I seem to really enjoy using Taliana’s party to take new characters out for a spin, and since the theme this time is unbirthday, it seemed appropriate to celebrate my newest people. Meet Tiaro and Orait, and join the fun over on EclecticAli’s blog!
Somehow, in the press of people, I lost my fox. He had been right there, but then in a swirl of vibrant cloth and feathered hats, he was gone.
“Are you late for an important date, or do you have time for a dance?”
It was a good thing the hunter motif hadn’t come with a blade, or I might have reacted badly. As is, he caught the hand I raised as I spun around and used my force to sweep us around into an easy waltz.
“I thought it was the Hare that was supposed to be mad- or is it safe to sneak up on hunters in your world?”
“Is it safe for a rabbit to hunt the hunter in yours?”
I gave a curt nod to concede the point. “Fair enough. I suppose I shouldn’t have let my sense of humor lead me astray.” I did my best to relax into the dance- after all, I had been seeking him out, for whatever reason. “I think I started off on the wrong foot. May I try again?”
The fox winked and picked me up in a half turn, changing our direction. “Better.”
“No,” I said through gritted teeth. I hated being manhandled. The reminder that most of the creatures I encountered would be stronger than me made me want to lash out.
The fox stepped away and gave a small bow. “My apologies, reija. I couldn’t resist. Enjoy the party.”
And then he was gone again.
It wasn’t until I’d poured myself another drink and sat down that I’d realized what he’d called me.
Orait had dodged all of his sister’s attempts to engage him in the conversations she kept striking up with the other guests. Tiaro had always been better at this sort of thing- hardly surprising, given her white serpent nature. Eventually, Orait had grown tired of trying to shut out everyone’s curious buzzing on his skin and excused himself. He mounted the stairs and found an empty stretch of balcony where he could look down on the party without being overwhelmed by it.
When he’d relaxed enough to let his shields down, he felt the echoes of Tiaro’s concern.
I’m fine, sister mine. I just need some room to breathe. Enjoy the party, I promise I’ll come down after a bit.
Tiaro indicated her intention to drag him down bodily if he was gone too long, and Orait sent back a humor-tinged acknowledgment. He knew his sister would never make such a spectacle in front of anyone but family, but she knew he wouldn’t make her. All she had to do was honestly ask, and he would return. But she seemed content to let him roam a bit, so he pushed away from the railing and strolled easily down the second floor, peering into doors here and there.
“Step into my parlor?”
The smooth voice seemed to purr out of the darkness of the room beyond, and yet somehow from behind him, and within his own mind as well. Orait knew better than to enter, but he did answer.
“To what end? There seem to be diversions aplenty in less ominous areas of the house.”
“I merely wish to offer my obeisance to the once and future king of the serpents.”
Orait froze, going serpent still as his blood ran cold.
“Who are you?”
A pair of amber eyes shined out of the darkness, followed by a glittering grin.
“The better question, reiyei, is who are you? leh’Xane’ra. loh-Li’Daea. Wyvern King. Dragon Lord. q-sERA’sARE, the stuff of dreams. Or x’esse, noting at all? rei’ERA-Orait, Prince of Nothing.”
Laughter rang through his skull, rubbing against him like a cat in the darkness.
“Pretty dreams, reiyei, but only dreams. Take whatever name you will, but Destiny will not let you go lightly.”
The eyes and smile moved within the darkness, until the form of a red fox stepped through the doorway.
“Choose while you can, little prince, before the choice is taken from you. Or, before something else is taken. Even more precious to you than your freedom.”
The figure never paused in his stride, passing right through Orait and the railing and out into nothingness. Orait didn’t turn to watch the spectre fall or float. He didn’t move again until he touched his sister’s mind, assured that she was unharmed. Only then did the pit of ice in his stomach melt, and even once he was at her side again, the chill remained.