Synergy - June 1998
The End - ShadowCat
Friendly Octopus - karne
(page 15/15)

The End

Bryony drifted slowly upwards into consciousness. Her head ached and the stone ceiling that swam into focus above her seemed unfamiliar Slowly awareness of her surroundings swept over her. The room was small but comfortably furnished, lit by the winter sunshine streaming in through the narrow window. Gathering a sheet about herself she left the bed and wandered to the window. The view outside was spectacular but inhospitable. From the edge of the castle gardens harsh mountains spread as far as she could see. The tower wall itself was shear except for a few windows, there was clearly no exit that way. A search of the room revealed a set of clothes neatly laid out for her on the chair and after dressing she tried the door. It opened easily to reveal a set of steps leading down the tower. They opened into a large carpeted room with a small fire burning in the grate. The youngish man sitting in the chair by the fire looked up from his book as she approached.

"Ah, good, you're awake," he said "you must be hungry after being unconscious for so long, If you would come this way I've had breakfast set up through here." He stood up and gestured for her to precede him. "Don't worry I don't bite," he added at the confused and nervous look on her face, "My name's Krystalion but please call me Krys." He took her hand and ushered her through to the next room. A balcony along one side looked out over the gardens and a table along one side held a selection of breakfast foods. "Sit and eat," Krystalion added, "I'll try and answer as many questions as I can starting with where and how since I expect they're foremost in your mind right now." At her nod he continued. "I found you unconscious in a small village below the mountains. There was no-one else alive so I brought you here to my castle so you could heal.."

"Thank you," Bryony replied quietly, "I owe you my life and I do not think I can ever repay you. I do not wish to seem ungrateful hut I must leave. I have to hunt down the dragon that burnt that village." She missed the flicker of pain and sadness that flickered in Krystalion's eyes before he replied.

"We're snowed in here until the end of winter, so your revenge will have to wait. Meanwhile, let me give you a tour."

As the weeks passed, Bryony found herself enjoying Krystalion's company and often found reasons to seek him out. She never saw any other people in the castle and was unable to get an explanation from Krystalion as to why this was.

It was early spring and the trees were just starting to sprout new leaves. The snow had begun to melt and Bryony knew that she would have to leave soon to continue her quest. She was reluctant to leave, however, and found herself trying to think of reasons to stay. She heard her name called from across the garden and turned to see Krys walking towards her . She smiled and waved in greeting.

"Bryony we need to talk," he said.
"I know," she replied. "I'm going to have to leave soon. Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day, I'm not sure."
"That's what we need to talk about. The dragon didn't kill the people at that village."
"How do you know? You weren't there. I saw the village and I saw the dragon"
"I arrived after the destruction of the town and there was no sign of the dragon. He arrived shortly before you did."
"Oh, Krys, I want to believe you," she sighed, "But I don't know if I can. I was set on this trail by the Goddess. Surely if I was going the wrong way She would've told me."
"Not if She wanted the dragon dead for Her own purposes," Krys muttered then continued more normally, "Bryony I need you to trust me, I know the dragon didn't kill those villagers."
"I do trust you Krys. I just need proof before I can disobey the Goddess."

Krys sighed and looked away. He appeared to be thinking. Then he swung around and grabbed her hand before setting off at a run dragging her behind him. She was out of breath when they arrived at a large door in the castle basement. She had never been down here before and looked around curiously. Krys unlocked the door then turned to her.

"I've never shown anyone else this," he said, "But your trust means a lot to me and I don't want to lose it. Shut your eyes." She hesitated, then did so. He took her hands and led her forwards. After a while he stopped.
"You can open your eyes now," he said. Bryony looked around in wonder. They were in a large cave that opened onto a ledge on the mountainside. On the wall behind her was a painting of a red dragon, the same one she had seen in the village. Its golden eyes seemed familiar for a moment. Whirling around she turned to face Krys. The same golden eyes stared back at her.
"You!" she gasped in surprise.
"Yes," he replied, his voice tinged with sadness, "It's a self portrait. Now do you believe me when I say that I didn't destroy that village."
"I have to. I can't believe you capable of such an act." He enfolded her gently in his arms. Green eyes looked up into gold.
"Thank you," he whispered, and lowered his head, gently brushing her lips with his own. The intensity of the kiss caught them both by surprise and when it ended they looked at each other in surprise and wonder.
"Kalsharra, ..." he whispered before she silenced him, laying a finger lightly across his lips, drawing his head down to hers and returning his kiss.

That night a single flawless crystal lay amid the rocks below the castle, glittering in the moonlight.


Friendly Octopus, by karne