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R D Williams

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I, Walter
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Dametruxous and Yatalla
By R D Williams
Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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· The Three Trolls
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A story of friendship and love between an Elf, and a Dragon.

Dametruxous and Yatalla

Long ago, before the First Dragon War, there lived one of the greatest of Dragon's, Dametruxous. Dametruxous was the brother of Aratraxous, Lord of the Faithful Dragons, the eldest and greatest of their kind. Those two were among those Dragons to take the Oath of the Faithful in the days following the Last Great War with the Dark One, and they were the first to reject Astoth's overtures to the Dragons when he tried to recruit them to his service. In the time following Astoth's imprisonment, the Faithful, under Aratraxous' rule, held strictly to their oath of noninterference with the other races of the world, for Aratraxous knew that though their kind was by far the more powerful, it would be wrong for them to try and impose their will upon the other races. Those who had refused the oath however became known as the Renegades, and they were shunned by the Faithful, and dwelt apart from them, staying in their hidden lairs, hoarding their stolen gold and other valuables. Yet all the while they watched and waited, planning for the day that they could unleash their wrath at those who had taken this oath, for they believed that their greater power made them superior to the other races, and that they should rule all the world as they wished.
Dametruxous made his home in a great cavern beneath the roots of the mountain that later bore his name, northward in the Marenthal Mountains. He was held by all those that knew of him, even his brother Aratraxous, to be one of the wisest of all Dragons, and many came from far and wide to seek his counsel on many matters. Some would bring valuables to him, in payment for his advice, and in tribute to his greatness, yet he refused all such things that were brought for those reasons, for he gave his advice freely. The Dwarves of the house of Dearek, that dwelt then in the far northern edge of the mountains of Xantar, came and begged his leave to give their service to him, as a gift for all of the aid and wisdom that he gave to them, as well as to others. Dametruxous consented, saying that he would hold it as a gift, yet that he would also consider himself in their debt, and that if ever they needed aid, he would give it, unless such aid would breech the Oath of the Faithful. So it was that Dwarven craftsmen came to his cavern with their tools, and materials for building, and they widened and smooth the great stone corridors of his cavern, and they erected gates of steel, bound with iron at the entrance to his home. Then they did what they had not done for any before, setting up deep within his cavern, at the very stone archway that led to his innermost chamber, in which he would go at times for meditation and thought, another set of gates, yet these were wrought of true silver, with hinges of iron that were set into the living rock itself. Never before had the Dwarves crafted something so great from their precious true silver, and when they would work it for others, they would usually demand high payment for even a small quantity. These gates Dametruxous counted as his most prize possession, for they were in themselves beyond worth in the world, and many times after he would say that he felt not worthy of having such a thing.
It came upon a time that a young Elven woman, by name Yatalla, came to the home of Dametruxous asking his advice. Within the outer gate of his home she came, stepping slowly, looking around at the wonder of his cavern, for she had never seen stone work that was its equal. Down the long main corridor her feet softly trod, until at last she came to the great gates of his inner sanctum, passing through them, not knowing that she should or not. There Dametruxous lay in the middle of the great cavern, all about small works of stone and other adornments that he enjoyed, so deep in meditation that almost he did not know Yatalla was present until she stood before him.
When Dametruxous opened his eyes, his sight fell upon the lovely elven women before him, her long tresses of gold, her eyes of bright emerald green, her fair complexion, and her simple light dress the color of new cream. For a moment he thought he was wrapped in some dream, for he marveled at her loveliness, the fairest that his eyes had ever set upon. The shapeliness of her face, the elegance of her slender frame, and her blond locks of hair which he thought out shined the purest of gold. Yet what caught and held his attention most in that moment were her eyes, like pools the hue of emeralds, and deep within those pools shone a light of surpassing beauty that even he could find no words in his mind to describe. He lifted his head, still wondering if he were in some dream, and she curtsied before him.
“Greetings oh Great One,” she said, her soft voice sounding like beautiful music to his ears. “Forgive my intrusion on your privacy. I will leave if you wish.”
“No,” he said. “You are not intruding, and there is no need for you to leave, for who would send away such a vision of loveliness.”
At his words she smiled and curtsied once again. “Thank you oh Great One.”
“Please, do not call me by that title, for I do not own it,” he said as he shook his head a little, thinking that perhaps some sleep was still in him. “Call me Dametruxous, for that is my name.”
“Your name is a mouthful,” she said, yet then her face looked as though she feared she had said something wrong. “Forgive me my impertinence Dametruxous.”
“There is nothing to forgive,” he said with a slight chuckle in his throat. “Perhaps it is a long name by your standards.” He thought for a moment. “You may call me simply Dametrux if you wish.”
“Thank you great Dametrux,” she said with another curtsy.
“To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit my dear?” he asked as he lay his head upon the stone floor so that he could easily look into her eyes again.
“I come seeking your advice,” she said. “Though I fear I have little to offer in payment for your counsel.”
“Even if I were to wish payment for the counsel I give others, I would hold just having the pleasure of your visit to be more than ample,” he said. “What is it that troubles you enough to come into such a dismal place as this?” He had never thought of his cavern as dismal, yet after seeing her beauty he found his home rather forlorn, and dark, an unfitting place for one such as she to even stand in for a moment.
“I do not think this place is dismal,” she said. “I have never seen the like of the stonework, nor of the craftsmanship of your gates.”
“Simple things wrought for me by the hands of friends,” he said.
“I have come here secretly,” said began quietly. “You see, our small community lies eastward of the mountains of Xantar, apart from our other kin. For many years we have dwelt there peacefully, trading with the small communities of men who dwell not far from our village. These last few years however have been hard on those about us, and even for us times are growing dark.”
“What is it that troubles your people?” he asked, lifting his head slightly, finding that deep in his heart he wished to cure whatever it was that troubled her.
“Our problems lie with those that I fear you may consider kin,” she said slowly, for now she wondered if she should be bringing this matter to him.
“Kin?” he asked puzzled. “What offense have my people done to you?”
“Perhaps it is best to say that they are not truly your people,” she responded, her eyes going to the floor.
“One of the Renegades?” he asked, making a disgusted sound in his throat when he said the word.
“Yes,” she said, her eyes still on the floor, fearing to meet his gaze again. “One of those that are called the Renegades has made a home not far from our lands, and there also several of the lessor Drakes have gathered. They raid the livestock of the men who dwell in the north and east of Xantar, and over these last few months they have even begun dragging away some of the people of the villages, never to be seen again.”
Dametruxous raised himself up onto his haunches, and a blast of steam shot forth from his nostrils, for the fire deep within him suddenly burned hot with anger. “This should not be,” he said, his voice echoing from the walls of the cavern.
Yatalla stepped back a pace, fearing that the great Dragon would grow angry. When he saw this he dropped back down to lay upon the floor, his eyes looking into her's again.
“Have no fear of me,” he said gently. “For my anger is with this creature that troubles your people, and with those that serve it.”
“I come, not to ask for aid,” Yatalla said suddenly. “Only for your advice on how this creature should be dealt with.”
“I fear that is beyond your power,” said Dametruxous. “Even the great Elven armies of the Elden days in their bright armor could not deal with such a creature alone.”
Yatalla's head sunk in despair at his words. “I feared that it was so,” her voice was so sad and fearful in that moment that tears came to Dametruxous' great eyes as she spoke.
“You have no need for fear of this creature any longer,” he said. “That I swear.”
“Yet how shall we be rid of it?” she asked in desperation.
Dametruxous lifted his head again, his eyes flashing with something akin to anger. “I shall deal with it myself.”
“I can not ask that of you,” she said softly. “We have no right to expect such.”
“It is kin to us,” he said. “A Renegade of our kind, therefore it is the responsibility of our kind to deal with it.” He then shifted his weight so that his great haunches were beneath his bulk once more, and stretched his wings once, their span running from wall to wall of the great chamber before he curled them to his sides again. “Climb up onto my back,” he said. “I will carry you back to your home, and then I shall see an end to this creature that dares to harm any of your people.”
Yatalla, trembling half with fear, half with excitement, carefully climbed onto Dametruxous' back, finding a place between his shoulders to settle herself securely on his red-gold scales. There she sat, looking around at the Dragon's strong back, his long graceful neck, and the long light golden colored hair that ran the length of his neck, ending where she sat. As he stood and slowly walked along the corridor towards the outer gate, Yatalla traced her hand along the edge of a few of the scales, wondering at their hardness, and also the beauty and richness of their color.
“I will be careful not to dislodge you,” Dametruxous said in a gentle voice, sensing her fear and tension as he passed through the outer gate into the wide valley that lay before his home. “You may hold onto my mane if it makes you feel more secure though.”
Gently Yatalla took hold of Dametruxous mane, curling the long thick hair in her fingers, hoping that she was not pulling too much for the Dragon's comfort.
“Do you feel ready for me to take to the air?” he asked, sensing that her fear was ebbing somewhat.
“Yes,” she said, her voice now brimming with excitement. “I have never flown before.”
“Then you may consider this a treat,” Dametruxous rumbled, and with that his great haunches launched him up into the air, his wide wings flapping to lift them higher.
Yatalla closed her eyes as they took off, feeling as if her stomach had been left upon the ground below. Soon she heard the flap of the Dragon's great wings slow to a steady beat, and when she opened her eyes she gasped. The wind swept past her frame, her golden hair trailing behind, as they sailed through the clear, early afternoon sky. She craned her neck, looking over Dametruxous' great shoulder to see the ground far below, and reflexively she clutched his mane tightly, and crouched down low on his back.
Dametruxous winced slightly when he felt the sharp tug on several hairs of his mane, yet he endured it, knowing that she was not aware how sensitive they were. “Have no fear my lovely,” he rumbled softly.
Yatalla heard not the words with her ears, for the rush of the wind blew them away from her, yet deep in her mind she heard them, or perhaps felt them, along with a warm comforting feeling. Slowly she opened her eyes again, letting up somewhat on her hold of his mane, forcing herself to relax.
Through the sky they flew with great speed, over the fields and planes, past the Mountains of Xantar, until at last, as early evening was drawing on, Yatalla called out to him over the rushing wind.
“There is our village,” she cried pointing with one hand, not thinking that Dametruxous could not see the gesture. Yet it mattered not, for he could see the image of the small village in her mind, where other Elves moved about in their daily routines, and he knew that it lay beneath them now. He then began to descend from the high airs, spiraling downward in great, sweeping circles, until at last his great taloned feet came to rest upon the top of a large hill which rose up a few miles from Yatalla's home.
“Tell me, if you know, where this creature's lair is,” his voice rumbled in her mind. “Then you should return to your home, for my meeting with him may not be pleasant, nor safe, for you to behold.”
“They say there is a large split in the land where he hides, to the north of here,” she said. “It is perhaps a few miles from here, yet now and again he can be seen flying through the sky, searching for livestock or what ever else he wishes to carry away.”
“Very well, I shall seek him out,” responded Dametruxous as he leaned as low to the ground as he could so that she could more easily climb down from his back.
“Will I see you again?” she asked as her feet touched the ground.
He lifted himself up and looked down at her, his eyes meeting her gaze for a moment. “Yes,” he said softly. “If it is up to me, you shall indeed see me again.” With that he launched himself into the sky, and Yatalla watched as he flew away towards the north.

Two days passed after Yatalla's parting with Dametruxous, and in her heart she began to fear that things had gone ill for him, or perhaps he had not been able to find the other Dragon. When she had returned home, her Father had given her stern words about going off without a word, and when she had told him where she had gone, and of her meeting with Dametruxous, he told her that it had been a foolish thing to do.
“Dragons are not as we are,” he said to her. “Those of the Faithful may not scourge the lands, yet still it is not safe to have more to do with them than you can help.”
“Yet Dametruxous seems kind Father,” she responded.
“I do not doubt that he is well meaning,” her Father said. “Yet evil can result even from the best of meanings. Dragons are perilous, for you can not speak with one and remain unchanged, even when the change is not apparent.”
Yatalla thought about this for a moment. “Then are we not also perilous to others Father? To mortals most of all? We have dealings with many of the men who dwell in these lands, as our people have for many years, are not they changed by us to a degree?”
Her Father paused before responding. “Yatalla, promise me that you will not again leave without word.”
She had promised as her Father asked, and since then the subject had seemed over and done, yet still she wondered about his words. Could she have been changed by a simple conversation with Dametruxous? At last she had realized that in at least one way she was, for she knew she would always remember looking into those great eyes, and the light that was deep within them was engraved in her mind.
As the second day was drawing on she could stand waiting no longer, for she wished to know what had become of Dametruxous, and if had found the other Dragon, and if so, what the result had been. Late in the afternoon she told her Father that she was taking a walk, and that she would return before dark, and though he did not like the idea of her roaming about alone, he did not try to stop her. She believed that he guessed her real reason, but as he had said nothing of it, and had not tried to convince her not to go, she had also said nothing. So it was, as the shadows of evening were beginning to draw over the land, she came to the large hill where Dametruxous had left her, hoping that he might return there. As she came to the foot of the hill, she saw a great gold-red shape lying upon the summit, and she quickened her pace, wishing to speak to him. She paused a few yards from where the great Dragon lay, apparently asleep, and watched him for a moment. His great wings were curled upon his back, and his head lay upon the ground, even as she had first seen him deep in his halls, yet then she saw that the ground next to him was dark as if with blood, and she hurried forward. Kneeling before him, fearing he were dead, she lay her hand upon his wide nose gently.
“Dametrux,” she said his name quietly, and suddenly his great eyes opened, and looked at her with that same deep gaze.
“Greetings again Yatalla,” his voice was like a deep rumble, and his breath passed over her like a warm breeze. “The Renegade will trouble your people no longer.”
“You are hurt,” she said.
He lifted his head somewhat and looked down at her. “Not badly. I thought you might return here, and so I came here to wait for you, and regain my strength somewhat.”
“You should come to our village,” she said standing. “Perhaps one of our Healers can help you.”
There came from his throat a soft rumble that she somehow knew was a chuckle. “Your concern does you credit, yet you need have no fear for me, I shall be fine given time. We heal ourselves in a different way than your people. As to coming to your village, I do not think that would be wise, for even the Elves fear my kind in a way.”
“I see,” she said, and then looked into his eyes again. “I do not fear you.”
“So I have noted,” he said as he raised his mighty bulk onto his haunches. “I thank you for that.”
She noticed as he had lifted himself, several small rents in the scales of his underbelly, around which was dried, dark blood. “Are you certain you well?”
“I will be,” he said. “The creature wounded me, yet as I said, not badly. These marks shall heal in time, and I shall be whole again, at least physically.”
She wondered what his last comment meant, but decided that she should perhaps not ask. “Will you not at least come and tell my people of what has happened?”
“You fear that they will not believe you?” he asked. “Yet there is proof of the tale.” He shifted his weight to one side so that Yatalla could see the green scaled head of a great Dragon laying by itself, having been sheltered from view before. “Have them leave it where it lies, as a warning of what should happen to such that seek to harm your people.”
“Thank you oh great Dametrux,” she said and curtsied to him.
“Now I should return to my home,” he said.
“Then I will not see you again?” she asked sadly.
“You may if you wish it,” he said looking down upon her.
“I wish that,” she said, and then looked down at the ground. “There is something I want to ask you, a favor as it were.”
He lowered his head so that he could look into her beautiful eyes again. “You need but name it, and if it is my power I shall see it done.”
“I have heard that there are those, among elves and men, who enter into the service of your kind,” she began slowly.
“I deem you fair beyond words Yatalla,” he said. “Even if I wanted servants, I could not consider you as such.”
“Then would you consider me your friend?” she asked with a smile. “I would like very much to be your friend, and to dwell with you, and do all that I can to aid you.”
He lowered his bulk to the ground for a moment, his eyes thoughtful when he looked at her face again. “As I have said, I do not hold you or your people in any debt to me.”
“Not out of payment of a debt,” she said. “Because I wish to.”
“You are an elf, and there shall come a time when you wish to be with your own kind,” he rumbled softly.
“I find my kind tediously boring at times,” she said, and seemed surprised to hear herself say such, yet she knew in her heart it was the truth. “Please oh great Dametrux, allow me to be your right hand so to speak.”
He looked at her for several long moments deep in thought, for he was somewhat troubled by her request, yet also he found joy in his heart at the thought of it. That in itself made him more troubled, yet for reasons that he was not sure of. Perhaps he could consent to her request, after all if she became tired of his company, and wished to return to her people, that would be an easy matter to correct.
“Are you sure it is what you truly wish Yatalla?” he asked, and at her nod he went on. “Very well, I agree then. I shall await you here while you go and speak with your family.”
“My Father will not understand,” she said. “He says that it is dangerous for our kind to associate too much with Dragons.”
“Perhaps he is correct,” said Dametruxous. “You see why I wished to remain outside of your village then?”
“Yes,” she said. “I believe I do.”
“Do you still wish to go with me?”
“Yes,” she said without hesitation. “I do not know why, but I feel deep inside that my place is at your side.”
“Then as I said, I shall await you here, for I will not agree to you leaving your family and home without you at least giving them an explanation. It would not be fair to them, or to you.”
She nodded slowly, thinking of what she would say to her Father. “It will take me a little time to come back to the village, I fear it shall be morning before I return here.”
“That is fine,” he said as he lay his head upon the ground again. “Until the morning then, fair Yatalla.”

It was after dark when Yatalla returned to her family's home, and found her Father waiting for her. For an hour or more she spoke with her Father, telling him first of the death of the Renegade, then of her decision to leave home, and why. To her surprise he did not grow angry, yet rather he seemed sad as he tried to persuade her to change her mind. At last he knew that she would not bend on this matter, and he had always held true to the elven belief that one must choose their own path, and as she was now grown, even in the count of the elves, he begrudgingly relented. “I fear that you will see pain from this my daughter,” he said at last, as Yatalla packed a few belongings to take with her. “Remember what I have told you, in dealing with a Dragon, one does not escape unchanged in some way. Yet then, you seem different already, and perhaps that warning no longer holds meaning for you.”
When she was ready, she hugged her Father tightly, shouldered the pack she had prepared, and looking once more about the small dwelling where she had lived for so long, she turned and walked away out into the darkness, for the Dragon waited.

For three years she dwelt in the caverns in which was Dametruxous's home, and during that time the two became inseparable. During the day she would greet the occasional visitor that came seeking the great Dragon's counsel and advice, and lead them to where Dametruxous waited. Between such visits she would tend to her own daily needs, preparing food, making and mending her clothes, or tending to other various things about the cavernous home. Dametruxous would fuss about her not needing to tend to his matters, yet she would tell him that she did not mind, and he was content. In the evenings she would sit and listen to the tales he would tell of ancient times, of the War of the Dagda, the first coming of the elves, of their departure and return from the High Plane, and the many long wars against the Dark One. Long would they talk on summer days, sitting together at times, basking in the bright sun before the great outer gate of their home, and any that saw them as they sat thus, or when Dametruxous would fly up into the sky, carrying her upon his back through the high airs, would stop and watch in amazement at such company.
There came a day that Dametruxous, alone in his inner chamber, lay deep in troubled thought. Ever since that day he had awoke to find himself looking into her bright green eyes, he had not been free of the image of her face in his mind. He delighted in the time they spent speaking to one another, or even when they would sit together in silence, for her mere presence seemed somehow comforting and reassuring. Yet at times he would wonder how he could allow her to live this life, for her kind was not meant for the deep places and caverns, but for the open spaces, and the forests and fields, though never did she seem unhappy. Again the thought came to his mind, as he deeply searched his heart, that he had grown to love Yatalla greatly, though it seemed a strange matter to him. “Are we fooling ourselves?” he murmured to himself. “Living in a dream of a dream, that we can have a life together? No matter how close we are in spirit, there are barriers between us that can not be lifted. Though perhaps that is not completely true .”
With that he rose up, and went to the outer gate, telling Yatalla that he was going to hunt for food, and that he would return within a few hours, and then he flew off into the sky. Many miles he flew, northward along the Marenthal Mountains, landing at last upon a great cliff high upon the sides of the last of the great mountains. At the back of that cliff, delved into the flat stone surface, was a wide archway of stone. Through this archway he passed, calling out as he entered. “Aratraxous, I seek your counsel.” There, in a wide cave, overlooking the far northern lands beyond the Marenthal Mountains, he opened his heart to his brother, and spoke to him of the elven women Yatalla and his love for her.
“This is a thing unheard of,” said Aratraxous once the other had fallen silent. He shifted his weight and lifted himself to his great golden haunches and his deep hazel colored eyes looked into his brother's. “It is not natural I think.”
“Regardless,” rumbled Dametruxous. “My heart has not concerned itself with what is proper and improper, and perhaps that is the way that it should be.”
“And what kind of life could you offer this woman?” asked Aratraxous. “To dwell in a dark cave, in love with a being that she can not hold in her arms?”
“Hitherto, she has excepted that life of her own wish,” responded Dametruxous, his voice coming in a great sigh. “Yet am I wrong in thinking there is a way to overcome the obstacles of the physical?”
Without answering, Aratraxous moved past his brother and exited his small lair to stand upon the cliff outside, gazing into the north. Dametruxous followed, and paused beside him.
“You know as well as I do Dametruxous that it is possible,” said the great gold Dragon at last. “Yet we also both know that not all things that can be done, should be done.”
“What harm can come from it?” asked Dametruxous. “It is my own path to choose, is it not?”
“Yes,” responded Aratraxous. “Yet if you do this, I see sadness in the future.”
“My heart can only see joy,” said Dametruxous.
“You are resolved in this matter then brother?”
“I am.”
Aratraxous shook his body once, as if casting off water, and then made a disgruntled thrumming noise in his throat. “I can not command you to not do this thing, yet I do advise you against it.”
“Yet will you aid me if I ask it?” asked Dametruxous.
The golden Dragon turned his head and looked into the eyes of the other, and nodded. “If you ask it, I will not refuse brother.”

Yatalla sat deep within the cavern that she had now called home for the last three years, brushing her long golden hair while she waited for Dametruxous to return. He had left early in the afternoon, and it was now late evening, the sun having set nearly an hour earlier, and a part of her was concerned for him.
“He is fine,” she told herself. “Most likely his hunt too him longer than he thought, that is all.” She knew deep inside that there was little in the world that could hinder Dametruxous, yet still she worried when he was gone longer than he said, for it was a thing that did not happen often. Setting aside her brush, she stood and walked out of the alcove that had become her private chamber, and turning to her left walked through the great gates and into the Dragon's inner most chamber. She gazed about the large stone room, a smile on her face a she thought about a day, three years earlier when she had walked into that same room, and had first laid eyes upon Dametruxous great form.
Since the day they met, she had greatly changed her view of him, for then she had thought him powerful and strong, wise and just, venerable as some ancient mystic, yet also as being wild and perhaps perilous. She had seen that he was indeed powerful, wise, and just, yet also he was very kind, and loving. His strong form, with his graceful majesty, and hard edged scales were all that most of the world saw, yet she knew that beneath those armor like plates, and razor sharp talons, there lay a gentle, tender heart. It had been a surprise to her, just how caring and loving he could be, yet even more of a surprise to her, was the response she had felt in her own heart. “He is not an elf, or a man,” she would remind herself, yet her heart would not listen to such cold counsel.
She walked into the center of the great chamber, standing where Dametruxous would lay while in meditation or sleep, and wrapped her arms about her self, as if warding off a draft of cold air, fighting back the tears that suddenly wanted to spring to her eyes. For several moments she stood thus, her heart aching to be able to hold in her arms the one she loved beyond all things in the world, yet knowing that it was not possible.
Dametruxous gazed upon Yatalla from where he stood outside of the inner gates, having returned in almost complete silence, and a part of him guessed her thoughts. “How many times have I thought and felt the same?” he asked himself. With that he made a rumbling noise in his throat, and then passed through the gate into the chamber.
At his approach, Yatalla turned and looked up at him, their eyes meeting as her face brightened. “I had begun to grow concerned, as you had not returned when you had said you would.”
“Forgive me for concerning you Yatalla,” his voice came in its deep rumble as he lowered his bulk to the stone floor before her, his great head coming level with hers. “There is an important matter I wish to speak with you about.”
“What is that?” she asked as she returned his gaze unflinchingly, as no other elf, man or dwarf had ever done before her, yet always she had done so.
“Yatalla, I would open my heart to you,” his voice came in a soft rumble which seemed more of a thought then a sound, as it many times did when he spoke to her. “The day I first say you, and first looked into your eyes, I found you lovely beyond compare. Since that time my heart has become ensnared by you, and I know for certain that it is a net impossible for me to escape, even if I wished too be free of it.”
She turned away from him suddenly. “Please Dametrux, do not say such things,” and as she spoke her voice trembled with restrained emotion. “It only makes it harder for me to bare,” her voice had sunk to a near whisper.
“Yatalla, I do not wish to cause you any grief,” he said as his head snaked around to be able to face her again. “I tell you this now because my heart aches to do so, and I can no longer stand the pain of concealing these feelings inside.”
She looked up at him, tears glistening in her eyes as she responded. “My own heart aches as well, it aches because I love a being that I can not hold in my arms, that I can not kiss upon the lips, that I can not love as a mate.” She paused. “Perhaps it is not proper for me to say these things so plainly, yet say them I must.”
“If the obstacles which lay between us were removed, would you take me as your husband?”
She laughed after he spoke, yet there was little mirth in her voice. “Such obstacles are hard to overcome or to ignore.”.
“Yet if they were removed,” he said again. “If we had met, and I were a man, would you take me as your husband?”
“Yes,” she said without hesitation.
Even as she spoke, his great tail curled its way about her, gently lifting her up as he had at times done in the past. She wiped the tears from her eyes and tried to smile, yet it was a weak, sad smile that came to her face. “You are intelligent,” he was rumbling to her softly. “And so I believe you will understand what I am about to tell you.” He then produced two small stone figurines, one in the image of an unclad man, about a foot high, the detail of which was so exact that almost Yatalla thought she could see its chest move with breath. The other was about two feet high, and three feet in length, with equal detail and care of craft, yet this was an image of Dametrux, so precise was it that even the old scars on his underbelly were included in exacting detail. “Do you know what these are?”
She shook her head. “I can tell they are of superior craftsmanship.”
“I do not know what your people would name them, yet I think it is close enough to call them a self image,” he set both of the figures upon the floor carefully, and then his head came level with her, and he looked into here eyes again. “They were not crafted by the skill of any hands, instead it was the power of mind and spirit and that brought them into being. One is representational of how I am, the other of how I would wish to be, and to both I am partially bound.”
Yatalla gazed at the images for a moment, and then looked back into Dametruxous' eyes. “Why are you bound to these things? And for how long has this been so?”
“I am bound to them through my own doing, and it is upon this very day that they have been brought into being as they are. Both are a part of me now, and while at least one of these remains intact, both appearances must exist, do you understand?”
She looked at him thoughtfully for a moment before responding. “I think I do, or at least in part, for I have heard of beings that become bound to such images, yet I have never heard of any being bound to two separate images before.”
“I know of what you speak, and that craft is somewhat different, though akin to this,” he turned his head to look at the two images again. “If one of these is destroyed, then I shall take the form of it, so that both images still exist.”
“I think I understand now,” she said softly. “You would destroy the one, and take the form of a man. Yet I can not ask you to make such a sacrifice for me.”
“You do not need to ask it,” he said as he gently lowered her to the ground again. “I only wish to make sure that you understand my choice.”
“We could be together,” a part of her mind whispered. “Yet at what cost to him?” She looked up even as he took up the figure of the man with his tail, lifting it high above his head. “Wait,” she said. “Only do this if you sure it was you truly want, for I could not live with myself if I thought that you later resented it.”
“Yatalla,” he said softly. “My Yatalla, this is not something I have decided in an instant. Nay, for long has this choice been in my mind, and my mind and heart are both decided.” With that he cast the figure of the man across the stone chamber, where it smashed against the smooth wall. Stone fragments flew in all directions, yet they vanished in the air. A gust of wind whistled through the gates, and all of the torches that lined the wall went out, plunging the chamber into complete darkness.
She stepped forward blindly, yet stopped short as Dametruxous let forth a great cry, so loud that she had to stop her ears, and the very stone beneath her feet seemed to tremble with it. The cry suddenly cut short, and Yatalla called out his name in fear. She started forward again, her hands out in front of her, making for where she knew he had been.
“Have no fear,” said a strange voice, yet there was a note to it that she recognized.
“Dametux?” her voice seemed swallowed up by the darkness.
“I am here,” came the voice again, then it spoke a single word in some ancient tongue, and a light suddenly blazed forth.
A few feet before her a small orb of light burned, suspended in the air, and below, sitting upon the stone floor, was a naked man. He looked at her as she stepped forward and knelt beside him. His face and frame resembled almost exactly the figure that Dametuxous has smashed against the wall, yet when she looked into his eyes, she knew it was indeed him.
“Yatalla,” he said softly as he reached out one hand to caress the side of her face. “It is done.”
She savored the feel of his hand on her face, her eyes closed, and placed her own hand over his.

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