Legacy of Falling: Chapter One
Note: I didn't expect this part to have plot. But it does. I'm not sure how it did that.
Her mother was a very powerful woman. She had deep blue scales, the prettiest leaf green eyes she'd ever seen, and shimmery pink hair. It looked like copper, but paler, like she had blood on silver. That was maybe a good way to describe it, but her mother was careful not to get blood in her hair so she never had a chance to compare. She could never quite pin it down because of that, and the lines of dark in the sea of green her mother had for eyes certainly never helped, even if those she could describe, leaving her helplessly floundering for a way to say it.
She knew she wasn't as pretty as her mother. Even if she got really lucky, she knew she likely never would be. She was two tone where her mother was vibrant, multicolored, and it made her sad to know her own black scales would never have the gossamer reflections her mother's did, like light flickering over deep water. She was tall, so much taller than anyone else she'd ever seen in her life, and she hoped that she grew up to be like that.
She didn't want to have to ever, ever have to rely on someone, because if she did, then they'd go away like father went away. She could barely remember him, just a blur of defenseless pale brown skin with eyes that had far too much white to be healthy. Why, he'd only had color in the centers! How could he see anything at all if he only had a splotch of purple in all that mess of white that he called eyes? She didn't understand, though she'd found, to her disgust, that she had a form that was weak like that. How did people like that survive?
Her father had pointed ears, just as her mother had, but no claws or fangs. He didn’t even have a proper set of horn or tail. He was so much smaller than her mother too, long blue-black hair falling in a hazardous knotted rope to almost his knees between the brightly colored, fragile wings on his back. Didn't he know that someone could grab that and force him to submit? Hadn't he cared that someone could take hold of that and shred his wings, leaving him bound to the earth? She didn't remember what he sounded like, and he'd only visited a few times, when she was still too young to really understand who he was at all, but still, those memories had made an impression.
She didn't ever want to be like her father. Being weak like that unnerved her greatly, though she promised her mother and found a shape between the strength of her mother and the weakness of her father after much coaxing. She knew it was an important thing, to not bring notice, so she followed by example. Her mother, when she was not in her strong form, took the shape of a deep earthen toned woman. It stripped her of claws and fangs, stole away the protections of scales and the agility of wings and tail, but it didn't make her look weak. Not the way her father looked weak, or the way her own smaller form looked weak.
It took practice, and it was painful, but her mother had helped her craft a form. Her mother always kept her pretty pink silver blood hair, the green eyes, and she was still so tall and strong. She followed that, her own bright blue short and sticking out at all angles, and the silver and black of her eyes remained the same. She was still tiny, she couldn't make herself taller just by having a third shape, but she was as strong as she ever was, and that made her happy.
She didn't mind still being so small when her mother could pick her up and carry her, like she was now, during those times when they had to go into the cities. She knew that being a demon meant that she had to be very, very careful, so she made sure she never slid back into her scaled form. When she was with her mother, she was never afraid, but the urge was still there even when she knew she was protected.
"Rione, Rione child, I have some things that I need to tend to where you can't leave my sight, but I can't keep you close. Understand?"
The low, smoky voice caused her to turn her head, and she nodded, curling her hands tightly in her mother's shirt. It was so weird to wear clothes, they never had to when they were in their natural shapes. "Yes mama."
"Good child. You remember my rules?"
These were easy, and she started to obediently recite them because she knew her mother was going to ask that next. "Just because it's small doesn't mean I can eat it. No taking the clothes off before we go home, no matter how bad they itch. Stay in this form at all times." She closed an eye and tilted her head to the side, making a face. "Just because I'm curious doesn’t mean I can go somewhere without asking. And never ever, ever tell anyone my whole name." The last few words she said with a flourish, and it made her happy when her mother smiled.
"That's my girl. You're so clever for someone so young. Okay Rione, I'm going to give you some strips of elk, and you're going to be nice and quiet for mommy while she talks to some important people, okay?" Even as she spoke she was digging out the offered treat and giving it to her. She paid little mind to the fact they were moving ever deeper into the city.
She wished that there had been a way for her to leave her daughter at home for this. She wasn't supposed to be involved in these dealings, but there really wasn't any help for it. Her own mother had long since gone her own way, never to be seen again, and her littermate had perished years before. That meant that it was just her who could watch over her child. It would have been different were there blood family, but as she'd never met her far elder siblings, and she had been the youngest at the time, it meant there were one. Any other types would be as likely to kill her Rione as watch over her. It was almost embarrassing that she didn't even have a mate of some kind to watch over her.
She would have, had things gone differently, but she felt she could not be blamed for wanting to play with delicate things. There were worse obsessions though many of her own kind of people didn't seem to really agree. At least she wasn't like a dragon, holed up with knowledge and toys, alone and cranky because she didn't know how to enjoy a good round of play. The very idea made her shiver in uneasiness as she realized she also wouldn't be in a place to have the kinds of problems she did.
The Moor sector of the city was one she never had cared for. Everything was too cheap, too pointless in its violence. At least when she fought it wasn't just because she could. It was for play, mating, territory, treasures, training, or food, something of importance. It wasn't just for the sake of killing, and she could never understand why the people in these cities didn't seem to understand the pointlessness of it.
Shaking her head, she held her curious daughter more securely on her hip and watched for her meeting place. It didn't take long to find, the building having a yellow trim that was latticed. It made the building stand out as well as neon flames might have in this area, the dark browns and shadows easily concealing too much to the humans that pervaded the city. Many of the other races had no such troubles, but they weren't near as prolific breeders. They never were in comparison.
Where those of magic had power, the humans seemed determined to make up for in numbers. In a way, it made them perfect prey, and she never had cause to fear going hungry in a city when she'd been young. There was always another human around the corner. She didn't really see a problem with it, and that attitude had not changed, though she was aware this was not the best thing to pass on.
She would hopefully never need to teach her daughter those tactics, and she was glad that when her daughter looked around the front room of the building they'd entered, there was nothing but curiosity in her dark eyes. She didn't want to see that kind of hunger if it could ever be avoided. That way lay a path that had gotten many a demon killed for their stupidity, and, unfortunately, it wasn't uncommon for human flesh to drive a demon mad after too long with nothing else.
She could only guess that it had to do with the strangeness of their blood.
Seeing the person she'd been contacted to come meet made her resist the urge to laugh at the dark irony of her thoughts. Their blood never was the only thing about them that was strange. The man at the table she was approaching, for instance, was a human. His limbs did not seem quite proportionate, too thin in places and too thick in others, and that was only the beginning of his peculiarity. The fact that he seemed painted the same colors as the sector only enhanced his strangeness, and with the brown on brown of eyes, skin, hair, and clothes, he almost faded into the walls.
"Shem, so you decided to come after all. I was starting to think you weren't going to. Not that I could blame you, now could I?" When he smiled it really only made him look more bizarre. His mouth was much too widely built for the rest of his small features, and it looked more like a skull's smile as the teeth were exposed in the execution of that action.
Setting her child on her feet, she brushed the flyaway hair away from her face and gave her a small, tender smile. "Remember what we talked about." Aware of the implied 'yes mama' in her daughter's nod, she straightened from her crouch and moved to the seat opposite the man. "I don't miss meetings when I can avoid it Jonathan."
"Yes, of course you don't. Why don't you ever leave your little rat at home for these things? You know one of these days someone is going to- Hey! Lemme go!"
She really hated it when the man started to talk like that, as he seemed to do on every occasion they had to meet for something. It was becoming habit to be able to reach across and yank him in by his shirt like she was, claws just barely extended to press against the skin of his throat through the material. "Why must you speak of my daughter in such a way? She isn't deaf."
He flinched, but she knew the fear wouldn't last, was in fact already fading. "Sorry, sorry, figures you'd be one of those types who won't pawn a brat off for a few hours. You can let go." She didn't really want to release him without injury, but did just the same, that strange frame settling back as though she hadn't threatened him at all. His hands calmly brushed down the drab shirt, and the action was almost enough to spark her anger again.
She refused to give in to the urge to break his bones. While it would be satisfying for a moment, it would do no good. Besides, it had been done before, of that she had no doubt. It would just make him cocky she'd lost her temper. "Enough of you. Give me what I came here for so I can be on my way."
"'Give me what I came here for'." The mime was done in a higher voice than his own, and it caused her to grit her teeth. Apparently seeing her patience was not infinite, he continued in a less antagonistic manner. "Fine, your highness, I'll give you what you came here for. There's news about an alliance being formed up north. It's very large and it would be in your best interest to join it."
"And what, exactly, would make anything of the sort in my 'best interest'?"
He smiled again, that bizarre too wide grin. "I guess you'd just have to see, now wouldn't you?"