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Change in the Wind

Turquoise and fuchsia, Calgon Shekeira gripped the ends of his easy chair until the fine wood began to buckle. “Absolutely not!” he thundered, his gleaming warm grey eyes flashing white at the cores. Across the living room, his mate Tamatha and daughter Ythé reclined on large circular puffs. Ythé, a shapeshifter, was in her gryphonform, a shape she had worn for more years than she had been Vahazayi. At Vagan’s suggestion to her father, Ythé’s foreclaws began to tighten on the pad, ears sliding backwards in anger.

“Don’t do it, Father,” she hissed. “Let Swalecain kill him for all I care.”

Tamatha reached out and touched her troubled daughter’s forearm with a gentle wingtip. Yth´ jerked back, curling up at the far end of her puff. She remained silent, save for the twitching of her black-plumed leonine tail.

Calgon’s eyes softened momentarily at his daughter’s distress, but they soon hardened again as he faced the smaller Falcon-Head. “As you can see, I have a good reason for refusing your request.”

“You surely do,” Vagan assured him smoothly. “But tell me this; would you rather be under the claw of Swalecain? Tell me truly, Calgon.”

Calgon said nothing for a moment, his great bronze beak tightening as his thoughts jumbled around in his head. He sighed softly, looking over at his daughter and mate. Tamatha, golden brown and silver-banded, sat stiffly, her liquid grey eyes fixed on his. She would not say anything; her opinion was tangible.

“He has caused my family great pain, Vagan. For that alone I should remain out of his affairs.”

If Vagan were in his position, he would have been saying the very same, but the Falcon-Head could not spare any feelings at the moment. “Calgon,” he said quickly, “have I ever been wrong before? You must know that if Swalecain were in power, he would oppress -- even kill -- your father, slaughter Clan Shekeira and Ventrishika.”

Calgon leaned back in his ruined chair. “The thought has occurred to me. And yet, are we no better off under Arex’fay?”

“With King you have a chance,” Vagan pressed, crest sliding up, tail fanning outward. “This is what we have been waiting for -- what your father and Ventrishika have been longing for. Flametalon was nothing, nothing changed after that. We have a chance that will never come again, here.”

The senior Shekeiras exchanged furtive glances. “You speak of extremes,” Calgon murmured, his fuchsia crest slick along his skull.

“No, I do not. Your family, of all Vahazayi, knows better. You are not content to allow just about anyone steamroll into power.” Vagan watched as Calgon and Tamatha shifted in their seats; Ythé remained quiet, her head tucked under one dull golden wing. He knew that they were rethinking the situation and it was looking as if things were turning in his favor. If anything, the Shekeiras valued their independence and their free way of thinking, rather than the collective conscious of their brethren. They were not tied to tradition. “I know you do not approve of King’s actions, and frankly, neither do I, but until now, no one has sought to challenge him. Change is coming, Calgon. We shall see an era unlike any other -- an era neither Solarius nor Larath could comprehend.”

“King harbors a human in his lair.”

Three heads turned to where Ythé sat; her eyes were clear and focused, staring straight at Vagan. “I saw her at the Council session; Grandfather brought me.” She pulled herself upright, curling her tail about her haunches. “She sat by Grandfather at the table. The look Swalecain gave her …” Ythé’s shoulders twitched at the memory.

Calgon stared at his eldest daughter. “And why was I not told of this?”

“The Council was ordered to secrecy about her existence.”

The turquoise head flicked around to stare at Vagan. “And were you privy to this information?” The Falcon-Head nodded. Calgon sat back again, considering the information his daughter had just provided. “I did not think it possible.”

“The winds seem to be shifting then,” Tamatha said at last, rising to her feet. “If he who banished the Tarazayi and evicted the dragons now allows a human into his lair …”

Calgon rubbed his forehead with a weary wingclaw. “Tell Lord Arex’fay to be here at dawn tomorrow.” He lifted his head and fixed Vagan with a steely look. “There will be no favors. I will not hold back because of his rank.”

Vagan’s black beak quirked in amusement. “Of course.” Inclining his head, the bronze-silver exited, his tail cascading like a wave behind him.

Rising, Calgon went over to where Ythé was. Squatting down, he pressed his forehead against hers, seeking reassurance for his judgment. A faint purr rose up from her throat and she returned the gesture. “Ythé … are you all right with this?” he asked after a moment.

Round grey raptor’s eyes looked up at him. “I must, for I have no other choice,” she replied. “And Father?”


“My name is Crystal.”

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