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Isirion

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  1. "Wrong", Isirion said. "I said from the beginning that you should prepare for your pygmy to become a decoration." And with one swift movement he grabbed the pitch-black pygmy that was so conveniently flapping in front of him firmly by the neck, quickly turned it to face it's keeper and added: "The lady's mansion is full of pygmys nailed to the wall alive. So you should also be prepared for the other guests to use them as a shield or to attack. They can rip them from the wall and throw them in your face or they can grab them by the tail and use them like a whip with claws. What will you do then?" Pride who had watched the exchange anxiously yelped when Sappo was grabbed, but Felicia patted his arm and said: "You should really go and work on that full face mask. And please don't make it a butterfly." "Or a wyvern", Mythy growled from behind while his tail was violently swishing left to right like a nervous cat's since he was still chewing on the answer the dragon killer had given him earlier. In the mean-time at a certain dragon stable within the big city Loot, the Harvest Dragon rolled unto his back and scratched his belly in thought. The hay was comfortable, the food was plenty, but something still wasn't right. He rolled back on his feet and asked Sparky, the Red Dragon who, despite all the hay around, blew a little spark every five seconds or so: "Do you think our masters will ever come back for us?" "I don't have a master", Sunny, the Sunrise Dragon interjected, but even she looked worried because absolutely no-one had come for them. Sparky stopped hazarding the stable and growled: "There was one hell of a commotion outside last night." Now Loot looked even more worried and replied: "Wallet would never leave me behind. I am his favourite loot after all. He must have been captured...or worse." The Red Dragon spew a flame in the shape of a skull and teased: "You mean he is dead. We were fleeing from a bloody murderer after all. Remember Gutter-Fish?" Loot didn't want to remember, but he did. He also remembered all the fun times he had with Wallet. A sigh escaped his scaly lips and he said: "We should go looking for them. I remember a mansion decorated with egg shells and a fancy mosaic Wallet mentioned." Sparky shook his head and grumbled: "Sure, lets just walk up to that place and ask. Didn't you see the city from above? All those spikes and the scales and trophies on the roofs and walls. Besides this is a human problem. We shouldn't interfere." Loot gave the Red a nasty look and said: "Sticking our noses where they don't belong is kind of the point of being a member of a thieves guild." Sparky matched the look and replied: "After carrying around Fingers for the whole trip to the city, I have a pretty good notion of why even our fearless guild leader had turned tail and I don't think even the assassins he wanted to hire here would have stood any chance. Face it, they are dead and we are on our own otherwise someone would have come for us." "Someone has come for you!", the stable master suddenly announced and lead a one-handed man in, who looked like he had been through hell and back. Loot barely recognized Fingers, but it couldn't be anyone else. The Harvest shoved open the unlocked cage doors, shot out and grabbed him like a piece of treasure: "Where is Wallet? Where are the others? What happened?"
  2. Despite just getting permission to hurt another pygmy, Isirion made no attempt to draw the assassin's knife again. Instead he said with a vicious smile to the green-haired lady: "You said it yourself - you need to steel yourself and I need to see if your knife training bore any fruits. Once Drake starts ripping out throats and I start killing guards, the other guests might try to barter for their lives by taking someone from our group hostage. If Sappo ends up being a decoration but needs to come back for you instead of freeing Taellonn and the other dragons our plan falls apart. I noticed not only when he tried to burn off my face that your little one takes pride in defending you. His flame is certainly potent enough to serve this purpose, but having trained it so fiercly he can flame steadily for minutes like he did in the forest and the arena also means he knows you need defending. It would ease both our minds if you could prove that instead of becoming a liablilty you will be able to fend for yourself for a while so take out your knife and fight me."
  3. The White Dragons defiance surprised Isirion, especially after all he had done for Susurro's keeper. He locked eyes with the dragon and told him: "As long as you don't take my help for granted either the next time the green-haired lady gets attacked by thieves, spotted by an air-bandit, preyed upon by assassins or held up in a Neb tower." With that Isirion dismissed the matter and gave Alzira's idea some serious thought while the pygmy received his due treatment. When that was finished, he told Alzira: "If your pygmy can keep the Lady's eyes occupied with his tricks, the Nilia has a much better chance of wriggling free and sneaking off towards the dragon holding area undetected. I believe I can draw some attention away too by telling origin stories of some of the decorations in Hassleboroughs mansion. He did order half of them at the Egg Hunter's pole after all. Also that sort of name dropping lends credibility to our cover story, which, thanks to Drake, the dead lord conveniently can't disprove. Pride is a walking distraction all on his own and -" Proving his point, now that Golden Myth and the Nilia were both apparently fine again, Pride was back to his usual, personal space invading 'deathmerized' behaviour and begged instantly: "Please tell me your origin story! The party won't start for at least half a day and telling me...I mean us, about yourself will go a long way in making our performance much more believable!" Felicia rolled her eyes, when her husband hijacked the conversation, but she was curious herself as to how someone could turn out as a cold and ruthless dragon killer without remorse while at the same time being able to understand dragons even better than those who had apparently dedicated their lives to them. Isirion ignored Pride best as he could and focused on Alzira again: "But there is also a chance that the 'Blue Lady' isn't interested at all in the performance of any non-blue pygmy. In that case you should teach the Nilia a few tricks in advance too and prepare for the pitch-black one to become a decoration for a time instead."
  4. "They are", Isirion confirmed and finally put away the assassin's knife. Like he had promised before, he handed over the pygmy personally to the White Dragon before addressing everyone in the room: "I rarely act without reason and this time I wasn't only testing the pygmy's resolve. I was also testing the restraint of everyone else here. If Pride still intends for us to enter the party as guests charging in at the first sign of dragon mistreatment is a no-go. Golden Myth already disqualified himself, but Felicia passed with flying colours. I guess that isn't so surprising, seeing as she didn't even bat an eye-lash at finding a bloodstained stranger in her bedroom earlier." Pride raised a surpised eye-brow at his wife, but she only shrugged and Isirion went on: "You on the other hand, Pride, should wear a full face mask to hide your face full of pity, shock and disgust. Drake should be fine in her full-body armour if she manages to keep the bloodlust she displayed at Hassleborough's mansion hidden. That leaves the green-haired lady." He positioned himself right before Alzira and continued: "I know you are able to show some sort of composure like you did when suddenly faced with a dead assassin, but way too often your compassion shines through as it did when I brought you the hunter's body. Before this is over, you might witness a lot more deaths like the boy bandit's and his dragon. Will you really be able to keep up the masquerade, especially when your dragons are not around to bolster your spirit?"
  5. Isirion made no attempt of handing over the pygmy to be placed in the care of the White Dragon and weirdly enough neither seemed the pygmy himself inclined to leave the apparently hostile shoulder. Since nobody seemed to understand what was going on in his charge's head, Isirion translated again: "Sitting around here and getting pampered while knowing that his family is most likely suffering in the Blue Lady's 'care' is something the little one can't stand. If a few moments of pain in preparation is what it takes to ultimately save them he is prepared to suffer a lot worse than being stabbed precisely through his wing membrane. Once he can control his flinching I'll personally hand him over to Susurro. In your own interest you should let him continue, otherwise who will unlock your dragon's cage once he has been gifted. I can't see Taellonn lockpicking human-sized locks with his dragon-sized paws." He pointed out the Royal Blue's front paws with the assassin's blade and then nonchalantly stabbed the pygmy again, before almost snarling in Drake's direction: "If you value dragons so much, you should honour this one's commitment. I understand you are used to having to make decision for your meek escort, but this pygmy has enough willpower for two dragons. Did you notice how he barely flinched this time? One more try should do the trick." As Isirion prepared to strike yet again, Golden Myth regained his conciousness and got to his feet. He had a nasty looking bump on his forehead and Pride's fussing over it didn't help at all. Mythy gently shoved his keeper aside and placed himself in a non-threatening way a few feet in front of Isirion and asked him rather bewildered: "Why am I still alive dragon killer? You spared my life once when I attacked you back at the arena, yet I just tried to kill you again." Isirion stayed the assassin's knife an inch before it would have pierced the pygmy's unflinching right wing and answered with a voice fit to freeze a flight of Hellfires over: "This knife's blade isn't long enough to fully pierce your heart and your charge was too quick to draw my own blade instead."
  6. The first one to react to Drake's news was Isirion. He poked the pygmy again, this time on the shoulder and told it with a mocking smile: "Seems today is your lucky day." The next sentence came accompanied by a poke in the stomach: "That is if you can manage not to flinch." The pygmy gave Isirion the expected puzzled look and he explained: "Gifting the 'Blue Lady' blue dragons will gain us entry to the party. Drake will gift her Royal Blue although with gums that pallid a colour he won't be much use until he gets himself a full trough of water to drink first. I will gift you and the lady will probably ask me to skewer you to a wall of her choosing right away to prove my commitment to her. You might end up right next to your swarm, their terrified shrieks ringing in your head while I drive nails into your body. However if you can muster enough mental strength to hold still regardless of the circumstances, I can place those nails accurately enough to give you just enough room to wriggle free by tearing your wing membranes in some places. But if you flinch, I will most likely hit your wing-bones instead and crush them. Only in the first case you will be able to move around afterwards and free the other 'gifts' so you better get used to the pain." In the half-second it took the pygmy to work out what that meant, Isirion had drawn the assassin's knife and poked a hole in it's wing right beneath two interlocking bones. The pymy screeched in pain and despite it's efforts to supress it, flinched back an inch when Isirion threatened to stab it again. Not a second later the screech and Pride's horrified gasp was drowned out by Golden Myth who roared with all the pent-up anger and frustration he had felt from the moment he had first smelled the dragon killer in Pride's arena. Like a golden lightning bolt he charged at Isirion who deftly stepped aside and let the wall behind him meet the wyverns's charge. Golden Myth slammed into the wall with full force and went out like a torch, right after his ears registered the pygmy's trembling but determined voice: "ag...again!"
  7. The fence stared wide-eyed at Drake's claws as his mind replayed the scene of Lord Hassleboroughs gruesome demise. He understood the warrior woman was asking for full sentences now, but somehow his brain had frozen and he could only nod. What seemed like a life-time later Wallet managed to choke out that Hassleborough had boasted about an invitation he had gotten from a person he called the 'Blue Lady'. She told him to bring along some Vine and dress up accordingly. He also remembered that the lord had been told to leave his daughter at home because at the last party she had tried to nick a Daydream from the sky whatever that meant. Wallet squirmed uneasy on the chair that was too small to accommodate his ample frame, then he asked with the tiniest of voices: "Did you kill the daughter too? She did nothing wrong." At the same time at the 'guest' stable When the interrogater had lead Pride, Felicia and Isirion to the stable, the first two thanked him while the latter scanned the room and found himself an easily defendable position with his back guarded by the stable back-wall. The messenger pygmy had come with them. It clung to the least likely place imaginable for a dragon - Isirion's bloodstained cloak. Pride came almost as close as he finally found the opportunity to offer his heartfelt thanks. Isirion listened as politely as possible, but when he finally got a word in, he growled: "Instead of thanking me you should hate me like your dragon does, because every drop of blood I spilled at your arena made the target on your back grow as well." That made Pride finally shut up and so Isirion could concentrate on the Nilia Pygmy that for some reason had traded shooting him reproachful looks for roosting on his cloak. It was quite young and fully capable of flying, but every time he shook his arm to encourage it to find another roost, it clung to him even harder. With nothing else to do in the time it took Drake to get permission for this newest slaughtering mission she and Pride had some inexplicable way cooked up together, he decided to solve this pygmy-sized riddle. He focused on the pygmy's body language and weighed it against the peculiar behaviour it had displayed at Pride's house. Together they screamed the answer as loud as if the pygmy had actually talked. Isirion tapped his index finger against the little one's heart and said: "Drake's people took you in because your swarm vanished. They haven't been killed otherwise you would be spooked by the dragon blood on my cloak, but you aren't one hundred percent sure they have been abducted. A small part of you fears they might have abandoned you because you have disappointed them, that is why you tried so hard to fulfill your duty as a messenger. But now that you have heard the talk about the Lady and that I am willing to infiltrate her mansion, you cling to the hope that they are still alive and in her clutches. You want me to look for them and rescue them if possible." The pygmy nodded vigorously and immensely happy that finally, someone had truly understood him. Isirion was about to give his answer to the unspoken question, when he noticed how silent the stable had become. Every pair of eye in the stable was focused on him, Pride and Felicia stared with open mouths, the green-haired lady and her dragons stared in open surprise, Golden Myth stared with grudging acknowledgement and Drake's Royal Blue and the interrogator just stared...
  8. One more time Isirion gave everyone present a piercing glance before he replied with his voice as mocking as his smile: "I can see that those are not assassins." A few seconds later he added with his face and voice back to sub-zero normal: "I don't hold grudges towards that Fever Wyvern, but if it confuses me with prey one more time, it will taste my blade." His tone conveyed no menace, just a simple statement delivered with the body language of someone who had the strength and skill to make good on that promise. Taking a leaf out of Drake's book he continued before anyone could ge a word in and said: "I can guess Pride's plan and why I am in it." Pulling the flower curtain from his shoulders so that his dragon skin cloak became visible again he continued: "I can mingle with these collectors just fine and I certainly don't have a problem killing them all." These words earned him another reproachful look from the messenger pygmy he was still holding, but he ignored it and went on: "Drake, you know my master sent me to deal with the air-bandits and their dragons, but believe me, those who employ them have a target on their back too. Sodger didn't mind us killing everyone in Hassleborough's mansion and he wouldn't shed a tear for that Lady and her servants either. I even suspect that if I hadn't already offered my help, he would straightforward order me to help you clean up another one of those corrupted cesspools as he would call it. Count me in." In the mean-time at Torch's cave at Isirion's hideout Torch sighed, hours had passed and Flameys skills had not improved in the slightest. All the hatchling had to do was figuring out the pattern of his tail strikes and avoid them. Chimera winced every time her charge got slammed across the cave, but since there were dragon cashmere blankets everywhere, no real harm was done. In the end Flamey gave up and whined: "This training alone is too hard. Why can't I train with Claw? He would have figured this out easily." Another sigh escaped Torch and he growled: "Not this again. Claw is not your friend. You can rely on no-one but yourself in here. If you keep failing so pathetically, our keeper will kill you. If you keep giving up so easily, our keeper will kill you. If you don't get stronger at all, our keeper will kill you." "Leave him be Torch, Flamey just doesn't have an instinct for killing", Hellfire Chimera ended the futile training and playfully bit her mate's throat. Torch brushed her off gently and said softly: "He has no instinct for flying or fighting either. I want to keep him alive, but I fear the moment Isirion lays eyes on him, he will be Skull's next meal." Chimera considered this for a while, until her eyes lit up and she said: "I must have lost a hundred times against Belia and some of thoses losses were probably even more pathetic than Flamey's tries just now. I had no fighting skills, only spirit, but still our keeper did not kill me. In hindsight he did the exact opposite - he gave me a reason to live. 'Fight or die'. I fought for you against Belia - and I won. I think Flamey's mind works similar. He just can't fight on command - he needs something to fight for." Torch lowered his frame until he was level with the hatchling and touched his heart with his wing-claw: "Do you have something or someone you are willing to fight for?" Flamey only hesitated for a second, before he squeaked: "I'll fight for my friends. For Alteria and Claw and Skull even though she is creepy!" Torch touched his own heart and confirmed: "That's the spirit. Remember this feeling and it will help you focus. You must not only be willing to fight - you must be willing to win, because dead you are of no use to any of your friends except Skull. Now try again!" Flamey readied himself to try again, but Torch didn't strike. The older male suddenly turned his head this way and that and without warning the whole cave began to tremble. Little pebbles began to rain down from the ceiling and Chimera jumped to protect Flamey with her outstretched wings and larger frame. Torch still moved his head around as if he was trying to catch a sound only he could hear, but as the tremors grew stronger by the minute he stopped and focused on the safety of his mate and her charge. They both looked unhurt albeit a bit shaken, but that could easily change if the earthquake or whatever it was grew any stronger. By now the every visible part of the hideout was trembling and Torch strongly suspected that neither the hidden livestock-area nor Isirion's own cave were any saver. Everything was shaking and almost everything in here was made out of stone that could crush them all, if the earthquakes got any worse. Torch urged Chimera and Flamey to leave the cave and stay airborne as long as they could. If they flew at ground level the would have more time and a better chance to avoid crushing down stones as opposed to staying inside. Chimera acknowledged the idea and flew towards other Hellfires who apparently had the same idea...
  9. Pride's smile lit up the room more than the feeble moring sun outside as he dashed into his wife's arms. Felicia just had about the time to toss the messenger pygmy to her companion before it got crushed in the embrace. Isirion caught it easily with one hand darting out like a viper, while his eyes studied the guards, the building and the general location. His gaze wandered over muscles and calluses that spoke of weapon training, peculiar alterations to what appeared on the outside to be a mere dragon stable, the assortment of dragons and finally Drake. Donning a mocking smile, he greeted her: "Is this the place your distractions and supervisions came from? It looks like a very tight fit for a Royal Crimson, but a Fever Wyvern would feel right at home." And once again his eyes studied the humans and dragons around them to see if his remark had hit anything.
  10. Drakes words went right through Prides ears as his brain already formed their battle plan into an epos to be performed. He filled his lungs with enough air for a hundred lines describing their victory-to-be before they had even set one foot into the Lady's domain, when Golden Myth provided the last crucial detail. The wyvern gave Drake a toothy smile and told her: "Did Pride forget to mention it is a masquerade party? He will be so disappointed to not be able to see you in that flowery horror, but the role of a dragon knight suits you so much more. We'll leave being a lady to Alzira. Both of you can accompany Lord and Lady Butterfly. I know Pride's wife - the more he tells her to stay out of danger the more likely she is to appear right in the middle of it. It wouldn't surprise me if Felicia is already on her way!" From outside the sound of a small commotion drifted in and Mythy's smile widened as it grew noisier and then vanished like the sun behind a cloud. He touched his nostrils with a paw and said puzzled: "I can smell Felicia, but she carries a cold, bloodstained smell with her." The guard outside seemed to be even more puzzled as they heard him shout: "Uhm, anyone here named Pride? A woman wearing a butterfly nightgown and a man wearing a flower curtain are here to see him. Oh and they carry a message and a messenger pygmy. He seems to like it." Meanwhile in the skies above the fishermen's village Wing-claw brushing against wing-claw, their whole bodies engulfed in blue and red flames, the flight of Hellfire Wyverns that had been bred and trained inside the mountain broke through the crater on top like a volcano erupting. The old captain hovering close by on his long-distance dragon screamed a rallying cry and for a moment he could see. His heart-beat matched the wing-beats of the army his faithful apprentice had bred for him, the blood in his ears rushed with the joy of flying free across the sky, his nose tingled with the scent of his comrades all around him and his skin smoldered from the sheer heat the wyvern emitted. The inferior dragon beneath him squirmed and wanted to flee, but Sodger suffered no desertion. He struck down with the flat of his new sword and warned his quivering mount: "Obey or die." The dragon stopped resisting if not shivering and surrendered his fate to the blind, old man on his back. The ex-captain of the Royal Blue regiment commanded him to fly before the wyverns towards the big city, and without looking back, the long-distance dragon knew, that however fast he flew, hell would follow him.
  11. Pride met Alzira's gaze head on and said with the air of confidence of one who had done such things a hundred times already: "Once the dragon passes into Lady's possession it's her servants who are responsible. If she chooses to punish them for their failure in restraining our brave Royal Blue here, I'll gladly fetch the whip myself. Do you really believe the noble Lady impales the panorama dragons herself? She doesn't. The stableboys in her employment do and occasionally a guest eager to prove his commitment to the collector's course does too. That is another reason you should take Death with you. I'd rather pierce my own heart than hurt a dragon, but he would undoubtly do whatever is necessary to keep our masquerade going until everything is in place. Once we have punished the humans and rescued the dragons the White Dragon can heal them." Golden Myth who had found the same flaw in the plan as Alzira waited if Pride would sometime elaborate on how they would escape until it dawned on him. He raised himself up again and put his snout in front of Pride's face: "You haven't planned a cover for our exit because we don't need one, do we? Letting Death and Drake together loose upon those dragon abusers will mean there will be even less survivors than in Hassleborough's mansion?" It was not a question but somehow Mythy let it sound like one. Pride scratched his beloved wyvern under the chin and answered: "I know what the Pygmy message our friend the smith sent said. Hassleborough's daughter woke up in the middle of the night and found everyone else slaughtered. The brave girl went straight to the next Neb tower and all hell broke loose. But I assure you - there will be no children at Lady's party. We will enter through the front gate and we will leave through the front gate." Meanwhile at Felicia's house After finding out that Hooktalon cake tasted like strawberries, Isirion inspected the message the Pygmy had brought. It was signed with a butterfly and all but told the woman in the other room to get clear of the city as soon as possible. The Pygmy gave him a reproachful look all the while he was reading, and an even more reproachful one after he tried to bribe it with a Hooktalon biscuit. Sighing Isirion went back into the other room and handed over the message to it's rightful recipient. The woman read it eagerly and caressed the butterfly signature before she looked up. She studied the cloaked shadow standing right in front of her und let her gaze wander over the bloodstains that had become clearly visible in the light of dawn. At last she looked right into the ice-cold and ice-blue eyes beneath the hood and said: "You look like Death. Pride said you are capable of anything. Can you bring me to my husband? He wants me to be save, but I'd rather be at his side." The message had held not a single clue about Pride's whereabouts, but as long as he could just follow the Pygmy back that didn't matter. Isirion nodded and commanded the Pgymy to fly back to Pride, but the little dragon just gave him another reproachful look. "Bloody Pygeon!", Isirion cursed and tried again, but to no avail. Felicia tried her luck as well, but the Pygmy just started to squint, trying to give both of them reproachful looks at the same time. Isirion felt his temper rising again and he was close to strangling the pygmy into submission, when the woman fetched a quill and scribbled a short reply. The pygmy transformed from reproachful to attentive like a butterfly and Felicia coaxed it: "Lets deliver this message together or not at all." A sudden ripping sound made her turn around and gasp. In the place of a black-clad creep now stood a clean-shaven man, with close-cropped tangerine hair wearing a cloak of flowers and butterflies. In place of the flower and butterfly curtain next to him stood an empty wall. Felicia sought his eyes to give him a reproachful look the pygmy wouldn't be ashamed of and gasped again: "I thought your eyes were blue like ice, but now they are dead purple." Isirion shrugged and replied as cool and calm as ice and death: "And I thought you wanted to be with your husband..."
  12. Pride couldn't resist a theatrical gesture, even if it wasn't handed to him on a silver plate. He dropped on one knee and waved his right hand through the air in a flourishing show of respect. It looked a bit like he was trying to swat a fly, but that didn't deter him from doing it again in Alzira's direction. Afterwards he stood up again and said: "We help them by going to her party. You two will accompany me and my lovely wife. We'll offer her your Royal Blue as a gift and when the Lady puts him with her other dragons, he can incite a rebellion. She is desparate for well-behaved blue dragons. If the old solider's one hadn't been so vicious she might have bought him instead of me. Seeing as he was, I learned a bit about her newest fancy and found myself with an invitation I didn't even think to follow until now. It is the perfect opportunity. If we manage to pull this off, we will not only free those dragons but undermine her position as a collector. Better yet, if all those blue dragons cause another uproar, it will also seriously undermine what little is left of the Nebulas' dignity. One blue dragon caused uproar might have been an honest mistake, the second one just bad luck, but three is plain incompetence. They will all jump at that last straw to save their pride, they will band together as one and come down on the Lady's mansion - and when they are all there - you lot strike them. The more of that mansion that gets destroyed in the fight the better, her place is even worse than Lord Hassleboroughs. At least his trophies are dead, but the Lady keeps her most priced possessions nailed alive to whatever background she sees fit. Golden Myth hadn't known that gruesome detail and a dangerously low growl escaped him and he found himself saying: "Forget what I said about teaming up with the dragon killer. The swift death he offers with that wicked blade of his is way too kind and clean for the likes of her. You should pluck her from her mansion and throw her into a fighting pit with a starving dragon instead!" Pride turned round to his beloved dragon and asked, his eyes full of sadness: "Isn't that exactly what made the dragon killer you loathe so much a dragon killer in the first place?" Mythy gave another low growl and pawed at the ground furiously, but there was no denying the argument. Not until he remembered his conversation with said dragon killer. The wyvern raised himself to his full height and asked: "So why is he still killing dragons then? Noone is forcing him to fight them in a pit anymore." Pride looked a bit sheepish at that, as he remembered how he had convinced Isirion to fight against Drake's dragon with a wooden sword, then he said, looking even sadder than before: "I don't know, maybe he has never learned anything else except killing." Mythy lowered his head and rubbed it against Pride's before he said softly: "That is just like you, believing the best in people and dragons alike. I hope you are right and he doesn't just enjoy killing whatever the reason. His dragon skin cloak would be the perfect disguise to mingle with those collectors..." Pride agreed and turned around again to face Drake: "So, what do you think about our plan? I managed to take the flowery dress you were supposed to wear during the next performance with me before I fled. Wearing it you can easily pass as a lady and nobody will suspect you. The greenhaired lady probably has a dress of her own already, otherwise my lovely wife can borrow her one. She lives not too far from here, so a pygmy can easily bring her another message before she goes into hiding. Do you prefer butterflies or flowers on your dress?" The last sentence was directed at Alzira, despite the fact, that Drake hadn't even agreed to the half-baked plan yet... At roughly the same time at Felicia's house Isirion's eyes flew fully open as he heard a noise coming from the window he had climbed through. A pygmy had flown in and was hissing at the nearest decoration. No, not hissing, laughing, Isirion realized and silently agreed with the newcomer. That particular Golden Wyvern model was sporting butterfly wings which had no business at all on a wyvern. It also sported antlers which had no business on any kind of dragon he knew of. Thinking of business, Isirion wondered what a lone pygmy was doing in that particular house before dawn and inspected it closer. The pygmy was carrying a message in his hind-claws, no doubt intended for the woman sleeping on the double bed. Realizing he had no time to loose, Isirion leaped over and caught the little dragon in his hand before it could wake up his unsuspecting host. The real grass around the bed should have made his landing inaudible, but still the woman woke up. Her nostrils flared and she asked softly while she waited for her eyes to adjust: "Are you hurt? I can smell so much blood." Having not the faintest idea on how to react to that, Isirion remained silent, but the woman spoke again: "Did you get mixed up in that horrible slaughter out there? It's alright now. You are save in here." Again, Isirion felt at loss for words and again the woman filled the silence: "There are bandages in the next room. My husband sometimes needs them for his performances. There is also food if you are hungry." Still holding the messenger pygmy and still no closer to getting a single word out, Isirion decided to look for the 'next' room. So far he had only noticed the one he had climbed into, but soon enough he found a door completely hidden with flower garlands. He opened it and immediately the woman said: "I think the bandages are somewhere on the top right shelf. The food is on the left shelf, you can choose between Hooktalon biscuits, Hooktalon cakes and Hooktalon candy." Isirion swiped all the bandages from the right shelf since he always needed them in his hideout and then gave the left shelf a curious glance. As far as he knew no part of a Hooktalon was suitable to be made into a sweet, but they probably still tasted better than Hellfire flesh and certainly better than the Nilia Pygmy he was holding...
  13. Pride took the cricket and fed it to the messenger-to-be-pygmy while pretending not to see how the interrogater checked his message. Like Golden Myth he had by now figured out a few things about Drake's companions. Being passionate about dragons was a thing he understood perfectly well and so he didn't mind in the slightest to have his letter examined in case it contained an involuntary clue to their location. He also swallowed all the questions he had wanted to ask Drake, because he also realized talking to her about a dragon killer he admired might not be the safest approach. Also, Mythy had probably already said more than enough on that subject. So he just watched the pygmy lick it's lip after devouring the cricket with delight and then take off with his message without delay. After that he watched the green-haired lady paint until he couldn't stand it anymore and asked: "So what are we going to do? We can't just do nothing, can we? The Nebs will find us sooner or later and we' risk burning down the city if we start a full-scale dragon on dragon fight here. Speaking of dragons - shouldn't you at least try to utilize the current situation to free all those poor Royal Blues that have been captured in the stead of the old soldier's dragon?" Pride was finally looking directly at Drake now as he continued to speak his mind: "Your own dragon is a Royal Blue. If not for Pip and his ingenious idea to paint him over, he would be suffering right along with them. If you don't act now, they will suffer even worse. I have heard the 'Lady' is looking for magnificent looking blue dragons to be trained like dogs to serve at her next big party. Everyone has human waiters, 'I'll have dragon waiters', she boasts. Who do you think provides the dragons? Who trains them? Like Mythy said - executing a random dragon abuser or two doesn't change anything. You have to bring down the Nebula network while it is weakened and you can't do that without help. Take the hand that is offering help, though it may be stained with dirt, butterfly dust, paint or even dragon blood!" In the meantime at the huge mountain shadowing over the fishermen's village Sodger commanded the long-distance dragon he was riding to make a short stop at the other side of the mountain and set him down near a cave there he had described in great detail. The dragon did as asked and soon the old soldier made his way through a seemingly solid wall into the lair of Hellfire Wyverns his loyal apprentice had bred and trained for him over the past years. It didn't matter that he couldn't see them, he felt their fierce fire burning on his face, smelled their scent and heard them breath, eat, move and fight. They were a testament to his devoted service, the last ressort if an other Dragon War broke out after all the dragon regiments had long been retired and dismantled. These dragons would not stop after the war was just won, they would burn down every last one of their enemies so there wouldn't be another war ever again. So far there hadn't been a need to use them since there hadn't been another Dragon War, but what was going on in the big city fully justified unleashing them. The corruption that had overtaken almost the entire city like rot spreading from a festering wound had become it's greatest danger itself. And since there was no White Dragon powerful enough to cure a whole city, there was only one way to deal with such a large-scale infection - to burn it with Hellfire!
  14. Pride gave Drake a big smile when she entered the room, followed by an even bigger one for the messenger pygmy. At once he banished all thoughts about Death from his mind and concentrated on conjuring up a letter to his wife. It was no simple task finding the right words to not cause her unnecessary worry but still urgent enough to convince her to go somewhere safe until the whole ordeal was over. When he was finished, he patted his clothes for a bribe-snack for the pygmy but found none. Not willing to let the pygmy go without a chewable thank you, he approached the green-haired lady and asked: "May I ask you for some of those crickets you carry around for your pitch-black companion? And might I also inquire on how are you holding up? This whole situation must be horrible for you. If there is any way I can help, please tell me." In the mean-time inside an inconspicous house not too close to a certain pile of dead Nebs Isirion would have preferred to hide inside an empty house, but dawn was approaching fast and every second he was out in the street increased the chances of being discovered. At least this one had only one occupant - a woman fast asleep on a bed sized for two. Either she was very decadent or more likely had a husband working late. Or just a late husband if he had been a Neb. Having nothing better to do while resting, Isirion let his gaze wander around the room and take in the decorations that were at least as exaggerated as those he had seen inside Hassleborough's mansion. From outside it had looked like a normal house, but inside it was like he had walked into a meadow. The whole room was covered in flowers and butterflies and butterflies covered in flowers and flowers covered with butterflies. The floor was painted to look like a pasture but, for unknown reasons, consisted of real grass in a generous stretch around the bed. The walls sported dragon themed decorations, most of them picturing the same Golden Wyvern, sometimes in flight, sometimes in fight...but always wearing a rather impractical disguise. In short, everything in this house screamed 'made py Pride'...
  15. Pride lit up like a Candelabra Dragon and nodded vigorously: "Please do and if you would be so kind to find a messenger pygmy for me too so that I can tell my wife I am safe, I'd be even more grateful." Since his keeper's answers finally had ebbed from waterfall to single sentence, Golden Myth unburied his head and added: "I would like to offer my thanks to all of you for giving us shelter, but I feel your ears are already coming off from Pride's unique way of expressing himself. So instead I'll give you something even more important - a word of advice. All this talk about underground myths made me figure out who you people are and what you stand for. A beacon of hope for imprisoned and ill-treated dragons. A Flaeme of justice burning in the dark. While Death brought his namesake mainly to the tortured dragons, you brought it exclusivly to the humans doing the torturing. Judging by the state the city is in right now, you are still doing it, but you are doing it wrong. It is the system that enables such a large-scale abuse of dragons that needs to be brought down and that system is built on the shoulders of all those Nebula dragons that are trained and indoctrinated from hatching on to serve and enforce said system. I have been caught in that system and nearly perished in it, but Pride saved me. Let him save you too before you persish sooner or later in a loosing battle you picked for the sake of dragons over the sake of your own kind. Your strong determination to not hurt dragons is what's hurting them the most. Your belief that all dragons are good and need to be protected is what's keeping you from doing what is necessary. Whenever the Nebs arrest an innocent human or dragon they do it from the backs from the very dragon they are named after and those dragons do nothing about it. The Sunstone and the Black air-bandits that work together with them also draw their power from their respective dragons. A single turn in the air of even one of them would have stopped hundreds of people and dragons getting abducted, abused and ultimately killed, but they didn't. They have sunk to the level of their human keepers and enjoy their filthy privileges on the back of every one else. I only realized that truth when the Nebs came to our arena tonight and tried to arrest first Pride and then every human and dragon there for a crime your people most likely commited. Their dragons didn't even blink, they just didn't care, just as they haven't cared for all those Royal Blues that have been captured for burning an underground arena instead of the one that did it after your Drake traded places with it in Pride's arena. Yes, you do give captured dragons hope, occasionally even free them, but ultimately your actions cause the abusers to become even more aggressive and oppressive to keep the other dragons under their yoke and so they get hurt even more than before. Pride wants to show everyone in the city a way out of this. He wants to show them that dragons and humans can work together freely and willingly. But your zeal to kill one more dragon abuser cost him the only place he could do that from. Now, like he said even though it breaks his heart, there is only one option left to revive his dream one day - killing each and everyone of those abusers. And since that includes their dragons my advice is to listen to him and take him seriously. Look for a pile of bodies and you'll probably find Death, team up with him and this time destroy the system itself while it is in disarray by bringing down all it's supporting legs. If I, as a dragon, am willing to work together with a dragon killer I loathe for that goal, you must to."
  16. "Ignorance is bliss", thought Golden Myth as he listened to Pride chattering away as if he was having a real conversation instead of being interrogated. The green-haired lady had understood and answered the given questions as concisely as possible, stating she was a mere painter who had been dragged into this whole mess because she helped rescue an old man and reunite him with his dragon. Pride on the other hand took every question as an opportunity to tell a tale fitting those he used in his performances. His voice, able to fill a whole arena rang loud and clear as he re-told the story of who he was and how he got to be an arena owner. Only this time he managed to weave in how he met his wife-to-be Felicia for the first time at the flower shop where he bought roses to put on the grave of Melody, his pet bird who had just died. The second time he met her, he bought even more roses to pay his respects to the Red Dragon whose death had enabled him to live his dream. He told Felicia he wanted to recreate the dragon out of roses but the flower girl chewed his ear off what a waste that would be. Flowers were for proposals and butterflies, using them for burials made her sad because it wasted their beauty on the dead. Next time they met, Pride was wearing a self-made butterfly suit and proposed. Golden Myth rolled his eyes as Pride strayed more and more away from the question at hand and secretly admired their interrogater's patience. But Pride hadn't been finished yet, he took a deep breath and continued: "When Felicia accepted my proposal, in return I accepted her view of the world. My arena was doing fine in avoiding death during the performances, but it didn't actually save any lives. With my wife at my side that changed - together we scoured the underground arenas and I rekindled the connections I had with the Nebs. Soon most of the coins I made from the performances went into their pockets to buy captive dragons off them before they were sold to other arenas or collectors. Once I acquired a dragon, I let it perform to earn back the coins I spent and afterwards let it go if it wished to. Apart from Golden Myth they all chose to leave after a few performances, but that's alright. Dragons, like butterflies are supposed to be free. The air-bandits have no right to abduct them from the wild or steal them from their keepers. They have no right to sell them to their corrupted Neb-friends who in turn either re-sell them to collectors like Hassleborough or abuse them in their underground arenas for the sake of their 'justice'. Good thing 'Death' has returned to finally set them free. Last time he had been here, he could only set free their broken spirits from their imprisoned bodies, but this time it looks like he is trying to truly set them free by killing each and everyone of those who took their freedom! "Uh oh," Mythy thought and buried his head in his wings, but Pride had no intention of stopping now. He took another deep breath and went on: "If you do care about dragons as much as that female warrior Drake, you asked me about, maybe you should do like she did and team up with him too. Where is he by the way? If it weren't for him holding off all those Nebs, we wouldn't even had a chance to escape after they surrounded my arena. I'd really like to express my thanks..."
  17. Barely hiding his relief that the Khusa and the Zyumorph didn't turn out to be another enemy he had to fight, Isirion made up his mind to call the night a day. He knew how far he could push his own body and the limit was approaching fast, it was much better to sneak into the next inconspicous house and rest out of sight of the Nebs. Come tomorrow, the news of what had happened this night hopefully would have spread and exaggerated enough to cause some citizen to fear for their own safety and try to flee. Just like Drake had done, he could attach himself as a bodyguard to one of them and finally leave the city without arousing suspicion. Once outside he could ditch or kill his charge and go after the air-bandits like he had planned to ages ago. Suddenly the sound of another wing-beat interrupted his plans, but it was only another Khusa that flew past just like the other. Isirion gave them no other thoughts and climbed over the wall of the alley in order to find a promising, preferably empty, house to occupy until morning...
  18. The city was bathed in flashing blue, purple, green and red lights from the Nebulas' wings, robbing the inhabitants of what little sleep they had left after the city-wide alarm. Finally word had spread that a city lord had been brutally murdered in his mansion and the ones responsible were on the loose somewhere in the city. The Nebs claimed to have everything under control, but the bodies turning up on the street or falling straight into the people's houses told a different story. Another word spread like wildfire and everyone who heard it shivered before passing it on for the word was 'Death'. Isirion watched the circling Nebs and sighed. Like Drake had predicted earlier, the Nebulas had become more attentive and alert than ever. There was no getting out of the city unnoticed, however stealthily he moved, there was no way he wouldn't draw the attention of the wyverns. One of them catching a glimpse of him would be enough to paint an even bigger target on his back than the horrible canvas on Pride's arena had been. If this happened it would nullify the small reprieve he had gained by vanishing from the Nebula's back just before those arrows had hit him. One at a time he probably could really kill them all, but by now, by word of all those riderless dragons, the Nebs would have learned not to underestimate him again. Next time they caught sight of him they would shoot first and without warning, just like the assassins had done. Isirion wondered for a while why the assassins had chosen to forgo reason and still went after the target of a dead contractor, but there was no changing that now. On top of having to deal with the corrupted Nebulas and their air-bandit lackeys, he would have to deal with the assassins too. It was a lot more than he had bargained for, but Sodger's orders had been clear and coincided perfectly with his own opinion. Now, more than ever, he shared the vision of his master who had no vision - every last one of those weaklings had to die. Isirion's eyes lit up in anticipation of the fight to come and then turned from ice-blue to dead purple. A moment later his bloodstained blade sang it's eerie song from the back of the Nebula who had been circling the highest. Before the slain rider hit the ground, the figure cloaked in black who had killed him, leaped down onto another Nebula and claimed another victim before vanishing again. Since there was still no sign that Drake, who must have gotten far away by now, was willing to orchestrate another distraction, Isirion figured that engaging the Nebs as briefly as possible and vanishing before they knew what hit them, was the only way to disrupt their surveillance net strongly enough for him to sneak out of the city gates unnoticed. The plan worked better than expected and he did get closer to the gates with every group he took out, but since he had already been fighting almost non-stop ever since Hassleborough's mansion on top of having been poisoned, each fight took a heavy toll on his already exhausted body. Soon he didn't have the energy anymore to come to his enemies so he made them come to him instead. Roaring like a female Hellfire he challenged them to charge after him into a narrow alley. Sweat dripped from his whole body like rain, his fingers struggled to keep his blade aloft, but still he fought. With exhaustion weighing him down, his speed had dropped considerably and it felt as if the Fever Wyvern poison was affecting him again, but the lethality of his strikes hadn't degraded yet. Soon the alley was even narrower than before with all the bodies piling up and this time it wasn't only the riders, Isirion, taking full advantage of the narrow alley, attacked the dragons too, ultimately robbing them of their lives and the chance of relaying his position to anyone. By bringing death to every last man and dragon in the alley, Isirion felt more alive than ever before, but he also knew that he couldn't keep this up much longer. He took a deep breath and enjoyed a sudden gust of wind that dried a little bit of sweat before his battle instincts switched to high alert again because his senses told him that the gust of wind had in fact been the wing beats of two or more dragons. Isirion looked up immediately, preparing himself to fight more Nebs, but spotting a male Khusa, and a blue Zyumorph instead... In the mean-time at the dragon stables in the fishermen village Sighing with relief the stable master watched his best long distance dragon become an indistinct shadow against the clear night sky. Leaving with it was the very man he had been 'persuaded' to watch out for a while ago by a black-clad creep armed with a bloodstained blade and a very well drawn sketch. He had been told to show the sketch around and send any information he encountered via Pygmy to the big city. Still feeling the point of that wicked blade at his throat, he had lost no time and asked around the village. While nobody had seen the old man depicted in the sketch, the bartender of the Leetle Fish looked like he had seen a ghost. A bit of gentle questioning revealed that he too had been visited by the black-clad creep and a bit of less gentle questioning revealed why. What the bartender had told him was enough to make him run back straight to his stables. There he had barricaded the door until the man from the sketch pounded on it in full battle gear and demanded a long distance mount to take him to the big city in exchange for a handful of very old looking coins. Greed had won over caution and he had obliged. Now all that was left to do was sending the messenger pygmy. Once that was done, the stable master sighed with relief again. Whatever the old soldier and the black-clad creep were up to - it was the big city's problem now...
  19. On normal nights, the four dragons would have inevitably drawn the attention of the Black air-bandits, but Chet's mind was already in the Sunstones' hideout. Enraged by the Zyu's defiance, the messenger's lateness and the general unrest among his men, he was now set on breaking the arrangement between the two bandit tribes like he had broken the spear. Raiding the Sunstones would be like killing two birds with one stone, not only would he eliminate the competition, he would also gain another hide-out and all the loot the Sunstones had accumulated during their day-raids. Chet grinned and flew on, not even noticing that he and his men not only had flown way too close to the big city, but that they had been followed by a very persistent blue Zyumorph too. High in the Neb towers a lot of Nebula necks turned to the pitch black skies and shrieked a warning but everyone who would care about it was already out. The instructions from the tower captain who had sounded the city alarm and brought by messenger pygmies had been clear enough: round up stray dragons, round up stray humans, round up everyone even slightly suspicious because they could be involved in the gruesome murder of a city lord. So far the only thing suspicous had been the gathering of Nebs over Pride's arena, but that had dispersed again rather quickly. The other tower captains drew the conclusion that the Neb leader had followed the established tradition of picking off an easy scapegoat and that the situation was resolved already. All that was left was flying around to be seen by the concerned citizens to ensure them that everything was under control and the city was save once again. How wrong they were they only noticed when they happened upon more and more riderless Nebula dragons. All of them claimed that their riders had fallen to 'Death' and somehow that sounded worse than if they had just fallen to their death...
  20. The guard came so far as 'But-', when a Glaring Sun move, that was more of a Shadowy Night attack, slammed into him from above and pinned him and his mount onto the street. For the Nebula it was the second time it had to bear another dragon's weight today and it just pretended to collapse because that was far less exhausting than trying to wriggle out again. The rider wasn't so smart and started again: "What-", but the Golden Wyvern who had apprehended him, shut him up and growled in his best 'Lord Death' voice: "You will not move, you will not speak, or otherwise I will paint this street with your blood and wear your bones like a crown!" The Neb either feinted for real or had just found his own theatrical vocation, either way he dropped right beside his quite flattened looking Nebula. Mythy took to the air again and Pride, who was riding him told Drake: "It looked like two Nebs were oppressing Lady Hooktalon's dragon, so we charged in, I'm really glad Mythy decided to pounce on the more shifty looking rider, otherwise our reunion would have turned out quite embarrassing. The green-haired lady isn't far behind, but her White Dragon is even more conspicuous than mine at night. We should find cover as soon as possible, otherwise our escape will be a rather short one. Do you per chance know a place where we can hide our dragons and ourselves for the rest of the night?" In the mean-time back at Pride's arena The Nebulas co-ordinated attack had turned into a disaster. Isirion fully aware, that he was riding a dragon that had received the same training as the attackers had forced his mount to evade the initial attack and then had quickly changed steeds. The assassin's knife came in handy again and another Neb with a cut throat was sent on his way to meet the ground. Nightblade who was watching in secret from a nearby building hissed at every death that wasn't the death he wished for until he got sick of hissing. His plan to get revenge for Trueshot through the Nebs had obviously failed, but maybe he could still salvage the situation. His target had to be exhausted and less attentive after fighting all those Nebs, so right now he was really free to 'aim at the black side'. Nightblade didn't think twice and let loose an arrow - almost at the same time as Nightfeather who also couldn't just sit idly by. The sound of the arrows piercing the night seemed to go on forever, drowning out the sharp intake of breath Nightfeather took because she had made the shot despite her injured hand, but never making the satisfying 'thump' of hitting a body - still, as the two assassins looked at the hovering Nebula Dragons, every last saddle was empty...
  21. The Nebula dragon didn't struggle because it had not only overheard the deal, but it was also force-trained to be a good steed. It followed the lead of the other Nebula and did it's best to shield the Royal Blue from view. The surviving guard seemed to have a very clear direction in mind, because he steered right towards the city walls. In his mind two thoughts prevailed, the first was self preservation, the second getting rid of the witness and cause of his betrayal. If he could manage to lure them to the Black air-bandits' lair, they could kill the female warrior for him and instead of being labeled as a traitor he would be the hero that secured the Royal Blue that caused the Nebs so much trouble lately. Of course he still didn't believe the rather meek looking one in his company was the right one, but since it fit the bill of being a Royal Blue approximately the right size and shape, it would do. The guard smirked under his helmet and edged his mount to fly a bit faster. In the mean-time back at Leetle island Another long silence had followed the Guardian's declaration, that his old captain was to stay at Leetle island, while he and Ale would fly back to the city. Sodger had gone back to his brooding and his mood affected everyone else. Even Eyes stopped his baby-talk and raised a curious eyebrow at his bear-like friend who shook his head silently in a 'don't ask' way. Ale shook his head too and went to check on their provisions. When he rummaged through the saddle-bags, he let out a sob as he touched the abundant food-packages his lovely wife had prepared. He was so close to her now, but it felt like he would never see her again, if he followed the Guardian in his quest to stop Isirion from executing Sodgers orders and probably start a war. The city didn't see them as heroes, but trouble-makers who were hunted by the Nebs. Why should he risk his life for those that wouldn't even appreciate it? Wasn't it enough to have brought what was left of the Royal Blues home safely? Unbidden the face of the boy-bandit surfaced in his mind and he sobbed again. There were boys like him in the city too, boys like his son Jaxon or girls like his daughter Winny; he just had to go. "You have to go", Sodger suddenly exclaimed, Ale flinched in surprise, but his old captain was talking to Aseto. "You promised the arena-owner that you would fight my apprentice there. Even if it is to be a fake fight, you can't wriggle out of it by staying here, that would be dishonourable." The Royal Blue grumbled, but there was no denying Sodger's point. "I'll go, but you'll still stay here!", he finally growled. Sodger nodded and added in his mind 'for now'. He even waved after the three dragons and their two riders, even though he could only hear them leave. When the wing beats had disappeared he whispered 'good riddance you traitors' and called for Lazarus. Eyes was wondering what his captain wanted with the Lurker, but since the old soldier made no attempt to climb on it's back and follow his comrades, he soon started petting Diadora again, thus distracted he never stood a chance. Guided by Lazarus, Sodger struck him down and strangled him until he moved no more. Lazarus stared down at the motionless body for a moment and then complimented Sodger: "From the shadows dark and black Lurkers aim for the foe's back. It seems you haven't forgotten that sometimes there is only the Lurker-way to do things." Not caring if his traitorous ex-comrade was dead or only unconscious, the ex-captain of the Royal Blue regiment mounted the Lurker and commanded him to bring him to the fishermen's village. With the Lurker's small build it was impossible that he could carry him all the way to the big city, but in the village he could fetch some coins from his hut, buy provisions, a sword, rent a long-distance dragon and be on his way within half an hour...
  22. The guard swallowed hard, as his decision to stay out of trouble by guarding the furthest entrance backfired horribly. Now, even if he dared to shout for help, he would be dead before he could even finish the word. He glanced over to his fellow Neb, whose torn throat still bled witness that his assailant meant business. His reason for joining the Nebs was for the little bit of extra coin and reputation, you'd had to work for too hard elsewhere. Guarding the city from above a noble dragon from air-bandit threats that stuck to a pre-arranged schedule was one thing, but laying down his life? The Neb had no inkling to do so, especially when there was so much he still wanted to do with his life. Thus he whispered in his best manner: "Our dragons are trained to fly without making noise. If you take one, and I take the other, we can get away from here unnoticed. Your Royal Blue can fly just below us so his body is shielded from view, I doubt he is the havoc-wreaking one we had been looking for anyway. Once we are well out of here, we go our separate ways. Deal?" Meanwhile at the main exit the four guards suddenly had to dodge loads of impractical things that got thrown at them from behind the canvas. When the guards looked annoyed enough to storm in, Golden Myth and a very smug looking Pride on his back, shot out into the night sky dropping the whole painted scenery down on the four Nebs like a huge net and buried them under 'The 'Death and the Dragon'...Half a minute later, owed to the time needed to dig Alzira out of her hiding-heap, Susurro followed, smiling happily as each wing beat brought him and his beloved keeper further away from danger...
  23. With the fires of revenge burning bright inside him and lifting him up high into the sky, the Zyu followed the trail of the Black air-bandits as stealthily as he could. On the other hand, like a mirror to his wrath, the old captain of the Royal Blue regiment was forced to stay on the ground, unable to follow his heart and unleash hell onto the much-deserving Nebs and their lackeys. No ropes bound him, but since even his own dragon Aseto refused to carry him back into battle, Sodger felt even more imprisoned than at the time when the Sunstone air-bandits had bound and sold him to the Nebs who had actually held him in a cage... In the meantime at Pride's arena The Nebula leader was getting more and more impatient at the disgraceful stalemate he found himself in because neither he nor his fellow Nebs were too eager to engage the death-like figure and the bloodstained-blade it was wielding in close combat. Suddenly an idea came to him, that wasn't very Neb-like or honourable, but he had stopped caring about such things a long time ago. Smirking as if victory was already his, the leader sent one of his men to fetch crossbows and then taunted: "For defying the authority of the Nebulas and even daring to attack us, you'll die a dog's death! Justice will be served once we fill you with bolts!" Isirion sighed, as the situation was getting more and more familiar. It must have been the side-effect of using the peaceful White Dragon's energy that he hadn't already killed the enemies right in front of him, but now his temper flared up again and he taunted back: "So basically I just have to kill you all before you can shoot me. Fine by me!" His provocation bought him a few precious seconds he used to climb on the Nebula beside him. He whispered the words 'fly or die' in it's ear and forced it into the air again. Aiming for the leader, Isirion edged the wounded dragon on until it was close enough to jump over but the leader's perfectly trained dragon, sensing the danger, swerved out of the way immediately. The other Nebulas followed his example and dispersed only to re-unite in perfect battle formation. Now that the fight took place in the air, the Nebulas focused solely on the human who had dared challenge them in their own element and, confident of victory, attacked with tooth and sword and claw...
  24. The lair was very oddly shaped, definitely not a natural cave, but also nothing like the clear shapes the humans preferred. It just spread out like a giant underground paw-print. His dragon cell had been one of the claws, as had the cell with the dead humans. Stolen goods and baubles were stored in the other claws. The main room was slightly circular and reeked of all the air-bandits that usually lived and slept there. Going from there, elongating like an arm stretched the tunnel to the surface. Clean desert air, untainted by the foul smell awaited him along with the promise of freedom at last. But while his body was now free, his mind couldn't that easily forget the torture Chet and his air-bandits had put him through. Black wings beating against the night sky wouldn't be easy to spot, but with his senses sharpened by the thirst for revenge he could probably find them again - or he could just look at the night sky alone to navigate back to the place he called home in this great desert. The consequences of this choice could ultimately affect many more dragons and humans, but still the choice was his alone to make with only his conscience and his burning heart for guidance...
  25. His sight and senses getting clearer and clearer by the second with the adrenaline washing out the last remnants of the drugs from his system, Ezaryth could picture the departure of the raid group as if he was standing right next to them. His ears caught the sound of dozens of powerful wings flapping to gain altitude while his nose caught all the different smells of riders and dragons whirling together. Like the leader had commanded the Black air-bandits were leaving for another raid and by the sound and smell of it not even the two-legs who drugged his food were staying behind. And why should they? Two elderly, slain prisoners and a supposedly drugged dragon held captive in a sturdy cage that had withstood dozens of even stronger dragon species was nothing to worry about - or was it? In the mean-time at Leetle island The last four of the Royal Blue regiment still sat together like old times, but despite Galandir's strategic distribution of his new siblings, the mood was getting darker by the minute. Albeit each of them was curious to hear what kind of story their comrade who had been missing for so long, had to tell, neither Ale, nor the Guardian brought up the topic in fear of arousing their old captain's anger again. Eyes who didn't understand the situation very well, but at least could read the mood, thus kept quiet and baby-talked with Diadora who loved the attention she was getting so much she could almost forgive the baby-treatment. Sodger on the other hand didn't talk to anyone, he just sat there, brooding and plotting the downfall of the corrupted Nebulas and their air-bandit lackeys. Two of his so-called comrades had already turned his back on him, asking him to show mercy to those criminals for the sake of the citizens that were only slightly less corrupted than the Nebs themselves. But Eyes had said nothing. Was he just too exhausted to speak or was there another reason he held his tongue? Sodger had always believed Eyes to be the most loyal of his comrades, but the continued silence was a betrayal in itself. A true Royal Blue wouldn't be opposed to facing some criminal scum and standing proud over their dead bodies afterwards. A true Royal Blue would lead the charge, not hide cowardly on an island to lick his wounds and pet some hatchlings. Sodger turned his head in the direction the most petting came from and snarled: "You should be ashamed of yourself. You should be sharpening a weapon instead of petting a hatchling. My apprentice would strike at them and probably does at the moment. He understands that you can't let scum like that do as they please. I am very fortunate to have met him." "You met him because he killed the mountain bandits that were attacking you; Fingers told me", the Guardian interrupted and continued: "and ever since he has never stopped killing thugs and thieves and the likes. Only days ago he provoked them to attack us at your hut if you remember. I thought it had been accidental but after observing him for some time I am not so sure anymore. While we were chasing after you, he pointed out hidden Sunstone-bandits in the Endless desert and even killed one of their dragons and it's rider and we were lucky to escape in the confusion instead of facing the whole group. Later in the big city he would have assassinated three of the Nebs right at their own tower if I hadn't stopped him from making them all his enemy too. I also recall that he would have let the dragons of an underground arena loose against the guards there if Drake hadn't come up with a less deadly idea. What I am trying to say is that death follows, wherever he goes and that you are too blind to see any fault in that because he mostly kills 'scum' as you put it. It is most unfortunate that you ever met him because you have changed for the worse since you did. The captain I knew would have never even thought about using someone like him as a tool to start another war. And that is why you will stay with Eyes at my island while Ale and I will fly back to the city alone."