Though not quite the trained story teller Seth is, Jonquil shared a story with us the other day about the Four Great Dragon Lords, as told to him by Mai, the tigress that traveled with Cirque du Vols for a time.
“Oh, the Comtesse is the epitome of discretion.” He stopped short and laughed, but sobered just as quickly. “Indiscretions aside, she is very protective of her privacy- and that includes anyone she contracts for work, or invites to her parties.” He dropped his voice, looking about conspiratorially, even though he knew everyone was still carrying on with guests and chores inside the main tent. “It is rumored her husband is the Dragon Lord of the West, though I have never seen him myself.”
Miri’s eyes widened slightly and she tapped a foot on the ground to lean down towards Jonquil. “Dragons? I thought they all vanished in the chimera wars?”
His eyes widened in surprise. “You’ve never heard of the Four Great Dragon Lords?”
Sensing a story or at least a more intensive conversation, she shifted in the hammock until she was laying with her head near Jean’s. One hand dragged along in the grass to steady her swinging – she didn’t want to pull a Leem and accidentally collide her head into his.
“I’ve heard the stories, but I guess I always assumed they were long gone, like all chimeras.”
He dropped his voice lower, moving his head in closer to hers as she had done. “We had a tiger with us once, from the East, and she told a tale of the four greatest shifters in the realm. They fought together in the Chimera Wars, and kept their enemies at bay, defending a small territory in the mountains. Eventually they were forgotten, for one day, the sun rose and there were no armies in the valley waiting for them.”
As he continued to speak, he fell into the particular speech patterns that Mai had always used, mimicking her tone and motions without realizing it. It was simply how the story was told.
“For many months they waited, watching the seasons turn and the months pass into years. Finally, they youngest of them dared to venture from the mountains. When he returned, he brought with him the tale of a land in disarray, in desperate need of strong rulers to guide the people, and keep them from destroying each other out of fear.
So they each agreed to set off in a different direction, and lay claim to the lands of their choosing. One went North, one went South, another East and another West, and together they brought civilization back to a land on the brink of ruin.”
He closed his eyes and dipped his head a moment, the same act of reverence Mai had always ended the tale with. Her version included a bit about how the Eastern Dragon had granted his peoples various magics to protect them against any potential invasion from his brothers, but that part had always seemed a little forced to him. The moral was too heavy handed.
He raised up and stretched, reaching high to the heavens til his back cracked. Then he leaned back on his hands and continued in a more conversational tone.
“No one knows what their true forms are – they may be Dragons, or other Chimera, or not even shifter at all. What all can agree on is that they are powerful beyond reckoning. Not even our Lady Eve will speak of them, and she is always quick to dispel legends of powers greater than her own.”
“Hm…” She twisted her lips as she thought about the tale he’d told. It wasn’t an unusual story, she’d heard many over the years of how chimeras still survived, hidden among the ‘lesser’ shifters.
She said as much, though she added that this would be the first time she’d come into such a close encounter. She made it a joke, not liking how nervous the Comtesse made her feel.
He gave her a reassuring smile. “I would not be too concerned- as our dear Lady says, she had not lived this long by taking foolish risks. If she did not think it safe, she would not accept the Comtesse’s offer. Also, I have never seen her husband at such events. It always full of little people trying to impress someone bigger, nothing more.” He gave a dramatic sigh. “We are but her playthings.” He finished with a wink and a grin.