Chapter 1: A Beginning To All Things… Ash
“Shade!” at the sound of her name the black catkal jumped off Ash’s shoulder toward their opponent. She flew through the thirty feet of air like an arrow, and hit the chest of the warrior with a force far greater than what any mortal creature should be capable of.
Shade did not waste time, while her opponent struggled to get back his balance, she went to work. The catkal slashed at the warrior her claws easily cutting through armor and rending flesh.
Shade gave a hiss of frustration. [Either of us could have beaten ten thousand this number. And in less time to, they must surly know this? ] she thought to herself.
While her mind contemplated this, Shade’s body was at work disassembling their opponent’s heavy plate armor faster and more precisely then some of the most gifted armoires could hope to do. Though many armoires would hold far more concern on the comfort of the one wearing the armor.
Shade did not.
(Shade! Back!) No sooner than Shade heard the familiar voice of Ash in her mind, did she vanish.
She reappeared on her companion’s shoulder, perched as if she never left, in time to see Ash perform a heavy side swipe faster than the eye could follow. The untrained eye that is, and neither Ash nor Shade were untrained. They saw with absolute clarity Ash’s sword, Dark Embrace, slice through the heavy plate and flesh of the warrior’s midsection alike.
Before them their opponent lay in two pieces, then dissolved into mist. The clone was gone.
“Well done you two! Well done indeed!” said Kervas, the battlemaster of Darkwing palace. “I still remember the days when you both were greener then grass though!” he laughed heartily at his joke.
“Really Kervas, I don’t think we were ever that green.” Said Ash with a slight smile.
“Yes, my claws were always sharp, and Ash is a natural with any weapon you can think of!” Shade chimed.
“Oh but you were, I still remember your first day of training. Set you both against a clone with a fraction of my power. Ash, you charged which put shade so far off balance she fell off your shoulder. Then when you turned back to help her, you left your back open to the enemy!” Kervas roared with laughter.
“You both got so many bruises you had to skip the rest of your lessons that day! Ha ha ha, that was as green as I had seen in years!”
Ash conjured a hood of darkness that masked his face in shadows, he really hoped none of the other dragon lords had heard that. [or seen the blush that came with it]
“Ahem, Kervas you do know that I need to make a good impression on them right?” Ash pointed to the balcony where eight figures stood watching.
(We did win the fight Ash. We passed all of their tests. ) As always Shade’s presence in his mind calmed Ash.
(Well there would be no tests to pass if it weren’t for you!) He thought in mock anger.
(Would you have it any other way? ) Shade replied slyly.
(Never ) Ash thought back seriously.
As Ash walked down the hall to his chamber, his mind was adrift. He had accomplished a feat that many could not even dream of. He defeated a highly trained dragon warrior at its most powerful, at least the flash clone of one anyway, without using magic.
[That would give even a dragon lord pause, though not much… Although I did have help,] Ash mused, [and it did take me quite some time-]
“Ashes!” Ash looked up. Only close friends and family would ever dare to call him that. Down the hall he could see Madeline, his head of service, running to meet him.
Madeline was undisputedly Ash’s best friend; the two grew up together and later trained together. Although it was well known the two were close, they still made a strange sight together. Ash was taller than average and lean, with black hair and silver-grey eyes with black flecks in the iris. Madeline was average height with long brown hair and eyes. She looked soft, like something to be protected, but Ash knew better; Madeline could probably take down seven of the realms toughest solders without a weapon or armor. All at the same time.
“Your father wants to see you,” She said. “And you should go to the great hall now, or you’ll be late. You know what happens to those who make lord Tryion wait.”
“Oh, come on Maddie, you make it sound as if he’ll have me beheaded,” Ash replied. “He’s my dad what can he do to me?”
Madeline frowned, “Oh, you might be safe sure, but me I’m just a servant and hence fair game. As such you’re gonna go, or I’ll drag your unconscious ass into his office for you!”
As his head of service Madeline is in charge of all of his servants, guards, spies, and everything else in Ash’s life really. It’s like a cross between bodyguard and secretary, and since Ash had been a full-fledged dragon lord, for the sum total of seven minutes, those duties just came into play in a whole new way.
(Shade?) Ash thought.
(Yes Ash?) he heard in his mind.
(I think that our lives just got much less fun-)
“Ash Lestio Blackwing!” Ash cringed as Madeline used his full name. “If you don’t stop plotting an escape with Shade I will personally make sure you are lonely and unwed for the rest of your life!”
“You wouldn’t!” Aaron replied it was in a dragon’s nature to seek out as many suitable mates they could find. While some dragons do chose to go against their natural instincts and remain alone, or hold only one mate Ash was not nor had any desire to be amongst their number.
Madeline smiled sweetly as she said “oh, but Ashes, I would.” Ash’s confidence faded, he knew from experience that Madeline didn’t make idol threats.
“You couldn’t…” he said, almost trying to convince himself.
“Yes, yes I can,” she leaned in close and whispered five words to Ash. His eyes went wide and he said “Maddie I think we should go, you don’t wanna keep dad waiting right?”
Madeline smiled, “Ashes, somehow I knew you’d see reason.”
“Reason, ha, more like black mail” Shade muttered from under Ash’s hood. Then Madeline snapped her fingers and they were gone.
“Ha ha, my son the dragon lord!” Tryion shouted, “We all knew this day would come! Even if you were tampered with…” Shade stirred a little on Aarons shoulder. “After we lost your mother, and Ceri’a after that I wasn’t shore if you would be able to cope. Ah well, you more than proved that you are worthy of that title. Now all that the nine must decide is if your… condition…” Tryion glared at Shade openly in front of all those in the meeting hall, “has affected your readiness as a part of the council.”
The room grew silent, and Ash could feel Shade’s rage at his father passing into his own feelings. (Calm down Shade, if you keep this up I might just attack him.)
(Sorry Ash) he heard, I(’ll calm down.) Ash knew that wasn’t true, Shade was just guarding her emotions better now.
“No.” that one word broke the silence and all in the room looked towards Tryion’s guest of honor, Tobious the sixth dragon lord. “He is not ready. He knows nothing of the other races. Sure he has met humans and drakes, but not all humans are alike, and those are but two races out of countless others!”
“Then we shall prepare him old friend” Ash’s father said with a sigh. “Ash fly to the grove of the black moon, the council of nine will meet you there.”
His father looked away, and to Ash he seemed almost sad. Then the dragon lords disappeared in bursts of colored energy.
Ash looked to his left where Madeline stood and said, “Sooooo happy that I got to be here to hear that! First they insult shade, then they say I’m not ready for a position I know nothing about! Being a dragon lord is sure great huh?”
Madeline could only look away and say, “Better than some things Ashes, better than some things…”