Chapter 51


Cill and James lay transfixed in the grass, too shocked to move apart as Flora moved closer.

The Unicorn took in the strained expressions and sighed “Yes, I’m real” she said, poking James with a fore-hoof and making him flinch.

He looked over the Unicorn, she was certainly smaller and more rotund than in any paintings or tapestries he had seen, only the glistening spire of her horn seemed free of dirt and the tip looked extremely sharp, catching the sunlight and refracting it in strange ways , blue and purple streaks running through the length.

Cill was equally shocked, she had heard of the immortal Unicorns and how rare they were so had never expected to encounter one in the flesh, especially not such a shabby specimen.

Flora watched their gaze wander over her “Yes. I’m muddy” she stated impatiently, glaring at them from lavender eyes “It helps me hide and blend in”

James and Cill said nothing, still somewhat embarrassed as being caught in the midst of a mating had rattled their wits somewhat.

Flora sighed, realising she had to talk slowly “You” she said, pointing a hoof at Cill “I remember when you first arrived, so young and careless. I had to hide your tracks several times until you woke up to the fact you were leaving a trail of destruction everywhere you went!”

Cill’s ruffs flushed pinkly at the memory as Flora’s hoof swiveled to point at James.

“And you! I tried to lead you away from here, but oh no… you and your common horse had to dirty my pool” her flanks gave a shudder at the memory “Dragons are bad enough but you smelly humans just don’t know when to stop!”

James tried to stammer an apology but she cut him off with an imperious wave of her hoof.

“Enough. There are things you need to know and you need my help as I need yours.”

She paused and watched as the pair looked into one another’s eyes.

“And it’s rude to do that instead of talking” she huffed “It doesn’t exactly make me trust you”

The pair flushed guiltily and James gave a cough “I’m sorry” he muttered “We just weren’t expecting you”

“And so you shouldn’t have” Flora huffed “Only the faer know I am here and you are both immune to the wards they placed here recently. Any other human would have found themselves walking back down the same path they came in” her tail flicked a fly away in annoyance.

“I don’t suppose you know the tale of the Unicorn pool?” she asked, slowly walking around the entwined couple.

Cill nodded slowly *My mother used to tell me of your kind when I was a hatchling* she replied carefully, still not believing she was talking to a Unicorn.

She refrained from saying that the Unicorns her mother had told her about were a lot more graceful and less weighty round the middle.

Flora nodded “Good, you can tell your mate the tales, my pool here is far from being totally potent and needs more time before it is ready. Every time someone take a dip it drains a little more of my power from the waters”

She looked a little worried “I shall need it in about a month so if you could refrain from using it I would appreciate it.”

Cill nodded eagerly, sudden understanding alight in her eyes *You mean…* her gaze flicked to the rotund belly the mare was sporting.

Flora sighed “Yes, I’m expecting a foal, my first in centuries and perhaps one of the last of my kind” She bared her teeth in an attempt at a smile “…and you still haven’t thanked me for providing you with such an excellent mate”

Cill’s ruffs flushed again as she looked at the rippling waters of the pool, lapping gently against the grassy border.

“The pool helps things along a little” Flora admitted nervously, unsure as how the news would be received “…gives certain urges a nudge you might say”

Cill frowned *and what else does it do?* she asked pointedly *the legends only tell of its curative properties*

James could only grasp at the tail end of the conversation but he didn’t like the tone of Cill’s voice as she questioned the Unicorn.

Flora shifted her hindquarters nervously, her tail flicking “Oh it does a lot of good things” she said, moving back a little “Your mana did complicate things however. I never thought it would affect your mate in such a way. The other humans and the gryphoness won’t have the same problem” she paused and added in afterthought “He can still get her with egg though”

James almost choked in shock at this news “Duncan can get Katreen pregnant?” he asked incredulously.

Flora sighed, “Gravid. Egg-bearers get gravid” she corrected “…and of course he can, the pool takes care of that.”

James swallowed nervously “So that means…” he began, head turning to stare at Cill.

Flora nodded “Yes, you can…” she smirked “and you’ve done an excellent job so far”

James heard Cill gasp and his head filled with random buzzing noises as the news sank in.



Tomako breathed a heavy sigh of relief as he felt the clanmasters restriction spell fade, allowing him to regain his normal dragon form. Stretching his wings luxuriously in his new room he made sure every scale was in place before slowly raking his claws along the floor, sharpening them slowly as he savoured his natural strength.

He peered out the window as the sun set with a glorious rosy-orange flood across the sky and thought of soaring through the clouds.

It was tempting.



Father Champlain hastily closed the chapel door behind him and breathed heavily, Fifty dragons? It was intolerable!

How could they fit such a number into his tiny church? What would they expect as no doubt they would be curious about the place?

Not to mention the plump and tasty-looking churchman.

He staggered over to the apse and carefully took down the candelabra for polishing.

Sweat broke out on his forehead as he tried to remove accumulated grease and grime from the brass, at least the new golden altar cloth had arrived along with the other items he had requested.

As he diligently rubbed at the candlesticks, revealing their soft burnished glow for the first time in many years he let his mind wander.

‘They would all look human’ Duncan had said and this thought had shocked him more than all the others.

Such creatures surely would have their own plans for humanity and a deep suspicion from past errors.

How many of them would harbour hatred? Surely there would be supporters as well. The fact that James was marrying a dragoness was a sign of at least some tacit support amongst the dragons.

Weak fingers slipped upon the greasy candlestick and it struck the floor with a bong, jerking him from his reverie.

“One thing at a time” he muttered to himself, reaching down to pick it up.

As his trembling fingertips brushed the candlestick he suddenly felt within himself a burning desire to learn all he could about dragons, their lives and families and habits.

The intensity of the desire was so powerful he fell quaking upon his knees before the altar and prayed with a fervour he had not felt since his youth.

Surely such a message could only be from God. Setting him this task - to seek out this knowledge and share it with humanity.

Rising to his feet he scrabbled on his desk, urgently pulling a yellowed piece of parchment from the mess before him and with trembling fingers dipped his goose-quill pen and scribed ‘Vitae Draco Nobilis” carefully at the top.


Outside the small chapel the clanmaster wrapped his cloak around his elderly human frame and grinned in satisfaction before striding off towards the bailey.



Caroline tapped her foot impatiently as she surveyed Tomako’s door. She knew she shouldn’t sneak out unchaperoned and staring at the closed door of the ignorant lout irked her.

She could not deny that she was interested in him now though.

James and Cill obviously were inseparable and she was looking forward to the wedding now her focus had shifted away.

She had plans for the blacksmiths apprentice but wasn’t sure if he reciprocated that interest. Lately he always seemed to stammer or flush whenever she got talking to him and tried everything he could to avoid her.

A frown furrowed her perfect forehead, let him try and get away from her while escorting her back to father.

Raising her fist to knock, she suddenly wondered if she hadn’t gone too far with her talk of hanging and his probable death at her father’s hands.

Letting her hand fall she felt a surge of sorrow and stepping back from the door she raised the hood of her cloak and slowly made her way back towards the bailey.

“A pleasant evening to you” came a voice behind her and she whirled in fright.

“Oh it’s you” she said, recognizing the old man who had helped Tomako when they had first arrived.

The Clanmaster chuckled as he took a quick peek at the roiling thoughts bubbling away in the human’s head.

“You seem troubled lass” he said, falling into step beside her, leaning heavily on his staff as they walked. “Tomako not doing what you want?”

Caroline flushed and bit back an angry rejoinder before realizing that was exactly what was happening- had she become so used to getting her own way that something she couldn’t control annoyed her?

“Yes’ she finally admitted after a few moments of silence “He doesn’t want to talk to me and goes out of his way to avoid me”

Osedax nodded, “He has been through a lot, losing his father, his sister getting betrothed and of course coming across a fight in the woods and getting his careless rump involved with a silly self-absorbed girl”

Caroline frowned and let that one pass “I didn’t know he had a sister, or about his father” she muttered, not looking at the dodderer who was somehow able to keep pace with her.

“Well now you do, and what are you going to do about it?” the oldster puffed, “He fears his strength now and feels that his future is empty once he delivers you back to your father”

Caroline paused in the street and whirled on him “If he’d only talk to me I’d get to know him!” she growled, feeling the heat of tears starting in her eyes.

Osedax shrugged, his eyes tracing a fading silhouette in the sky behind her as Tomako happily stretched his wings over the forest.

“I’m not sure you could handle what he might say” he replied, leaning on his staff and jabbing a finger towards her “Tomako has a bold future with or without you and it’s up to you to accept all he is or what he might become.”

Caroline’s shoulders slumped “You make him sound as if he was some long-lost prince in hiding”

Osedax gave a snort of amusement “Oh no, nothing like that” he said “just a lot of potential. I understand he is going to participate in the amusements following the wedding in a few days. Perhaps you should watch, he may surprise you”

Caroline made a non-committal sound, in her limited experience village fairs ran to the same themes, catching greasy piglets, tugs-of-war and finding out how many ferrets a man could stuff down his breeches.

“Will he magically discover he is a better swineherd than a blacksmith?” she asked acidly, rapidly losing patience with the oldster and his cryptic manner.

There was no reply. She looked around rapidly and realized she was alone once more, giving a small shiver at the abrupt disappearance she hurried back to her room and slammed the door behind her.


Lord Pepper sat down in the darkened private room with King Dougal, his fingers nervously tapping against the rough wood of the table as Dougal lit the small lantern.

“Good” he murmured “Flora should have educated our new protector and her mate on what is coming by now”

He carefully unrolled an ancient scroll upon the table, cautiously pinning one end down with an empty ale-pot. “Now let us see what that blasted swamp-witch had to say about it”

A fat finger trailed over the spidery writing, occasionally pausing and circling upon a difficult word.

Lord Pepper found he was holding his breath and let it out slowly, trying to read upside down and failing miserably.

Dougal sighed, “Nissa states that the union of man and dragon will herald a great age, but ‘certaine otheres wyll stryve mytily to kyll the chylde’ and if they succeed..’All wyll tern to darknyss’”

Pepper nodded in the gloom before leaning forward, “Typically vague, though I would expect the dragons to try and prevent a hybrid at all costs”

Dougal shrugged “Perhaps, but there are many dragons pushing them together, perhaps they do not believe a pairing will be fertile or they already know she is gravid. I cannot believe all are ignorant however”

Pepper leaned back again “Cill trusts us for now, but if we tell her this prophecy will she not take herself and her offspring away to hide? Leaving us defenseless if the rage of dragons falls upon us”

Dougal sighed gustily and sat back in his chair “Perhaps, this prophecy was given to the faer for a reason. I think that we must protect the child and its parents too. Our magic may be all that stands between them and destruction”

Pepper frowned “You know what happens if we use our magic for misdeeds, even in times of justified war the results can be catastrophic”

Dougal nodded slowly “There is always risk of the change, but I believe if we assign protectors to the family, we may be able to avoid the worst”

“Protectors?” Pepper mumbled doubtfully “Combat magic hasn’t been practiced for centuries, only a few of the elders would know where to begin”

Dougal grinned tightly “Then we had better start training our ‘Heralds’ as soon as possible mm?”

Peppers face fell in disbelief “You can’t mean those two...” he stammered, realising the King meant every word.

“Oh yes, those two are under Flora’s spell now too I’ll warrant, and mates make the best mages”

Pepper gave in “I’ll talk to the other elders and arrange some lessons” he said, slowly standing “but I must formally protest against reopening the forbidden scrolls”

Dougal met his gaze evenly “I understand” he sighed, “but unicorn magic is extraordinarily powerful, it forms a geas against doing harm to the pool or those of the pool, so it is unlikely that our chosen protectors will succumb to the power of the scrolls”

Pepper straightened and carefully re-rolled the prophecy scroll, tucking it back into its lambskin case “I hope you are right” he murmured before bowing and taking his leave.

Dougal sat deep in thought for several minutes, prophecy was a tricky thing, he pondered, just when you thought you had a firm grip on its tail it would twist and tug you in a different direction.

Lifting the lantern from the table he made his way back to his bed and an uneasy sleep.



James and Cill made their way back home slowly, both seemingly silent but in fact terribly excited about their encounter.

Cill kept rubbing her belly, trying to feel the egg Flora had claimed was doing well but to no avail as it was still too small.

James meanwhile was panicking a little. Whilst glad that the wedding was close and thus ensuring that his first child would not be born on the wrong side of the sheets he nevertheless felt that rising tide of concern all new fathers feel upon learning that their child was fast approaching.

He also wondered what the offspring of a dragoness and human would look like, his mind couldn’t help wondering if Duncan knew he was fertile with Katreen and heaven forbid, Tommy and Shalla too.

A circumspect conversation would have to be held with all parties lest the keep suddenly be overrun with half-human children.

He needed to talk to Marre once more about eggs and hatchlings as he had no idea what to expect when presented with one, his only experience with young dragons was that brief encounter at the clan meeting.

While that had been entertaining it had not prepared him for care and handling of young dragons.

Cill’s mind was also abuzz, she carried the seed of human and dragon within her and he prospect both discomfited and thrilled her. She realized that her mother would certainly have a lot to say on the matter and would probably move in to ensure her grandchild had the right number of limbs, teeth and tail.

They walked slowly back into the keep slowly as the watch prepared to lower the great gate for the night, Cill’s human form drawing appreciative stares from the lonely guards as they strove to man the great winches, making sure their muscles were showing, only to be disappointed as the pair were far too engrossed with one another to pay any attention.

 Making their way across the bailey to their home they were surprised to see a hooded figure outside their door, nervously raising a hand as if to knock then withdrawing, it bore a large parchment scroll in its other hand and it gripped this more firmly as the hand was extended once more, resolutely this time, rapping noisily on the door as the figure straightened.

James grinned and whispered to Cill as he recognized the caller, the rattle of amulets under the cassock confirming the identity.

Cill grinned evilly and shifted into her dragon form, quietly walking beside James as he stepped up behind the cleric.

“Good evening father” he declared with a smile.

Father Champlain whirled in surprise, blinking rapidly at James before focusing on the growling dragoness beside him, his breath caught in his throat and his eyes rolled back into his head as he toppled forward in a faint.

James caught the swooned priest before he hit the cobblestones and carried him carefully into the house, propping him on a chair next to the fire to recover.

Cill stared at the stunned cleric *this is the one who tortured you* she stated flatly, poking him with a claw and watching him rock back and forth *I want to hurt him*

The parchment fell from Father Champlain’s numb fingers and rolled towards her feet, curiosity made her pick it up and unroll it slowly.

“He is also the one who shall perform the marriage ceremony” said James, stepping up to look at the scroll as well “And I think I hurt him pretty badly already according to Nokala”, his fingers ran down the scroll slowly “He’s here to ask us about our vows it seems”

Cill’s gaze flicked back to the chairs occupant who seemed to shiver a little, despite the heat of the fire nearby.

*Vows?* she murmured, making her way back to their bed and reclining slowly, making herself comfortable.

“Oaths made between the married couple” he explained.

Cill’s eyes widened in surprise *I was not aware humans took thing so seriously in mating, to bind one another in oaths is not something to be taken lightly*

Father Champlain opened his eyes and blinked owlishly at the pair.

“Ah”, he murmured, “I’m still alive it seems”

James gave the still-grumbling Cill’s neck a stroke before standing and offering the cleric a mug of wine “I hope you are alright Father” he murmured, “we didn’t expect you to pass out like that”

Father Champlain accepted the wine with a trembling hand, his eyes not leaving the growling dragoness as she gazed at him with slitted eyes, a small wisp of steam rising from her nostrils.

Drinking slowly, he wiped a hand over his forehead “I was going to bring Duncan as well, but I felt I should do this alone, you understand?”

James nodded slowly and handed back the parchment “I understand” , he murmured in reply “Cill has no love for you but I think she will listen”

Nodding slowly, Father Champlain unrolled the scroll “I would like you to think on your vows in this - unusual pairing” he finished awkwardly “I have kept the ceremony simple and included the usual baptism and blessing”

He took a deep breath and stood slowly “but first…” he moved towards the dragoness as if each step were leading him towards a bottomless abyss.

Cill followed his progress with a little alarm, what was the odd human intending to do?

She was further surprised when he knelt before her and lowered his head “Please forgive me” he murmured “The Lord has spoken to me this night and set me a task that will take the rest of my life to accomplish. I must learn all I can about dragons and share this knowledge with others who seek it, will you aid me in this task?”

Cill glanced over at James who shrugged in bewilderment, the priest’s change of heart as much a mystery to him.

Light probing elicited the fact the priest’s fear was still intense and she was unable to reply to him directly.

Father Champlain moistened his lips and continued “I realize I made a terrible mistake with James and ask your forgiveness, it seems there are far greater things at work here than a simple priest can be expected to understand. Let me at least repair some of the harm by joining the pair of you in the eyes of the lord”

Cill’s eyes narrowed and she threw the thought out at James *are you sure we need him alive ?*

She placed a thoughtful talon on the priests shoulder, letting him feel the weight of it.

James hastened to assure her privately “Yes, we do, especially with a hatchling on the way now, though I don’t think he should know that right now.”

Surprisingly Flora had been quite insistent about keeping the fact that Cill was gravid a secret. He hadn’t dared to question her and Cill had explained a lot about the Unicorn race and how their ancient powers weren’t totally understood.

Even the faer trod carefully around Unicorns and regarded them with great respect.

Cill dug the talon in a little more, feeling fabric tear under it. *Could not Duncan ‘marry’ us? I would rather it be him than this creeping worm*

 “He’s the only one who can do it for miles around here” James silently replied with a shrug “I think he’s sincere though”

Cill narrowed her eyes and regarded the cleric *Very well then, tell him I haven’t completely forgiven him for the harm he caused you, but I shall answer his questions*

James relayed this to Father Champlain before helping the priest up off the floor and back into his chair.

“I understand” he wheezed, gathering the scroll to his chest once more “and I know I must earn your trust also James”

“Do not judge too quickly Father” said James “things are changing swiftly and I know the church will not like me marrying a dragoness – or Lord Duncan marrying a gryphon perhaps”

The cleric turned an odd shade of purple once more and James hastened forward with some more wine.

“All I’m saying”, he continued as the priest gulped the wine down “is that we are going to let things carry on as they are and let the lord decide if we are doing the right thing”

“You are most persuasive young James” murmured the priest after he had recovered from this latest shock. “The Bishop will not see you marrying a dragoness though will he? Just a very pretty woman you have fallen in love with”

James leaned back “Yes, I think it’s best for everyone if Cill remains as a human in public until we have our own home and lands”

“And the other dragons?” Father Champlain asked, leaning back in his chair “will they be as peaceful and human?”

James hesitated for a moment, obviously the news of Tomako’s behavior hadn’t reached the church’s ears “They are bound to certain rules when visiting and are required to vow peace for their visit in order to blend in”  


Slowly rising to his feet Father Champlain sighed and made his way to the door “Then I shall look forward to meeting them at the wedding, Duncan said there may be more attending and perhaps they will also be able to assist me in my work”


James doubted the cleric would get little attention from any of the council who attended as he was certain they would not look favourably upon a human trying to learn all their secrets but he waved farewell and closed the door before sighing gustily.

Cill wrapped her arms around him and guided him towards the bed, many things had been going through her mind since meeting Flora and she had many questions for the unicorn. It was obvious that she knew far more than she was saying and Cill had the odd feeling she was being fobbed off with drips of information instead of the whole mug as it were. She curled herself around him, arranging herself unconsciously as if he were the hatchling she needed to protect.

A sudden chill ran down her spine and made the tip of her tail twitch as she suddenly had a thought of her mothers response to the news she was bearing a humans offspring. She hurriedly suppressed that thought and rumbled happily around her mate as she dropped off to sleep.


 to be continued!