Tails of the Mansion
Written by Kerian Halcyon
Story by Arofexdracona
Chapter 1: No Such Things as Ghosts, Part 1
It was a crisp autumn evening. The sun was shining bright orange like a golden ember inside of the hearth; its last bits of warmth touching the Zethuran landscape like a soft blanket. As the sky began to darken and the morning star began to shine up in the sky to the east, a strange creature was sitting in the boughs of a tree; half asleep in the sunset's warmth.
He was known amongst the local population as a Draconian: A creature that was half human being, complete with the soft skin and disposition for adventure; and half dragon, going so far as to have dragon forms similar to their stronger, pureblood cousins to the north. Half of the population in the world was Draconian. Each had differing characteristics, though most could be easily identified with the following traits:
1. Beautiful figures that can only be described as Elf-like in appearance.
2. Sharp claws on their feet; sharp enough that they puncture shoes, so most go around barefoot, and few dare to ever file their claws off.
3. Fang-like canine teeth that occasionally poke out of their upper lips.
4. Triangle markings under their eyes that differ in color depending on the individual.
5. And, last but not least, a dragon-like tail that remains with their "human" form throughout their lives.
Few Draconians ever look alike. This is because their race is half human and half dragon, and as such they each retain the combined appearances of their human parents (plus their dragon parents, depending on what their own human forms looked like), and their dragon parents, seeing as dragons were just as easily differing in appearance as humans are. Indeed, most dragons don't even have the same "accessories" on their bodies: Many have spade-like tails, while others were covered in Dragon Silk; a type of substance that is so soft that it is addicting the moment one touches it. Others are covered in feathers, and even more are simply as sleek as a fish or an otter, with bare skin and hardly any scales. Indeed, these traits are often always seen in their Draconian descendants.
This one in particular, however, didn't have dragon parents. He didn't even have human parents, for that matter. Indeed, this young one was what is known as a "Second Generation Draconian," a type of Draconian that was born to two Draconian parents. Though he looks no different than any other Draconian, his own powers and abilities vary because of his double heritage. This one in particular happened to be a very interesting individual; both of his parents were royalty.
He was about 8 years old. His hair was copper-brown, and covered most of his body; his head and neck, as well as his tail, were all inherited from his father, and were just as soft as any dragon's. The slight hint of black could be seen on his bangs as they covered over his eyes in sleep, though they weren't enough to cover the purple triangle markings beneath them; inherited from his mother. He was tall for his age; handsome as well, and he was easily strong enough to pick a fight between any Draconian twice his age and win. He was legendary for his skills in hiding and occasionally getting into trouble, as well as for his tender sweetness. His name was Zephyr.
"Zephyr! Where are you?"
Zephyr opened his big, blue eyes; another tribute from his mother. Looking down, he flicked his tail like a cat's as he examined the scene below the big oak. No surprise, there was his mom, Ikia, looking for him as the daylight hours began to swiftly wane. The young Draconian lady looked up and gave her son a sweet smile as she looked up at his branch.
"I thought I'd find you here," she said.
Zephyr silently began to climb down from the high boughs. Cat-like, he began to swiftly make his way, from one branch to the next, until he did a graceful fore flip and landed on the ground with one hand pushing up from the grass and the other behind him to keep balanced. He stood up and shook off the dirt before coming up and hugging his mom tightly in the evening sun.
"Hi, momma," he said.
"Sweetheart, you know how we feel about you being up there towards night," she said, "You remember the last time you took a nap up there, don't you?"
"So?" he said sweetly, "The stars are more beautiful when you can see them close up, momma."
Ikia slowly bent down so that she could be eye level with her loving child. "I know that, darling," she crooned, "But you should be looking at them up in your room, not in an oak tree. It's going to be your bedtime soon."
"But momma," Zephyr pleaded, "I don't want to sleep. I'm not tired! I want to stay up with you and dad and everyone else. Why do I have to go to bed with the rest of the kids when I'm the oldest?"
"Because," Ikia said as she ruffled Zephyr's brown hair, "Even though you are the oldest, you still need to go to bed every once in a while. All brave warriors need their rest."
Zephyr recognized his mom's favorite bedtime phrase; it was what she used to get him to go to bed when he was told. "So that they can become big and strong someday," he finished, "Alright, I'll go."
Ikia smiled. "That's better. Now, go help your Aunt Lybra and your Uncle Neo. Supper's about ready."
"What's for supper? What's for supper?" Zephyr asked excitedly.
"Well, why don't you go find out," Ikia said with a smile, "I bet Aunt Lybra will let you pick dessert if you were a good boy and helped them."
"Oh boy!" Zephyr shouted. Giving his mom a quick hug, he bolted down the path back up to the mansion. Ikia watched him go and shook her head; to be young again, and to have such energy. She made her own pace as she walked through the strawberry garden up towards the house; letting her brown hair flow in the wind and careful not to let her white dress get caught in the bushes.
"So, how's the little squirt doin'?"
Ikia turned at the sound of her beloved's voice. Arosane, commonly called Aros in the mansion, was the first to come to the mansion and was its technical owner. He was also Ikia's lifemate, as well as Zephyr's father. Like his son, he was covered in fur; only his was blond and was complete with black tips all across it. He gazed at his mate and gave her a smile as he approached from behind one of the bigger strawberry patches.
Ikia came close to him and embraced him with one arm. "He's just like his father," she said with a smile, "Always being lazy in some form or another."
"That's my boy," Arose chuckled, "Where'd you find him?"
Ikia became less happy when that was mentioned. "In the same place," she said, "In the old oak tree."
"The tall one that overlooks the Black Forest?" he asked.
Aros sighed and put one of his big, muscular arms across his mate's shoulders. "How long has he been doing that?"
"Ever since that night," she said, "Four years ago."
"The night he disappeared?" Aros asked.
"And never told us where he went?" Ikia asked, "Yes."
Aros sighed. "It's kind of obvious where he went, right?" he asked, "I mean, with him talking about having an adventure n' stuff. Where else could he have gone?"
"I was never more upset in my life until I found his bed empty," Ikia said, "I had been crying for a whole hour."
"I remember," Aros said. He was the shoulder that Ikia cried on. "What bugs me most is that he came back just as sneakily as he left, and he wouldn't tell us about what happened when he did. I mean, he didn't come up and outright say it, like he usually does."
Ikia nodded. The two of them looked up at the mansion and listened to Zephyr's familiar laugh as well as Neo and Lybra's voices talking in the kitchen. The smell of wonderfully cooked rooster wafted into their noses, though the two of them didn't bother trying to enjoy the smell. They just stood there as the evening hour ticked away; the remaining sunbeams beginning to draw their curtain closed so that the night could begin.
"What are we gonna do with him?" Ikia asked, looking up at Aros as she did, "He's just like his father; wild and high spirited."
"I was gonna say he's just like his mom," Aros said, "Sweet but daring, kind of like a strawberry."
Ikia giggled. "You never used to compare me to anything other than beauty before we became mates," she said. She reached around with her other arm and embraced Aros; allowing her tail to snake around his legs. "I love you, Aros."
"I love you too, Ikia," Aros replied, returning the embrace and encircling their bodies with his long, furry tail. The two of them remained that way, in the strawberry patch, long into the evening until the sun had finally dipped below the horizon and the sky was replaced with stars and the moon.
A silvery wind brushed through the darkness. Pine trees, normally dark green and full of needles, now looked like the jet-black tails of some great beasts that were held up high into the sky. The breeze chilled to the bone, and as it passed through the twists and bends of the forest it made noises that sounded like the wailing and moaning of banshees; the calls of some great, mourning birds that frightened one beyond belief.
Zephyr stood alone in a clearing in this black abyss. He knew right away where he was in the world; he was in the Black Forest; specifically in the clearing where he was captured by the Drakins and their Drake pet. It was also the place where he first met Blackwood; the mysterious man who saved his life and left a mysterious impression upon him those four years ago, but who said to keep silent about their adventure together. Zephyr looked around; he could see the remains of the Drake now; a four year old skeleton, its neck still broken in several places where Blackwood had felled it.
"Blackwood!" Zephyr shouted, his voice echoing eerily throughout the forest.
A group of ravens scattered into the night, their voices cawing as they passed above in the dark sky. As they left, a gray figure materialized in the abyss; the figure of a very familiar man, complete with his gray trench cloak, armor-plated body, and the patch over his eye. His hair swept in the wind as he reached up and pulled off his hood, completely revealing himself to the boy.
"Young princeling," Blackwood said, "It has been quite some time since we crossed paths in the past, though it shall be quite longer still. There is still time for you to be a child in this world. Until the day comes when destiny knocks on our doors, there is no need to keep searching for me."
"But, why?" Zephyr asked, "Why don't you want me to tell dad about you? Why do I have to keep all these secrets?"
"Young Draconian," Blackwood said, "You still have much to learn in life. Old scars can never truly be healed through time, and in dragons such scars can last through generations; whole families have feuded with each other in the past because of past wrongs."
"But what have you ever done to my father that was considered wrong?" Zephyr shouted, "We're not even dragons! And what do you mean about scars?"
Blackwood smiled as his image began to fade with smoke. "Zephyr, just because your father is not a dragon, it does not mean that old scars will not pass down unto him. Besides, it is not something that I had done to your father, but to another relation of yours. Actions that have taken place in our past will not be taken likely by Prince Arosane, though one day, soon enough, all shall be shown the truth."
Blackwood's figure began to fade away into the abyss of the Black Forest. As he did, he spoke out these final words.
"Until then, Zephyr, may the old spirits guide you and protect you against that which is to come "
Zephyr began to panic. "Until what comes? What are you talking about?! What is it that you are trying to tell me?!? Blackwood!! I need you!"
Zephyr began to run towards the darkness. The young Draconian boy kept going, deeper and deeper. However, the further in he tried to run, the less and less he could sense Blackwood's presence. Soon, he couldn't find him altogether. The old man had truly gone.
Now, Zephyr could see that he was very deep in the forest. He was in further than he had ever gone before; even further than he thought he could have been. He was in a place where he could sense was very far from home. He didn't know how far or even how deep it was, but he knew, deep down, that there was something very eerie about this place something very ancient very filled with sorrow
Most of all, it was filled with anger.
A rustle in the forest caught Zephyr's ear. He turned around; instinct causing him to extend his finger-claws and growl; a sign of a threat. As he gazed into a bush, he felt the whole forest go silent; as if something or maybe someone had taken away his ears.
A pair of red eyes suddenly appeared from in the gloom, followed by a glowing white smile. Zephyr felt pure fear enter his heart, and he desired more than ever to get away. It was like gazing into a nightmare, but worse; he was gazing into something soulless; a mindless monster, something he never thought he would ever see and hoped he never would again.
"I've been waiting for you, little bird," the face hissed; a cross between a deadly snake and a carrion bird; a crow and a lizard, "Come to me I promise I don't bite much."
Before Zephyr could do anything, there was a sudden howl. His mind was suddenly filled with a ghostly light, as something very frightening and very real popped up out of nowhere. It opened its mouth wide and snapped it shut over the dark face; revealing sets of pointed teeth, terrible fangs, and eyes that glowed bright yellow. Its ghostly fur flashed in the wind as it growled; its horrible visage appearing no less than that of a monster.
Zephyr sat bolt-upright in his bed, his claws tearing at his covers. He was breathing frantically, and his body was covered in cold sweat. His eyes were wide open, and all of his hair; including the hair on his tail; was standing on end like a cat's.
Several pairs of footsteps could be heard as people began rushing up the stairs. The door flew open as a familiar ball of blonde hair rushed through; sets of claws coming out of his fingers as he stood ready. Aros looked around as if ready to pick a fight, but calmed as he saw Zephyr's state.
"Zephyr!" Ikia said as she rushed into the room, "Are you alright?"
Zephyr's teeth were chattering. He didn't move a bit; he was too frightened and tense to move. Adrenaline coursed through his body as his hair continued to stand on end, and his fingers and toes were busy shredding his covers into pieces.
"What's wrong?" Lybra asked as she came in, her purple colored hair a tangled mess, "It sounded like someone tried pulling Aros by the tail again!"
Aros gave her an angry look before approaching Zephyr. Neo, who had just arrived with Onya cradled in his arms, while Fex came up leading Nova near the doorway.
"What's going on?" Neo asked, his own sky-blue hair a mess, "Someone screamed so loud that they probably woke up half of Zethura by now."
"It's Zephyr," Ikia explained as she approached the bedside, "He just woke up screaming for me." She reached a hand out for him, "Baby, are you okay?"
"Don't touch him," Nova said warningly as she felt her way over to the door, "He's under a form of shock that Berserker Dragons sometimes enter when they are afraid. He could be unpredictable; dangerous even. Just calm him down gently until he stops hyperventilating."
Ikia and Aros nodded knowingly to their blind friend; Nova had, in the past, been a part of a clinic that helped Berserker Dragons calm themselves and control their rage. Nova had, in fact, taught Fex how to control his own anger during that time, many years prior, until an accident involving pirates and dragon's blood permanently blinded the orange Draconian.
"Its okay, Zephyr," Ikia said slowly, "Calm down. Mommy's here."
Zephyr didn't stop twitching. His eyes moved back and forth, like he was going to bolt or hurt someone any moment. Before he did move, however, a muscular hand came and grabbed him from behind the neck, while a furry tail encircled around his own.
"Zephyr," Aros said forcibly, "Zephyr, look at me. You need to calm down, understand?"
Zephyr closed his eyes. He was obviously trying to get away, but his father's grip was too strong. Even if he wanted to, he couldn't move an inch.
"Zephyr, look at me!" Aros shouted.
There was silence. Tension filled the room. It was like someone had learned that a bomb was going to go off any second. And then
Everyone breathed. Aros came up and hugged his son tightly. Zephyr let hot tears flow into his father's shoulders.
"Zephyr, it's okay," Aros said calmly, "I'm here. Dad's here, squirt."
"Where's momma?" Zephyr asked, his body still shaking, "Where's momma??"
"Momma's here, sweetie," Ikia said as she embraced the two of them, "Its okay...mommy's here."
"I I had a nightmare," Zephyr explained, "It was so real."
"Nightmares are often the gateway into one's mind," Nova explained as she stood nearby, "It happens whenever someone sees something that they find frightening in their lives, though usually when one is young it is something that comes out of a memory."
"I used to have nightmares," Fex spoke up from the back, "Back when I was in the clinic with Nova. They happened a lot."
"Well, I'm currently living a nightmare," Neo said, "seeing as we aren't getting a good night sleep like we're supposed to."
"Hey, watch yourself," Aros growled, "It's not my kid's fault that he has nightmares."
"Well, maybe if you didn't give him his own room half the time, he wouldn't have them so often!"
"Maybe he gets nightmares because of the stories you tell him," Aros said, "I'd get nightmares too if I was told half the crap that you teach him; about dissecting and talking about your stupid science!"
"Maybe he wouldn't have nightmares if he didn't keep seeing your ugly face!"
"STOP IT!!! Both of you, boys!" Ikia and Lybra shouted, "Seriously, you're worse than children!"
There was silence. Aros and Neo were both staring at each other with sparks in their eyes. They often did squabble and fight over certain trivial things, but it never escalated into stuff like this.
"Maybe we should all go bed-time."
Onya's voice was often the voice of reason. For a three-year old, she was rather wise and had good common sense and logic. The tension eased when they heard her speak.
"Okay, sweetie," Lybra said as she tapped her daughter's nose, "Let's all go to bed. I think we've stayed up long enough all of us."
The last three words were directed to Aros and Neo, who were still both glaring at each other. Neo didn't say anything as he slipped out of the room and made his way back to his room, with Lybra in tow. Nova and Fex checked to make sure that Zephyr and the others were doing okay before following suit; Fex leading Nova down the stairs by his arm. As the doors closed and Fex's recognizable snores could be heard near his spot on the mansion's couch, Ikia turned her attention to Zephyr.
"Zephyr, honey?" Ikia asked, "Are you okay?"
"He seemed so real," Zephyr whispered as he wiped his nose, "It was why did he leave me like that?!"
"Who left you?" Aros asked, "What are you talking about?"
"I chased after him and then, that thing "
"What thing? Chased who? What aren't you telling us, Zephyr?"
"I've never seen eyes that red," Zephyr whispered, "They were so evil."
At the mention of red eyes, both of Zephyr's parents stopped talking. They looked up and stared at each other, both of them in shock. It was just a phrase from a child's nightmares, but those two knew very well that there could be only one thing that Zephyr would be talking about a person, who they had hoped would be a memory long forgotten.
"I think it's time for bed," Aros said, "We can look for replacement covers in the morning."
"Honey, do you want to come sleep with us?" Ikia asked.
Zephyr shook his head. "No," he said, "I'm okay."
"You sure, baby?"
Aros set Zephyr down and proceeded to cover him up as best as he could with the covers. Though the tattered remains were very few, there was still enough to provide a small patch of warmth. Once he was done, he rubbed his hand lightly through Zephyr's copper hair, like he always would whenever they were around.
"Goodnight, squirt," he said softly, "See ya in the mornin'."
Zephyr didn't say anything. He simply closed his eyes, the remnants of tears still dripping from those sapphire-blue orbs. Aros and Ikia left Zephyr's room, though they kept the door ajar; just in case.
"You do know what this means, right?" Ikia asked as she slipped into the covers of the master bed.
"Tell me about it," Aros muttered as he tossed his black t-shirt aside, revealing his bare chest.
"It's been years," Ikia said, "Many, many years. You don't think that "
"No, I don't," Aros growled as he slipped into the bed, "Zephyr didn't see him in the Black Forest. We would have known right away that he did."
"But, what if what Nova said was right?" Ikia asked, "What if Zephyr really did see him, like sometime in the past, and the memory passed on to him. What if the monster inside of me "
"Ikia, stop," Aros said, placing a hand over hers as he did, "Zephyr never saw him. He couldn't have, and he wouldn't have. That son of a bitch is long gone, and the monster inside of you died with him. You know that as much as I do Your love conquered her a long time ago."
"Oh, Aros," Zephyr said with a slight smile, "Thank you. Even if you don't always mean it, you always do say the sweetest things."
The two of them kissed each other on the lips. Even after being mates for more than 8 years, the bond between the two of them was stronger than ever, and the emotion behind their act was as equal as it was when they first did it. When they parted lips, they smiled at each other, before drawing closer to each other beneath the covers.
"Besides," Aros said with a shrug, "What would Bellatrex be doing in the Black Forest anyway?"
When Zephyr woke up, the house was quiet. As he yawned and began to get out of bed, he discovered that his blankets were torn apart. The memory of the night before began to creep into his mind, and out of insecurity he began to cuddle with the remaining covers.
"Mornin'," a little voice said at the door.
"Huh?" Zephyr looked up. There was Onya, sitting at the door with her tail keeping it open and her other hand holding tight to a book; Of Flowers and their Potency in Modern Medicine. Her purple hair covered half of her face while her free eye gazed up at her friend inquisitively. Zephyr shook the drowsiness from his head and stared at the little girl.
Onya was three years old. She was small for her age, though she seemed to be wise and logical beyond her years. She was much different than other Draconian children; like her mother, she had purple hair, though hers often covered her face in odd angles and she plum out refused to put it in a ponytail to keep it out of her eyes. She also had a tuft of feathers growing out of the end of her tail, though hers were blue, matching the color of her dad. She also had her dad's bright blue eyes, and part of her tail had spikes sticking out, like her dad's.
It was believed, and mostly just agreed upon, by everyone that the combined desires to read from both of Onya's parents had resulted in her own knowledge of the art. When she was able to move around, the first place that her parents took her was the mansion library. Surprisingly, she picked up the closest book and began reading it aloud in her own baby words; a trait that no one had ever heard of before. When she finally learned to walk and talk, she was often seen around the house holding a book in the crook of one of her two arms, or even dragging it by her tail if it was too big for her to carry for too long. She liked to read more than she liked playing outside, and as such her parents became worried that she might not get enough exercise or become ill and frail.
"Hey, Onya," Zephyr said as he slipped out of his bed.
"You slept good," Onya said. It wasn't a question, but a direct statement, "You didn't even have any dreams last night after the nightmare."
The hair on the back of Zephyr's neck began to rise. "Don't mention that," he said, "I'd rather not talk about it."
"It was obviously important," Onya said matter of factly, "Why else would you mumble about it in your sleep?"
That was another thing that Onya had; excellent hearing. Neo even believed that she could potentially be telepathic; again, another thing unheard of in both his and Lybra's family lines. Zephyr was not surprised at all that she could hear him, but what he was surprised about was that he was talking in his sleep.
"What did I say?" he asked.
"Something about Blackwood," Onya replied as she poked her nose back into her book, "Other than that, I don't know. You were quiet for a few more minutes after you stopped talking before your lungs decided to shout at critical max."
Onya, surprisingly enough, was the only person besides Zephyr who knew about what happened in his adventure. When Onya was a year younger, she came up and asked her friend why he sat up in the oak tree all day. Of course, she had a book in her hands, though that month's issue was about Draconian Psychology. Zephyr, knowing that Onya could keep any secret, decided to tell her, and since then the two of them had been discussing about why Blackwood would want to keep himself from being known by his dad.
"I did scream pretty loud, didn't I?" Zephyr said as he stroked the back of his neck in embarrassment.
"Like a girl, too," Onya said with a slight smile.
Onya giggled. "Go on downstairs," she said, "Mommy and Auntie are making breakfast."
With a flick of her tail, she opened Zephyr's door. Zephyr touched tails with her in thanks before heading back downstairs; leaving Onya alone with her book.
As Zephyr walked down the stairs, he noticed that everyone was looking at him. He felt like blushing, and so he let his bangs flop over his eyes so he wouldn't attract anyone else's gaze. Luckily, it seemed to work, because once he sat down for breakfast things went back to normal.
Well, almost normal anyway.
After the argument last night, Neo and Aros had distanced themselves greater than ever before. As Ikia and Lybra served breakfast, the two of them refused to get something from the same tray as each other, so both ended up eating things that both knew that the other wouldn't dare touch.
Neo skewered a piece of fried potatoes on his fork, put some salt on it, and shoved it into his mouth; his glare not once leaving Aros. Aros tore a piece of bacon with his teeth and chewed loudly; his own gaze fixed upon Neo. The two of them looked like they would blow up any minute, and if it weren't for Ikia and Lybra placing their hands on their respected mates to calm them down, they might have just done that.
"Looks like we're almost out of potatoes again," Lybra said anxiously; trying to change the subject and keep the moods from escalating.
"And bacon, from the look of things," Ikia agreed, "Maybe we should head over to the market today."
"Ooh," said Miko; a young Draconian known for her signature pink and black hair, flexibility (minus her legs, which were once broken long before during a pirate raid), and for her craziness and Noodle Doll she constantly carts around, "Can I come too? I need to get some new toenail paint and fingernail polish!"
"Geez, I wonder what that could be for," said Fex sarcastically, his spiky tail wrapped around the leg of the couch he was lounging on. Everyone knew that Miko could often be annoying and crazy; even as a young girl turning 18 that year, she still had the mind of a pre-teen trapped inside of her. Miko, often more than not, got so annoying that the only thing one could do was lift up their feet and allow her to paint their toenails. It most often happened to Neo; mostly because he constantly fell asleep while reading something.
"I think that would be great," Ikia said, "Nova said earlier that she needed to get something too. Neo can probably take you guys; it's his turn to do groceries."
"Can I come?" Zephyr asked. He wanted more than anything to get out of the house and think; with the mood between his dad and Onya's being rather edgy, he felt like it would probably be best if he got out of the picture.
"No," Aros said flatly.
Zephyr and Ikia both looked at his dad. Aros never said no to Zephyr about anything; not even when it was something that Ikia would freak at, such as a snake Zephyr found that he wanted for a pet when he was turning 6 (it turned out to be a Zethuran Cobra-Viper; a creature so poisonous that it could kill a fully grown dragon in minutes).
"Why not?" Ikia asked.
"I'm not letting him go anywhere with that irresponsible jackass," Aros growled.
Neo banged his fist on the table and stood up. "Better than being with his lazy-ass father," he hissed.
Aros growled and stood up. The two Draconians locked eyes; their anger and rage seething between them both like sparks. Neo's wrists began to split in the back as a sharp set of bones poked out like super-powerful claws, while Aros's tail flicked side to side; the chain attached to it that was meant to keep his hair from being unruly acting as a potential club. Before the two of them could do anything, however, Lybra and Ikia got between them both.
"The two of you are being silly," Ikia said, "If Zephyr wants to come along, then he can. I give him permission."
"Ikia, I think its better that I take Neo's turn at the market today," Lybra said, giving a gentle yet firm and very disappointed look at her mate, "If Aros is going to act up because of you, its best that the two of you don't get involved with each other for a while. Onya, sweetie, you want to come with me to the market?"
Onya walked down the stairs of the mansion towards the dining room; her tail still clutching her book.
"No, mommy," Onya said, "Daddy and I can do medicine together today. I've read about something that I'd like to make with him that isn't in the medicine cabinet yet."
"Good," Lybra said, "That way your father can stay out of trouble."
Neo's bad look slightly faded. If there was one thing that he loved to do besides Dragon Racing and drinking coffee, it was make medicine, and his daughter made the perfect lab assistant. Of course, the job of lab assistant and medicine maker was often switched around whenever he worked with his daughter; if there was one thing in particular that Onya had that was in direct relation to her mom, it was her ability to persuade and maneuver her father.
"We can leave after breakfast," Lybra said, "Be sure to get yourselves changed and ready to go. I'll be outside when we are all ready."
Zephyr quickly finished his breakfast so that he could go. The sooner he got away from his dad and Neo, the better. He felt like the reason why they were angry was all his fault, and in a sense it was. Zephyr hoped that when he left he could figure out how to get the two of them happy at each other again or, at least, have their anger levels be put back down to normal.
The market in the small town next to the mansion was always bustling between the late morning-early evening hours. Most of the buyers were travelers wanting to get something for the road; usually maps, supplies, or just some company over at the taverns; both the good kind and the bad kind. Zephyr never really asked what bad kind meant, though he knew enough that it was best not to, seeing as it was his dad who mentioned it to him and his mom gave him the worst glare he had ever seen her give.
Zephyr enjoyed going out to the market. In the hustle and bustle of the local and travelling market crowds, it was one of the few places that he enjoyed more than up in the oak tree. Here, he could think and question about what was going on in his life without worry about someone coming up and asking him what he was thinking about.
It was also one of the few places that he could see humans.
At the mansion, there weren't very many people besides the Draconians. The only exceptions to this were dragons; his dad's and Lybra's old guardian dragons; who came every once in a while to check up on them and see how they were doing. Zephyr enjoyed being around Raven; his dad's old guardian. Raven once said that maybe someday he would become Zephyr's guardian, though he would have to see what time brings them all. However, Zephyr often noticed that his dad and everyone else didn't have any human friends.
His mom had once told Zephyr that she had once been human, but had been transformed into a Draconian. She was the first of their kind to be "created," instead of born. Zephyr often asked why and how that could be, and why his mom never had a dragon guardian, but she never answered. He even went off and asked his dad, but bringing it up was the one time that Aros ever threatened Zephyr with punishment. Zephyr knew better than to ask again.
Zephyr was often fascinated by humans. He always wondered how they could get around with "less" than what the Draconians had. They didn't have tails, scales, feathers, spikes, or silky hair like his and his dad's. They didn't even have claws, and they walked around with big boots and shoes of all shapes and sizes. Of course, Zephyr had common sense and never wore shoes. Who needed things that would get torn apart by someone's toes anyway?
As his aunt Lybra began picking some fruit, Zephyr's keen ears began to pick up some out-of-the-ordinary conversation. It came from a nearby tavern; a fun place that his parents often visited but never brought him along to see. Usually the tavern had its doors closed and people would constantly talk and be merry, but this time the front door was ajar. Zephyr could hear two men gossiping in low tones as easily as if he were sitting right next to them at their table.
"Did ye hear the news about what 'appened to ol' Jacob Ratchkin?"
"No, I didn't. I know he hasn't been around for a week. What happened?"
"Well, ye know 'ow Ratchkin was a good ol' lumberjack? Real nice at der job, too. Even did some ol' carpentry in 'is life. Well, 'e went into der ol' Black Forest las' week ter get some extra wood."
The mention of the forest piqued Zephyr's interest. He waited patiently near the spot where he heard the two men; trying his best to keep from lingering even though Lybra was busy moving towards more fruits in a different bin.
"Wow The Black Forest? How do I know you aren't making this up?"
"'Cause me lil' brother is der undertaker, ye know 'dat. Ye wanna hear der story or not?"
"Yeah, I guess so."
"Anyway, Ratchkin wen' missin' from 'is lumber party 'afore they decided ter get-er-goin' back home. Dey wen' lookin' fer him everywhere, but couldn't find 'im. It took a few days, but dey finds him lyin' in a ditch on der road, babblin' about seein' some local legend about a Ghost Wolf!"
"El Lobo Diablo? That's not a local legend. That's from a town south of here!"
"Dat's where Ratchkin came from. Don't ye hear yer gossip?! Anyway, dey couldn't get more out of der poor feller. He died in 'is sleep sommertime later."
"That's a load of malarkey! I wonder why I bother drinking with you."
"'Cause I give yer free drinks if ye listen to an ol' man talk."
"Good point, pa."
Zephyr heard every word. Right away, his hair began to stand on end. He had never heard of a Ghost Wolf before. He had never even seen a wolf before; he once heard one howling at the moon at night, but he never saw the creatures save for in Neo's books. However, even he knew right away what the two men were talking about
The Ghost Wolf was in his nightmare
"Zephyr, come on," Lybra said.
"It's time to go. We got everything we need for this week. It's time we went back home."
Zephyr silently followed his aunt Lybra and the two other girls as they made their way down the road towards the path that led to the mansion. Lybra discussed with Nova and Miko about what they had bought that day; about the clothes available on the market and which ones would have looked great on them or Ikia. Nova, of course, didn't bother talking about clothes but did mention that she liked the new instruments that the musicians were playing; a type of strange flute, if she heard correctly.
Zephyr ignored them. He was too busy thinking about how much he wanted to be home, and about the strange creature that had lurked in his dreams.
Part 2, coming soon!