Fist of the North

Krall hadn’t seen either face in two seasons. Before that, though, they’d had more than five years in close company and shared deeds; he’d have instantly recognized either of them, never mind the conspicuous pairing. Seeing them now, the bear’s heart leaped with joy.

He started making his way through the crowd, taking care, even now, not to push. He was a big man among a big race; he could have forced his way through if there had been true and urgent need. Courtesy was an old habit, though, and one he would not lightly set aside – no matter how eager he was to meet those two again, that did not an emergency make.

The drake – whose wings, even furled, gave him enough personal space to have a clearer view – was first to see him; turning, waving, then twisting to give his human companion a nudge and say something to him, excited. Then both of them were working along the crowd’s edge to where there was a bit more room.


Summer was in full swing, and the locals were happy for it. Children laughed and played in the fields, fresh fruits were in baskets all over town, and everyone was happy to see some sun.

It was past midday when Allan asked, “Have you seen Tabar lately?”


It was all quite sudden. One moment, Allan was making his way down a quiet country lane with a light drizzle wetting the earth; the next, there was a body pressed against his, his own name echoing in his ears.

The one who’d collided with him was smaller than him, and incredibly light even for that size; so it was that he only lurched back a step rather than tumbling into the mud. Laughing, he sought the shoulders of the one suddenly embracing him, giving them a squeeze. “And a good day to you as well, Raskin,” he said with a chuckle. “You’re looking well.”

The storm drake seemed to suddenly become aware of the fact that he’d just seized Allan in a tight embrace in the middle of the lane – and while it was no city street, teeming with people, they were certainly attracting some attention. His grip loosened. “Ah… forgive me,” he said, rather more softly than he’d called Allan’s name. “I suppose I’d grown even more fond of you than I had realized.”

“No harm done,” Allan assured him. Lacking horns of his own to touch to Raskin’s, as friendly male drakes were wont to do in greeting, he settled for giving one a firm rub. “Even if I wasn’t expecting quite so, ah, intense a greeting, it’s very far from unwelcome.”


It was a strange thing Allan found himself feeling.

He’d got an early start on adolescence, a tall and handsome youth who had, in time, come to manhood similarly early. On some level, he supposed he’d become used to being tall and handsome; talented enough in magic that he hadn’t needed to devote every moment of his teenaged years to study, he’d been able to seek other pursuits – and while he didn’t take that to nearly the lengths that some of his fellows could, he fancied himself well-experienced in the arts of romance, from courtship to the bedchamber. Not a great master, heavens, no – he didn’t devote nearly that much of his life to it. But a comfortable sort of experience that any lover he courted might benefit from.


“It’s no good!”

The words barely rose over the howling wind. Allan turned his head, one fleece-gloved hand held up to shelter his cheek from the wind and snow, and stomped over to the one who’d spoken.

“This storm won’t show us any mercy,” she called – not quite as loudly, but she still needed to work to make herself heard. “We need to get out of the wind as best we can, and make some shelter – poor Raskin isn’t doing well out here.”