Natalie looked up. “What was that about, Blade?”
“Why do you ask me, little one?”
“I don’t want to act nosy and just go up and ask them.” Natalie thought that would be obvious. “Besides, if you can see super far away, I’m betting you can hear super far away, too.”
“That is a valid point. As we do not know the full extent of the prophecy, it would not do to appear to be ignorant of any part of it by asking too many questions.” Blade pondered a moment. “As for the other, yes; you are correct, but that should remain our secret.”
“Too many people would take it the wrong way if they knew you could hear them?”
“That, and also that a secret surrendered is an advantage lost.”
“Oh. I hadn’t thought of that.” Natalie had a thought. “Is that why you gave me the ‘why do you ask me’ business?”
“Yes. There were a pair of Nezca who might have overheard us when you first asked, but they continued walking away, so the chance of anyone else hearing is very slim. I would have been most concerned about the Ayrloi, but they are all over with the Jista now.”
“So,” Natalie prompted Blade back to her question, “what happened?”
“Chief Barlang offered himself to Ayrloi justice for ordering the killing of Ayrloi in Darl lands. Chief Farrawr turned to Timmoth and let him make the decision. Timmoth’s solution was a memorial to all of those slain, including the Darl he killed.”
“Wow, that couldn’t have been easy.”
“I am certain it was not. Unlike any of the other Ayrloi, Timmoth had tasted battle and had killed another intelligent being. At the very least, it would have been harder for him than for Chief Farrawr to have made that choice. For that reason, among others, I suspect it might have been a test for Timmoth.”
I don’t think I could have just let it go, if it was my dad.”
Blaadfork regarded Natalie a moment. “You have to remember, little one, your world is steeped in millennia of war and the taking of blood for blood. You have a good heart, Natalie, but you struggle with that legacy. Your choice would have been even harder than Timmoth’s.”
“Oh…” Natalie had never thought of herself as either warlike or violent, and the idea was depressing.
“Don’t be distressed.” The dragon’s tone was comforting. “You have done a wonderful thing here today and it should not be minimized in any way. For every world which steps away from war, there are a thousand that fall into it. This is a rare moment, and you have every right to be pleased for having had a hand in it.”
“Really?” Natalie’s mood lifted. “Honest?”
“Indeed, little one.” Blade’s chuckle rumbled softly. “Honest.” The dragon cast a look around and looked down again. “Let us go and collect your backpack. I believe there is no more for us to do here.” Blade crouched for Natalie to climb aboard.
Natalie got herself settled on the dragon’s back as he launched skyward. “Like the old westerns my dad watches, we’ll ride off into the sunset.”
“Just so, Natalie.” Blaadfork looked around and winked. “As a matter of fact, that is the exact direction we’ll be heading.”
Natalie laughed and hugged the dragon’s neck.
Neither Blaadfork nor Natalie gave a thought to the weapons still pinned to the ground on the field behind them, and in so doing fulfilled another part of the Darl prophecy regarding the Lady of the Shining Blade. The area became known to the Darl as the Field at War’s End, and finally just War’s End as the name spread to become common among all the tribes; persisting long after the weapons themselves had eroded away to become part of the soil once more.
Timmoth turned at the familiar voice, and ran to Celayn. They touched noses and rubbed muzzles as they met. “What are you doing down here?”
“The news has already gotten back up to Council Plateau that the war was averted. I knew it was safe to come.”
“I did not know any messengers had been sent, but I should have realized there would be.”
“When I arrived, I also heard about the two-legs Darl Chief and your decision.”
“Celayn, I had a vision of my father. He made me understand that I could not take more blood for his blood than I had already spilled.” He looked at her. “I killed that archer because he was waiting in ambush, but I savored it as a partial payment for the life of my father.”
“I saw you make that kill.” Celayn spoke softly. “I understood what it meant to you even before you did.” She rubbed her cheek on Timmoth’s again. “I am the more pleased that you decided as you did, dreamer-of-dreams.” She slipped her nose under his chin and gave an upward nod of her head. “You will make a fine father.”
Timmoth brought his head back down to meet Celayn’s eyes. “Father?”
“Yes, future-dreamer who does not see his own future. The healer confirmed today that she can hear heartbeats. She could not tell me the exact number yet, but there are several, and all strong. We will soon have our first litter.”
“I am going to be a father.” Timmoth spoke the words as though they would sink in better if repeated aloud. “Ah … if only my father had seen this day.”
“Do not ask me how, but I believe he knows.” Celayn was thoughtful. “Just as I cannot explain how I know that there will be a future-dreamer in this first litter of ours.” She nuzzled Timmoth again. “We had best be thinking of names that work well with that ‘moth’ ending.”
“If the coloring is right, I have a name already in mind.” Timmoth answered quietly. “I believe you know it well.”
“Indeed I do, dreamer-of-dreams, and I think it a fitting tribute to your father.” She turned to rub alongside Timmoth. “Now, unless you think Chief Farrawr will need more advice, let us go home.”
“I believe he just might manage without me. Come on.”
Taking to the air together, Timmoth and Celayn headed south.