Vradin, Chapter Thirty-Three

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Healer sent Guy down with a preliminary report on the health of the short cloaked Night Kind’s – Yanchy, he named himself – so-called Luna. She had bruising on her shoulder and side, and indications of a recovering head wound. She was water starved from the stupor the Night Kind had kept her in, and Healer was having a difficult time drawing pain from her. If the Montang would permit, the girl would be best served to be allowed to sleep off the remains of the stupor induced by the Night Kind’s venom.

The Montang permitted. After interviewing the Night Kind thoroughly, he consigned Yanchy to the holding cells, designed to hold unwelcome trespassers while the vradin decided how best to discourage such trespass again. To Omric, he assigned the duty of watching over the so-called Luna.

“Inform me, my keasair, if she is Peaceful, and if her Peace steals your sense of self from you,” he instructed.

Omric nodded and took care of things. He sent Brix with a message back that the girl did, in fact, radiate Peace, but that the Rage seemed only dimmed, not diminished.

Aiden handled several disputes, feeling quite satisfied with how much more reasonable his people accounted themselves than they normally did. Even he felt a subtle release of tension, one such that he had not encountered in several millennia. Despite not yet laying eyes upon the girl, by the evidence of this afternoon, he was inclined to believe that a miracle had been granted them.

And then fear roiled through them all. Everybody paused, hackles raising, some of the younger vradin in service falling through their clothes to land upon four feet.

Aiden pushed out his own control, his dominion steadying his people. When he was sure that they were all safe from losing themselves, the emotion changed, too, steadying, the fear ebbing away. Caution, and a sense of comfort, tinted the Peace that he could just now clearly differentiate from his own sense of self.

He sent one of the keasairs up to the Healer’s cells to discover what had happened. Healer returned.

“Montang,” the aging arl said, coming to stand before Aiden’s dais and making obeisance. The press of the clans representatives eased with a fierce sweeping glance from Aiden.

“Healer, what provoked our guest’s fear?” Aiden asked, to the point.

“She does not speak our tongue, and did not understand that I was attempting to take pain from her. She fled me, and keasair neegart Omric was able to restrain her from injury and calm her. Her harms appear to be healing well as they are, so I deemed it the better to permit her more time to become familiar with us before attempting to take pain once more. He is seeing that she eats as she is the more becalmed by him than by me, and he will bring her before you following.”

Aiden leaned forward, dropping his voice low enough that it would only carry to Healer’s ears. “Is she sorcerer born?”

Healer’s brow furrowed. In a voice equally as quiet, he answered, “She is thin blood, and I know of no sorcerer born ever close enough to vradin to be recognized as any kind of blood, thin or not. The scent of her is Peace, but not the Peace that stills all except the need to be beside her, to please her. It is more the Peace of a full belly and a sleeping cub.”

Aiden sucked in a breath, turning his gaze to the lone grishi glowing in the dark corner of the Receiving Hall and the beetle still courting it. When he felt sure that he had his expression back under control, he nodded at Healer, releasing him from his report.

Healer rose and began to exit the receiving room, but Aiden said, “Inform the guards to fetch our newest prisoner and ensure he is chained, and request that a receiving chair be brought to the dais, then come stand beside me.”

The old bear made another obeisance and did as his tang required.

Aiden was able to address another dispute, one he knew required little more than his sanction, in the time it took the third of their unintended guests to arrive.

Omric escorted a young girl, hardly even a woman yet, dressed as strangely as the Night Kind had been. The leggings she wore were of a heavy light blue material, much more form fitting than the Night Kind’s were, and her feet were bare. She wore a tunic of bright colors that revealed far more of her figure than it concealed. There was still a faint hint of blood in her scent, and the double fist sized bruise clearly shown in the wide neck of her tunic prompted Aiden’s Rage.

Her tension bordered on fear and confusion when the doors opened and she beheld the small crowd of his people. The keasair neegart placed a gentle hand at the small of the young girl child’s back, which made her visibly jump.

The timidity was a point of concern for Aiden, but in her presence the truth revealed itself. She was Luna.

Aiden beckoned them forward. When the girl would have hung back, clearly intimidated, Omric bent quite far down – the top of the Luna’s head was nearly even with Omric’s chest – and murmured in her ear.

She gave the keasair neegart a nervous glance and stepped forward. Taking her cues from Omric, she stopped before the dais.

Omric gave a formal obeisance, which the Luna attempted to copy with an admirable grace. “Montang, I present to you Thoe Furgthen.”

Aiden stood and, projecting his voice so that it echoed within the reception room, he said, “Be welcome in the Hall of the Vradin, Luna Thoe Furgthen, and be seated.” Aiden walked down the dais, aware that the Luna would not have understood him. He held out his hand, and the tension radiating with the Peace gave Aiden cause to hood his eyes, lest the violence of his instincts be revealed and scare her all the more.

At Omric’s subtle urging, she stepped forward and allowed herself to be guided to the seat beside Aiden’s.

The prisoner arrived shortly after. The quality of the Luna’s Peace changed, taking on an almost hunter like flavor.

“Yanchy, you called yourself?” Aiden began.

The Night Kind nodded, obviously still terrified of Aiden.

“Do you believe you can lie to me?”

Yancy shook his head, and said, “No, Montang.” The Night Kind reeked of truth.

“Good. You will translate.” Turning to the Luna, Aiden asked, “By what nomenclature do you prefer to be addressed?”

The Night Kind spoke unintelligible words.

The Luna looked from Aiden to the Night Kind and back, and her voice, as she responded, brought his vradinnaar close the surface, listening with a sense of contentment it had been far, far too long since he had last felt.

There were several exchanges between the Night Kind and the Luna. The flavor of her Peace became more and more tainted with stress, and a touch of shock.

“Silence,” Aiden ordered the Night Kind, but it was too late. The Luna’s Peace broke, snapped under strain.

Aiden moved before he thought, lifting the Night Kind by his throat into the air, and snarling into the blood sucker’s face, “What did you tell her?”

“She asked where we are. I, I didn’t realize she was unaware, I swear I didn’t!” The terror in the Night Kind was a poor sop to Aiden’s Rage, but he needed some way to communicate with the Luna, and right now this creature was it. Still, the desire to slay was close to overwhelming him.

Until a light hand, gentle, came to rest on his forearm. A fragile, easily broken wash of Peace touched him. The Luna looked up at him with wide, tremulous eyes, speaking in gentle tones those words he did not yet understand, and her hope to avoid violence touched him. Aiden set the Night Kind back on his feet, and the wise fool promptly fell to his knees.

Her fear and shock were stronger than her Peace, but she was rebuilding it. And despite the fear, she had moved to stand for the life of one who had, by his earlier admission, harmed her. Timid, perhaps, from youth, but Luna, most certainly Luna.