One Clan and a Baby
It was shortly after Ytal's death that Dante fell ill. It happened swiftly and he tried to hide it, but even James could scent the wrongness about the smaller male. Roume refused to leave his mate's side, and Thel'rian and Obane took turns hunting, but anything they brought back the little white dragon vomited back up before it even reached his stomach.
Julie had left without a word. As mysteriously as she had shown up, she was gone again.
James had a strong feeling that the reason behind Dante's illness had to do with the serum Ytal had tortured him with. The thought made James sick to his stomach and Obane shared his distaste while trying to keep his mate relaxed. But how could James relax when it was very possible the little dragon was dying? Would he suffer the same horrific fate as Tarren?
Evran remained in human form. Even when the dragons were all huddled up at night, he wrapped himself in a blanket and tucked himself up against someone. James wondered what the violet had gone through…
It was on the third day of Dante's illness that he began to tremble much like Obane had. He pawed helplessly at the ground beneath him, his wings flared of their own accord, and he whined softly in his restless sleep. Roume hardly slept at all as he constantly fussed over Dante, and the sudden negative turn had the Alpha in a frenzy of worry.
Samantha had been trying desperately to create a cure, and James found abject amusement in how she bossed Thel'rian about, sending him to get her ingredients or borrowing his own dragon magics. However with each failed attempt she made she could only complain about how she was treating symptoms, and had no idea as to the actual malady itself.
"Why don't you call Julie back?" Evran asked that next morning as Samantha was stroking Dante's muzzle.
The woman looked as strained and exhausted as the dragons did as she looked over to the violet, "If Julie could help us here, I would have called her already. Just like me though, she would only be able to treat symptoms." She reached down into a small ceramic bowl where a white gel coated her fingers and brought it up to gently rub it along the fleshy part of Dante's nose. The dragon relaxed fractionally. "Sadly, the only person I could think to call would be…Ytal. He was the only expert on dragon biology I knew of."
James rolled onto his side and relaxed, the pressure on his belly abating some. Obane adjusted around him.
Roume was alternating between pacing restlessly and laying with Dante.
A few minutes later the tense quiet was broken when Dorn and Syn stepped out of the trees. The stone dragon was in his human form and was dwarfed by the Aarkain who stood almost nine feet tall. They approached the collection of dragons, "If anyone can figure out what's wrong with Dante, Syn can." Dorn announced to no one and everyone.
Syn looked to Roume, regarding the dragon lazily before he spoke, "I will need some of his blood. If it is the same toxin that was in Tarren's body however…" the unspoken promise sent a cold shudder down James' spine. He approached Dante's body and got nothing but a blank stare from Roume.
Samantha looked up at the tall creature as he awkwardly sat down several feet from her, "I have already tested his blood," she said calmly, "The black toxin isn't present. Whatever is poisoning him…"
"Ae'shurian magics," Syn spat with distaste, "I may not be able to cure him, but my pallet is much more keen. I can taste a drop of blood over a hundred leagues away, and tell you where the blood originated." He narrowed his eyes, "Let me work, human."
Thel'rian growled but Samantha held up her hand, glancing to the dragon, "He's right."
The Aarkain nodded and then lifted one of his long webbed hands. The sharp claw flexed and elongated, and at James' fascinated look Syn smirked, "Save for my spine, my body is made of muscle and cartilage." He relaxed his hand and the long claws shrank several inches, "The cartilage runs in coils that shift depending on the state of my muscles. Unlike you, I do not have a 'full dragon form' to change in and out of at will." He flexed his hand again and the fingers and claws elongated, focusing back on the task at hand as James was silently impressed.
Syn cut a line nearly five inches long at Dante's shoulder; the little white dragon flinched and whined. He leaned in and ran a blue tongue over the gash and sat back, his tail shifting in the grass as his gills fluttered. For a long moment he was completely silent, but James watched as the Aarkain's eyes went from contemplative to curious, then confused, then curious again. He looked to James almost accusingly and Obane growled.
He then looked to Roume, his face serious, "I am afraid that there is no cure for what Dante has."
The words settled over the dragons heavily and James felt cold. All eyes turned to Dante who lay trembling on the ground, completely unaware of what was going on around him. Roume appeared to have stopped breathing…
"However," Syn's voice felt muted in the panic of the situation, "I don't think he'd want a cure, honestly." Roume snorted loudly, almost aggressively, "While there is no cure, he can be fixed."
James lifted his head and blinked in confusion, not understanding. How could there be no cure, but a fix?
Syn shifted and laid himself out, settling on his side right next to Dante's head as he gently stroked the dragon's face, "Dante, little one…" his voice was shockingly soft, almost hypnotic, "Can you hear me? I need you to change into your human form. Can you do that for me?"
Dante whined softly, one of his eyes opening. It was glassy and unfocused, and he leaned his head towards Syn just a hair, "Dante," the Aarkain cooed, "Change back for me."
Very slowly the little dragon's form began to change, and it was such a slow process that James squirmed uncomfortably as he watched the last of the fur and scales recede into flesh. He was curled in on himself, whimpering softly as Roume brought a wing over him.
"Very good, very good. How do you feel? Any better?" Syn's claws gently carded through Dante's sweat-damp hair.
Dante gasped in a few sharp breaths and whined softly. "M…My stomach hurts…"
Syn smiled softly and it looked terrifying with all of his teeth, "Yes I expect it would. But you feel better than you did?" Slowly the little white dragon nodded, "I would assume you can eat something now, so long as you keep the portion small. Based on what I know, it seems to be triggered by the first transformation. You said the Ytal injected something into you?"
Glassy eyes stared, confused, up at Syn before he nodded. "Poison…"
"Hmm, not really." Syn suddenly turned his gaze onto James who curled back instinctively, "No, it wasn't a poison. It was a cure, isn't that right James? That's what Ytal was using your blood for, after all."
Roume's form shifted down all at once and he gathered Dante into his arms protectively, "If what you're saying it true, we'd have known by now." He challenged.
Syn sighed and rolled his eyes, long tail twisting elegantly as he stood up, "Who is to say how long it would take for the substance to take proper effect? The reason he was in pain is because his genes, his very chromosomes, were at war with themselves. When he shifted back into his human form, my hope is that his body accepted the change. I found evidence of this on Tarren when I cleansed his body, but whatever Ytal had used then was much more volatile. Isn't that right Evran?"
The violet looked up from where he had been sitting alone, wrapped in a blanket on the grass. His eyes were haunted and broken and he quickly turned his gaze back down, "H-He tried…several times. T…Tarren's body…"
"I know," Syn sounded truly remorseful, "I'm guessing you knew what was wrong with Dante?"
"You didn't know anything that could have helped." Syn continued, "I'm not accusing you of anything. Look at me Evran," and when the young man finally looked up the Aarkain pressed on, "Dante is going to be fine. He will not suffer the same fate as our brother."
This didn't appear to help much as Evran dropped his gaze and huddled in on himself.
"So you're saying Dante's going to be like James now?" Roume's hesitant voice broke the short silence.
"I cannot say for sure, time will tell us that much." His gills fluttered, "All I can say for sure is that this malady will not kill him."
"Thank you, Syn." Roume rumbled softly.
The Aarkain's eyes suddenly turned hard and he spun around to loom over Roume threateningly, "Do not thank me," he snarled, his voice warped and this time James flinched while Obane made to stand, "You, foolish 'Alpha,' greedy and sentimental, all of this is your fault! You put the lives of your Clan in danger! James may have been born into the human culture, but you have come to adopt their ways far too much, you have become soft and weak!"
James stood suddenly and moved to put himself between Syn and Roume, a growl low in his throat.
"You would defend him?" the Aarkain hissed.
Obane was up now and ambling close, "Your conflict is best reserved when we do not have those who are injured or carrying to stress." He used his body to force more space between James and Syn, "We appreciate your assistance Syn, and I understand your upset, but now is not the time for your malice."
James wondered if Syn could understand the draconian, but the look in the Aarkain's eyes was enough for him. His gills fluttered, "I will no longer follow this dragon as my Alpha." He said calmly, "And I am certain that I am not the only one who feels as such."
James looked to Roume and saw his eyes downcast, content to just hold his mate as his clan fell apart around him.
Loss was gripping at James. The clan had become his home and his family, and he had come to love them all at some point, in some manner. They had all suffered for him and because of him, and the thought that they were going to stop being a family because of him was…
A pulse of comfort came through his connection with his mate, but it did little for the mounting pain and loss. Another pulse, this one more surprising as he saw his own emotions reflected within the dragon, the knowledge that the clan, their family was crumbling. Obane shifted down and stood, dwarfed but confident, before Syn for a moment before he turned to the rest of their clan. "Is it true, that many of you would no longer follow Roume as your Alpha?"
Syn, Dorn, and Evran turned their eyes away.
Obane looked to Roume, "And you? Would you fight for them?"
Roume looked up at Obane finally, his eyes lost and broken as he clutched Dante closer. He looked as if he wanted to stand, but releasing his mate would mean letting go of everything holding him whole, "I would fight for them, always. I would give my life for any of them, a hundred times over. But I am not a leader for them any longer…" His voice broke.
The black dragon looked around him, his eyes settling on James, "These last several months, I have had something here I never had before. As an Omega, I had no need of a Clan, or Family. It was supposed to be only my mate and I, and our offspring. My life was only to that of my scale, I existed as their link to power. This is how Omegas have existed for eons. But I see now that this is wrong. My scale still means much to me, but this Clan has been a family to my mate, and for me. Losing Tarren was losing a piece of my heart, like losing a brother I never knew I had. This is the family that brought my mate through the most difficult part of his life, and I would like to see this Clan be a family to our child as well…" He swallowed and James pushed through a wave of encouragement that had Obane straightening, "The loss of my power has had me fearing further emptiness within me. But the fear of losing this family is a terror that my mate and I share. So, if you will have me, I wish to take Roume's place as the head of this Clan, to protect and support you all."
Joy radiated from James and he made sure to make it known to Obane.
Silence filled the space for a long while, gazes moving over all those present.
"I would follow…" Evran's voice was small but he was watching Obane carefully.
Dorn looked to Syn momentarily, then back to Obane, "It would be an honor."
Syn sighed, "I suppose my nest is already settled."
"We will follow." Roume's voice surprised James as he turned to look at the man. He was smiling.
Obane nodded, "Then it is settled. A family we shall remain."
Dante shifted forms several days later and she was beautiful. James noted how the fur was softer, the feathers brighter, and her tail was longer. Then she looked at Roume and James could see them falling in love all over again, with a joy in Roume's eyes he had never seen before. Obane shared in his mate's silent amusement as Roume scrambled to chase Dante into the forest.
"It seems our child will have cousins." Was Obane's contented response.
"A blessing in disguise."
Confirmation pulsed through their link.
A week later Roume taught James how to fly. The sky was free and clear and incredible, even if he grew tired quickly. Obane taught James how to control his fire. Evran taught James the basics of dragon magics. Samantha taught James about the natural elements of witchcraft.
Life was exciting.
Tony came to visit with his mother, and though there wasn't much in the way of conversation there was still fun to be had. James discovered that Tony's mother knew about Samantha's being a witch, and though the dragon blood surprised her, she had always known James was different. Tony found that he loved Dante's baking.
It was a quiet, foggy morning when James opened his eyes, suddenly wide awake. He tried to return to sleep, curling closer into the pile of dragons around him, but the ground felt impossibly inflexible and cold. After readjusting several times he knew he needed to find someplace softer to rest. Upon standing he came to realize how heavy he felt, the most uncomfortable he had felt in some time. He snorted to himself.
Obane awoke and yawned, pulsing curiosity through their connection.
When James flashed the reasons for his annoyance his mate was suddenly up on his paws and stretching. He then turned to Roume and nudged him awake. They shared a short conversation that Obane did not translate, but suddenly he was up as well and shifting down as he nearly ran into the house.
It was James' turn to pulse curiosity into their connection, mixed with annoyance.
"Nesting instincts." Came the response.
Oh… James blinked and pictured a birds nest, and he was rewarded with amusement from his mate, "Close. But much more grand. Do you wish to nest here, or…?"
James canted his head and he realized that the idea of nesting around the other dragons was unpleasant. He shook his head.
Roume came out with an armful of blankets and tossed them onto the grass before running back inside.
"It is not uncommon that mothers choose to nest away from their clan. Laying is generally a private matter…"
A thrum of panic rose in his stomach at the idea and he almost felt sick about it. Was the time really getting that close? Obane must have seen his fear because he padded close and nuzzled James, "Easy. It will come naturally to you, just listen to your instincts. We should find a place to nest."
James just nodded and turned. The other dragons were awake now and watching him. When Roume came out with another armful, they were all getting up and moving inside to help him and Obane was pulling James towards the forest. He followed close at first, but as he rejected several areas within the forest he found himself moving further from Obane in search of a good place. Eventually, Obane just followed.
It took some time before he found a spot and ripped out several bushes to open it up more. Obane assisted, and James began to dig through the soft soul, tearing up roots and rocks as he made a divot in the soil spanning several feet across in all directions. He only then noticed that Obane had been bringing the blankets and pillows that had been gutted from the house and James used them to line the nest and fill it until he was satisfied. Once completed he settled into his new nest and lay down, finding the world to be a much more relaxing place.
When Obane joined him, he fell asleep.
The next day gifts were given. James had lined his nest with some of the trinkets and baubles from Roume's house as instinct demanded, but his hoarding instinct fell over itself as Dorn appeared first, with a cloth in his mouth. The stone dragon lowered his head and settled the folded cloth on the edge of the nest before stepping back, and James curiously reached out and unfolded it. His eyes went wide.
The cloth was bright with color, gorgeous ancient patterns spun in gold, silver, and various bright colors of silk. Precious gems were sewn along the edges that sparkled in the soft light.
"This cloth was woven from the purest elements possible and crafted for an ancient prince in pre-biblical times." Obane translated Dorn's words and James felt his jaw hanging open. He pulled the cloth closer and rumbled happily, the smooth silks feeling wondrous against his scales.
Shortly after Dorn left, Evran stepped through the trees. He was smiling softly, holding something against his chest. He settled the bag he was holding against the ground and reached inside, pulling out a crystal sphere. He set it on the edge of the nest, much as Dorn had done, and James reached out to pull if closer curiously. "It's a real crystal ball." He said with a smile, "It belonged to an old warlock who used to be my Mentor." James found himself entranced by the swirl of color at its core.
James gave Evran a happy chirp of appreciation.
Evran smiled again, this time sadder. He reached into the bag again, pausing, "Um… Tarren was really excited about the possibility of a baby," he admitted looking up. His eyes were sad for a moment as he pulled out a small branch and James immediately knew it was from Tarren's tree. "He would have wanted to give you something."
James shifted closer to the edge of the nest and stretched his neck out, nuzzling Evran gently as both appreciation and comfort for his actions. He then took the offered branch and set it beside the cloth and the crystal.
Some time later, Thel'rian stepped through the trees, accompanied by Samantha. James watched the dragon warily, he wanted no gifts that the dragon had to offer.
He stood back while Samantha approached the nest and set something at the edge. James canted his head as he looked over and found a pendant of copper and bronze. She smiled sadly, "This has been in our family for many generations. This pendant is the last ingredient needed to open a gate to Ae'shuria, the land of our ancient ancestors." She sat back, "It's the last one in existence."
James took the pendant with newfound interest and looked it over, and even Obane seemed deeply interested in the object. There was a gem in the center and something inside of the gem. James looked closer, his eyes straining to focus through the color and crystal until he saw that something inside was moving.
"It's a single drop of a God's Blood. Well, that's what it's called anyway." She smirked, "Gods don't bleed after all."
Thel'rian stepped forward a moment later. His mother unlatched a pouch from around his neck that James had failed to notice was there. Once it was lowered to the ground, Thel'rian opened it with a claw and carefully pushed out a curious object. James doesn't recognize it at first.
The shell is settled on the edge of the nest and James let it sit there as he looked up at the dragon.
"The shell of my only son. It took me years to piece it back together, but it is the greatest and proudest piece of my collections." Obane translates, and James looks at the shell once more. There are pieces missing that make it obvious that it's hollow, but the shell itself is a brilliant shade of copper with natural swirls and shades that give it a natural pattern reminiscent of a fingerprint.
James reached out to take the shell, if only to be polite.
Thel'rian and Samantha leave quietly.
Syn brought him a string of pearls of amazing colors that James never knew were possible. He set them by the crystal and the colors reflected within the sphere, making it even more mesmerizing.
The sun was beginning to set, and James had been watching the edge of the trees in the hopes that Roume would come. Night fell dark and heavy and James found himself with a pit of disappointment. It wasn't until the moon was high that the bronze dragon appeared at the edge of the nest, in his human form. James took note of how Roume's eyes were slightly red and the skin of his cheeks seemed raw…
He held a small wooden box in his hands and sat at the edge of the nest. James brought himself closer to the man, feeling something infinitely personal and precious about whatever was in the box. "You know kid, I know you've had it rough. We've all been expecting things of you that just aren't fair. But lately you seem happy, and I'm glad for that." He smiled and reached out to press a hand to James' muzzle, rubbing it gently, "You even saved the clan, brought us all back together." He looked down at the box and his smile faltered.
Slowly Roume opened the box and turned it so that James could see. Inside was a small claw, a tooth, a litter of scales, and flecks of what James now recognized as egg shells. "Rae'ran was a strong kid. I could never hope to replace him, ever. But James, these last few months I've felt like I really have a son again. And while you may have been irritating as all fuck at times, that's what family is. I know I haven't been the best guy, but there's nothing more precious I can give you."
James shoved his head against Roume firmly, until the man was forced to set the box aside and wrap his arms around James' muzzle. "And Dante wanted me to come alone. But he didn't have anything to give you per-say, but he did want you to be the first to know." Roume sat back and leveled James with a smile, "You're gonna have a cousin soon enough…"
Joy radiated from James as he let out a trilling chirp. Roume was laughing and there were tears in his eyes, "I just found out myself, well officially anyway."
James was purring.
When James woke next he felt…different. Something was changing. He felt overwhelmed by his own instincts, his scales rippling over his muscles. He was awake and alert, every nerve alive with the acute sensation of newness. He stood up in the nest and looked down at Obane who was too close. He was too close and James wanted to be alone. Alone. He parted his jaws and hissed his displeasure, shoving so much annoyance through their connection that the dragon was startled awake.
No sooner did Obane lift his head then he was being pushed and shoved at to get out. Move. The nest belonged to James, only James! He let out another hiss, and only when Obane was well out of James' nest did he relax and settle back down around his new treasures.
It wasn't until some hours later when the first wave of discomfort crashed over him. His scales rippled again and he grunted in displeasure. Something was shifting, his body was adjusting. He moved, trying to find a comfortable position, but the discomfort kept coming and in a sudden moment of clarity he knew what was happening. He closed Obane from the connection, which was something he didn't know he could do until that moment, but he wanted to be alone, completely alone.
Once Obane was out of sight, James finally relaxed. Once more the egg inside of him shifted and pain sang up his spine. He whined and spread his wings in his discomfort, shifted and lifted himself onto his forepaws while spreading his hind legs wide. More discomfort wracked through his body and his stomach clenched painfully as his muscles pushed at the egg. He kept this up, he kept pushing and felt the solid presence of the egg moving.
James didn't quite remember the actual laying. His mind went hazy, the pain mounting, but when he found himself fully lucid once more he was wrapping himself around an egg. His egg. His child. He was tired, and the aftershocks of pain still licked at his muscles. But it was done. It was finally done.
The egg was a solid shade of pure black, the same black as Obane's scales when he was still an Omega. He could feel the life energy from within the egg, still as much a part of him as when it was still inside. It was warm and yet cold without James' internal heat to keep it incubated, and James wrapped himself up tight around the object, folded a wing over the egg, tucked his nose under his wing and released hot breaths of air.
Once the egg was warm again, James slowly began to open the connection again with Obane. His mate was well out of sight but still near enough. James wasn't the only one with instincts driving him as Obane had been circling the small territory of their nest to keep it entirely safe. And though Obane wasn't allowed back to the nest just yet, they found solace in their connection together…
"Oooh television, how I've missed you!" James was in his human form for the first time in several months, and after taking a long, hot shower, James found himself hugging Roume's flat screen TV while Obane had himself wrapped around their egg. "I've missed all of Season Nine of Supernatural, it's horrible!"
Roume grunted from his spot on the loveseat where Dante was curled against him, "Well stop humping it and you can watch something."
James slowly returned to the couch with Obane and took their egg between them, wrapping it up in the cloth Dorn had given them. He took the remote given up by Roume and everyone crowded around as the first episode started up. James didn't miss the irony of a clan of dragons watching Supernatural…
They were four episodes in when he felt it. Both he and Obane looked down at the egg between them when James felt it again. Something shifted, but not inside of him. After another moment, the egg moved. James was breathless for a moment as he pulled the cloth away carefully, "Guys!"
Several sleepy pairs of eyes looked up before suddenly everyone was awake and clambering over each other. The egg wiggled again, more insistent.
This went on for many minutes and nobody dared look away before finally the first piece of the shell cracked and lifted away from a small black muzzle. A squeak filled the space of the room and James reached down to carefully peel the piece of shell away from the baby's muzzle. Dante appeared at the edge of the couch, holding out a bowl which James dropped the shell into. He repeated the process for each piece chipped away by the baby, until it finally tumbled out of the shell and into its mother's hands.
Squeaks and trills erupted from her little maw and she uncurled herself for the first time. Her wings were nearly three feet across and her body was long and angular. She reached out and pawed at the air and James brought her in close until her claws buried in his shirt, her wings wrapping around his shoulder and she rested her head in the crook of his neck. James was speechless and awestruck by the sheer amount of love he felt, how beautiful he found her and he stood there starstruck with his baby cradled in his arms for many long minutes.
There were tears running down his face as he wondered how he ever thought he could just get rid of his child. All of the horrible things he'd said before, and now he was faced with this tiny creature and he was simply floored. He slowly looked up and saw every set of eyes on him, and he smiled, "It's a girl," he breathed, joy radiating in the connection with his mate, and in a moment he just knew, "Her name is Orae…"
It's done! Thank you all for sticking through to the end, I hope you have enjoyed the story! But I'm not done here!
Some of you may have noticed that I deleted my tumblr. This was largely due to tumblr's updated TOS and Copyright issues that made me paranoid. I have sorely missed chatting with you all though, so to make up for it I have two surprises for you. The first is that I've brought my old Twitter account up from its grave: See my profile . The second is what's been taking up most of my time lately, and that's the creation of the Penstahr Website ( See my profile ) (my own personal Author's website).
This website is a little bare bones right now, I'm hoping to get pages up daily. From this website you'll be able to see all of the books/stories I'm writing, download stories for free, learn about the Partha universe and about how it ties in with Earth!
Many of my readers have asked me if there's going to be a sequel to Dragon Drive, and I am sad to say that there won't be (at least there's nothing in the works/planned right now). However that doesn't mean the story is over! My next book is planned to be titled Blood Magic, and it gives you all a chance to follow Julie on her adventure to find and stop Julian from whatever insanity he's planning. There won't be any pregnant dragons (at least, not main characters?) but I promise that the story is going to be deep and exciting.