Authors: Viola Grace
Tags: #Paranormal, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Romance
She held up both hands. "Don't make too many changes in my life at one time. I am still reeling at all of the invitations I just got."
He set the plate on the counter and gave her a speaking glance. "You really need a dining room table."
"I haven't needed one."
"Until now, but now there will be two here for diner as well as whomever you choose to invite. From what I recall, Berenghetti will invite herself."
She sat and picked at the food. "Yes, she will. This is her world. These people are here at her invitation, including myself. It isn't like I can say no."
He scowled. "You can and you will. The Nyal had rules of etiquette when she was among them. There is no excuse for her breaking into your home."
She laughed and sipped at her juice. "You did it."
He raised a taloned finger. "But, I had an excuse. I had to make you breakfast. It was a different thing entirely than coming in here to get you drunk."
She gasped. "How did you know about that?"
"I have dreamed about you, it linked my thoughts to yours sporadically. When you were giddy and then queasy, it wasn't too hard to pick out the cause."
She blushed and blinked, sipping at her juice, nibbling at fruit until it was gone. He did the dishes and she got to her feet. "What are you up to today?"
He inclined his head. "I will be contacting Arcros and working on the city home."
She blinked. "That is quick."
"There is no time to lose. The sooner you have a home befitting you, the happier I will be."
She went up on her tip toes and kissed him. "I don't need a place befitting me. I simply need enough room for those wings of yours in bed. Don't think that I didn't notice you wiggling for space last night."
He chuckled. "Just a little more room and I will be fine. And I didn't wiggle. I shifted."
She laughed. "Fine, now I am going to work and you can shift yourself wherever you would like to go."
"Would you care for a lift?"
Nya laughed. "No. For today, I need to keep my feet on the ground. I will see you later. I finish work at sunset."
With a surprisingly cheerful disposition, she set off on the way to work and smiled the entire way.
The smile lasted until she saw the crowd of Evian at her office door. "Ladies and gentlemen, my assistant will seat you and those whose business can wait are asked to make an appointment for later in the week."
Shaking her head at the vagaries of popularity, she entered her office and prepared to face the day.
"And, of course, we didn't know that it was a nesting site when we settled here. We were years, centuries into the dig before Berenghetti realized what was going on and had to frantically make a deal with the Monolith."
Elder Ben Ordu was taking Nya on a tour of the dig site that was to have been her home.
"I doubt it was difficult to strike the deal with Hyfor. He seems to be a most reasonable man."
The elder stopped in his tracks. "He swore that he would tear our city to the ground and raze the mines to nothing if his wishes were not upheld."
Antonya stifled a grin. "I am aware of it."
"To think, the horror that would have been unleashed, all due to a misunderstanding."
Nya and the elder had made it to the overlook for the initial site. That they had ever thought the graceful citadel was made by nature showed the sheer stupidity of the Evian scouting parties. Even in its depleted state, she could see the majesty that had once filled the cavern.
"It is wonderful. I can understand Hyfor's rage. He must have worked on this for years."
The elder blushed, his feathers lifted and flicked in agitation. "It was a mistake and I would be appreciative if you could smooth things over with my clan and the Monolith."
"I want to see it close up. May I walk in the ruins?"
He didn't know what to say, so he gestured to the small walkway that led down to the mining floor.
Oil, dust and metallic residue flavoured the air. She moved slowly and carefully from step to step, her booted feet giving her purchase on the slippery walkway.
Once on the floor of the cavern, she walked directly to the ruins of the citadel that could have been her home. It was crafted of blues and lavenders with the occasional highlight of thick gold banding. The rooms were spacious and not furnished, but lovely all the same.
The elder was scuttling along behind her. "You see how we could have thought that it was a natural formation?"
She gave him an unbelieving look and shook her head, touching the wall with reverence, mourning the beauty lost.
"I have other caverns to show you. We have found a number of deposits that we would like the Monolith to assess for us. They are lovely stones, but we have never seen the like before." Ben Ordu was wringing his hands.
She mentally sighed. He obviously wanted Hyfor's opinion but was too nervous to approach the Draikyn himself. "I will see what I can do. Do you wish to show me the stones now?"
He straightened and grinned, his feathers fluttering happily. "Of course, this way. We have been blasting in the space and are unsure whether to continue deeper into the deposit."
They walked to the small hall and with everyone out on a meal break, there was nothing but silence in the cavern. They carried lights into the deposit and when the path opened into a wide cave, she sighed in admiration.
This was a naturally occurring deposit of a most beautiful mineral. It shifted its colour depending on the light that struck it and when she let out a soft whistle, the echo was clean and clear.
"This is really lovely."
A light started on the far end of the cavern.
"What is that?"
Elder Ben Ordu took one look at the blinking light and ran for the exit before Nya could do more than turn and watch him run at full speed.
The realization that it was an explosive came an instant before the flash of light and she threw herself behind an outcropping to hope for the best.
The thunder that ripped through the cavern was a mining explosion and it rolled over her small hiding place in waves until Nya gave up consciousness.
Nya! Nya! Wake up, please wake up!
She tried to move and coughed to clear her lungs.
I am awake.
Where are you, can you move?
She took stock of her situation and the burning pain in her right leg made things unmistakeable. She was wedged, in the dark, under the most beautiful crystal she had ever seen.
The rest of the cavern was completely dark, even her hand light was nowhere to be seen.
I am in a cavern, trapped under rock. I am fairly sure that my leg is pinned or crushed, I can't worm out of here.
I am on my way.
She got the impression of flight, of worry and a nervous rage that rippled through his mind at intermittent intervals.
She was nearing tears.
Will you sing to me?
He immediately started a soothing song in her mind. She closed her eyes and let the psychic sound wash over her.
It calmed her, soothed her and took her mind off the pain that was building in increments.
I am almost there, sweet. Just stay calm and it won't be long now.
Time dragged in the darkness. She heard her own breath and nothing else. None of the Evian were coming to her aid, that much was clear.
Above her, she saw a pinpoint of light. It widened rapidly, but not one stone fell down into the cavern where she lay. It continued to widen until a huge silhouette filled the space and the heavy beat of wings brought fresh air to her face.
I am here, sweet. Just lie still and I will remove the stones holding you.
I am not going anywhere without you.
She tried to inject some humour into her thoughts but knew that pain was all that she was radiating.
His claws moved delicately, plucking the smallest stone carefully before moving it aside. The rocks remained solidly linked together until he lifted the final stones from her in one rush.
His large muzzle sniffed her from head to toe and she felt the wet heat of his tongue running across her leg. As he licked her, the pain first flared and then faded.
Easy now, I have to lift you with my claws. The medical centre is waiting for you.
You can do whatever you want with me. Just get me out of here.
His claw scooped her carefully and he cupped her between his right and left appendage for protection.
I will remember that when you are feeling better.
He flicked images of her tied to a huge four-poster bed through her thoughts and she laughed. As a distraction, it was very effective.
His wing beats were heavy and deliberate, scooping air and pushing them to the medical center in minutes.
A stretcher was waiting on the roof and Hyfor draped her over it, letting the staff members rush her into the facility.
The next few hours were a blur of lights and Hyfor looming in the corner, watching every move of the attendants and physicians.
Her right leg was broken in three places, her left arm snapped at the wrist. Regeneration of the tissue was partial and she would have to walk with a cane and keep her arm in a sling for a few weeks, but nothing else was damaged beyond a few nights of rest.
The doctors insisted on keeping her for a few days and the moment that they put her in a private room with Hyfor standing guard within, he was at her side.
"Ah, Nya, I was very worried about you."
She chuckled, her painkillers making her lightheaded. "You and me both. Did Elder Ben Ordu make it out?"
"No. He was crushed just feet from the entrance. Until I arrived, no one knew that there were folk inside the cavern." He knelt next to her and pressed a kiss to her right palm. "After I brought you here, I told them to look for your guide. You are not the kind of woman to wander around a live mine without letting folk know where you are going."
She analyzed the emotions she was registering. "You are glad he is dead."
Hyfor sighed, "If he was not, I would have had to kill him for putting you in that kind of danger. As it is, the Ordu are not a clan that I will be doing favours of any nature for in the future."
His implacable tone did not encourage her to plead on their behalf. Ben Ordu had been from a greedy, stupid clan and this was just desserts for him as far as Hyfor was concerned.
"You are going to be off work for a few weeks. No one will pursue minor issues until you return. Those who require immediate mediation will have to turn to Berenghetti. She will be occupying your office until you return."
Sleep was creeping up on her but she asked, "How could you arrange all that while I was seeing the doctors?"
"Sweet, you were underground for an hour and in surgery for sixteen hours. The entire city knows what happened by now."
"Oh. That is longer than I thought. Pretty crystal though."
"Less pretty with your blood on it." He took in a shuddering breath. "Don't ever do that to me again."
She chuckled and stroked his silky hair. "I make no promises. Now, sing me to sleep. I like to feel your voice."
With him kneeling at her side, she let the soft lullaby in her mind carry her off into a healing sleep. As she faded, she felt his lips in her palm and the plaintive whisper,
Don't leave me.
Her recovery was assisted by every Evian she ran across. All were appalled by the blasting incident and helped her in every aspect of her life.
A housekeeper was paid for by the Ordu clan, Berenghetti sent a new seamstress and now the clothes selected were from designs chosen by Hyfor. He scheduled himself for every appointment she had and once she was able to walk without too much discomfort, she walked about in a wardrobe made of exotic fabrics and amazing textures. The Venzi clan brought her boxes of jewellery. Belts, necklaces, earrings and bracelets were all arranged in sets and fantastical patterns. The jewels were as finely fitted to her body as were her new clothes.
The housekeeper prepared her meals, did the dishes and the half hour of housekeeping that was required per day. It was odd to have another person in her home, but Dahzhi was cheerful with a good will and quick hands.
Each day, Hyfor came to her home and had breakfast with her at the new table he had brought in, then he left to work on their city home.
Dahzhi was also a champion at keeping the clans away from Nya, a service that was more appreciated than any other. When she came into the study where Nya was working on researching some ancient treatise, her grin told her employer that something was afoot.
"What is it, Dahzhi?"
"A present for you, Mediator. I think you will like it."
"Who is it from?" Nya got her cane and moved slowly to the door.
"The Haldis Imperium. It arrived this afternoon and customs cleared it immediately once they realized who it was for."
It was common knowledge that one of the Terran Champions was now Empress of the Haldis Imperium and she enjoyed sending the occasional item to other Terrans as they wed.
A two-person skimmer sat on her front lawn. Sleek and elegant, it could manage inches above the ground or hundreds of feet. "Oh, it's beautiful."
"Take it for a spin, Mediator."
"You can call me Antonya."
Dahzhi cocked her head, her red feathers a vibrant halo. "No, I really can't."
She laughed and swung astride the skimmer. It was similar to a very large scooter from Terra and the controls were similar. She tucked her cane away safely and powered up her new toy.
There was no doubt as to where she was going to go, but she kept her mind carefully blank so that she could maintain the element of surprise.
The skimmer handled like a dream. She was over the city and approaching the city home that Hyfor was building for her.
Her astonishment at the site in front of her must have leaked through her barricade, because Hyfor sauntered out to greet her. "I see you have become mobile, sweet."