Story 30. End of waiting.

Everything was repeated from the very beginning, so similar to the vicious circle he'd been in. But now it wasn't a prisoner's circle, it was a circle of Spellbinder Gryvon, bigger one and still so frighteningly close.

He couldn't believe he'd been so blind. How couldn't he not feel, not understand this game? Nathia was playing there, in the forest, sowing off for somebody. The image he left in his past so long ago, and the sudden explanation he got, overlapped each other, revealing the horrible truth. She had been playing, aware of someone watching them, aware of the fact that Gryvon would never speak harshly, seeing her constant fragility and tenderness. That he had to answer her according to her plan.

The young man scolded and cursed his own gentleness. Ashka saw and heard everything, she made her own conclusions and left him because…

He stopped, breaking his thought. "Because" what? There was something more than mercy? Gryvon used to be satisfied with those rare bright moments he'd got. So he didn't know what to do with it. He'd always considered his feeling as something one-sided that was normal. And Ashka… For her it must have been something like a habit. A comfortable habit, perhaps, a cozy affection. But what if he was wrong? She would hardly disappear just because of "a habit"…

Gryvon decided, as he got used to, to leave this question "for later", nit thinking of exact date. Who cares when to think about something happened? He had enough time now, time that he was to spend alone, scolding himself for foolishness and naivety that made him unable see the monster behind Nathia's gentleness. He would be able to think of it not once and not twice, luckily, fate gave him such a chance…

The girl felt guilty and seemed to avoid him, which made Gryvon very happy. The pain caused by a seeming Ashka's betrayal was not as big as the pain caused by very real Nathia's betrayal, which used and left him holding a bag. There was neither strength, nor wish to see her. And every time his wound edges gape apart even more.

He seemed to fall into some kind of a sleep, living day by day. Became "a mechanism" again. Waited with no idea what he waited for. Waited and thought about Her. For some time he started having nightmares. Every time the same – the forest glade, the boat where he's running, Ashka's look with a strange note of pain… Every time he was trying to get there, if not to run, so just to say that he understood it. That it was a mistake, and she got all wrong. And every time the boat was disappearing in a flash of light, making Gryvon wake up with a feeling that his heart was almost jumping out of his chest…

Leaving the castle in evenings, Gryvon sometimes came back to his house, not knowing what to do with it. Cleaned everything quickly, sometimes, when the weather was bad, he stayed inside. Once, looking through his old things, he'd found a broken Eyestone. The Eyestone he had usually played with, the Eyestone that had started everything. Looking at the favorite toy, Gryvon put it on the table carefully, hearing a tiny clink.

More often, if the evenings were fine, he was riding Whiteleg through Clayhill surroundings. Went to the Tower, reached Westfield or Rivertown, sometimes – Orchard or Valaphire. During those evenings he believed his half-asleep existence was stopping, as if an invisible membrane was becoming thinner, letting the light and fresh air and real life to go through…

Every place reminded him of Ashka, one way or another. Every place had a story connected with it. Gryvon had a lot of such stories; they were like some delicate little things, dear to the heart. And then his own story was following, separating them. Walking through the places where they used to go together, he thought of where she might be. In what world? What was she doing? Would she ever forgive him for something he wasn't guilty of?

Gryvon didn't know if he'd ever be forgiven. There was just one thing he wished so much – to know that she was fine; that despite her explosible temperament and a habit to use the powersuit in any situation she hadn't got into a pretty mess. That she was alive and all right. Knowing it he could probably get used to the fact they were in different worlds.

Once he was walking along Valaphire bank, where the river looked almost like a streamlet. Tying the horse to a tree, he walked near the water. The weather was wonderful and warm. Small waves were running across the rocks with a naughty splash, as if trying to catch him. Gryvon smiled, putting off his boots. A wish to become the boy from Clayhill he'd been once, was surprisingly strong. He threw his boots on the ground, walking to water barefoot, on little pricking pebbles. His thoughts became pleasantly neutral, his attention dimmed. Not looking under his feet, he didn't notice something sharp under his left foot.

"In the name of Regents!" – He exclaimed, drawing his foot back and sitting down. Luckily, it was just a tiny scratch, not worth worrying about. Looking at where the mysterious sharp stone had to be, Gryvon froze. In sand, among the dirty stones, darkened but still so familiar there was… Ashka's ring…

Not thinking, Gryvon grabbed it, clutching, afraid that the ring may vanish and everything would become just another nightmare. Something was drumming in his head… not able to believe, he unclenched his fist slowly, looking at the finding. There were no doubts, silver and ruby he had seen so many times. This ring could not be mixed up with something else.

He sat near the river for a while, admiring the found treasure. It was unreal, seemed to wonderful to believe. Nearly five years had passed… Nevertheless, he was holding it now. The most precious thing for Ashka. The most significant thing he had now. Looking at the sparkling stone, Gryvon felt that comfort was leaking into his soul filled with sorrow and pain. Not to strong comfort, but anyway…

That evening he'd cleaned the ring in his room, so it started shining like a mirror. Then he took a roll of parchment from the cabinet. Dipped the quill into ink. Took a deep breath. And then he was drawing, drawing, drawing… He was drawing the eyes under thin eyebrows, drawing the fine nose and full lips smiling mockingly. He was drawing the unique cheekbones, the delicate neck… He was drawing the wonderful hair, showing every lock accurately. Nearly in the morning, when he could hardly keep his eyes open, and the next day was coming, Gryvon put the parchment on the table. There was a heart-stoppinly real Spellbinder there…

Time passed. "Nearly five years" turned into "five years". Gryvon, whose drawings collection became bigger, lived similar day by day, not counting them. Who knows, perhaps that monotony would last even longer, interrupted by books reading, when time was stopping, or by another holiday, when a new date was cut from the bulk Yes, it could have happened, but one lucky chance changed everything.

Young Spellbinder remembered his twenty-sixth Birthday forever. Firstly, because this day he ironically saw Gareth in his dream. The Regent was sitting in a saddle, wearing the same black-and red cloak. Gryvon, standing in the distance, remembered it was useless to try and reach him. That could give him nothing. But strange, the rider, turning his horse, went to him. Slowly and gracefully. Gryvon waited. Stopping in the middle of a path, the rider nodded to him. The distance between them wasn't too big, so Gryvon could see the man was smiling. He said nothing, he did nothing. He was just sitting in the saddle and smiling. Warmly, friendly. There was no mist around like the previous time. And there was no that uneasy feeling. Waking up, Gryvon sat in his bed for a while, fiddling with his long hair and thinking of what this strange dream could mean.

That was the first reason why he was to remember this Birthday. And second one was because that very day his life was changed by chance.

The weather was strange, promising some rain but giving nothing yet. The preparation for the forthcoming Sun Holiday had already been started, but sluggishly and quietly. Gryvon, still thinking about his strange dream, ate his breakfast mechanically, not aware of the taste of the servants in the room. There was absolutely nothing to do. Wait, no, how could he forget? About a week ago Riana caught him in a corridor and asked whether Spellbinder Gryvon could draw a portrait of hers. Shocked by such an adversity, he said that he could. But a little later. Riana hadn't expected him to agree, so she thanked him happily and ran away, and Gryvon was left in the corridor, confused by more than a funny situation. If some years ago, when they had been fighting like children, divided into "good and bad", "right" and "wrong", one would had told him that Riana, catching everyone's enthusiasm, would ask to draw her, he would have never believed. He left her in a bath, tied, actually, threatening to banish. She'd been pulling the wool over his eyes for so many times, breaking all the plans… And now… a portrait. Just think of it!

Laughing, he took a heavy velvet folder from a shelf, where he kept the straightened parchments. Took a quill and the ink bottle. Perhaps, everybody had to grow up in this story and understand something. He liked to think that even that omnipresent Paul, staying in his parallel world, stopped being such an impossible idealist. Eventually, even Correon was able to change…

Gryvon straightened his sweater sleeve gently. On his left wrist he was wearing Ashka's ring, put onto the strongest lace he could find. He didn't trust caskets, hiding places or rubbish like that. Luckily, the style of sweater allowed such manipulations.

Taking all the necessary things, he went to Riana's room, which was already waiting. Smiling in her shy manner, the girl stood aside, letting him in. Her room looked like his own, but here he saw more little things saying the owner was a woman.

They kept silent awkwardly, not knowing what to expect. Sitting down the table, Gryvon took a parchment, preparing his workplace. Riana sat down opposite, ready to be still obediently.

"Put off the hairpins and make a ponytail, - the young man said, observing her. After all these years he got used to look as an artist – quickly, skillfully, catching all the significant details, - and put on that jewelry from Paul's world".

Riana was surprised as he understood by her raised eyebrows, but said nothing, putting on the chain and changing her hairstyle. Sighing, he began, warning her that he gets the drawing if she doesn't like the result. Gryvon watched the parchment and his model, drawing quick lines, making a shape of the face. Once his hand had been working by some miracle, now it was holding the quill quite skillfully, making no unnecessary spots or mistakes. Very soon there was very recognizable Riana, with a fine chain on her neck, smiling from a ready drawing.

"Here, - waiting for ink to dry, he gave the portrait to the girl, - does it fit?"

She looked at her copy for a while, smiling shyly.

"Oh yes. Thank you, Gryvon".

Later in the afternoon it became evident there would be not just rain. Somewhere in the distance a thunderstorm coming was heard. Gryvon thought that he would have time to get to Clayhill and see his parents' grave. That couldn't be for too long.

"You'd better stay in the castle, Gryvon, - Lans said, watching the young man from stable doors, - knowing you I can predict you'd spend the whole night there or get wet in rain".

"Don't be like that, - Gryvon waved it of, saddling up Whiteleg, - no one commands you when it's your Birthday".

"And what about supper? – Lans raised his eyebrows amazedly. - I know at least three people who would be happy to drink your health".

"I am able to return ten times before the supper, - Gryvon pattered his powersuit belt, where an Eyestone was placed, - and I am in touch. So I go".

Leading his horse from the stable, he mounted and trotted the animal to the gates. The long cloak put on the powersuit for potential weather surprises could save him from rain. And everything was quite all right, actually. Strangely all right. For the first time in five years Gryvon felt strange calmness, knowing that today was his Birthday. Previous dates had almost faded from his memory, spent in a half-sleep.

Nothing extraordinary was happening in Clayhill. He went to his parents' grave under the old branchy tree. Stood there, thinking of the things he regretted about, and the things that didn't need it. There was nobody to divide for and explain the choice. And the time was different. Whiteleg snorted, tied to a branch. She didn't care about her owner's thoughts, she had her own joys.

Nothing changed in his house. He opened the window, letting the fresh air inside, casting out some bitter aridness from the house. Old things, dishes, the broken Eyestone on the table… Gryvon didn't know what led him here every time. Memories? Nostalgia? Habit? There was no answer, just a desire to return here again and again, walking from house to the Tower and back.

When he left the house, the sky was already dark and it been raining. Putting on the cloak hood, the young man mounted. The bad weather was a little too fast, outpacing his plans. But he wasn't going to change his habit any way, forcing Whiteleg to take the familiar path.

Here was the Tower… Led by a sudden instinct, he set the opened Eyestone, not knowing what for it was, and then… A blindingly white lightning struck the stone platform where ships had usually been landing. Gryvon jumped back, horrified, putting his hands away from a metal construction. Electric sparks ran on the top of the Tower, and then…then similar sparks moved in the air suddenly, with a strange dry crackle, so unlike traditional thunder sounds. He raised his head. There, almost above the Tower, in the middle of the sky…

Suddenly a roar of some creature was heard and a huge dark silhouette appeared in the night sky right from thickened sparks. And it was flying! Feeling he had a real chance to go mad after such surprises, Gryvon took a step backward and fell, stumbling. He was lying on wet grass, looking at the things in the sky with a horror. He had heard about the creatures like the one that appeared. He had even read about them and knew that, according to legends, there had been the same creatures in their country long before Darkness. But Holly Regents, he could not imagine he would meet a real dragon one day!

Meanwhile, the dragon, terrible, huge and winged, behaved rather strangely. For a start it sat down on Clayhill Tower, folding its wings. In such an impossible situation Gryvon found the strength to laugh. In the darkness the creature's silhouette looked like a landed ship a little. However, "the ship" was driven out from the platform by a short jangle. Looking closely, Gryvon saw a rider on the dragon's back, in a helmet and a long mantle. Holding the chains bounded with the dragon's collar, the rider made the creature leave "the perch" and land on the ground slowly.

Gryvon stood up carefully, thinking that he'd lied enough. He shook off and looked at the strangers. Maybe it was a too long dream and he was still sleeping? And his enacted imagination decided to give him a more interesting image for a change, like this one?

Blinking, he shook his head and opened his eyes again. No, neither the rider, nor the dragon did disappear. On the contrary, the rider dismounted skillfully from "the horse", walking and looking around. Weirs metallic helmet and the long mantle hid the figure.

"Calm down, Harley, calm down. We will find where we are", - the stranger said, looking at the Tower. Gryvon gave a start. No, it was impossible… He was sleeping for sure. Or he hit his head, falling. It was impossible! That smooth low voice, he'd heard in his dreams and his thoughts for so many times, was too unique. Too special to be mistaken…

Swallowing a lump in his throat, he went forward, appearing from behind the Tower, in front of the unexpected guests. They also noticed him. The dragon let out a low roar, looking at the man with suspicion. As for the rider… Only now the young man got the chance to see a shining powersuit under the mantle. Just like his own. Watching him for several seconds, the rider put off the helmet slowly. A heavy wave of copper-ginger hair fell on the shoulders… The shock was in these green eyes. As strong as his own.

"Ashka…", - Gryvon whispered, feeling his voice tremble.

She hadn't changed at all. Her hair became longer, perhaps, and the rest… The same. Standing opposite her, he understood she was watching him too. Slowly, carefully, as if comparing with her own memories and thinking what version was better.

"Hello, Gryvon", - the woman said finally. And that simple short phrase suddenly almost convinced him it wasn't a dream. It would be too cruel for a dream – giving him such a mercy.

"You came back…", - he breathed out, standing where he was, not able to come closer.

"I…", - she was going to answer, but suddenly the Eyestone on her belt, which Gryvon hadn't noticed, started working.

"Regent, Regent, is everything all right? – He heard fast woman's voice through interference. - What is there, behind that doorway? Regent, can you hear me?"

Looking at Ashka and the Eyestone, Gryvon felt his shock wasn't finished yet. Regent?

"I am fine, Leah, - the woman answered, still watching him, - leave the Eyestone where it is and hide in the cave or under trees. Here there is one of the parallel worlds I told you about".

"Regent, do you need help?"

"No, just do as I said. If the doorway is closed, we will need you".

"We?" – Leah he didn't see was surprised.

"Yes, we, - Ashka confirmed, - it seems a serious talk is waiting for me…"

With these words she closed her Eyestone, walking to Gryvon.

"You…"

"Yes. I am a Regent".

"But that means…", - he raised his head, looking at the sparks above the Tower.

"That there's a world like this one, - Ashka confirmed, - they are identical. Same Spellbinders, same peasants. The same Clayhill".

"But this is…"

"This is possible, Gryvon".

Pause.

"Wait, in this case, - the young man said, - there should be we too. We both! And there's second you?"

Ashka frowned a little.

"And this is where you're wrong…, - brushing her wet hair from her face, she took the young man's hand and led him to the trees, - come on, we have something to talk about…"

Her fingers, long, strong and warm, squeezed his wrist. And that was the last note, the missing moment he needed to believe everything was real indeed…

"I… I wanted to say so much… but I really have no idea how to do it after the story like this", - Gryvon said, listening to her. The story was impressive indeed; there were enough adventures for several lives. Ashka described the Land of the Dragon Lord for him, where she had been and where she'd almost started a revolution. She described the world of Doubles, identical to the world of Kathy and Josh. She also told about Sun, the underage ruler and quite spoiled boy, which had sent the boat to a dimension she had chosen. And left her there. The world was rather strange. Moriol, so it was called, was a kind of a huge farm. Only not just geese and chickens were farmed there. A small group of people was breeding… dragons.

"When I've heard that roar for the first time, standing somewhere near a river, with the powersuit in my hands, I felt scared, - Ashka confessed, - as scared as I had never felt before".

She wasn't cunning, saying it. Or describing the impressions that strange world had given. Everybody, coming to that part of Moriol, had to learn how to take care of the dragons. And how to ride them.

"The first time wasn't very successful, - only now he noticed a pale pink scar, like a fine thread, on her cheekbone.

"Did it do this?" – Gryvon turned around, looking at the dragon rolled itself up into a ball near the Tower.

"No, Harley is peaceful, - Ashka shook her head, - he looks this way but he's harmless. At first I had another one".

Harley had been a dragon, left at the farm out of pity. And because nobody wanted to deal with it. The thing was, as Moriol residents told her, that the dragon was born half-deaf. It was practically unable to understand commands. It didn't hear them. And who knows, what could be the creature's future, but Ashka decided to take care of it. Moriolian water dragon, so its breed was called, couldn't get used to a new owner for quite long time. But in six months it couldn't stand anybody else.

And then scholar Meck, wishing to see as many parallel worlds as it was possible and now everything about them, came to that very dimension by chance. Dragons had been worshipped in his world, so the scientist became interested. So Ashka met her old familiars for the second time…

It was Meck who made the whistle Ashka was wearing on her neck now. Planning to go back to his world, he gave the device to the Spellbinder. The jangle, strange for human's ear, somehow was attracting the half-deaf dragon, making it obey. Deciding to test the device, Ashka flew to the sky on Harley's back.

"And then there was a misunderstanding as it had already happened in their country, - the woman said, - firstly, Harley and I flew to the boat waves coverage area. And secondly…, - she laughed, - that was something I called a misunderstanding".

They all were moved – Meck, his assistants – two young men, the boat, Ashka and the stolen dragon. And they found themselves… in Spellbinders' world. But not the same world they had seen before. Facing such situation before, Ashka didn't understand it at first. Only later, when screaming people were dashing aside from her; when on her way to the castle some scared peasants tried to seize her, and the dragon, not liking their attempts to attack, tried to drive everybody away, roaring and chattering with its fangs and almost swallowing several idlers; later, when Gareth appeared, riding a white horse, alive and unharmed, and they looked at each other with horror, Ashka realized the misunderstanding was bigger than she could imagine. She felt dizzy suddenly… And the last thing she knew was Gareth's shout and strangely long falling from Harley's back…

…The world where she appeared, was identical to the Spellbinders' one. Another world of Doubles, as she concluded. All people, all places – everything was the same, apart from some differences, of course.

"You asked about second us, Gryvon, - Ashka sighed, - once they had lived there, but the day I had offered my Apprentice Gryvon to pilot a ship, I hadn't worn the powersuit. And as you know your powerstones got depleted… So they got smashed up in the ship".

She kept silent for a moment.

"The castle had been in mourning. All these years Gareth was chairing the Council. I don't want to think what he was feeling, seeing me on the dragon. I don't want… but I know. I felt the same".

Pause again. Putting on her cloak hood, Ashka watched the rain and the flashes of lightnings from under the trees.

"He gave you the place in the Council", - Gryvon wasn't asking, he knew. Founding his foster daughter for the second time, Regent didn't make his previous mistakes. Even this late, even in a different world, but her dream had come true.

The woman nodded.

"It is a strange feeling, Gryvon, - she said, - strange and amazing. When you have almost everything. When you don't need to have revenge. Some weird calmness".

He smiled, understanding. Sometimes he felt the same, though he'd never tried to name this feeling. She did it for him.

"You say "almost"…"

The woman lowered her head.

"I felt guilty towards the parents of that, second Gryvon. On the one hand, I did nothing wrong. On the other hand – it was my fault. They still mourn him…"

"And here my father died, - Gryvon said, - nearly in six months after…"

He didn't say "after that story", but she understood.

"Gryvon…"

"Ashka, I can't stand it anymore. I thought about it so often, wanted to tell you so much, - he continued, fiddling with his cloak laces and feeling as a stupid child again, - that day, in the forest… Well, it wasn't what it seemed. Everything you saw…, - Holly Regents, why he can't choose the words? - Nathia had always been just a friend of mine. Yes, we understood each other, but that was long ago, - he smiled wryly, - it's gone now. Oh, I don't know what to do with it, - he felt not just as a stupid boy, but as a real fool, - I told you about my adventures, but I have no idea how to tell about this…"

He thought she would interrupt his words; just like in good old days, that he'd get a lot of caustic comments about eloquence is not in the list of Gryvon's talents. But nothing like it was happening. Many things had changed in those five years. And Gryvon, aware of his own changes, could still hardly believe that the woman in front of him was able to change too.

"I said that I would think just to get rid of her. In fact… well, I know it is stupid and useless – for me to think of such things…"

In the name of Regents, why, oh, why can't he choose these damned proper words? And why, despite his awkward attempts to express his thoughts, she's still looking at him like that?

"I know that I can't, I never could ask for too much. And you would never be able to give me too much. But after years of being your Apprentice I learned to appreciate those precious moments, which were making us closer. I was happy to be with you. I was even happy, trying to overthrow the Council! I was ready to leave everyone and everything, I swear, just…"

There was drumming in his ears. Somewhere near him the weather was storming, Whiteleg was standing under the tree, a dragon with a strange name Harley was sitting next to the Tower obediently. Electric sparks were rushing through the sky. But for now he didn't care about all of this. Even Leah that he didn't see, a copy of the Spellbinder from their castle, he was sure, didn't bother him now…

"…just to see a smile on your face, - Gryvon finished his phrase. In his thoughts he'd been saying it for so many times, making each detail perfect, and in reality everything was wet and awkward, - I don't know, maybe I am insane, and you will disappear, so everything will be just a product of my imagination…, - pulling himself together, he took a step to her, - Ashka, I am not a gift person. We both are not. We made many mistakes, and we wanted to make even more. Sometimes I considered you as the most impossible, rude, evil, too stubborn and caustic person. But at the same time…, - raising his hand, he touched her cheekbone gently, tracing the fine scar with his fingertips, - you've always been the most amazing woman and the greatest happiness of my life. And I… I love you".

Not waiting for words that were to follow, he leant down, kissing her with a light, almost weightless kiss. There was a flash of lightning somewhere above… The hood slipped down from Spellbinder's head. Feeling it, Gryvon got another chance to touch this breathtakingly amazing hair. And Ashka… she kissed him in respond. Slowly, carefully, as if she wasn't trusting herself, thawing slowly after the constant tension in her body and soul. Her face was wet – either the raindrops, or the tears were running down her cheeks. Surprised, Gryvon felt the same thing with himself. And he wasn't very sure of the rain.

"Thank you", - the woman whispered finally, stepping back a little.

"For what?" – Gryvon didn't expect it.

"For saying it, - Ashka answered, - for giving me a chance to feel,,, necessary. I thought it would never happen".

Instead of answering he kissed her again. She was not just necessary for him. She was the most wonderful and beloved for him. His ginger fairy that won the heart of a young boy. He tore the lace on his wrist.

"What is it?" – Ashka gave a start, feeling cold metal on her skin.

"A symbol of our reunion, - the young man said, putting the ring on her finger, - I've found it at Valaphire six months ago. Seems like it was waiting for you…"

She looked at her hand, almost hypnotized, at so dear and beautiful shining silver ring… It seemed all the words became silly that very moment. He smiled, watching her reaction and feeling that only now the comfort in his soul was really healing.

"Thank you… But Gryvon, I can not stay here, you know it, - the Spellbinder said at last, - here I am a fugitive. Five years could hardly change something; my status will be the same".

"I know", - he nodded, still embracing her.

"There, behind this doorway, - she looked at the sparks above the Tower, - is a world I get used to see. The world where my life looks as I would like'.

"I know this too, - he nodded, - that means you will vanish again…"

Ashka smiled. Just like in good old days, when Apprentice Gryvon was saying something extremely stupid during a lesson.

"That means I offer you to go with me. The doorway between our worlds was opened by chance, when the lightnings struck both Clayhill Towers at the same time. We were given this chance, so we used it, - the woman touched Gryvon's cheek, - remove the Eyestones – and the doorway will be closed. I won't come back…"

He didn't need to be told anymore.

"Ashka, I accept, - his palm covered hers, - my family is dead here. I am empty and unnecessary in the castle. Nothing is keeping me here for a while".

He squeezed her fingers gently.

"I am ready", - the young man repeated. Suddenly they heard the Eyestone on Ashka's belt.

"Regent, Regent, this is Leah! They are going to send people from the castle here, everyone is worried where you are".

"I am all right, Leah! – Ashka smiled, looking at Gryvon. - We come back!"

"We?"

"Yes, I am accompanied".

Gryvon understood it was time for him to act. Running from under the trees, he reached the Tower. Opened the Eyestone that was still waiting for him.

"Riana, this is Gryvon, answer me!"

He waited, afraid that the device could get too wet. Waited and hoped to succeed. Nothing was heard from there, except interference. But then finally:

"Gryvon, I hear you. What's the matter? Where are you? Spellbinders are getting crazy here! They waited you for a supper!"

"Riana, listen to me, there will be no supper, - leaning down in order to prevent the wind and rain interrupting them, he spoke, - I'm leaving. Forever".

"What do you mean? – Riana was shocked. - Gryvon, are you insane? Where to?"

"To a parallel world! From Clayhill!"

There was a pause in the Eyestone.

"Gryvon, are you serious?" – The girl asked, hesitating.

"Absolutely, - he nodded, forgetting she couldn't see him, - I got the best birthday present ever, - she looked at Ashka putting on the cloak hood again, took her hand, - Riana, say goodbye to everybody for me. And look after my drawings, please. And yes, my horse is here…"

One more pause.

"All right, Gryvon, - it seemed Riana was smiling, - be happy. And farewell".

"Farewell".

Closing the Eyestone, he left it where it was, aware that the doorway above the Tower depended on it. Carefully, supervised by Ashka, he came closer to the dragon. The Spellbinder whistled several times.

"Easy, Harley, this is Gryvon. We take him with us".

The dragon leant down suspiciously, taking in the air with its nostrils. Only now Gryvon noticed the creature wasn't black, it was dark-blue, with beautiful shining skin, reminding him of fish scales a little. Clutching the chain, they climbed up on Harley's back.

"Hold on tight", - Ashka ordered, putting on the helmet and bringing the whistle to her lips.

Gryvon grasped her powersuit belt, waiting for very unpleasant feelings. He was sure he'd either fall down, or would be very close to it. But strangely enough, there was no thrusts, no jolting, and no falling. It seemed the half-deaf dragon Harley felt one of the riders was inexperienced, so it flew up with grace, unusual for such an enormous creature. Opening his eyes that were closed, Gryvon saw they were flying. There were two wide wings on both sides, and the trees and the Tower became suddenly funny and small. The feeling was weird. It was nothing like flying a ship. Not so realistic. And not so impressive.

Whistling again, Ashka forced Harley to turn right. The dragon lowered a little. Now the doorway made of mist and sparks, laid right in front of them… Gryvon kept watching the sparks, not going to close his eyes this time, but to see and feel what it was like – going to a parallel world. He had no idea; he could only guess what was there, behind. What second Clayhill was like. He tried to imagine what will be in his and Ashka's future, how this turn will look like, starting a new story. He'd never asked for too much. She'd never offered too much. But they can try. Try to begin this story together. And deep in his soul Gryvon was sure – after the seventeen years he'd known this woman, their try was fated to be successful…

The end.

5.05.12