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Author Topic: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)  (Read 5502 times)

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Offline TadTopic starter

Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« on: February 14, 2009, 11:20:42 PM »
Audrey awakened to the pain in her head.  She groaned and rolled over, feeling the gravel and grass shift beneath her.  She didn't remember falling asleep outside.... and why did she ache all over?  Suddenly the memory of the car slamming into the tree and her flying through the window glass forced its way back into her mind.  Gasping, she tried to sit up, and managed it, even though her eyes teared from the pain. 

After a glance around, she saw no sign of the car.  There's no way her parents would have just left her there, so where were they?  She looked back at the tree, scarred by the scrapes the car left, and noticed something else as well.  The brush near the tree had been torn up horribly, and the path continued towards the edge of the bluff.  The terrible truth struck her and with a cry she launched herself forward.  Already sobbing, she looked over the edge and saw the car shattered on the rocks so far below. 
« Last Edit: February 15, 2009, 11:38:35 PM by Tad »

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2009, 11:05:10 PM »
The funeral was a quiet affair.

Elegant black horses pulled ebony and glass carriages, white roses and ivy crowding about the wood as if the cushion the occupants on their final journey. The alabaster mausoleum was opened and had been cleaned before they arrived, three new names carved into the stone. Just the first initial and the family name, as was tradition.

Sir J. Grimsword II
Lady N. Pervis-Grimsword
B’lovd A. Grimsword

The day didn’t reflect the occasion. The sky was patched with clouds, shards of sun breaking through every so often then snuffed out moments later. The air moved in great sighs, tugging at hair, clothes and veils and the ridiculous plumes on the horses’ heads.

The aging Marquise was the only member of the Grimsword family there. Audrey had been put to bed with the aid of laudanum, still suffering from the trauma of the crash. There were a few of her son’s friends, and his lady wife’s relatives, but still so very few.

It wasn’t drawn out – the Matriarch had seen so many funerals, she couldn’t bare them. She didn’t wish to linger over putting her only son and his young family to rest. Audrey lived… but without a male in the youngest generation, their great, proud line would be broken. Their name would be lost, their property scattered to the court vultures. It was something she would not see done in her life time.

There was only one option for her, for the great and ancient line.

Her eyes moved over the long list of her predecessors, and now her descendants. There were title galore, from lowly barons to princes. Only where there were children were they titleless… but if note was taken, every now and then, there was the title ‘B’lovd’. It was not an official title, but an honorific bestowed upon a select few. So it had been given to her grandson – though the only grandchild she had with the initial ‘A’ was the girl dreaming at the manor.

She watched the coffins being placed inside the family tomb, and accepted the condolences with silent nods. No sooner had the doors of the mausoleum been closed and locked did the Marquise Teresa make to leave. “I must return home. My grandson will need me.”             

Offline TadTopic starter

Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2009, 11:28:31 PM »
Time had passed... she knew that much at least.  She'd woken up to the warmth of the sunlight, and also to the only light coming from the flickering lamps.  But she couldn't tell how long, or even how many times she'd surfaced from the fog of sleep.  Everything seemed so vague, so blurred.  She remembered that she got hurt... maybe she damaged her brain.  But that didn't seem right either, the times she awoke things seemed become clearer, then she was given her medicine and she slipped back under the blanket of darkness.

She remembered the people too.  People to give her the medicine.  And Gran.  She was the one there the most.  Audrey struggled to open her eyes, and glanced blearily around the room in search of the familiar face.  There's only a maid sleeping in the rocker.  She laughed inside, thinking of how Gran would yell if she found a servant asleep while on duty.  But Papa would calm her down, and get the girl off with a warning. Oh, Papa....
« Last Edit: February 15, 2009, 11:47:20 PM by Tad »

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2009, 10:34:18 PM »
The Marquise Teresa descended from the carriage, her hand on the forearm of one of the menservants. They were all subdued and wearing black bands of mourning on their right upper arms.

The horses snorted and danced in the harnesses uneasily, and the Marquise was forced to grip the manservant – Peters, she recalled – quite firmly as the steps moved while she stepped down.

She didn’t bother snapping at the carriage driver. She knew what had caused the disturbance, even before the shadow scurries across the ground.

A Great Dragon dropped from the sky, tan wings batting the air and tearing her veil back. It was a little taller than the carriage horses, and longer in the body. Scales glinted dully in the afternoon sun, and its eyes were deep and intelligent.

“Sampson,” she said, addressing the dragon directly, “go back to your roost. You’re scaring the horses.”

The dragon didn’t move away, its large head tilting and craning to see around the Marquise, as if expecting another person to pop out of the carriage. He was waiting for his rider. Dragons were intelligent beasts, but ‘death’ was a concept they didn’t accept well. At least he wasn’t pining yet.

She moved inside, handing her gloves, veil and hat to a maid. “Is Audrey still in bed?”

“Yes m’lady,” came the soft confirmation.

“Good. Send up strong tea, and light food. I need to speak with her.” The maid bobbed a curtsy and a footman closed the door on the sight of Sampson poking his head cautiously inside the carriage. The Marquise sighed and started to climb the stairs to her granddaughter’s room.     

Offline TadTopic starter

Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2009, 07:23:25 PM »
A familiar form droped past her window, and Audrey recognized the silhouette.  It's not exactly hard too, there weren't that many dragons soaring about those parts.  She struggled to sit up, almost falling back into bed as a wave of dizziness swept over her.  When her vision steadied she placed her feet on the cool wooden floor and made her way to the window.  Something wasn't right, but she couldn't put her finger on it.

Looking out through the glass she saw the front entry and the carriage pulled up in front of the house.  Sampson was sticking his head into the wooden structure, scaring the horses and the menservants too in all likelihood.  Most people seemed nervous around the giant creature, but Audrey never worried.  He really was a big softie, as long as you never threatened Papa.  That was the one rule with dragons, don't mess with their human.

A thought struck her... she couldn't see the entrance from her room!  Her window looked out over the garden.  It was Jack's room that looked over the entrance and the stables!  Why did they put her to bed in his room?  Was there something wrong with her's?  She turned and carefully approached the sleeping maid.  As she was almost to the rocker, she stumbled and nearly fell.  It was only the creaking of the floorboard and the servant's quick reaction that kept her from hitting the floor.  As the surprised woman held up Audrey's thin frame, the girl worked hard to compose herself.  She took a step back, and stood tremulously on her own before asking "Why am I here?  What's wrong with my room?"

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2009, 07:40:42 PM »
“Her Ladyship wished you to be moved here, m’lady. Please, stay in bed – the medicine is still in you.” The maid helped her mistress back to her brother’s bed, settling her back in with a firmness that broke no refusals. She had been with the family all her life, and approaching middle-age knew how to handle the children.

As she was tucking Audrey in, the bedroom door opened. Only one person wouldn’t feel the need to knock – the Marquise herself.

Audrey’s grandmother was still in her mourning dress of ebony lace in an old fashioned but elegant cut. “Leave us, Dina. I must speak with my grandchild. Make sure the five servants I dismissed have left with their recommendations, and that the letters I wrote have been sent. We need to act quickly.”

The maid bobbed and left the room. Teresa pulled the door shut and walked to the bed, sitting in a chair that had been left at the head. Her eyes were hard, her sorrow and grief hidden behind her stern features. Her granddaughter would see past it, but she didn’t let the mask fall.

“Audrey. Do you remember what has happened?”

Offline TadTopic starter

Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2009, 07:49:43 PM »
Seeing the pain her grandmother was in brought tears to Audrey's own eyes.  Not trusting her voice, she simply nodded, looking to her remaining family for instruction on how to deal with this loss.  But there were too many questions, and she couldn't keep them bottled up any longer.  She sniffles and wipes away a tear running down her cheek before she speaks.

"What's wrong?  Why do we have to act fast?  Why am I in Jack's room?"

She looks expectantly at the Marquise.  If there's one thing about her that could always be relied on, it's that she knows what's going on and what's going to come next.

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2009, 08:03:00 PM »
Her grandmother was quiet for a few moments, her eyes fixing firmly on Audrey’s. “Because of what has happened.” She frowned, and said, “You know your place in society. You know that when the time comes, you would be married off, to the good of the family, and your brother would take up the mantle of his father, and become a knight in the Empire’s service. Such things have been our way for generations, since the Grimsword name was founded at the start of the Empire. It has been our honour to always have a member of the family in the knighthood. When people think of the knights, they think of Grimsword. We are the only family with a dragon in our crest. The only family with an unbroken line in the service. You know how important such things are to us. But… but Jack cannot take his place, yet we cannot let such a thing break our tradition.” She paused, wondering if her granddaughter would be too opium-addled to guess where the conversation was going.   

Offline TadTopic starter

Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2009, 08:20:36 PM »
Audrey knew all of this history.  It had been impressed into her thoughts from the time when they first began.  She knew what was expected of her and her brother by the family.  But she didn't understand why Gran was repeating it all to her now.  The knights only take the boys from the prestigious families, there had never been a female knight.  With the death of her brother any hope for the line to continue was gone.

"I don't understand.  What other choice do we have?  They won't allow me into the Riders, I'm a girl!"

As she looked into her grandmother's eyes, suddenly the plan became clear.  Her own eyes widened at the idea, but her mind began to race with thoughts.  People had always commented on how alike she and Jack were.  How they could almost be twins, except for the fact that Jack was a bit smaller.  But even that gap had closed over the past year with his growth spurt.  When they had gone to visit the academy for him, they were almost exactly the same size.

"No.... it'd never work.  People would know.  They'd figure it out.  Training takes years!"

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2009, 08:45:43 PM »
“Which, my dear, is why I had to act so swiftly. It is not the first time in our history that such tragedies have happened. There have been a half-dozen others, like you, forced to bury their feminine selves for the sake of continuation. If you should balk at the thought of doing this, you forfeit our noble line.” Her hands moved over her skirts, smoothing them. “It is not easy, but far from impossible.”

There was a light knock on the door, and the older woman called for whoever it was to enter. It was the maid with the tea and a few French pastries. The girl set them out on a table, poured the tea then left.

Her hand steady, Grandmother Teresa gave Audrey a cup and picked up her own, sipping it elegantly. “It is only due to great need that I ask such a thing. You must sacrifice the life you could have led – but just think of what you would gain. I know how you look at Sampson, and how you cried when you were young when you were told you were not to have one. So, you must wear your hair short and think up excuses why not to go swimming in the lakes – is it so bad that you can say having a dragon is not worth it?” It was a low shot, but it was probably the only thing that would sway Audrey.   

Offline TadTopic starter

Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2009, 09:23:57 PM »
Audrey didn't touch her tea.  Her mind was blazing too fast for her to do anything but think.  There had been others?  Other women who had hidden who they were and became knights?  Other women who had had a dragon?  Why couldn't she have been told this earlier, why did they have to wait for something terrible to happen before letting her know she could be a Rider?  She knows why, a piece of her is still indignant about it.  She could have been learning along side Jack and both of them could have attended together.

She had always felt bored with the possibilities her life offered.  To learn manners and dances, to court and marry and raise a family.  She had envied Jack and the right he had to run and climb trees and go fishing and most of all to have the lifelong friendship of a dragon.

The Marquise didn't have to ask Audrey what her response was.  She could read it in her eyes and in the slight smile that had crept onto her lips.

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2009, 09:49:53 PM »
Teresa nodded approval. “There are things that need to be done. They have been set in motion – the doctor at the academe is one that owes us a debt. He will know, but will not let it get out. The trustworthy staff of the manor know – the ones who have served us for generations, they understand – and I dismissed those who have not been with us long. They will call you Jack, starting tomorrow. You cousin Rosalind will be told when she is old enough. You will need to learn masculine mannerisms, and forget the feminine. We will re-teach you how to dance. You will go to the Academe in two month’s time.” She sipped her tea, studying her granddaughter. “It will be the hardest thing you ever do. We can have you placed with a family friend – Cade, or Tristan, they will keep quiet – but at that school, you will have to keep your wits about you, but I know you can do it.” She smiled then, the skin at her eyes forming crows feet. “You have the right mind for it.”   

Offline TadTopic starter

Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2009, 09:58:19 PM »
Even with the excitement she felt, she heard the compliment and blushed.  Her grandmother never gave praise lightly, and to be told such a thing was an honor indeed.  She nods, and tries to listen to all the instructions, but already can feel the changes her life will take overwhelming her.  There's so much that needed to be done, and in such a short amount of time.

Another issue was quickly arising as well.  The drugs that had filled her system for the past few days were reluctant to give up their hold on her.  Even these few minutes of wakefulness were beginning to drain on her strength, and her eyelids began to flutter slightly.

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2009, 10:12:48 PM »
Teresa noticed her grandchild’s weariness and took the cup untouched in the girl’s hand, putting them down on the tray. “That can wait. Rest, Audrey. We will begin the hard work tomorrow.” The old woman got to her feet, and drew the sheet up around the young girl and stroked her hair. She would miss those long locks, but it would be worth it and then some.

She waited until the girl drifted into slumber, then left, sending the maid back in to get the tray and watch after her only grandchild.   

Offline TadTopic starter

Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2009, 10:42:01 PM »
That night Audrey dreamed.  She dreamed that her father was there, and that he was talking to Sampson.  Jack was standing near him, but was afraid of the big dragon.  Feeling for her brother she stepped forward, and placed a hand on his shoulder to steady him.  Suddenly the world swirled and she was the one with the hand on her shoulder.  She turned to see Jack and her parents standing behind her.  Jack smiled at her, and whispered "It'll be alright Audi.  I'm glad you get to do this."

The dream stuck with her through the morning.  She was awoken by a maid knocking on the door.  Normally the woman would enter, but it was improper for her to do so on the lord of the house.  Audrey ate breakfast in silence, the only sounds being the occasional greeting of "Good morning, Jack".  She was getting ready to bathe when one of the manservants entered with her grandmother.

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2009, 11:26:19 PM »
The manservant bowed, but the old matriarch did not give any sort of obeisance. “Jack, you’re hair has grown quite out of control. Peters, trim Master Jack’s hair so he is not so disgraceful.” The words were cold and cruel, but the tone belied the meaning, a hint of amusement there.

Peters murmured a response and moved towards Audrey, a pair of barber’s scissors in his hands. “Could the young sir please sit by the window? The light is better there.” It was also the seat that couldn’t be seen in the mirror’s reflection. When she saw herself again, it would be as Jack.

Offline TadTopic starter

Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2009, 11:39:37 PM »
She smiled at her grandmother's quip, but that smile quickly turned to a near grimace.  This was a big moment, the long hair that she had been growing for most of her life was about to be hacked away, leaving her a different person.  Still, it was only hair, and it would grow.  In fact, if she wished she could grow it out as soon as she arrived at the school.  Plenty of boys had longish hair that they tied back.  It would be best for her to keep it short, for appearances, but she could.  With that thought on her mind, she followed Peters' request and moved to the window seat.

Within moments she could already feel the difference.  A few small snips left her head feeling lighter, her neck feeling cool under the breeze from the window.  She could see the long dark tendrils float down when they were cut, a few drifting further into the room when the wind picked them up.  In only a few moments, she hears the scissors being slid back into their holder, and knows she is done.

She stands and goes to examine herself in the mirror.  At first she's startled... it looks like Jack is standing there!  But then her practiced eye sees the differences  that had set them apart.  The slightly fuller lips, the eyes that are a lighter shade of blue, fewer freckles over the bridge of the nose.... and not to mention the slowly healing gashes the car glass had left on her forehead and scalp.  It really was her standing there, but at the same time it was her brother as well.

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2009, 01:39:01 PM »
The Marquise stepped closer, her soft hand stroking through her granddaughter’s shortened hair. “Yes… much better. You have much of your father in your face, when he was your age. I remember sending him off to the Academe, he was so happy…” She trailed off, her fingers going still in Audrey’s hair. She drew her grandchild towards her, hugging her briefly. “Ah, dear Jack. Go on, go and bathe now. You have a busy day. We will visit the mausoleum so you may pay your respects, but this afternoon there are other matters to be seen to. No time for dallying.”

True to her word, after Audrey had washed and dressed in her brothers clothes, they went to their family’s resting place. It was quiet, a bright collection of flowers crowding around the white stone tomb. They stayed a little longer than Teresa had the pervious day, allowing Audrey her pain but not allowing her to wallow in it. Death was a sad fact of life, but one could not become lost in sorrow. Life had to be lived.

The following weeks were filled with lessons, from how to dress to how to ride and fight. Mostly it was a struggle to get Audrey to abandon her feminine habits, such as her laugh, her walk, even eating. Her grandmother was the driving force, but all the servants pitched in to help her change. It was intense and frustrating, but there was no backing out, and it helped the whole household move forwards. Grief was still present, but it wasn’t given any foothold for those two months.

Sampson, however, was not distracted. A mourning dragon was a miserable thing to behold. He was not eating as well, and his bones were becoming more pronounced. There was little to be done – not even another dragon knight could get him out of his despair. He would die or live, but could not be influenced in either way. The Marquise did her best to keep Audrey from knowing, but a sorrowful dragon was a hard thing to hide.

Too soon, the day came when Audrey had to leave her home, to take Jack’s place among the pages of the Academe. There was a strange mix of excitement and sorrow, clothes freshly tailored to fit Audrey’s taller frame being packed and stowed on the carriage, Teresa directing them. She would not see her grandchild for months, if all went as it should. Her emotions stamped down, she was more stern than ever, commanding the footmen as ruthlessly as a general would his soldiers.   

Offline TadTopic starter

Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2009, 02:23:36 PM »
After a quick bath and getting dressed in her traveling clothes, 'Jack' slipped away from the hustle and bustle.  She snuck down the servant's stairs and out the back door into the garden.  Once she was far enough from the house to not be heard by its occupants, she began to whistle.  She kept up the pattern Papa had shown her, waiting for the sky to darken and Sampson to arrive.  Over the past weeks she had seen him growing thinner, and had noticed his pain.  Her heart ached at this, but there wasn't anything she could do beyond visit him and try to bring him some happiness.

Today was the last day she'd get to do so.  Holding out the sausages she had snuck from the breakfast table, she keeps whistling.  She knows the time she can stay away is limited, and if Sampson doesn't show it's going to break her heart to not say goodbye.  But even if he doesn't, she won't cry.  That's one of the first things that was forced upon her when her life changed.  She has to be just as strong as the strongest boy.... any less could lead to suspicion.

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2009, 11:37:37 PM »
Sampson came eagerly to the call, coming from beyond the copse of trees some distance away. Dragon hearing was almost as good as their sight. He landed lightly a short distance from Audrey, his wings working hard, then snapping shut with the sound of a dozen umbrellas closing.

His spike-ended tail swished side to side, a show of minor irritation rather than the doglike greeting. He had wanted it to be his companion. He approached the girl readily enough though, sniffing her chest and choon-ing in recognition. His great eyes blinked as he peered at her expectantly.   

Offline TadTopic starter

Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2009, 11:54:10 PM »
With a light sigh, she held out the food.  The dragon just hadn't been showing the same warmth since the accident.  Even so, Audrey had hoped he'd at least be pleased to see her, considering she brought some of his favorite snack.  Either way, she still needed to say her goodbye.

Reaching out her other hand she placed it on his massive neck, just behind the jawbone.  She rubs her thumb lightly over the rough scales.  "Hey there.... I need to tell you something.  Remember when you were little... how you were at the school with other dragons.  When you got to meet...."  She stops, not wanting to mention her father.  Who knows how Sampson might react.  "Well, I'm going to go there now.  I'm leaving today, and I won't be back for a while.  I promise I'll be back for the holidays, but until then you just need to be brave and good... ok?  And stay out of the garden or Mrs. Stone will have a fit."

Smiling a sad smile, she pats him gently once more, then gives in and wraps her arms around his neck.  Hugging him tight for a moment, she fights back the tears.  Then she lets go and waves goodbye as she starts back towards the house.

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2009, 04:37:50 PM »
Sampson had eaten the treat with a deep rumble that was his purr, paying attention to her words. He understood what she said, picking up most of it from her tone – but dragons knew key words, and were smart enough to string them together. He dropped his head as she hugged him, pressing her gently then watching her go with a gentle rumble she didn’t hear but felt through her feet.

When she got to the front of the house, the last of her things were being loaded. Her grandmother was talking to two more footmen, dressed to ride and both carrying rifles. “… with all precautions. Keep sharp and don’t forget to look up every so often. Stealth zeppelins can carry snipers. Oh, Jack. There you are. I have something else to give you – it is only for the journey, and when you reach the Academe, you are to hand these to the Headmaster – students are prohibited firearms.” She waved a third man forwards. He held a case which he opened, showing two pistols settled in blue velvet. They had several sets of initials engraved down the barrels, all ending with G, the last two being J.G., and the family arms on the butt. She had been taught how to shoot in the two months – not well, but enough so that she would only hurt her attacker, not herself or her men. “You only use these if something happens,” her grandmother said firmly.     

Offline TadTopic starter

Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2009, 04:51:31 PM »
She nods solemnly, and takes the box.  Placing it and the small travel case inside the coach, she turns back around and looks at her grandmother.  Taking a deep breath, she draws herself up tall, stiffly adjusts her jacket, and gives a very proper bow. "Thank you Gran.  I'll do just as you said, in this and the other things.  I promise I'll work hard and I'll make you and our family proud."With a slight smile on her lips, she waves to the staff members that stand about the house, then prepares to step aboard the carriage.

Offline Dim Hon

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Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #23 on: February 20, 2009, 02:05:25 PM »
“Oh, no you don’t, my lad!” the Marquise said regally. Her arms came around Audrey in a hug, holding her close. “Behave, and listen to the teachers. I hear Tristan will be teaching in a month or so, and the Rosenhall’s have one of their brood in the second year. If anything happens, be sure to talk with the doctor. He will do what he can.”

She hugged her granddaughter for a few moments more, them let the girl go, her age-speckled hands straightening her boy’s clothes and trying to flatten her short hair. “Now, hurry along. You won’t get there until after nightfall. Make sure the fresh horses you are given are to the same standard as these. And do try not to get your nose broken like your father.” She kissed her forehead and stepped back, pride glinting in her eyes.

Offline TadTopic starter

Re: Dragon Academy (Eden and Tad)
« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2009, 09:35:34 PM »
Her smile broadens into a full-blown grin.  She'd been hoping that's what her grandmother would do, she would have been deeply saddened if she'd gotten away without such affections.  Gladly hugging back, she takes in a deep breath of the Matriarch's familiar scent, trying to hold onto it for the journey.

As her clothes are adjusted and she's kissed goodbye, Audrey can't help but wonder how different things will be when she returns.  She nods at the instructions, and raises an eyebrow at the mention of her father.  She'd never heard anything about that particular story.  She pauses for a second to see if there will be any elaboration.  When there isn't, she accepts the kiss, and retreats into the cab.  Setting her arm on the window sill and resting her head in the crook, she stares out at her home for 13 years.  With her other hand, she waves again as the coach begins to pull away.