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|Kin thread. An introduction to Eridor.||
Estara – c – Kin
Five Years Previous
The darkness closed in around them as the bonfire roared to life; casting dark shadows on the ground and hiding people’s faces. Eridor clung to his sister’s arm. Laura looked up, frowning and shook him off.
“It’s not you they want to see,” she scolded, “tonight it is Joshua.”
Eridor already knew that they wanted to see his older brother, but that didn’t pacify him. “But that man,” he pointed, his sister didn’t even look, “he’s been watching me ever since we got here.”
“Don’t be silly, I suspect you were staring at him.”
“I wasn’t…” he whined back. Laura shushed him as the ceremony began and pushed him forwards so he could see. He tried to worm back into the crowd, but the drums had started beating and there was no way back.
He span round as the dancers came out of the brightly coloured tent, black, snarling masks over their faces. They rushed at the crowd, growling and calling out with wild, animal noises. Eridor covered his eyes, he hated these ceremonies.
A man wearing a long red, shredded, robe jumped onto the rock in the centre of square. He cast his eye over the gathered crowd and held his hands up to the sky, his face lit dramatically by the bonfire.
“I have come to you, to seek out those who do not belong. Bring your children forward, let me seek out those who wish to tarnish your children’s hearts and poison their minds.”
Eridor moved away from his sister as the children surged forwards and clung to his mother’s hand. She smiled indulgently at him, “You stay right here, you went last time.”
Eridor knew he was too old to be hanging onto his mother’s arm; at fifthteen he would come of age next year, he really should have got over his fear of these ceremonies with their wild dancers and flickering light. He let go of his mother, ashamed of his weakness, and slunk away from the crowd.
There was the man who had been watching him, dressed smartly in a grey suit with a small red emblem on the breast pocket, hunched over and leaning on a stick. He smiled and gestured that Eridor join him.
“I hear your brother is nearly come of age,” the man said when Eridor was close enough to hear him, “When will it be your turn?”
Eridor hesitated, he had never seen this man before and the emblem of the suit was strange and alien to him; but the man had a certain charisma to him that the boy liked.
The man stroked his grey brown beard thoughtfully, “Your father is that man over there? Good… good… you enjoy the evening, you have nothing to fear from the man in the robe, he knows nothing. Nice blue eyes, very… different around here.”
With a quick turn on his heel he disappeared into the night. Eridor watched the space that he had occupied for several minutes before turning back to the main gathering.
The man in the tatty red robes no longer seemed the menacing figure he had before, he was just a man with his face dirtied with ash. Eridor smiled and put a hand through his ash blonde hair, things were looking up.
“Laura? Eridor? Where are you?” Joshua crossed his arms in irritation and pouted, “This isn’t fair! I said I give up!”
The quiet of the late summer evening garden answered him back; the soft twittering of the birds, the gentle hum of the crickets in the long grass. A breeze stirred the roses on the trellis and a tendril tickled the back of his neck. Joshua shivered.
He was tall and strong; nearly sixteen, he would come of age that night, until then he was a boy. He had plans for his coming of age; he had saved money from running errands, enough to buy a house and win himself a woman’s hand in marriage. But now he was feeling more of a boy than ever, young and afraid in the quietness of the afternoon, alone and vulnerable; it made him angry.
“Eridor?” He whispered into the stillness, “Eridor? Please come out, I don’t like it here. Eridor?” He paused, “Laura?”
“Joshua Dardan!” He span round, gasping as his mother called his name. “Joshua! What are you doing out there? Get in here now! Laura and Eridor are already washed and dressed, you’re covered in filth. Get in the house now!”
Joshua swallowed and looked down at his feet, shuffling into the house and trying to avoid his father’s gaze. The grey haired man stared coldly at his son and tapped his pipe against his teeth.
“You can stay here tonight, boy.” He put the pipe back into his mouth, turning back to the heavy volume in his hands.
“I don’t want to hear it. You knew about tonight, you disobeyed us and so now you can stay behind.”
“Get out of my sight, boy! Don’t make me get my belt out!”
Joshua turned to his mother, but the plump, fair woman simply shook her head and gestured that he go upstairs. Joshua, sulking, left the room. Elvira Dardan turned to her husband and sighed,
“Why couldn’t you just tell him off, Peter? You know about the meeting, now we’ll be in trouble with the council.”
Dardan removed the pipe and looked at his wife; she was plumper than when she had been young, but Peter still loved her, and he always would: loved her red hair and her blue eyes, the full lips and gently smile; loved her.
Joshua might her son but Dardan was disappointed with the boy; he was an angry young boy, he was violent with his younger brother and sister, and most of all he had a cruel heart.
“Elvira, he knew how important it was, the council will understand.”
“We can’t afford trouble with the council.”
Dardan sighed and put he book and pipe down. “Do you want to loose him, Elvira? Keep him here and he’ll be our son for that bit longer.”
“He wants to be a man, you know his temper. He might not be one of them anyway. It’s almost guaranteed that he’s not, both our families have a clear history, you know that.”
“Do we? How many brothers have you? They’re all older than you, the oldest had already gone past coming of age when you were born, what if you had another, you know no one ever mentions those who are taken.”
Elvira Dardan sat down in the chair, frowning, “But it would be written in the documents in town hall.”
“That is twisted,” Peter seemed bitter to Elvira but she knew not to push him, “You are only ever entered in their three times, when you are born, when you come of age and when you die. They make it up, you know, say the child died four years ago.”
“Can we not leave this Peter? I need to check on Eridor and Laura; you know how Joshua is with them.”
Dardan nodded and picked up his pipe again. The ceiling shook as someone hit the floor and he sighed, Joshua was probably making trouble again; they were making so much noise he almost missed a soft knocking at the door. He set his pipe down with a long sigh and went to answer it.
A man with a well-trimmed grey brown beard and short red brown hair stood there smiling slightly. Dardan though he was a little too formerly dressed for this out-of-the-way town, the suit was far too well made for it to have originated anywhere but the largest of cities. The man held out his hand,
“Jack Baker. I’m here to speak with you about your son.”
“No, no, I’m here about Eridor, he…” he looked around the quiet street quietly, “have you somewhere we can talk?”
Peter Dardan frowned and let the man inside,
“We can talk in the garden out back.” He said quietly and led the way. The ceiling shook again and Peter almost went upstairs to sort it out, but then it all went quiet, he picked up his pipe and they went outside.
“Eridor? Could you come and see me for a minute?”
The tall boy crept into the kitchen nervously, trying to make himself as small as possible, expecting a tongue lashing for leaving Joshua outside; but his father was smiling.
“This is Jack Baker, he has a proposition you may be interested in.”
Eridor turned to the man, startled to see the man from the night before. In the light he seemed younger and friendlier, a man that could charm anyone and everything. Jack Baker held out his hand,
“Hello, Eridor. You’ve probably heard most of your life about the ones who have to be destroyed, sought out to stop the poison spreading through children’s minds. That’s just a front to what really goes on. I’m here to tell you that we have been looking for you for quite a while, we’re very lucky to have found you. Would you like to meet others like yourself?”
Eridor’s face soured, “I’m normal. My sister is the same as me, so is the boy next door.”
Jack smiled sympathetically, “Come and walk with me, Eridor. We’ll talk.”
Peter Dardan nodded to his son and the two left to walk into the garden.
Dawn crept into Eridor’s window, but the boy was not safely in his bed, he was already tiptoeing down the hallway towards the stairs, cloak wrapped around his shoulders and his boots laced up tight. Eridor did not like leaving this way, but Jack Baker had assured him it was for the best.
The floorboard creaked, the sound like thunder to Eridor’s ears. He froze, listening to the house for a sign that he had disturbed someone. Nothing; he let out a long sigh of relief and went on his way.
He turned at the top of the stairs and saw Laura standing by her door, pale white nightshirt hanging loosely off of her and long blonde hair falling around her shoulders. “Eridor? Where are you going?”
“Go back to bed, Laura.”
“Eridor.” Her face soured slightly, “You’re leaving, aren’t you? What did that man say to you? Why are you going?”
“Laura, please, you’re making too much noise.” She looked down at the floor, embarrassed and fearful. Eridor hated that look on her face, it was the look she had whenever Joshua was angry; Eridor didn’t want to see it there because of him. “Laura, I’m sorry. You weren’t meant to see me.”
“Are you going now?” Her voice was barely a whisper, but still Eridor could feel her chocking back the tears.
“Yes. Come downstairs, Laura, we can talk better there.”
She crept forwards towards him, bare feet silent on the wooden boards and they left the house together.
Jack Baker stood at the gate to the house with two horses, “Eridor, we have to leave, now.”
Laura clung to his arm, “You can’t go, please stay.”
Jack smiled sadly at the girl, “I’ll be back before you’re a woman and I will bring Eridor along with me., I will make sure also that he writes at least once a week.”
Laura let go of her brother’s hand and stepped back, dropping her eyes. “I’m…”
Eridor looked down at the floor, “I’m sorry I woke you, it would have been easier if you had stayed asleep.”
“Yes. Please go, before…”
Eridor turned away, mounting the black mare Jack offered to him. They left in silence and it wasn’t until they were three miles from the town that Eridor spoke.
“Why did you say you would be back?”
“At the moment, she too is a strong candidate.”
“He has the rage, but no the spirit, heart or blood. We will keep an eye on any of his children, but I pity the woman who marries him.”
Silence fell again. Dawn brightened the sky and the horses quickened their pace, feeling the sun warm their delicate bones. Eridor wasn’t much of a rider, but he had always had a liking for horses. To him, they symbolised everything good in the world, the purity that existed in a land where corruption held sway. He patted the black mare comfortingly and relaxed into the gentle motion.
Jack halted at a crossroad and motioned for Eridor to dismount. “We’ll have to wait a while, we’re meeting an associate of mine here. Do you have any questions?”
“Why did I have to disappear?”
Jack sighed and went to sit on a wall. “That’s a question we all ask, boy. The answer is neither simple or complex. We don’t really exist, Eridor, not to anyone apart from ourselves.. You’ve heard tales of the seven dragon nations? They don’t know we are here. The tribal lords would kill us if they knew, so we live in the shadows, always. You disappear because it is the only way. I’m sorry boy. Ho, there he is.”
Eridor turned but only saw a faint dust cloud on the horizon. Jack laughed,
“You’ll get better at using you skills, boy, don’t worry.”
“You can see the rider?” Eridor asked, worrying that maybe Jack might be mad.
“Of course, as I said, you’ll get better. Sit down boy, you’ll want to save your energy, we’ve a long journey ahead.”
Eridor turned away from the hazy dust cloud and felt something hit the back of his head, making the bile rise in his throat. His legs gave way beneath him and he hit the floor hard, eyes still open, staring forwards without seeing.
Jack looked down at the boy, no emotion in his face. “Well, not so long, I suppose, not for you at least. Load him up Dantau; we’ve another deviant to deliver.”
Arsanth finished braiding her hair and then stood to relieve Michael of his post. He kissed her on the cheek gently in greeting.
“You look nice today.” He told her softly, but Arsanth ignored his compliment.
“Any sign of them yet?”
“No.” Michael answered in a half sigh, disappointed that she had yet again ignored his attempts at a personal relationship between them. She smiled slightly,
“After this is done, maybe we should get a drink together?”
He visibly brightened, but all he managed was: “Sure, why not?”
“You should get some sleep. I need us both fighting fit for when they do come through.”
“What makes you so sure they will?”
Arsanth did not answer, but her eyes misted over slightly and her mouth lost its easy smile. Michael backed away, wrong question.
A butterfly flapped slowly by Michael’s head in the late afternoon; he sighed, wishing that he had had the day watch, he could never sleep in the daylight hours. He rolled onto his side so he could watch Arsanth.
She was easily the most beautiful person he had ever seen; with her long brown-blonde hair and light, crystal blue eyes she captivated any man she met. Michael counted himself lucky that she even spoke to him, she mainly ignored others. She wasn’t thin, (Michael didn’t like them thin) she was simply trim with well developed, but still feminine , muscles; the perfect huntress and pupil in ‘the arts’.
Arsanth turned to him, “Horizon, three horses.”
Michael grinned, show time.”
Jack Baker looked back at Dantau. “Can’t you keep up? We haven’t go all year you know.”
Dantau did no answer, his blank eyes kept on staring forwards with their soft doe’s expression. He nudged his horse on, but it seemed reluctant to expend any extra energy whilst carrying the big man.
Jack despised Dantau. He was obedient and strong; but he was a fool, slow to move, slow to react, no use against… The Enemy. Jack had almost felt sorry for the fair-haired boy that was now tied to his saddle unconscious; but, as always, he had remembered that the boy would have become part of the enemy; the lure of money hadn’t exactly dissuaded him either. This was business.
It had been different in the beginning, when he had been an apprentice; it had sickened him. The group was a force unto itself, acting in all four tribal lands; it collected anyone who had the true blood of the Kin, and some who didn’t. Those of the Kin didn’t mature until seventeen, and their blood didn’t show through until fifteen; in that narrow time frame was the only chance Destroyer had of subduing the Kin properties of the blood. It turned them into people like Dantau: loyal, but stupid.
Things had changed now for Jack; Dantau might be stupid but Jack had seen it was better than the alternative. He shivered at the thought. Eridor might only look like a boy, but if allowed to reach seventeen and mature he would turn into a wild beast, a shape shifter, a magic wielder and a dragon.
Jack put up a hand to signal a halt and narrowed his eyes. The road ahead was clearly empty; its raised banks dry and dusty, leading down to a short, fresh growth of crops. No where to hide, but Jack was suspicious all the same.
He scanned the area again and then moved off.
Arsanth watched the three rider carefully, not the ones she had been expecting but they were targets alright.
“Michael?” she asked, “Will you do me a favour?” She looked at him softly, showing off her long, black, curved lashes; he nodded.
Thomas Garret looked back to check on his lead and smiled, with the money he got for this one he just might be able to bribe a few to get her back. He was pleased with this catch, three days away from seventeen she was a prize for Destroy, she had almost been beyond their reach. He stretched across to stroke the soft brown hair.
His horse reared and Garret fell backwards, hitting the dirt hard to see a thin, narrow blade whistling towards him.
Michael arrived blade at Arsanth’s station with the brown haired girl. He twitched his nose and lay the unconscious girl on the floor.
“How did you get on?”
Arsanth tapped her foot, “No one with them, just two Slaves with a Collector.”
She shot him a poisonous look and showed him the blood-drenched blade. “I see you got a catch?”
“Nearly mature. She’s had a lucky escape.”
“Nice. We’ll stay here a few more hours and then we’ll go back, I don’t want to leave without a catch.”
Michael sighed and sat down in the dirt by the girl; a ‘few more hours’ meant however long it took.
Sixteen hours later they were back at their unit’s base. Michael handed over the girl he had found whilst Arsanth hurried away to her room. Charlie moved over to Michael,
“You two missed all the excitement, we’ve had a transfer. A boy, just under fifteen, apparently he needs the supervision of our elders… and you.”
“Go and meet the boy, Eridor his name is, you might get a better idea than the rest of us.”
“You don’t know?”
Charlie shook his head and shrugged, “It’s a mystery to all of us, by rights he shouldn’t have even been detected yet.” Michael nodded and went to meet their transfer.
The ash-blonde boy looked back with his clear blue eyes and Michael recoiled slightly. What type of Kin dragon had that eyes colour? The boy wasn’t tall or short yet there was something that made him stand out. Michael frowned; he’d have to keep an eye on this one.
|The Dragon Isles Chapter 07 Grey||The Dragon Isles Chapter 02 Shana'dun|
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