11/16/11Note:I originally broke up chapter 0 for every POV change because I thought it'd be easier to follow, but I was told it just made it confusing. So I changed the chapters a bit, hopefully it's easier to follow now (if not then please let me know!). I've worked on details and the setting as well ^^; Thanks for the feedback! :3
"And this is the scale of a green dragon, the most common color of all dragons. Does anyone remember the rarest color?" A sea of around thirty blank faces stared back at the woman holding up a green scale the size of her hands. "Do you remember, Gwynivel?" The woman standing at the front of the room handed the scale to the nearest child and scanned the group for the one she had called upon. The cramped cavern was cozy, but with everyone grouped together it made it hard to see individuals. "Gwynivel?"
The girl in question was sitting in the back of the cavern-room on a small square rope mat with a notebook in her lap; all her attention was focused on what she was doing. Hunched over the notebook she scribbled in it quickly, oblivious to her surroundings. "Lyrissa is calling on you!" hissed a voice next to her ear.
Someone shoved her in the back and the charcoal stick she was using to draw with slipped from her fingers; a piece broke off when it hit the hard rocky floor. She looked around confused as she reached for the charcoal, the movement drew Lyrissa's eyes to her. "Gwynivel, please pay attention." Gwynivel tried to recall the question she only half heard, but the woman frowned and asked, "Can anyone help Gwynivel out?"
"Silver." Despite the murmuring and giggles of the other candidates, the answer was said immediately. Gwynivel felt her face heat up as she searched for the one who had answered, but the numerous heads in front of her made it hard to see. Not knowing everyone's voices didn't help either.
"Correct Tiloro!" Gwynivel couldn't bring to mind who he was, but the moment had passed and it didn't matter. "Now who can tell me…" Lyrissa trailed off and turned to the entryway; the room grew still. Gwynivel could see someone standing there in the shadows; the cloth over that entryway had been missing for some time. Her voice became more formal as she said "We are finished for today. Come early tomorrow; we will be going out on the sands again before lessons." None of the candidates moved; a lesson had never ended early. Then someone in the front row stood up and the rest moved as one. Without questioning their sudden freedom the moment of stillness passed and the children surged forward through the entrance going passed the stranger on their way out.
Gwynivel wanted to hang back and apologize to Lyrissa, but the woman had moved away from the entrance and was gathering her lecture papers. After waiting a few moments without Lyrissa turning around, she exited the room. The person standing outside was a man wearing a rich burgundy robe with a white hood; Gwynivel glanced at him quickly to see if she recognized him. Burgundy meant he was someone important, but his features were hidden in a shadow making it hard to tell if she'd seen him before. He gave no indication of recognition either, but he felt familiar. She blinked and realized he was already out of sight; she was partway down the hall.
"What's gotten into you? Normally you hang on every word Lyrissa says! I don't think I've ever seen you notpay attention." Gwynivel closed her notebook and held it close to her chest as her friend berated her. She closed her eyes as well and stayed silent until the scolding stopped.
The pause lengthened and Gwynivel opened her eyes, realizing an answer was expected. "I couldn't sleep last night, just tired I guess." It was mostly the truth, except she had been trying to capture the nightmare she had had on paper before she forgot it. It took a lot longer than she had anticipated, but she was determined to not forget the source of her sleepless nights this time. Her friend frowned and shook her head, her blond hair pulled to the left side in a tail flicking into her face. Her bright blue eyes stared directly into Gwynivel's brown as if it were possible to find the answers in them. The desire to avoid anymore questions was suddenly overwhelming. "Think I might take a nap."
"Okay. If you change your mind then come join us for once; we'll be eating in the usual place and Handler Nalori said she'd make some sweets today."Gwynivel looked up at her, catching her eyes for a moment. Caitiri smiled, but it was only for the sake of appearance, her eyes didn't change.
"Thanks, Caitiri." Caitiri paused and started to speak again, but turned and headed towards the dining cavern. Gwynivel turned in the opposite direction and briskly walked past the sleeping caverns and down several stone hallways of the unnatural cave system without really focusing on her surroundings. The rocky 'hall' she stopped in looked like all the others she had walked down, but when she touched the wall it was warm. Sitting down, she leaned her back against it and welcomed the warmth. The wall torch was dimmer than she would have liked, but overall her secret place was really comfortable. Gwynivel had never seen anyone use the hallway before; there was no need to go behind the hatching grounds. The solitude it offered was better than any sweet she was tempted with at meal time.
She brought out her notebook and looked at the product of her sleepless night. The largest image was a puddle in the right corner that reflected the rippled image of someone's face. The face had been distorted in her dream and she couldn't even distinguish what gender the person was, only the long narrow shape of the face itself. Even though the puddle reflected the person there was no person to reflect, but she just knewthat the person wasn't just in the water. The light source in the otherwise dark drawing was a wall torch floating upside down in the center of the space. The only other thing that stood out was the pair of eyes watching her on the opposite side of the room; silver eyes. Her rendition of the eyes failed to capture the intense stare or the uneasiness she felt in the dream, but she shivered anyways.
The wall torch went out. Gwynivel had been focusing on the eyes so much that she failed to note the signs if it powering down. She could still see the torch a little ways down the hall on her left and one further away on her right. The left one was closer and in the direction she came from, so she stood up to go to it. No more than a couple steps later, that one went out too. Gwynivel closed her eyes and and tried to stay calm, but a sound to her right made her heart shiver; the one on her right sounded like it was out as well. It was perfectly normal, she tried reasoning, that the lights went out at the same time because they are replaced at the same time. She opened her eyes and could only see darkness. A sound drew her eyes to the right and she dropped her notebook. There, probably at the end of the hall, her nightmare looked back at her. The eyes disappeared, turned off like the torch, but Gwynivel wasn't going to wait and see if it was her imagination or something.
Without another thought, she turned and ran back the way she came, kept running until she reached the flora cavern. It was a spacious area full of vegetation so close to the surface that part of its eastern wall was opened to the outside. It was also the brightest area in the whole den. Sitting on a mossy rock and looking up at the blue sky, Gwynivel started to shake.
After bringing a message from the council to Lyrissa, Kalispel waited for her response. His eyes drifted from the green scale left on one of the many numerous rope mats on the ground to her face as she read the letter. She frowned slightly and the wrinkles on her forehead became more prominent. It wasn't everyday that a candidate had the opportunity to become a handler, but telling a candidate that they're to become a handler so close to hatching seemed more cruel than kind. They needed a new records keeper in order to keep these kinds of things from occurring.
She slowly folded the paper and cleared her throat for his attention, but was startled to see him intently watching her. "Please tell the council that I'll speak with her and that they need not take action." She braced herself for a negative response.
"As you wish." Lyrissa tried to hide her relief with a slight bow to Kalispel as he exited the room.
Only half of his task was complete; he had to return to the council with her reply. The walk was quiet for few wandered that deep into the cave system. Almost to his destination, a wall torch went out in the tunnel connecting to his. He turned to look at it when the one next to him went out as well.
Kalispel made a mental note to mention this to the handlers and was going to continue on when he noticed a presence down the hall standing in darkness. It dropped something and then ran the other way. Unable to keep his questioning eyebrow down, he went to the spot where the figure had been and saw a notebook on the floor. It was too dark to tell for sure, but a girl from Lyrissa's class had had something like it. Thinking of returning it to Lyrissa later, he tucked it under his arm and continued on towards the council.
After two more turns in the tunnel, one right and one left, Kalispel walked up to an unguarded door and opened it. Keeping up with the mystique of that which is the council, there were four chairs sitting on a raised platform; however, only one was occupied. The other three represented the heads of the other dens, but they were only ever together in troubling times. The "chairs" were like simple thrones, high-backed and one with the platform; they were carved from the same stone. The arms of the first chair ended with carved dragon heads, tiny light blue gems embedded for eyes; the other chairs had no arms nor gems. A thin burgundy cushion rested on the seat of each, completing them.
"I trust you talked with her?" The male voice was heard clearly, though he was turned away from Kalispel. He stood to the left of the first chair, the light blue of his robe matching perfectly with the gems.
"She will handle the matter herself."
"I expected her to do so." The man touched the closest dragon head on the high-back chair, pausing a moment before turning to face Kalispel. With a serious look on his face he asked, "How did the other candidates look? Do you think the eggs will hatch soon?" The facade of a composed leader quickly fell away as he continued. "Do you think there will be a gold?"
Kalispel sighed. "If you really want to know these things Jard, why don't you find out yourself? With your excitement, you'll fit right in with the candidates."
Jard put on an exaggerated frown, "But everyone treats me so formally it's stifling! I'd rather just hear your reports, at least you converse with me like I'm a normal person."
Kalispel's eyebrow shot up, "You, a normal person? Hardly." He had known Jard before he earned the responsibilities of maintaining the North Den and even then his over-friendly attitude towards everyone seemed odd. How many times did Kalispel save him from being bullied in some out of the way tunnel? His carefree attitude cause many quarrels amongst the other candidates of his time. A small smile twitched at the corners of his mouth as Kalispel reminisced.
"Well I..." The door swung opened and a handler came in, the downside to having no guard. Immediately Jard's joking manner switched off. The handler bowed deeply to Jard and then, noticing Kalispel, gave a slight bow in the direction of the other man. "I see you." He spoke the customary phrase allowing the handler to address him.
"Jard, Heart of the North, it has come to the handlers' attention that some of the storerooms have been disturbed. We seek permission to put sentry wards in all of them."
The handler blinked and then caught himself staring at Jard. Before his face turned any darker, he bowed and made his exit. After they could no longer hear his footsteps Jard turned to Kalispel and asked, "What do you make of that?"
Kalispel lifted his shoulders slightly and let them fall back into place, the closest thing to a shrug Jard had ever seen from him. Jard noticed for the first time the notebook Kalispel had with him. "What's that?" Kalispel gave a bow and walked away leaving Jard alone with his questions.