Disclaimer: The world and characters created by Mercedes Lackey belongs to her, not me.

Chapter Fifteen

Gadriel sat down in a seat for the Council meeting. He was early today as he often was after reporting to Gadue. Gadue relayed what he learned from Gadriel to the rest of the Main Council and then let them mull it over. He then told Gadriel what they decided. So far the Main Council had not contradicted or questioned his actions, which he found a tad surprising as he had expected them to object to his presenting the Dracul Pendant. Although he supposed they could have seen that as a more personal matter and not that of the Tribe's.

Gadriel focused back on his surroundings and saw the Rethwellan Ambassador on the other side of the 'U' shape the table made. The Monarch's seat was at the centre of the base of the 'U' with the Monarch's Own on their right. The other seats were not delegated. The space in the middle was used by the non-human allies. Gadriel mused that even though he could be considered one of them he preferred his chair.

"Going soft are we?" Dalina teased.

"I think it would be rather cramped." Gadriel defended then smiled mischievously. "The non-humans are numerous and I believe they would appreciate their breathing space."

Dalina laughed. "Suuure. That's clearly the only reason."

"Hello Gadriel." Karal greeted as he sat down in the seat beside him. Altra jumped up on the seat on Karal's other side and watched the table as Karal set up his writing tools. This had seemed rather odd at first until he had learned that Karal was blind and used the Firecat's eyes.

"I hear you have a daughter?" Karal asked curiously.

Ah. Advice shared between fathers perhaps? "Yes. Do you have a question?"

Karal smiled wryly, "Are they always so headstrong?"

Gadriel barked out a laugh, "I don't know about all of them, but mine certainly always has been." He smiled ruefully, "In fact when she was fifteen she told me in no uncertain terms she would be marring Deltok when she turned twenty whether I liked it or not."

"And?" Karal asked intrigued.

"And I presided over the ceremony." Gadriel smiled with something akin to pride mixed with resignation and shrugged, "She had five years to wear me down and he's a good kid." He grinned mischievously, "She also had five years to wear him down."

Karal laughed.

The rest of the Council members started to file in. There was some shuffling as everyone was settling in their seats and latecomers dashed in.

Just then Queen Lyra strode in gracefully followed by her attendant Herald. Gadriel had learned that this attendant Herald was the acting Queen's Own only The Queen's Own or in this case the Monarchs' Own was a very old woman by the name of Talia. Too old ,in fact, to be spending hours every day in the cold Council Chamber. Old enough that she had been the Queen's Own before the twins were born and had served as the Queen's Own for their mother before them. Although she could no longer accompany them her advice was still highly valued.

Everyone looked to the Queen, "All right. My brother tells me we left off at the issue of a sickness spreading through the forest near several logging camps?" Queen Lyra enquired.

"Yes, Milady. I mean your Majesty." answered a young gentleman. Queen Lyra waved off his mistake. "The trees are ill but we don't know the cause or what we can do to prevent it or even contain it!" his voice got more strained as he continued. "The infected trees can't be used. As it is we can still break even but..." he trailed off the worry clear in his voice.

"I understand." Queen Lyra said soothingly. "We will send one of the Healers that deal with the hothouse or perhaps one of the Gardeners. On second thought they'll know better on who to send. I will ask them to choose whose best suited to this." She paused in thought, "I'll send supplies to supplement your stores, it should get you through the season. I'll look into sending seeds or saplings to replace the trees lost once we find the cause and are sure they won't get sick as well." She nodded to herself in confirmation.

"Thank you, your Majesty!" the young gentleman said sincerely.

"Your Majesty, we have a petition for the building of a 'Play Area'. The petition was sent in by a novice inventor. He wishes to build several of his contraptions designed for children to play on in one location and leave it open to the public." reported the Chancellor.

"Look into it and have blueprints of his designs looked over by the Artificers." Queen Lyra ordered.

"Yes your Majesty." replied the Chancellor.

The reports continued and Gadriel listened as the meeting went on. Dalina had already left him for more interesting past times. He honestly may have tuned out a bit during the last report because he heard Queen Lyra say dismissed but didn't know what had been dismissed. An older gentleman from the North stood up, "You majesty we have gotten reports of strange sightings near Knowles Crossing, Langenfield, Greenhaven, and Hevenbeck."

"Along the border of the Forest of Sorrows." the Queen mumbled to herself.

"They say they have seen a strange flying beast." the Northern gentleman reported. Gadriel straightened in his chair.

"Well what's so strange about it?"asked a councillor.

The Northern gentleman looked at him gravely, "If the sighting are correct it is as large as a gryphon yet has no feathers." Gadriel eyebrows furrowed in thought.

"Could it be a changebeast?" asked someone worriedly.

"Most likely. According to reports it set fire to a barn." Anxious murmurs filled the room and Gadriel's eyes narrowed, "Luckily no one was seriously hurt and the beast took off." the Northern gentleman finished.

"Do you have a more detailed description?" Darkwind asked sternly.

The Northern gentleman nodded, "The accounts agree that whatever it is it's reptilian." he paused, " and it's turquoise in colour."

Gadriel burst up from his seat and slammed his hand on the table. "Fredrick would never do such a thing!" he nearly shouted with the force of his conviction, his eyes gone hard.

Everyone looked to him in shock. The Queen's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Ambassador Gadriel do you know something we don't?"

"Gadriel?" Dalina asked concerned.

"Ah." Gadriel straightened looking a little nonplussed. He took a deep breath and regained his composure,"My apologies for my reaction. I found the implications ... unsettling." Someone scoffed. "I know of only one creature that would match you description your Majesty. His name is Fredrick and he is the only turquoise dragon of the Tribe." The council drew back.

"You have giant beasts in your Tribe and you didn't tell us?" screamed some Councillor incredulous.

A deep growl rumbled momentarily and from the shock on some faces some had realized it came from Gadriel and not the gryphons. "Dragons not beasts." he said with a bit of a growl still in his voice as he stared the man down. "And they are not just in the Tribe, We are the Tribe." Eyes widened. The non-humans looked dumbfounded. And many still seemed to be registering what he had said.

"You expect us to believe that you're some kind of fire-breathing Dragon?" a Councillor asked scathingly.

Gadriel looked to the Queen and held her gaze, "I do."

Queen Lyra stared into his gaze for a long moment. "Alright."

"This is preposterous! Are we really going to believe this madman's ravings? He thinks he's a magical beast for the Gods sake!" the same Councillor cried outraged.

"Silence." Queen Lyra called imperiously. The room went dead silent and all heads turned to the Queen. "He is Chosen." she said firmly, " Do you question the choice of the Companions?" The Councillor paled. She stared him down until she was sure he would not interrupt again then turned to Gadriel. "Gadriel you have given me no reason for distrust and so I will hear you out."

Gadriel gravely acknowledged her benevolence with a bow of his head. "I will do more then that your Majesty. I will show you."

"Really? Really?" Dalina asked excitedly.

The corner of Gadriel's mouth twitched despite himself. "You are not the only ones who wish to see."

"Very well. Is there anything you will need for this demonstration?" the Queen asked.

Gadriel nodded, "Open space your Majesty. And may I suggest a large bush that comes up to at least my waist?" he asked with his hand held out at the appropriate height.

The Queen raised an eyebrow but nodded her consent. She rose from her seat and lead the way towards Companion's Field. King Kris and an old Herald ,who must be Herald Talia, met the group as they headed through the Palace. Many kept a wary eye on Gadriel. Whether this was because they thought he was dangerous or because they thought he was crazy he didn't know. Though he suspected both.

Dalina came running up the moment they were outside and slid in beside Gadriel. He rested his hand on her neck. "I need to talk to Gadue. Keep an eye and ear out for me."

"Of course." Dalina replied proudly. He smiled.

"Gadue." Gadriel called.

"Gadriel? Are you not supposed to be in their Council meeting?" Gadue asked perplexed.

"I was, but now I'm preparing to reveal my true form."

"You're what?" Gadue demanded.

"There is a Turquoise disturbing the Northern border."

"Fredrick would never do such a thing!" Gadue said adamantly.

"That was my reaction." Gadriel said with a touch of irony.

"I see." There was a pause, "Do you think this will build trust or destroy it?"

"Hard to say. But we just might not be the oddest thing they've ever seen."

"And the most dangerous?" Gadue asked archly.

"Hmm." was Gadriel's only reply.

"I'm not going to be able to change your mind about this?" Gadue asked.

Gadriel scoffed. "It's a bit late now. The secret's out. Either I transform or it's confirmed I'm completely insane."

"That's best for you but which is best for the Tribe?" Gadue asked sharply.

Gadriel hesitated in his step then continued walking. "This is." he said firmly.

"Are you willing to bet your life on this?"

"I am."

"Very well." Gadue said and was gone.

"Are they mad?" Dalina asked tentatively.

"Certainly many of them will be. Even if this goes well I'll be outing a secret my people have kept for generations." Gadriel confided.

"Will this really be betting your life?" Dalina asked worriedly.

"Partially." Gadriel admitted. "The Tribe have enemies and I'm about to announce my location." Gadriel patted Dalina's neck to reassure her.

Everyone stopped. He looked up to see they had reached Companion's Field and the required bush was just a few metres off. King Kris gestured him over. "May I ask why the bush?" King Kris enquired.

"I understand your people have a taboo against nudity." The King's eyebrow raised sharply, "Herald Trainee Danyel was kind enough to explain it to me."

"That was kind of him." the King acknowledged, "And you will be nude because..?"

"I wish to have something to wear when I change back."

King Kris shared a look with his sister, "I see, very well you may continue."

Gadriel walked over to and behind the bush with Dalina one step behind him. He looked around to make sure no one could see his lower half from this angle. He didn't want to offend anyone after all. It seemed the news had spread as there was a notable increase in his audience. He shrugged. He kicked off his boots then unhooked his grieves and undid his hair. He looked to the crowd, "You may wish to avert your eyes." he warned then pulled his shirt over his head. He then quickly pulled off his pants and folded them and his shirt next to his boots. He then put the grieves and hair tie on them. He straightened, glanced at Dalina, took a deep breath, and changed.

Author's Notes: Alright there we go for chapter fifteen. I'll be working on sketches of Gadriel's dragon form to finalize his look and help me describe it. So I apologize now if the next chapter is delayed.