Trials Of A Seer – Part One
Excitement built in the air, so thick that you could taste it. Some might say you could even eat it. Today was the day that everyone wanted to be here, to be a part of it all – to celebrate. Today was the day that they welcomed new members into the clan. Everyone crowded into the Conclave for the ritual, and no one dared to miss it.
There was one person in the entire clan that didn’t want to be there. At least, not for the reasons she was supposed to be. Being abandoned into, and growing within the clan, the young woman knew that she was considered a part of it, but yet not truly. She hadn’t yet reached the age of majority and would do so this week.
The only non-dragon shifter in a clan of chromatic dragons, Nia, never felt at home. She might have been rescued as a baby, kept because of her gifts, but she wasn’t blood. She didn’t possess the blood of a dragon running through her veins.
She had something else.
Growing up, Nia had honestly thought she was like the other children – that she was part of the clan. All of that had changed twenty years ago when she was but five years old. As one of the errant children, she was often walking through places that she had no place being. Spying on meetings, sneaking into the rooms that held mysterious artifacts…. it was always getting her into trouble.
By accident, she had been walking in the Conclave when it was supposed to be closed, too curious about what was inside. Having been too young to attend the Joinings that would often take place inside, she had no idea what the building was supposed to hold. So, of course, her curiosity caused her to push her way through and got her an introduction to someone that she would one day wish to forget.
As she had been sleep-walking, she had not been paying attention to what she was doing and bumped into someone. All it took was touch, and her gift manifested itself: the ability to see things that had yet come to pass, to know the future for a brief moment. It had been by pure coincidence that her body had run into the then Elder Master, Gabriel, and his new apprentice, Damien.
Being that she was five years old, Nia hadn’t learned the art of having a filter on what she discovered. In her childlike attitude, she blurted out what she had seen — the eminent death of Gabriel and the rise of Damien to power. The far-away look in her eye had been the only signal that she saw something other than what she should have been.
Even now, Nia was grateful that they hadn’t thought she was threatening their leader.
Instead, they had laughed it off and called security to take to her back to her home. Nia had felt a niggling feeling that night that something was going to happen, and she had been right. The next day the dead body of Gabriel was discovered and, as no one could prove what happened and no one wanted to believe the word of a little five-year-old girl, Gabriel’s apprentice took the throne.
As of that night, Nia had come to be in the service of their new leader. In truth, Nia was unsure how she felt about Damien. He was nice to her, always buying her things and trying to show her what life would be like if she were his Queen. The only problem was, she did share his feelings. Nia had told him this, but Damien had just smiled, stared at her in a way that spoke that he would win this battle and ignored her. Where most people would treat her as a freak, Nia was treated by Damien to be anything but.
Yet, when it came to Nia, he was different. Damien was always nice to her, but a little too formal for her taste. He was always buying her things, silks, satins, the finest perfumes. It wasn’t that Nia didn’t appreciate it, she did, but she wanted to be an average girl. He always made sure she was pampered. She did not doubt that he was trying to show her what her life would be like if she were the Elder Master’s Queen of sorts.
What scared her about Damien was the way he looked at her. She was inexperienced with men and unsure exactly what his looks portrayed, but she didn’t like them. Dragons were notoriously possessive, but Nia wasn’t property. She didn’t appreciate the looks he gave her, but she liked the things he bought her. It was a hard line to balance.
The major fact was that she was coming of age during the week-long celebrations. She would be the prime target for all of them, especially their Elder Master. She would be old enough to be chosen for a bride. It made her completely terrified of the Joining.
There were three types of Joinings.
The first was the wedding of those who loved each other and wanted to come together to the clan as a solid unit. Often the Elder Master would have to speak, a few drops of blood were spilled to recognize the bond between the two, then they would consummate and be married.
The second type of Joining was welcoming the newest of age members into the clan. They would swear their loyalty to the Elder Master and take his brand. All dragons in the clan were required to have the clan brand. It helped to identify their bodies should something terrible happen.
The last type of Joining was the one she was afraid of. For those young women that were of age, they could be sold into indentured servitude for many years. As a slave, they could be one of anything from a sex slave to just a live-in maid. She could avoid it, but only if the Elder Master declared them off-limits from such events.
Nia was far more independent than most of the dragon’s liked, but so far the Elder Master hadn’t seemed to mind. He just continued to drape her in jewels and the finest things he could, all the while gazing at her with that stare. There’s something off about him, but she cannot quite place it. She’d touched his arm or his hand many times, but his future was always a little clouded as if he was actively working to block her from giving him the bad news.
Her duty was clear. She had to get ready to be presented to everyone. The first day of the events within the Conclave mostly involved mingling. The actual ceremonies didn’t take place until the end of the week, the last of the Joining ceremonies being the ones for the slaves. After they were concluded, most of the dragons would return to their villages and go about their day until next year.
Her reflection spoke of someone who was worn out. She had been reading the cards, bones, and performing all manner of prophesying for Damien lately. That was ten years since she had had a break and a chance just to be herself. From dawn until dusk, or rather from the time she was awakened until she drifted off to sleep, she was to do what he wished for her. He would make them stop and allow her the chance to eat and to rest. She was trying to show the others that he cared for her deeply. Nia didn’t like the friendly version of Damien. She much rather would have the darker side; at least that side, she knew what she was getting. Her exhaustion was due more to the influx of requests lately.
Seeing the future, or flashes of it could be tiring. If the dark circles underneath her ocean-blue eyes were any indication, it was quite clear that she hadn’t had a decent amount of sleep in ages. Her long auburn hair needed a trim, but she was ’t allowed to alter it in any way. So instead, she let it hang down her back, almost to her rump. She only pulled the sides up and away so that they wouldn’t get in her face.
Her clothing options for the week weren’t of her choosing. They never were. Nia would have preferred to be much more modest than she was forced to be. It wasn’t that Nia didn’t like the silks and satins, she did. She just didn’t constantly want to be in dresses or skirts. The clothing was always far too opulent for her taste. She wanted simple, yet he draped her in things fit for a Queen.
Laid out on her bed was tonight’s choice of clothing. Sighing, the busty woman slipped into the barely-there lingerie and then slipped on a soft burgundy satin dress. It had a bit of a cinched top that always seemed to accentuate what some thought was her best asset. The skirt was full, long, and flowed nicely when she walked.
Her face was adorned with enough makeup to make her look like a glow-stick. It was the way she was expected to be.
For one long moment, Nia only closed her eyes and wished she could be someone else that she could just be her. But that would never happen. Not unless something changed, and nothing ever did.
The knock on her door had her frowning before she fixed a fake smile on her face. She could do this. She had to do this.
She had to survive and hope that she could make it through a year without being a slave to someone.
Upon hearing the knock, Nia opened the door. She was closing the door behind her as she stepped over the threshold. Until she got into the Conclave, she would be escorted by the guards.
There had been a time that she had run and, well, they didn’t want that to happen. The reason she didn’t need them inside the Conclave was the mere fact that the doors magically locked, and no one could get in or out until the events were over. There were rooms aplenty for everyone that showed up, and frequently some extra ones. The food was always around, and people didn’t think anything of it.
Being locked in a giant mansion with all the dragons of the varying Chromatic kinfolks wasn’t something that anyone was afraid of, save maybe her. It was because she couldn’t shift into a dragon, leaving her vulnerable. Not that she had the desire to. Instead, she simply had to touch them to know their futures.
Even now, she could feel a headache encroaching, and it was only going to get worse.
Tripping as she was shoved inside the doors to the Conclave, Nia gripped the nearest thing she could to steady herself. What she had thought was supposed to be a railing felt far too soft and unyielding to be the handrail or the wall.
Turning her eyes to the scene, she realized that she had stumbled into someone, literally. Being that she was normally at all of these events every year, Nia had grown to learn the names of everyone in the clan, children included, and this was someone she didn’t know.
Her gift flared the moment she touched him, and she was trapped, drawn like a moth to a flame. Her mind’s eye was spinning and whirling with everything that was going on. Flashes of color dotted her vision. Blood, death, and pain. It was almost too much for her mind to handle and set her body on edge. She hated these visions — the ones where people had to die, and she was forced to watch helplessly.