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Isirion

The Bloodline of Torch [open]

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At Lilith's judgement that the Hellfire Games were over, the remaining combatants felt more than relieved. They all had known that Asura was insanly strong and their only chance of winning would have been to fight her after she had fought and exhausted herself against everyone else. But now, after seeing Chimera rip apart Keahi like it was nothing, they had a lot to think about and since most of those thoughts revolved around not sharing Keahi's fate they didn't question Lilith's ruling. Only Asura objected, the dragoness entered the pit again, spewed a bright flame to get everone's attention and roared: "I don't care what the rest of you weaklings does, but I will fight Chimera here and now and win back my title and my mate!" Chimera's body tensed at the direct challenge and she also spew a bright flame to accept it, but before she could jump down into the pit once again, Torch intercepted her path with an outstretched wing. Locking eyes with Asura he jumped down right in front of her and spoke softly: "Lilith is right and I can only mirror her words. If you want to continue this folly you have to go through me." Those words hurt Asura more than every wound she had ever received in a fight and she completely lost her temper, lashed out and screamed: "You are just a male, what can you possibly do?" Torch smiled sadly before he easily dodged the strike he had anticipated and replied: "We spent enough time together so that you should know every inch of my body yet you never asked why my scales are rough and mangled and I am covered in scars." Hellfire Torch walked right up to Asura and continued: "Look closely again." The dragoness, who had grown curious now that her anger had dissipated being so close to her former mate, obliged and gasped: "They are not from teeth or claws...they look like -" "That's right", Hellfire Torch confirmed: "A scar for every time I fought or disobeyed our keeper. While you trained with each other I trained with him." Before Asura could even process those words, Torch moved again and caught her neck with his teeth while twisting his body to avoid her wing claws. He looked like holding a very large kitten by the scruff of it's neck but it worked. Asura's body language showed that she was ready to back down and not wanting to hurt her or her pride any longer, Torch let her go. Asura shot a glance full of wounded admiration towards him followed by a glance filled with pure hatred towards Lilith and Chimera before she flew back to her cave to sort out her confused mind and feelings.

 

Torch let out a sigh of relief that got interrupted by a gendered female Hellfire with shredded wings that landed on Keahi's corpse, took a bite and then stated with visible delight: "We don't have to worry about food or fight over it anymore. There is plenty of it right here."

Edited by Isirion

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When Asura had entered the pit again, Lilith was rearing to make sure the foolish dragoness knew that she would not be backing down from her previous words. Though she would be willing to admit that she was not expecting Torch to enter the pit to prevent any further fighting himself. The only time Lilith had ever really seen the male was when he gave his food freely to hatchlings or helping when he could in these types of acts. It was because of this that Lilith had thought the male to have a more meek personality. Yet his current actions and words did not scream meek, that perhaps she judged this dragon too soon. A soft rumble emitted from deep within her throat as she watched Asura glare with blatant hatred towards Chimera and herself before flying off. ‘She will likely be a problem now that I will have to watch out for more closely,’ was thought as she turned her gaze towards Torch to address him now that the chance of a fight was decreased. “I thank yo-,” Lilith’s thanks towards Torch’s actions and the slight bowing of the head was interrupted when Lilith heard a quite familiar voice coming from behind her.

 

It might have been a rather funny sight to see as Lilith quickly turned to the point of almost stumbling as the hatchling’s words registered into her mind. ‘Please don’t tell me Skull is...she is eating Keahi,’ was her dim thoughts as she stared at Skull chewing on her bite of Keahi’s corpse. Without much thought, Lilith quickly moved so that she would wrap her tail around Skull’s frame so that she could lift her off the corpse and cradle Skull close to her own belly as best as she could. With this done and with little worry that her little treasure was about to take another bite, Lilith finally took the moment to think of just how to explain that eating the corpse of a fellow dragon was more of a last resort.

 

“My little one, food should never be your fallen comrade unless it is a dire need. I understand that is what you survived on to live because you were in the boneyard, but I promised that I would make sure you would not have to do that any longer,” Lilith said this carefully as she thought over her words and then added on, “Remember what I said to you and the others that day, that I would make sure you would not live like I do.” Of course Lilith knew that it was likely that by now they had a taste in what life was like here and she had a bad feeling that some of her treasures were lost to this nightmare already, but Lilith would not allow them all to be.

Edited by Lilithachaos

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Skull looked up at the underside of Lilith's chin with big eyes, not understanding why such a delicious fresh treat had been denied to her. Finally realizing that there was no way she could stare at Lilith's eyes from her current position cradled to the adult's belly, Skull resorted to turning into a sulking lump that seemed to weigh double her original weight. Torch watched the odd interaction between the two with curious glances that betrayed a hint of the compassion and pity he was capable of then he declared: "As Hellfire Lilith has already stated these ill-fated Hellfire Games are over but our food problem remains. That is why I won't condemn any Hellfire who resorts to eating from this corpse or those in the ungendered hatchie pit. There is a reason our keeper used little Skull her as a corpse disposal dragon. If we just leave the corpses lying around they can infect us and make us sick or worse. We don't know when exactly our keeper will return, but you can bet your lives on it that he will. He knows our strengths and weaknesses and can easily estimate how long we can hold out without food. It doesn't matter if his continued absence is a test or not, we will perish if we waste our ressources for petty reasons. There will be absolutely no more fighting until he returns! Now return to your caves and rest!"

 

After most of the dragons in the audience had followed his command, Torch approached Lilith and whispered: "How many of the escapees are you taking care of? I know there had been six in the beginning but Isirion already killed two of them because they picked the nearest and most obvious hiding place there was. He will still be looking for the others but he won't kill them unless they prove to be just as stupid or weak."

Edited by Isirion

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Lilith’s attention turned partly away from the sulking hatchling as Torch once again started to speak to the crowd, listening closely to his words and almost trying to examine them for any double meaning like Asura had herself with the games. She understood where Torch was coming from in stating he would not look down on those who ate from the corpse. Those who needed the food more desperately, such as the ungendered hatchlings, could gain some source of energy out of the pointless death. Yet at the same time it felt like they were condemning themselves to a fate that should never have been, one that is unnatural as they should be hunting prey and not eating their own kind. It was because of this that Lilith gave a gentle sigh as she gave some leeway to the hatchling she held close, “If there are no other smaller hatchlings in more need then I can allow you eating the dead my dear, but only if you promise me that you will only do so when there is no other food.”

 

By the time that Lilith had finished her soft mumbling towards her little treasure, Torch had finished his speech to the gathering and started his approach. It was almost instinctual that Lilith curled her frame a little more over Skull’s body at the male’s approach, the need to hide the hatchling from any threats made worse when Torch made it clear he knew that Skull was one of the escapees. “You know I take care of one, I am not a fool to say none when you see one before you now,” she finally spoke carefully and with hesitation as she tried to buy some time to figure out just how much to give away to a dragon who is forced to be around their ‘Master’ so much, to figure out how much of a threat or an asset Torch would be. Finally Lilith decided to find out just why he wished to know how many she cared for before she endangered the lives of the little dearies. "You must understand my hesitation on answering your question after what happened here. Why do you ask how many I care for and what would you do with the answer?"

Edited by Lilithachaos

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Torch made sure his interaction with Hellfire Lilith looked nothing more than a conversation about her judging to anyone still close enough and replied with a carefully neutral face: "I ask because I am the very reason you are all here in this hellish situation. If I hadn't dodged Isirion's blade so long ago, this hide-out might still be as lifeless as he found it. I know better than anyone here what skills those hatchies need to learn to survive. Protecting them with your body is a noble thing, but it will not help them to fend for themselves. Take this one for example-", Torch said and suddenly stepped back and curled his tail around a thick-clawed hatchling that had been eavesdropping. He gently sat Claw on the ground and said: "He hid himself between his age mates in the male gendered hatchie area and already got rid of the strongest competition there. I don't suggest that you teach your charges how to kill but you should teach them how to fight as soon as possible. The shoving and scratching tactics from the ungendered hatchling pit won't do them any good against more experienced opponents. They need to find a strategy that compliments their strengths and offsets their weaknesses. Chimera and I can help with that - if you let us."

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When Torch stated that he was to blame for all being in this hellish situation just because he dodged a blade aiming for his life, Lilith had the urge point out that it was natural to wish to live and the body moving on that instinct. However, Lilith could vaguely understand where Torch was coming from with his statement and so held her tongue as she knew the comment would be unwanted. Instead she listened closely to his words so that she could see if he would be an asset to her little treasures or if he would be a further danger in this nightmare.

 

Though listening almost was put off when Torch stepped back and wrapped his tail around another hatchling, one she had admittedly not notice creep up in her focus on protecting Skull and trying to keep track of larger threats leaving the area. A soft pleased rumble escaped her as he placed Claw down and Lilith looked over the hatchling that she had not seen in what felt like forever. He looked like he was doing well overall, but Lilith was not too pleased that he killed any hatchling just because they were stronger. Yet she could recall how he was the one who killed three of his age-mates before their escape and then laid out a plan to her in allowing her to only save one, he was indeed the one most willing to kill to live out of the four that she saved.  

 

After mulling over Torch's words, Lilith found she only had one problem and that was with fully trusting Chimera. A death just happened at the dragoness' claws, but Lilith did not truly blame her for this as the attack seemed more instinctual and more fault fell to Asura in Lilith's mind. Yet, this did not change the fact that Lilith did not know Chimera nor did she know Chimera's thoughts on the situation. "There is little else I can do but put my trust with you Torch and, by your words, Chimera," she finally stated with a sigh as she glanced at the two hatchlings and then back to Torch, "There were four hatchlings I protected and fed until they were separated as the two males were noticed in the female training area. That is why they hide in their gendered area and I cannot help them much any longer." 

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Torch awarded Lilith's trust with a compassionate smile that reflected his true, rather gentle nature, then he said: "I trust Chimera with my life and so can your charges. What my mate just did in the pit was to protect the unborn life in her belly. Of course we don't know yet how many eggs she will lay, but the signs are there for those to see. Chimera does not yet know that she will not even see our children hatch because Isirion will take them away just like he did with Asura's clutch. Not only to give the hatchlings you are raising a better chance at surving but also to soften that blow, I ask you that you transfer at least one hatchling into our care. Since I have unlimited access to the males' training area I suggest I take the other male, who so far hasn't displayed any particular strengths apart from being smart enough to let you care for him. I know our keeper's mind, neither the thick-clawed male nor the lighter coloured female that led the escape from the pit are in imminent danger of being killed by him, but I worry about the other female that can't fly and the hatchling I mentioned. Please let me take care of them - if they are close to me I might be able to convince Isirion to stay his blade. And if not I can at least make sure to kill them myself, so that he cannot use them to force another hatchling to show his strength by killing them for their weakness."

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The younger hellfire’s death made more sense as Lilith learned about Chimera, but at the same time a sense of pity came over the unborn hatchlings as the nightmare they would be hatching into. It just cemented into her mind just how much she would refuse mating until she left this place, though it seemed some part of her plan fell apart when she took these hatchlings under her wing as her own. So with this in mind, she was ready to take into consideration Torch’s plan but she did not like his comment that he would kill them if it came to it.

 

“I have little choice but to entrust you with both males as I can do little to help them any longer but to sneak them some food, training them is out of the question as it would bring up questions on why they or I am in the wrong gender area,” she finally stated to Torch before pausing to think of how to best word her further words without sounding either ungrateful. “As I stated, I can understand your care of the males as I am unable to care for them as well as I should because of the rules and suspicions of this place. However, I am not sure how Skull will be safer with the chance of running into our supposed ‘Master’ before she is stronger.”

 

Lilith’s thoughts on this was simply that she wants Skull to be able to prove to their supposed ‘Master’ that, if needed, Skull did not need her wings to beat her opponents, that she could use her speed and brains to win her fights. If Lilith could not keep Isirion away, then at least she could help Skull learn to turn what others see as a weakness into a strength. She would be more than open as well to have Chimera to help with training the female hatchlings, the speed in which the hellfire attacked spoke of how she could help Lilith with the little ones.

Edited by Lilithachaos

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Torch paused some time, carefully considering Liliths's words and his answer to them. Finally he said with a sharpness matching Isirion's blade in his voice: "The murderous one here needs no help, his mind works very similar to our keeper's. That one only let the weak one tag along so he had an easy kill at paw to prove his strength. Isn't that so?" Claw was too smart to deny Torch's insight to his action. He figured that the male must have spied on him from afar and nodded briefly, making a mental note for himself that knowing how your enemy thought was a strength not to be taken lightly. Torch dismissed him with a sharp nod and returned his focus to Lilith before he explained further: "The female with the shredded wings met our master many times. Every time he brought a dead hatchling to the hidden boneyard for her to devour he had a chance to check on her strength and apparently it sufficed. It was him who saved her from falling to her death when Hellfire Kitty shredded her wings, because even back then he saw her potential. But now, that that one has fallen under your care it seems your pity is destroying the strength he saw. She does not have to fight a mental battle to eat the food you put freely in front of her. Under your wing she also does not need to exercise her body to distract herself from the lonelyness of her former place. Your love for her is poison. I will ask one more time that you hand her over into our care. If you do there might even be a chance that her wings will be healed like the belly-wound that should have killed Belia. And with her Chimera's heart will be healed too, like I already explained to you."

Edited by Isirion

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Lilith had no illusions that Claw had no problem killing other dragons as again she recalled his plan for her to feed and make stronger one hatchling, leaving the others to fed for themselves and likely die. It was because of this that it came as no shock that he took a weaker hatchling with him, but that did not stop the anger towards the hatchling as in Lilith's mind the small one was no better than those who killed needlessly. “I have no illusions on what Claw is capable of doing from the first night I took them in and I knew that our supposed Master already got into his mind,” she stated with a grim tone with an undercurrent of some frustration.

 

Yet this frustration quickly turned to anger as Torch dared claim she was making Skull weaker. “You mistake pity and love for a simple desire for them to live, to not fall under the talons of another dragon or blade of our Master. As you have seen before, she still does not care if she consumes the dead and I just encourage her not to do so if there is other food for her to eat. I do this only for the fear that eating our dead can make one sick, thus why it should be a last resort for any dragon. I also encourage her to exercise her body and mind, she does not need loneliness to do so as we all have honed our bodies for survival around other dragons,” Lilith growls out her answer with anger as she glares at the male before her.

 

“Have no illusions, if I could take Flamely from you and care for him then I would be fighting for him as well. You claim I need to trust you; that you want to try and heal Skull, though how you would do this eludes me, when in the same breath you stated that you would kill these hatchlings instead of protecting them with your life. You think taking them under your own wing and then letting that demented man kill them before your mate will ‘heal her heart’?,” Lilith added this to her angry ranting and moved so that her own frame was just over Skull’s as Lilith’s tail lashed behind her in anger. “You might think me a fool, but I will not trust you with Skull when you will not even risk your life to protect her, nor would I with Flamely if I had the choice. That is why I stated that I will keep the female hatchlings and have Chimera help with the training as she is allowed in the training areas for the females.”

Edited by Lilithachaos

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Torch gave out a long sigh, he remembered the conversations he had with Chimera and really understood where Lilith was coming from, but he believed his point valid as well. Thus he tried again to convince her to sever herself emotionally from the hatchling that was most likely to die: "Lilith, please. You have seen for yourself many times what our keeper can do. He is stronger than Asura and certainly stronger than me. I can't change his mind about Flamey's fate, but if the verdict is death I can at least make it less agonizing than being ripped apart by eager age-mates that all try to prove their strength of conviction. Of course I will try to use the time I have until Isirion returns to make him strong enough to pass his scrutiny, but in your heart you already know that even if I swear to you that I would protect him with my life, that that is an empty promise that couldn't live up to the fatal speed of my master's blade. Rest assured though that I will at least try to change his fate before putting him out of his misery myself. Concerning Skull you must know that it wasn't me who healed her, our keeper did. The more chances she has of running into him after getting stronger under Chimera's care the better the chances he might heal her wings. Don't you agree that the increase in strength while training under the current Hellfire Queen exceeds what she could possibly gain from staying with you. Your eyes clouded by your emotions for her you can't even see how much she struggles with eating the dead. Did you know that she believes herself to be dead and calls her former place an island of death to deal with the horror of the situation. That by now her demeanor is convincing enough to not betray her emotions to all those strangers shows that she has grown not only physically but mentally as well, but she is far from 'not caring' about eating her fellow dead. Believe me, just like my master, I can tell such things. As a compromise I suggest that Skull stays with us but every time Chimera brings her to the trainings area she is all yours."

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Torch’s words did little to calm the anger that coursed through her body, but Lilith was not foolish enough ignore the male’s words all together. She did not like to admit it, but she knew that there was some truth in killing a hatchling before the deranged human could do worse. Yet, she was not about to agree on this fully as she was of the mind that keeping the hatchling hidden from his gaze was the better logic. If the human did find the hatchling, then and only then did Lilith think she would put up a fight with the human and resort to either fleeing with the hatchling if possible or giving the small one enough time to do so themselves.

 

“I have seen what he can do and that does not change my mind on keeping the weaker ones away from his gaze until they are strong enough to prove their worth to him at least. Out of all us, he is likely to go to your caves the most often as you are his ‘prize’ and Chimera your mate that will produce the strong offspring that he wants. Flamey might be better off meeting you for training but not staying in your caves because of this,” Lilith said this with a huff as she tried to calm herself but it was rather hard when she felt Torch was not getting the concept that she was not going to just allow him to get the hatchlings killed by letting Isirion near them.

 

For Skull, she could not argue that Chimera might have better chances of training the hatchling as she held more privileges, but at the same time one watches the Queen more closely. It was because of this that Lilith was not thrilled with his words and she again made this clear with her own. “You are right that our keeper could heal Skull once she proves that she is worth the effort to do so, but you forget again that all eyes look to you two right now and once that man comes back your cave will likely be one of his first stops. If a dragon here was to see Chimera was attached to Skull, do you not think they would use her to get to your mate? Asura proved today that she was willing to start another game just to become your mate again, what will stop her in using Skull if she sees your mate getting attached?”

 

Lilith paused here as she thought over her next words on Skull’s struggles, something again that she saw the first night and it was not like she forgot these things but it seemed Torch took her words incorrectly before. “Yes I knew she what she called the place she was before and again I state that this is why I try to have her not eat the dead to save her mind. No hatchling would come out unscathed in the mind with being in a place such as that man placed her and I will not force her to change her coping method as we all have some method to live though this nightmare we live,” she stopped here as she felt like she had said enough on the topic and would leave Torch to answer her now.

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Torch tilted his head like a cute little kitten in thought and once again mulled over Lilith's words. This time he couldn't dispel her arguments and so he said with a heavy voice: "I agree with you that someone might try to use Skull to get to Chimera. Maybe it is really best that she stays with you, although my cave, filled with Dragon Cashmere blankets to make it cozy and comfortable to encourage breeding certainly would have had more hiding places than your bland cave. I hope you didn't intend to stuff the Hellfire into a straw matress everytime someone came looking, but enough of this. It is settled then - Claw stays where he is, that is safest for him. Flamey comes with me and Skull and the lighter-coloured female with the impressive leader capabilities stay with you. I wish you all the best of luck!"

 

In the mean-time in the big city

 

Little bloodied feet tripped along the streets and carried a little girl carrying a stuffed Pillow hatchling in her arms like a shield towards the nearest watch tower. Despite the streets being rough, the girl's feet were not actually hurt but covered in the blood of her father whom she had discovered in a gruesome state after waking up and wandering around to find somebody to tell her a back-to-sleep story. At first her mind refused to comprehend that everyone in the mansion had been murdered and wasn't just deeply asleep, but once the girl understood, she did what her father had drilled her to - she sneaked out and went to alert the nearest guards. Upon finding the guards that should have been patrolling the mansion also dead, the girl almost ran back to at least cuddle up to her father's at least still warm body for comfort, but her brain insisted that that would be a very bad idea. So, stiffling her tears, the girl had sneaked out of the vast garden and made her way to the Neb's roost. She climbed up the many stairs, until she reached the guard commander's office and gave him the fright of his life. At first he neither recognized nor believed her, but once she hit him with Mr. Fluffy Pillow, he remembered a party at Lord Hassleborough's in honour of his promotion. At the very edge of his memory the little girl standing in front of him surfaced and he suddenly was very awake. He ordered his man-sergeant to fetch a hot chocolate and a blanket for his patron's daughter and sent a full detail to investigate the mansion. Ten minutes later they came back with faces as white as bed sheets and gave their report that matched what the little girl had already told down to the bloodiest detail. The guard commander stared at them, willing them to dissolve along with all the problems their report brought to him into a dream, but today certainly wasn't his lucky day. Surpressing the urge to call for another hot chocolate and blanket, this time for himself, he instead gave the order to sound the city wide alarm. A crime such as this was beyond his expertise. All the Nebs would have to work together to solve this or they risked to loose what little face they had left after the incident with the rampaging Royal Blue, the escaped arena prisoners still on the loose and the only slightly less dangerous bear-man. And so, about five minutes later the giant city bells began to sound one after another like a death toll for the deceased: *DING DA-DING DONG DONG*

Edited by Isirion

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If he'd been holding anything he'd have dropped it, and if he hadn't choked on his last little puffs of stalling-steam he would have squealed like a hatchling. The bells caught Taellonn entirely off guard, and after his choking fit he turned all attention to Drake. She'd been caught more on guard than off by the sudden tolling as well, but had gotten over the initial surprise just in time for Taellonn's pleading eyes to look over and give him some comfort. She didn't know exactly what it meant, of course; partially but not so much because she was unfamiliar with it, but more that so much had happened recently, probably much that she didn't even know about, that trying to pinpoint a specific cause would be a waste of her time. Waiting around seemed like just as much as a waste to her, and even a hint of an answer would be closure enough for her. The one in the arena who'd given her the most information so far and that she trusted most was Golden Myth, and, considering the fact that she'd inadvertently ranked Pride at about the same level as the child grooms in terms of usefulness, she wasn't too keen on going to the arena owner for answers. There was a level of regret of course; she didn't want Mythy getting suspicious with her questions, but hopefully with his scorn for Isirion, Drake would be more trustworthy by comparison. She told Taellonn to stay put while she slipped out of the room, back to where the Golden Wyvern was. She didn't really even put much thought into whether he was awake or not, maybe hoping that he hadn't drifted off since their last meeting or that the tolling had woken him up. "Golden Myth," she began, "I'm sorry for barging by again, but I needed a city native to ask about this, and Pride's off working on his arena fantasy so you seemed my next best option- Do you have any idea what those bells were?" 

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Golden Myth, who was still on high alert looking out for assassins, smiled at Drake, clearly pleased she had asked him, and answered : "What you hear is the city alert. Once the Nebs ring one bell, all the other towers ring theirs too. It means that something has happened that needs all of them to work together - an out of control fire or an air bandit raid too close to the city or perhaps it is a drill. The bells would also ring if someone of the city lords had died, but that is highly unlikely. I hope my information is of some use to you, you seem a bit stressed. Shall I call one of my grooms to give you a neck and back massage?"

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Drake had gotten as clear cut an answer as she'd desired, and with any guesswork out of the way she'd have to turn her attention to staying away from the Nebs' suspicion. Of course, this would have been easier if everything had gone according to plan earlier (and if there wasn't any promised performance help to Pride, though that probably would've been no skin off her nose to skip out on if need be,) but given the circumstances simply laying low instead of fleeing seemed to be her only option. She responded to Mythy's offer. "No, that's alright, it's late and I think I'm being left on guard over there anyways. And with assassins about and now whatever the hell this is, related or not, I don't think relaxing's a foreseeable option for me." A slight friendly grin, and an arguably genuine one at that, formed on the female warrior's face with her parting words. "But thank you for the offer and information- I'm glad to know at least someone reliable in this city."
She slipped back to where Taellonn and the rest were, and the newly disguise-molted Royal Blue had already made himself much closer to the entrance before hand. His voice was urgent and quiet; whether because of caution or fear, Drake couldn't quite place. "You were talking to Golden Myth, weren't you?" The beginning of a nod and 'yes' from Drake were interrupted. "Well? What do you know?" Drake matched Taellonn's volume. "No concern to us- I've got everything handled." The dragon fidgetted. "Drake, now is not the time to be lying to me." An artificially clawed hand gripped Taellonn's wing as he was led to Isirion's position. "I'm not. But if you're so sure I am, then you ought to prepare for your delusions with Isirion. Fake blade, no mess and no harm done and you can rest easy in knowing you don't have to rely on me to save your tail end." Offense rose in the dragon's voice as he tried to halt. "I already don't! That's why I think this is all so unnecessary, it's simply out of order, Drake! It's-" Now it was Drake's turn to interrupt. "Prove it to me then, and I'll never make you endure something apparently so against the grain again." Taellonn was prepared for another argument (as per usual) but found the time for one gone as he'd already let himself be dragged to the arena. He shook his wing free and walked forward from this point of no return as Drake announced their presence with a quick throat clearing, as if simply entering hadn't been enough (and, as Taellonn thought, simply wanted to taunt and upset him more.)

 

Meanwhile at the small Draikenflaeme base

 

A loud tolling broke Ezra's pure anger in Relantia's departure (despite the clear explanation she'd offered as to exactly why her species wasn't fit for a stay in the city) and, near forgetting he was entirely surrounded by allies, he whipped around, sword drawn, to the nearest set of people,  who had begun talking almost right at the sound of the bells. Despite the dirty, irratated glances he got from a few warriors for barging into the conversation and asking about the tolls, a leader among the group, with hair sporting an armor-matching streak of silver above his ears, explained that, "It tells us with certainty that your sister's attack succeeded, more specifically that Lord Hassleborough is good and dead-" A subtle grin formed on his face. "-nothing new to you, certainly. All we've to do now is be wary." Ezra took that answer and continued with his brooding, sword still drawn as he paced around... 

Edited by Drakessis

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Drake's throat clearing broke the spell witnessing Isirion's training had put Pride under and the arena owner turned around and then red while apologizing: "I am so sorry, I should be working on your flowery dress by now. I really wanted to, but then I had the idea of turning the sand into snow for more dramatic effect. I ran here to finish the task as quickly as possible so I would still have time for the other task, but then I got smitten with amazement watching Isirion practise. At the sound of his name, Isirion finished his training session and the imaginary dragon and walked over to where Pride, Drake and Taellonn were standing. He was walking fast and purposeful as if he couldn't wait to slice up a real dragon next, even if he had to try to do that with a wooden sword. Putting on a smile as fake as his weapon for the sake of the arena owner, Isirion gestured towards the Royal Blue and said: "I have killed Royal Blues before but I doubt you have the necessary experience regarding humans. If you want our performance to look realistic you should come at me as if I killed your family." He indicated ever so slightly Drake's presence and added this time with a real, vicious smile: "I might actually have or why are you still clinging to her as if she has raised you in their stead?"

 

Meanwhile at the Neb's tower

 

Following the sound of the ringing bells like a ghost haunting a house, was a silence so deep as the grave needed to contain all the bodies that had turned up at the mansion. Neither the guard commander nor the little girl uttered a single syllable as if they felt like breaking the silence would break them too. One night alone had changed everything for them - it didn't really matter if they caught the one or ones responsible or not - the little girl would stay an orphan as certainly as he wouldn't stay in charge after letting a city lord get murdered right under his nose. Those depressing notions were interrupted by the man-sergeant who led in a visitor who looked just as depressed. The visitor was all bundled up in a coat, hood and shawl as if he was prepared to take a plunge into an ice-cold pool - or just didn't want to show his face. Whatever it was, the guard commander still didn't break the silence when he gestured him to speak and then waited. However the visitor had no more intention of letting a Neb hear his voice than he had of showing his face and so he just silently put a piece of paper on the table that contained a few lines of text, two drawings and a curiously-shaped hole as if it had been speared on the blade of a knife before he left just as silently...

Edited by Isirion

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Drake was infuriated beyond words;  between Isirion near bragging (in her mind, at least) about dragon slaughter and the mention of Taellonn's 'past' there was nothing left to be calm about. Nothing but Pride's innocent preparation, that was. Her voice cracked out as she turned away and tried not to explode as she distracted herself. "You seem busy, do... do you need any help preparing, Pride?"
Truth be told Taellonn had never thought back to any type of biological parents. He'd long ago accepted that there was nothing he could do about his orphaned circumstances (which he'd actually only learned when Drake got curious and asked her parents, leading to a fairly premature sit-down and explanation to the dragon's condition.) The only hypotheticals that ever crossed his mind were about how he could have been left to a different human or dragon instead of the Draikenflaemes and their resident dragons. He'd never thought of any Royal Blues being his family, since he'd gotten all the care he needed from the Draikenflaemes, and his younger life had really been wonderful with nothing ever seeming to be missing. After a few moments of psyching himself up for the sparring with the dragon killer, genuine confusion showed on his face as he tried to parse the purpose in Isirion's statement. "Their... stead? You misunderstand, I..." He sensed a glare from the increasingly tense Drake, even as she attempted to preoccupy herself, and trailed off the topic with slight mumblings. "...But, but, that's certainly an interesting method of going about performing," he said, completely disregarding Isirion's statements in favor of moving on. "And I suppose we should... begin, or rather, I, uh, should?" He backed up as if to signify some initial preparation and to let Isirion position himself. Walking to circle the man in a terribly pathetic theatrically-menacing way that probably could have been outmatched by any grooms or pygmies in the arena, Taellonn's feet moved along as clunkily and nervously as his words had, and the only part of him that could have seemed prepared or trained were his flight-ready wings. Thinking to how he'd seen Drake fight before, he charged forward, ready for an attempt at a last second fake out that could maybe, just maybe, buy him a second or so of disorientation, considering he doubted his chances of doing anything without that... 

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Seeing Taellonn charge at him, however fake or reluctant it was, instantly made Isirion's battle instincts kick in. He side-stepped the assault, slipped under the wings and aimed for the dragon's heart with his wooden sword before he remembered that he was supposed to loose. Immediately Pride's excited voice called out: "Very nice, but you are not supposed to strike back yet. Maybe for the first fight between you two you should put the sword away alltogether. Isirion retreated back to his original position and stared at Pride as if he had grown another head. Finally he threw the arena owner the wooden sword and said: "It has been a very long time since I last had to fight a dragon without using a weapon but if the performance demands it, I will oblige." Changing his body stance to fit unarmed combat, Isirion also changed his focus towards the dragon's eyes seeing as they were a weak point he could attack even with his bare hands. Pride gave the signal to start the fake fight again before he turned to Drake and said: "I'd love to stay here and watch, but I have to prepare your dress. I have to do that alone, so you can't help me with that but you could stay here and watch those two for me. I fear our Death here has some trouble adjusting to being less deadly and our Dragon on the other hand is not as deadly as he should be." The arena owner rushed off, leaving the wooden sword and the responsibility behind...

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Drake was whatever her rage-possessed mind's equivalent of happy was when Pride insisted she watch. Even without a weapon Isirion seemed like he could do real damage to Taellonn, and that was a position Drake wouldn't have wanted any dragon to be in unsupervised. More pleasing on top of that, however, was the lack of a sword. Clearly Isirion would have a different fighting style than herself and, while Drake did technically use weapons, hand-to-hand (or hand-to-anything) combat was her forte. She walked between the two combatants when she went to the shaken Taellonn (who had some frighteningly vivid ideas of what his current condition may be in a real fight.) As much as Drake just wanted to tell him to get over it- she couldn't. The Royal Blue had his face turned away and hidden, was struggling but managing to keep his claws from shaking, and only tried to hide further when Drake came close. He was only barely beginning to unclench his jaw when Drake started to speak. "Taellonn," she began quietly and really the calmest she could manage. Taellonn listened for what he thought would be reassurance as Drake continued. "First of all, try to protect your face and neck, which I guess for your means keeping them out of the way. Without a blade that's going to be his best bet to weaken you." Taellonn was disappointed at the lack of comforting but nodded along, regaining his 'composure' as he listened further. "I know with hunting you only use your claws and bite, but you've got a tail and a full body of dragon on your side, too. And, if you're gonna dodge, you're a dragon, you can fly, duh. Alright?" Taellonn had regained his steadiness and unclenched jaw and said a solid "Alright." Drake offered a smile. "And remember, he's not allowed to kill you." Taellonn nodded even more confidently than before, and Drake took that as a cue to walk back out of the way and let them begin. As Taellonn turned he pushed his shoulders to broaden his chest and stretch his wings. I've got flying... I've got claws... I've got a tail... That's more than Isirion has... I can do this... And he can't kill me... Taellonn repeated over and over in his mind before he'd actually come up with a solid plan. A second charge, but with a much different goal in mind. Instead of an attempt at a last second diversion, this charge was a running start to begin flying. Out of reach, he flew the circumference of the arena to make sure he could smoothly navigate it. Satisfied with his ability, he swooped down to try to strike- not cut, but bluntly hit- Isirion with the base of his front feet, to what result Taellonn didn't really know but he wasn't particularly confident he'd succeed anyways. Regardless of the result, it was clear his path was simply a dipping arc and not a dive, ready to be repeated as many times as he could manage.

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Isirion immediately realized, that mere side-stepping wouldn't do him any good this time as the dragon was large enough to hit him anyway and also had the advantage of being airborne. So he quickly went through his remaining options and chose the one that would get him closer to his opponent's weak point. When the dragon swooped down with his front legs angled towards him, he relied on the element of surprise and leaped onto the Royal Blue's foot and quickly leaped again to hold on to the horn crown with his left hand in order to use it to swing himself onto the dragon's back. From there he pulled himself up and locked his legs around the dragon's neck as near to the throat as he could. Now it was less likely he would get shaken off and he could even try to inconvenience his opponent's breathing before making an attempt to hit the dragon's eye with his free hand...

 

In the mean-time near the Neb's tower

 

After leaving the building, Nightblade quickly slipped back into the shadows and contemplated what he just had done. He assured himself over and over that it was the only way to get revenge for Trueshot without betraying the Shadow guilds ideals, but couldn't quite convince himself. Learning that a contractor had died usually meant that the assignment died with them, especially if that assignment had already cost an assassin's life. It was his responsibility as a Shadow leader to not endanger any more of his own people when there was nothing to gain, but the thought of Trueshot's death being entirely in vain was excruciating. And so he had handed over the incriminating paper that mentioned not only the Hassleborough mansion but also hinted at a certain arena where his target was hiding, over to the authorities in the hopes that after investigating the place the combined might of the Nebs would find and crush Trueshot's murderer for him. But a shadow of a doubt still remained knowing that there was a chance that his guild could end up like the thieves guild if their target escaped and in turn targeted them for revenge...

Edited by Isirion

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The pressure on his neck told Taellonn he wasn't getting out easy (and in anxious moments of fright his mind told him he never would) but regardless he was going to try. When his interrupted momentum brought him back up he shifted to a mostly vertical hover and started shaking his head like hell. It began to hurt and even threatened whiplash- especially with a human latched onto his neck- but he assured himself letting Isirion get him would be worse. Seeing as he couldn't shake off the adversary he landed and scrambled backwards to the nearest wall.  From the corner of his eye he saw Drake, her expression and stance making her seem one real threat away from intervening. Going back Taellonn could near sense the approaching wall, and, with his body parallel to it, twisted his head away and prepared for a quick impact. With his own head at risk and an already weak entrance it was clear the strike wouldn't have substantial substance to it, but the Royal Blue was still bracing himself as if this were his absolute last-ditch effort to get Isirion off.

Edited by Drakessis

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"Bloody Hellfire", Isirion cursed, as the Royal Blue suddenly started to buck like a mustang. There was no way now, that he could hold on long enough with his left hand only and if he wasn't careful he would impale his other hand on the horn crown instead of managing to grab on to it. Seeing as he had had more than enough injuries for tonight, Isirion did the sensible thing and prepared to get off the dragon - especially as the Royal Blue now obviously planned to smash him together with his head against the nearest wall. Isirion waited until the last second before he jumped and slid off the dragon right before Taellonn's head hit the wall. In the time it would take the dragon to recover, Isirion retreated back to his original position and grabbed some sand from the arena floor in preparation for the dragon's next assault. Wrestling with the dragon again would most certainly not do his freshly healed shoulder any good, but throwing sand into Taellonn's eyes instead wouldn't cause any unnecessary chafing. At least not on his side, but if the dragon tried to dive-tackle him again with full force but got blinded by the sand the Royal Blue would most likely slam into the ground and chafe more than one scale...

 

Meanwhile at Cloak & Dagger's lair

 

After Aseto had landed right in front of the entrance of the stony structure that supposedly hid their last living comrade, Sodger dismounted and called out: "Eyes! We are here! Shout if you can hear me!" The old soldiers voice echoed back from within the cave loud enough to wake the dead, but he still didn't get an answer. Worried that they had come too late after all, the Guardian and Ale jumped off their dragons and entered the lair at full speed. Their steps sounded hollow and there wasn't much light, but they didn't care and searched frantically for their comrade. So far they only found bones too big and old to be Eye's remains and lots of broken off scales sharp enough to shave with. Finally, as they reached the last chamber of the lair, they spotted a pale figure chained to the walls. It was Eyes, as they had hoped, but since he reacted neither to their presence nor Sodger's continued shouts, he had to be unconcious or worse...

Edited by Isirion

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Taellonn wasn't quite seeing stars, but he wasn't scot free either. For a few moments he was overwhelmed with dizziness, and once he recovered he noticed himself back at practically the start. So far charging hadn't worked, since Isirion would just move, and diving hadn't worked, since Isirion just jumped on. There wasn't many other ways to charge in, so Taellonn only saw it fit to change his approach. It was true that Taellonn couldn't clearly see through his own steam, and that he'd seen Isirion near kill Drake when last faced with steam, but the Royal Blue hoped that he'd get some advantage, at least by virtue. Knowing his plan wouldn't allow for a running jump, Taellonn widened his stance and bent down to prep for the sudden standing jump he'd have to do. A fog of steam rolled towards Isirion as Taellonn jumped back into flight, gliding around the arena once and filling out areas with steam where he saw it necessary. The lack of strong reflections in the night wasn't really something the dragon had accounted for, but he still peered through the mist and listened for movement, until he was finally ready to dive back in for a second try... 

Edited by Drakessis

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Isirion wasn't too sure about the whole performance thing, but he strongly suspected that filling the arena with steam so that there was nothing left to see for any spectators wasn't what Pride had had in mind. But Pride wasn't here and at least now evading the dragon would really be a challenge since navigating in the steam had to be the Royal Blue's forte. Moving fluently, as to disturb the steam as little as possible, Isirion tried to circle behind the area he remembered Drake was watching from. If Taellonn spotted him and believed, that he aimed to attack her again, like he had done the last time they both were engulfed by his steam, the clingy dragon surely would charge in and give him another opening. If he got enraged enough to forgot his surroundings, it might even be possible to lure him into flying into the arena wall again...

 

At the same time at Cloak & Dagger's lair

 

The Guardian approached Eyes to check for a pulse or any sign of life but at first he found none. Only when Ale stepped beside him and poured the last drops of his special flask into Eyes' mouth did their old comrade respond feverishly: "I must be dreaming. First I hear my captain's voice, now I taste Ale's special brew." Ale carefully touched his friends shoulder and said: "You are not dreaming, we are all here. We came to rescue you." The Guardian didn't loose anymore precious time and helped Eyes drink a little from a flask of normal water. Then he soaked some bread and let him take a few bites too. He knew from experience that giving people who suffered from lack of food and water too much of those could make things worse. After he was sure Eyes wouldn't vomit anything back up, he inspected the chains and concluded that whoever had fastened them to the cave wall had done a very good job. Ale whistled for Barrel and the Royal Blue made short work of the chains. Then the two men helped their comrade on the dragon's back and escorted him outside where Sodger was waiting impatiently. The Guardian told his old captain what they had found inside and that Eyes was safe now, after that he made a meaningful pause and added: "You understand that Eyes is in no position to fly to the big city or participate in any wars you'd like to start. What he needs is a lot of rest and small amounts of food and water given in carefully calculated doses. I will take him to Leetle island and care for him there. I ask you and Ale to join us so we can talk about everything that happened. Do you agree?" Sodger looked like he would really like to disagree, but then he said: "I can picture the state Eyes is in. We will stay on your island until he is battle-ready again." The old soldier climbed onto Aseto's back and took the lead, a lot slower because he was carrying two people followed Barrel and the Guardian brooding in silence about what was to come took the rear riding his rental dragon...

Edited by Isirion

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