The Tale of Autumn

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"I do not appreciate you bending Truth, Śarat Stone." Nisvārtha said, a sliver of humor lighting his violet eyes. "You attacked me like wild dog, starved, broken, and almost completely animal. It was only after I forced you into the river that you calmed down and realized I was not a threat."

Śarat scoffed. "He nearly drowned me!"

He rolled his eyes. "You lived on a riverbank and did not know how to swim, hardly my fault."

The wyrm made a rude gesture that had Kendra laughing so hard she made a snorting sound which had everyone else laughing, including Nisvārtha. Once the laughter had died down, everyone prepared for the night, shifting into their dragon forms to protect them from the chill desert night.

As Kendra yawned she began combing through her tangled hair with her fingers, grunting at the stubborn knots and snarls.

Havala seemed to be having an easier time as she took her hair out of a thick braid which had kept her long silver mane from being tangled.

"Would you like some help, Fledgling?" She offered, her blue eyes amused but sincere.

Kendra sighed. "Aye." She turned her back on the serpent and closed her eyes as long fingers began to detangle her hair.

"You do know that this could be avoided if you tied down your hair before flying, right?"

Kendra rolled her eyes. "Of course I do. But I lost my hair-tie when those assassins attacked, so I couldn't tie it."

Havala removed her hands. "Here." Kendra turned around to see the cold serpent woman offering a strip of cloth with knots tied in each end. "This will keep your hair together."

"How?" Kendra looked skeptically at the bit of fabric.

"Like so." Havala took a similar bit of fabric and turned it into a slip knot. "Pulling on the ends will close the loop and keep your hair in place."

Kendra smiled and slipped the tie on her wrist. "Thank you."

Havala offered a small smile in return. "I heard your wise words to the servant woman back in Nīrina Clan, they earned you my respect."

Kendra thought back to those hurried moments before they had departed the City of Rivers, and the short conversation she'd had with Jīviyannu Silt.

Kendra didn't have to wait long before the door to her cell opened again. Jīviyannu came in with her head bowed and led Kendra out of the room, down the stairs, and into a lounge area where Śarat, Sanna, Havala, and Suruli waited.

Sanna caught sight of Kendra and swept her up in a hug. "Thank Bhūmiya, you are okay."

Kendra pulled away with a smile. "You shouldn't have worried." She looked at the others. "Is everyone alright?"

Sanna nodded. "We are just waiting on Nisvārtha now."

Kendra nodded and looked back to see Jīviyannu walking away.

"Oi!" She called and the serpent turned. "Where're you going?"

"This is where I leave you, Miss Kendra." She said with a small smile. "I have my duties and you have your friends, we must say goodbye."

Kendra sighed and hugged the servant woman. "I will remember you." She said and pulled back, her hands resting on Jīviyannu's shoulders. "Promise me you will remember what I said."

The hazel eyed woman smirked and shook her head. "Birthright or not the task you suggest is insane, and you, my mad friend, seem hell bent on stealing what sanity I have."

Kendra rolled her eyes and grinned. "Too much sanity may be madness and the maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be." Her smile dropped. "Your life should not be like this, promise me you will not forget what I told you."

The serpent sighed and nodded her head. "I will remember, I promise."

"Her name was Jīviyannu," Kendra said, looking back up at Havala. "Jīviyannu Silt, the only niece of Lord Śārk."

Havala's blue eyes narrowed. "That is impossible, she was a servant."

The young fledgling shrugged, "She was born the day Śārk murdered her father, hidden and kept a secret all these years, disguised as a servant."

Havala tugged at her ear, her disbelieving eyes focused on the ground beneath her. "Why did she never come forward?"

Kendra just sighed and laid down. "I don't think anyone ever told her she could."

There was silence for a moment. "Did you?" Havala's voice was hesitant but hopeful.

Kendra chuckled. "Of course I did. I can't keep my mouth shut."

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