“Delevy told Tal’on later that she watched him from the safe place behind the bars of his prison as he seemed to crumple down over himself. She saw him quake and heard his moan as he drifted down into stasis. He collapsed over on his side and seemed to go into convulsions,” Rudd’ard explained. “That was when Delevy took the chance and went into see if she could help Tal’on.”
He was so cold, his teeth were clacking together. Delevy could see he was unconscious. She took the chance she would be able to sense when to run and have the time to get away. She pulled his blankets over his shivering body and when that wasn’t enough she fetched hers and more from storage to cover Aon. When she returned she could swear he was larger than when she left. His feet and hands stuck out from beneath the covers, but perhaps her mind was just playing tricks on her, or he had moved.
She lit the brazier in the corner of the room. It was meant for heating weapons of torture, but it would warm the room since the Prime had deemed central heating unneeded for the prisoners under his regime. The temperature began to rise, but Aon still quaked and moaned below his covers.
Delevy sat down cross-legged at Tal’on’s head and pulled it into her lap. She stroked his brow and spoke gently to him. She knew he didn’t understand her completely, but like anything suffering, even an animal, she hoped he found a soothing voice comforting. When he rolled over in agony his head butted against her stomach and his hand came up to grasp at her knee. His claws retracted, something she had not seen happen before and he kneaded her leg like a huge cat, his pads working at the fabric of her pants.
She took the opportunity to examine him more closely. She ran her fingers softly over the pebbly tip of his nose. He snorted in his sleep as though the touch might tickle. A small trail of smoke puffed from his nostrils and swirled up to make her cough.
She stroked his horns from the base to the now very lethal looking pointed tip. They felt like stone and were cool to the touch. She traced her finger over the scales of his hand. Funny, it looked more like a paw now. Closer to the way his feet appeared. She ran her hand down his long neck and felt the joints between the large plates on his chest. He sighed beneath her touch and nudged his head into her stomach again.
Tal’on reached up and curled his other arm around Delevy’s back. He settled his paw at the base of her spine and squeezed her closer.
He had her captive in his arms. It had happened so quickly she didn’t have time to pull away. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves. She spoke gently to him and tried to disentangle herself from his grasp, but each time she tried to move he only snuggled closer to her. He was almost wrapped around her. It seemed as though he could not get close enough to her. If he had been smaller he would have been curled in her lap.
She continued to pet him and speak gently. Most of the time he was calm, his only movement, the chills that ran down his body in waves and the almost constant flicking of his tail. She could hear his scales scrape across the floor. On occasion, he growled or snapped in agitation sending shivers up Delevy’s spine as his teeth glistened in the light of the brazier. She questioned her own judgment which got her into his tightly woven grip.
She could call for another jailer, but would he wake and attack her? She thought not, but she didn’t want to take the chance. So, when he growled, or made any other sound, she stroked his frilled ears and talked to him in a soft voice to calm him. It seemed to work. Delevy just didn’t know how long she could keep it up.
“Delevy had no idea what Tal’on was going through, she only knew he was suffering and her kind heart reached out to him.” Rudd’ard was up pacing the cave now, his long tail thrashing the ground on occasion tossing up dust and small pebbles.
Perhaps he was thinking of his own change that would come one day. I didn’t know. Graf’tal kept a close eye on his youngling charge. I kept a close eye on Arr. I could see he was getting more out of this story and the interaction of the two dragons then either Jake or I could hope to. He was privy to their picture communication which was no doubt flying at this point.
“She did not know but a handful of words in our language, but somehow through the mists of the void her voice came to Tal’on and brought him comfort. A comfort he desperately needed.” Rudd’ard looked toward Mul’drak. He nodded and came back to sit at the older dragon’s side. He wrapped his tail around his feet and hugged himself. Mul’drak nudged him in the side with his large wedged head and the youngling dropped his arms to encircle the older dragon’s neck as he lay his head in the younglings lap.
“It is a difficult time for the younglings,” Mul’drak said. “It is a wonder that Tal’on made it through without his Great Graf’tal. It is said that younglings without a guide through the stasis, in the form of a Great, can go insane or even die. That was the miracle of Delevy. She somehow broke through the void and helped Tal’on mature into a fully fledged dragon.”
Mul’drak studied us with his unsettling black and red eyes. “It is fortunate that stasis does not take long. It is much like you human’s cutting a tooth. On day there is pain and agony the next, the wings have broken through the outer scales and within another day are fully emerged.”