Claire Visits The Dragon, Part 4

Hi, folks. Had enough to eat yet? Yeah, this is my favorite time of year, the Thanksgiving holiday season here in the United States. It’s all about feasting and… (Well, okay, it’s actually supposed to be about giving thanks, but…) It’s a time when we loosen our belts and eat as much as we possibly can. I love it.

Unfortunately, I just joined Weight Watchers. I know. It’s an insane time of year to start that, but my employer is supplementing a group at work in an effort to support a healthy lifestyle, so what are you gonna do? So it’s been feasting for everyone else and famine for me. Oh, well.
Thank god for my writing. I’m taking out my frustrations on my characters. Someone’s going to pay for this, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.
But that’s another story.
This week’s blog wraps up Claire’s visit to the Dragon, part of the back story of Clifford and Claire that will be told in the upcoming Red Wolf Rising, slated for publication in the spring of 2014.
But first…

What I’m Currently Reading…
is Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Brimstone, which was highly recommended to me by my know-it-all-friend-David. I’m enjoying the character of FBI Special Agent Pendergast as he investigates an unfolding series of murders. Or, are they murders? Because it’s beginning to look more and more like the victims maybe sold their souls and the devil is coming to claim his due?

After getting well into the book I’ve discovered this novel is approximately the midpoint of a series. That hasn’t diminished the effect, because the story definitely stands on its own. But I’m tempted to put it down and pick up the earlier novels because… well, just because.

Okay, now let’s wrap up Claire’s last visit to The Dragon.
When we left off last week, Claire had just told The Dragon she could tell Clifford was a werewolf, even though he hadn’t turned yet. The Dragon had remarked what a special talent that was and had asked her for a blood sample, which prompted her to muse upon the changes in the ancient Fae’s behavior since her last visit five hundred years prior…

Claire Visits The Dragon, Part 4…
Claire shook herself. Such distractions could wait until later. “O-oh, okay, sure,” she stammered. “Um, Cliff’s wolf is different, too. I mean, I don’t know, it’s not like I can tell he’s an omega, and I certainly wouldn’t try to predict what color fur he’ll have…”

Her face screwed up into a pained expression. “You know, my reasoning sounds so tenuous now that I say it out loud. I don’t have any hard evidence, just a gut feeling. Except… look at me.” She stood and spread her arms wide. “Do I look almost a thousand years old?”
The Dragon nodded. “I see your point. You are remarkably well-preserved, and you feel that the presence of this man has simulated some super-enhanced kind of pack magic, even with his wolf ‘trapped inside,’ as you say.”
“That’s the gist of it.”
 “Well, I’d be inclined to trust your gut. I’m not sure what hard evidence we would look for in a case like this, anyway.” He tapped a talon speculatively against his jaw. “It would be nice to have something, though. When dealing with prophecy, it’s easy to fall into the trap of interpreting things the way you want them to play out.”
“Exactly,” she agreed. “That’s one reason I can’t decide what to do, and why I came to see you.”
One reason. You have others?”
“He has a family, a wife and a small boy. Relationships between our kind and normals are tough at best. In a case like this, I doubt the marriage would survive.”
The Dragon stiffened. “We’ve all made sacrifices for the good of mankind. If he is the Red Wolf of Prophecy…”
“And what if he’s not? I don’t want to be responsible for ruining his life.”
The Dragon uncoiled himself a bit and stretched his neck across the table, peering closely at her. “You have feelings for him?”
She felt herself blush. “I… uh…” Self-consciously, she glanced at Sethmus.
“I ain’t saying’ nothing,” he grinned.
She sighed. “There’s an attraction, yes.”
The Dragon pulled his head back across the table, nodding. “And you’re worried that may be clouding your judgment,” he suggested.
She nodded.
“Actually,” The Dragon continued, “your attraction to him might be another indication he’s the one. We would expect a profound element of charisma in a male omega. It would be more subtle than the sexual attraction of an alpha male, but unlike that of an alpha, an omega female, such as yourself, would not be immune to it.” He again began tapping his talon against his jaw.
The tapping increased in speed. Finally, it stopped and The Dragon straightened. “Yes,” he concluded. “Yes, I think you should do it.”
“You think he’s the one, then?”
The air rustled across the room as he shrugged his wings. “There’s only one way to find out for sure. I think it will be worth whatever risks to his present lifestyle. If his wolf is ‘screaming to get out’ like you say, he should be happier for being turned, regardless.”
“Probably so,” she agreed. The relief was evident on her face. “That makes sense. And perhaps some of that happiness will spread into his marriage.”
“Perhaps it will. But, Claire, you must not tell him about the prophecy. At least, not right away.”
 “What? Why not?”
The Dragon leaned forward. “Even if he is a red wolf, even if he is an omega, even if he has abilities unlike any other, he still might not be the one destined to unite the packs. If he thinks he is, he may try to force himself to fit the prophecy. Think how dangerous that would be.”
“Then how will we know?”
He sighed and shifted his position. “Ah, that is a conundrum. If we can rely on the prophecy, we must trust it will be revealed over time, but…
“Consider. Had he been born to you as we expected, any special abilities would have been triggered by the natural stressors of going through adolescence and young adulthood. As his abilities were revealed, a nurturing pack environment would have allowed him to hone the skills necessary to manage those abilities.
“Your middle-aged Clifford Crane won’t have any of that. There will be much he’ll have to unlearn just to function as a wolf, much less wrap his head around how to deal with powers no one can teach him how to use. I’m not even sure it would be a good idea to introduce him to a pack right away. It might be too much of a shock.
“And as far as saving the world… Well, what sort of leadership skills has he developed throughout his human life? Do you know anything of his past? What does he do for a living?”
“He does something with computers. As for his past, uh… well, the only thing I’ve learned about him is that he spent most of his adult life using drugs.” She winced at her own words. “But he’s in recovery now.”
“What? He’s a drug addict? Gods, you’re telling me the Red Wolf of Prophecy is a drug addict?”
“In recovery.”
“What does that mean?”
“Uh, it means he used to be a drug addict. He hasn’t done any drugs in ten years or more. He doesn’t even drink alcohol. He seems… pretty stable…” She trailed off uncertainly, “…to me.”
The Dragon muttered something to himself in a language she didn’t understand. She got the gist of it telepathically, however.
He shook his head slowly. “Okay, okay, all the more reason to go slowly. Turn him. See what his wolf is like. If he shows promise, stay close to him. Help him adapt to life as a wolf, but don’t go parading him in front of a pack until you’re absolutely sure what he is.”
Absolutely sure? But, how am I supposed…”
The Dragon stood and shrugged his huge wings one last time. “It will have to be up to you to decide. I have faith in you. You must have faith in yourself. Now, you will have to excuse me. There are some things I must attend to.” He looked at Sethmus. “Will you get a blood sample for me?” He turned back to her. “That is, if you don’t mind?”
“Uh, sure.” She spread her hands. “I guess.”
“It was truly good to see you again.” He turned and lumbered towards an arched exit at the back of the lab, where he stopped and turned before ducking through. “Claire,” he said, “the better you get to know Clifford Crane, the better you will be able to recognize whatever greatness is in him. Allow yourself to feel. Go ahead and fall in love with him. Better yet, allow him to fall in love with you.”
He was gone.

    What the... You mean, that’s it? This Dragon character is a bit enigmatic for my tastes. Maybe a follow-up character profile could provide us some insight. Perhaps next week? Until then… Happy Reading!

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