Disclaimer: This is heavily based on Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce. It is literally that book from the point of view of Numair Salmalin. Some dialogue will be word for word and the plot line will ultimately be hers. The rest is my own twist on a beloved story.
Chapter 1 – An Aching Heart
Numair Salmalin sat in a small room in the Castle at Port Legann being dressed down by his king. The tall mage was weary in every sense of the word. His shoulder length black hair was not tied back in its usual horse tail and though he was just 30, he had acquired one or two white hairs in the otherwise raven mane. Lines around his eyes and mouth showed the stress of the past few months. He watched the king rage at him and pace furiously. Numair wasn't actually taking in much of what was being said. It had all become redundant after the first 20 minutes anyway.
"…not a man I ever thought I would call stupid, but that was stupid," Jonathan of Conte' roared. Numair simply tuned him out.
Veralidaine Sarrasri sat in a chair opposite. The worst part of this situation was having her witness it. The beautiful sixteen year old also looked exhausted. Clearly she wanted to return to Kit, her dragonet, and the length of this lecture had passed the point of serving a purpose.
"… apparently think you're the only one that can stop them, when our archers were doing just fine…" Jon raved on and Numair tuned him out again.
It was to be expected that Jon would choose to go on and on in front of her. Daine did not know Numair had fallen in love with her. Numair had spent every waking minute trying to somehow prove to himself that he might someday be worthy to have her return his affections. So of course he would be humiliated in front of her – it was just one more nail in the coffin his hope had been laid to rest in. Actually, his hope was surely rank by now. It had died on a spring morning when he was revived after nearly dying to rescue her and he looked around to find she had fled his company. His magic, or rather magic he wielded temporarily, had finally frightened her away.
"…damn it, say something to defend these actions!" Jon screamed.
Numair, drawn from his thoughts, looked at the king and blinked. "What is left to say? You're right. I did a stupid thing. I'm lucky to be alive. I wasted power for nothing. You're regretting asking for me to come out of reserve, as you probably should be. Did I miss anything?" He didn't say it sarcastically. It was calm and resigned and clearly infuriated the king even more. Numair thought he heard Daine snort and when he looked up at her, her blue gray eyes bore into him, but all hint of amusement was either gone or had never been there in the first place.
"Then why in the name of Chaos would you do it?" Jon demanded.
"For the exact same reasons I always do stupid things, Jon. I have power. They were hurting someone I cared about. So I blew a few of them up." Jon stopped short and stared at Numair and he felt Daine's gaze fix upon him as well, though he couldn't bear to look at her.
Wyverns were relatives of dragons. They had limited magic and responded to the will of a dragon. Kit had ultimately stopped them by impressing her will on them. But it had been painful for her. He couldn't make her stop and the archers weren't killing the things fast enough due to the magical shields they wore while in combat. Numair had killed a few wyverns to save Kit some pain, or at least that was part of it. But then he couldn't exactly tell the king that he thought he was losing his mind to frustration and depression.
Numair had always been a relatively peaceful man. As a boy at the university, classmates like Tristan Staghorn and the former Carthaki Emperor Ozorne had tortured him endlessly about his "high-minded morals". He was a war-mage by birth with a great deal of gift and a natural talent for blasting things. Obviously people would think him strange for not wanting to use those talents unless absolutely necessary. But lately, there was something cathartic about blowing up immortals. And while he had the best of motivation where the wyverns were concerned, he had to admit himself that he mostly did it because he wanted to make something explode before the emotions he was struggling to hide consumed him.
It had been a hard spring. April had melted into May, and May melted into June in one long unending battle. Daine, Numair, Tkaa and Kit traveled together to fight after fight wherever Jon sent them. They had thought themselves bound for Legann months ago and yet had only just arrived two days prior. Their lives had been flipped upside down by the war. Every day brought couriers wanting them to arm themselves for one new challenge or another. The sound of horns calling riders to mount and ride out became familiar as did thundering message drums, sounding signals to those who had no mages to pass messages. They became used to what mortals hoped never to become used to.
And though he spent most days suffering from sleep-deprivation, Numair dreaded the end of the fighting. He knew it was wrong and so his conscience ate at him. But the moment life returned to a semblance of normal, Daine would go back to courting young swains and he would be left to pine for her. He stayed at a distance for the most part. He tried to touch her in a small but chaste way once a day. It was his way of making sure she knew she was still welcome in the human world. He had found a balance between the distance of January when she nearly died of fever because she was afraid to tell him she was sick and the dangers of being too close and too affectionate.
Jon had intended to keep Numair, Daine and Tkaa in reserve for unusual challenges. The problem was that unusual challenges seemed to be a near daily occurrence. So they traveled and fought together. And he clung to the closest he would probably have to a family – this time with the woman he loved, the dragon he thought of as his own child, and the strange uncle basilisk. If he analyzed it, the days were heartwrenching, but there were moments that were the closest to bliss he imagined he would ever be and it kept him moving forward, hoping for one more smile from Daine and one more happy trill from Kit. Goddess protect the immortal that threatened it – and the wyverns had done just that.
But those were things he couldn't tell Jon. While his king and his friend stood there, pale skin nearly crimson with irritation, he remained stonily silent and completely humiliated.
"Perhaps you need some rest," Jon said finally, calming a little.
"Perhaps so," he said softly. Both he and Daine stood and walked to the door. "For what it's worth Jon, I am sorry for my exuberance. War does strange things to me." He tried to smile though it was difficult. But Jon did smile softly in return.
When the door was closed, Daine flung her arms around him. It was a most unexpected gesture, but he returned the embrace hungrily. "I didn't realize," she said. "It was fair foolish of me not to notice you were protecting Kit." And out of no where she kissed his cheek. Hope resurrected in him as he held on too long, though she didn't seem to notice.
And so it begins. Please respond