Julianna's Awakeningby Aline de Chevigny
Julianna followed her prey’s tracks into the Kingdom of the Dwarves. Intent on the few tracks
in her path, she stopped cold at the breathtaking beauty before her. She’d expected
the land of mineral ores to be dirty and dark. The stories she’d heard tell of the
Dwarven Kingdom could never compare to this sight. The twin moons Aysel and Itzel
had just begun to descend as the sun rose, illuminating the copper colored formations.
She wasn’t far behind the dragon demon and his slave, perhaps a day two at the most.
She’d overheard them talking in the Demon’s courtyard before they left on this journey many months ago. If she was honest and she always tried to be, they hadn’t been talking they had been arguing. That alone had been a surprise, to see a Demon arguing with his slave. To see how much he enjoyed the argument disturbed her and convinced her to rescue that slave. Watching as the slave risked her own life to save her Demon had shaken Julianna’s belief in her cause.
She searched the trail in front of her. Trying to find any trace of her prey. A footprint in the rock dust lying along the base of the mountains from years of elemental beatings. A whiff of smoke on the wind from their campfires. Looking up Julianna saw the crevices and openings in the mountain side. She knew that as open as this Kingdom’s lands seemed, its open aired landscapes were deceiving in appearance. An ambush could be lying in wait behind any one of those openings, just waiting for her to let down her guard.
Cursing her own stupidity, she pulled her sword from its sheath as quietly as she could and made her way through the passes with more care.
The twins climbed across the sky towards their zeniths, illuminating the path before her Julianna found her first signs that she was on the right trail. She came across their campsite, the embers from the fire still warm under the top layer of soot. From her crouched position by the fire she scanned the area for traces of their current direction. A thin hard smile crossed her lips; she’d made better time than she thought. They couldn’t be more than a day ahead; perhaps the girl was becoming immune to the demon’s coercive spells.
Julianna hoped that were true, it would make getting the girl away from the demon much easier. She’d lost the girl to the demon once. She wasn’t sure why he had spared her life when he’d appeared to reclaim his slave. But she wasn’t going to loose her again. All humans deserved their freedom. That thought alone kept her going an this time when she found them, the demon was going to die.
Tores lovingly watched over Miya’s sleeping form beside him. He still couldn’t believe she’d
agreed to share his bedroll.
“For safety.” She’d said. “In case the dragon slayer returns.” She’d continued quickly.
Tores had swallowed back the smile that threatened to appear and adopted a serious expression as he agreed with her logic. He’d been royally happy his father had finally agreed to allow them to continue their search on their own, taking the injured Raton with him. Their relationship was too confusing for him to attempt to figure out at the moment. He had more important things to worry over. Miya was his main concern. He hadn’t the time for anything else at the moment. He’d been faintly surprised that his father had given Miya his blessings before leaving. Telling Tores how much he liked and approved of his choice. Not that Tores cared if his father approved of his mate.
Stroking back her hair, a grin tugged at his lips when she murmured his name in her sleep and cuddled closer. He knew that when she woke she’d be angry and aloof at having reached out to him. At this moment that didn’t matter. His body ached to have her in his arms, to kiss her like they did in the shared dreams while she was the dragon slayer’s captive. He now had hope that she would be his; all he needed was her assent.
Sensing her stir beside him, Tores debated his next move. He held himself still unsure of her reaction to him as she slowly woke. He watched her eyes as memories from the previous evening flooded back to her.
“Good morning Miyalia. I trust you slept well?”
“Good morning Tores. Did I over sleep?” She asked him quickly slipping out of the bed roll.
“I would have enjoyed a few more hours of rest with you at my side.” His decision to tease her had been completely spur of the moment. She’d looked so uncomfortable at the sight of him beside her; he felt an urge to help her relax. Even if that meant making her angry with him. He liked how she looked when she was angry. The way her nose scrunched up, her eyebrows dipped together and her forehead showed those deep frown lines at her annoyance with him. She looked beautiful to him especially when she was annoyed.“Oh… I… Shouldn’t you be getting up? We really should keep moving, we need to find the dragon slayer. I believe she called herself Julianna. Please, before she kills again.”
“We will Meamorea.” The look of disbelief she sent him brought out the grin he’d been holding back.
“Tores, I don’t fancy ever being at either Siyamak or the Daragon’s mercy ever again.”
Tores scowled, a low throaty growl emerged from his lips. He stood before her in one fluid movement and gathered her in his arms protectively. The fact that she laid her head on his chest and let him hold her this way told him how frightening that thought was to her. Their bond responded to her emotional state. Pulsating, tightening around his heart at the threat of loosing her.
“I will never allow anyone to harm you Meamorea. Not even the GODS themselves.” His arms around her tightened when she stepped in closed instead of trying to pull away. His dragon blood screamed in victory at her small act of acquiescence. “Shall we gather our belongings and start off?”
“In a moment, I’m enjoying this.”
Tores grinned at her lightly teasing tone and held her closer. “Shall we return to bed then?”
Her entertained laughter rang through the shallow cave they had chosen as their camp site bolstering his spirit even more. “You never quit do you Tores?”
“Not once I know what I want. What I need to make me happy.” He could sense her pulling away from his words. She wasn’t ready to hear them just yet. He thought. “But this isn’t the time or the place to discuss our future.” Tores released her and stepped away to start gathering their few possessions to continue on their journey. “You coming along?”
“Don’t you dare take one more step!”
Tores had his back to her when she’d ordered him to stop. A huge grin spread across his face at the extremely annoyed tone she’d used on him. “Yes?”
“Where do we head from here? We haven’t seen a single trace of the slayer in weeks. I think we may be going in the wrong direction.”
Tores turned back towards her sobered. His grin quickly replaced by a thoughtful expression. “Yet we both sense that the slayer is near by?”
“Could she be behind us? Could she have realized we were on her trail and slipped behind to become the hunter instead of the hunted?”
“You, my Meamorea, are the expert Huntress of our group. I bow to your superior knowledge. So tell me Miya, shall we allow her to catch up with us?” He’d expected many responses from her, but panic was not one of them.
“Have you lost your mind? Julianna wishes you dead. If she catches up with us she’ll kill you.”
Tores cupped her cheek affectionately. “Is that worry for my safety Mamorea?”
“Oooh you can be so…so aggravating at times. Tores you’re--”
“I feel the same way Miya. We have a unique relationship we two. We have no secrets left between us. How about we make a deal.”
“What kind of deal?” He adored her suspicious nature. It’s what made his little huntress such a good thief.
“You protect me from the slayer and I’ll protect you from everyone else.”
Her frown told him she didn’t agree. “We agree to protect each other.”
Tores took her into his arms and held her close. “You win meamorea.” He whispered into her ear.
“Isn’t that sweet. He’s lying to you, get away from him before he uses his coercion spell on you again girl.”
He felt her stiffened in his arms at the sound of the Slayer’s voice. Miya steeled her shoulders and shoved him behind her determined to protect him from Julianna.
His first reaction was to protect her, to step around her, and shield her from the slayer. His body screamed at him to keep her safe, yet he stayed still. He needed Miya to trust him and the fastest and easiest way to do that was to trust her.
“What? Aren’t you going to deny my accusations against you Demon?”Tores slowly shook his head in the negative. “Why should I? If I deny the accusations I create doubt as to my honesty. I’d rather trust in Miyalia. She’s a bright, beautiful woman with a mind--” Tores stepped forward and put his hand on Miya’s shoulder. “And heart of her own. She’ll weigh the information and make her own decisions.”
Miya hadn’t relaxed her stance or pulled away from him, always a good omen in his mind. The slayer’s frown deepened at his words. She slowly pulled her sword from its scabbard with a soft scrape.
“Don’t do it Julianna. I won’t allow you to hurt him!”
Julianna sniffed in disgust. “You, poor girl, are under his coercions. You’re his slave. I expect nothing less to come from your lips.”
Tores grinned at Miya’s protective tone. He felt her shoulders stiffen beneath his hands at the slayer’s insult. “Now you listen to me you murdering maniac. I am not his slave, I am no ones slave.”
Julianna answered with a loud throaty chuckle. “Then what do you believe you are to him?”
Miya stood straighter, taller before him. She reached back for his arms and wrapped them around her waist in an open act of defiance. “His Mate! According to Dragon Law I’m his wife!”
“His what? Dragons don’t marry those not of their race girl-child. Proof that the Demon has told you nothing but lies!”
Tores felt like someone had beaten him over the head with a board. A reaction he made certain not to show either Miya or Julianna. She’d admitted to being his Mate. A feat he took great pride in, her trust was not easily earned.“I’ll admit that Tores has kept secrets from me in the past.”
“Of course he has, he’s a Demon.”
“But!” Tores knew the warning signs for Miya’s temper; still he took a step closer to her in a show of support. “I’ve also kept secrets from him Julianna.”
“It’s wise to keep secrets from Demons.”
“Don’t call my mate a Demon. You Julianna are the sole reason we’ve bonded.”
As much as Tores wished to lay all the blame at the slayers feet, he knew he couldn’t. “Meamorea, you can’t lay our bonding solely at her feet.”
With total disregard to the slayer Miya turned her back on Julianna and looked up at him. “If she hadn’t killed that Dragon I tried to save would we be here right now?”
“If she hadn’t kidnapped me away from you, would you be calling me meamorea?”Tores smiled and stroked her cheek affectionately. “Yes.”
There was so much he still needed to tell her. So much she needed to know about his kind. Now was not the time for it. “Miyalia, the slayer is correct about one thing. Dragons do not normally marry outside their race.”
Victory laced laughter startled them out of the cocoon they’d created around themselves. “I told you girl--”
Victory laced laughter startled them out of the cocoon they’d created around themselves. “I told you girl--”
Tores stroked the hair from her face before answering. “My mother was bound in her human form, therefore not considered a Dragon by her peers. Also my mother did what no other Dragon before her had ever dreamed of doing. She fell in love.”Miya’s hand came up to caress his cheek as understanding dawned on her. “Is that so bad? Look at what came from that union.”
Closing his eyes briefly he leaned into her touch. “A child neither loved or wanted. A betrayal that changed them both for life.”“No Tores. They created a man who cared enough to put his life on the line to save an Herbalist. A man that I--”
Movement caused Tores to witch on his Dragon sight. The move was automatic these days, but it allowed him to see Julianna’s attack. Quickly pushing Miya behind him, he shifted to his Dragon form letting his scales absorb the blow from her sword. With a growl of rage Tores used his tail to send Julianna flying out of the cave. “Don’t ever try to harm my woman.” His deepened dragon voice rumbled in anger.
Tores stepped from the cave, rainbows glinting off his pure white scales. “You can try all you wish to kill me slayer, but Miya is off limits.” Blood lust had him completely in it’s grasp. Red rage filled his vision when he saw the sneer on Julianna’s face. A rage he knew he couldn’t control, nor did he wish to. That human couldn’t be trusted.
A soft touch up his back, the familiar feel resonating through his scales took his attention away from the slayer before him, but not his eyes.
“Tores, my love let her go.”
A feather soft touch ran up his arm, over his shoulder, and around to his chest. He felt the blood lust receding, as Miya kept his attention focused sorely on her. His respect for her talents rose another notch as she filled his field of vision. Her hand ran up his chest to cup his face making certain he couldn’t look away.
“You are beautiful in your Dragon form, my love.”
Her words pulled a low growl from his throat as he shifted back to his human form.
“Let her go Tores. Consider this her last warning and if she attacks us again her life is forfeit.”
Tores gathered Miya into his arms crushing her to his body. “Only for you, meamorea.”Miya must have sensed the tenuous hold he had on his temper. She turned to face Julianna without breaking physical contact with him.
“Why? I don’t understand. A demon never allows anyone to tell him what to do.”
“Tores isn’t a demon Julianna.” The anger in her voice stunned him. Nothing in all the years he’d known her had ever tempted Miya to raise her voice.
“Don’t be a fool girl, you saw him change with your own eyes.”
Tores felt no guilt when he saw that Julianna was bleeding from the blow he’d landed protecting his Mate.
“Yes I did. He never would have shifted if you hadn’t tried to harm me. You are responsible for your wounds Julianna, not Tores.”
A low menacing growl stopped Julianna the minute she took a step forward. “Don’t Julianna! I won’t stop him the next time.”
“You would side with--”
“Don’t say it. The only person with any rights to call my mate names is ME!”
Her angry words brought a possessive smile to his lips. “Can we stick to love or lover meamorea? At least until after our mating ceremony is completed?” He teased laying a soft kiss on her neck.
“Well discuss it later. When were alone.”
A draconic grin split his features as his eyes burned a bright red in anticipation. “Then I highly recommend the Slayer take her leave of us immediately.”
The moment his attention was focused on the girl, Julianna made good her escape from the
cave. She made her way out of Dwarven territory as fast as her bruised and battered
body let her. Her mind ran in circles, going over every word, action and facial
expression she’d witnessed that night.
The girl Miyalia had protected the Demon, called him her mate. Had teased and flirted with him, and been responded to in kind. A human never did that unless they were under the dragon’s coercions.
Julianna felt confused. She knew Miyalia hadn’t been under any coercive spells, her gift had told her so. Then why would Miyalia act that way? Could it be she truly did love the Dragon? Could she be correct? Is it Possible that all dragons weren’t Demons? That they weren’t all evil?
Exiting the Dwarves Kingdom Julianna made her way along one of her many safe routes, towards home territory to find the cave she kept stocked with medicinal supplies. She patched her wounds then settled herself in to pray for guidance from her God and Goddess. She would find answers to this new dilemma the dragon and his mate presented. “My Gods will know what I should do.”