Betwixt and Between

Part Two: Chapter Eight, Finale


Yula wasn't sure whether to be amused, annoyed, or impressed by their hostess's dramatic entrance and following presentation. She was all for dramatic presentation, after all, but it seemed a trifle overdone, to her, with all the flashes of light and sudden appearances, the speech and all the talk of special abilities. However, she was willing to admit that being stuck in such a crowded room, with so many strange people-- and creatures!-- both pressed in around her and watching from an audience surrounding the participant group, and having to wait there for almost an hour now, what with the speech and everything, was liable to make her less than charitable.

Maybe if all of those people had been looking at her, while she sang something or told a story, she'd have been more charitable about the whole group of them. But then again, maybe not-- she had no idea what most of them even were, much less what kind of music or tale they'd like. No, what she really wanted was for this whole thing to be over, or at least for there to be someplace she could hang back to that wasn't so crowded.

Some bard I am, if I don't like being around lots of people! she thought wryly.

She did have to admit, though, that the little dragon that the blue-scaled woman held was pretty cute. It was tiny, no more than three feet long, covered in scales rather than skin or fur, like Lament, but with furry places, like its wings and down its neck and tail. It had wings coming from its head, too, where ears should be, and tiny little gems on its back, shoulders, and rump. That one was called Shion.

"These precious children were born from the affection and loyalty their parents held for one another," the speaker was saying. "DF" were her initials; they had been on the letter she'd received a few days after turning in her violin and the sheet music for her song about Nightling's revelatory adventure to Chalice. She still had no idea what that stood for. "And I must admit, there were several, not just too." Parents, Yula guessed, though how someone could have more than two parents, she had no idea. "And thanks to your promised arrival, they have been waiting for you. But, of course, you knew that already." The woman paused to smile, putting Shion down, and let the polite chuckle roll through the crowd at her little joke.

Ha ha, Yula thought dryly.

"And I suppose that means it's time for me to stop talking, and let things go on ahead." Yula could have cheered when she turned to the dim hallway behind her. "All right then, my little ones, it's your turn."

And the little dragons surged out, and finally it was time to get down to business. Whatever that business would be!

It took a while for "business" to happen, actually, and by that time Yula had gratefully managed to drift away from the largest clump of other as-yet-unchosen participants. She didn't feel quite so pressed and uncomfortable when she wasn't being pressed against, or hovered over, or peered around. No one even seemed to be watching her from the audience-- Tavarez had mysteriously disappeared when it came time to head out to the ceremony, and Nightling still wasn't back from Mythicalae, so she didn't have anyone looking for her-- but she did still feel sort of watched. By whom, she wasn't sure-- at least not until something small and warm bumped up against her leg!

Yula looked down, and into the bright, violet eyes of one of the young dragons. He was white, with black hair and shiny green belly-scales-- an attractive combination-- but most eye-catching about him was the hue of the membranes of his dual set of wings and the fin on his tail. It was, with no other word to describe it, rainbow-colored.

::You're lonely,:: a mental voice stated-- child-like, vaguely masculine, but somehow quite different from Lament's, which was the only mental voice she was used to hearing. ::Shuu doesn't want you to be lonely anymore.::

Well! She blinked down at the-- what did you call a baby dragon when they hadn't actually hatched?-- in surprise. Maybe she should just call him "Shuu".

A quiet whine brought her eyes to her other side, where a pale blue dragon-child sat. She was smaller than her brother, highlighted with purple, black, and white, and she had a definite pout to her expression. ::Shuu... I wanted to go with her....:: Her mental voice was different yet again, being quiet but feminine to the core.

Shuu seemed to take this in stride without so much as a shrug, and blinked up at her. ::Can we both stay with you?::

Not entirely sure what to say, Yula just said the first thing that came to mind: "Uh... yeah! Sure!"

Both little faces brightened, and quite suddenly she had a pair of baby dragons clinging to her legs. And more....

Yula wasn't a psionic. She had just enough of the gift to be able to hear others when they spoke in her mind, but other than that, she had no special abilities with it, nor did she particularly mind the lack. But because of that, it was hard to imagine just what it would feel like to have another mind attaching itself to her own. Nightling had tried to describe it once, but he hadn't been able to really find the words for it, either. Not even Lament, who had made the bond between him and Nightling, had managed to explain it adequately for Yula to understand. The fact that both of them equated each other with music, for some reason, certainly complicated matters, anyway.

Now, though, she had not one mind, but two, making that instinctive, mental connection with her-- and she found she didn't have any words for it, either. She, a bard, someone who was good with words, was coming up speechless.

::That's okay,:: Shuu said-- and his mental voice was much closer and clearer now, almost as if it was her own thought in someone else's voice. It snapped her out of her dumbfoundment and made her look down at him. He was grinning toothily up at her. ::You don't have to have words for it, right?::

"How am I suppose to write up a song about it if I can't describe it?" she retorted, since that was exactly what she'd been thinking she might do, if she wound up bonding today. "That's what I do, you know."

::Maybe you'll figure something out later,:: the second dragon-ling suggested with childish shyness.

"Maybe," Yula agreed. "Now do you two think you can let me go, so I can walk?"

Giggling, they both slid off her legs. ::So you make music?:: Shuu said, eyes wide and bright as if the thought excited him.

"Yup! I'm a bard, that's what we do."

::Oh, that's so cool! Can I make music, too?::

"Er-- if you like." Yula desperately hoped he was good, too, as the thought of having a life-companion obsessed with making music but who was tone deaf or had no sense of rhythm sounded like the worst kind of torture.

::Hey! Why wouldn't you think I was any good?::

"You heard that?" she exclaimed with dismay.


::So did I,:: the second dragon-child said.

Yula groaned. "Sorry...."

::It's okay. I bet I'll be so good, you'll have to say you're sorry for doubting me again!::

"What about you, ah--"

Correctly guessing-- or sensing-- why she paused, the blue dragon-ling supplied, ::Mahiru.::

"What about you, Mahiru? Are you going to want to make music, too?"

::I'll just listen, if that's all right,:: Mahiru answered in a quiet mental voice.

Yula chuckled, reaching down to ruffle the long fur between her hears. "That's perfectly all right. Why don't we get out of the way, here, and we can talk, or get something to eat, or whatever?"



The two little dragons happily let themselves be led away from the crowd. That DF person was making a final announcement from her stage, but not a one of them was paying her any attention.




Draclin'geyar are the Creative Property of Silver Midnight; Fleshshifters are the Creative Property of Drakiera