His voice held none of the dejection I would have expected from such a tragedy. I was too stunned to react, and kept my arms around him.
I simply held him, the only sound the distant bubble of magma. There was no one but us. My heart ached, because even being with him, I knew I couldn't do anything for him.
Immortals were true beings, with souls born from the life stuff of the universe. We weren't like the mortals, whose lives were brief and meaningless. We could change the fabric of reality, and death was not an option.
Yet even so, it was a rare thing to find a soulmate. We were individuals, vastly different, most of us changing as time progressed. Rhaelgyr in a hundred years was unlikely to be the same Rhaelgyr I was holding.
Because of the changes, finding someone that was your mate, that would love you no matter what was something to cherish. It was a beautiful, wonderful thing, and most couldn't survive the loss of the other.
"Condolences," I whispered, holding him tighter.
He lifted his hand to squeeze my forearm. Nothing more needed to be said. Nothing I could say could take away the pain he carried. So we stayed in silence, taking comfort in each others presence.
"It's been centuries," Rhaelgyr said. His voice was neutral, like her was commenting on lunch. "Falyra was beautiful, daughter of our clan's war leader. She thought I should be rheksha, and did her best to sculpt me. I would have given her anything."
"How did it happen?" Dragons were hardy, brutal things. No accident could have befallen Falyra.
"The legacy of our former masters." This with bitterness.
"Master's?" I hazarded.
Rhaelgyr sighed, turning to put an arm around my waist. Concern had temporarily driven weariness from me, but as I snuggled against his lean elven form, my eyes started to close.
"You're either very young, or it's too deeply buried in your memories. Even those who didn't deal with our slavery know of our liberation."
"Maybe both," I replied. "Nothing rings a bell. What should I know?"
Rhaelgyr was warm under my cheek, his heart a comforting beat. I could stay like this for a long time. I nuzzled my head deeper into his shoulder, throwing a leg across his.
He began stroking my arm. "Dragons were thralls to the Sidhehan race. We were gladiators and guards, making use of our violent natures. Some clans flourished, accepting the yokes like they were beasts of burden."
"I'm from the last generation born in captivity. I was barely a fledgling when we were led in revolt, and the Sidhehan were destroyed." Rhaelgyr twined a lock of hair around a finger.
His voice was pleasant, and it soothed me. I began drowsing even as I burned with curiosity. "How long ago was all this?"
"A little over four centuries. Falyra was the first of our clan to be born in freedom. She never knew of the breeding farms, or the fighting pits, or the mock wars." He chuckled. "I barely knew them, but Mother shared her memories with me. If I ever became the leader, she wanted me to know where we came from."
"Did you fight in the revolt?" I couldn't open my eyes, and darkness lapped at my consciousness.
"Not like my father. There was a small skirmish as we left, and some tussles with natives when we established our khaldera. I was too small to be a warrior, and Mother wasn't going to lose me."
"What was it like?"
"Let me show you." Rhaelgyr touched my mind, and I slipped completely into darkness.