of the battle that are strangely interspersed with erotic images of a fiery red haired lover.
The maids depart and I turn to behold absolute beauty. The emerald silk of her gown is nearly as bright and deep as her eyes, and the combination sets off the fiery highlights in her auburn hair. The neckline plunges to just this side of propriety, displaying a breath-catching cleavage above her trim waist and the feminine flare of her hips. Looking at her and recalling that red haired lover of twenty years ago, it seems almost as if I am beholding the dream again in the present. As we look into each other’s eyes I can feel the love and lust flare between us. I take a step forward reaching for her, only to be gently rebuffed.
“No time now, my love, we must meet with the family tailor in my chambers. Your leathers are magnificent but you are going to need several more sets of those if we are to be here for very long. I expect that my parents will try to keep us here several months just to make sure I am in good hands before we continue our journey.”
She sweeps by me into the corridor, leaving me to hurry along behind. It seems when we are on the road and in battle I am the leader, but here she is in her element and takes the lead without a thought.
Jaxarina pours herself a drink and paces the study nervously, awaiting the arrival of her daughter Ames and her new lover. She is praying that the rumors being bandied about the palace already are not true, that it is not the same Dragon. Though her husband Bedrian has always known that she is bi-sexual and has no problem with her little escapades while on campaign, none of her children are aware of it. To have them discover it because she had bedded her daughter’s current lover, though it be twenty years in the past, would be an embarrassment, to say the least. For this reason she is here early, hoping to address the situation with her daughter and this present Dragon before the others arrive.
Bedrian and Vorlayin enter the King’s chambers, finding the monarch staring out the window at the gathering storm on the horizon.
“We came as soon as we could Your Majesty; I assume you felt it as well?”
“Yes Bedrian, one would have to be mage blind to have missed such an occurrence, surely. It seems our taking of the stone has brought this matter to a head before we expected. The demon we shall not name has entered into this world to retrieve his possession. I hope that you and your sons can protect the city.”
“Yes, Majesty, that is why it took us so long to arrive. We have all the wizards of the university building wards as we speak. It’s a shame we were not able to take the second and third stones before he crossed over. Without the three he would be weakened beyond being a danger to us. With just the one taken out, we will still have a tough battle on our hands.”
“I’m ordering the troops to high alert. Though it’s likely to be mostly a battle of magic, I can’t rule out needing the army before it is over. I hear that the Dragon has come to the city with your daughter; are they aware of recent developments?”
Vorlayin steps forward.
“My father and I are to meet with them before dinner your majesty. As far as I know the Dragon is as yet unaware that they were followed here or where the interference along their way came from. In fact she likely has not discovered that I am Ames’ older brother yet either. When I hired her to guard the cave I did not feel the need to inform her. We are not sure what her reactions will be but if you say she is up to the task, then one could not wish for a better recommendation.”
“If ever there was a warrior born to thwart a demon and its spawn, it is the Dragon. If half the tales of her are true, and I have no reason to doubt them from what I know of her personally, the demon does not stand a chance.”
Eraat leads the drunken Morbern toward the cave. Why must he move so slowly, and the smell. He reeks of drink and piss. Eraat hopes Master will be pleased. Reaching the cave Eraat shoves the drunkard forward.
I stop to open the study door for Ames, smiling as she passes through it and then following her, to find myself suddenly face to face with a memory. The woman standing there is an older version of Ames and when she sees me all the color drains from her face. It is then that I realize this is the woman from the battlefield twenty years ago and I gasp at the implication.
“Mother, this is Dragon. Dragon, this is my mother. Mother? What is the matter? Dragon? NO! How could you?”
Ames whirls around, heading for the door. I step in front of her. She begins to pound my chest with her fists crying uncontrollably and I can feel her anguish in my own heart.
“Daughter! Hear me out. Your father has mudanya escort always known that I am bi-sexual and enjoy short liaisons with other women while campaigning with the troops. Twenty years ago I had one pleasurable afternoon with a young mercenary warrior. That night she was wounded in battle but continued to fight valiantly, killing the enemy leader and saving the lives of many of our troops. She fell ill with the wound fever and was brought back to the capital for treatment. I have not seen her since the night she was wounded and from her reaction I do not think she remembered me until just now. I can sense the great love you have for each other. Do not throw that away because of one afternoon’s frolic twenty years in the past.”
Ames buries her head in my shoulder, holding me now, and continues to cry. I try my best to send soothing energy to her with my mind but I can still feel a deep hurt within her. I wonder if it will ever heal and if I have lost her love forever. I fail to notice her mother’s shocked expression as I try to soothe her. As a mage she can sense that I am using the bond between us, though unwittingly.
As if things needed to get any more emotional or upsetting her father Bedrian and brother Vorlayin enter.
“What is going on here? Ames, what is wrong?”
I feel her start at the sound of her father’s loud voice and try again to send her soothing strength.
“You, you are bonded? Without benefit of the warding ceremony? Ames, what have you done?”
“Sir, Archmage Sir, let me explain, you see it was twenty years ago and….”
“Quiet warrior, this has nothing to do with that! She has bonded the two of you. Are you not aware of it?”
Ames is literally cowering in my arms now and I feel not only the hurt but also fear, shame and dread emanate from her.
“Bonded? I am not sure what it is you speak of. We are in love, Sir, and I swear to care for her and love her for the rest of my life. If that is a bond in your eyes, as it is in mine, then yes we are bound.”
“Ames, you did this without telling her or explaining the consequences? And with no warding to protect either of you? Do you realize you have committed the most heinous crime that a mage can commit in doing this? This is a matter for the King to hear, and I hope he has pity on you for what you have done.”
The arch mage steps up to take her from my arms and I am sorely tempted to resist, but Vorlayin catches my eye and shakes his head. I release her with great reluctance as her father pulls her away and toward the door.
“Vorlayin and I will take her to the King. Jax, you need to inform Dragon exactly what has happened, its results and what the penalty for this might be. I would think that her reaction will greatly influence the King’s decision in the matter, so bring her along to the council chambers when you have explained it all. Dragon, you need to know I bear you no ill-will for events twenty years in the past, but whatever you have done to turn my daughter into a criminal is an entirely different matter.”
“Father stop! I did it while she was sleeping, she had nothing to do with it. I just wanted to help her heal and to protect her. I did what I did knowing what could happen and I will face the consequences. The fault is mine and mine alone.”
“Hey, what? Who?”
Master reaches out and grabs the drunkard, silencing him instantly. This is one of Master’s least liked acts, but in order to retrieve the stone and have revenge it must be done. A sickly green light surrounds them both, the drunkard screams, a faint light seems to rise from his head and then he goes limp. Master begins to fade into a shimmering light and the light enters the mouth of the drunkard. When all of the light is inside what was once Morbern, but is now the Master, it opens its eyes and shakes itself.
Now it can enter the city and the palace. Now it can foment rebellion and raise an army. When the city falls and the kingdom is his to rule, his revenge will be complete.
As the door closes behind her husband and their two oldest children, Jaxarina goes to the sideboard and pours a glassful of brandy, handing it to Dragon.
“Sit, drink and listen. I fear you are not going to like what I have to explain.”
Dragon falls into an ornate armchair, a million thoughts roiling in her mind. What has Ames done? What will they do to her? If they imprison her is it possible I can break her out? If I can get her free where can we run? Jaxarina interrupts her thoughts with a question.
“Dragon, do you know the difference between a mage and a wizard?”
“No, well, I am not sure what you mean. I know that mages heal for the most part and wizards do battle but then there are some that do both like Ames and yourself.”
“Mages deal with the magic of life force. They work with healing mind, body and soul, drawing their energy mostly from within themselves and their patients, though they can in an emergency, draw from life around them like a forest full of trees or a herd of deer. Wizards on the other hand work with the magic of the land, using channels of energy beneath the land itself. It is a much more powerful magic and also much more dangerous to the user. They use it for both destructive things like battle and for constructive tasks, like levitating the stones to build a castle.”
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