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Isirion

The Bloodline of Torch

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Orion looked at Sodger with a degree of pity, he could hardly imagine losing anyone he knew, it would be devastating. All while the old soldier had probably seen it time and time again. "Actually I would like to hear some of your tales, I've had relatives that fought in the war. But first I had some important things I needed to ask. What could you tell me about your apprentice? And do you know what happened to The Gatherer? From what I understand he appears to have gone missing." Orion asked in a calm, clear tone while he helped put a little food from the pot onto Emeraldan's plate before doing the same for himself, keeping quiet as to not interrupt what Sodger might say. Emeraldan meanwhile dug in as if he had been starved for days, looking happy as can be when he discovered an especially big piece of beef.

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The old soldier seemed to listen not only to the hunters questions but also intently to the munching sounds of little Emeraldan. Soon a smile appeared on his weather-worn face and he said: "The Gatherer an old friend and comrade of mine always said to trust a person that is trusted by their dragons. Neither you nor your dragon have ever been to this place. It is full of unfamiliar scents and inhabited by an unfamiliar person and still your dragon munches happily and with no worry in the whole world because he trusts you completely. I will trust his judgement and tell you what I told him as I last spoke with him. He came to my hut a few days ago while he was investigating the theft of the leaf of the Leetle Tree for our old comrade who calls himself the 'Guardian' now. 'Eyes', that is what the Gatherer was called in our old regiment had found out that a person called Henna had shamelessly requested the theft at my Egg Hunter pole and that not soon after someone accepted and fulfilled it. Eyes also told me about some striking similarities between this theft and the mysterious night-time-thefts that are occurring all over the place here. He knew I wasn't responsible for them so he suspected my first apprentice as soon as I mentioned him acting as my hand of justice in order to punish my other apprentice who brought shame on the Egg Hunter business because he stole the shell of a Gold egg from the pole. Eyes gave me quite an earful for that and insisted I told him everything I know about my first apprentice. I told him that my apprentice called himself Isirion and that I hired him about five years ago as my eye-sight finally failed me. Due to my blindness I couldn't give a description of his looks, but from his voice that always sounded ice-cold I deduced that Isirion must be in his early thirties and that his height must be around this -" He raises his hand a little bit above the tip of his nose then he continues: "Isirion never showed any interest in money and always asked for food and livestock as payment. His skill for egg hunting is undeniable and there was never a request he couldn't fullfill. He never gave me any reason to suspect him and I was really glad to have had such a reliable apprentice. I was convinced my apprentice was innocent so I told Eyes to gather some proof before accusing my apprentice or just talk to my apprentice in person. Eyes stated he was about to do exactly that and then he left and that was the last thing I heard from him."

Edited by Isirion

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Orion smiled as Sodger paid him a compliment. "Thank you. I've raised Emeraldan myself, as well as Alsia and Valerian, Alsia being the Ice dragon and Valerian the Hellfire. Anyway I can see how him accusing your apprentice might not of gone well but I understand both your side and surely what he may have thought, if he is that good at egg hunting he would likely be one of the few capable of stealing from the Leetle Tree. I've seen it for myself and I know The Guardian guards that tree tirelessly. Just as well I know how it feels when someone accuses one you trust and has no solid evidence. Out of curiosity when's the last time you spoke with Isirion?" Orion thought to himself for just a moment before speaking again. "And based on what you've told me I think I know someone you might be familiar with...the man that runs the Sleeping Dragon Inn? Albert? Nickname is also Ale. Do you know him?" Orion asked curiously, being occasionally distracted by how Emeraldan simply devoured his foot, eyes widening as he watched. "At this rate he'll be bigger than me before the year is out..." Orion said to himself, somewhat in awe that such a small dragon could eat so much, he was almost out already.

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The old soldier groped for the wine casket and the two glasses and filled them without spilling a drop. Then he raised one of the glasses and said: "To good old Ale!" Sogder took a sip then he put down the glass again and continued: "Ale always kept the spirit of the Royal Blue high. To face the foe and stand proudly true - That is the honour of the Royal Blue! He really loved our motto and we loved his spirit and even more his spirits. I swear that man could distill alcohol out of a rock or liquor from a worm and it would still taste better than any of the stuff you could get at a normal tavern. I heard he has gotten himself a wife that is as sweet as honey and cooks like heaven. Even has two children now and his own tavern with the most magnificent room called Royal Blue to honour our regiment."

 

The old soldier took another sip of wine then he remembered that Orion had asked him something else before he had gotten lost on memory lane. Sodger cleared his throat a little embarrassed then he answered: "The last time I spoke with Isirion was about a week ago. My other apprentice committed the theft I already told you about and as soon as I found out about it I requested a meeting with Isirion. He accepted within a day and came at the usual time at dusk to my hut and I explained the situation to him. Isirion understood my point that the reputation of the Egg Hunter business was at stake and agreed to act as my hand of justice. I trusted him to stay true to his word and he didn't betray me. Only a few hours later around midnight he came again to my hut and handed me the severed hand he had cut from the thief. I tried to offer him a reward but he wouldn't accept any. As I asked him why he answered with that ice-cold voice of his that cutting up such a weakling like my other apprentice wasn't worth any reward."

Edited by Isirion

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Orion gladly raised his cup, not wanting to leave Sodger hanging. "We've actually been staying at his Inn, it's a warm, friendly place. And it's a fact, the food is amazing." Orion smiled with Emeraldan nodding gleefully as well. "Unfortunately there seems to be a ghost they believe if hellbent on running them out of business, stealing things and even hurting one of the dragons." Orion said with a more sober note in his voice. "I apologize if I seem rude but what are your personal thoughts of Isirion, it would be wrong to believe it was him if he actually had no involvement in the troubles going on." Orion spoke as Emeraldan seemed to ask as well with a quizzical look on his face.

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The old soldier straightened his back before he stood up and walked over to a small table. With almost no fumbling he picked up a piece of charcoal and an empty request sheet and went back to Orion. Then he sighed and said: "Personally I think of Isirion as highly as I think about any of my old comrades, because he did what they did. He stood up for me and saved my live. I believe I already told you about my failing eye-sight and that I hired Isirion as an apprentice but I did not tell you how I came to know him in the first place. Five years ago I was already blind as a bat as they say but still I convinced Eyes to be my eyes and read the request sheets to me. I picked out an easy job of acquiring the egg of a local mountain dragon and started checking some promising caves. Of course I couldn't peek in to look if a dragon was inside but I could listen. From the first cave no sounds whatsever drifted out and so I walked in to check for a nest. I didn't find one so I went to the next cave and there I ran into some mountain bandits. They thought me for an helpless blind old man and tried to rob me but I didn't give in and instead attacked myself and wounded one of them. Of course the rest of them five or six in total couldn't let that pass and closed in on me in order to kill me. I heard them brandishing their weapons and their agitated breathing and I decided to take at least one of them with me instead of just waiting for the killing blow I wouldn't see coming. Suddenly I heard the sound of a blade being drawn and not a moment later the unmistakeable sound of metal cutting through flesh. In the short time it took me to get my breath back everyone of the bandits had breathed their last under the blade of my saviour. Now I heard the sound of that blade being sheathed again and quickly uttered my thanks. I also asked my saviour who he was and why he had saved me and Isirion introduced himself to me with that ice-cold voice of his. He corrected me that he hadn't saved me because I had already saved myself. In injuring the bandit-leader I had shown that attacking me would cost them blood and none of those cowards would have risked being the next one bleeding. Isirion told me that he would have killed those weaklings regardless the circumstances so my thanks were misplaced."

 

Sodger suddenly slammed his fist on the table and continued: "Thats the kind of man Isirion is. He would save a random stranger by killing a bunch of bandits and not even take thanks for it. I admit he certainly has the skill to kill with that blade of his but as far as I came to know him he would not even think about denying it if he has hurt Eyes or a dragon at that tavern because he has a reason for everything he does. This is what I will do to find out the truth - I will request another meeting with him tomorrow at dusk and when Isirion accepts I will ask him. I am sure he would not mind you being there as well because he has nothing to hide." Now Sodger wrote the request he has spoken about and waved it quite accurately in the direction of Orions hand: "After you and your dragon have finished eating you can place that request at my pole. I am sure Isirion will look at in time because today is the last day of the week."

Edited by Isirion

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Orion nodded as he grabbed the paper from Sodger. "Alright, I'll be here tomorrow before dusk. I'll post this as soon as I am back in the village again. Thank you very much for your help and your hospitality, it was nice to meet you, Sodger. I'll be sure to tell Ale how you're doing as well." Orion said just after him and Emeraldan finished up the last of their food. As Orion walked outside Emeraldan shouted his own form of goodbye, though it sounded something like "geedbey!" After a quick walk back to the village he reached the exchange place and a quick glance around revealed the pole he'd need to post the request paper on. After that simple matter was done Orion began running back to the Sleeping Dragon inn, just as it slowly began to dawn on him whom exactly he had just agreed to meet...

 

Edited by Orion97

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In the meantime at Isirions's hideout

 

Lying on the barren stone floor of her cave Belia slowly awoke from the most vivid and appalling dream she ever had besides the recurring nightmares that seemed to haunt not only her but every single dragon in the cave from time to time. At first her dream went along with her memories as she dreamt that she fought for a dragon she didn't even care about in order to gain the freedom to move and fly around freely in the cave. Belia relived every moment of the fight where she had shown everybody her strength and finally won. But after that things got quite hazy because things could not possible have happened as she dreamt next. There could not have been a shadow of desperation that swooped down into the pit and took the form of a dragoness she had defeated countless times. She must have also mistaken the bloodstained blade inscribed with the words 'Win the next fight or die' that hung above the head of that dragoness for something else. Following that trail of thought the self-conscious ropes appearing around her own body restricting her movement could not have been real either. But why else hadn't she be able to dodge an attack that even a hatchling could have evaded? Suddenly Belia remembered the pain of getting her belly torn apart and an ice-cold voice asking the same question. Before she could remember whom the voice belonged to it drifted away and was replaced by the sound of flowing blood. That blood flowing from her own belly quickly filled the whole cave until Belia drowned in it while begging desperately for help with her last breath...

 

Wide awake now Belia gasped for breath and examined her body for the fatal wound but her belly showed not even the slightest sign of any injury or blood. Her memory insisted that she should be dead but instead her whole body felt alive and full of energy. Belia tried to understand why she was still alive and why there was no blood but the only explanation she could think of was no explanation at all. In her mind an image of a dark hooded figure tending to her wounds and talking to her appeared and Belia wondered if she had dreamt that too. As far as she knew and had witnessed countless times her keeper was terribly good at bringing death not life. Even now she imagined hearing the sound of his bloodstained blade being drawn - the last sound some pitiful soul would ever hear - the sound of her nightmares. That sound real or imagined made Belia jump to her feet and look around anxiously for her keeper and his going-to-be-victim. A moment later movement in the far corner of her cave caught her eye; a slicing sound her ear and another moment later a beheaded chicken staggered in her direction. At this moment Belias instincts took over. The dragoness didn't care anymore if or why she was still alive. Hunger took control over her body so she leapt forward and devoured the headless chicken whole. A slicing sound and a gulp later another headless chicken had joined the first. Now with two chickens instead of a hole in her stomach Belia driven by the exhilaration of being alive despite all odds voiced the one question that once again burned in her mind like a torch: "If all that really hasn't been a dream or rather a nightmare - Why am I still alive?" Belia didn't really expect an answer especially not from her unfathomable keeper but nevertheless she got one. From the far corner of the cave came the sound of his bloodstained blade being sheathed and Isirion told her with his usual ice-cold voice: "You already know the answer to that. I tended to your wounds and kept you alive so I can throw you in the pit again." With these words he vanished taking with him not only the severed chicken heads but also every illusion of caring for Belia other than for a tool to be used until it was broken beyond repair.

 

A moment later at the feeding area

 

Isirion appeared outside the fence surrounding the feeding area and threw one severed chicken head right in the middle of the female gendered hatchies and the other in the middle of the male gendered hatchies. With his ice-cold eyes analyzing everything Isirion watched the food-fight he had instigated until something distracted him. From the corner of his eye he noticed movement at the edge of the nearby ungendered hatchie pit and so he swiftly walked over to investigate. A vicious smile formed on his lips as he saw that except for an improvised corpse-and-stone-ladder the pit was empty. He quickly counted the corpses and deduced that five hatchies must be still alive and on the loose. Still smiling he checked the nearest place the stones could have come from and found two hatchies trying to hide in the boneyard. Isirions smile changed to a grin as he picked them up easily and broke their necks. He had no use for hatchlings with a mind so weak they would willingly trap themselves in an obvious hiding place. Now the only things left to do were finding the other hatchies including the one he had actually allowed to live at the hidden boneyard and afterwards cleaning out the pit for the next bunch of ungendered hatchies...

 

In the meantime at the 'haunted' forest

 

Telia Kuran-Kiryu the not-really-so-mischievious ghost that wasn't a ghost but a playful Ochredrake had led Jaxon and Valerian to her secret spiderweb gathering place. It was hidden so deeply in the forest you wouldn't even know it was there until you walked right into the webs exactly like it had happened to the overenthusiastic boy. Now he was tangled up together with some insects who hadn't noticed the webs either. Jaxon tried to break free of the webs and failed what seemed to please him immensly. He smiled at Telia and declared: "Those webs are as awesome as you promised Telia. They are strong and sticky like hell and you can hardly see them at all. I bet we can catch our ghost with them! The only problem is - how do we transport them back? Any ideas Telia? Valerian?"

Edited by Isirion

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"With all we've seen this guy capable of, pardon my suspicion of how effective this idea will be..." Valerian said flatly as he watched the boy comically struggle to escape the sticky mess he was in. "If you insist though, perhaps we could try wrapping the stuff in leaves? Alsia would have a better idea but that's all I got." The big hellfire shrugged his wings. "I have some ideas on how it could be useful but as for how to get it there, I hope you guys have some better plans." Valerian paced quietly as he brainstormed for more ideas until he felt something squish under his feet. He slowly looked down and found some of the sticky web found it's way onto his feet and it was not coming off soon. "While we're at it we should find an effective way to remove this stuff..." He groaned as he tried in vain to remove the substance, though a hellfire hopping on one foot is funnier than he would ever admit.

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Telia laughs the sound of it vibrating the webs "don't move Jaxon dragonfire can get rid of it so i'll get you free, if you struggle the spiders come and they're not exactly small then we'll find a way to get the webs gathered..."she chirps, blowing gentle flames around Jaxon and soon he is free. "Why not get sticks place them around ten metres apart and i can use dragonfire to melt the extra, then Valerian and i can carry it? I can find another stick and wrap a whole bunch around it so we have clear ropes aswell?"Telia perks up as a spider moves closer then crouches low, making sure she's ready if it attacks.

Edited by isabella3

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Jaxon who had never seen a spider that big was very glad Telia had freed him in time from the web. He eyed the spider for a while not sure if it was poisonous or not. Not wanting to test that first hand or rather first bite he decided to move out of the way so the two dragons could work on Telias idea of hooking the whole spider web on some sticks. The big web would stay intact and hopefully could be dropped later like a net from some trees. Jaxon would have loved to help with that but he was simply to small to lift the sticks with the sticky web long and high enough. So the boy patted Telia for her great idea and told her he would see to coiling up the leftover webs instead.

 

Some time later the two dragons slowly moved back to the forest carrying with them the big net-web on some sticks using them like they were tent poles. Jaxon went in front of them scouting ahead for a path they could use. The boy carried two sticks with rope-web and had to constantly remind himself not to use them to push away the undergrowth. With the help of Telias and Valerians nose the easily found the place Henna had used for her meeting with the leaf-thief. That place smelled strongly like herbs and was just at the edge of the forest right beneath a great tree. Jaxon helped Telia and Valerian unload the net-web then he turned to the Hellfire and said: "We are so close to the tavern we should be fine now. Thank you for protecting us so far. I think you should fly back to your owner now because - no offense meant - your species isn't exactly built for climbing up trees and fastening sticky net-webs there." Then he turned to Telia and beamed: "That is your specialty isn't it? You are the master of pranks and traps and I am really glad you are on our side now. That thief will stand no chance against us if we stick together!" Jaxon laughed about his little joke watched Valerian fly away to pick up Orion and then concentrated on Telia who already started to build the first trap.

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Telia giggles "Yes, I suppose it is my speciality. I'll take the stick with the extra web and the net then I'll get the trap ready. When we spring the trap you'll need to be quick because from what I understand this guy's pretty fast. Hmm...we need some more web there's a hole right where you got caught in Jaxon. I'll go get some more could you hold this for a second? Don't let it go because if you do I'll have to restart!" Telia holds the small leaf wrapped end of a web rope out to Jaxon, "I'll be back soon. Watch out for dragons and birds, oh and the spiders were venomous but have never attacked a large dragon before so if you worry remember there's no need to."

 

 

Edited by isabella3

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Jaxon who was a small boy and not a large dragon hence decided he would stay a bit worried and alert just in case the big spiders decided to go looking where their big net had went. Also he worried what he would do if he tripped like his sister always did and managed to get caught in the web again. Just as he was thinking about her, Jaxon heard Whiny's voice calling out to him from the tavern: "Jax I know you are hiding here somewhere. Please come quickly something awful must have happened cause our Mum is all in tears and Dad wouldn't let me go upstairs." The boy thought quickly and decided to his sister serious so he shouted back: "Winny I am kinda stuck here but if you come behind the tavern and hold some stuff for me I would be free to investigate." His sister was glad to hear his voice and followed it to her brother. With a bit of disgust she took the sticky web stuff from him and Jaxon ran back to the tavern leaving his sister to the safety of the forest and of Telia Kuran-Kiryu who just returned from her errand.

 

In the mean-time at the Leetle shrine on the little island in the middle of the lake

 

As midday passed into afternoon Lazarus had finished Alsia's earthy disguise. The once glimmering Ice Dragon now was almost undistinguishable from a mound. Her position was a few paces away from the Leetle tree because the Guardian would not stand her freezing the tree instead of the thief even by accident. The Cavern Lurker now hid beneath the ground right next to the tree in order to keep out of sight and out of the sunlight. As there were two adult dragons now guarding the precious tree Galandir was officially off-duty and allowed to play with his new friend Sappo. The Guardian himself was still questioning the beggar that tried his best to answer truthfully because Alzira had warned him not to lie on the way to the island. The greenhaired lady used her time decorating Lunaspeeria with flowers by her request. They were not meant as a disguise but as a means to get the attention of Susurro or even Valerian when she met them again. It had been extra fun watching Alsia getting covered in dirt while she was getting covered in flowers, but the presence of the Cavern Lurker unnerved her because his vicious claws looked more than perfectly capable of being responisible for the stomach wound she had received the night before by an unkown attacker. Lunaspeeria sighed and hoped Alzira would soon find a reason to leave the island and fly back to the tavern.

Edited by Isirion

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Alzira did notice Lunaspeeria's anxiety and she tried to make her feel comfortable by decorating the wyvern. After a while she realized this was not working because in spite of all her efforts the dragon grew more and more tense. Glancing at the playing dragons Alzira perceived that it had become afternoon. Realizing that Lunaspeeria was well rested and she herself couldn't be of any more help, she called for the little pygmy :"Sappo, come! We are leaving soon." She hoped that Susurro was well again and that at the inn Orion and the others may have gathered some more information they could share . So after a short farewell she went to Lunaspeeria who finally seemed much more relaxed. Alzira mounted the Hellfire and as soon as Sappo had finished saying his goodbyes Lunaspeeria stretched, took a few steps that changed into a quick sprint and then she lifted off. Alzira enjoyed the short flight very much. The weather was fine, the sight across the lake striking, "this is something I should paint soon!", she said to herself, "landscapes look so sensational from up here!" The flight passed passed really fast discussing that idea with Lunaspeeria, who didn't seem to understand the importance to her for she could see the world like this any time she wanted. The argument was ended when they landed at the meadow near the inn.

Edited by Alzira

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As soon as they landed Alzira and Lunaspeeria sensed that something must be wrong. Indistinct sobs were coming from the inside of the tavern and Susurro who should have been around was nowhere to be seen. Suddenly the female Hellfire Wyvern flared her nostrils and sniffed the air: "I smell something. Something dead. It smells strangely familiar...it smells like...FlowerOwl?" The last word Lunaspeeria barely whispered as her whole body started to shake so violently in grief that all the flowers Alzira had spent so much time decorating her with fell to the ground like tears. Now she realized that the uneasy feeling she had hadn't come from meeting a sharp-clawed Cavern Lurker after being almost killed the day before. It had come from the fact that despite this her owner FlowerOwl hadn't come to visit her even once.

 

Lunaspeeria didn't know what to do anymore. Suddenly her whole world had been torn to shreds even worse than her stomach yesterday. The only thing she wanted to do - rushing to FlowerOwls side was impossible because she couldn't fit through the doors nor the windows. She screamed out in frustration and to her surprise from the other side of the tavern building Susurro emerged to comfort her. The White Dragon had his head lowered but his cornflower-blue eyes looked straight into Lunaspeeria's as he told her how sorry he was for her loss. Only after that his eyes darted briefly to his owner Alzira and she understood that he was unwilling to divulge details of what had happened in front of Lunaspeeria. If she still wanted to know she had to go inside and find out herself.

Edited by Isirion

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Could the sobs be Candy's? Alzira needed to go in and talk with her. Maybe she could tell what had happened. She was curious and ashamed at the same time for she hadn't thought of FlowerOwl the whole day. There had happened so much in a short time. Nevertheless whoever was crying needed some comfort and Alzira needed to know what had happened. Trouble was she didn't want to leave Lunaspeeria all alone although she was sure she wasn't the right one to comfort the aghast dragon. Maybe Susurro could stay with her a bit longer? Alzira looked questioningly at him who nodded approvingly. The White Dragon had sensed his owner's inner struggle and approved of her decision. A human should take care of the desolate human inside, so he moved towards the tensed Hellfire Wyvern to let Alzira pass into the inn. While she was inside he took care of Lunaspeeria. He held one of his wings comforting over her back, touching her might have hurt him for her body temperature had risen and reached with his mind toward hers that felt like blazing fire whilst sending her calming feelings not thoughts otherwise they might have been offending for what did he know of her loss?

Edited by Alzira

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While Lunaspeeria was getting from Susurro what little comfort there was for a dragon who had lost his owner Alzira ventured into the tavern to comfort Candy. By the time she reached the stairs to the first floor she was indeed sure it was Candy because she could distinguish her voice. All the honey and sweetness had gone from it and only bitterness remained as she suddenly cried audible between the sobs: "Why had it have to be her? Why not me? Why didn't I understand the cut-up-dragon as a warning and closed this cursed tavern right away? It is my fault she died." A voice cut in and to Alzira's surprise it was not Ale's voice but a female voice cleary used to ranting: "Stop spouting this nonsense. It is almost as annoying as the bed-jumping that fool girl had been doing all the time. She deserved to break her neck and die because she was too stupid to live. Now that it will finally be quiet on this floor I may get to finish my herbal experiments." And with this words right by the time Alzira reached the entrance to the White Dragon room Henna, the herbalist stormed out of it went inside her own the Black Dragon room and slammed the door shut with more than unnecessary force. Alzira was caught off-guard for quite a moment by her rude behaviour and the penetrating herbal odour she left behind. After she recovered she concentrated on the room, FlowerOwls body and Candy. As far as Alzira could tell the room looked undisturbed and FlowerOwls body was unharmed except for the broken neck. Candy was sitting on the bed clutching it to her ample breast and was silently stroking FlowerOwls hair as if she was now too shaken to even sob.

Edited by Isirion

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Alzira sneezed. The herbal scent was simply too intense. The woman's last words, herbal experiments, stuck to her. She wouldn't forget them. Looking at the scene in front of her, she knew she couldn't do much and Susurro neither. He would already have helped if there had been any possibility. Nevertheless it was a shock to see FlowerOwl like that, altough at first glance she seemed just sleeping. At a loss for words she just walked to Candy and laid her hand on her shoulder, squeezing it very gently. Finally she managed to say:"I don't like this rude behaviour but she is right, it is not your fault. You didn't do this to her." Then she paused because she needed a handkerchief to wipe the tears silently rolling down her cheeks. Alzira didn't want to be indelicate but she had to ask:"Who was that person just now and what had happened here?"

Edited by Alzira

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Even if Candy's face was only inches away from Alzira's her words didn't seem to reach her for minutes. The female tavern owner was stroking FlowerOwls hair frantically before she finally answered with an insecure voice: "S-She didn't mean to be so rude. I am sure she didn't mean to be so rude. She must have been just as shocked as I was. That poor Henna always staying cooped up in the Black Dragon room always messing around with herbs still she came to pay her respects to a fellow herbalist. My little boy Jaxon told me he had seen FlowerOwl collecting herbal stuff too. She seemed especially interested in healing stuff maybe that was why she picked this White Dragon room to stay in. If I only I had given her another room or went up earlier to ask her if she wanted something to eat. Oh that poor poor girl...Her body lying over the edge of the bed with her head bent oddly to one side and a baby dragon licking her nose from below...I will never forget that image for the rest of my life...I am just glad it was me who found her and not Winny...oh...I am so glad my sweet littly baby didn't have to see this..." Suddenly another smell mixed into the decaying odour of the dead body and the herbal scent Henna left behind. Ale stuck his head into the room and brought more than a whiff of alcohol with him. His eyes tried to focus on his beloved wife and he babbled: "...stable...baby...dra...gon...Jax...grave...Su...Su...Su...ro...ready..."

Edited by Isirion

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"Henna?" Alzira thought,"could she be "the" herbalist we are looking for? It must be her!" confused as she was, she composed herself. This was not the time nor the place to get agitated, "I'll talk to her later, first things first", she told herself. "Maybe Susurro can take a closer look at FlowerOwl discreetly and hopefully he can confirm that this was an accident. I presume he is capable of this." She didn't want to tell Candy her suspicion about a violent death for she seemed too upset already. There was no need to assume such a thing aloud. Alzira gently patted Candy's shoulder and said "We should take care of her now", with this words she pulled a blanket over FlowerOwl and gingerly put Candy's stroking hand back in her lap. With a short glance at Ale she said:"She's ready now and I trust you'll take her down?", and hoped that her understanding of Ale's stuttering meant that there was a grave prepared and that he would carry her there. Furthermore she hoped that the mention of baby dragon meant that FlowerOwl's vampire hatchling was alright and maybe it knew a bit more about the events that lead to FlowerOwl's death.

Edited by Alzira

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As Alzira had made way for Ale the old tavern owner hesitated not a second to pick the now blanket-covered corpse up. He had been a soldier and even if he was retired now his instincts kicked in. Shaking a bit but as careful as possible he carried FlowerOwl down the stairs without falling down. That was a miracle because on top of being drunk while carrying the body he wasn't even able to see the stairs because of the body he was carrying. After managing the stairs the ground floor of the tavern was a breeze. Ale marched through it like he was in high spirits which he probably was due to the amount of alcohol he had consumed. In his mind he was carrying an old comrade that had fallen in the Dragon War and should now be laid to rest. His feet carried him to the prepared grave that strangely looked like it had been dug by inexpierenced claws and was located behind a tavern. Also the honour guard of dragons consisted of a White Dragon and an Hellfire Wyvern instead of the obligatory Royal Blues. Still he did his duty and put his comrade down into the grave that was adorned with more flowers he ever remembered seeing on a battlefield. Now it would have been his captain's turn to deliver the funeral oration but instead of his commanding voice a bitter-sweet voice like molten honey resounded from behind and brought him back to the present: "It should be life that brings us together like this not death. Life can be so sweet if viewed from the right angle but a death is always sad and so we mourn it. Let us mourn FlowerOwl's death together..."

Edited by Isirion

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Alzira had followed Ale downstairs, torn between her emotions towards FlowerOwl's death and her eagerness to find out what had happened. Wiping away her tears again she aproached the grave to pay her last respects. Inwardly she agreed with Candy's words, what a shame they had to come together under these circumstances. Looking around she noticed Susurro's lowered head and his normally clean claw's had dulled. Sappo wasn't nearby, which was unusual considering his protective behaviour towards Alzira. She peeked around discreetly, hoping to find the little one. When she spotted the stable, she remembered Ale's stammer about Jaxon, the baby dragon and the stable. Presumably Sappo was there playing with them. After spending some more time at the funeral ceremony she thought it appropriate to leave for the stables to have a little chat with them. She left the mourners with a short nod. As soon as she arrived she could see Candy's boy: "Hi Jaxon, how are the little ones?"

Edited by Alzira

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The little ones were giving Jaxon a hard time as it seemed. The vampire hatchie wouldn't eat any of the almost-edible dragon food the boy offered and played dead instead. Sappo on the other hand was running around like fire - almost setting fire to the stable because in his exitement he blew small flames from his nostrils. The reason for his exitement was of course the new friend he had made even if the hatchie wouldn't stop playing dead every time he closed in. Jaxon sighed frustrated as he had to quickly stomp out some sparks in the hay that seemed to be everywhere since the falling-hay-stack-incident then he sighed some more as he discovered his last ressort the squishy-smelly-orange-fruit cultivated in his trouser pocket caused the vampire hatchie to drop even more dead. Frustrated he picked her up at the tail and threw her to Alzira: "I swear that hatchie is not dead but she won't react to anything I do. Maybe you have more luck!" It certainly seemed like it because as soon as the surprised Alzira had caught the hatchie with both hands to her chest it opened its eyes and yawned: "Hello, I am Dreena, are you with FlowerOwl? You smell like her. Do you know when she stops playing dead and plays with me again?"

Edited by Isirion

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Alzira had to swallow hard. How should she explain that FlowerOwl wasn't playing at all, that in fact she would play with Dreena never again? Maybe she could ask her instead and delay the answer... She looked around nervously, following Sappo's trail of little flames. Automatically she followed Jaxon, trampling the fire out. Meanwhile she asked slowly: "Well.... what had happened that you think she is playing dead?" After she had managed that question she relaxed a bit, squatted down and reached for Sappo. Hopefully he'd calm down soon.

The little pygmy finally caught sight of Alzira and went to her but why was she holding that hatchie? He had tried to play with her, but she had ignored him and now she was with Alzira! Jealously he darted for his keeper and instead of rubbing her hand he leaped on her shoulder where he would keep an eye on the intruder! Almost instantly the green-haired woman started cooing so he'd slacked a bit. Nevertheless Alzira looked expectantly at Dreena, and so did Sappo, now without breathing flames franticly.

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Dreena seemed quite comfortable with Alzira. The female vampire associated the scent of herbs with her owner FlowerOwl and since Alzira had caught quite a whiff of herbal scent during her encounter with Henna she was now treated and trusted like a kind of green-haired-replacement-FlowerOwl. The hatchie displayed lots of energy she had probably conserved while playing dead for the scene by scene reenacting that was supposed to answer Alziras question. The first scene showed Dreena's arrival at the tavern and boldly involved Sappo because he had been there as the threat of the squishy-smell-orange-fruit emerged. Gladly the vampire hatchie didn't reenact how Jaxon had been bitten by the pygmy although Sappo seemed quite eager to. The next scene transformed some of the loose and sometimes smoldering hay into a make-shift bed that Dreena vigorously jumped up and down on. At one point she even jumped from the 'hay-bed' to another pile of hay. After that the scene shifted to Jaxon and Dreena giggled a lot apparently staring at his fingers. A lot of giggling later still nobody got what she meant and so she squeaked: "That nasty boy had thrown yucky stuff at us in the forest and after he got hurt in the night and screamed everbody awake FlowerOwl and me went and told him that that served him right. She giggled so much. It looked like she had a lot of fun giggling even if she seemed half-asleep so I just giggled too. It was fun giggling but once you start you can't just stop so easily. FlowerOwl giggled all the way back to the bed and then we started jumping again because it was so much fun too!" Dreena of course used the opportunity to jump on the 'hay-bed' again to demonstrate. Suddenly she scratched angrily at the air and ranted: "Trampling elephants, whining girls, screaming idiots and now this again! Couldn't you stupid girl just drop dead cause I am trying to WORK!" Now Dreena changed her voice and behaviour again and whispered: "FlowerOwl got startled by that shrieking voice coming from the door and slipped. Then she fell down and collapsed slowly like our tent in the woods had. I thought she was just playing dead to please that voice but now she won't play anything else anymore. Can't you tell her to play giggle-jump with me again?"

In the mean-time outside

 

The Hellfire Wyvern Valerian had had no troubles spotting his keeper Orion running back from the fishermen's village alongside the lake. In the clear afternoon sun he even spotted Emeraldan riding proudly on Orion's shoulder and occasionally showing off his newly grown wings. After the hunter had mounted Valerian they both decided to check on Alsia on the way back. Even though the Guardian glared disapprovingly at Orion because of his lies the day before he allowed him to land on the island. The beggar was at his side and eagerly asked the hunter if he had found a trace of his missing mentor the 'Gatherer'. Orion told him that he only found out so far that from what Sodger hat told him the last person who had seen the Gatherer was none other than the first apprentice of the Egg Hunter. The beggar gripped the stump of the hand none other than that selfsame apprentice had cut off and shivered but remained silent. At this point the Guardian cut in and changed the topic that was visibly uncomfortable for the beggar. He now explained how Lazarus and Alsia lay in wait for the Leetle-thief. The plan sounded dangerous but after the earth-mound that was Alsia in disguise had promised to Valerian to be careful the Hellfire male could depart with his heart at ease. Quickly he flew back to the tavern and his powerful wingbeats announced not only his own return but also the return of Orion and Emeraldan he was carrying.

Edited by Isirion

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