Dinner that night was a quiet affair, at least for Felda. She sat in the eye of a cyclone of noise and activity, picking at her food while her mind flowed down the threads connecting her to Brom. Felda supposed it should have been disorienting, seeing and feeling through two minds at once, but she found it surprisingly easy. So while Lal told off the twins--fifteen and full of what Felda's mother called "barley" and Felda called "being obnoxious little brothers"--for slipping some of their greens onto her plate, and Felda's sisters Lem and Hanni (eleven and eight, clever and ever-conspiring) chattered rapidly and loudly to one another, Felda slipped away to relax with Brom, even while her body remained at the table.
She could see the stars through his eyes, tiny points of light and color just starting to come out on the east side of the sky. Below them were the mountains, small and dark purple against the darker-purple sky. Somewhere between here and there, Felda knew, were the Blightlands, where the realms of the Dark One had been before the Great War. She liked that they were there--anywhere associated with that many capital letters had to be an interesting neighbor. But they were too flat and low to be visible over the gently rolling hills of southeastern Toftor, and perhaps that was for the best, given the stories.
When she was younger, Felda had tried to imagine it. From her books she had an idea of what war was like back in the olden-times. She could picture the long lines of sword and archer crashing into each other while bondlings tore through them like puppies scattering beetles. She could envision great spells lashing through the air above the armies, fire and lightning exploding. Where her imagination failed, however, was the end of the war. All twelve dragons on the field at once, eleven against one, all the energies of creation imploding against an entire kingdom. A people, a language, a realm, snuffed out in a moment.
The said the Dark One survived, or came back, and lurked around the edges of the world, scheming still. Felda believed it. Everyone knew you couldn't kill a dragon for very long. Even eleven other dragons probably couldn't do it for all the centuries since. She was less sure about the stories of his bargains, that he could appear to humans and offer them contracts, his power for their servitude. That made for too good a story to be real.
She finished her food, then asked to be excused. Her mother grunted a reply, then returned to arguing with the twins, while her father attempted to deal with a sudden barrage of questions about whatever it was the girls had gotten in their heads.
Felda walked outside into the cloudless, moonless night. The last of the sky was fading into darkness now. She looked up at the stars and felt the earth extending just as far beneath her feet.
She would, she realized, never be able to explain, to anyone in her family, any of what she experienced that day.
She looked at herself with Brom's eyes. She had the same straight, thick dark hair as her mother, the same dark eyes with little flecks of lighter brown as her father. Everyone in the family--practically everyone she knew, except Lal and Laal--had the same red-brown skin and oval faces, and like the rest of her family she was tall and wiry. To look at, she was one of them, sister to her brothers and sisters, daughter to her parents. She could walk down to the village and talk to countless cousins and old friends of her parents and children of those old friends.
But none of them would ever understand what she felt when she felt down into the earth and looked up into the sky.
She felt something wet and cool in her palm, and a rush of hot air over her fingers. Brom nuzzled her hand, and without looking she ruffled his fur.
Well, almost none of them. It was getting late. She went back into the house to go to sleep.