Nina swam in the small lake beneath the great tree; she had placed her clothes aside, on dry land and was now enjoying some time alone. She had cast a spell on herself so that she could breath underwater for brief periods of time. She enjoyed the sensation, using her wings to navigate the currents underwater because she felt that that must be what it would be like to fly.
In her youth she used to do the same; use her wings to 'fly' underwater because she could not fly in the skies. She felt it was a shame that the Windian people could not fly any longer, but perhaps they could not because they no longer needed to.
The moonlight streamed through the canopy, as it was a clear night the moonlight was particularly bright. There was also a fine mist and combined with the moonlight it created a sort of dream-like effect in the forest. Nina sat naked, for there was no one to see her, upon one of the moss-covered roots of the great tree. She contemplated the events that happened during her life: being banished from home, enrolling in magic school, the taunting coming from Windians who lived in Hometown but knew not of the curse, meeting the gang of thieves, them taking her sister, meeting Ryu and his friends, Mina becoming Great Bird and this voyage. Looking back she saw that there had been many opportunities for her to changes paths in her life, but if she had she wouldn't be who she was overall she had only one regret and that was that she never told Ryu how she felt and now it may be too late. And yet, she could not believe that he might be dead, he was always strong and confident in his abilities and the fact that he was of the Dragon Clan, it seemed to her that he couldn't die. And yet... Somehow she always came back to 'and yet'.
"Ryu... Where are you?" She asked the wind.
'Does something ail you, bird-child?' A mysterious voice asked.
Nina dived into the waters of the lake, covering herself. She could have sworn there was no one else here. If it was a monster she would have to fight, but she didn't want to disturb the tranquility of the forest.
"Who's there?" She demanded.
'I am here.' A deep voice spoke within her mind. 'I have always been here. Worry not for your modesty, for I do not care for the pleasures of the flesh. I am Yggdrasil, the tree of life.'
Nina turned to face the tree. In the trunk there grew a face; it looked old, weary and worn. The deep-set eyes seemed to be able to see through her to the depths of her very soul.
"How can I hear you? Only Spar could speak to the Great Trees." She said to Yggdrasil.
'The waters you have bathed in allow you to hear my voice as long as you are within those waters you can here me. Now what was it you said about Spar, the Seedling of the Great Sea of Trees? I have not heard of the mainland for untold generations... Has the seal at long last been broken?'
"How could you not know? I thought all of Yggdrasil trees were connected."
'Once we all were, yes. But many millennia ago, long before the Goddess began her first war of conquest, she and the dragons' wrath burned this land leaving it desolate. She put a seal on it preventing all but the natural inhabitants from coming or going. I have been alone, cut off from my own kind and when I die so will this land.'
'It will not happen for a long time, something may happen to prevent it and it may not. Such things do not need to concern you. You are concerned about something else; please tell me what troubles you. Perhaps I can help.'
Nina was reluctant to speak; she did not want to speak of her troubles to Yggdrasil, especially since it seemed to have it's own problems. However, she felt a need to ask the great wise tree if he could help her find Ryu and Yua.
"Great tree, we are looking for our friends, Ryu and his sister Yua. They are of the Dragon clan, is there anyway you would know where they are?" She asked of Yggdrasil.
'Hmmmm. I have heard of many travelers that had washed onto the shore, the birds had brought the news to me, but at the time I thought they were referring to a type of fish they had found; after all there have been no travelers here for millennia. Except for the dragons.' The tree said.
'Nearly five centuries ago, members of the Dark Dragon clan appeared on wings of light. I assume they were using one of the Goddess Keys, which would be the only thing capable of breaching the barrier created by the Goddess. They inhabit a city near the factory city. They, in all likelihood, know of your friends.'
Nina took this information, got dressed and headed to speak with Bleu and Jean about it. She turned to face the great tree once more, she felt bad for its current state of affairs, but knowing there was nothing she could do she moved on.
Draigan sat in a bar in the city that was on the ground, below the Sky Garden. Having brought many concepts with them from their former home of Scande, the Black Dragon needed to have some means of entertainment in their new location. A way to celebrate good times and mourn bad ones. Draigan was currently doing the latter, not the former due to a rather unfortunate encounter with his father, the leader of the Black Dragon Clan. He was sitting in the bar with a mug of mead hoping to forget his troubles. The bartender whom always had an ear for peoples' troubles came up to Draigan; as it was the middle of the day the bar was rather empty.
"Zenny for your thoughts, young master?" The large man asked.
Everyone who wasn't a friend of his called him that as a form of respect because of his father. He didn't like the term much, especially after he had spoken with his father. Sighing deeply, he proceeded to tell the barkeep everything that had happened.
Earlier that day he had gone to the temple where his father resided and conducted the daily business of the clan. People had begun to descend from the Sky Garden returning to their lives as they had been prior to the plague. The plague itself had dissipated and there had been no cases for a while, there were still those who had been permanently affected by the disease, but they were well cared for on the Sky Garden. It was another matter that Draigan came to see his father for.
"Elder, Draigan is here to see you sir." The assistant said as she escorted Draigan into his father's office.
The elder didn't even bother to look up from his work as he continued to write, barely even acknowledged his son's presence. The assistant left, leaving the two alone. The elder still did not look up and Draigan stood staring down at his father. He truly didn't want to speak to the man but he still held a lot of respect for his father even if there was no love lost between the two.
"Father, I have come to ask your permission." Draigan said.
"You have never come to me before for permission so this must be very important. State your case." The elder said, still not raising his eyes to look at his son.
"I wish to marry Yua." Draigan said. There was no point in dragging this debate out, he felt, so he went straight to the point.
At this the elder did stop his work and faced Draigan. His craggy face looked like it had never smiled and if he would that his face would crack. He fixed his son with a very disapproving stare.
"No." He said simply.
"And why not?" Draigan said with absolute calm.
"She is a dragon whose power has not been sealed. The goddess Myria would not permit our clan's powers to be revived by the offspring of you and the girl."
"We are the Black Dragon Clan, we worship the dragon god Ladon, not Myria. We should not obey any command of hers out of fear. We were strong once and we can be strong again." Draigan said, all the while maintaining an absolute calm.
"Foolish boy, one does not bring the wrath of the gods down on one's clan. We cannot afford to have the goddess' ire brought down upon us, you will wed whom I have chosen for you." The elder said his voice brimming with anger.
"No I won't father. I love Yua and I know she feels the same, so I'll be damned if I let you get in the way." Draigan said, his own voice rising in anger.
"You have a duty to your people. You will carry out that duty no matter how you may feel about it." The elder said as he rose from his chair.
"I have a duty to myself too." Draigan said as he turned and walked away.
"You WILL obey me, you will listen to me!" The elder shouted after Draigan.
And so he finished his tale to the barkeep. Draigan sat back and took another sip of his mead.
"You have really stepped in it this time, Draigan." A voice said.
Two men entered the bar; they were friends of Draigan, but they relished being able to point out the mistakes he had made.
"Yeah, putting yourself on the line like that, you really must care for the girl huh?" The other said.
"You've never cared this much for a woman before... What'd you do, sleep with her or something?"
Draigan turned away from his friends, scowling.
"You did, didn't you? Score, man! Wow, this girl must be a thief, to have stolen your heart like this."
"You really shouldn't say stuff like that, it's very rude." Yua said as she entered the bar.
Yua walked over to Draigan, sat on his lap and kissed him on his cheek. Draigan who was not embarrassed by this display of affection returned the embrace. His friends and many of the drunkards in the bar hooted at the show. Yua didn't care if they saw or what they did; she had always followed her heart.
"I've been hearing an interesting rumor; about how you and your dad are in a tiff because you want to marry some girl?" She said in an almost coy way.
"It's impossible to keep a secret in such a small city ain't it Draigan?" One of his friends said.
"Well if it is true, do you still wanna?" Yua whispered in his ear.
"I've never said anything I didn't mean and I always do what I say I'm going to do. Why, are you saying you would marry me?" Draigan said so the entire bar could hear him.
"There isn't anyone else, dummy." She said punching him playfully in the arm. "Well, to celebrate my upcoming nuptials, I'm treating everyone in this bar for the entire day!"
The entire bar cheered as she tossed a money pouch to the barkeep; who smirked as he recognized the pouch. The one who had made the previous remark about Yua and Draigan sleeping together recognized it too as he felt for his money pouch, only to find it missing.
"Hey that's... when did you... Hey!!!" He stuttered.
"You were right about one thing, I am a thief." She smirked at the commentator.
Katt woke up slowly; she felt completely rested but still quite weak. She looked around and found her surroundings unfamiliar. It looked similar to doctor Kay's hospital, but whiter and neater, if that was possible. Katt herself was dressed in a fine white robe. She got out of the bed she was lying in and winced as she put weight on her foot; the ankle felt weak and tender. She sat back down and examined her leg; she recognized that her leg had recently healed. She spotted her staff lying in a corner and limped over to it. Using it as a support she limped towards the exit. She carefully looked outside and saw that it was a wagon that she had been in, a small part of a huge caravan, which was currently more like a camp than a caravan; there were many strange people that were walking about. Being extra careful, or as careful as she could with a limp, she sneaked past all of these people. She was determined to find out where she was and where the others were, she felt she needed to see Ryu. She didn't feel like he was hurt or in danger, it was just a sense of urgency. She continued to limp around until she heard two familiar voices.
"When's Bow coming back? I'm hungry and bored." Sten whined.
"Why don't you go play cards with the locals?" Rand said calmly, barely paying attention to the Highlander.
"I think I've fleeced them of everything they're worth already. I wish something interesting would happen."
"Be careful what you wish for monkey, you just might get it." Katt said approaching them.
Rand was the first to recover from his shock at seeing her up. He charged towards her and engulfed her in a bear hug. Katt struggled under the pressure of Rand's strength.
"I ... appreciate... you're affection... but you're crushing me. Leggo!" She gasped.
Rand let her go, looking a little embarrassed at his lack of control. She looked the two over and was glad she hadn't been asleep for twenty years like in an old story she heard once.
"So where's Ryu and the rest?" She asked.
Rand and Sten looked at each other with looks of sorrow on their faces. They truly didn't know how to break the bad news to her.
"Well, that is..." Rand started.
"We don't know where he is." Sten lied, or at least lied from his point of view.
"That's okay. We'll find him. I'd know if something happened to him, so he's gotta be still around somewhere right?" Katt replied jovially.
The way she said it gave both Rand and Sten confidence that they could indeed find Ryu. They had all gone through hell and come back together, there was no way he could be deceased, all they had needed was someone to tell them that.
"So where are we and where are we going?" Katt asked them.
She sat down, as she knew it was going to be a long explanation.
Artificer Urza's Fanfiction