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Krystine Vail - Pondering the past and future

Postby Malkryad » Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:59 pm

Krystine Vail shifted her weight ever so slightly to maintain her balance as the branch she stood on moved back and forth in the breeze. The branch was not the highest in the tree, but it was very close. It was the largest that would support her weight and it bowed dangerously even now, though she wore only a simple woolen dress and her swordbelt, with Skyblade’s Honor well secured. The rest of her belongings were carefully stowed a bit further down the tree. She thought it unlikely that anything would bother her here. She was very high up on a mountain, its bare and rocky peaks looming just above and behind her and very few creatures wandered this high. The air was very thin, but that did not bother her. She was cold, but she ignored it. She was often cold these days. Instead she focused on her own breathing and balancing carefully on the branch. And she pondered.

The view from here was rather breathtaking, but she closed her eyes against it. Had she opened them, she would see a vast valley stretching out below her. No clear path was visible from here, but Krystine knew where it was. It was the path that Marie, her best friend had taken a couple weeks before. A path she herself knew very well. A path towards familiar ground. Towards other friends she hadn’t seen for quite a long time. Yet Krystine held back from following Marie, though she was not sure exactly why. She was not sure what it was she thought she could accomplish here, alone.

“What are you looking for, little dragon?”

Krystine’s eyes flew open at the sound and she nearly lost her precarious perch on the branch, her wings unfolding slightly to help her regain her balance. Her hand instinctively moved to the hilt of Skyblade’s Honor as she searched for the source of the query. It did not take her long to find it. A small silver dragon sat perched on another branch just above her, the branch barely seeming to feel the weight of it at all. Krystine wondered at that very briefly, and then answered.

“Well, I was looking for some peace and quiet.”

The dragon seemed slightly amused. “Were you, now? Plenty of that up here. And yet, to me, you look about as peaceful and relaxed as a bowstring pulled taut and about to release an arrow. What are you really looking for?”

Krystine was not exactly sure how to answer, so she said nothing.

“You and your mage-friend have been wandering all around Sierra Na for years and you don’t even know what it is you are looking for?”

“Home. A way to go home.”

“Well, you are clearly looking in the wrong place.” The dragon sounded quite amused again. She was quite sure he was laughing at her, in fact. “Though, it seems to me that you haven’t ever settled in one place long enough to establish a home in Sierra Na in the entire time you have been here.”

Krystine was slightly annoyed. “I’m not talking about a home in Sierra Na. I’m talking about a way to leave it altogether and go home.”

“And why would you want to do that?” The dragon now sounded incredulous. “You were brought here for a reason, little dragon, and now you want to leave? Where would you even go?”

It was a question that had been nagging at Krystine for a long time, and one she had been trying to ignore. She closed her eyes again. “It doesn’t matter. We haven’t been able to find anything anyway. And Marie has gotten tired of my stubborn refusal to give up and go back to more familiar ground and gone on without me. Why are you asking, anyway?”

“Because we are tired of waiting for you to figure out whatever it is that you need to figure out. It seems you need to talk about it with someone. And since you refused to talk about it with your friend, you will talk about it now.” The dragon seemed rather insistent. “So, where would you go if you could leave Sierra Na.”

Krystine sighed and reluctantly answered. “I would go off and find my cousins.”

“And not your parents?” The way the dragon asked was a bit odd, but Krystine could not quite put her finger on how.

Krystine looked down at her bare arms and how the sunlight gleamed off the brass scales that covered her. No, if she hid her wings, from a distance she might look like someone who spent all of their time out in the sun, but anything more than the most casual inspection would reveal what she was. She would never be accepted in Mirabar. Much as they might love her, her parents would never be able to welcome her home. And she didn’t think she could bring herself to face their disappointment, particularly not her father’s. She said as much.

“And why do you think your father would be disappointed in you, child?” The dragon did not sound truly intrigued, but patronizing. Krystine swallowed her annoyance at his tone.

“All my father talked about was my responsibility to House Vail. All he cares about is his duty.” She sighed. “Now that I’m older, I think I understand more of the burden that he bore, but I have become anything but what he, or my mother, wanted for me. For their approval, I would have had to stay at home, learn my manners and etiquette, know all my heraldry, play fine music, do whatever would make me an attractive wife for some other noble family so that my family would grow in power. Just as my father had to...” She drifted off, bitterness overwhelming her. She hadn’t chosen to come to Sierra Na, but if she hadn’t, she knew she would have eventually had to run anyway. Just like her uncle had.

The dragon grunted. “No wonder your mage friend left you behind. You seem content to wallow in your own self-pity, like a little child who is frustrated because she hasn’t been given what she wants so she stomps off to her room and refuses to do anything.”

Bitterness turned to anger in an instant.

“You don’t know anything! You have no idea what I have done. I may have been a child when I came here, but since then I have grown immeasurably. I tapped into the power of my bloodline and became a half-dragon. I am well on my way to claiming the title of blademaster as well. I helped in the founding of a village here. I helped get rid of that wretched “Keeper” and free those he had captured. I helped recapture Hakkon’s Keep and then helped defend it from an orc onslaught. I have fought countless enemies. Bahamut’s breath, I even DIED and stood face to face with Tiamat to refuse her offer of aid. So, do not call me “child” again. I am a woman grown and a force to be reckoned with.”

The little dragon seemed much more pleased than rebuked. “There is the spirit we have wanted to see. It is about time. You have more work to do, Krystine Vail. When it is done, perhaps you will be able to see your family again, though I suspect it will not be in the way that you think. It is time to stop worrying about the past and start looking to your future. Your father prepared you well for the choice you faced. Whether you realize it or not, you have made that choice, and he is proud of you. Now, go and find your friends. All of them. They need you. You need them.”

Krystine looked down at the valley again, then turned back to the dragon. He was gone. Her mind wandered back to one of the last things he had said. Her father is proud of her. Not was. Not will be. Is. An odd thing to say.

She had to laugh at herself. After her rant about how she has grown, deep down she was just a little girl looking for her father’s approval but trying to live her own life as well. Starting to wonder if this whole little encounter had just been some trick of the mind, she decided it didn’t matter and started climbing down the tree to retrieve her equipment and items. There was work to be done.

******************************

Martin Vail stood up as the vision of his daughter and the magical energies he had been holding faded away. Across from him, his sister-in-law, who had been doing much more of the work, opened her eyes and smiled at him. “I am in your debt once again, Anj,” he said to her.

“Save your thanks for Bahamut, without whom we’d never have been able to do more than watch. Certainly not give Krystine that little shove she seemed to need.”

Martin nodded. “Bahamut ever has my thanks. And my service.”

Anjayi stood and smiled. “I think I’m getting closer, Martin. Closer to doing more than just watching without divine intervention. Closer to possibly sending someone there.”

Martin did not let his hopes rise. “Have you told Randyl and Seryne.”

Anjayi chuckled. “You must be joking. If I did, they’d be trying to go there now. I’d not hear the end of it until I had tried sending them there. Those two will dive headlong into any challenge. I won’t risk it until I know more. There are very powerful forces at work here. No, I haven’t even told them that I’ve been able to look in on Krystine from time to time. I haven’t told Jonathan either. He is as bad as the twins.”

Martin smiled slightly. “They are going to be very angry with you.”

Anjayi smiled in return. “The twins are often mad at me. Even now, I figure I’m not doing my job as a mother if they aren’t. As for Jonathan, well, I’ve kept worse from my husband, as you well know. He’ll get over it. As long as I keep you two apart, things should be fine,” she teased. “Honestly, you would think you two could stop the constant bickering now that you’re older.”

“Some things never change,” he replied.

Anjayi just smiled in response. “I’ll let you know when I’ve learned more.”

“Thank you again. It is good to be able to see her. To see how she has grown. Even if she stays in that far off place, that may be enough.”

Anjayi nodded with sympathy. Then, with a flick of her hand, a portal opened and she was stepping through, leaving Martin alone with his thoughts.
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