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Isirion

The Bloodline of Torch [open]

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As soon as Sappo had been sent on fire-setting-duty, Isirion snatched up ashes left over from the missile training and told the White Dragon he had to get himself as dirty as possible for further camouflage. Unless he and the Golden Wyvern became undistinguishable from the smoke and fire, risking the collapsing building would be for naught. Felicia immediately nodded and grabbed some ash to work on Golden Myth, while Pride stood dumbstruck. He couldn't believe what was happening and he struggled with putting the lives of his beloved wife and dragon into the hands of a maybe-hatchie-killer/eater. Once again Felicia snapped him out of it by telling him to focus on the disguises. Pride dashed around the room, collecting everything he could and when he was done he ripped a leftover piece of cloth into three scarves. After soaking them in the trough he gave them to the two women and tied the last one around his own face for protection. Isirion raised only an eyebrow at being left-out, but after dealing with Hellfires for years, he wasn't worried about the feeble flames at all. It was the tacked-on structures turning the stable into a hideout for Drake's mysterious people that made him frown. There was no telling when those additions would come crashing down and that meant they just had to risk it. He hated depending on luck instead of skill almost as going into a battle without a plan. His visible bad mood and the encroaching flames triggered Fingers flight-instincts. The ex-thief tried to cling to Drake's clingy dragon to escape, but was immediately ditched. Faced with certain death through fire on almost all sides, Fingers choose to side with just death. Impossible as it sounded, it seemed as if even the flames themselves were afraid of going near him. Those few that dared flicker in his presence soon died. Felicia who had finished sooting Golden Myth noticed something else too. In the light of the dying flames Isirion's eyes had once again turned dead-purple. Ominous creaking heralded that the roof would soon come crashing down and so both of them decided to save their observations for later. Even Pride noticed that their window for escape was closing fast, but salvation was faster. Sappo returned on pitch-black wings, his proud beaming face clearly illuminated by the flame corridor he had created. Isirion wasted not a second more and stepped into it. Making sure her moistened scarf was in place Felicia followed dragging her husband right behind her. Fingers entered next and gasped. All around the flames roared upwards, effectively concealing them while singeing not even a single hair on their heads. It was nothing short of a miracle...

 

Outside the Nebs shouted their typical proclamation about surrender and facing judgement. Having learned at least that much from their arena-fiasco, they did so from a considerable, assassination-defying height. Their leader was especially cautious about anything even remotely resembling a black-clad figure and had already wasted two bolts on startled pygeons. Since time worked in their favour and to save ammunition he gave out the order to only shoot when they had a clear target. His comrades snickered and acknowledged the order, cracking jokes about a barbeque to pass the time until their prey either emerged or burned to cinders...

Edited by Isirion

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Somehow they had managed to stain the White Dragons scales, but how long he would stay that way they didn´t know, so Susurro took very careful steps, trying not to touch anything or anyone.When Sappo came back the Dark Myst Pygmy landed satisfied on Alzira´s shoulder, where she gladly welcomed him back, offering him a well deserved cricket. She was still looking at the flames the little one had created, being terrified and at the same time awestruck. The dynamics of the flames and the colours were definitely something she would remember and put into her art. Fire was just so fascinating, the moving of the flames as if they were alive ... She twitched a bit as a long flame creacked quite close to her, somehow that made her remember the moment at Sodger´s hut, where Sappo had protected her. Isirion hadn´t seemed too impressed by Sappo´s flame, just like now although they were standing in  the middle of a conflagration. How was that possible? Sappo´s crunching sounds next to her ear made Alzira snap back and realize she was next in line and so she and the little one stepped into the corridor, and not too late as the creacking of the entablature has intensified in the last minutes - or so it seemed to Susurro. The fire was not the problem, but the damage it did to the building and all around it, was. He agreed with Isirion on this one. Still eying the roof distrustfully he cowered with the other dragons, watching the little group leaving hoping that they would escape that burning horror unscathed.

Edited by Alzira

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With a last drawn-out creak like the death-rasp of a gigantic creature, the structure's integrity finally failed. A billowing cloud of smoke, ash and fire rose as the roof came crashing down. The dragons concealed within held their breath as they rose with it out of the Nebs' sight and reach. The hot desert winds did disperse the cloud fast, but not fast enough to reveal the dragons before they literally rose above all suspicion. Now their indistinct grey forms indicated just another city dragon or two agitated by the fire and the flashing Nebula wings. All that was left was finding an inconspicious place to settle down again and wait for their keepers.

 

Only the humans' escape took a lot longer than planned. For every step forward through the flame corridor they had to take two steps back to avoid collapsing and/or scorching building parts. From all the burning debris the floor became more and more treacherous by the second. Isirion did his best to find a safe path, but that took time. Even though the flames didn't touch him, he soon dripped with sweat. The concentration needed to keep the flame energies from spiralling out of control sapped his stamina faster than fighting all those Nebs yesterday had. One mistake and the fire would incinerate his charges instead of shielding them. Twice already he had to redirect the flames in a splitsecond and it was only getting worse. The smoke that came with the fire was getting so thick that he could barely see more than a few paces ahead. Only his battle-honed reflexes saved the group as a bolt-filled Royal Blue suddenly crashed down; it's familiar looking rider already burnt to a crisp. Going around the fallen dragon consumed even more time, but finally the group made it to the adjacent row of buildings. Their roofs had been doused with water by the Undine fire patrol to keep the fire from spreading which suited Isirion just fine. In the cover of steam that had appeared when the two elements clashed he grabbed Fingers and pushed him towards the nearest front door. Then he hissed into his ear: "You have five seconds to pick that lock." Fear and adrenaline made Fingers succeed in three. As soon as everyone was inside the dark room Isirion barred the door and looked for the inhabitants, an elderly couple, with intended murder in his once-again ice-blue eyes...

 

In the mean-time at the Shadow guild

 

One of the two visitors standing in front of Nightblade's desk was looking as nervous as a paper dragon in a fire storm, with shuffling feet and darting eyes, the other as calm and steady as a Nocturne at day. Interesting enough it was the little girl that showed confidence while her full-grown companion fidgeted around every five seconds. For the first time since Trueshot's death the Shadow leader felt a smile creep onto his face. A girl as brave as that would make it far in the guild but of course she was here to hire them, not join them. Nightfeather, who reluctantly had taken Trueshot's place as Nightblade's bodyguard/advisor, also approved of the girl's attitude. Without giving a damn about being inside the den of a bunch of murderers-for-hire, the girl had shown the Vine empire crest and demanded to speak with the leader. Nightfeather who had a pretty good idea what she was going to ask, had nevertheless indulged her. Now that she was standing before the leader, the girl wasted no time and introduced herself: "I am Amara, daughter of the late lord Hassleborough and sole heiress to the Vine empire. I seek to hire as many of your most capable 'gardeners' to cut away all those who have taken my father from me. If you do this for me, I will not forget it and should you or your people ever find yourself on the wrong side of the Nebula's judgement, I will intervene. This distinguished captain of a Nebula tower here will confirm my words and claim." The captain puffed out his chest and did as asked. Nightblade listened to them both as they both described every piece of information they had on the murder he would be payed to avenge. The more he heard, the more he felt like fidgeting himself. Finally he stood up and said: "Amara Hassleborough, believe me, I feel your loss as if it was my own. I lost a precious comrade to the one suspected to have commited that gruesome murder. But that is exactly why I won't send anymore assassin's after him. He has proven himself to be as deadly as his moniker if the count of dead Nebulas is anything to go by." The girl looked very displeased with this answer, but when she spoke her voice was carefully neutral: "The captain already told me of the difficulties apprehending the suspect at Pride's arena. As I said, I am looking for all those who have taken my father from me. That murderer is not working alone. There are reports from another tower that someone whose description fits him has bargained for a green-haired lady and a bear-like man. Then there are those who hid at Pride's arena with him. We have exact descriptions since they all have been first imprisoned by the Nebulas. Find them and deliver them to the Vineyard. My fathers dragons will take revenge for him."

 

Nightblade exchanged some meaningful glances with Nightfeather. Abducting a few grooms and a greenhaired woman didn't sound too dangerous, but if they were really affiliated with 'Death', maybe the weren't as harmless as they seemed. Still, if a little girl was willing to take the risk, he just couldn't chicken out again. And if the Shadows would really be working together with the Nebulas this time, maybe, just maybe they would not only avenge lord Hassleborough but Trueshot as well...

Edited by Isirion

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Alzira stepped in the tunnel, looking around in wonder. Yes, the fire was frightening but fascinating still. She followed the group closely, noticing some of the flames changing direction in the last minute. This seemed odd but she couldn´t say why or how this happened. Nevertheless she was glad the fire kept at bay. She hoped Susurro would be alright. Alzira knew that the fire wouldn´t hurt him but the falling debris or the angered Nebs that were looking for them could. She trusted him to cope withe the situation before him, but she couldn´t keep from worrying, especially after the Royal Blue had crashed through the roof.

 

As they went on the smoke got thicker and thicker and her worries shifted from Susurro to the more immediate surroundings. Isirion seemed more and more fatigued which kindled her fear once again. After a while she noticed some houses outside the immediate fire zone, and although she didn´t like how Isirion forced Fingers to open the door of one of them, she could comprehend the urge behind it. They were exhausted, they simply needed a break and a bit of fresh air. Despite the dark she noticed the inhabitants and Isirions changed stance so she she whispered "No, don´t, let´s exit through the back and find another shelter. We all need a break, even you." She didn´t dare to say much more because every bit of information would shorten the couples life as well as their own. She continued:"They can´t see us in this dark so they can´t describe us." Thinking about that Alzira shuddered, she herself would be quite a mark herself, having green hair and travelling with a squeaky clean white dragon. Realizing that she whispered to the group:" We need to change our appearances as well. We should use the chance now as long as they still presume us dead"

 

Edited by Alzira

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Isirion suppressed a cough and whispered: "I suppose if that couple has not awoken from their early afternoon nap to the roaring fire outside, it won't wake up to us playing dress-up and sneaking out their backyard either." Felicia suppressed a laugh at that, then she whispered with a side-glance towards her husband: "Pride my dear, your hour to shine has come. Our party-costumes are out of the question, but we still have to look different. I am sure you can whip something up for us?" Pride didn't suppress a proud smile when his lovely wife expressed her confidence in him and started right away. Two of their anti-smoke scarves became a spunky headband for himself, the third one a matching shirt-accessoire. Fingers went once again for the beggar-look. The trail of a dress became a stylish scarf to hide Felicia's facial features. A very familiar-looking curtain became a blouse and a wide-brimmed hat for Alzira to partially hide her face and freshly soot-coloured hair. Only Isirion was still his dark and grim-looking self since Pride refused to do anything for a presumed hatchie-killer. After making sure the couple was still oblivious, Felicia pulled her husbands ear which usually got her whatever she wanted, but this time Pride remained stubborn. Isirion who had just about enough of Pride's ill-timed antics, growled and said: "I didn't kill those hatchlings. Like I already explained to you in your arena - If I can choose my own fights I don't pick on weaklings. I killed other hatchlings and ate some of them though. What are you going to do about it? Send me away and deal with the blue lady and all those Nebs hunting us alone?" His worst fears confirmed, Pride swallowed hard, swallowed again and finally swallowed his pride. "Just hide that cloak of yours, since none of the Nebs who saw your face lived to tell the tale." Isirion nodded and pulled off his cloak, revealing blood-soaked bandages. He gave Alzira a sheepish grin and said a little lightheaded from the blood loss and exhaustion: "Looks like killing all those Nebs was a bit more chafing than I thought. Sorry about ruining the bandages you had applied so perfectly. I'll just use the bandages I nicked from Felicia's place to fix this real quick."

Edited by Isirion

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Alzira gasped at the bloody mess she saw. Most of Susurro´s work seemed for naught. "Don´t your wounds hurt like mad? You know pain is there for a reason", she said to him. "Still, I´m glad you saved us, but you should consider some time for real recuperation soon", she sighed. Then she added: "Give me those bandages, this has to be done properly." He would need at least one sitting with Susurro she noted to herself but she guessed he already knew that from her concerned face. Nevertheless she picked the fresh bandages Isirion had and with a firm voice she almost commanded Isirion through the next steps that needed to be done, namely to remove and change the bloodied bandages. During that she recognised that her dragon had excelled himself at healing Isirion for the lacerations weren´t as bad as she had feared, but she wouldn´t let Isirion know that - yet. "Since you are already injured you should use that as your disguise: I will use my paints and make you look older and with a little powder in your hair I think I can age you about 20 years. Alzira grinned, somehow this was hilarious - ordering Isirion around a bit, making him look the part. She finished his outfit with her old travel cloak. She offered the others a facial makeover as well, a change of light and shadow can change a lot in one´s face and so she deepened a few lines and made noses wider or smaller.

 

Edited by Alzira

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Grumbling to himself that it was just a little chafing, Isirion sat through the thorough re-bandaging with a face like sour milk. He might have actually appreciated the meticulous wound-dressing if not for everything that came after. When Alzira was done he looked old, pathetic and weak. He had hated weakness before but now he found a part of him especially loathed looking that way in front of not one but two accomplished women. Felicia couldn't stop snorting through her visually enlarged nose every time she looked at him and the one who had turned him into a wretch was still smiling over every age spot and wrinkle she had given him. The only upside was that Pride didn't look much happier.

 

The ex-arena master sat stone-still while the green-haired lady worked. Pride's mind kept returning to the blood-soaked bandages as it had returned to the mental image of slain hatchlings. In his heart he already knew what his brain was trying to tell him, but he refused to listen. If he admitted that his former idol had defended them at the arena despite being injured already, he would also have to admit that painting him as black as that canvas after hearing about his past had been wrong. What was the truth? Was he light or was he shadow? Just like his eye-colour it all seemed to depend on the perspective you were looking from.

 

Felicia had already found her answer. Seeing Alzira push Isirion around like he was a little school-boy was hilarious and made her laugh despite the direness of their situation. Her husband was marked a criminal, the Nebs were out to hunt them and their last safe hiding place had burned down. Nevertheless she felt she really enjoyed the excitement of being on the run with a real criminal and everything that came with it - like wrinkles. Felicia couldn't help herself and snorted again causing her husband's face to wrinkle up too in confusion.

 

Fingers who was last, tried to sit still while his beggar-like look was getting enhanced with warts and a beard-stubble. A better disguise meant a better chance at survival, but what was the point? The whole of the Nebs were hunting them. Surely everybody would understand if he ran as far away as he could. Surely nobody would still be planning to go to that party. Surely they all-" "Don't even think about running away again", Isirion suddenly hissed looking like a grandpa telling the neighboring kids to get off his lawn. "We are still going to the blue lady's party and so are you! What's so damned funny?!"

Edited by Isirion

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Alzira had noticed Isirion´s tense mood since he managed to see his new self, well you could almost say he was sulking. Oh, she wouln´t tell him that, although... A sudden sizzle and splutter next to her ear stopped her from finishing her line of thought. Sappo, the pygmy seemed a little flustered, sounding like a broken valve, then it dawned to her what the erratic movements, the tiny puffs of smoke and flame and sounds meant - Sappo was sniggering... about Isirion and his moody look about his new outfit. Looking around she had to admit that under these circumstances the situation definitely had comic qualities. Alzira swallowed her upcoming giggles, or at least she that´s what she tried as Isirion demanded to know the source of all this amusement around him. His comment made her burst into laughter, nevertheless she managed to calm herself after a few attempts, almost sounding like Sappo meanwhile. Finally after a few breath she managed saying "Must be stress related, laughing is known as stress relief."

 

Concentrating on Isirion she added:" I agree, we have invested a lot but I don´t think we´ll a chance entering the festivities looking like that", she pointed around :"We still need to regroup and change into our costumes, maybe air them out a bit? Since we went through the fire our stuff and we ourselves smell smokey and at least I need a bath. I´m still amazed that I even haven´t got a blister or singed hair on me. " She eyed Isirion curiously, remembering his strained look during their escape. Then she went on: "I think we look different enough to mingle. There must be lots of people who lost their home today, who are looking to stay somewhere so we should blend in nicely." After a short pause she asked: "What do you think about the tavern where we´ve met with the dragon grooms? They seemed to have clean rooms there"

 

Edited by Alzira

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Isirion decided to let the whole giggling and snorting thing slide and concentrated on the more important matter of finding a new hideout. Alzira's suggestion was a promising one as far as he could tell. The tavern was big, well-frequented and usually people there minded their own business. He gathered up his old cloak and rolled it up so it looked like a travelling bag then he said: "Let's go to the tavern Alzira suggested, the longer we wait the higher the chance we'll be discovered. Fingers can you re-lock the door?" The more-beggar-than-ever-looking man nodded and after making sure everything was as it had been when they entered, the group left through the back-door.

 

Outside it was almost too easy to mingle with the crowd. After Pride's arena show had been forcefully cancelled the citizens craved entertainment and between the circling, flashing Nebs and the roaring fire they got plenty. On the way to the tavern Isirion had to constantly remind himself to walk decrepit to match his decrepit look while low-stooping and feet-shuffling came almost natural to Fingers. When they had rounded the last corner, Isirion suddenly stopped and asked: "So, does anyone here have any coins to pay for our new hideout?"

 

Fingers immediately picked up on the opportunity and volunteered: "Since I already look the part, I can easily beg for half the coins and pickpocket the rest. Just wait here." A wrinkly-looking hand dug painfully into his shoulder and a growl near to his ear told him: "You will stay outside and beg, but not to get the coins to rent a dragon and ditch us, but as a look-out for trouble. Leal will stay with you and make sure you don't confuse the two." A short whistle later the Nilia landed on Fingers other shoulder and dug his claws in. Isirion withdrew his hand and added: "And don't even think of trying to bribe him. He didn't take any as a messenger and now that he knows that you have to play an important part in freeing his swarm, he'd rather starve to death than let you out of his sight." Leal chirped in agreement and dug his claws in even further. Fingers whimpered, nodded and shuffled off to find a good place to keep an eye on the surroundings while wallowing in self-pity.

 

Pride started mumbling about how corrupting little dragons to be cruel was almost as bad as eating them, but Felicia stopped him: "You can complain all you want when we are actually safe inside a room and out of earshot, but now I need you to play the role of a wealthy and generous husband who gladly pays for his wife and parents to stay a few nights at the tavern." The magic words 'play the role' transformed Pride into a dapper gentleman who had no trouble of securing two adjecent rooms for his extended family. Only when the whole 'family' was gathered behind locked doors inside the slightly bigger room, Pride reverted back to his mumbling: "Can't see why a hatchie killer would care about Leal's swarm anyway, probably just wants them as a portable snack. Who knows if he's not really working with the blue lady, they probably exchange torture advice. And the whole masquerade party is certainly a trap..."

Edited by Isirion

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Alzira understood that recognizing the truth about one´s hero did hurt on a personal level, almost feeling like betrayal but it isn´t, because it is in your own head. You yourself idolized him and that revelation pains. So she said:"I see that you are feeling betrayed and hurt but there´s an old saying: If something looks too good to be true it almost always is. Did Isirion tell you he was all that you interpreted into him or was it you? It seems you created that kind of selfless hero and it would have been wonderful if it were true, I agree. But he isn´t the complete opposite, a monster, either. I don´t always agree how things are done but I don´t think we have that much choice at the moment. Still, we can try to do our best and stay true to ourselves." She paused a bit, then added:"About Leal, maybe he´s impressed by his determination, maybe he wants to use him or maybe he even likes him a bit - I don´t know that, but you could still ask."

 

She paused again, looked at all of them and said: "Now, we have just escaped an attack of the Nebs and I think we all could use some rest but nevertheless we should prepare for the ball. I would like to take a bath or at least a shower to get the smell off. I would like to send a message about our well-being to our dragons as well. I hope they escaped unharmed...Sappo should find Susurro and the rest of them so we can reunite and prepare. We have our Pygmy distraction and thanks to Isirion we still have the invitations."  Alzira turned to Pride once more."Yes, it can be a trap and no, I don´t think Isirion works with the Lady or we´d be dead already. You know how efficient he is." She said with a qick glance at him.  She then plucked Sappo, who eagerly waited to fly again, from her shoulder and send him off.

 

Edited by Alzira

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