Authors: Mell Eight
Tags: #fantasy, #M/M romance, #Dragon's Hoard
Kam could feel that White was being sincere, so he held still under the intense scrutiny of White's gaze. Then White blinked and Kam was finally able to take a full breath of air. When White opened his eyes again, he was focused on Lor.
"Explain how the Riving occurred," White said sharply to Lor.
Lor nodded and took a deep, bracing breath before speaking. "It was at least a thousand years ago, probably closer to two thousand years. There were three witches remaining in the Tribe: my father, my mother, and myself. The Tribe was large with many people and survived the cold and ice thanks to having three people with power. But we were too populous and it wasn't long before finding enough food to feed everyone became almost impossible. My mother went out with a hunting party, set to travel a full day south in search of new hunting. She never returned.
"I told my father we had to move and that the Tribe had to split in two or we wouldn't survive. He disagreed. I was sent on the next hunting party, but the drifts from the blizzard that took my mother had changed the landscape. Our navigator became lost and our sled fell into a ravine as we traveled new roads in a desperate search for game. I lost my first child, a boy of sixteen, that day. Still, my father refused to move.
"But by then our people were starving. My wife died after she gave one too many of her own portions to feed our hungry children. So I packed up myself and what remained of my family, gathered any followers from the camp who wished to join me, and traveled far south where there was fresh hunting," Lor finished with a final glare at Bay.
"You abandoned your responsibilities!" Bay snapped. "Without a second witch to watch over the Tribe they died in droves from ice related accidents that should have been preventable!"
"They were dying already!" Lor snapped back. "From hunger, because even with two witches we still couldn't feed them properly! Now look at us," Lor continued with a wave at the mass of tents circling the central fire. "We have just as many, if not more, members of the Tribe alive and well simply because we split our hunting grounds!"
"I see that this is quite serious and quite unlikely to be solved simply," White said with a groan. "It will take considerable time and mediation. Even if it takes another thousand years to reconcile, we will keep trying. However, we have other monumental news upon us as well," he said to Lor.
Kam watched as Mae stepped forward to unroll the trade agreement so White could read it. "Grains and vegetables in return for furs and blocks of ice," White read. "Witches with one year contracts on the ice from the school." He nodded to himself. "It does seem mutually beneficial to me. Of course, our reliance on the human city for grains, vegetables, and fruits will end once I find the ice city and we rekindle the hot springs underneath that melted sufficient farmland for our needs before the Riving. Still, this is an excellent beginning to our peace agreement with the human city and their allies."
"Peace agreement?" Bay asked, sounding horrified. "Trading? What is this farce?"
"This farce," Lor snarled, "will save our people. More food with a varied diet will make us stronger and healthier. We'll be less reliant on the hunting in the area, which means that having more children will not destroy us like last time. Plus, having witches on loan from the school will ensure our safety on the ice!"
"These delusions will only bring about more death!" Bay hissed despite a number of people Kam didn't know, who must be part of Bay's clan, nodding in interested agreement.
"No!" White snapped, finally angry at Bay. "Your son has learned from your mistakes. Perhaps it is time for you to learn from your own mistakes as well. Bay, you have led your clan well these years and I will need your leadership in the coming future as I reestablish the Tribe of the White Dragon, but I cannot have your enmity destroying us before we even begin."
White paused to think for a long moment while Bay simmered and Lor watched the spectacle unfold with shock on his face.
"It will take a few months for the witch school to be built, but once it is running I believe a sign of good will from us would be to send a teacher. Bay, for a minimum of five years you are to teach at the school where you will learn to take orders from Jerney and Tori, who are in charge. Should you learn to listen to the sound advice of others by the end of your sentence I shall allow your return."
Bay didn't dignify that pronouncement with an answer. He spun on his heel and stomped away from the fire in a huff. Kam watched Lor, who was watching his father leave with a disturbingly blank expression on his face. Whatever Lor was feeling because of Bay, Kam could tell the emotions were old and well worn. Lor had no difficulties letting whatever he was feeling dissipate as if he had come to terms with the problem a long time ago.
White sighed and shook his head. "Well, hopefully he'll come around. Lor, I leave you in charge of the Tribe," he continued, emphasizing the singular noun, "while I search for our city."
"I would appreciate it," another voice said softly from exactly the same spot White had surprised them all from earlier, "if we could assuage the fears brewing in my established city before we fly off into the unknown."
Kam turned to see the Eldest standing in human form behind White with his arms crossed and a small grin on his face.
"We can do that, Eldest," White agreed with his own answering smile. White walked quickly over to where the Eldest was standing and placed his hands gently on the Eldest's shoulders. "Shall we fly?" he asked softly. Outwardly, Kam couldn't see anything other than two friends who happened to be dragons. Inwardly, however, Kam had no doubts that White and the Eldest were lovers and very deeply in love.
Runt, who had meandered onto Kam's feet sometime during Lor and Bay’s argument, snorted in boredom. She wanted to play and wouldn't mind in the least if the dragons left.
Kam glanced up from Runt's sprawled form to see White leading the way out of the camp, pulling the Eldest by the hand. The Eldest glanced back at Kam and nodded his head once in acknowledgement, before turning and following after his mate. Moments later, two dragons flew overhead, heading south.
Kam had no doubts that he would be seeing them again.
"So," Lor said, letting out a loud sigh. "Let's get ourselves organized." He beckoned to a young woman from Bay's clan and to Cara and Ness. "Cara, Ness, please show this young woman how our tents are laid out and help her organize her clan's sleeping quarters before we lose the last of our daylight."
Cara, Ness, and a shocked young woman who clearly wasn't used to being given a position with any responsibility walked off purposefully. Soon after other people started working and the crazed mass of tents suddenly grew into an organized mass. Kam stayed by the fire, playing tug of war with Runt and watching Lor go around and introduce himself to the northern Tribe members.
By the time dinner was served, everyone had a place to sleep that night and a group was organized to head towards one of the nearby ice drifts in the morning to start looking for the best way to harvest the ice for trade. Kam spent much of the evening in the kennels, helping the new dogs integrate without fights over territory or pecking order.
Kam slid into his furs that night, hopeful that things would go all right. There were certainly plenty of arguments yet to occur as the two clans melded back into one, particularly between Lor and Bay, but as White had said: they were the Tribe of the White Dragon. When the White Dragon spoke, somehow those wishes were answered.
There was still a long way to go: a school to be built and trading routes to cement. Then at some point they would have to move into the Ice City when White uncovered it and restart their lives yet again. There was still a long way to go, Kam knew that, but none of those tasks were insurmountable.
Lor slid under the furs next to Kam, his cold feet making Kam shiver and grumble even as he snuggled closer to Lor's chest. Lor would ensure things went well and Kam would do his best to be there every step of the way to help Lor accomplish those goals.
Kam fell asleep, tightly held in Lor's loving arms, knowing that things would all work out eventually. When you were mated into a Dragon's Hoard, it was inevitable.
Dragon's Hoard Fin
About the Author
When Mell Eight was in high school she wrote a short story for an English class. The assignment was for no more than five pages, yet she had turned in ten and the story wasn’t completed. Her teacher was impressed, but writing stories for fun was her main source of procrastination from homework; handing in an assignment that actually asked her to write fiction was too good to pass up. Since then Mell has continued writing, posting in many online communities for fanfiction and original fiction and eventually branching into slash fiction. She mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, but has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.
For more information on Mell’s stories and future writing plans, visit her website.
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