Synergy - June 1998
Original Sins - karne
Exams... - karne
(page 6/15)

Original Sins

It's early morning and shivering petitioners forming a ragged line across the courtyard. They wait for bread and perhaps, a little cheese. Above, the rich, brazen tolls of the great bell strive to awaken those lazy, or just lucky enough to remain abed.

She snorts softly at the thought - little chance for her! - and winds her way past them, on to the stables. As per normal, a handful of Sisters and Brothers - perhaps more conscientious or just more energetic, than herself - have already arrived. The clatter and bang of heavy stall gates blends with their shouted commands and the rumbling complaints of their charges. Most have already had their morning feed and are heading off to work. She's a little late. Dragon breath steams in the crisp spring air.

Shouting greetings or just nodding pleasantries - depending on whim - she hurries past the stout wooden pens, to the third stall from the right. It's a new one and above the door is a raw pine board. It bears two names, hers - Sister Margaret and his - Karne. The rest of the sign is blank - no bloodline information nor mating tags - not even a birth-date. Karne was a wildun, captured as a youngling from the mountains, far north of the monastery. 'New blood' as the breeders say. It's her duty to train him and he's a first for her. A great responsibility.

It's dark inside the stall and with eyes sun-blinded, she can't see a thing, let alone a tar black dragon. As a result, she's completely unprepared and knocked staggering backwards as he pounces on her, from just inside the door. He hooks his head over her shoulder and lends support 'till she regains her balance - all the while purring deeply in his throat.

'What the.. you idiot!' the slap, though hard - is hardly felt through thick neck scales. 'You scared the life out of me! Holy Goddess... what do you think you're playing at? Trying to give me a heart attack?' Her annoyance is met with soft, burbling laughter and she finds it impossible to sustain. 'Idiot. You do that again and you won't get any breakfast. You understand?' He fakes a cringe but still his eyes laughs at her. She growls a couple more half hearted threats, before giving up completely.

'All right, all right. You win, funny boy. Just don't do it again or I'll make you regret it. Understand?' his doubtful expression makes her chuckle. 'Come on then, dragon - we've got work to do.'

'No breakfast, mistress?' his doleful expression makes her laugh again.

'Well... I'll think about it - perhaps. If you behave - come on now, bath time.'

*

'There you are!'

'Mistress?'

'I've been looking for you. I thought you were in your stall. What you doing out here then?' She flops down on the same patch of grass he's curled up on.

'Sorry mistress.'

'Well. It's all right. I don't mind. As long as you don't stray too far - but for the Goddess' sake, don't let Sister Florent see you. She'd hit the roof.'

'No, mistress. Painful, mistress.' Distracted, she doesn't hear. Exams..., by karne

'Good... yes, whatever..' she sighs and pulls a sheaf of papers out from her belt. This she waves in fount of his muzzle. 'New orders,' she grins, 'Finally got them from Brother Romaine. Important ones.' She hesitates - expecting an answer - then frowns when she realises she doesn't have his attention and baps him on the nose with her papers. 'Hey! Hey you! Sleepy... you listening to me?'

'No mistress... yes mistress... ' he hisses distractedly, 'Sorry mistress.'

'Sorry mistress.' she mimics then sighs, 'Wake up you , it's not time for bed yet. Did you hear what I said? New orders, our first solo mission! A long one too - lot's of travelling.'

'Mistress?'

'North, then round the mountains to Scanton - seems they're out of sacramental wine or some such thing.' she laughs softly ' We're to leave early tomorrow... What are you looking at?'

'Dragons, mistress.'

'Dragons? What dragons?' she leans backwards and follows his gaze upwards. 'Oh wilduns.' For a while, she watches the barely visible dots swirling against the clouds.

Finally, she turns back and pokes him gently in the flank, 'Come on you - we'd better get packing.'

*

'Chop chop Karne, hurry up. Not long now and then we'll stop for the night.' Sister Margaret feels tired but cheerful - they've been walking a long time. Turning, she grins and hooks an arm over his neck - for few seconds, she looks into huge, golden and completely unreadable eyes. He nods.

'Sorry mistress. Heavy.' He shrugs to settle the packs and then speeds up a little.

'Yes, I know. You're a little overloaded aren't you. Romaine wanted us to take the census records as well, they need updating. Still, you're strong enough aren't you?'

'Of course, mistress'

'Proud 'un, aren't you?' She laughs and strokes his muzzle - prompting him to lick her fingers - 'Handsome too. You'll work hard for me, won't you?'

'Yes, mistress. Love you mistress.'

'Love?! Oh Karne, Karne, the things you say! Where you'd pick that one up from, erm? Silly dragon - yes, all right - love me if you wish and I'll love you,' she chuckles softly, ' Come on, not long now and then we can strike camp and I'll let you go hunt. You'll liked that, won't you?'

'Very much, mistress'

*

'Brother Romaine.'

'Erm.. what you say?' Sister Margaret pulls her nose out of the book she's reading and glances around. Camp is set, he's hunted, eaten and is curled up before the embers of the cooking fire. She leans against his flank, 'Romaine, what about him?'

'You love him?' his question - totally unexpected - surprises her.

'Love him?' Of course I love him! We are betrothed, after all!' she laughs, 'I've told you that before - what's the matter? - You getting forgetful?'

'No, mistress, sorry mistress. Confused,' she frowns again and puts down the book. One thing she's discovered, Karne is bright for his kind and she considers that to be a good thing. But with intelligence come questions, many questions. She does her best to answer but sometimes it feels like she's lugging a ten year old around with her!

'What about? What don't you understand?'

'Brother Romaine. You love him. Do you love him, as you love me?'

'What? No, no!' she laughs. 'There are many kinds of love, many kinds.' She grins at his confusion. 'Look. How can I put his? Erm... love can mean many things. You can love your family and friends - that's how I love you - as family. But there are other kinds of love. There is religious love - to the Goddess - and erm.. sibling love and true love. That's the love for someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. That's how I love Romaine.' There is a few minutes silence as the dragon digests this - then -

'As a mate?'

'Err.. well yes - if you like - as a mate.'

'Why?'

'Why.. for the Goddess' sake. I love him, you understand because he's good to me because I like him - because - because!. I don't have a choice in the matter. I'm a slave to love, yes?' she grins, amused by her word play. 'You really don't understand do you?'

'No mistress. What's a slave?'

'Oh! Questions, questions - that's all you are, aren't you? Scales and questions!' she laughs again. 'I'll try to explain. You're a slave when you can't do something you might like to do because someone else makes you want to do something else... erm.. I'm not explaining this very well am I?'

'No, mistress. Not really.'

'Oh, thanks a lot!'

*

'Well, who knows. If you work hard, I might be able to get you some mating rights. Would you like that?' He blinks hesitantly and then he nods slowly, then more swiftly. She chuckles softly, ' I thought you might. Well, we'll have to see. I'll speak to the Bloodmaster.'

*

Sometime later he speaks, he voice - soft, as always - is unusually decisive.

'Deep Red.'

'Deep what? What did you say?'

'Deep Red. She's nice and she likes me.'

'Ermm ... Oh! Sister Florent's female?' he nods. 'Arrr... well, maybe. I can't say for certain but I think that's awfully unlikely. She's of pure Heart lineage and I think they were wanting to cross her with one of the silver twins. Got to keep the blood lines pure after all.' she shrugs and grins apologetically at him. 'Don't worry, we'll find you someone.'

'But she likes me, mistress.'

'Hush now dragon. She's not for you, I'm afraid.'

'But...'

'Karne!' She turns to glare at him, 'Behave! You hear me? Don't argue.' He dips his head but still growls softly, at the back of his throat.

'You can choose - not me - not fair...'

'Be silent!' The slap doesn't hurt but a warning touch to the silver ankh she wears, makes him cringe and whimper all the same. The pendent links to the mesh collar he wears. Magics to bring pain. Pain and obedience.

*

'Yes Karne, what is it?'

'Am I a slave, mistress?'

*

It's late evening and her blood tastes bitter in his mouth. Unhappily he crouches, watching her. The silver ankh winks dully in the moonlight - it's chain has snapped - it's magic broken. A flaw in the matrix, it fails and she dies.

The dragon hunches smaller as he turns to look towards it. Harmless now but he stays well clear all the same - muscles still aching from its fire. His heart burns too - he didn't want it this way.

Eventually, silently, he moves - dropping his head to touch his tongue to her lips - then glancing upwards. The sky's so empty, it's frightening. A sigh - regret - then an explosion of ebon wings, as he erupts upwards, packs falling to the ground as he seeks the sky. Wilduns dance amongst the clouds and he will join them there. Dance and hunt.

Joyful.

Behind, his words - unspoken - drift orphaned in the darkness.

'Maybe I loved you, my mistress and maybe I did not. I wish I knew but then... you never told me. Goodbye mistress.'

karne