Dreamweaving, p.4
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       Dreamweaving, p.4

           Teresa Garcia
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  Far behind them at the shrine, Hana had been left to guard the mirror and tend to the needs of any other visitors whether dragon, kami, or other. The separation had been instantaneous, the phoenix jumping back at the suddenness and dropping a feather when a human sized fox woman stepped out of and away from the dragon woman, black tipped ears twitching and nine matching tails wrapping around her mostly white self for warmth over her kimono. Ame smiled to herself at the memory, always finding such amusement when they could get a reaction like that from anyone.

  The ground passed below them as they rode the winds, and as it too fell away, Ame was unable to keep her hope out of her scent. Perhaps she could get a glimpse of her mate's ship, if they passed over the right area. Her eyes glowed a deep teal green as she scanned the waters below and the horizon ahead of her, then dimmed as she gained control of herself.

  The ice phoenix soared above her, glancing overhead often. Ame seemed to generate her own weather he had observed, the skies tending to clear or cloud based on her emotions at the time. And to his worry, those emotions shifted and ran like quicksilver even after she had left her other self behind. The whiff of excitement stuck in his nose, surprising him enough to miss two wingbeats and lose altitude.

  “Ah! Cold!” Ame tucked her wings and barrelrolled to drop whatever freezing thing had landed on her back.

  The poor phoenix dropped from where he'd landed and righted himself. Diamondixi looked back over her wing at the ryuuonna's cry, her phoenix' squawk, and the surprised jabs and pulses from both of their minds. The scent of evaporating water below them intensified and mixed with the dust of the air, and the electricity from Ame began to charge the air. In the far distance, a cry answered her, and the air thickened.

  Ame sighed.

  “Oops. Sorry. Didn't mean to start a storm seed.”

  “It ist in your nature. Thou art one, are ye not?” Diamondixi smiled when Ame gave a wordless reply, then gestured ahead. “We go down at that place.”

  She grumbled. “Yes, but I still prefer seeds to be intentional. And started with my mate.”

  They dove beneath the cold winter sea as it churned at rocky island shorelines. The phoenix and the ice dragon were protected from the effects of the water by magic, being airbreathers. Ame breathed deeply of the water and swam deeper after them, stifling purrs at the memories that once more taking seawater to her lungs evoked.

  After a short time, the rocky sea floor began to take on a more ordered appearance, as if someone were purposefully arranging the shell beds, cultivating plants, and herding the groups of fish. The hollows below rocks looked less as if they were naturally occurring, and more as if their placement had been chosen and encouraged.

  Ame felt a tingle of recognition. Part of her childhood below the waves in Ryuugyuu's capital had accustomed her to what settlement starts would look like. As she briefly remembered the times she would sneak away from nursemaids and her father's meetings with other lords, she felt Diamondixi draw on the energy of them, despite how brief the dream had been.

  The further they went, the more often came the signs of occupation, till they reached a thickening in the water, similar to what the air around Ame's shrine did. At the border, where it formed an actual shell Diamondixi placed her hand and drew a sigil, breathing a few words. The barrier melted slightly, allowing them passage without waking the old Finman Seidhrmann that all could feel attached to the barrier. As Ame passed through, Diamondixi held the passage open for her considerably larger companion. Even then, it was only just, the barrier solidifying again with a snap barely after the last of her tail plumes crossed through.

  “It is stronger than the last... He must have another aiding him tonight.” Diamondixi observed, feeling around with her mind as much as her companions.

  “They moved him...” The phoenix pointed with a wing in the direction he had been moved.

  Diamondixi nodded, and the three set in that direction through the village. Fires, or what passed for them below the waters, lay low in cooking pits, and tattered rags passed for doors. Near each door, guards snoozed, leaning in or beside so as to be awoken if one of their charges tried to leave.

  “Why aren't we helping these other children?” Ame asked after passing the tenth holding cave.

  “Those are too far gone, they had the least that had to be stolen, or were born here.” Diamondixie was a white flutter ahead, pausing finally at the cave nearest the center cave. “They have him here.”

  Slipping in, Ame saw what was meant by the boy's state, versus that of the others.

  Curled beneath salvaged wool sailor's blankets and rough weavings of kelp, the boy's fur warred with the scales that crept inexorably over his flesh. Beside his head was a pouch, with the end of a coral flute just visible. Incised into his skin, various sigils had been, and then overlaid with ink. New tattoos of this sort had been recently wrought upon the lad, fiery red. Weakly a force could be seen fighting back, green witchfire sputtering like dying embers.

  Diamondixi knelt beside the lad, stroking his forehead. In response, the furrows of his brow smoothed and a sigh escaped him.

  There was a stirring, and they all met eyes over the sleeping lad. As one, they began to move. Diamondixi entered the teen's dreams to fortify him and rebuild what had been damaged while there was time. The phoenix took guard by the door to protect his mistress. Ame slipped out of the cave and into invisibility to deal with the movement that they had felt in the settlement's energy.

  The disturbance came from the cave in the very center of the settlement. There, Ame found the Headman embroiled in talk with the settlement's Seidhrmenn. Quietly, carefully, she counted how many she could see. To her relief, there were only five that she saw, though it still meant two more than their own number.

  “Let us know if they moveth.”


  Inside, the conversation continued in barks and jabs, clicks and clucks, interspersed with what sounded to be Nordic words. Now and then, someone tossed carved bones onto a painted leather spread.

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