Contest Entry – Daring to DreamReturn to: 2005 Contest (Autobiographies)
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Character Name: Sylla
Daring to Dream
It truly was a lovely day to dream. The sounds drifting in from the city’s decorative street were light during this quiet hour just after dawn. Gilded doors were open to ready the welcome of business and gold inlayed shutters spread wide to allow a cool ocean breeze to dance through each shop. Yes it truly was her favorite time of the day.
The sunlight flittering in from the newly opened windows was already beginning to warm the soft sandstone in which her fingers absently caressed, causing an unconscious smile to curl over her soft lips. The simple joys were always the ones that made her smile the most. The warmth upon her fingers, the dawn of a new day, and just now, Joshua the poor Shepard.
Her gazed followed the friend in which she had secretly treasured since childhood, now. Joshua had always understood her curiosity in his profession. Understanding her desire to know more about taming, instead of scolding her when she slipped from her bedroom window at night and into his camp to beg of tales from his homeland, and about his beloved flock. Tales and lessons would delight her for a week each season, holding her over and giving her smiles as she dredged through the rather boring life she led between his stays.
The frown he held upon his weathered features she understood so well and wished she could rush out of the shop she was required to keep, to comfort his wounded spirit. It was the last day of his stay in Magicina and the day he sold some of his beloved flock to the local butcher. While being a Shepard was his profession and kept him meagerly fed, it was never a joy for him to turn over the animals he had raised to trust and love him. How she wished others in this city could follow Joshua’s example and calm the rush their desire for wealth, replacing it with more humble joys.
If only her parents were like Joshua… No, she whispered to herself with a forceful tone and closed her eyes, chasing away the thought. It was horrid of her to think ill of her family and whispering wishes for change would do little for them now. She simply had to accept that her parents could not have turned out any other way with the upbringing they had received from their wealthy families and the fault of their beliefs were not to be placed upon them. After all, her parents were quite doting and did care for her future… as part of their own.
With a sigh, Sylla let her lashes sweep downward to cover her troubled soul and willed her thoughts to change. It would never help to dwell on a subject she had already thought too much of. Nor was it going to do any good in changing her parent’s minds about sending her to Moonglow to become a skilled mage. A skilled mage to run a family owned mage shop that would be passed down through the generations and provide wealth for herself, her children and the continuing line of DiamondFyre. She had to constantly remember this instead of leaning upon all that Joshua had taught her with his visits and all the dreams her hungry heart had whispered into her ear.
Like a dragon rising to dowse her dreams in flames, her brother’s voice penetrated her thoughts and caused her to turn guiltily towards him as he walked in from the backroom of the shop. Obviously having taken the rear entrance in order to catch her daydreaming, something she was commonly known to do at this hour of the day and it was just as obvious each time she was caught, how ridiculous her family thought her.
“By King British’s Sword, Sylla, how many times do I have to tell you to stop your daydreaming and have this place ready before the first customer of the day walks through those doors? My god, you haven’t even picked up a single cloth to clean the gems.” Thrusting a hand through his pale hair, Lyander frowned darkly at his sister and broke his own rule of touching anything to do with manual labor by shaking the cleaning cloth at her.
“And how many times must I tell you, Ly, that these gems don’t require scrubbing, day in and day out.” To prove her point, Sylla stepped away from the sun-warmed column that had supported her drifting thoughts and body. Stroking her fingertip over the gleaming gold of the pattern adorning the column, she raised a brow at her brother and thrust her fingertip out for his inspection as he marched around the counter towards her. “See, not a bit of dust, dirt or grime.”
Grinding his teeth together, Lyander grabbed her hand and slapped the cloth into her palm almost painfully. “Whether you like it or not, it’s to be done by father’s wishes and the customers will notice.” With a dramatic gesture of pressing his left hand upon his silk covered chest and trusting at his index finger from his right, he nearly squealed like one of Joshua’s beloved pigs, “Look! Smudges! Sylla customers notice this and it reflects badly upon our family! Do you really want us to fall upon bad times?”
With an exasperated sigh caused from the dramatics she was used to and the much too familiar speech, Sylla closed her eyes for patience and took a deep breath. Tomorrow couldn’t come too soon. Tomorrow, the day when she would be pushed off to study in Moonglow with many other budding mages and not have to deal with this ridiculousness for a few years. A few blessed years of not having to worry about patrons and requirements of the wealthy, would surely be enough to hold her over for the rest of her life… right?
The hours of the day didn’t seem to move fast enough as she worked alongside her brother until her mother and father slipped in towards the noon hour. Only then was she allowed to take a quick few moments of breath between snooty customers and the constant griping from her family members about her not paying attention. All during her short break she thought of tomorrow when she would pick up her pack and walk towards the moongate that would take her towards sights and experiences she had long wished for.
In wasn’t until midday that she realized that she was lost. The realization come slow because she had been enjoying the warmth of the sunlight bathing over her pale skin and smiling with constant enjoyment of the cloudless day. The way the sunlight flittered in through the lush trees and caused the gentle breeze of the day to be rather comforting, had caused her mind to drift after she had stepped through the moongate leaving Magicina.
This small detour had been meant to find her a bit of peace before turning in the direction of Moonglow and the years of education that awaited her. Just a little moment to herself and a bit of exploration that had never been allowed to her.
Oh yes, she was definitely lost she thought again as she paused to survey the forest around her. Placing her palms upon the perch of her hips, she softly bit upon her bottom lip in thought and tried to recall just how far she might have wandered from the moongate. “Just lovely,” she whispered to herself and had to fight the bubble of laughter that attempted to slip from her slender throat. She couldn’t help the sparkle of joy that had caused the laughter because well… it was lovely. Everything around her was lovely and even the simple joy of knowing she wasn’t within the rich and crowded streets of Magicina lifted her heart.
It was then, in that momentary pause from her wandering, that she heard the rustle of brush and tilted her head in curiosity as her gazed followed the sound to the area of the forest slightly in front of her. When the small creature leapt out from behind it’s leafy shelter with a shrill squeal, Sylla jumped back in surprise and had a hard time fighting the laughter that tickled at the corners of her lips as she forced them to smile. The little creature blinked at her as if it too were surprised to see her standing there, for it’s huge yellow eyes widened further and it’s large mouth opened slightly in a sharp, bucktoothed grin.
“Hello,” Sylla said with pleasure and bent her knees so that she was almost level with the creature that didn’t quite stand as tall as her waste. “I didn’t mean to startl- oh!” Sylla’s apology was cut off almost as soon as it started when the creature made a jump, it’s tiny arms and legs spread as it made its leap for her. A leap that would have sent her tumbling down with its round and budgie blue body.
“Ah Ha! Gotcha!!!” explained a strong, young male voice as the curiously ugly creature was sliced from the air with the shining sweep of the man’s broadsword. Panting, the sturdy youth in front of her offered his hand and beamed down at her in pride, his heart obviously glowing from having protected a damsel in distress. “You really should be careful miss, those horde minions can bite quite meanly and run amuck all over these woods.”
Accepting his hand with a bit of embarrassment, Sylla smiled and stood before releasing his helpful hold. “I’m sorry, I’m not from this area and had never seen one of the little devils before. He didn’t look all that threatening at first. Odd yes, but certainly not threatening.”
The young man smiled in a rather cute and lopsided way as he pointed down at the now dead horde minion with the tip of his blade, his golden crop of hair wild from wind and pursuit of the creature. “This one slipped through our protective lines and was rushing towards the town. It’s a good thing I saw him slip through and ran after him or you might have found yourself missing a few limbs.”
A shiver danced up her spine as she rubbed her gloved hands over her arms in thankfulness that indeed she had not met such a fate and her gaze studied the young man. He was rather young and she couldn’t for the world of her understand why he should be holding a sword instead of a ball. “You’re part of the guard? Aren’t you a little young to be welding a sword?”
“Well to be honest, mistress, it’s either take up a sword and defend my family or become the snack of a horde minion. Myself, and many others around my age, fight off the army of horde minions that are invading our beloved city of Haven. I would rather be here than anywhere else,” he said confidently, the tilt of his chin telling of bravery and dedication to his cause.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to insult you. I did not know where I had wandered after having taken a random destination from the moongate for a short bit of exploration. Besides that um… horde minion, so far your home has presented me with many lovely sights and I can fully understand your desire to keep it safe.” Smiling, she offered her hand this time in greeting and almost wished the youth’s mother could see his gallant gesture of taking her fingers gently in his gauntleted hand, taking it to his lips in a gentlemanly kiss of greeting. “Would you perhaps be able to direct me back towards the part of your town where I can find some fresh water. I fear mine has long sense become warm from the heat of the day.”
The young man seemed to beam at the opportunity to further assist her and sheathed his bloody sword before gesturing for her to join him in the direction in which he had just run from. “Of course, milady! If you will follow me to my post so that I might report back to my commander that the escaped horde minion was taken care of, I can help you gather anything you might need from our post and even a moment of entertainment if you find yourself in need of a rest from your travels.”
Having had quite a delightful conversation with the young man she now knew to be named Roland and many of the guards who worked beside him on the front lines of the horde minion invasion, Sylla sat back against the fort’s wooden wall and smiled. It had been hours since she had sat down among the young men as they came off the field of battle and enjoyed stories about their lives, passions and dreams for the future. Dreams that seemed so vibrant and filled with desire to improve not only their selves but also their families. The gentle pride in their eyes touched her heart and as the sun began to slip beneath the cover of the horizon, her lashes began to sweep heavily downward to rest like two elegant fans upon her pale cheeks.
“Hurry! Grab the aids or it’ll only get worse! We’ve got to stop the bleeding!” came a scream through her slumber and jerked her upright upon the wooden wall of the fort. What was going on? Was someone hurt? Blinking away the fog of sleep, Sylla scanned other’s who had been resting in the warmth of the fort’s single room as paladins assigned to the night watch rushed a wounded warrior into the room’s comfort.
Covering her mouth to keep a worried weep from slipping from her lips, she slid up onto her knees to permit more room to the skilled healers assigned to the fort as they rushed to the side of the youth now laying upon the wooden floor. Whimpering and whispering prayers between the flashes of extreme pain, the youth’s head rocked back and forth upon the hard floor as the deep gash in his side split his life’s blood from his body. Without thought of the soft leather of her fine leggings, Sylla moved quickly to the youth and lifted his head gently to rest upon her bend legs as she sat back on her feet.
For an hour Sylla watched with the process of the healers and smoothed her gentle hands over the youth’s damn feature and hair, offering comfort in the most basic human way she knew how; touch. Unconsciously Sylla selected the song that her mother had often sung when she herself had fallen ill or hurt. Letting its gentle comfort whisper over the youth, she smiled thanks to Roland as he picked up his lute from the corner and followed her song with skill. Between Roland, the healers and herself, the youth survived through the night and from the words of the medics, had quite a chance to see him to old age. Though the wound would cause him to have to remove himself from the battle for a bit of time and the fort would slightly suffer from one less guard, everything for the moment was calm and well as the sun rose into a new day.
Tired yet invigorated from the events of the night, Sylla sat back again against the fort’s wall with a happy sigh and knowledge that the youth would live. She might not have been part of that healing process by patching his wounds but she was sure that her song had caused the boy comfort. Even the healers had smiled at her in thanks and whispered words of encouragement to her, letting her know that what she did made their work easier. She knew she could never do what their skilled fingers had done but… could she do what Roland’s fingers had and continue to give comfort through the power of a lute.
Standing to stretch out the soreness of her limbs and brushing off dirt, a determination to find out more about this beautiful talent of comfort filled her. She was not truly required to be in Moonglow for three more days and surely that would be enough time for her to look into this new discovery. Placing her pack upon the single table in the small room she checked her supplies for the continued journey and pulled her canteen from its contents. Crossing the room to fill the canteen from the keg of fresh, cool water, she overheard a young man rise as well from his spot upon the floor and stretch for the new day. Out of the corner of her eyes she watched him brush off his rusty ring mail legs and stretch sorely beneath the old metal of his tunic.
It was then that she noticed what she had been too busy to notice earlier. It was no wonder these poor boys were having a hard time keeping back the small threat of the horde minions! Their armor was horribly old and weak, holding no true strength or protection from the sharp teeth of the minions and thus explaining why she had noticed so many of the youth tattered with wounds. Outraged at their commander, she slapped down her canteen and marched up the short stairs that led to the roof she knew their commander would be watching from.
“Commander Nathan, I must speak with you right away!” having never been so forceful or so mad in all her life, Sylla marched towards the man she had talked briefly with upon her having first entered the fort the day before. Upon meeting him she had found a respect for the dark haired man for taking so much responsibility when he was barely above her own 20 years. Now however, her disapproval blazed within the hot fury of her pale blue gaze, “What are you thinking sending these boys into battle in such a state as this?”
Commander Nathan turned his far too old gaze towards the glowing glory of the beautiful woman beside him and lowered his spyglass that allowed him to inspect all areas of the battle. With a tired sigh, Nathan raised a brow and tried to keep his voice calm, “What state would that be, Mistress DiamondFyre? A state far less decorative and gem encrusted as your own city would require?”
Her full lips opened to rebuttal the comment and yet the words died upon her lips as she also for the first time took in the armor Nathan himself wore. Why no commander should be so ill protected from an enemy’s weapon wishing to strike him down and leave his troops devoid of leadership. “I… I’m sorry, I was gathering water and noticed the poor metal that these boys… men, are wearing. I didn’t mean to imply that they should be wearing armor of the rich or polished for simple display like many of our own warriors in Magicina, but provided with armor that will protect them. These young men are at risk, Commander, why haven’t they been provided with better armor? Why have you yourself not been provided with better funds to protect yourself?”
“That’s a simple answer, Sylla,” Nathan said with much more calmly, understanding that her anger was over the safety of his beloved soldiers. “Haven simply doesn’t have the funds to provide better armor for these boys. They fight with armor passed down from their families or deposited upon the ground from visitors who pass through our town.”
Speechless, Sylla turned to look over the grounds of battle that thankfully at this moment were rather quiet and worried her bottom lip, as was her habit. The whole town was this poor? Her tuition for the Lyceum and stay in Moonglow was more than this city had most likely seen in years. How unfair that even just one year of her stay in the magical city of Moonglow was enough to armor these young men properly and that so many in her town would take that amount for granted. It was no strain at all for her parents to send her to Moonglow for four years and she was positive that if this were the state of Haven, no family here would even hold such a hope to be able to send their children to such a school.
Nathan watched the woman close to his own age and rested his hand upon her shoulder, understanding what was going through her mind. “Do not feel guilty for having come from such as city as your own, Sylla. I’m sorry for my sharp comment before and forgive me for judging you so harshly.”
“No, Commander Nathan, I owe you that apology. Excuse me a moment.” She moved away from Nathan’s side and down the stairs that led back into the quiet room of the fort. Sylla reached for her pack upon the small table and with only a small moment of hesitation, pulled the bag that had weighted her pack down heavily. Walking once more up the stairs and to Nathan’s side she waited until again he could face her and offered her free hand to him. “Commander Nathan, from what I’ve observed in just the few hours of knowing you, I understand you to be a dedicated and caring commander. I have full faith that you will use this well and give your town some renewed hope for the future.”
Turning the hand Nathan had presented to her in a friendly shake within her own, Sylla placed the heavy bag upon his palm and gifted him with a smile that he would forever remember. Before he could question the heavy bag, Sylla removed her hand from underneath his own and whispered with pleasure, “Bring them hope, Commander Nathan. For themselves, their town, and their futures.”
Still puzzled over the bag, Nathan watched as Sylla turned and walked down the stairs that would lead her to her belongs, then the door. Nathan continued to watch as Sylla and her slightly bluish aura walked from his fort, then into the forest leading towards the moongate. What a curious woman, he thought as he let his gaze lower to the heavy bag that he had been forced to grab with both hands and lowered it upon the maps that lay spread upon his war table. With a pull of the bags string, Nathan’s heart leapt and nearly fell to the floor as the sun above set each golden coin to blaze. Jerking his head upward and quickly looking towards the direction of the forest Sylla had just slipped away in, Nathan wished he could call out to her in thanks of the greatest gift his town had ever received. The gift of hope!
With a cry of joy that was more accustomed to his age, Nathan grabbed the bag of gold and rushed down the stairs of his post to present this fabulous news to his troops. Who would in turn take the news to Haven where a great celebration was surely about to be held.
Okay she was sure that if she ever returned to Haven, she was going to have a word with Roland on just what the word fantastic meant. For fantastic was not exactly the term she would use to describe her long walk from the moongate to Britain, the beloved city of Lord British. In fact, she wondered if Roland had ever even visited this busy city as she tried to keep her feet on the ground as the crowd pushed her forward. The shouting was beginning to make her ears hum and the constant traffic kept pushing her forward as she tried to make her way past the bank.
With a huff, she finally managed to get through the thick cluster of people gathered around the bank that sat loud and clear near the bridge entering the city. Why in the world would anyone wish to sit there and listen to that entire gobble? With a shake of her head that sent a few strands of her icy blue hair stroking over her flushed cheeks, Sylla pulled her bag upon her shoulder more firmly and made her way through the proud city towards the direction of the famous Lord British’s Conservatory of Music. A few of the travelers she had met upon the road towards Britain had assured her that she need not worry about gold to get her into the Conservatory but simply talent. Talent she was still not quite sure she held.
As she passed homes and shops in the quieter side of Britain, she began to think maybe she had misjudged Roland’s word. Fantastic truly could be used to describe some of the very tall buildings of the noble city of the King. While the buildings were not decorated in gems and gold like Magicina, the structures held a charm given to them with elegant wood and sturdy stone. The architects had used the best of both materials to create quite fantastic buildings.
One of those fantastic buildings was the one she now found her standing before, it’s entry decorated lushly with trees and plants that seemed well tended. She almost wished she could be one of the trees sitting there so peacefully and protected by loving gardeners, so that she might be forever able to listen to the comforting hum that was drifting through the windows as students practiced on their instruments. Well she almost wished such, she thought as she jerked in response to one of those students missing a note and playing a sound that resembled a wounded duck.
With a deep breath, Sylla entered the school and hopefully a new future that she would be able to successfully return home to her parents in four years with. After all, they couldn’t be all that mad at her for having done such a good deed and discovering how to educate her without the means of gold, right?
It took all of four days before she understand what was going to be her greatest downfall in graduating from the Conservatory, which had reluctantly welcomed her into its arms after a shaky audition. Gabriel Piete was surely a balron in disguise and that horrid instructor’s wand that he carried around with him was almost as painful as his vicious tongue when it swatted at your fingers. In four days she had acquired more bruises on her fingers than she had from handling the reagents in her parents shop back in Magicina. If she or other students missed a note and Gabriel was in swatting distance, you could expect to sport a new color upon your knuckles.
Biting her tongue, Sylla tried to concentrate on her music sheet before her and ignore Balron Breath as she had fondly nicknamed Gabriel. She was actually quite pleased with herself even if he wasn’t. In the last few days she had dove determinedly into understanding the skill of barding and most importantly peacemaking. And she was actually good! Imagine that she thought with a smile, I’m good at something and its not polishing gems!
With a pleasure of having come so far in such a short time, Sylla left the academy that evening a bit tired and excited as she made her way towards the bank that had distressed her so the first day she had entered Britain. She had found that the west bank of Britain wasn’t really all that bad and presented a wonderful way of studying people traveling in from cultures so different from her own. Here she could watch warriors from mighty paladin cities, rangers venturing in from Skara Brae to sell their wears, and many others from exotic lands. One of her favorite spots to watch was the coastline of the river moat that ran around King British’s castle and provided a lovely spot for the mystical pets of tamers.
For days now she had been toying with the idea of asking one of the regal tamers if they would tell her a little bit about their profession and beloved pets. Much as she had questioned Joshua on his seasonal visits but had not found quite the tamer to approach yet. They all seemed so… untouchable in their fine clothing and armor, their vicious pets either beneath them or curled about them in protective, loving holds. Just now she perked up in interest as a tamer walked towards the water that would quench her pet’s thirst and frowned over her wounded pet.
The sleek white wyrm bent it’s long neck in thanks for the cleansing water as the loving tamer slipped beneath the shelter of it’s large leathery wing to examine the beast’s wound. With a frown, Sylla watched the woman try to patch the beast’s wound with a bit of trouble as it jerked with each touch of her fingers.
“I don’t mean to bother… but might I be of some assistance?” Having slipped away from her spot beside the bank wall, Sylla gave the woman a friendly smile of assurance that she meant well and stood still so not to seem threatening to the woman or her wounded pet.
Blinking in surprise, the tamer looked over her shoulder and her green eyes warmed at the offer of help. “Of course, Winter is very sweet and would never harm you, even with her testy mood over this wound.” Soothing her hands over her pet, Summer gestured Sylla close to the white wyrms neck and gave a soft laugh, “I know it might seem odd but Winter actually finds it very comforting if you hug her when she’s not feeling well. Though it’s not my own arms around her, I’m sure she would appreciate the comfort from someone who seems so interested in helping while I patch her up. Don’t worry, she hasn’t bit a human since she was born and tamed,” giggled Summer as she noticed Sylla’s wide eyes and pause at being instructed to hug the large beast’s neck.
Unable to keep her almond shaped eyes from holding their slightly widened look, Sylla carefully stepped forward and let her fingers smooth over the icy white beast after a small pause. The soft gasp she released was one of surprise as she discovered just how silky smooth the pale scales were and that there was an almost soothing coolness that radiated from the icy serpent. “Oh my stars!” she whispered as her arms curled eagerly around the base of the long neck and felt the cool breath of the wyrm as it curled it’s neck to brush it’s nose against her icy blue hair, obviously enjoyed by Sylla’s hold.
Summer smiled from beneath the arched wing of her wyrm and continued her work on the wound as she comfortably spoke with the newcomer. “Thank you for offering assistance. I’ve patched Winter many times before by myself but it’s always nice to have a helping hand or hug,” she laughed and used her teeth for a moment to tear a strip of tape she held on one finger. “My name is Summer, by the way and of course you know this beautiful girl is Winter,” she said with a friendly pat on the white wyrm’s non-wounded, scaly side.
“I’m Sylla and trust me, it’s quite a pleasure to meet you both. I’ve been working up the desire to talk to a tamer for quite a few days and am very glad it was you and Winter whom I could speak with.” Tilting her curious ice blue irises upward and coming nearly face to face with those of the equally pale gaze of the white wyrm, Sylla felt only joy and smiled brightly. “Winter I think you’ve just charmed me into a new passion and I’m not so sure that’s a good thing considering my track record with change these last few days.”
After speaking that night before bed with Summer and sitting within the protection of Winter, Sylla’s mind had indeed been changed. While she had Summer and Winter to thank for this new direction she was determined to seek out, she also had Joshua to thank. Through all those years of her childhood when he had taught her how to tame and care for a flock, he had also given her a compassion that this very city had further brightened. Tomorrow she would tell Balron Breath just where he could take himself and his instructor’s wand, then head off in search of the ranger city. Where her knowledge of animal taming and lore would hopefully further grow.
Panting from having just barely having had her long pale hair set into a fiery torch, Sylla rushed into the welcome arms of the city of Skara Brae. What kind of city let evil mages run around their moongate, she thought with irritation. Patting at her hair and then her blue hued leather, Sylla took a calming breath in knowing that not only had her hair missed a deep fried appearance, but so had the rest of her form. Well for whatever reason those nasty mages were posted near the moongate, was not her concern and certainly not her place to tell a town how to run their guard posts.
Lifting her head after inspecting her limbs and clothing, Sylla nearly squealed again as she watched simply clothed villagers helplessly throw themselves upon a massive white warrior. Oh please her please not have stepped into a city under attack by burly soldiers in armor that she nor obviously the villagers could fend off. With a growl, Sylla tightened her slender gloved fingers around the magical crook that had been a gift from Summer and went in swinging, determined to do her best to help the villagers.
Her crook came down with a hard whack on the metal back of the warrior’s plate mail tunic and the vibration that followed up the crook’s slender shaft nearly caused her teeth to rattle. After having just sent a brigand into flight, Dante Solona swung around with the full intent on crushing the brigand nat who had just possibly dinged his armor and caused his temper to flare higher than it already was. Coming face to face with the clear and very angry gaze of ice blue instead of haunted red, Dante bit back a curse and jerked back the blade that would have cut off her stupid head if he had been a lesser-trained soldier.
With a not so gentle push, the warrior sent Sylla stumbling backward as he made one final swing of his sword and sliced another brigand to its end. Outraged, Sylla rubbed at the small soreness of her chest where Dante’s gauntleted hand had shoved against her and was about to state just how upset she was when he turned to pierce her with his frigid gaze. “Are you stupid?” he growled like an angry bear and clearly wasn’t going to wait for an answer. Snatching hold of her delicate wrist and calling out to a fellow warrior to take his post, Dante pulled a stumbling Sylla along in his wake.
“Release me at once, you slime!” she demanded with just as equal rage and struggled not to fall on her face as his long legged stride marched them further into the city of Skara Brae. Her eyes tried to quickly take in the quaint, wooden buildings and what appeared to be a battle raging within the streets. “How can you live with yourself? How can you kill villagers wearing little more than cloth?”
Dante turned his head in a moment of astonishment at her words and let out a short chuckle before answering, never slowing his pace, “Girl, you certainly can’t be from around here. The city is under attack by brigands and evil mages, making this an unsafe place for travelers and unknowledgeable women like yourself.” With a cocky smirk beneath his engraved white plate helm, Dante came to a stop at Skara Brae’s Inn, The Falconer’s Inn, and jerked the door open. Pushing Sylla into the protective embrace of the inn where he hoped she had the brains to stay put, he couldn’t help raising the flame beneath her temper by patting her head and adding, “Now be a good girl and stay put so you don’t break a nail.”
Sputtering in rage, Sylla watched as the door slammed in her face and took away her chance to deliver a slicing verbal blow. Clinching her fingers into firm fists, she promised herself that she would indeed find a way to slice him down with her words when she next laid eyes upon him. Unless one of those evil mages she had barely escaped sent his into a living torch and removed her chance. Oh well, she could deal with that, she thought and turned with a budding smile towards the open room of the Inn’s entry hall.
The brigands might not have killed Dante Solona yet but Sylla surely was about to. It was coming up on a week now that she had been forced to stay within The Falconer’s Inn for almost all hours of the day. Providing Sylla plenty of time to bump into the tall and cocky warrior almost every time she left the sanctuary of her room. Through out the week he had found great joy in ease dropping on her conversations with local rangers and travelers from his resting spot in the corner of the main hall. Every once in a while she would hear a snort from his direction about a certain point she made or feel his intimidating gaze as he watched her move about the room in search of further information.
Just because she was stuck in this inn did not mean she couldn’t make the best of it and seek out the information she had come to Skara Brae for. Actually the inn was a wonderful spot for her research because as the week began to run towards another, the invasion began to die off and activity within the inn increased. With much need for celebration, the rangers and warriors who fought to defend Skara Brae poured into The Shattered Skull tavern, eager to laugh away the muck of battle and rejoice in their accomplishments.
Sylla had even found herself in the middle of a brawl one-night white at the tavern and had been annoyingly rescued by the man she now knew to be named Dante. She had been mildly conversing with the rough warrior over a goblet of wine about his homeland and profession, when he began to pay more attention to the card game being held at the table beside them. She had taken a small nip at her bottom lip in annoyance and just swung her sleek leather clad legs over the bench in order to rise, when the warrior’s hand closed tightly around her arm. With a jerk he pulled her back in an unspoken and forceful claim of possession, causing her to land on her backside with a thud.
Well in hindsight, she couldn’t really call it a brawl because there wasn’t much of a fight to speak of. It had taken just a short moment before the man’s other arm was jerked behind his bulky back with a vicious twist and causing the man to cry out almost like a wounded school girl. No words were said, no wounds were made, and that simple twist was enough for the warrior to release his hold upon her. If she wasn’t so irritated over Dante’s intrusion or pestering these last few days, she would actually allow herself to laugh at the comical scene and just how pathetic the man had passed out when Dante pushed the man’s head down to thud hard against the wooden table in front of him. “Take a nap, Quentin.”
Having taken Sylla by the hand and pulled her outside to remove her from the crowded room, Dante took it upon himself to release the clasp that held the leather that covered her arms. Lowering the leather, he raised her arm to inspect the red marks left upon her pale skin by the bulky man’s hold and gave a soft grunt that was communication enough for just how angry he was. Well finally she had thought the jerk was going to show some sympathy and actually act like a man instead of a bear. “See, Princess, this is why you don’t flutter from table to table and tempt lonely men with the generosities the gods obviously gave you.”
Irritatingly speechless for the second time in this man’s presence she had pushed away from his tall form and let her body straighten to it’s full five feet eight inches, “Tempting them huh? Is that what you think I was doing? Or are you simply jealous that it wasn’t you I wished to converse with?” Pleased with herself for having caused that frown upon his features to deepen, she sent him the cocky smirk that felt odd on her lips and turned sharply on her heel towards the inn.
It wasn’t until later when she sat at the small writing desk within her room, trying to compile notes of all that she had learned through the rangers of Skara Brae, that she realized how dull and unwitting her response had been. Tapping her foot lightly, she had frowned down at her paper and instead of seeing the lines she had written, saw Dante’s frowning face in her memory.
In fact, Dante had appeared in her thoughts constantly before and after that day, intruding during times it was important that she concentrate. She refused to think that it was attraction that kept leading her to think of him, but instead the amusement she now realized had always lurked behind his frown and within those jade eyes of his.
Pulling herself from her ponderings, she looked over the tavern as it was today, quiet and almost peaceful from the settling of celebrations that had erupted after the invasion was proclaimed over. Pulling off her pale blue leather gloves, she set them upon the scarred wooden table before her and began to hum lightly to herself. Her thoughts poured out onto paper and she lost herself within the joy of her new profession as a tamer, sliding her hand through the silk of her long pale hair in remembrance of how Winter’s cool breath had teased the strands.
“Aren’t you scared of getting your hands ink marked or accidentally catching a splinter in those fine fingers of yours, Princess?” the bear chuckled as he turned a chair at her table and sat down with his thickly muscled arms across the back. His amusement in her unadorned and gloveless hands, clear upon his aristocratic features and vibrant green eyes as they laughed at her.
“My stars, the bear has arisen from his den and decided to grace us with his presence,” she snappily replied as she calmly set down her pen and told herself to remain under control this time. Today was the first time she had seen him outside of his holy white plate mail and she sat back to study him with a look that she hoped reflected displeasure.
His fingers invaded her space for the tenth or so time this week, pulling her leather bound book towards him with interest and had the nerve to actually laugh at her writings. “The royal journal, huh? Let’s see what her highness has planned for her future.” Scanning over the written notes, Dante began to frown and after a moment stabbed his finger down onto the parchment. “Absolutely not, Princess. You are not about to hike your pretty bum into Ice dungeon, so you might as well change your traveling plans and instead take yourself right back home if that’s the kind of adventure you’re looking for.”
A sleek, pale brow rose at his words and effectively delivered her message on what she thought of his words, but just so that he got the point she would verbally let him know, “And just who might you be to tell me when and where I can go anywhere, Paladin? Though I might mistake you for my father with all that white hair, you are not.” Pulling the journal back from beneath his inspection, she closed it with a slam that caught a few curious looks from around the dim room and she bit back colorful word she had heard one of the rangers use during a conversation. “Look, I don’t know who you think you are, but you have no right to purposely irritate me like you have these last few days and I refused to be continuously treated like a girl under your charge.”
Dante tightened his jaw and again broke his anti-social habit of remaining silent when faced with a problem he couldn’t handle with a sword, “Princess, that dungeon is too much too soon and I’m not just saying this to irritate you. You may have all the skills required to enter that dungeon and tame yourself a white wyrm, as I know is your goal, but you just don’t have the experience yet.” The beautiful white cloth of his tunic moved over well defined muscles as he leaned slightly forward and took her hand from where it rest on the table in front of her, displaying the differences in their hands. Transfixed on just how small her pale hand looked within his bronze palm, she didn’t at first notice what Dante’s intent of showing her was and only after a moment began to note the many scars that decorated his hand. “You have no marks of experience, no knowledge of that dungeon, and not even a lick of hard labor to show on your hands.”
“Well of course, I don’t hold all those marks. I’m not as old as you, Father Time,” she cheerfully remarked before pushing her chair back and pushing the round button nose he had admired for quite a few distracting days now, into the air before marching towards the tavern door. She wasn’t about to let the jerk scare her. After all, the ranger she spoke with last night had seemed friendly enough and had assured her that Ice was exactly where she should start off her career.
“Oh and by the way, Dante…the next time I enter this room, I’ll expect you to have my drink in your hands and a bow ready, like a good servant,” Sylla tossed back over her shoulder, hoping that would end his fond usage of Princess and took great joy in slamming the tavern door behind her.
It was settled, he thought as he sat back in his chair and frowned over her dismissal of him and his words, she was going to lose her pretty head before she got anywhere near his age of 25 years. Why should he care if she did or not, was the real question. Looking towards the direction she had just made her frosty exit, Dante’s ice white brows lowered and he lifted a hand to stroke over the goatee that covered a chin set within a arrogant jaw.
“Alright, brat. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you when you find yourself a pretty, blue wyrm popsicle,” he mumbled as he pushed back from the chair and strode towards the door and into the glorious day, eager to complete the last of his own research in Skara Brae. He had come to seek out more information on the virtue of spirituality to better his life and skill as a paladin. He wasn’t about to let some princess on a high horse distract him away from his path.
Her toes were frozen! Bending down upon the icy dungeon floor, Sylla shivered for the millionth time and concentrated on her numb toes within her boots. Working her toes into a little exercise within her boots to pull them from their frozen slumber, she looked up and frowned into the dim blue light of the cavern around her. It had been nearly an hour since she had entered the frigid temperature of the dungeon and through what magery she had been raised to understand, she had barely made it this far.
Oh god, why hadn’t I listened to you, Dante?
Well it was too late now. It was almost assuredly the same amount of distant to the front of the dungeon as it was to her destination within it, the white wyrm lair. Pulling her furred cloak of beautiful ice blue around her more firmly and taking a deep breath of air that only ended up creating a frost within her lungs, she slowly stood with determination. It might not have been wise to come here but she was sure as heck not going to give up after having come this far.
Prepared to use fingers that felt nearly as numb as her toes on her harp, she made her way through the dungeon tunnel and nearly slipped to fall flat on her bum when a frosty blue spider rushed out from a hidden pocket within the ice wall. Oh god, why spiders? Why did it always have to be spiders? Anything other than the giant eight legged, multiple eyed spider that leered at her now. Plucking a quick tune upon the cold strings of her harp, Sylla nearly cried with delight when the beast that was fifty times the size of the spiders she often squealed over, calmed into a trance like state.
Careful not to touch the outstretched legs of the horrid creature, she moved close along the wall until she was clear of the giant spider and took a small jog away from it so that she could quickly find cover around the next winding corner of the tunnel. Sadly her jog turned into more of a glide as she took that corner and found herself face down upon the ground. The warmth almost causing her to forget where she was as she snuggled her cold nose further into the warmth and sighed with pleasure. I can feel it again, she thought with instant bliss as her nose began to warm.
Later she couldn’t decide if it was the reminder that in this cave, something has to keep the hay warm in order for it to be so, or the soft rumble that penetrated into her awareness. Slowly lifting her face from the warm nest, Sylla let simply her head lift so to make as little motion as possible and her pale blue gaze swept through the slightly dim cavern of snowy white. It wasn’t the movement of the beast but the eyes that first caught her attention, their wicked blue irises watching her intently and silently waiting for her to make another motion.
Her breath quivered as she moved very slowly to her knees and thanks to the hay upon the ground, stood as slow as possible without any slip on the ice. Chanting encouragement within her brain, she let her pack slowly lower to the ground and held simply her harp as she began to approach the beast. Fighting the quiver of her voice, she began to whisper a soft song and caress her fingers over the cold harp that had helped her this far, “Oh glorious creature of fire and might, I call upon you to be my companion tonight. A friend I seek…”
Her song continued gentle and with each step she felt a rush of excitement, not only was she about to touch a wild white wyrm within it’s lair but she was effectively placing the beast within a trance of peace. The softness of her voice and the beauty of the harp caused the wyrm’s wicked gaze to bob lightly before fully closing, encouraging Sylla to do what she never thought she would be able to do. She reached out and caressed her fingertips over the icy cool scales of the snowy white serpent.
“So lovely,” she whispered to herself as she her fingers pet the sleek neck of the creature and took no notice in her amazement, that she was no longer playing a peaceful note for the wyrm. It took but only a few moments of her caressing and admiring before the beast’s eyes sprang open like a spring and it’s head reared up from it’s restful spot within it’s nest, the loud roar shaking the walls of the cave around them and sending small icicles cascading down to the icily floor.
Sylla choked back a scream and tried desperately to calm the beast again but her fingers had become so stiff from the temperature and the touch of the white wyrm’s scales, that she could barely move them. Stumbling backwards, the hood of her furred cloak fell back and drafted her with a sharp wave of cold air that further dulled her senses. In this moment of panic and fear, she could only think of how much she wished it was just the giant frozen spider in front of her now, instead a very angry white wyrm.
Having closed her eyes firmly when the white serpent raised it’s talon to deliver a fatal blow, Sylla at first thought what pushed her against the cold wall of the cave was the force of the blow and that at any moment now, she would feel the sharp bite of the beast. Instead she felt the bite of metal as it slightly crushed against her and hugged her against the cave wall. Opening her gaze in confusion, Sylla’s lush mouth fell open in surprise and joy to see the all too familiar white plate mail that blocked her from the dragon’s blow.
The creature, obviously enraged over having it’s paw nicked by the paladin’s blade, uncurled it’s massive body and began to move from it’s nest with the intent on slicing the paladin right back. Sylla watched in fascination as Dante skillfully blocked the swish of the dragon’s tail and razor sharp talons with is shield, using his sword simply when necessary. His eyes for a quick moment swiftly turned in her direction to see if she was okay and then narrowed within the white plate mail helm, humor obvious in his hurried breath, “Well, Princess, are you going to make this thing dance the jig for you now or later? Because unless you want it dead, I suggest you do it now!”
His words spurred her into motion and she forced her frozen fingers to work, knowing that if she didn’t try as hard as she could to peace the wyrm, her and Dante would soon be it’s lunch. It took three times before her fingers catch the beat to her previous song and the trance began to work itself over on the beast just in time. She whispered her song and gave a wink to Dante that the beast was at least for the moment, under her control.
It wasn’t easy. The next hour Dante, herself and the wild white wyrm moved within the nest in attempt to defeat one another. Only the action of their movements kept their limbs and lungs warm within the low temperatures of the room. Towards the end of the hour, with a great sigh of defeat and submission, the white wyrm let our a slow breath as it bowed it’s elegant head. Too tired to fight the control any longer, the tamed beast stood ready for it’s mistress to lead it out from it’s nest and into a much different world than it’s own.
Her gaze slightly troubled, Sylla caressed her hands over the snout of the massive dragon and whispered gently as she gazed into it’s worried eyes, “Do not fear, I’ll take care of you and promise that if come from your lands to help me in fighting the great evils of this world, I’ll one day return you here if you so desire.” While not understanding her words fully, the beast did understand her tone and it’s gentleness caused it to stroke against her caressing palms.
“Did you see that?” Sylla whispered excitedly as she stood quickly and turned to face Dante, who had come to stand beside her. Her cheeks were kissed with a beautiful blush and the pale blue fire of her eyes blazed with delight over her achievement “Isn’t she so lovely?”
“Yes, she is,” he replied with a distraction that caused Sylla pause as she watched Dante pull the plate helm from his head. However his gaze was upon the white wyrm, he kept the warmth of his emerald gaze upon her and did something that nearly rocked Sylla off her feet.
Grabbing the back of her neck gently but firmly, Dante pulled her lush lips upon his own and held her there for a kiss that set her heart a fire. Releasing her mouth after a long moment, Dante released his hold from the back of her neck gently and brushed the back of his gauntleted fingers over the softness of her cheek. “Princess, if this is the amount of trouble you’re going to get yourself into on this little adventure of yours… I had better stick around and make sure your pretty hide doesn’t find its end.”
The warm fog from her brain slowly cleared and his words fully penetrated, causing her pale gaze to narrow with catlike mischief. She let the smile of excitement twist the corners of her lips upward as he turned his back. Fine, let him stick around, she thought, if he thinks this is trouble then I can’t wait to tell him about our next destination!
With a cheerful smile over that thought and over having her new pet, Sylla grabbed her pack from the ground and rushed to follow Dante as he began to make his way back towards the entrance of this frozen hell.
Last modified: March 28, 2011