A Courtship of Dragons: Part 23

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A Courtship of Dragons is a M/M Romance short novel (approximately 60,000 words) told in short scenes, between two young dragons, Estenarven kin Boulderforce Clan Stoneheart and Mastekh kin Rainstorm Clan Flowflight. It’s pure fluff ‘n’ stuff and not intended to be anything other than that.

|| First Part || All Parts || Last Part ||

*winces*


23
Gossip

ESTENARVEN WAS NERVOUS. It was an exceedingly rare occurrence and he didn’t like it one bit. He couldn’t imagine how Mastekh managed to survive constantly being in such a state. Estenarven found himself pacing and sweating and fidgeting as he roamed the empty suite, wondering where Mastekh was and when he would return.

By the Family, this was awful. He would never go out and forget to tell Mastekh where he was going again. He couldn’t bear the suspense – nor the thought that his Puddle went through such things on an almost daily basis. His heart was pounding at such a rate it left him breathless and light headed. It made him wonder how Mastekh had managed to survive as long as he had.

Clearly his Puddle had a stronger heart than many would have suggested. Except Estenarven had always known Mastekh was great hearted. It was partly why he was being so selfish as to hope he could claim such greatness for himself.

A rattle of the doorknob had him wiping his sweaty hands against his robe as he strode across the room and opened the door, full of anticipation.

“Oh!”

Wide eyes blinked up at him and Estenarven’s shoulders slumped. “What do you want, Jessie?” he sighed, unable to feel anything but disappointment at finding Jesral kin Lightstorm Clan Thunderwing, aide to Elder Leasang, outside the door.

“Well, there’s a fine welcome,” she said airily, stepping forward and no doubt intending to stride straight into the suite.

Except Estenarven didn’t move, so she just bounced off his chest instead.

“Esten!” she protested, laughing. “Why so unfriendly? With all the elders off to dinner, I thought we might catch up. I feel like I haven’t seen you in a season, and I’ve heard the most delicious gossip that I simply have to share with you. You’ll find it ever so funny, I promise.”

In the past Estenarven would have been delighted to sit down and gossip with Jesral. She was light and fun and rather flirtatious, and he found her good company. But he wasn’t looking for good company tonight: he wanted the best. Only Mastekh would do.

“I’m busy, Jessie.”

She wrinkled her nose and smoothed her hand over the white stripe that made her otherwise dark hair so striking. “What, with Mastekh?” she scoffed. “Don’t be silly, Esten. At least with me you can have a proper conversation, and besides, I must share this most ridiculous rumour with you. I know you’ll laugh. It’s so silly that it can’t possibly true. A Rainstorm and a Boulderforce? How in the Overworld would that work?”

Her chatter dissolved into laughter, but Estenarven had long ceased listening. Because they were no longer the only two dragons in the corridor. At some point during the exchange, Mastekh had appeared from the stairwell, tray piled high with treats clenched between his hands.

Eyes wide, the Rainstorm stared at the way Jesral clung to Estenarven’s chest, laughing so hard she could hardly stand.

Its so silly that it cant possibly true. A Rainstorm and a Boulderforce?

Her mocking words echoed inside his head and Estenarven’s own eyes widened.

How in the Overworld would that work?

“Puddle,” he whispered, frozen with horror as Mastekh’s bottom lip began to wobble.

The tray rattled between the Rainstorm’s trembling hands. Then, with a great crash, he dropped the lot.

Food smashed against the stone floor, bowls cracked and cups bounced, the wine bottles and teapot breaking open to spill their contents across the hallway.

“Oh!”

Still clinging to him, Jesral stopped laughing long enough to realise they had an audience, but Mastekh was already gone, fleeing in a slap of wet feet and soggy puddles.

“Mastekh!” Paralysis broken, Estenarven shoved Jesral aside and ran. “Mastekh, wait!”

“It’s true? Esten? Estenarven!” Jesral’s incredulous shouts followed him, but he didn’t care. He didn’t care about her laughing, her disbelief, her gossip or anything else.

All that mattered was Mastekh.

But as Estenarven reached the door to the stairwell where his beloved Puddle had gone, he hit a dead end. No more puddles, no more slapping feet, only darkness and a spiral of stairs leading both up and down.

“Mastekh!” he shouted, listening hard as his echoes returned to him.

Nothing else. No reply, no footsteps, no indication where the Rainstorm had gone.

Growling with frustration, Estenarven turned and slapped his hand hard against the doorframe.

The stone door frame that was part of the stone stairwell in a tower also made of stone.

And there he was, a Boulderforce, throwing a tantrum like an idiot because he couldn’t hear where Mastekh had gone.

Snorting derisively at himself, he flattened both hands against the wall. “Wretched fool,” he growled, sinking all his senses into the rock under his palms and coaxing the stone to reveal all of its secrets.


More next week!

Take care, my lovelies.

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Dragongift: Chapter 5, Part 2

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~ Previous Chapter ~

Time for a real Havian welcome!


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Dragongift: Chapter 5, Part 1

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There’s also a frequently updated Character List to help keep track of everyone.

~ Previous Chapter ~

Catching back up with Lyrai and co. Prepare for scenery!


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A Courtship of Dragons: Part 22.2

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A Courtship of Dragons is a M/M Romance short novel (approximately 60,000 words) told in short scenes, between two young dragons, Estenarven kin Boulderforce Clan Stoneheart and Mastekh kin Rainstorm Clan Flowflight. It’s pure fluff ‘n’ stuff and not intended to be anything other than that.

|| First Part || All Parts || Last Part ||

In case you missed it, today’s update has been split in two for length issue. Part 22.1 is available here.

Other than that: Starshines…


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A Courtship of Dragons: Part 22.1

courtship-banner

A Courtship of Dragons is a M/M Romance short novel (approximately 60,000 words) told in short scenes, between two young dragons, Estenarven kin Boulderforce Clan Stoneheart and Mastekh kin Rainstorm Clan Flowflight. It’s pure fluff ‘n’ stuff and not intended to be anything other than that.

|| First Part || All Parts || Last Part ||

A couple of important notes:
1) This is the longest chapter in the story, so I’ve split it into two for ease of online reading.
2) I’ve finished it! The whole thing! It’s done! (And of course, much longer than I intended, turning my short story/novella into a short novel, where more important stuff than I planned for happened, so I’ll need to edit Storm Rising to reflect that – so good job I decided to finish this before I went back to work on that, then.) I’ll keep adding these serial updates, but I’ll probably release the (free) ebook before the end. There are fifty chapters to get through – so we’re not even halfway yet!

But anyway, away from all that, Mastekh is in a rather good mood.



22

Shells

LIKE ANY DRAGON dwelling, Highstrike had many secrets. Of the few Mastekh had managed to uncover so far during his stay, the cavern behind the main kitchens was his favourite. As a Rainstorm, he’d never been entirely fond of enclosed spaces – his kind was made for storms and sky, and he usually preferred places where no roof closed him in – but this cavern was special.

Humming happily to himself, he hitched the basket he was carrying higher on his hip, having offered to help the dracos out with their morning chores in exchange for having the cavern to himself. A few days ago they would have utterly refused, too conscious of the divide between dragons and dracos to ever countenance such a breach in etiquette. However, over the many mornings Mastekh had spent working alongside them in the kitchen, they had slowly come to recognise him as one of their own. He was a dragon who worked, who served, who treated them like living, thinking beings – and they extended the same courtesy to him.

It didn’t hurt that his courtship with Estenarven was providing them with extra entertainment either. All he had to do was hint that he wanted time alone to work on his fourth gift and they let him do anything he asked. Even clean the dishes. It was a strange sort of power, but Mastekh liked it.

So basket on hip, hum in his throat and a light-hearted skip in his step, Mastekh made his way down the narrow passage that led from the kitchen deeper into the mountain on which Highstrike was rooted. The way was winding and dark, the warmth of the kitchen ovens swiftly fading behind, leaving nothing but a cool wind to draw him onwards. As a Rainstorm, cold didn’t bother Mastekh, especially when its source was so magnificent.

Pale light began to grow, along with a familiar roar and Mastekh stepped out into the cavern with a wide smile on his face as he tilted it back to take in the wonder before him.

A waterfall. Gushing, powerful, immense – and entirely underground.

The cavern was almost big enough to contain the Skylark, and almost all of it was shrouded in ice cold spray as a torrent of water thundered through a hole near the roof of the cavern and roared fifty or more feet down to where Mastekh stood. There it formed a deep, narrow pool which in turned drained away somewhere out of sight.

It was glorious and sodden and marvellous. Mastekh loved it.

Away from the falls, large glow globes, the size of his own head, had been embedded in the wall around the cavern entrance, shining in Tempestfury shades of grey, blue and white. A carpet of plush moss covered the floor and long, trailing curtains of a different moss species drifted in the clouds of spray. It was a magical place and it wasn’t until the dracos had brought him here two days ago that Mastekh had realised how much he’d missed running water. The Flowflight Clanlands were richly forested, full of streams and lakes and rivers, all of which had been rather lacking in his life of late. Not now, not here.

Sighing with happiness, Mastekh flexed his toes in the carpet moss and bustled to the edge of the pool. There he knelt with his basket beside him and set about washing dishes, as he’d promised the dracos he would. It was a mindless, easy chore that allowed his mind to drift while his senses soaked up the water in the air and the roar of the waterfall. A perfect place.

Before long the basket was empty, the clean crockery stacked beside it, and Mastekh could finally turn his attention to the real reason why he was there. Utterly at ease with his surroundings, he slid a hand into his pocket and pulled out the two small shells within. He shed his silk robe, folded it up and placed the shells on top. Feeling at peace with the world, he slithered into the cold of the pool.

Bliss. The water was deep and dark and icy, but the constant pounding and churning of the waterfall turned the pool into a swirling, bubbling mass that massaged and tickled his bare skin. It felt marvellous, but Mastekh knew of one way to make it all better.

Arching his back, he stretched out his arms and kicked his legs, diving into the depths. And then he changed.

The water stroked and soothed him, invigorating him with new life as it rippled around him, absorbing the shock of his magic as he expanded from a puny human into a long, lean dragon with wings pressed tight to his back. The webs between his toes expanded and he powered down into the darkness until he felt the insistent tug of the current drawing the water out of this cavern and into the next.

Having no desire to explore the underground course of the river – at least not today – Mastekh swirled around in the water and kicked off the side of the pool. He shot upwards through the bubbles, loving the rush and roar of the water around him.

Then he hit the surface, gasping and grinning, his wings spreading to keep him afloat as he lowered into the water again.

Humming happily, he rolled onto his back and drifted for a lazy moment, tail stirring slowly to stop the force of the falls from shoving him into the edge of the pool.

Eventually, though, he recalled the real reason for coming here today – and why he had desired privacy. And since it was all for Estenarven, he didn’t even mind having to roll over and paddle back to where he’d left the clean crockery and his robe.

Ducking beneath the surface and amusing himself by blowing out a stream of huge bubbles, Mastekh surfaced with a chuckle – and recoiled with a yelp.

He wasn’t alone.

Someone was sitting beside his robe, the two small shells Mastekh had placed there now lying in their lap.

His first reaction – after surprise – was embarrassment at being found frolicking like a wingling. Then anger at having been interrupted. Finally fear that having left his treasures unguarded for a foolish moment, he might have lost them altogether.

“Good morning, Mastekh. A lovely day for a swim, is it not?”

Paddling uncertainly in the water, unsure whether he should get out or remain where he was, Mastekh pressed his ear fins miserably against his head and nodded. “M-m-morning, Elder G-g-goryal.”

The Starshine elder smiled, their eyes shimmering with rainbow shades in the bright white light of the glow globe they had placed by their feet. “You need not fear me, young Rainstorm. Your treasures are safe. I was merely guarding them for you.”

Mastekh swallowed hard, not entirely relieved. He hadn’t truly believed that the elder would steal and claim the shells – they weren’t that sort of dragon – but that didn’t make him feel any more comfortable to see his treasures in Goryal’s hands. Nor did it make him feel any less foolish for having left them unattended in the open. He should have known that a place as marvellous as this wasn’t used by the dracos alone.

“It’s no good, Goryal, I can’t find the exit point. It must be at the bottom of the pool.”

The rumbling voice had Mastekh sinking even lower into the pool until only his eyes and the top of his crest remained above the surface. Of course Junior Archivist Reglian would be here – he and Goryal had seldom been seen outside of each other’s company on this journey.

“Keep looking,” Goryal advised the younger dragon in a placid voice, though their eyes remained on Mastekh. “I’m certain you will find something of interest if you try.”

Reglian planted his hands on his hips and frowned down at where the diminutive elder was sitting. “I’d rather look at those shells.”

Alarm shot through Mastekh and he surged out of the water, uncaring that he sent a wave of water over the pair of dragons in front of him as he stretched out a webbed foot and snatched the shells from Goryal’s hands.

“No, Reglian, they are not for you,” the Starshine elder said calmly, apparently unconcerned that they’d almost been knocked over and drowned by a desperate Rainstorm. The fluff of white hair that normally swirled about their head like a cloud was now plastered across their forehead and down one cheek and their pearly white robe had taken on a grey hue, but they smiled as Mastekh slid back into the depths, clutching the shells to his chest.

Reglian wasn’t nearly so sanguine, spluttering as he stared down in dismay at the way his pristine black robes now clung to his legs from mid-thigh down. “Mastekh!”

Mastekh ducked under the water until only his eyes showed and blew bubbles.

Goryal laughed, the sound like silver bells, chiming clearly even over the roar of the falls.

Grumbling unflattering things about Rainstorms and Starshines, Reglian peeled the silk from his legs and flapped it ineffectually. Then he ran a hand over his gleaming bald head and stomped off into the misty spray. Mastekh was not sorry to see him go.


~ Next Part ~

Take care, my lovelies!

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Dragongift: Chapter 4, Part 3

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~ Previous Chapter ~

The Mouse Report.


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Dragongift: Chapter 4, Part 2

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Time to meet up with an old friend or two.

Warning: This chapter contains a discussion of attempted suicide.


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A Courtship of Dragons: Part 21

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A Courtship of Dragons is a M/M Romance novella (I hope, although it keeps growing so who knows where it’ll end up) told in short scenes, between two young dragons, Estenarven kin Boulderforce Clan Stoneheart and Mastekh kin Rainstorm Clan Flowflight. It’s pure fluff ‘n’ stuff and not intended to be anything other than that.

|| First Part || All Parts || Last Part ||

In which Khennik gives some advice. Sort of.


21
Thoughts

7th Storm

ESTENARVEN KNELT BESIDE his bed, studying the meagre belongings he had brought with him on this trip. He’d never been an acquisitive dragon – Boulderforces rarely were – and such a lack of material possessions had never bothered him. Until now. The small stone box inside his travelling case was half full of beans and pebbles, but the sight of them made him smile in memory of all that they meant.

It was the lack of much else that brought on a frown.

A tap on the door made him jump and he instinctively reached out to hide his treasures, only to relax when it was Elder Blazeborn who leant inside.

Sighing, Estenarven sat back on his heels and half twisted towards the door. “Yes, elder?”

Khennik tilted his head, taking in the open box on the bed, a small smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. “Fourth gift?”

Estenarven snorted derisively and glared down at his little box of treasures. He’d thought them so special once. Now he could hardly remember why he’d ever considered any of them precious. Stones and letters and scraps. Nothing good enough for his needs.

The Blazeborn elder took another step into the tiny room and asked for permission to sit with a tilt of his hand. Estenarven nodded, balling his fists against the instinctive need to hide his treasures. Just because Boulderforces were rarely acquisitive, didn’t mean they weren’t possessive. And Sunlords were known for their hoards.

Something about the tension in his body must have alerted Khennik, though, because while he sat carefully beside the box and leant over for a closer look, the elder kept his hands carefully behind his back. “You have a lot of pebbles and beans.”

“Second gift,” Estenarven offered in reply.

“Ah.” Khennik tilted his head and squinted. Moving slowly, he looked at Estenarven for permission before gently shifting some pebbles aside to see what lay beneath. “Well, now. Wherever did you come by this?”

Estenarven wrinkled his nose, laying his palms flat against his thighs to stop himself from snatching the tiny object out of his elder’s claws. “Found it,” he grumbled.

Khennik arched an eyebrow and placed the delicate object on the rumpled blanket covering the bed. “Unusual for a Boulderforce.”

Estenarven shrugged, feeling a touch of heat rising to his cheeks. It was an unusual possession for a Boulderforce to keep, especially as it wasn’t made from stone, but despite its small and delicate appearance, this little object held a raft of memories for him.

Reaching out, he scooped up the little figure, carved out of some unknown wood, smoothed and shaped into the appearance of a well-rounded human, sexless and faceless, with only the faintest traces of when it had once been painted. Estenarven didn’t know where it had originated from or how old it was, but it wore its age in the form of scratches and scars and weathered cracks. He’d found it many, many years ago when he’d been barely a dragonling first venturing out of the safety of his kin nest. He’d been digging with Estenarix, pretending that they were fierce dragon explorers searching for new minerals to mine.

They had uncovered five figures that day, of varying shapes and sizes. Estenarix had thought them ugly and boring and tossed them all aside, reburying them in her quest for something solid, something stone, something shiny and exciting. She’d scoffed at him when he’d said he wanted to keep them, so he’d had to sneak back later to dig them up again. He’d only been able to find four of them that time and over the years they’d each been broken and lost.

This was the only one left. It had been through so much with him, so many years, so many miles, so many changes. Yet despite the memories and centuries they’d shared together, it didn’t look like much.

“I can’t give him that,” he said, instead of voicing all the thoughts running through his mind.

Elder Blazeborn watched him quietly, golden eyes scanning Estenarven’s pensive face. “Does it mean that much to you?”

Estenarven stared at the tiny figure, nestled so securely in his palm, and bit back an instinctive denial. It did mean a lot. Khennik wouldn’t judge him for feeling a connection to such a strange object, but that wasn’t what he was asking. Estenarven stroked a finger over the familiar curves, feeling the smooth patches and the rough places, the scratches and cracks and flaking paintwork.

He sighed. “Not more than Mastekh,” he admitted. “But it’s not much of a gift. Look at it.”

Khennik didn’t look at the figure – he looked at Estenarven. “If it means so much to you, Estenarven, it will mean everything to him. As long as you are willing to share its significance. That more than anything contains its worth.”

Estenarven curled his hand around the precious, pathetic object and nodded. Of everything he owned, of all that he cared enough to carry with him, this was what mattered the most. Except for Mastekh.

“Then I have my gift.”

“So you do,” Khennik said softly, smiling ever so briefly before getting to his feet. “I’ll be out for the rest of the day. Elder Gwyllen has invited me and the other elders to dinner. Don’t wait up.” He slipped out of the tiny room, silk robes whispering in his wake.

Leaving Estenarven to frown down at the tiny figure in his hands and wonder how good a gift it would prove to be.


More next week.

Take care, my lovelies!

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Dragongift: Chapter 4, Part 1

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~ Previous Chapter ~

Meanwhile back at Aquila…


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Dragongift: Chapter 3, Part 2

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And… Action!


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