Noble Sacrifice: Chapter 6: On Dragon's Wings
Blinded Angels: Book 1: The Noble Sacrifice
River circled in the air above the Trivian Convent. Mother Soteria’s ever-watchful eye tracked them in their ever widening gyre.
The frosty night air whispered of possibilities, and the endless gaze of the moon bored through them to their very core. There was so much to do, and the order was all important.
They flew toward Rowich. They should inform Michael about the accommodation reached over the three wrecca who wandered into the wild.
A flare of frustrated indigo flame jetted from between their razor sharp teethe and ran in rivulets down the deep blue scales of their face, along the full length of their neck to their shoulders where their enormous bat-like wings spoiled it into whorls of shimmering darkness.
No wrecca eye would see them. Their native draconic form blended too well into the night sky.
The last thing they wanted to do was talk to Michael tonight, but if they didn’t, he would intervene. His highness had no business in these affairs and needed to be driven back before he set his sights on a new puzzle to solve.
From above Blackwood Abby resembled a castle. But then their family wouldn't have anything less, would they? Its tall stone facade stood in defiance of the large open field around it, and the neatly manicured tree line that made almost a perfect square.
Nothing about this place was natural, but that was rather the point.
River landed on top of the tower that housed the Salian order. Transforming back into their human form, their clothes manifested out of the shadows into which they were sent.
They walked down the spiral staircase onto an open observation level of the tower.
Michael stood at the window, his long black hair moving in the breeze. “I'm surprised you sent them home so quickly.” The insincerity of his words undercut his deep voice.
“Mother offered them asylum, they accepted, there was nothing I could do that wouldn't violate the covenant.” River adopted the most businesslike tone they could manage.
Michael sighed. “I wish you wouldn't call that fallen priestess mother.”
“It is her title.” River said, wanting to spit fire at their older brother, but not desiring to fight right now.
Michael spun around and glowered at his sibling. "I know that, but that doesn't mean you have to call her that when she's not around. She offered them asylum, did you say?" He rubbed his square jaw and shook his head slowly. “What could have inspired her to do something like that? The Trivian Folk are not known for their hospitality.”
River glanced at the papers in their brother’s other hand. “Are those about the deathless?”
“Yes. There's nothing but rumors and speculation. You know as well as I do, that our father killed him, and lost his own life doing it.”
River nodded, and turned to the source of the footsteps making their way up the tower.
A short woman, with a round face, silver eyes, and ebony glasses climb the steps and smiled at the siblings. Her long hair faded from black to bright green at the tips. “I really do you need to close the books on today's adventure. What has been done with the exiles?”
River smiled at the book wyrm, and said, “Everything's been sorted out as best as can be, but I will be making regular visits to the convent to ensure that nothing goes wrong.”
Jules' eyes widened. “So, they're staying?”
River nodded. “It seems they have been granted asylum, and from what I have seen I think there's every chance that they will accept the covenant.”
“You can't know that.” Michael said. “At best, the fallen will do everything in their power to add to their numbers. It is, as always, up to us to make sure that everything runs smoothly.”
“And what exactly does that mean?” River said in a huff. “We all signed the covenant. We are all bound by it. I am getting tired of you and mother looking down at the others like you do.”
“I can't speak for our mother, but I don't look down on anyone. Unlike you, I take our responsibilities very seriously.” Michael raised an eyebrow and pursed his lips.
River rolled their eyes. “That's it, listen to me, your lordship, you may not like the way I fulfill my responsibilities, but I don't neglect them. I do things my way, and you do things your way. Your way isn't always the best, or the only way. And the sooner you see that, the better relationships you'll have with people other than your reflection in the mirror.”
Michael didn't respond, but turned around and stared out the window again.
River trudged down the steps, away from their brother. If only they could walk away from the position and the responsibilities they were born with.
Jules followed them down into the tower. “Is it wise to challenge your brother like that, especially in front of one of his subordinates.”
“He may be in charge of the Salian Order, but you are in no way his subordinate, and the sooner you and the rest of the people working here realize that the better.”
Jules giggled and put out an arm to stop River from walking. “So are they the ones we were looking for?”
River flashed her a look that clearly read, “this is not the place or the time for that discussion.”
“I was only asking because I didn't know if I needed to file another report with the others.”
River and Jules walked silently down all the steps to the ground floor and out into the vast open space behind the tower. They stopped before reaching the tree line.
Pulling their attention away from the edge of the forest, River stared up at the moon for a moment, desperate to tap their hopes down. “Yes.”
Jules peppered them with questions, but River acted as if they didn't hear any of them, and stood like a statue gazing endlessly at the night sky.
“If you want to be helpful,” River said with a touch of nostalgia in their voice, “You can reach out to the other members of the circle. Let them know I will be in touch soon.”
“You know, if you weren't so damn secretive about all this, we might help you.”
River smiled at her. “I know, but some things require a personal touch, and others are hard to explain. I'm not trying to keep you out of the loop. There are just some topics that I'm not good at talking about.”
“But you are talking to someone about them, right?” Jules asked.
“A couple people familiar with the matter. Don't worry about me. I'll be fine.”
Without saying another word, River leaped into the air and shifted back into their draconic form.
The cursed earth spun beneath them, threatening to return the damnable sun to the sky. Night never lasted long enough to please them. They needed to take flight. Anything to race away from the thoughts pestering their mind. No matter how fast or how high they flew, they never escaped the concerns that preyed upon them in those moments of weakness.
They were like dreams, no, like the memories of childhood dreams barely remembered in the corners of their mind. If it wasn't for the fact that they knew what it was like to be haunted by ghosts, they would compare it to that as well.
It was a ghost after a fashion, but one impossible to share with anyone. On a couple nights, he even contemplated flying into the sun and allowing the light to burn away everything they were or ever would be.
This was not one of those times.
They considered racing towards their sister’s home, but they didn’t want to share this moment with anyone, not until they understood what was going on.
The cold air crackled with a dewy freshness, warning of the impending sunrise.
They didn’t even realize when they arrived home, walked into the house, or went downstairs to their basement. Stretching their wings out, they curled up into a circle on the collection of large cushions they laid out all over the floor so they could sleep in their true form.
Their eyes adjusted to the abject blackness of the space and relaxed. It felt so good to be in their den, but they knew they had to watch this feeling carefully.
Unlike the other members of their family, they didn't allow themselves the luxury of servants, so the house was empty except for the vagrant spirits who found homes wherever they could.
They calmed their breath, and focused their thoughts. Everything had to be perfect, nothing could be left to chance. It wouldn't be long before they were invested with their title, and what remained of their long life was taken by the mountains of responsibility that would be added to them.
Life was complicated enough with their work for the Salian order, and the two secret societies they had sworn themself too. If they counted their family, that would make it three secret societies.
While they knew other dragons, they weren't close enough with any of them to know whether or not all draconic lineages operated like theirs. Somehow, they doubted others had to put up with the layers of secrecy, and nonsense that the Blackwoods set up around them.
Was life in the family like this before their father died? Sev always talked about him like he was some kind of carefree fae that happened to be a part of their family. River had never met a dragon as carefree as the one that existed in their sister's stories.
This is the price they paid for being born into the night slayers family. People treated them like everywhere they walked was holy ground, and everything they did was right and just.
Their family was anything but right and just. It wasn't like they were a bunch of criminals, but they all played in their own ways on the outskirts of what was right. If the truth ever came out, it would be such a scandal.
The image of reporters interviewing their mother made them laugh. They wondered how many of those interviewers would get roasted alive rather than her submitting to their questions.
River nestled into their bed and told them selves over and over again for today was a good day. They allow them selves to drift off to sleep.