Um. Sorry? I kind of ended up taking something of a hiatus from writing – and then I ended up working on Debate stuff – and then on psychology – and then on other school…. And then, this chapter's been finished for a while but I've had a series of unfortunate computer problems… So, please don't kill me? And any comers, remember that I do have Carcharoth. –rubs werewolf's head- And yes, I know that the dragon-speech is marked by slashes, but for some reason they're not being allowed, and I don't know what else to use. So. Reviews:

IcicleBlossom, sorry I didn't get it out sooner. I think I explained why earlier. –mischievous grin- And do remember that you at least can't afford to have me dead, please!

I did promise, Shadow Gryphon. I'm very sorry I was unable to keep that promise. Yes, Tyxè will be staying for a good long while. –smiles- I do believe it is safe to say that she'll be rather important later on. Nightwind… the valkourna get accustomed to grief fairly quickly in their lives. Don't sic Pyr on me, please!

-winces- I'm trying, Lady Julianne, I'm trying! Sorry, Zeirkan, but I don't think sarcasm affects Carc much any more. He got used to it very quickly from me and my father… and sister… and friends… and the elves… and dragons… -grins- you get the picture.

Surprisingly, Arrina? Come on. I've got five younger siblings. How would I not, sis?

-blushes- Thanks, Shiko. I try to make each race as individual and unique as I can, but when you're juggling so many, it gets hard at times. I'm glad to know t he work is paying off. Dragons' magic is something unique, here, in that it doesn't require spells and whatnot, but is really just an offshoot of their ability to merge minds.

All things baby? I think, Ekuboryu, that Fonilntor's not the only one who'll be learning some lessons in that realm. Remember, though, he's the youngest, so he's had no experience with younger siblings before… -rubs hands together-


Acceptance

Did you never learn that it is unseemly for a prince to listen to private conversations? Tlaratè queried smoothly.

I fear that topic never raised its head. Although had it, still would I not do so in the matter of family. And never would I adhere to its dictates regarding you two.

Klevwesko, you wound us by speaking as such, one of the two pouted; Fonilntor was not entirely certain as to which.

Coming from near any other, that could possibly be a consideration when choosing my words. In conversing with my sisters, experience dictates otherwise.The crimson dragon shook his head.

Too well do you know us,the younger confirmed.

Truly. Now what is this that you must tell èra that you so avoid telling me?

The twins looked to their younger brother, allowing him the decision; without hesitation Fonilntor flicked his crest in acquiescence, and the two parted to reveal Nightwind and the child. Briefly the green lowered his head; his eldest brother's reaction he could easily predict. There was a tense silence for several moments before the crimson spoke.

I assume this is your doing, brother? He made to speak but Klevwesko did not allow it. Bringing a human child to our home! And what are we to do now? Father still grieves; you know this, and it was humans that are the cause of it.

No.

And what is that supposed to mean? You cannot deny that she was murdered by those creatures…

No, I cannot and will not. But brother, is it fair to hold the entire race responsible?The crimson made to answer, but Fonilntor interrupted, indicating the baby. She was not even born when Mother died. She is innocent of any crime save being born into a certain form, and her family has been taken from her. The child is here. What would you have us do with her?

A sharp wail intervened. Though the dragons had not been directing their words to her, still had the infant sensed the argument, and now was crying heartily. Tlaredrè pierced both her brothers with a furious glance.

Both of you are being childish – yes, Klevwesko, I am speaking of you as well – and now you have upset the girl! Has she not had enough disruption in recent times already?

Tlaratè continued as her twin nuzzled the babe gently. One would think that you would have the sense to continue the argument elsewhere, if you must.She swerved her head to look at the scarlet dragon. By the way, brother, just so that you know – we would desire to see her stay and be taken into the family. Too long has it been since a child has laughed here. Turning back to the little one, she promptly dismissed the two from her attention.

Properly chastened, yet still reluctant, Klevwesko looked at his brother. What is it about the child that has endeared her to the three of you? And to Nightwind as well; I have not seen a valkour befriend a human.

I do not know. Her innocence, perhaps? Her acceptance of strange things so easily? Fonilntor opened his thoughts to the crimson's sight; he felt the red examine them at first with slight hostility, and then growing surprise. As I said, I know not. Yet she has; and if she has enchanted us, what might she do to èra? Might not she finally enable him to make his peace with the dead?

Klevwesko stared at him, considering the thought. It is possible, he allowed hesitantly.

Should we not then try, at the least?

I suppose… The eldest of Shuuzniln's children was still noncommittal.

The green smiled, relieved. Tlar?/ he queried, using the old nickname of both twins. May Klevwesko see the baby now?Distinct surprise caught him at the reply.

If she is going to stay, brother, then you cannot keep referring to her as "the baby."

Indeed not, the other of the two took up. She is in dire need of a name. By human standards, she is of the age to be gifted with one.

His brother, though remaining uneasy in consideration to the girl, dropped his jaw in a wide grin and rumbled with laughter at his younger sibling's discomfiture. So, little brother, you have brought to us a child, and she does not even have a name? Fie! You could have considered it, at least. Now what shall you say to èra'o? That you have hopes that he shall adopt this nameless creature of the race that killed his mate?

Perhaps, and Fonilntor directed half-hearted glares at his siblings.

If you shall not name her, brother, then we two will.

Oh, indeed! Tlaratè and Tlaredrè immediately began deliberation.

Fonilntor moaned deep in his throat; Klevwesko gazed at him laughingly. 'Tis your own fault and none other's that the child does not already bear a name. An you would wish to spare her…He looked pointedly at the twins, currently discussing the possibilities. I would suggest intervening soon.

The green dropped his head despairingly. His sisters were well known, after all, for the lengthy and overly descriptive appellations they frequently gifted.

An hour later, Klevwesko also had entered the discussion, arguing in favor of brevity as the human child would be required to pronounce the name herself. Nightwind yet remained silent, though smiling occasionally at more ridiculous suggestions.

No, sister, that shall never suffice,the emerald dragon stated quite firmly to Tlaredrè's insistence of "raven-haired dragon-foundling". While the name was not unpleasant in the archaic elven tongue they had selected as a name-speech, he guessed that even born elves might encounter ill fortune attempting to pronounce it. It needs be simpler.

Complexity contains a lovely beauty.

And the blood-rose, unassuming as it may be, is the gem of the mountain-peaks beneath the sun and stars alike.He paused, mind's eye flashing back. The stars…

Have you come upon some thought that may be of aid?

Nay. I have not.

What, then? There was puzzlement in the words.

I have instead selected a name, he informed them, smugness tinting his speech. Tlaredrè and Tlaratè affected downcast expressions; Klevwesko merely emanated approval.

And her name shall be? the crimson queried.

Tyxè.

Star…His brother mused over the designation thoughtfully. I would see the memory of this.

Not caring to speak, the emerald dragon brought the remembrance to the forefront of his mind, and Klevwesko viewed it silently.

It is fitting, he said at last. Sisters, you have been outmatched: Tyxè she is and shall be.Pausing, he seemed to deliberate a moment. Yes; I believe the child should now remain. We have named her, and she has now joined us. It is only necessary for us to join with her.

Each understood well the import of the words; if Shuuzniln should accept the infant, the family would bond her as it had each of them, as dragons had since times long forgotten. Strands of quicksilver and blood would link the minds until death, enabling one to call upon the other from whatever distance, and ensuring that if one mind withdrew from the connection, all others would immediately be aware of it.

Sanvlach shall return in the space of three days, the emerald informed his siblings. Tlaratè dipped her head in assent as her twin looked to the eldest.

What of Kalyrkè? Will she agree?inquired Tlaredrè softly.

The crimson hesitated, considering. His mate held no prejudices towards humankind, yet none of this realm would immediately look with favor upon one of the short-lived race of Men. And yet had the child won his acceptance.

She will. Abruptly the dragon flared his wings. We must wait no longer to present her to Father. He will know you are here, and shall wonder why he has not seen you. If he finds us, it will not be well. Nightwind, if I may ask of thee, wilt be remaining here?

"I did give my word to Fonilntor," came the reply. "But it shall come easier were I not present when you meet your father. I shall be in the forest; thou needs but call to me." Setting Tyxè gently upon the ground, the valkour stepped to the edge of the ledge and began to descend the craggy stone.

-

The siblings found the black dragon circling above a herd of deer, evaluating the half-grown fawns for the new year. Few predators lived in the sky-lord's realm but for the dragons and the valkourna, yet it was prudent to ensure the survival of many of the does. Later, a valkour would mark the mothers to be untouched. Noting the approach, the sky-lord broke off, swooping downward nearer his family.

Era?Fonilntor merged happily with his father for a few moments before withdrawing, recalled to other matters.

Yes?

There is something we must show to you. A slight sense of puzzlement came from Shuuzniln. But first we must land, the green added further.

When they had done so, he opened his mind again, revealing memories of the plague-wracked village and the death surrounding. He watched as his elder observed through his eyes.

All have perished? and the words bore sorrow for lives too soon cut short.

No. Not all.He paused, hesitant, and tasted his sire's emotions; regret, sorrow, and a slight hope he found. There is one girl-child yet remaining.

Where is she? The hope had flourished at the words.

She is here. Uncurling his paw, the green set the infant down. She clutched at his foot for balance and stared at the creature before her, then let go, stumbling towards it. Just as she reached it, she fell; reflexively Shuuzniln caught and steadied her. The black dragon gazed at the babe, lowering his head, and the girl reached up to try to hug him. Obliging, he dropped his head further and nuzzled her cheek, then looked at the youngest of his children.

What is her name?

With a brief, smug glance at his sisters, the emerald dragon replied. We do not know what she was called by the humans, and I was not willing to let Tlar name her -

Very astute of you, interjected his father.

And thus I have named her Tyxè.

Star? Shuuzniln examined the child and seemed to smile. It suits her well.

Such was my thought, as well, said Klevwesko.

Here, the twins deemed it necessary to enter the conversation. We did appreciate our ideas the greater, began Tlaredrè.

And still we consider them vastly above such a simple name,Tlaratè continued.

For the moment, however, there is one far greater matter.

Indeed there is.

Both paused, and then spoke simultaneously. May we keep her? Please?

-

The black dragon studied his daughters for a moment; then, turning towards his sons, he stretched out, asking silently to merge. Both did so willingly, displaying their feelings for the infant and offering reassurance. As he withdrew, he turned his eyes downwards, watching the infant attempting to climb his foot. Apparently sensing the gaze, she abandoned his leg and smiled up at him; he sighed, then smiled back. When will your brother return?

The crimson dragon answered. Three days.

Tyxè shall join us, then, in the space of three days.He paused, speaking as if to himself. Atazrè, you would be proud of these children of yours; and you would love this one as well…

His four children watched silently as the Lord of Odaexr stretched himself upon the grass, pulling the little girl to himself with a paw. Rubbing his head against hers, he murmured softly to her. You shall have a new home, little one, little Star. Do these arrangements please you?

Giggling happily, Tyxè wrapped tiny arms about his neck.


And the chapter – and story – ends here. Don't worry, it will continue; Acceptance was really just the prologue to another, much larger story – I needed to set the stage, so to speak. But I am going to be looking for a few more people to help me with this new story. It's going to be an undertaking that I haven't tried before. Mainly, I just need to be able to talk and get feedback while writing it. Anybody willing?

Review, please! And look forward to the epilogue, coming in about a week (siriusly, this time!)