Edengaard, 36 Earth Years Ago (Year: Leda 948)
“Alburn, you can’t suggest such a thing!” Allegra’s furious whisper echoed, bouncing off the stone walls of the zorala, as she emitted the furious odor of molten metal. “Letha has only four years – little more than a hatchling! Taking her to Earth, cloaking her as human… ”
“We must, Allegra. It’s the only way to protect her.” Alburn’s light gray eyes darkened in anger, nearly – but not quite – battle black. “Jakken has taken our queen.”
The small Therati gathering stilled, and the shocked scents of cedar, woodsmoke, and salt filled the air. Janwyn looked to her mate, Boulder, for answers, but he shook his large bronze head and addressed Alburn.
“What is this, Alburn? What do you mean, ‘taken’? No one ‘takes’ the Kiqu.”
Alburn turned to Boulder. “Jakken has been mining septarian stone from Earth. He killed Leda’s consort, Thalion, with a septarian-carved blade. He locked a septarian collar around Kiqu Leda’s neck while she was sleeping, rendering her weak and defenseless. While she was helpless, he bound her and forced a bond.” Alburn paused at the collective gasp and looked at each Terrakon in turn, his eyes dimming in pain.
“Jakken is the new Ref.”
He paused to let them digest the news, then continued, “As Leda is under his control, Jakken is now effectively leader. But Leda is nearing the end of her time. She likely only has another fifty years before she joins the ancestors and Letha ascends. I believe Jakken next plans to take Letha for training, and once complete he will do the same to her as to Leda – ensuring that he rule in her stead in the centuries ahead.”
Allegra stared at Alburn, her copper eyes blazing in horror, then bowed her head in acceptance.
“Very well, Alburn. We will take our most precious daughter to Earth, as you advise.”
At Alburn’s silence, Allegra looked at him sharply. “What is wrong? I have conceded your point. Is it not so?”
The large gray took his mate in his arms for a moment before speaking. “We must stay. As Fire Council leader, you will be needed to fight this. Janwyn and Boulder will care for Letha.” He looked at their most trusted friends, their hatch-mates. Their faces were blank as they communicated silently with their Terrakon bond-mates, then they nodded their acceptance.
Allegra bit her lip. “When shall they depart?”
“Jakken will not hesitate. He could be here in moments. They must leave now.”
Allegra straightened her shoulders, pulling her wings tightly against her back, as though their added protection could shield her heart from the decision that had been made. Her voice carried the tone of command.
“Alburn, please retrieve five traveling packs from the vault. Janwyn, Boulder, Tasha and Gannon: gather what you need, and meet back here in fifteen minutes. I will say goodbye to my daughter.”