06/04/01
Denigoddess2001 @aol.com

[Bracketed words indicate thought]

Chapter V

Wren leaned against the coolness of the crystal shrine to rest her weary head. The pain competed for attention along with the unforgettable image of Demetrius kissing the Nubian Princess. She prayed that unconsciousness would rescue her from the physical and emotional pain wracking her weary body.

When she awoke, she found herself in a world of bright sunshine cerise sky, and singing birds. She smiled to herself when she realized that the Princess Ashanti successfully ascended her throne. Wren nodded in silent satisfaction knowing that Lukasha's enchantment of everlasting darkness had been dispelled.

[You go, Demetrius! You get on with your bad self!] She giggled.

"There she is!" A voice called above her. "Sojourner!"

She stared upwards to see one of Skylaris' Gargoyles circling overhead. [In broad daylight???]

"Lady Sojourner, Demetrius and Skylaris have sent me for you. The battle is over and we have one. Ashanti sits once more upon the throne of Ainran. All is well."

"Where's Kirn?" She asked the gliding Gargoyle.

"My mate has taken him to Skylaris." The regal golden Gargoyle landed in front of her. "Demetrius awaits you."

"I see." She said quietly. [Do he await me while keeping the Princess in a lip-lock?]

"I have a question of you, Sir." She impulsively spoke.

"Yes, Lady Sojourner?" The lithe Gargoyle swept her into his arms.

"Do Gargoyles in Ainran stay within their own kind?"

"What do you mean, Lady?" He cocked his head not quite understanding.

"Do Gargoyles here ever seek mates outside their own kind?" She pressed.

"Rarely, My Lady." He answered. "Yet, it is not unheard of."

"How do your kind see ...mixed matings?"

"Not unlike any other." He replied as he ran to catch the current.

"What are some of the more common pairings?" She asked.

"Usually we do not mate outside our own kind. When we do, it is usually with the children of Oberon or the Children of Gaea."

"Humans?"

"That is what you call yourselves." He told her as he felt a strong current lift her into the air. "You have taken a liking to our dark-skinned brother?"

"He's my friend." She replied.

"You would not ask unless you fancied him." The Gargoyle replied as he glided deftly through the Spring air. "I tell you this, such a love is rare...but, it is legendary that with Humans the desire is strong."

"What about the love?"

"Human love I know little of. But, I tell you this. A Gargoyle loves a mate fiercely and well. It will endure longer than the mountain stone."

"I see." She nodded curtly and continued the rest of the flight in silence.

She dwelled within her thoughts too much to enjoy the flight. Wren arrived with a heavy heart and worried thoughts. She refused to let them control her. She used every mathematics table to clear her mind of the vexing thoughts about Demetrius.

Wren found out through the Gargoyle that the battle between the Dragoness and the Warlock ended shortly after the Princess' awakening. Once LuKasha's minions saw the light of the suns, they left him alone facing Skylaris and her troops. The final offensive led by the goddess with her flaming breath incinerated LuKasha into a pile of ash.

Wren consciously avoided Demetrius. She dared not admit to herself that she felt jealously when she thought of him kissing the Princess Ashanti. She remembered how the Princess prolonged the kiss by wrapping her arms around the Gargoyle's neck. Wren never thought herself capable of such negative emotion.

[Let's not even go there. Just my luck that I pick males who are unavailable.]

She contented herself with picking her food at the feast and simply moving about the celebration. She effortlessly blended into the backdrop of the party. One of her many skills in was that of professional wallflower. No one noticed her as she milled her way through the crowd of exotic and alien creatures. Most were huddled around the Princess Ashanti and Demetrius. Others were circled about the Dragon. Several adoring and admiring females surrounded Kirn as he retold the exploits in a bold and daring narrative.

"You wish yourself invisible, Child of Gaea?' A warm familiar voice inquired behind her. "Invisibility is a new talent for you."

"I can't turn invisible." Wren shook her head.

"But you can. Only Magickal eyes can see you." Came the reply as Wren saw a lovely Dame step in front of her. With the verdant green scales and the violet shimmer from her wings, Wren knew the Dame to be Skylaris. "Why hide you, Wren Summers?"

"I miss my home." She heard that damned quaver in her voice. She knew that her lie was obvious.

"I see." Skylaris studied the young woman and gave her an 'I-know-better-than-that-look.' "This world is not your own, but, it could be if you so chose."

"I don't belong here."

"Your heart does." Skylaris told her. "Without Kirn's strength, Demetrius' purity, and your knowledge this world would still be veiled in darkness."

"We did what needed to be done." Wren told the goddess.

"You helped bring about a brighter day for Ainran's people. Were it not for your adroit interpretation of the words, Ashanti would slumber still."

"You're kind with your words. Thanks." Wren shrugged. "I am ready to go home."

"Soon, child. First, I must you with your gift." Skylaris laid a hand upon Wren's shoulder. "Kirn has yet to tell me his, but, he is searching for it within himself. Now, I will grant you one gift as reward for your service to Ainran."

"I don't want anything." Wren replied.

"No, you do not. Yet, I will bestow one gift upon you." Skylaris pressed to talons to Wren's lips. "I place my mark upon you. My Magick will always be with you and my blessing upon you. The Annulus is yours always. Use it wisely and use it well."

"I can't wait to ditch the damn thing."

"It was made for one worthy of wielding it." The Divine Dame said stoically. "You are that person. I shall give you its name. Its brother is Excalibur. The Annulus is Excelsior. The one wielding Excelsior shall be the Wisdom of my clan."

"Then it should be with a Gargoyle."

"It should be with one wise enough to understand a Gargoyle's heart, mind and soul. Few humans or gargoyles truly know themselves. You know them better than most. You are Wren Summers, Sojourner on behalf of Skylaris and wielder of Excelsior. Once a member of the clan Ahp Druingra always a member of the clan Ahp Druingra."

Drew realized that 'ahp Druingra" was Celtic for 'clan of the Dragon.'

"Yes, child of Gaea, you are now also a Child of Skylaris and you bear my Magick."

"I'll do my best." Wren murmured. She felt humbled by the enormous honors, gifts and responsibilities given to her by the Dame.

"Take love in whatever form it comes to you, my Daughter." Skylaris told her. "Take mine with you and grow strong in it."

"I'll try my best."

"I know you will do well." Skylaris offered Wren her hand. "Let us join the others. Demetrius is saying his farewells to the Princess Ashanti. When he is done, we shall see about what we can do to send you both to your own world."

She turned and followed the Dame Gargoyle back to the large gathering. She saw the Ebon Gargoyle walking in the sunshine with the slender Nubian Princess. With her rich mahogany skin, dark eyes, and long braids she was the epitome of strong feminine beauty. Those coffee eyes seemed to captivate Demetrius and won his attention. He bent his head low and touched his brow to Ashanti's.

"Will you not be my prince, Champion?" Wren heard Ashanti ask Demetrius. "Will you not be my consort and rule Ainran with me? It is your right as my savior?"

"Your Highness, Kirn and Wren also brought about your wakefulness."

"Then I shall make the Minotaur a Duke and your Human a Duchess as reward for their service to the crown." Ashanti replied brightly. "I have never experienced a kiss such as yours, Demetrius. I know that you are meant to be my King and my husband."

"Princess, a kiss between humans and Gargoyles oft times result in such unusual devotion. It is false and will pass with time." Demetrius said kindly.

"Do you not feel as I do?" She asked intently.

"Alas, Princess, I do not." He shook his head sadly. "You are far more worthy a heart that can truly love you as you deserve."

"And you can not?" Her eyes shone brightly.

"Nay. My heart belongs to another in my clan." He told her.

"Then she is a fortunate lady indeed."

Jealousy gnawed away at Wren's heart until illness threatened her composure. She watched as contempt for the Princess constricted her in its relentless possession of her being. Secretly, she longed to be the woman walking arm in arm with Demetrius. Instead, the gift of sunlight was being wasted on some strange and distant Sovereign.

The ebon warrior turned his attention away from his Princess with one final bow. He turned his keen awareness in Wren's direction. He flashed her a perfect smile. The embedded amethysts caught the light and flashed perfect rainbows upon her skin. With great enthusiasm, Demetrius found his way promptly to Wren's side. He picked her up and swung her around several times.

"Wren! I watched the sunrise this morning." He exclaimed. "Is this how it is for you? Do you always feel the warm of the light upon your skin?"

"Usually." She nodded.

"Wren! Your arm is healed." He gently brushed his talons against the faint scar remaining on her upper arm. "When did that happen?"

"I'm not sure, but I think Skylaris had something to do with it."

"Did she give you your gift?" He asked quietly.

"I didn't know what to ask for so I passed." Wren looked at him. "Now, I'm not so sure."

"She gave me mine." He stared down at her. "I have seen the sun."

"I'm happy for you." She almost choked on the words.

"How I longed to watch the sunrise with you, Milady." He whispered. Demetrius her gasp and he stroked her cheek with one dark talon. He offered her his arm. "Milady?"

"Yes, Demetrius?" Wren barely managed to reply.

"Shall we return to the Goddess?"

"Indeed."

Elves, satyrs, centaurs, Diminuans and other woodland folk mingled freely. Demifolke such as those and dryads and naiads danced about them in celebration. Creaturefolke (talking animals) scurried about telling the good news of Skylaris' victory against LuKasha. Others bombarded the duo with questions.

The next hour, Demetrius and Wren told the fascinated creatures about their world with blue, rather than crimson skies and great metal beasts used to transport many people at a time. Demetrius shared with them his epic sago of the Clan Wyvern and the members' resurrection after a thousand years.

Wren endeavored fading into the background. Yet, so many of the satyrs, Diminuans, elves and centaurs longed to speak to a human. The elves found her pleasantly rounded ears irresistible to touch. The dwarves marveled at her eloquence and quick tongue. They held Wren in great regard when it was revealed that she also was a fond drinker of strong ale.

"I wish I could see your world and all its beauty." Kirn told her later.

"Their world is a dangerous place for those not human." Skylaris warned him. "There is none of your kind remaining there."

"There is nothing for me here." He scorned. "My son died in battle and the other is a servant to you, Milady."

"Let me tell you of their world, Kirn." The Dragoness replied gently. "Demetrius and wren live upon an isle hidden by the human sorcery of technology. I shield it with my Magick though I am weak there. It is a worthy haven for Demifolke. The Magick is powerful and our energies manifest well upon Caledon's soil. The water is fresh and sweet. The soil is rich and fertile. Schools of fish are for the catching. The resources and gifts of the land are abundant.

"Can that be my gift, Goddess?" He asked solemnly. "May I return with them to the realm of Gaea?"

"Kirn, my son, the gateway is unlocked. If your spirit is strong and your heart noble, Kirn, I will open a gate for you to step into their world. But, think wisely before you travel such a path. You will pass through to a brilliant destiny." She gave him a warning gaze. "Upon your passage through to their world, that gateway closes for eternity. The walk between the worlds will be eternally severed by the closing of that gate."

"I wish to go with them." He declared. "I beg you, my goddess."

The crowed remained still for some time. Some quietly turned away. Some made feeble excuses to leave. Kirn stepped forward and knelt before his Dragon Queen.

"Goddess of my soul, Keeper of my heart and Queen of this realm. Only you know if my heart is worthy. I long to accept your challenge if you will have me."

"So mote it be, Kirn of the Clan Valkyn. You bravely declared your intentions and I find you worthy. Serendipitous Magicks bless you this day. You will carve a fine destiny for you and your descendents. Come to me." Skylaris commanded the Minotaur.

Kirn inperceivably hesitated. Then, with great dignity he strode to her. Skylaris and her attendants allowed him passage through the crowd until he stood beside Wren and Demetrius.

"This is my gift to you, Kirn. Find your destiny on Earth. I shall always be with you." A flicker of golden flame surround the trio and a violent rush of wind blew about them. The flame danced upon their heads as they looked at the Dragoness.

A bright light in the shape of a rectangle appeared before them.

"I believe that's our cue." Wren said quietly. Regret tinged her voice. How she longed to remain in the exotic world of crimson sky and wine mountains. The air was crisp and the water refreshing to her lips. She looked at Demetrius and he silently nodded in agreement.

"Skylaris, we are ready." Demetrius bowed to the Goddess.

"Then, it shall be so." She told them. She walked to the shorter young woman and planted her brow to hers. "Remember, Daughter of Gaea, you are now a Daughter of Ahp Druingra. Once a child of mine, always a child of mine."

"I promise I will." Wren promised.

"As it is above, so shall it be below and around and through the cosmos. So mote it be. Let my blessing be upon those to dissuade those who may persecute you."

With that, Sklyaris' long golden tongue quickly flicked toward Wren's brow. A small burst of emerald flame darted about her for a few seconds. "Magick go with you in all your adventures, Wren Summers. If you need me, call. I shall never leave you."

"Step forward, Demetrius of Clan Caledon." Skylaris commanded in a strong voice.

He came and stood before her. "My beloved son, I speak to you of a song."

"A song?" He asked.

"Yes, a song that is beside you each day. The voice of this song is a quiet rhapsody in your heart and a harmony in your soul. You'll hear it in the trees as they rustle in the wind. You hear it in the songbirds singing in the night." Skylaris gave him a stern gaze. "I dare you to tell me that you know not my meaning."

"I think I understand your words, Goddess." He replied contritely.

"Good. You have heard and felt this song many times, Demetrius. It is not a song of your clan, but now it is entwined with the eternal symphony of the clan. Some disdain the sweet refrain because it is foreign to them. Some disdain that music. Remember that all melodies combine in nature to create new beauty. This melody I speak of will join with you and craft new rhythms and compose new refrains."

"It is more than I dare hope." He whispered with a hoarse voice.

"The melody searches for you though knows not, my son." Skylaris took his hands in hers. "The sweetness of the song needs wings and tail, talon and claw to be heard and felt. Do that in honor of me and in love for her."

"You have my word." He declared.

"Now return to your world, my son. I shall always be with you. My name is on your heart and let her melody complete you."

"Yes, Mother." He hugged the Dame tightly. "I promise."

The son seemed brighter as the ring of violet fire surround the trio. The flames reached higher with each passing second. Instinctively, Wren stepped closer to Demetrius. He wrapped his arms around her and cloaked his wings about her. She dared to snuggle closer in his double embrace. She looked into those lavender eyes.

He nuzzled her hair. He noticed that Wren seemed quite content. He remembered in one of their previous discussions that a kiss was considered a display of affection between close friends. He planted one castle and lingering upon her lips.

She felt a flash fire surge through her being as his lips came down on hers. She found her hands resting upon his broad chest and her eyes snapped open. She saw Demetrius close his eyes briefly then open. He wore a ludicrously wide grin upon his face. He seemed absolutely twitterpated and befuddled.

"Let's go home." Wren said with a broad grin that matched Demetrius'.

One final, powerful blinding burst of light surrounded them. They closed their eyes against the preternatural brilliance. Demetrius opened his eyes when the harsh and shrill voice of Atalanta broke their spellbound moment.

"You fool! What in the nine Hells do you think you're doing?" She screamed at Wren. "Didnae I tell you that it wasn't a toy. Stupid human."

Atalanta reached to grab the Annulus from Wren's hip. Demetrius roared with eyes aflame and tail lashing. His fangs beared caused Atalanta to step back in fear. "Wren is neither a fool nor stupid. If such words about her fall from your lips, you and I will have more than words between us."

"Demetrius!" Atalanta shrieked. Then Kirn came through the flashing orb of light. He stood beside his new friends with resolute determination.

"She shrieks like a Harpie." He nodded in her direction.

With that, Demtrius heartily agreed. He swept Wren into his arms and returned to Cair Ex Cathedra. Kirn remained behind to introduce himself to the becoming blacksmith. By the end of the night, he had Altalanta agreed to a tour and a late night picnic.

Wren and Demetrius soared effortless upon the Scottish gales. How Wren had longed to glide with Demetrius like this. For the first time, she felt brave enough to look down. She saw the castle and the Gargoyle settlements below. She looked at her escort and gave him another goofy smile.

"Did she give you a gift?" Wren asked.

"Nay, Milady. What I long for was not hers to give. Yet, she told me how to find and embrace that for which my heart yearns. I need only listen for the music and add my own."

"Sounds rather esoteric." Wren wryly replied. "Can't Skylaris speak in simple terms.

"She is a dragon. It is not their way." He chuckled.

"What is your gift?" She dared to ask.

"It is a private matter." Demetrius replied. "But, I shall tell you this: When the heart burns brightest with love and hope, great destinies become truth. When the soul falls into the harmony of the cosmos, then true song flows freely between hearts."

With that they flew into the night and both knew it was a good way for a new beginning.

-Fini

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I hoped you enjoyed this unique fairy tale. I enjoyed writing it. If you want more like this, please read and leave a glowing review. If you have any suggestions, comments or questions, please contact me at Denigoddess2001@aol.com.