Rare Pearl – Chapter 16

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Gale took his sweet time to join in with Accark’s growing discomfort regarding the visit. He lay down on the pillows and forced his eyes closed, pretending to be dozing off while Accark measured the floor with his feet. His clattering tail was giving him a headache, but when he thought about mentioning it, he heard it stop. He frowned, surprised and peaked from between his eyelids and saw him picking on it. He’d changed his clothes to a suit similar he’d worn in the office, but this one had golden threads running through the main fabric and the vest’s back was deep plum pink. His wings didn’t match with it at all.

He’d read the message from Accark’s father last night after the dragon had abandoned him for a half an hour to rumble around the empty castle, he kept listening for the sounds. It hadn’t given any dates, which is why he was now laying here, playing dead while Accark worried. Neither gave it a reason.

He was thinking, furiously trying to figure out how to calm the dragon down before they went together. Accark hadn’t asked, and he could easily go by himself, but it lingered between them unspoken – he would not go alone. Gale would go with him. But he refused to go when he was ready to pull out all his scales first.

The tail fell back on the ground and rattled after him as he turned to follow another circle. This time it passed close to his ears and the sound made his brain vibrate.

He pushed himself up and stretched his wings.

“You don’t have to meet him, if you don’t want.” He said while Accark made another round.

“I can’t refuse my alpha!” He said it like it was self-explanatory.

“You’re a grownup – he can’t control you.”

“It’s not how it works.” He kept walking. “Besides, it wasn’t a request to pay respects, it was a summon.”

“Meaning?”

“I can’t refuse. I have to.”

“Instincts?”

Accark nodded, his eyes focusing on the egg still sitting in the middle of the room. It explained nothing to Gale, but he accepted that perhaps the dragon didn’t know the exact reason either. It seemed to one of those things everybody did and nobody questioned.

Gale watched his fingers curl. He knew he wanted to ask to take the egg with him, keep it in his pouch, but he also knew Gale would never agree to it.

He reached out for those fingers and clasped them between his palms before prying them open and settling his favorite knife there, a small blade in its undecorated sheath. It wasn’t much compared to the egg, invaluable in every aspect of itself.

“This is my talisman.” He said, pointing at it.

Accark’s eyes widened and he looked up. “I didn’t know gargoyles had one!”

“We don’t, but it’s…” He gulped. He sighed, closing Accark’s fingers around it. “It will connect you to my brother.”

“How?”

“I knew he was the only boy in the brood that year, so I bought his sisters necklaces and small blade for him.” The memory roped his throat each time he spoke of it, but it slipped out by itself.

Accark stared at him, dumbfounded. His eyes flew from the small blade to the egg and his mouth fell open.

“This way, he’ll be with you, alright? Throughout the whole meeting.”

Accark flinched, his fingers closing around the knife before he nodded thankfully, pushed his nose up and put it into his pouch. He didn’t look happy at all, but at least the tension from his shoulders had pulled back.

“Ready?” He asked with a small smile. He should have done this long ago.

Accark patted his pouch which showed nothing from outside and nodded. Gale examined him closer, but he guessed there was nothing to take the last of his edginess off.

It took them an hour of flying to get to the big castle hidden several valleys away from the city. Gale let Accark lead, but stayed on the same line with him most of the time. Accark’s father was wealthy beyond anything Gale had witnessed. It showed from the numerous towers and huge arced middle hall which had endless masters handmade stained glass windows.

By the time they were ready to land, he saw many small children run up to the landing bridge, followed by several grownup females. He pulled back, letting Accark go first. He’d gotten better with his landing, he praised him quietly as the dragon made his way to the waiting children, who showed no fear crowding around him and pressing his snouts into his neck, nuzzling his pouch and neckline. He let them, smiling to them tight-lipped. They didn’t seem to notice, delighted to see their uncle.

He landed few feet behind him, but none of the children came to greet him. He didn’t mind it, and assured Accark he was fine with it when the dragon sent an apologetic glance to his way. The women seemed less inclined to run out to greet them, except one.

She was beautiful, slimmed down fur shining against the bright midday Sun in all its green colors, red dots of scales blooming around her neck, like Accark had his fan. She pressed their foreheads together, palming their fingers for a long moment of complete silence. Now, mirroring each other’s movements he knew she was his sister, even if they weren’t introduced. Which was about to change, he prepared himself mentally. Accark gave Gale a quick glance as if asking permission before he squeezed the female’s hand, patting it for assurance and walked his way.

“Gale,” his voice was still shivering, but her sister squeezed him back, “this is Salone, my sister.”

Gale bowed politely and she responded with same. It felt strangely scary to meet her and she made no attempts to hide her scrutinizing stare. He was being checked out, he understood from the blush on her brother’s cheeks. In the bright daylight, his entire facial fur seemed to shine through, vealing the view to his skin only slightly.

“Gale is…” he hesitated.

“His bodyguard, mam.” He used the same lie he’d used with the lizards. Others didn’t have to know the form of their relationship.

“These are Nennel, Yas and Aluhil. They are my sisters from father’s sixteenth brood.”

He bowed to the females on the back, who didn’t dare come closer.

“I came to visit them today.” She explained, giving Accark a bright smile. “I’m glad to meet you here today, brother.”

“Me too.” Accark gulped down the words, but didn’t meet her eyes.

They kept talking, or more like she spoke non-stop, ignoring their younger siblings completely while they walked through the gate and the grand halls towards the central arced hall, where Gale guessed their father must like sitting a lot. Lots of warmth coming through the windows. It was indeed a masterpiece, each stained glass panel exploring a theme of different dragons fighting with different creatures, none of which was a gargoyle. He breathed easier, seeing that. Even if it was nothing more than history long gone, it was better to be part of someone, who wasn’t considered a threat.

Accark had stopped. He nearly ran into his back, his attention still on the rainbow of colors. Salone hadn’t let go of his hand and was nudging him forward, explaining they had received a friend of their neighboring nest couple of days ago. Someone from south.

Gale reached out his palm to pat the dragon and assure him of his presence, when he too noticed that friend from south. He was hard to miss with his deep blue neck and nearly black feather scales clasped strong against his sides. Hadn’t there been Accark’s father, whom he guessed was the dark brown dragon on the other’s right hand, as big as the blue dragon, he would have thought he was dreaming. Both dragons looked a lot similar to each other than Accark to his father.

“Shit.” He muttered, his eyes focusing on Tribble’s back.

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