Betwixt and Between
Part One: Epilogue
"So royal, loyal subjects, now let your ears unbend: for hear ye, this traveled tale must sadly meet its end.
What's fate done to our hero? Well, I cannot reply. Last that I saw him was a reflection in her eye."
"So that's it?" Emmat said, when Tavarez fell silent again for so long that it seemed like he wasn't speaking again. "That's how the song really happened?" The rat-shifter nodded, smiling. Emmat could hardly believe it. "But... it's so... different! Not that it wasn't a good story, but it's so... different."
"Well, it's been retold several times, now," Tavarez pointed out. "And it didn't exactly happen yesterday. You said yourself you changed it, from when you heard it sung by the Ave bard just a month or two ago."
"Well, yes...." He shook his head. "Who told it, originally? Who wrote the first song?"
Tavarez flicked an ear at him, amused. "You haven't guessed? Yula wrote it."
Surprised into a laugh, Emmat nodded. "Some of those changes make sense, then!" Particularly the change in the ending!
"They do, indeed," Tavarez chuckled.
There was quiet a moment, as they both rested their voices with drinks, while Emmat went over the tale in his mind. It took him a minute to realize something was missing. "How does it end?" he asked, then.
"End?" Tavarez repeated, head cocked and ears perked.
"Well, yes. You didn't finish. Where did you take him?"
"It isn't a place you'll have heard of. It's called the Sanctuary of the Sun, on a planet called Kynn."
" ... on a boat?"
"A ship," Tavarez corrected, amused. "No, the ship was to get us to the nearest place where I knew of a friend who could get us off-world. Vagrant had run into the middle of nowhere, you know, and he traveled there rather faster than we could. We had to get out of the middle of nowhere before I could get him off the planet."
Emmat thought about that for a minute, trying to wrap his mind around leaving the very planet he'd been born on... though he suspected, now, that Vagrant hadn't been born there. "What was in-- on-- Kynn?" he asked. "To help him learn what world was real?"
"Dragons," Tavarez said succinctly, and, anticipating further questions, he added, "Not Mythicalaean or Gepernan dragons. I have strong instincts when it comes to bondings, and I knew where I wanted to bring Vagrant: Sanctuary of the Sun on Kynn, to bond from a very mixed-breed clutch I knew about there. Hence the ship, though I knew how uncomfortable it would make Vagrant. We had to get there before that certain clutch hatched."
"How are dragons supposed to help someone who... has problems like his?" Emmat hadn't ever thought about dragons and bonding, to be honest, though he had a few songs he'd memorized on the subject, one of them a humorous piece about a fellow who loved women, but bonded a dragon whose vampiric nature robbed him of the ability to bed them, which he discovered to his chagrin well after the bond had already been made.
"To be honest?" Tavarez smirked, whiskers flicking, "I really had no idea. It was just another of those instincts I choose not to question, because they always seem to turn out right."
"Did they, this time?" Emmat asked curiously. "What happened afterwards?"
"Aaah, but that is a different tale, entirely," Tavarez smiled. "And a different song. I only promised to explain the origins of this one, did I not? And it is getting late."
So it was, Emmat noticed with surprise: the sun had long since set, and the inn was near to closing. "Perhaps another day?" he asked hopefully.
"Perhaps," Tavarez said, neither a promise nor a refusal. "If you happen to hear that song...."
The next morning, when the Green Bard went to find Tavarez, in the hopes of wheedling the rest of the tale out of him, he found the rat-shifter vanished.
Vagrant, or Nightling, or whatever he chooses to call himself once he arrives,
is a candidate at the Sanctuary of the Sun.
Song borrowed from Five for Fighting's "Two Frogs", on the Message for Albert album
Draclin'geyar are the Creative Property of Silver Midnight; Fleshshifters are the Creative Property of Drakiera