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Sweet Child of Mine

Chapter Text

The two moons stood high in the night sky, a blanket of stars twinkling like fine Azrothian diamonds against dark velvet as the man rode the dark hawkstrider through the twisting roads of Eversong forest. How long had it been since he’d last come here? A hundred? No...much longer...maybe thousands since she lived...the sister of his heart. In truth he wasn’t sure it could have been yesterday or millenia so twisted by the dark curse his mind had been. A low, menacing growl passed his lips as the large bird beneath him seemed to quake in fear at the sound. Taking a moment to strengthen the mind control spell he’d cast upon it he pushed away the dark thoughts that constantly battered his mind, trying to convince the animal to ignore its natural instincts of knowing what would be a natural predator now rode on its back.

Having to lower himself to such...mortal means of transportation annoyed him, yet his mission was of too much importance to risk walking and flying was not an option. A small laugh passed his lips, dark and deep. No that would not do for the last leg of this trip, the stir it would cause would have killed any chance he had of reaching his goal. Stealth was his only chance to get to the one he sought and he prayed they would not slay him on sight. Once he had reached them and delivered his precious bundle, then he didn’t care what happened. If they slay him where he stood he would not fight, perhaps he deserved it for letting himself fall to the curse, but first his most precious treasure must be secured.

Pausing his mount for a moment as the road split into a fork he read the sign posts trying to recall the general direction he must take, so long...too long since he’d walked these enchanted forests with her, the sister of his heart. Too long since he’d joined her on that fateful day ...no, stop it! He couldn’t let himself think of that, of her broken body, the light fading, the grief as he cried out or the darkness that had filled his heart and mind after.

“Tandralis…” He whispered pushing down the ache the memories brought. Soon the road began to take on familiar landmarks though it seemed the centuries had changed it. The trees stood taller, new estates dotted the land, yet he knew he had taken the right direction as his eyes saw the gently flowing waters to his right remembering with a smile as they had sat under the sun, watching a toddling babe with bright flame like hair toddling along chasing a small treant with a giggle always just a few steps too slow to capture her prey. Over there the forests where he and Thoran had laughed as they hunted together always trying to one up one another. Life had been happy here amongst the Quel’dorei until that fateful day.

Shaking his head he pushed away the memories, for even the happiest of them led back to pain and pain would lead to the darkness if he wasn’t careful. He could not let that happen, not until he’d made sure his most precious treasure was safe. A short time later his eyes fell upon the outskirts of his destination. He could see the familiar path paved with stone, remembering with another small smile the days and hours they’d spent gathering the stones and setting each one by hand. No magical construction for her, no she had never been like the other Highborne. She enjoyed the labor of love, of watching a project come to life under her hands. She was so unlike many of her kind, perhaps that was why he’d loved her so.

Soon his eyes could make out the shape of the buildings in the distance, his brows rising as he noted the original house still rose gracefully before him but clearly those who had come after had added their own touches. Two paths led off from the main to two more homes on either side yet distant enough so as not to be intrusive, how large had the family grown since he last was here? Did little Kalypsa still live? She would not be so little now, likely with children of her own. How the thought saddened him, to have missed so much, Not only Kalypsa’s life but that of any children she may have had and their children’s children. A frown formed on his handsome elven face. Their children should have grown together as a family, cousins and friends but that was not possible, not when his kind were cursed with the darkness because his sire had fallen to the madness, poisoning them all. His mate, his children all monsters and outcast amongst their own because of him!

The dark thoughts were brought to a sudden halt as the door of the main house was opened quickly, the bright red hair visible in the light from within, the tall elven form of a male Quel’dorei standing in an offensive stance as he raised his bow and spoke in a low growl that he knew all too well even after centuries of not hearing it.

“One step closer and by the Five I swear I will put an arrow between your traitorous eyes Noxarian!”

Chapter Text

“How much longer?” Thoran called towards the kitchen in a tone that bordered on impatient.

“About five minutes since the last time you asked you spoiled overgrown lizard.” Came the amused tone of a female from the kitchen.

“But I’m starving here. Do you know how long the trip from the sanctum to Quel’thalas is?” He said with an amused grin as he lounged bonelessly on the chaise before the fire as the golden haired Quel’dorei appeared in the door leading to the kitchen. Her pale blue eyes narrowed.

“About as long as it takes your lazy ass to make a portal here, that’s how long. I mean you are a full grown dragon, you know how to hunt your own meals.” She said wiping her hands on her apron, a small smirk on her lips. It was a game they played often when Thoran came for dinner. He would whine and complain like a child as she cooked their meal trying to annoy her.

“Yes but living as a pampered Quel’dorei for centuries has me quite spoiled actually.” He laughed as she threw a towel at him.

“When are you going to break down and find a woman anyway? I get that you enjoy Quel’dorei women but you could take one as a mate to cook for you if nothing else.”

“I tried, but your grandmother put me in the friend zone.” He teased.

“Eww! I do NOT want anymore stories about my grandmother’s love life.”

“What? It was perfect! She’d already been my brother’s consort, I was just trying to keep it in the family.” He shrugged. “Not to mention she was quite beautiful.”

“Yes and if she had you wouldn’t have had my mother or me to cook for you now would you?” She said with a grin.

“We could have adopted or she could have taken an elven consort for the purpose of having children.” He shrugged as she laughed and walked back to the kitchen, shaking her head as Thoran grabbed a book from the end table as he thought back about her grandmother. Tandralis Sunwalker had not been the typical Highborne, nor had any of her people. The last in a long line of nobles who had led the small Kaldorei settlement of Aran’dal she had followed the traditions of her family not only in abolishing the caste system amongst their people but had also kept a good relationship with the five flights, allowing the rare dragon who wished to learn more of mortal races live amongst her kind as one of their own.

“Thoran?” Trisaland said once again in the doorway, leaning against it with a thoughtful expression. “I was just wondering…” She began then paused seeing him sit up quickly sniffing the air, a low growl came from his chest. “What is it?” She said as she went from relaxed to on guard at once.

“Stay here!” He hissed as he rose, grabbing his bow and quiver from its place by the door and stepping out. As he stepped out into the clear night, his eyes went immediately to the tall, dark skinned elf perched atop a dark colored Hawkstrider. His long, raven colored hair was pulled into a neat top knot, the lower half falling over his shoulders. Wearing simple black leathers and a dark cloak that fell behind him, the man watched him with red -gold eyes that held no malice, only sadness.

“One step closer and by the Five I swear I will put an arrow between your traitorous eyes Noxarian!” He growled low as the other man simply sighed sadly.

“Traitor...once we called one another brother.” The man said softly.

“Yes then you let the curse take you and became my enemy.”

“I will not deny, my grief weakened me and let the darkness in, I have spent centuries lost in it, yet I would never bring my anger and hatred down upon you or those we swore to protect. Why do you think I have never returned? I would not take that chance, to harm Kalypsa or anyone of this clan!”

“Then why are you here now?” He said coldly.

“Because I need help, yours or theirs.” He said clutching the bundle in his lap close, wondering if Thoran would make good on his threats? He would take the arrow if it was loosed, but he hoped they would at least take the small treasure he carried and protect it like their own.

“What help could you need from us? You have a flight of your own.” He hissed as against his earlier command he felt the woman join him, sword in hand.

“What is happening here?” Trisaland commanded in a tone that spoke of one accustomed to commanding. As the other man watched her appear his heart seemed to contract...that sword, he knew it so well.
“Tandralis?” He said in a choked whisper so great the pain of seeing the fair haired elven woman who so resembled his lost friend. “But no...not quite.”

“I am Trisaland Sunwalker, granddaughter of Tandralis. And who are you?” The man raised his hands to show he was not armed, balancing the precious bundle on the saddle.

“My name is Noxarian, once your grandmother and I were close friends, called one another brother and sister of the soul. But then…” He said lowering his eyes taking a steadying breath. “But then I lost her and lost myself as well.” He said raising his eyes once more. “I mean no harm to you or yours, yet I understand your protector’s caution. I came to find him for I need his help to reach the Queen before it is too late.” At this Thoran growled ominously.

“What business would you have with my queen? Your flight would see ours dead. Your Sire would see her cowed beneath his paws, his slave!”

“My flight and my father are why I need your help Thoran!” He said picking up the small bundle. “Please...just hear me out!” He said as a small cry of distress came from the bundle he held. The man seemed to bounce it gently making soft shushing noises as Thoran’s ears flicked.

“What have you brought here?” He said cautiously as Trisaland took in a quick breath.

“A whelp.” She said softly. “Thoran it's a whelp and its in distress.” She said moving forward before he could stop her.

“Tris! Stop! It's probably a trap!” Thoran said moving forward yet not lowering his bow as the other man shook his head.

“No trap brother, she is my own and she’s badly injured. She needs healing and you know my talents never lay there!” He said the pain in his voice clear as Trisaland went to his side pulling back the cloth that covered the tiny welp then gasped.

“By the Sunwell, what happened to her?” She said looking at the man angrily. “What have you done to this little one?”

 

“It wasn’t me...it was her clutchmates.” He said softly, allowing her to take the small bundle from him. “I had to put her into an enchanted sleep, her wounds are quite bad, but she’s stubborn and seems to be coming out of it. Please, I beg you Thoran, if not for me, for my child, help her!”

“Law of the wild brother.” He sneered. “What’s one less corrupted black in this world?” He hissed as the other man’s eyes flashed red, a low growl coming from his chest as Trisaland hissed.

“Enough! Thoranstrasz I am ashamed of you! She is a welp, a child! How dare you!” She said angrily. “I am taking her inside, if the two of you wish to kill one another, so be it! But I will not let this child suffer for your inter flight conflict!” She said walking off angrily clutching the small bundle in her arms protectively as the two men stared one another down, even as a small smirk quirked at the edge of Noxorian’s lips.

“Just like her grandmother huh?” He said cutting his eyes to watch the woman walk into the house as Thoran sighed lowering his bow.

“You have no idea!” He growled then jerked his head in the direction of the house. “I guess she has overruled me, so come inside. You have much to explain. But…” He said bringing the bow back up. “Try to hurt her and I will gut you.”

“I would expect nothing less brother.” He said as Thoran hissed.

“We are no longer brothers!”

Chapter Text

Trisaland cradled the precious bundle close, cooing softly even as she stomped angrily back into the house, slamming the door behind her.

“Fucking stubborn ass male dragons!” She hissed as she moved to the chaise laying the bundle down gently then unwrapping it to reveal a small black whelp, no small didn’t describe it, she was absolutely tiny in comparison to the whelps that Trisaland had seen in the Sanctum of the Reds on the rare occasion she’d been allowed to accompany Thoranstrasz. “By the Sunwell child...what have they done to you?” She said softly as tears filled her eyes. The whelp’s tiny body was covered with what appeared to be deep scratches and tears. In many places scale had been torn away. As she lifted her from the blanket with gentle hands she saw yet another injury that made her stomach roil. It appeared as if the membranes of one wing had been ripped, but it hung at an odd angle and blood oozed from a rip at its base.

“By the five.” Thoran said suddenly kneeling at her side. “Her clutchmates did this?” He said looking up to where Noxarian had come to stand then kneel on the other side of the chaise.

“Yes.” He said lowering his eyes. “Our flight...the dark curse...it's made us into monsters broth-- Thoran.” He said in a shaking voice. “it's taken quite some time for that fact to penetrate the darkness in my mind. How many clutches have I watched fight, nearly just out of the egg and never thought anything of it? Our children are born in darkness, it's all they know and they grow into monsters.” He said reaching out with one finger to gently stroke the whelp’s cheek in what Trisaland found to be very unmonsterlike. “But Talyndria...she’s different. Not only is she smaller than most, something my mate blamed me and my softness from my dalliances with mortals as she puts it at every chance, but she’s different. She doesn’t show signs of the darkness, doesn’t rage and fight as the others do. She’s softer, gentler, and loving as none of my whelps have ever been. She is my little princess, my precious jewel.” He said looking up at Trisaland. “I know you don’t know me, we do not have the bond I had with your grandmother because...I fell. But I beg you, both, please help my little jewel.”

“I will do my best for her.” Trisaland said with a nod already examining her wounds and assessing the damage in preparation to begin healing. “But I may need your help Thoran, I am not as familiar with draconic anatomy and it looks as if her wing is badly damaged. There could also be internal damage that I haven’t found.” She said as she raised her hand, softly golden energy forming around it as she began to close the wounds as Thoran looked over the injuries to her wing.

“Yes that’s a nasty little injury there.” He said as his own hand began to glow red with his own healing magic.

“How did this happen?” Trisaland said not raising her eyes from her healing.

“As I said, the whelps of our flight...they are born corrupted by the darkness, the curse of the Old Gods that plagues my flight. They come out of their eggs hissing and spitting and ready to fight it seems. My mate Noiria, she delights in their aggressiveness and rage. The more violent the whelp the better in her eyes. She sees it as an attribute.”

“And you?” Trisaland said looking up from her healing as he flinched at the anger in her eyes...Tandralis’ eyes.

“I never cared.” He said looking away from the accusatory eyes. “I did my duty, I fucked my mate, I got her pregnant, then I went to do my own thing until the time came again.” He said coldly. “I did not choose that bitch, she was chosen for me. I would swear that my Sire picked the most aggravating unmated female for me specifically. That or she was was so unpleasant even the other males of my flight wouldn’t take her as consort. I hate my flight, it's why I chose to stay with Tandralis and fought the call of my Aspect for so long, fought the darkness I could feel trying to take me.”

“Why did you return then?” Trisaland said sensing Thoran tense up at her question. Noxarian only sighed.

“You must understand, your grandmother...I loved her dearly. She was the sister of my soul. We spent centuries at one another’s sides, we fought side by side in the War of the Ancients. She helped me to deal with the anger and hate I had for Neltharion when he turned on the other flights and helped me fight the poison of the dark curse. I followed her when the Highborne were exiled by the Kaldorei, stayed by her side through the long exodus and founding of Quel’thalas, to her last breath that she breathed in my arms.” He said as tears filled his eyes. “We were family and I loved her as I have never loved my true family. My Sire,my mother, my clutch mates, they can all rot for I care. But not her, she was my true family.”

“And yet the moment we laid her on the pyre you gave in...you left.” Thoran growled.

“I had to leave Thoran...I couldn’t bear it. You know what it was like. Vaeldryn hated me, he didn’t want me around Kalypsa, afraid that I would somehow corrupt her. He was planning to take her from Quel’thalas, to return to Kalimdor if he must to keep her from me.”

“That is what happened?” Thoran said looking up with furrowed brows. “That was why I found the two of you beating the shit out of one another?” Noxarian only nodded and sighed. “I knew he was an asshole.” He growled. “He told me you attacked him, that he had seen signs of the curse in you.”

“And you believed him of course.” Noxarian snapped angrily. “That's why you took Kalypsa and disappeared!”

“I didn’t want to but...I saw what was happening after Tandralis fell in that skirmish, how it was affecting you. You can deny it, but you were starting to lose control. He came to me, begged me to take Kalypsa to the Sanctum to protect her from you. He told me he’d heard you speaking to her, saying you were going to take her and leave Quel’thalas, raise her yourself amongst your flight.”

“He told you that? That son of a bitch.” He hissed as Tandralis raised a brow.

“That’s my grandfather you’re talking about dragon.” She snapped.

“Yes well, truth is truth. He was a liar and a manipulator. He never wanted me around Tandralis or your mother. I think he was jealous of how close we were, always accusing her of wanting me as a lover. She was starting to consider leaving him, not for me of course, she and I were never anything more than friends. He’d been getting more and more possessive over her and Kalypsa, he even resented you.” He said nodding his head towards Thoran. “But then, everyone knew you had a thing for her.” He laughed.

“She and I were friends, not lovers. She was my brother’s consort, not mine.”

“Yes well all the same, I’m sure he lied to both of us to play us against one another. And no, I never told Kalypsa I would take her away to raise amongst my flight. Why would I do such a thing when I didn’t even wish to be around them? No, what truly happened was him coming upon us one day when she’d been crying, missing her mother. I was comforting her because he had snapped at her telling her to stop acting like a child and deal with it. I had told her that I would speak to you about taking her to the Sanctum of the Reds to visit Alexstrasza. I figured if anyone could help ease her pain, the Queen could. I had planned to discuss it with you, to see if we could arrange a small visit for her to get her away from all of the memories and her father’s unwillingness to let her grieve.”

“Then why did you leave? Why did you return to them?” Thoran said softly, the hurt in his voice clear.

“I left because it was clear I was not trusted, even by you. After you found Vaeldryn and I fighting, you took his word over mine. Over one who had been nothing but a friend for centuries! You didn’t even bother to ask for the truth, you just assumed because my grief weakened me that I was the next Deathwing.” He hissed.

“I travelled for a time, trying to fight the darkness but what was there left to fight for? I had lost my sister, I had lost Kalypsa and I had lost your trust. I had nowhere else to turn to. Kandra wanted nothing of me after what my grandsire did to her mother and to her flight. So I returned and I gave in to the darkness, the anger and hate. It took time for them to accept me back, I had to prove myself to them. And then I was given that shrewish bitch of a mate.”

“And what is different now? What brought the change?” Trisaland said looking up as she held the whelp gently allowing Thoran access to heal the damaged wing.

“Talyndria is what is different.” He said softly reaching out to gently stroke the tiny cheek once more. “I knew from the moment she hatched she would be different.” He said. “Noiria didn’t wish to brood her egg, she said it wasn’t viable, too small compared to the others and wouldn’t survive.” He said absently stroking the whelp.

“I never gave it much thought, I did my duty by impregnating her, from there it was her problem to deal with. Oh I would take them hunting or teach them to fly, things a Sire should teach them I suppose when I had to, but I never cared all that much to their rearing. That was best left to the others. But for some reason her refusal to care for the egg angered me. It's one thing to leave a weak hatchling at the mercy of nature, but refusing to even try to hatch the egg was cold even for her. I told her I would destroy the entire clutch if she did not care for all of them and after much fighting and drawing the attention of the other females she finally relented.

Talyn was the last to hatch, having trouble breaking free of the egg. I realized that Noiria didn’t bother to breathe on the egg.” He said as Trisaland looked at him in confusion. “I don’t know how familiar you are with our eggs but they are quite hard and durable. A female will breathe onto the egg, in our case with fire which makes the shell a bit more fragile and allows the whelp to break free easier. When she realized I knew she was allowing her to struggle and possibly die within the egg she finally breathed on it, but even then the little one struggled to get out, but she finally did it.” He said with a smile of pride. “I admit, I’ve never shown much care for my hatchlings, but watching her struggle out of that egg and then to be so tiny, so beautiful…” He said leaning down to kiss the sleeping whelp on her head.

“It...its like for the first time in a long time I felt something...good. Here was this tiny little creature that I had a part in creating. This tiny little life struggling to begin.” He said then his face grew cold. “I think the others sensed her weakness, her softness. They pounced on her as they would one another but there was a viciousness in it they didn’t show to the others. When they were fed she would try to eat and they would attack her, pushing her out more so than they would the others.”

“They were weeding out what they saw as weakness.” Thoran said quietly. “It's not unheard of amongst broods, but I have never seen it done so viciously.”

“Our flight is not known for their gentleness now are we?” He said looking to Thoran who only shook his head then went back to his healing. “I tried to intervene and was told I needed to let nature take its course and I tried. I fought the urge to just...well I’m embarrassed to say what I considered doing to the little brats and their harpy mother but I let it take its course for a time. I would pull her aside and slip her food and keep her near when I could, but I wasn’t always able to be there. It was one of those times today. I was to take some of the younger ones hunting, whelps who are ready to learn to hunt on their own.

When I returned I could hear her cries, I knew something was wrong. As I came into our cave I saw them clawing at her, biting her, heard her screams of distress and all the while my mate watched, doing nothing. I fear I lost my temper quite badly. I saw red and just started yanking them away from her, tossing them without thought. I may have actually killed some of them, I don’t know. All I knew was my little jewel didn’t deserve this and that bitch watched as if amused.

When she saw me intervene only then did she take action and attacked me. We fought, she did her best to kill me...I left her bleeding out from several wounds that I doubt she’ll recover from, I grabbed Talyndria and I flew. I flew and I didn’t look back. I had to fight to stay ahead of the others once they discovered what happened. Once I felt I was far enough away to safely stop and rest I had a chance to check Talyndria who was crying in pain the whole time and saw the severity of her wounds. More than I could ever hope to be able to heal, I knew there was only one I could trust to bring her to. One dragon who might help me get her somewhere safe, because she won’t be safe with me.”

“You thought to bring her to me?” Thoran said as if disbelieving.

“I know you hate me Thoran, but I also know you are a dragon of honor. I knew you would help my little gem, heal her, and hopefully help me find a safe place for her.” He said as Thoran looked down not speaking as his hand glowed once more as the healing energies flowed into the tiny wing, a small popping sound came as the delicate bones reset, a small wail coming from the dragon.

“Shh, its okay little one, I know it hurts but only for a bit.” Trisaland cooed softly channelling the light into the tiny dragon to ease her pain. “Thoran, you have to help him, help her.” She said as she pulled away the bloody wrap around the tiny whelp and wrapped her in a warm blanket, laying her on her non injured side on the chaise before looking up to Noxarian. “it's best we leave her in the enchanted sleep awhile longer while the healing is still working.”

“Of course.” He said softly.

“What do you want me to do Nox?” Thoran said straightening his back as a series of pops and cracks sounded as he stretched.

“I want you to take her to the Queen, ask for her aid to protect her. I know, I know.” He said raising a hand seeing the look of disbelief on the other dragons face. “I know that the other flights hate ours and I understand. But Alexstrasza...she’s the Aspect of Life, the Great Mother. Surely she has it in her heart to care for one so innocent.”

“She won’t remain innocent. She was born with the curse just like the others.”

“But that’s what I’m trying to tell you, she’s shown nothing of it! That is why she was attacked. Even the most docile of the whelps when attacked will fight back and become just as vicious as those born with it already burning in their blood. She is not like them. Somehow she has fought it. And with the right guidance she could grow to be like others who do not suffer the curse.”

“I don’t see how she can escape it Nox. I mean yes, you fought it for centuries but you weren’t born with it. She was.”

“Nature versus nurture.” Trisaland said softly. “It is possible perhaps.”

“Tris, we’re talking about a black dragon here.” Thoran said with a sigh.

“But think about it. The shadow lynx of Quel’thalas are wild and feral beasts. Yet those cubs who are raised from birth by our handlers become quite docile to our people, yet are taught to hunt and be fierce and protective companions to the Rangers. It is not so different. From what I have heard, these whelps are like the cubs, wild and feral. Yet this one does not show that kind of behavior, so if she is raised away from that sort of environment, why would she not continue to be like other dragons. I’m sure there are those who could teach her how to fight the curse if and when it does try to rear its head. And who better than the most loving of all dragons?”

“It is not so simple as domesticating a cat Trisaland.” He argued. Why could she not see past the sweet face of the sleeping whelp? She was well aware of the history of the Black Flight and the destruction they had wrought.

“Hmmf, you are just as bad as her mother.” Trisaland said rising and taking the tiny bundle into her arms and moving to a rocking chair where she began to rock gently, humming a song to the small creature as the men watched.

“Just like her damned grandmother.” Thoran sighed as Noxarian laughed softly then winced. “Your injured.” He said.

“The bitch got some good swipes in.” He shrugged.

“Damn it, get out of that vest and tunic and let me have a look.” He said rising as Noxarian gingerly removed the clothing from his upper body revealing several deep gashes across his back and stomach. “By the five, she really got you didn’t she?”
“Remember how Tandralis would fight in battle?”

“All to well.”

“Take that and make her insane, and a heartless bitch and you have Noiria.”

Chapter Text

After much growling, posing, tension and a bit of healing the two males dragons had at last settled into a tenuous peace with one another and much to her amusement, raided Trisaland’s kitchen and the dinner cooking there. While the two males ate, she chose to remain sitting in the rocking chair holding the sleeping whelp humming lullabies she remembered from her own childhood as her eyes examined the sleeping bundle.

In general Talyndria had the look of most hatchlings she had seen on her visits to the Sanctum of Life, though she found there was a softness to this one. Her face was a just a bit less sharp angles, her features more gentle perhaps more feminine if she needed to give a name to it. Her tiny little talons were nearly as small as Trisaland’s own fingernails though much sharper. She smiled as one of her front paws came up to her tiny snout in her sleep as she began to mimic an elven child sucking their thumb. Tandralis reached up to stroke her cheek gently with a finger hearing a small contented sigh from the little dragon. She really was quite cute.

“You poor child, you have suffered so much in such a short time. But you are safe here, I will not allow anyone or anything to harm you so long as you are in my care.” She said softly as she heard footsteps enter the room. Looking up she saw Noxarian approaching, a small smile quirking at his lips.

“You would make quite the broodmother.” He said softly as he crouched down at her side looking upon his daughter.

“You really love her.” Trisaland said more as a statement of fact than a question as the man sighed.

“I know it may sound horrible, my feelings on the others. But you must understand, I never chose my mate, there was no love in it.” He said as his eyes became a bit unfocused as if seeing something she could not. “Noiria was...she was cold and calculating and rather cruel. She only enjoyed rearing the hatchlings that showed her own penchant for violence and destruction. I saw mating with her as my duty, nothing more. I cared nothing for rearing the hatchlings...at least not until this one.

I don’t understand why, but Noiria’s neglect of her egg it..it stirred something inside me. I could sense there was something about this one, something special. I knew I had to see that she was given a chance. And when she hatched, watching her struggle to leave the egg and then seeing her soft features and timid personality, it just...awakened a part of me that I was sure had died along with Tandralis.”

“Were you in love with my grandmother?” She said curiously, tilting her head as she watched the play of emotions on her face.

“I...maybe early on I had a bit of a crush on her.” He smiled sadly. “When she first returned from her studies in Zin-Azshari. When she’d left she’d been this awkward little thing, pretty but not fully grown into herself yet. But when I was sent to bring her home and saw the beauty she had become, my heart raced. I’d never considered wanting a mortal female before but there was something there that just…” He shook his head laughing. “Or perhaps it was just a horny teenaged dragon noticing a fine set of hips.” He grinned. “Had she been a female dragon I’m sure she would have caused many a fight to become her consort.” He said as Trisaland laughed.

“A fine set of hips hmm?”

“Well, I mean she had a lovely face as well, but for dragons, or at least for me, I find a finely formed set of hips attractive. I suppose it speaks to my instincts for mating. A female with less shapely a form might have a harder time with birthing clutches, but one with fine hips, they speak of many clutches to be born.”

“Yes my Talan was like that.” Thoran said with a sad smile. “She had a fine set of hips, not too round yet finely curved. And her scales shone like rubies.” Trisaland listened to the males with a small smile, it was rare to hear Thoran speak of his lost mate.

“And what else do males of your kind look for in a mate?” She asked curiously.

“The horns.” They both said then laughed as Thoran continued. “I don’t know about others but I loved the way Talan’s horns curved back then sort of up and out.” He said tracing the design in the air with his fingers. “Some will curl, much like a rams, others lay back along the side of their head, but hers had nice gentle lines. And her eyes, so bright and golden and full of laughter.”

“And might I ask what a lovely young elven lady finds attractive in a potential mate?” Noxarian said curiously moving to sit on a chair as she looked thoughtful for a moment.

“Well for me personally? I prefer a male who has a bit of muscle to him, a proven warrior if you will. I’m not overly fond of the magister types, they are far too thin and lanky. I want a man I do not have to fear will break.” She laughed. “I also prefer those who let their hair grow, something I can bury my fingers in and feel the silkiness of. A good heart, easy to laugh..” She trailed off then smiled. “But I am rather picky, as Thoran has pointed out quite often.”

“It sounds as if you have it figured out, you just have to find the one who meets those standards.” He smiled as she looked at him, curious about the black dragon who her grandmother had once called brother.

Though she had no idea of how he might appear in his true form, she knew there was much of the same in their chosen mortal forms as well. He wore his long, dark hair neatly, his build strong as that of a warrior though his hands she noted seemed shaped more to that of one who liked to create rather than wield a weapon. His reddish gold eyes held the look of one long lived and carried the shadows of a long life that had seen much, faint scars marred the perfection of otherwise smooth and unlined skin. One thing she found somewhat humorous was the inclusion of gems and metals into every aspect of his appearance.

His top knot was held by a silver ornament accented in colorful stones. His long tapered ears displayed many types of studded gems and rings of silver and gold, even his nose sported a small ring through one side. About his neck he wore a solitary necklace with an amber colored stone yet his wrists were encased in several bracelets of metal and gem, his fingers sporting many rings. Of course she had seen other dragons who wore jewels in both forms, Alexstrasza being one of them, but never quite like this one.

“I do have a penchant for jewels.” He smiled as if hearing her thoughts. “I’m not sure if Thoran told you, but many of the jewels worn by your grandmother, including that ring on your finger were made by my hand.” He said gesturing to the simple gold and ruby ring on her right ring finger. “I made that one in particular when she and Vaeynstrasz chose to become mates. The stone is made from one of his scales.” He said as she gasped looking at the ring.

“This...this was their wedding ring?” She said in awe looking to the ring as he nodded.

“Vaeyn asked me to create something special for her that he could give her, and that was what I did. I am happy to see it has survived to be passed on.”

“I gave it to her when...well when Kalypsa fell in battle.” He said softly, the pain of seeing yet another he loved gone a twinge in his heart.

“My sweet Kalypsa is gone.” He said softly.

“But she left behind two beautiful girls.” Thoran said with a smile. “Trisaland has a twin sister, Lysandria. She looks more Kalypsa while Tris here takes more after Tandralis.”

“I would love to meet Lysandria as well if possible.” Noxarian said softly as if not daring to hope for such.

“She lives in the house down the path from here. Perhaps if you are able to stay for a bit there will be time. I would call her now but the hour grows late and she is likely resting if she has managed to settle little A’dora in. She is carrying her second child now so she tires easily as her time grows closer.”

“She has taken a mate and has hatchlings of her own yet you have not?” As he spoke Tris laughed and shook her head.

“I am not as interested in domestic adventures as she. I am part of the royal guard of Silvermoon and quite happy that way.” She said as the small bundle she held began to stir. “Oh, I think she might be waking.” She said looking down as the curled bundle stretched and yawned chirruping softly then opened her eyes wide letting out a sound of distress. “Oh it's okay little one, I am a friend and will not hurt you.” She said as the little dragon struggled to free herself from the blanket in which she was wrapped a high pitched chattering coming from her that Trisaland realized was broken draconic as Noxarian quickly rose and came to her side speaking softly in their language as he picked her up and cradled her against him even as she skittered to his shoulder to hide beneath his hair, her tiny face peeking out from beneath.

“It's all right little one, they are friends, they helped to heal you.” He said reaching up to stroke along her sinewy neck. “This is Trisaland and Thoranstrasz.” He said introducing him as the hatchling turned her head curiously inspecting the two from the safety of her perch.

“Hello Talyndria.” Trisaland said softly in draconic, remaining in her seat so as not to spook the small creature. “You are such a brave and beautiful little girl. I was only trying to comfort you as you slept.” She said as the hatchling seemed to peek her head out further in curiosity at the words.

“Talyn.” Came a small squeaking voice.

“Yes you have such tiny and delicate talons my lady.” Tris said with a smile as the hatchling shook her head.

“Talyn!” She said as Tris looked to Noxarian curiously.

“Huh...I think she’s chosen, what is it you mortals call it...it's been so long. Ah, she chose her nickname.” He said with a smile as she heard a small huffing sound from Thoran.

“Talan? Really Nox? You named your child after my mate?”

Noxarian looked confused then sighed. “I did not give her the name, she chose it on her own. You know most hatchlings choose their own names. Why she chose that one I do not know, but she has chosen.”

“Perhaps it's an omen Thoran.” Trisaland offered softly. “A sign that she is not what you fear, that she is good. Perhaps…” She drifted off then shook her head not daring to speak her thoughts.

“Don’t...don’t even consider what I know you’re thinking.” Thoran said coldly as she shook her head and sighed even as a low grumble was heard. “What the…”

“Hungry.” Came a small whine from the whelp.

“Oh, of course! Umm...what does she eat?” Trisaland said looking over to Noxarian. “Do you need to hunt for her or could she eat what I have here?”

“She should be fine to eat some of the meat, she might enjoy it actually.” He said as Trisaland approached slowly, bending to be on level with the whelp but not moving too closely yet.

“Talyn, would you like to eat? I have plenty of food and you are welcome to it.” She said as the whelp poked her head out a bit further.

“Eat?”

“Yes little one, eat.” She said daring to carefully reach out for the tiny dragon, smiling as she was allowed to extract her from the nest of hair she’d been hiding in then carried her to the kitchen as she looked over the food curiously. “Hmm, I think maybe I should cut your food up for you at first.” She said setting the hatchling on the counter as she cut a piece of the boar roast and began to cut it into smaller chunks to make it easier for the whelp. When she set down the plate the whelp dove in, eating ravenously. “Easy little one, you’ll get choked.” She said as the food disappeared quickly.

“Eat?”

“You want more?” She said with a small laugh. “You can have all you want, just slow down, no one will take any of your food.” She said as she turned to cut more meat for her then set it on her plate watching as she wolfed this bit down as well then made a small sound of distress. “What’s wrong love, did you...Oh!” Trisaland cried as the hatchling began to retch, a sudden burst of flame, along with her dinner forcefully spraying out at Trisaland. The sound of the two men running it at the noise quickly followed.

“Tris are you okay?” Thoran said seeing her smoldering tunic and the mess that covered it.

“Talyn are you all right little one?” Noxarian said immediately going to his daughter.

“We’re okay.” Tris said wiping the regurgitated meat from her tunic and cleaning up the mess. “She just ate a bit too quickly I think. Didn’t you little love?” She said reaching out to clean the mess from the snout of the whelp who looked utterly sad. “Its okay, you can have more, just don’t eat so fast so that you get sick.” She said cutting up another plate then taking the whelp and sitting at the table, picking up the meat and feeding it to her. “That’s it, one bite at a time, chew it well.” She said in a motherly tone as the two watched in apparent surprise.

“Just like her grandmother.” Noxarian smiled as Thoran smiled. This was not good, he could see already the bonding forming between the whelp and his friend. It wasn’t good, they would have to leave the whelp with Alexstrasza and if they became too bonded it could be traumatic for both.

“Too much.” He said frowning as he heard small noises from the whelp as Trisaland laughed.

“Oh you want to try that too? All right.” She said giving the whelp new foods until at last she seemed to grow sated then let out a large belch as Tris laughed. “Oh little one, that was good. I know a few Rangers that might be jealous even.” She laughed then rose filling a basin with warm water. “But you are a bit of a mess, let's get you cleaned up.” She said lifting the whelp into the basin then squealing as the whelp began to flutter her wings and splash soaking not only Trisaland and the surrounding area but managing to splash enough to reach the two men as they cleaned up the rest of the kitchen.

“Hey!” Thoran said leaning over so that his nose was close to her snout. “I can take a bath on my own, I don’t need your help.” He said then smiled as the whelp let out a small cackle of what Tris realized was laughter and splashed water into his face once more giggling madly. “Ah I can see this is going to a long...long battle.” He said grabbing a towel and began to dry himself as the whelp continued to splash and play, her tiny sounds of laughter tugging at his heart in ways he didn’t wish to allow.

Chapter Text

A simple magelight lit the small desk, littered with schedules, varied correspondence and scrolls. Sitting with a quill in hand, her other hand rubbing her tired eyes, Trisaland attempted to complete the duty roster for the next moon’s shifts. Though she’d sent word back to Silvermoon that she would be taking a small personal leave due to a family crisis, she’d agreed to at least keep up with her paperwork at home leading to more than a few messengers delivering various messages needing her attention.

It had been a mere four days since Noxarian had arrived at her door with his severely injured child in need of shelter and healing. Though Thoran had been against helping them at first, it seemed the two males after some posturing and snorting had begun to calm and finally have some long needed talks about their shared past. For Trisaland the days were a mix of anxiety that the two would come to blows at times, fascination as they would calm and speak of times before her birth and utter joy at the hijinks of tiny black whelp who, now away from the abusive and dangerous flight was beginning to relax and let her sweet and sometimes silly demeanor shine.

On their first night Trisaland, seeing the little whelp’s distress in the new and strange place, had gone to her room and dug out an old stuffed dragonhawk toy from her own childhood and gifted it to Talyn. Since then the little whelp was hardly seen without it, hugging it between her forelegs as if afraid it might be snatched away at any moment and proudly proclaiming it to be called ‘Daggy’. With a small smile Tris thought it so cute the way she hugged it to her no different than an elven child would. Children, no matter what race or species it seemed were much the same, they took utter joy in simple things and with a bit of love and care would brighten the world with their laughter. With a sigh she thought to herself how empty the house would seem once they had arranged to send her to the safety of the reds, she would genuinely miss Talyn’s cackling laughter and the warm weight of her sitting in her lap asking her to sing as she fell asleep. She would need to be sure Thoran informed Alexstrasza of this, though the thought of the dragon queen singing children to sleep seemed hard to imagine.

“Trisaland? Why are you still up so late friend?” Came the deep male voice, startling her out of her musings. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” Noxarian said as she looked up, a soft laugh escaping her lips.

“Oh you just caught me off guard, I suppose I was sitting here wool gathering rather than working.” She said setting the quill aside. “Is everything all right? Is Talyn hurting or hungry?”

“No, no, she’s sleeping peacefully.” He said as she noted the dark circles around his eyes.

“And yet you are not it seems.” She said softly as a half smile formed on his lips.

“It has been centuries since I could just relax and sleep. Not that dragons sleep like mortals, we can go weeks, days or years without truly sleeping, then we may sleep for a time. I try to rest but, old habits I suppose.” He said, shrugging his shoulders. “When Talyn sleeps and I cannot, I've come into the habit of sitting out on the terrace, listening to the night sounds of the forest. I’m sorry if I startled you, I do not wish to keep you from your work.”

“No, no, you’re fine. Even when I am in the city I find working on schedules and such easier in the night when things are quieter. But I could use a break if you would like company on the terrace.” She said as his smile grew.

“I would be honored to have your company my lady. Shall we?” He said as she stood and stretched then followed him out, as they each stretched out on a chaise letting the cooler night air wash over them. “I had almost forgotten how lovely this land is. At times Tandralis, Thoran and I would find a nice place to camp by the river and just stay up all night drinking wine, listening to the sounds of the forest and the gentle sounds of the water. It was so relaxing and we were happy, we were family.” He said as Tris watched the emotions play over his handsome features.

“You miss her a lot, even after so long.” She said more as a statement than a question as he turned his red eyes to look at her, the sadness in them making her feel as if her heart was breaking along with his.

“I do, I loved her dearly. She was more family to me than my own blood and even though it's been centuries since, it still hurts as if it were just yesterday at times. Perhaps it feels so because of the years I lost myself to the madness to forget.” He said with a sigh.

“Is that what is keeping you awake my friend?” At this he shook his head.

“Perhaps a part of it, but for the most part, I’ve forgotten how to relax, to feel safe to do so. Amongst my flight you do not let your guard down, you never know when another will attack you merely because the whispers convince them they need a fight. And when I do drift off I seem to be plagued with nightmares or memories of things I’ve done while in the midst of the madness. And then there are my worries for the future. If Alexstrasza does not agree to take Talyndria, I have no idea how I can protect her. When the others come for me, and they will, I have no idea what they will do to her. Being that she is so young, they likely wouldn’t try to harm her, just take her back to the flight. But even that would be her death, as you’ve seen, she’s far too gentle for such a violent life.”

“Noxarian, no matter what happens, we’re going to find a way to protect her. I don’t know how, but we will. Perhaps Kandra…” She began only to see him shake his head and laugh.

“Kandra hates my kind, with good reason. She saw her mother die that day at the hands of Deathwing, and she was helpless to stop it just as the rest of us were. So many died because of him.” He said angrily as his eyes seemed to glow with the emotion, his fist clenching until his knuckles were white. “Kylyr was such a beautiful, joyous soul. She loved magic and could be quite annoying about it, always blinking here and there just to tease, or doing little spells to entertain the children. She did not deserve her fate for trying to defend her flight and the mortals she was fighting to protect.”

“But she is a mother herself, with her own brood and a loving one at that. If she were to meet that sweet little girl of yours I have no doubt her heart would open to her.”

“Maybe. But even if it did, the blues would never allow a black within their sanctum.”

“I suppose you are right. But we will find a way, I promise you.”

“I have no doubt.” He said looking at her with a smile that set her heart to beat faster as her mind seemed to take a mental inventory of his features, noting the differences between his mortal form and Thoran’s. His eyes that were a bit more turned up at the outer corners with thick, dark lashes. His features just a bit sharper, his skin darker, a more coppery color as if he’d spent time in the sun, even his form was a bit more muscular and far more scarred, his hair dark as a raven’s wing. Realizing she was staring she quickly averted her eyes, but not before seeing the hint of amusement in his eyes. By the light, what was wrong with her? He was a black dragon on the run from his flight after all! “But let us leave such stressful topics on such a beautiful night.” He said as if noticing her sudden shyness. “Tell me what does the lovely granddaughter of my best friend do with her life? I noticed the sword you held the night I arrived and I’ve seen your armor as well which does not speak of one who roams the forests as your grandsire did.”

“Oh..no I am not a Ranger.” She laughed softly. “Though I do love the outdoors, my calling took me into the city. I began as a simple guard, but I have worked my way up to Captain in the Royal Guard, I suppose you could say I work for King Sunstrider.”

“Ah so the line continues I see, that is good. Would the current king be the son of Dath’remar or...no I suppose not. He would be quite old by your kind’s standards.”

“The current king is Anasterian, Dath'remar grandson. He is a good and fair king and the people quite love him. He has a young son of his own, Kael’thas.”

“How time does pass.” He said with a sigh. “So you guard the king? That seems appropriate considering that your families have been somewhat intertwined for centuries.”

“Oh no, I am not part of his personal guard per se, though sometimes I am assigned to his retinue for special events. For the most part I oversee the guards in the lower ranks as well as training the new recruits. I get a lot of the drudgery of paperwork, making out schedules and rotations, seeing to the details of security for special events and festivals he or the prince attend, things of that nature.” At this Noxian laughed softly. “What is so funny?”

“Oh don’t mind me, I just remembered when Dath’remar tried to convince Tandralis to betrothe Kalypsa to his son. He felt given their history together it was quite logical to marry the families to one another. She told him to go drown himself in the Sunwell. That her daughter would choose her own mate, not have one chosen for her. She really hated noble traditions.”

“Ah yes, Anasterian told me the story. He then says it's high time I had a daughter for his son will need a good and proper mate as well.”

“And what did you say?”

“Something a bit less polite than to drown himself in the Sunwell.” She laughed. “He just laughed and said he expected such an answer.”

“I am quite surprised to find you have no mate, a young woman as lovely as you should have men lined up at your door seeking your hand.”

“And this is why I have a very sharp sword, to discourage such nonsense.” She laughed then paused as they heard a cry from within the house. “Talyndria!” She said as she rose quickly with Noxarian following on her heels as they ran inside to the guest room to find the small whelp sitting up in her basket that was a makeshift bed, fat tears streaming down her scaled cheek as she cried.

“Talyndria! What is it? Are you hurt?” Noxarian said swiftly, picking her up and holding her close to him looking her over for signs of injury as Thoran burst into the room looking half asleep yet concerned.

“What’s happening? Are we under attack?”

“Talyn wake...Adi gone...scared.” The whelp hiccuped between tears.

“I’m so sorry little one, I was talking with Trisaland while you slept. It's all right, I’m here now.” He cooed, rocking her in his arms as Trisaland picked up her dragonhawk from the basket offering it to her then reaching out to wipe away her tears.

“Oh little one...it's okay, no one left you.” She said softly then looked back to Thoran who watched for a moment then walked over as well.

“It's okay Talyn...we’re all here for you.” He said as Talyn sniffled yet begun to calm seeing the three of them.

“Tissy...hungry.” She said with another small sniffle.

“Well I think we can fix that easy enough.” She said reaching out as the whelp moved into her arms. “Why don’t we all go find a snack, hmm?” She said with a smile as they all walked to the kitchen where she handed her back to Noxarian as she took out some leftovers from their dinner and began to cut up food for Talyn then sat down and took her into her lap to help her eat.

“Oh so we don’t get a snack?” Thoran teased.

“You're both big enough to make your own.” She said as Thoran stuck out his tongue blowing a raspberry at her which elicited a burst of giggles from Talyn.

“Do again Toran!” She giggled as he did once more. “Toran funny!”

“Yes Thoran is hilarious.” Tris laughed, rolling her eyes while the two men helped themselves to the leftovers. Once they were settled around the table Thoran looked between the two curiously.

“So, what’s going on? Why were you two up so late?”

“I was working on some paperwork so I can get it sent back to Captain Dawnbreaker before he has a litter of kittens over me taking a few days away from the city.” She said. “Then Noxarian got up to get some fresh air so we sat outside talking for a bit.”

“Actually, you can tell him the truth Tris, I couldn’t sleep, haven’t been sleeping well since we arrived.”

“What’s going on?” Thoran said looking at him with a mix of concern and leeriness.

“Oh stop it.” He said seeing the look in the other man’s eyes. “It's not the whispers, it's just...I guess a mix of worry over Talyn and the habit of sleeping with one eye open around my flight. It's hard to convince my body it can relax, that we’re safe here.”

“I might be able to help with that. I can make a tea for you that will help you relax and sleep. I used to make it for Kalypsa...after...well you know. After we lost Tandralis.” He said softly. “She had a hard time between losing her and you disappearing. I’m sure I can adjust it for a dragon.”

“That would be great, my body wants to rest but my mind just refuses. And when I manage to finally relax enough to sleep...well then the damn nightmares start.”

“I understand, I remember how hard it was after the betrayal. It was Yleria that taught me to make it, it has dreamwort in it.”

“How the hell do you get your hands on dreamwort? I thought it only grows in the Emerald Dream?”

“Yeah well, friends in the right places.” he laughed. “I finally convinced Yleria to give me a cutting so I could grow it here in the garden. Took a few tries but we finally found a way to get it to grow. Tris do you have any here or do I need to go get it from my house?”

“There should be some already dried in the cupboard.” She said as he rose to make the tea as Talyn burped loudly. “My goodness young lady.” She laughed. “We do need to work on those table manners.” In answer Talyn stuck out her own tongue and tried to imitate Thoran’s raspberry managing to give Tris a bath in slobber. “Eww.” She said though through laughter. “Thoran you are teaching the little one bad things.”

“Isn’t that what Uncles do best?” He laughed as he set down a cup with the tea steeping before Noxarian then leaned over to Talyn. “We’ll work on perfecting that raspberry later.” He said as Talyn once again attempted it then giggled. “Silly girl.” He laughed as Noxarian sipped his tea and Talyn began to yawn.

“Getting sleepy again little one?” Tris said as Talyn leaned against her.

“Tissy sing, Talyn sleep?
“You want me to sing you to sleep?” She said as Talyn nodded her head. “I suppose I could do that, come we’ll get you all tucked in and I will sing you to sleep and sit with you till your sire comes to bed.” She said rising.

“I won’t be long Tris, once I finish my tea I’ll be in there with her so you can get some rest as well.”

“No hurry.” She said as she carried Talyn back to the guest room then lay her down in her basket. “There we go, and we’ll tuck you in and give you Daggy.”

“Talyn Daggy. Talyn..lo...love Daggy!” She said as Tris smiled down at her.

“I’m glad you love Daggy, he needs a sweet little girl to cuddle and love him. Now, close your eyes and go to sleep like a good girl.” She said as the little whelp closed her eyes then peeked one open to make sure she was still there. Satisfied she closed her eyes once more as Tris began to sing a lullaby softly, her hand going to stroke her head gently as unbeknownst to her the two males watched from the door, one smiling, the other frowning with concern at the look of love of the woman’s face as she sang the little one to sleep.

Chapter Text

Tris hummed softly as she moved about the kitchen preparing a pie for the evening meal. In a corner she had placed Talyn’s basket where the whelp was napping soundly, her stuffed dragonhawk clutched between her forepaws. She’d heard her wake early that morning and had slipped in on silent feet so as not to disturb Noxian, who was finally getting some much needed rest thanks to the tea Thoran had made for him the previous evening. After breakfast she’d taken Talyn with her to work on the garden, something that had delighted the whelp who seemed to enjoy digging into the earth to make holes for planting some of the newest herbs in need of transplant, giggling as her tiny paws plunged into the earth.

After cleaning up from their planting, they had then moved on to the Bloodberry bushes where Trisaland picked berries as Talyn sat with her holding the bucket for her to put them in. By the time they had completed their gardening, Talyn had begun to grumble for food once again and they’d shared a lunch of cold meats, cheeses and fresh moonberry juice. Her belly filled the whelp had begun to yawn and crawled into her basket for a nap leaving Trisaland time to prepare the pie with the berries they had collected. Looking over at the sleeping whelp she felt a slight twinge in her heart as she thought of the heated discussion she’d had with Thoran that morning before he’d left for the Ruby Sanctum to meet with Alexstrasza.

“Tris, I’m not trying to be cruel, but you cannot allow yourself to grow too attached to Talyn, nor she to you.”

“And I have told you, I am only trying to help her Thoran. The child has never known anything but hate and abuse other than from her Sire. I want her to know caring and gentleness instead of pain and abuse. You saw what she looked like when Nox brought her here. The child was hurt severely, starved for love and malnourished. I want her to know that not everyone is cruel or hateful, I want her to know she is safe and loved.”

“As do I, but Tris you are becoming too bonded to her and she to you. If she bonds to you too tightly it will only be more damaging to her when Nox is gone and she goes to my mother’s care.”

“Or it will help her to accept the love and care she will receive from Alexstrasza. Think about it, Thoran, the only female in her life, was a dragon who neglected her, allowing her to be tortured by her clutchmates. My fear is that at first she will see Alexstrasza and fear her because she has not had a caring mother, I only want to show her that not everyone will hurt her.” She said as Thoran came to her, slipping his arms around her and pressing his forehead to hers, his eyes closing as he sighed deeply.

“Tris, you have a beautiful heart and the most caring soul. You didn’t think twice about caring for her despite what you know of black dragons. You didn’t see a whelp or a black dragon, you saw a child in need and you all but threatened my life if I didn’t agree. Someday, you are going to be the most loving and wonderful mother. But you cannot be Talyn’s mother and I worry how much it's going to hurt you when you have to let her go.”
“I understand Thoran, but so long as she is in my care, I will give her all the love and joy I possibly can. And I will support Noxarian in trying to keep her safe as well as his own safety.” At this she felt his arms stiffen around her. “What?” She said leaning back seeing his eyes darken.

“Don’t get attached to him Tris. He is a black dragon, on the run from his flight. As soon as we have things settled for Talyn he will be gone.” At this she laughed softly.

“Thoran...surely you don’t think…”

“I’ve seen you watching him Tris, and in all the time I’ve known you I’ve never seen you look at a male that way. Not even...whatever his name was that you had such a crush on when you were at the academy.”

“His name was Thalion, and it was a silly school girl crush. I do not have a crush on Noxarian.” She laughed.

“No, I think you are attracted to him though and that will also get you hurt. Darling, I’ve known him for centuries, we were like brothers. Even if he were not on the run I would warn you away from him because he’s not fully stable. He could succumb to the whispers again at any time.”

“You're jealous!” She laughed, waving a hand as if to dismiss his concerns.

“I...no I’m not!” He said not meeting her eyes.

“Oh please, you’ve been the only male outside my coworkers in my life for any real amount of time. The only handsome dragon around and now this dark haired, handsome bad boy dragon arrives and you're getting your scales all ruffled thinking he might catch my eye. Yes he has a very...pleasant to look upon mortal form and for someone who is from a flight known for its cruelty, he has a heart of gold with his child. But that is all beside the point.” She said inwardly cursing the flush creeping up her neck. “Yes I’m fascinated by him. I mean, I’ve met red dragons, blue dragons, even a bronze and green or two. But he’s different from all of you. Not to mention he knew my grandmother and there are tales he’s been able to share with me about her life that not even you can! So of course I enjoy talking with him.”

“Please, don’t ever forget who and what he is, Tris, I am not saying don’t be friendly, I think he’s truly fighting to break free of his flight once again. But he’s in danger from them and from the curse they carry. He is not the one for you.”

“Males! No matter the species, be they mortal or dragon, always trying to mark their territory.” She hissed to herself as she placed the pie into the oven then began to clean the kitchen, taking care not to wake the sleeping whelp when a knock came at the door. “Damn it Dawnbreaker, I sent a messenger this morning and you already have another at my door?” She grumbled hurrying to answer before it could disturb either of the sleeping dragons. As she opened the door her annoyance turned quickly to a smile at the sight of the redheaded Quel’dorei woman and the small dark haired child at her side.

“Lys! What a surprise! Come in and get off your feet.” She said, stepping aside to allow them to enter. “And what a lovely doll you have A’dora, where did you get it?” She said as the very pregnant woman sat down in a chair with a look of relief as A’dora climbed onto the sofa to sit with Trisaland.

“Ann’da brought it to me from Silvermoon. Her name is Asharah.” She said proudly as Tris raised an eyebrow at Lysindria.

“Don’t ask...she’s been all about hearing stories of our Highborne ancestors of late, ever since her nanny told her a bedtime story of the ‘beautiful queen of the Kaldorei’ one night. Now she’s obsessed with the old stories of Suramar and Zin-Azshari.”

“Hmm, maybe you should let her pester Thoran about that.” She laughed softly earning a dark look from her twin.

“Perhaps, but that is not why I came here. Lor’ath stopped in to see you while he was in Silvermoon and General Dawnbreaker told him you’d taken time off for a family emergency. He nearly rode his poor Hawkstrider into the ground hurrying home thinking I’d gone into labor earlier than expected.”

“Oh I’m so sorry, please give him my apologies I never meant for anyone to think something happened to you. I...well I have an old friend of our grandmother’s here, with his daughter.” She said, trying to find the right words to explain the situation.

“Trisaland Sunwalker...I know that look, what is going on? What old friend of our grandmother would be old enough to...oh no…” She said putting her hand over her face and shaking her head at the same moment Tris noticed A’dora was gone.

“Aunt Tris? What is in that basket in the kitchen?” A’dora said from the door that led into the kitchen.

“A’dora...come here now.” Lysindria said, looking to her sister.

“So, grandmother’s friend Noxarian showed up the other night looking for Thoran…” She began only to be cut off by her sister’s cold response.

“Noxarian? That black dragon who hung around Tandralis? The one grandfather said tried to kidnap our mother? Are you crazy?” She said as her voice began to get higher.
“Would you keep it down!” She hissed. “Talyn is asleep in the kitchen and Nox is getting some much needed sleep in the guest room. And no, he did not try to kidnap our mother! Grandfather said that to turn Thoran against him and run him off because he was jealous of their friendship! If you will give me a chance to finish telling you!”

“You are sheltering a black dragon? Are you insane? Do you know how dangerous they are?”

“Nox is not a danger to me, you should know if he were Thoran would have killed him the moment he showed up here. He came looking for Thoran because his daughter was nearly killed by her mother and her clutchmates, Lys. If you could have seen the condition she was in, how badly they had injured her.” She said as tears came to her eyes remembering the tears, bites and claw marks covering the tiny whelp. “He had to get her away from them to save her life and he brought her to Thoran for healing and to ask his help to find a safe place for her. Thoran is at the Ruby Sanctum right now speaking with Alexstrasza to see if she will help.”

“I will never understand your fascination with them.” She said waving her hand dismissively. “I mean sure, Thoran’s elven form is quite pleasing to look at but to get involved with him?”

“Okay first of all, Thoran and I are friends. He was our guardian our whole childhood and still is, he would destroy anyone who tried to hurt us or our families, just as he did for our Minn’da. Even Ann’da knew he was a good man and second, no matter what you cook up in that twisted little mind of yours, Thoran and I are not and never have been lovers.”

“Well considering you refuse to find a husband, the logical conclusion is that you have something holding you back. Something tall, redheaded and quite handsome who adores you.”

“And you as well sister.”

“Not like he does you, he always favored you because you look so much like our grandmother.” She said sitting back in her seat with a small pout on her lips as Trisaland rolled her eyes.

“Here we go again…” She said as Noxarian walked out of the guestroom dressed only in the loose pajama pants Thoran had loaned him. His dark hair mussed from sleep, his bare chest showing a multitude of faded scars. “Oh Nox, I hope we didn’t wake you. I’ve had Talyn with me today so you could sleep. She’s napping in the kitchen.” She said as his sleepy eyes met with Lysindria’s emerald ones, his face going pale.

“Kalypsa...no, no that’s not possible.” He said shaking his head as if to clear it.

“Noxarian, I’d like you to meet my twin, Lysandria. Lys, this is Noxarian.”

“I had hoped to have a chance to meet you before I leave. By the Five, you two are a match pair for your mother and grandmother.”
“So you are the one grandmother called her brother?” Lysindria said with little warmth in her voice. “The one my grandfather did not like?”

“With all due respect, there weren’t many your grandfather liked when it came to people around your grandmother.” He said with a smile then looked over to the child. “And what is your name, little lovely one?”

“A’dora Bloodwing, and this is my doll Asharah.” She said holding up the doll proudly.

“A beautiful name for both a beautiful young lady and her lovely doll.” He said with a smile.

“Why are you wearing all that stuff in your hair and on your face?” She said as Tris laughed softly as he knelt before her.

“Hmm I suppose because I like pretty things, gems and jewels. I make them myself.”

“That’s right, in fact Lys, did you know the ring mother gave me was actually Tandralis’ ring from her first marriage? When she married Vaeynstrasz?” She said with a small smirk at the look of disdain on her sister’s face.

“Is that so. I didn’t think they were actually married, just...lived together.”

“No they married in the mortal way as well as our ways.” Noxarian said, taking a seat beside Tris. “Vaeyn wanted to do things in the way of the Kaldorei but he also declared her his prime consort, first in his heart which is as close to marriage as my kind have.”

“Don’t they also have multiple consorts?” Lys said, seeming unimpressed.

“Some do, then some only take one mate. Thoran for instance, he wanted no other than his mate Talanstrasza and has never considered taking another since. Which makes his losing her all the more heartbreaking.”

“And you? How many do you have?”

“I have had one mate, whom I despised but did my duties for no matter how reluctantly. But she is no longer my mate, not after what she allowed to happen to my little gem.” He said coldly. “But that is not a conversation to have before young ones. Trisaland said you have a good mate who loves you and cares well for you and your child and the one you carry. I am very happy to hear this. I believe Tandralis would be quite proud if she could see her family continuing on with such lovely daughters as the two of you.” He said as a small sound was heard from the kitchen. “Speaking of lovely daughters, I will go to see if Talyn is awake.”

“Don’t even think of trying to get into the pie in the oven, that is for dinner.” Tris teased.
“Ah my plan is foiled! You know me far too well.” He laughed then sniffed the air. “It smells wonderful though, should I check on it for you so that it doesn’t burn?”

“Yes please and thank you. But no eating it, there are some Blood berries in a bowl if you would like some. I don’t think Talyn ate them all yet.” She said as he walked into the kitchen then turned her eyes back to Lysindria who was watching him walk away.

“Well, I can certainly see why you’ve given him shelter.” She said with a smile.

“Oh stop it.” She laughed. “Talyn, his whelp, is an absolute joy. She was in such terrible condition when they arrived, but we managed to get her healed and once she realized no one here meant her harm, her personality just flourished. She is the sweetest little bundle of giggles and curiosity.”

“I still can’t believe you are allowing a black dragon to stay here.” She said in almost a whisper. “No matter how charming he seems, he’s still a black dragon.”

“Lys, stop. I trust him, that is all that matters.” She said then stopped as Nox returned carrying Talyn who seemed to shrink against him seeing strangers, clutching her dragonhawk tightly. Seeing her distress Trisaland rose and walked over to them.

“Well look who's awake, did you have a good nap little one.” She said softly, reaching up to run a finger along the whelp’s snout gently.

“Mmhmm. Who dat?”

“That is my sister Lysandria and her little girl A’dora. Don’t worry, she won’t hurt you, she’s nice.” She then turned, giving a pointed look to Lysandria who seemed to stiffen at the sight of the whelp as A’dora walked over.

“She’s funny looking.” A’dora said matter of factly.

“That is not very polite A’dora Bloodwing.” Tris said sternly as Talyn looked down at the little girl.

“But she is kind of ugly.” She said as Tris was about to scold her when Talyn looked down at her at blew a raspberry as she’d seen Thoran do which caused Tris to have to hide her smile by turning away her head while she gained control over the laugh wanting to escape then turned back to Talyn.

“And Talyn, that is not very polite either.” She said, forcing the laughter not to bubble up at the cuteness of the whelp.

“She mean!” Talyn said with a look that could only be the draconic version of a pout.

“Your aunt is correct A’dora, that was not polite of you to say. I think she’s rather cute actually.” Lysandria said holding back her own laughter after A’dora crossed her arms and stomped back to the couch as the front door opened and Thoran entered looking a bit worn, his eyes scanning the room then settling on Tris.

“Well, I wasn’t expecting a crowd when I returned.” He said with a smile that didn’t quite make it to his eyes.

“Uncle Thoran!” A’dora said running to him with her arms out letting him sweep her up into his arms.

“A’dora my lady, look how pretty you are today.” He said kissing her cheek.

“Toran!” Talyn called as he placed A’dora back to her feet then walked over, leaning to bump his forehead gently against the whelp’s then rubbed her cheek with his own.

“And hello to you too little gem.” He said with a more genuine smile then looked to Nox. “Brother...I know you’re proud of your scars, but you should at least put on a shirt in front of the ladies.” He teased.

“I don’t think we were complaining.” Lys said with a bit of humor as Nox flushed.

“Yes well I should get properly dressed for the day, then I am most anxious to hear how your visit went with the queen.”

“Well, we should be getting back home. I need to start dinner and I’m getting a bit exhausted as well. I’m glad it's almost time for the baby to come, I swear I don’t think A’dora took this much out of me.”

“Do you want a portal? I can make one to save you the walk home.” Thoran said with concern walking over to her, running his hand along her body just shy of touching her, a red glow emanating from it.

“No, no, the exercise will make the birth easier according to the midwife.” She said rolling her eyes. “Not that it helped the last time.”

“First births are usually the hardest, but everything seems well with you, though. The babe seems to be doing well, a good strong aura already.” He said as his hand rested against her large belly only to be rewarded with a strong kick. “Oh alright little one I will stop.” He laughed as Lysandria smiled.

“She doesn’t seem to like anyone touching me. She even kicks Lor’ath when he rubs my belly at night.”

“Well lets hope she stays that way and kicks any boys that come near her when she’s older.”

“Oh if she’s like Tris I’m sure she will.” She laughed as Tris stuck out her tongue at her. “Come A’dora, it's time to go home.”

“Bye Aunt Tris, Uncle Thoran and Noxarian.”

“Goodbye little one, it was nice to meet you. Lysandria, do take good care of yourself, it was an honor to meet you at last.”

“Thank you Noxian and good bye Talyn. It was nice meeting you too. Wasn’t it A’dora?” She said as A’dora shrugged. In response Talyn leaned forward, looking down at the girl and blew another raspberry.

“Thoran, you are so in trouble for teaching her that.” Tris said with a small laugh as the woman and child left.

“She mean Toran!”

“A’dora? Mean? Never!” He said teasingly as Tris sighed.

“Lys is going to have her hands full once the new baby comes. I have the feeling A’dora is already starting to get jealous at not being the center of attention. But that’s her problem.” She said turning to Thoran. “So, how did the meeting go?”

“I spoke with my mother and Tyranstrasz about the situation and after much discussion, a decision has been made.”

Chapter Text

Bracing himself against the all too familiar pain, Thoran stepped through the portal into the Ruby Sanctum. Although it had changed in the 10,000 years since she had been taken from him, the familiar sights and sounds of his ancestral home still brought back the pain, the loss, the utter devastation of losing his mate. It was for this reason he had taken his brother’s last words to heart.

“Should anything happen, promise me you will watch over my mate.”
“I will protect and watch over her as if she is my own brother. But you must come back because we both know Talanstrasza would never accept me having a second mate.”

The comment, said in jest to lighten the mood having worked that day long ago, two brothers preparing to enter battle, neither realizing it would be their last as they laughed together one last time. Or that he and the woman his brother had loved so dearly would be left to mourn the loss of the others. The promise had given him an escape to leave behind the memories his home brought forth on the rare times he came to visit, allowing him time to heal though the pain never truly left him. And each visit it seemed to hurt a little less, but never ceased. Yet at the same time there was a freedom in returning here, one which could never be found in the beauty of Quel’thalas. The freedom to be his true self, not Thoran Flamesong, companion of the Sunwalker family, but Thoranstrasz of the Red Flight, son of Alexstrasza and Tyranstrasz, a child of life and the skies.

Throwing his arms wide he allowed the transformation to unfold. His body bending, limbs becoming thicker with sharpened talons, crimson scales replacing skin, his face elongating into the face of a dragon, his neck elongating, and large crimson wings stretching from his back. In the blink of an eye the Quel’dorei man ceased to exist, and his place the gargantuan red dragon appeared. With a quick downflap of his wings he was launched into the air, the feel of the wind in his face, the freedom of the skies was his once again. The joy and freedom of the skies lifting his spirit, the worries over Noxarian and his whelp, his worries over Trisaland and her family all but disappearing for a time as he let himself enjoy simply being a dragon.

“Brother! You have returned to us!” Came a deep, growling voice that made him smile as he turned to see another red dragon flying his way. Though the same age, the other male was even larger than his own form, a result of his position within the flight.

“Korialstrasz! Have you finally given up living in Dalaran and playing at being a mage?” He teased as the other dragon laughed.

“Of course not, I have returned to do things with your mother you do not want to hear about.” He laughed as Thoran playfully snapped at his neck.

“How dare you! Do you not know our queen is sacred and should not be looked upon in such ways. Why she is the epitome of purity and chastity.” He laughed as they fell naturally into their habits of showing off their prowess in the sky by taking dangerous dives and other aerial feats around one another.

“So what brings you here? I was told you had asked for a formal audience with her and Tyran, but not what it concerns.” He said as Thoran sighed.

“Yes, I have a rather...delicate matter I need to discuss with them. I suppose I should go face it rather than making them wait since she was gracious enough to grant permission with no information beyond that.” He said frowning.

“I can see from the look on your face it is something that weighs heavily upon you. Come, let's go meet with them so you may unburden yourself. Besides, she is quite anxious to see you again. You haven’t come here since...well I can’t remember when.”

“Since I brought Trisaland and Lysandria when Kalypsa died.” He said feeling a pang of loss once more, another life gone too soon. Pushing the sadness aside he followed Korialstrasz as they made their way to a large cave set in a high cliff where Alexstrasza awaited them with a male nearly as large as herself. With a few wing beats he landed upon the stone floor, a smile breaking over his features as his mother came forth wrapping her neck about his.

“Thoranstrasz, oh how I’ve missed you my son.”

“I’m sorry it's been so long Mother,” He said, returning the gesture of affection. “You know it's still hard.”

“I know little one, I know.” She said softly pulling back allowing him to step over to the other male, lowering his head respectfully.

“Sire, it is good to see you again.” He said as the older male reached out to gently press his forehead to Thoran’s.

“And you my son.” He said softly then pulled back. “What has brought you to us with such a formal and urgent sounding plea for an audience?”

“Oh Tyran, let the boy have a moment to rest before we get into things.” Alexstrasza said gently as she pressed her side to his.

“No, mother it is all right, for I fear I do not know how long I have to resolve this before it's too late.” He said, shaking his head, thinking on his words carefully. “Only a few night’s past, an old acquaintance appeared in Quel’thalas searching for me. It was Noxarian.” He said hearing a gasp from Korialstrasz.

“Noxarian? In Quel’thalas? But why? He left there centuries ago after you said you stopped him from his plan to take Kalypsa away from her sire.” Korialstrasz said, remembering well the anger and hurt of his friend. “How dare he come back as if nothing happened, why would he? Are Trisaland and Lysandria safe?”

“They are fine, no harm has come to anyone, well...except for the whelp he brought with him. She is his daughter of his latest clutch with his mate.” He said looking up to Alexstrasza. “Mother, it was horrifying, her clutchmates had attacked her viciously. She had bite marks and gouges where they’d ripped at her with talons, one of her wings was broken and nearly torn free of her body.” He said as Alexstrasza gasped, her eyes filling with tears.

“How did this happen? Why did his mate not stop them?”

“I suppose I should start further back in the story for you to understand.” He said as he began to relate the tale told to him by Noxarian, of the truth of his leaving Quel’thalas, the lack of trust from his flight when he returned, losing himself to the dark curse and his life with a mate he felt nothing but disdain for and finally to the events leading to his escape with Talyn. By the time he had finished Alexstrasza sat with silent tears streaming down the scales of her cheeks and the other two males looked as if they’d been shell shocked by what they heard.

“That poor, poor child. To be so neglected by her mother...I could never do such a thing to my children. To refuse to even brood her egg or force her to fight so hard just to hatch. Many have been the time I’ve had one or two hatchlings that I was sure would not make it, yet I did everything to make them feel safe and loved even if only for a short time.” Alexstrasza said sadly.

“I knew that the flight of Neltharian had fallen into darkness.” Tyran said, shaking his head. “But to encourage such neglect or to allow the hatchlings to attack another so cruelly, it is beyond anything I had imagined.”

“Thoran, brother...I know how close you and Noxarian once were, and how it hurt you when he left. But I must ask, are you sure he is telling you the truth? He could be using the whelp to get closer to you or the family of Tandralis.”

“I have thought of that Korial, I was suspicious at first myself, in fact had it not been for Tris I would have likely slain him before he could tell me any of it. But of course dear sweet soft hearted Tris heard Talyn’s cry of pain and immediately took her under her own care. You can’t...you just can’t imagine the sight of her, bloodied and torn. And she’s so tiny Korial, so innocent.”

“And also a black whelp, which means she carries the corruption within her.” He said pointedly.

“But that’s just it, and it was hard for me to believe at first as well, but she shows none of the aggression or any hint of the curse. She has the sweetest disposition and is such a little joy. If you hear her laughter you would know, there is something different about her.”

“It is possible.” Tyran began thoughtfully. “Though there are few if any still survive, some did not fall to the curse as strongly as most. Not to say they have no trace of it, they have to actively keep their guard up against the whispers, but some who were not as enmeshed in the flight live in hiding throughout the world. Some integrated themselves amongst mortals, others live in the wilds far from others, but always with the fear of discovery. Look at how long Noxarian was able to go on without being affected by it. It is possible that with the right guidance the little one could live without falling to it as well.”

“So how could we help with this, my son?” Alexstrasza said gently as he took a deep breath and let it out before speaking once more.

“Noxarian fears that he cannot protect her from his flight. When they come for him, and we all know they will if only because of his actions against his mate, he fears he cannot protect her. If they do not kill her outright, they will take her back to the flight after killing him. Returning her to her flight would be a death sentence in itself. He came to me because he could not come to you directly. He is asking if you will consider taking Talyndria and caring for her or finding one of our females who would be willing to care for her.”

“You can’t be serious!” Korialstrasz said quickly. “Raise a black dragon whelp amongst our own?”

“That is enough Korialstrasz!” Alexstrasza said with a tone of authority as the young male lowered his head. “Thoran, this is a lot to ask. I am not sure about bringing her here…”

“My queen.” Tyran said softly. “Perhaps we should discuss this privately, look at all of the options before outright objecting. Although I agree, it may not be the best situation, perhaps there are ways we could help. This child is not to be blamed for the actions of her grandsire or even her parents. We should look to all the options, and then decide what is the best one.”

“As always, you speak with great wisdom my consort.” She said with a loving smile before looking to Thoran. “Allow us to speak privately on this matter for a time. Why don’t you and Korialstrasz take some time together. I will call upon you when we have made our decision.”

“Of course mother, as always I respect your wisdom and will accept what decision you come to.” He then looked to Korialstrasz. “Come brother, let's go sit by the lake as we did when we were young.”

“Yes, of course.” He said in a tone which made it clear he was feeling annoyed at being left out of such an important discussion. With a bow to his queen and the prime consort he rose and followed Thoran to the large lake, landing by the waterfalls then flopping down on the grass like a sullen child.

“Korial, come on. Don’t be so droll.”

“I am just as much her mate, I should be included in this.” He sulked.

“You are not the Prime Consort brother. You know that she respects your opinions and consults you on many things. But father is much older and dare I say has great wisdom in many things. Let him not feel like the old consort who has been usurped by the young one for a time.”

“I suppose you're right, I guess I’m feeling put out because this is our time right now. I returned for…”

“Yes...yes, I know what you returned for and as her son that is a bit nauseating to think about.” He laughed. “Kind of like how you felt when I would tell you about your sister and I.”

“Oh please, do not talk about how you and Talanstrasza were together. Damn near the whole sanctum knew so loud the two of you were.” He laughed. “Yes, change of subject needed. Tell me how does Trisaland feel about all of this?”

“Oh by the Five, I think Talyn has triggered her maternal instincts. I’ve never seen this side of her before, even when A’dora was born. She dotes on that whelp like a broodmother. The first night they were there, when Talyn was restless and still healing and scared she went to her room and dug out an old stuffed dragonhawk toy from her childhood and gave it to her. She rocks her and sings her to sleep at night. It's insane, she’s getting far too attached to her and it's killing me because I know when we bring Talyn here or send her elsewhere it's going to tear her apart.”

“Have you considered the idea of keeping her yourself? It seems Tris would be willing to help you care for her.”

“We cannot raise a dragon in Quel’thalas.” He laughed. “I mean sure at first it might work, but once she starts growing it will be kind of hard to keep people from noticing.”

“Why doesn’t Noxarian just take her to his private sanctum if he has one?”

“I thought of that as well, but they would be able to find him even there. You know that an aspect can find their flight members if they want to.”

“Do you really think Neltharion would care? I mean what is one small whelp amongst all of his flight.”

“It's not her they will want to track down Korial.”
“Hmm yes, your right.” He said thoughtfully. “But if you couldn’t care for her in Quel’thalas, why not take her to your sanctum?”

“Korial, I don’t want to raise a whelp. I’m perfectly fine being Uncle Thoran to Tandralis’ line, but raise one of my own? No, those days are over, they ended when I lost your sister.”

“I’m just trying to come up with solutions to help the little one. The way you spoke back there, it sounded like you cared a lot more than you're willing to admit. I know you care for Tris, and this could be something to bring you closer.”

“Tris doesn’t feel that way about me. I’m her friend and she’s mine and that’s all we are. Tris shows no interest in finding a mate, much less a dragon mate. In fact she’s shown more interest in Nox than she’s shown any male as far as I can remember.”

“Aha! So that’s what's eating at you, she’s eyeing up a black dragon and you are jealous!” He laughed.

“I am not jealous! She’s just fascinated because he’s all single dad, worried about his daughter. Women get all squishy about that you know, she doesn’t see that he is dangerous. Right now he’s fine, I think his fears for Talyn are helping him keep the curse at bay, but it will return and I won’t have her hurt when it does.”

“Who knows, maybe having a caring mate would help him fight it.” He shrugged. “I mean a lovely blonde elf woman, with a heart of gold who adores his child and wants to protect her. It might be just what he needs.”

“Absolutely not! Tris is not...he’s not a good potential mate for her. She deserves someone who will love her and all her odd little quirks. Who can understand that she likes to sit up at night working on her paperwork. The way she can get totally lost in her gardens as much as she can a good book. Or how she will train until she can barely lift her sword because she knows that she might be the only thing between her king and an assassin someday.”

“Right...you’re not taken with her at all.” He laughed as they saw the large form of Tyranstrasz flying towards them causing them to sit up as he landed beside them.

“The queen would like you both to return. We have made our decision.”