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Isirion

The Bloodline of Torch

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Telia is wandering around, thinking about her nightmare and all the stuff that is happening when she remembers her trap and decides to check on it. "I should go and check on my trap, make sure no little creature got caught in it while I was here, so I'll return later," she chirps quickly "if I'm not too busy with my trap of course!" At this Telia grins toothily, " Tonitrua are you coming? you can help me carry some web to patch the hole I created to free you when you got caught." Telia glances around at everyone, sings out a quick goodbye then heads towards her trap. Arriving quickly she sits down for a bit, wondering if she'll be able to collect enough web from what was left in the spider cave. " Hey Tonitrua, the web we're going to collect has to be strong enough to hold our ghost, as well as be invisible and sticky or else he'll just escape and we can't have that happen because he's dangerous, when he gets caught I'll dart in, steal the blade he carries and then well.. we deal with the matter from there" Telia looks at Tonitrua, smiles then stares off into a tree at an agile little pygmy dragon, who flutters off quickly.

Edited by isabella3

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"Umm, o-okay." Said Tonitrua, tailing Telia as she heads off, struggling to keep up with her

not-incredibly-big, but-still-bigger-than-his strides. Arriving at the trap, gasping for breath, Tonitrua listens with interest, taking mental notes as to the requirements of the web-stuff. "Umm, how can a ghost hold a s-sword, unless it's a g-ghost s-sword, which wouldn't affect solid s-stuff, right? Or am I m-missing something critical?" He murmured, looking around for the thing that Telia was smiling at, hearing only faint wing beats as it disappeared.

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Tonitrua's murmured question seemed to have escaped Telia's ears as the female Ochredrake swiftly climbed the tree and then swooped down like a hawk easily maneuvering deep into the forest between the trees with her wings close to her body. The thunder hatchie being already a bit out of breath still managed to follow because of his 'size' that allowed him to use the full extent of his flight capabilities even in the forest - as long as there weren't anymore invisible sticky webs around...

 

In the meantime at Isirions's hideout

 

As Skull awoke the second time this day to a dark rumbling noise - she could now identify it perfectly because her own belly made the same noises as that of the Hellfire Wyvern that literally had taken her and the others under her wing and seemed to protect them rather then eat them as she had believed before. Still the fact remained that Skull was in a place she shouldn't be and even if the wing she was currently under shielded her from being spotted, she began feeling watched again and moaned: "Creature from the world of the living release me please and return me to my island of death. I know I left it willingly as I followed the words and the leadership of that lighter-blue coloured hatchie but I regret that now because I shouldn't be here. I know I shouldn't be here, I can feel it in my head and my very bones." Following these words she tapped the skull she was wearing - a fitting gesture but quite useless unless the female Hellfire Wyvern Lilith she was talking too suddenly grew eyes on the inside of her wings.

Edited by Isirion

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Lilith’s frame curled tighter around her precious little discoveries, wing and tail hiding the hatchies from any unwanted attention. She had never fallen asleep fully, keeping watch on the mouth of her cave as she half expected their human ‘keeper’ to walk in and steal the hatchies away. After all, this all had been going to well to last for too long in this dreadful place. Nothing ‘good’ happened here, there was always a test or a hidden meaning behind it. However, Lilith was not going to let these little hatchies go anytime soon and the rigidness of her muscles gave a hint of her readiness to pounce anything that threatened her little discoveries.

 

It was a voice of one of the hatchies that nearly set her to her feet with how on edge she was, but Lilith luckily kept still enough as to not startle any of the other possibly sleeping hatchies. “Little one, if you leave you will die and became just another body to add on your island of death,” Lilith spoke gently and almost thoughtfully as she choice her words carefully in hopes that the hatchie would understand. She honestly had no clue what the hatchie was speaking about when it said ‘island of death’, but hopefully how Lilith used it was good enough to get her main point across. She shifted her wing closer her body so that she could see the hatchie that spoke, but her tail still blocked most of the view of the brood that anyone could see if they peeked inside of the cave.

 

“You feel the spell unlike the others do it seems, hm?” Lilith gazed down at the skull wearing hatchie with pity, she could recall how much that spell pulled on one’s mind before she won her name in the games and was released from it to a degree. “You have to fight it little one, fight it and win over it,” Lilith said as she lowered her head to be more level with the hatchie as they spoke to one another, “Trick it that you are where you should be.”

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Lilith's words spoken with true warmth overlapped with the ice-cold voice of her keeper Skull remembered hearing before a fat chicken had miraculously appeared amidst the batch of nearly starved hatchies she had been a part of. The voice then had spoken about how their strength and will to live would show in their strength and will to fight. In the end despite being afraid Skull had fought and won which had ultimately led to her lonely 'life' in the boneyard where she devoured the flesh of the hatchies that hadn't fought or at least not with enough strength or will to earn their life.

 

The voice now spoke about fighting too telling her to fight and win. But win over what? A spell? Was it not her own head but a spell that was causing the disturbing feelings she had since she had awakened? Skull slammed her tail on the ground not caring about possibly hitting one of the other hatchies that were still asleep and answered: "I am not a scaredy-cat anymore. Perhaps I never was. I will fight!" Her new found confidence wavered a bit as she added: "But how exactly do I fight a spell? How could I possibly trick it when I can't even see it or touch it nor do I know how it works?"

Edited by Isirion

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Lilith gave a soft and pleased growl at this little hatchie’s tenacity, the will to win over the spell was in this little one and the hatchie only needed guidance to fulfill this goal. “No, you are indeed a strong little one and to live this long you have always been so,” Lilith said as she refrained from following some unknown instinct that screamed she should lower her head even further to give a nudge of encouragement to the skull wearing hatchie. She would not get so attached yet and she was not accustomed to showing any kind of affection. After all, touch here meant pain more often than not.

 

“You must find your own way of fighting this spell, but you fight the spell with the very will to fight that you have shown me. Let your own will overpower the spell, rule over it and make it believe with that same will that you are where you should be,” Lilith said after a moment of debating how she should word her whole idea. It was all a battle of wills when she herself was only a hatchie, making herself believe fully that she was where she should be and almost forcing the spell to believe this as well. It was not easy by no means as the slightest slip in willpower meant the spell once more took the forefront. “There are others who have used other methods to beat this spell, but I cannot real explain them for I have not understood their methods myself. Just know that beating the spell can be done without touching it or see it, it is a battle of your mind and this does not require anything but willpower and your own method of driving the spell back.”

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Thinking about Lilith's words Skull decided to try at least. As a hatchie even if she saw no way of winning against all the other hatchies in the fight for the fat chicken she still had overcoming her fear with willpower but was that really enough now? Skull concentrated on that feeling from the feeding area but the spell still ate at her feeding off her fear rather than getting weakened by her willpower. Disappointed Skull slammed her tail on the ground again then she tried an other approach. She would not try to beat the spell perfectly all at once but she would try to beat it better than the cat-like dragon she owed her shredded wings and her other nickname scaredy-cat to. She would show everybody that she was better than Kitty. She would not fly away with her tail between her legs like that dragon had done in the boneyard being defeated by as she realized that self-same spell Skull was now fighting with. Picturing herself stronger than Kitty definitely helped and a few seconds later the spell deactivated. Skull threw out her chest proudly and then growled victoriously - or at least her empty belly did...

Edited by Isirion

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Lilith watched closely as the little one fought the spell, aggravation seemingly radiating off the hatchie until there was a noticeable change. Just one look at the hatchie and she could tell that the pride was from success for there was little else that the little one had to be proud of currently. “I see you have won, little one. Remember how you have won and use it, do not waver and you will always be the victor,” she said with a hint of the pride that she felt at this little one’s accomplishment. Yes, this one would go far and she would make sure of it.

 

“Now, I believe food is in order for that stomach of yours.” This said Lilith reluctantly tucked her wings closer to her frame and unwrapped her tail from the brood, fighting with her slight paranoia that as soon as she unhid her little treasures is when her ‘keeper’ would enter the cave. That eerie feeling that things were going too well creeping up on her once more, but she could not lie there forever and let the hatchie starve from her paranoia. There was not much of the chicken left from feeding the brood once she had originally got them inside, but there should be enough to feed the skull wearing one. She would have to figure something out when it comes to food for herself and the little ones, perhaps stealing from another cave until her keeper came and resupplied her own food. ‘Then I just have to figure out where to hide the little ones when the time comes for him to resupply my food,’ she thought with a slight grimace as it really hit her how hard it was going to be to keep her little treasures save and away from that monster. “Here you are my brave one, food to soothe that growling stomach,” Lilith said as she dropped one of the fatter chickens that was left in front of the hatchie.

Edited by Lilithachaos

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The smell of the fat chicken after Skull had gratefully taken a bite or two in the confined space of Lilith's cave seemed to awaken the instincts of the other three hatchies. One moment they were sleeping peacefully as they hadn't have to bother with the spell that hadn't been cast on them yet the other moment they engaged in a food fight. Alteria the lighter-blue coloured hatchie managed to snatch the chicken from a very surprised Skull until the thick-clawed hatchie Claw bit off a leg of her prize and tried to swallow it whole. Flamey who was glad Claw had his mouth full making it impossible for him to rip any throats out for now blew a bit of smoke out of his nostrils then charged for a bite of the chicken too. Not even a minute later the fat chicken had vanished in their bellies and only the bones remained for Skull to be cleaned of any leftover flesh. Now that the other hatchies were fully awake too they sat down and pondered their situation for a moment. Yesterday they had been very glad to be rescued by Hellfire Lilith they still were but how did the dragoness intend to hide them in a cave that had only a nice and soft blanket on the floor and a feeding bowl? Over night their gendering process that had started after they escaped the ungendered hatchie pit had finished and now their forms were larger and even more difficult to hide. If they continued to grow at this rate soon they wouldn't all fit under Lilith's wing anymore. Claw gulped down the very last piece of the chicken and voiced his concern: "Mighty dragoness! You rescued us from starvation but can you also rescue as from our keeper? I don't see any hiding places in here and soon we will be too big to fit under you wing. I hope you can tell us what we can do to save ourselves because you have done something like this before - or was rescuing us only a spur of the moment decision?"

Edited by Isirion

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Lilith watched with a mix of amusement and aggravation as the other three hatchies awoke. She was amused that the scent of the meal woke the others up, but at the same time she felt aggravation that the meal she had given to the skull wearing one was stolen away. There might not be much chicken left within her cave at the time, but there should be enough food for one more meal in their bellies.. However, she knew these hatchlings came from the ungendered hatchie pit and so their need to fight over food would take a while to subside.

 

Amusement seem to win over as one of the male hatchies dubbed her ‘mighty dragoness’, something she felt was so far from the truth at times. Yet this hatchie had good thinking skills if his question was anything to go by. “Dear one, just call me Lilith. As for your question, I will keep you in my cave until I am unable to hide you here. I will then have to find somewhere for you to stay that is unoccupied by another,” she said after a moment of hesitation before addressing the topic on if she had done this before. “I have not saved any before as you and your group are the first hatchies I have found that escaped their fate, but I will not let anything take you from me nor will I allow harm to come to you. Young ones do not deserve this fate,” Lilith said, her voice almost turning to a soft mumble as she spoke her last sentence. She knew that she had to think of something and soon, this little one’s words were true and she was almost at a loss on what her next course of action should be.

Edited by Lilithachaos

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Claw mulled over Lilith's answer for quite a while before he adressed her again: "Mighty dragoness. I have thought about your words and I find them truly disturbing. You speak of the fate that we escaped but did we really? Back in the pit our keeper appeared and spoke to us about strength and then told us that there would only be food for half of us. He gave us a choice to either fight amongst ourselves until only half of us remained or starve to death. At that moment there were eight living hatchies in the pit including myself - after the unavoidable food fight only six remained. These six decided to try and escape the pit by building a ladder out of bodies and it worked. My friend Alteria was the first one to climb out making the ladder one body short again. At that moment a hatchie that got injured in the fight died and the ladder was high enough again to let me climb up to the edge of the pit. I looked around and saw a feeding area with starved-looking gendered hatchies and I knew for sure what fate awaited us. There would be no end to the forced food fights. We would be pitted against each other over and over again until only one remained. It was a fate were at least one hatchie out of eight would survive. You however have doomed us to a fate were we would be killed on sight by our keeper if he found us here. You claim that you would not allow harm to come to us but the hidden boneyard where we picked up Skull is telling another story. It would be more merciful of you to kill us on the spot than to give us false hope. You cannot save all of us but you may still save one if you continue to feed and shelter us until we are surely stronger than the hatchies that have gendered before us. This way we would have an advantage in the oncoming food fights and would survive until the four of us are left. Then and only then fate would decide which of us will survive till the very end."

 

After Claw had ended his little speech Flamey stared at him with his eyes wide open in horror as he mouthed: "Is this the reason you killed three of us and didn't even try to convince Chance and Tria to come with us - all to eliminate the competion because you don't think about your friends at all only about becoming the sole survivor. Alteria should have never befriended you because you are just as heartless a monster as our keeper is!" As Flamey had finished his little speech too Alteria who had listened to both sat there dumbfounded. She didn't knew that Claw had taken the lives of three fellow hatchies despite having stopped him from cold-blooded murder once. The lighter-blue coloured female was so confused she didn't know what to think, what to feel or what to do...

Edited by Isirion

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Lilith listened patiently to the thick-clawed hatchling that had spoken first, but her mood was becoming dark and slightly angry at the idea that killing these hatchies would have been a better fate for them, though she knew that what he said might be true. Yet she was not about to take the lives of young ones, ones that would not stand a chance against her in any kind of fight. Lilith did not agree with his viewpoint, but she would not outright call him wrong. She was about to give her input to his speech but it seemed one of the other hatchies wanted to get his words in and so silence was kept until everything was said before she addressed the thick-clawed hatchling: “I will not call you wrong as it could be a merciful end to die by my claws, but I am not a hatchie killer out of my free will. I have killed to get here and you are indeed right in that there would have been only one that would get out of the pit alive. However, you four have all escaped and are now with me so your deaths are only assured if I fail you in my protection.” Lilith paused to figure out how to word her next thoughts then she continued: “I will not look down upon the acts of killing the others that were with you before, as I said I have done the same to get to where I am now and I will not deny that their deaths are upon my claws and fangs. But killing your fellow age-mates is no longer needed and our keeper will not be allowed to touch you without getting past me.”

 

The plan of action in Lilith’s own mind was that she would indeed try to keep all of the hatchies alive and well. The arguments made by the thick-clawed hatchie had stuck in her mind and she knew that keeping them hidden would not work forever. Besides as they grew so would their appetite, that alone would make it near impossible to keep them safe and healthy. She would have to find a way to free them from this place one way or another. Now Lilith turned her gaze to the other hatchies and included them as well in her speech: “Little ones, this one did what I have done in the past to live and it should not be looked down upon. It might seem heartless, yet as long as you are within the pit survival is everything. But you are out now and this should not happen again. I will not allow you to keep fighting amongst yourselves. Food will be provided in one way or another to each of you and you only have to worry about getting strong enough to fly and fight if needed. If I must I will find a way to free you from this place, but it will have to wait until all of you can fly well.”

Edited by Lilithachaos

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The confession, compassion and promise of the older Hellfire Wyvern filled the hatchies with something even better than the food she had given them. Now they had their own purpose to fulfill their own reason to get stronger. As Lilith had said - they had made it all out of the pit alive and they would all try their hardest to stay that way. They would train as hard as they could - not as puppets dancing to the sinister scheme behind the design of the pit and the feeding areas but as comrades that would share the same goal - freedom. Lilith's existence itself was proof it was possible. She was a fullgrown dragon yet she could roam around freely. Not even Claw suspected that this 'freedom' granted to dragons like her was part of the scheme too - he would soon enough once they would learn about the Hellfire Games that awaited them in the not to distant future. For now he was finally content with the information Lilith has given him and in return gave her his self-proclaimed name 'Claw' and a scratch as he crashlanded on her tail after trying out his new wings for the first time. Alteria who had gendered before the others and had had more time to get used to her gendered and winged body managed to fly around quite gracefully giving out her made-up name 'Alteria' too. Flamey introduced himself after her and then retreated to a claw-free space of the cave to test his flight capabilities. They would have been quite good weren't it for the wall, the ceiling and finally the floor...As Flamey finally came to a stop again it was with his nose flat on the ground before Skull. The hatchie looked at him with pity then she removed the skull she was wearing and offered it too him: "With my shredded wings I can't ever fly again - not even into the wall like you. If you don't want to end up in the boneyard from whence I came you should wear that skull that I named myself after as protection." Flamey got to his feet took the creepy helmet that seemed to stare at him and mumbled a very weak sounding: "Uhm thanks?" After that he turned to Lilith and asked her a little embarrased: "Uhmmm...say is there any place a little more space-y and less wall-y where I could try again?"

Edited by Isirion

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Lilith gave a soft laugh as she watched the hatchies try to fly around her cave, something she did not think they would try to do within the confines of the stone walls. She did not even mind the brief sting of claws on her tail from the hatchie that proclaimed his name as Claw, she was too amused watching the activities of the brood to really care for something that was so insignificant compared to wounds she has gained from the Hellfire Games. However, this was not a place suited for their practicing and so a move to a more open area is needed. As Lilith thought of a place they could go, the hatchie dubbed Flamey commented on the same thoughts that she herself was having. “There is indeed a place I can take you to practice your skills. One with no walls to harm yourself as you practice,” she said to the poor male as Lilith thought that was his main concern since he was the one to run into the cave wall.

 

“Come little ones, I will take you where you may practice in a better setting,” Lilith said to all of the hatchies as she stood and made her way to Skull. She knew that this one would not be able to make it where she planned and Lilith was more than willing to carry this one to the agility training area. There were only a few ways she might carry the hatchie without harming the little one or herself and only one that seemed more logical in their setting. So without much warning, Lilith bent her head down to then gently hold Skull around her shoulders, being mindful of her fangs so that the little one would not be scratched up. With the hatchie save in her grip, she started to make her way slowly to the training area.

 

Landing was taken with more care once Lilith reached their destination, a slight worry that too much jarring would cause Skull to jab herself with a fang. However, soon she was letting the little one down and was then checking to make sure all of the hatchies were accounted for and making themselves busy. After all, it would not bode well if the others here started to suspect something.

Edited by Lilithachaos

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Following after Hellfire Lilith who carried Skull, Alteria, Claw and Flamey quickly flew over the circular stone fence that shielded the agility trainings area below from view and landed within the resting zone in the middle of the structure. In Flamey's case he crash-landed because he couldn't adjust his speed after having flapped his wings frantically to be double-sure to make it over the wall before. His ungraceful appearance caused two nasty and mean looking female Hellfires who trained in the mini-arena located east to laugh at him. Other than that they paid him no attention and continued their friendly fight while simultaneously dodging the squishy orange fruits that shot out of the arena-walls from time to time. Flamey picked himself and his new skull helmet up from the ground and watched the two dragons that were much bigger and stronger than him fight then he awed: "Wow they look so absorbed in their fight over there but they still noticed me..." His comment made Claw scrutinize the two dragons closely before he gave his two cents: "I think being mindful of your surroundings is the idea behind that mini-arena and those surprise fruit attacks from the sides. If you only focus on the opponent before your eyes somebody could easily stab you in the back. Wanna come with me and try it out?" Very very reluctantly Flamey nodded and followed him but he had no choice they had to blend in with the other dragons fast or they would arouse suspicion that may alert their keeper. Alteria seemed to think alike because she didn't hesitate to try out her sense of balance on the ten shaking platforms located west of the resting area. She did quite well but it was nothing like the cat-like dragon with razor-sharp claws that trained here too and jumped and landed with pinpoint accuracy. Skull decided to try out the wooden paw-swinging obstacle course located south because she was quite confident in her defense even without her skull. After being swiped from the wooden beams for the fifth time because she lacked the necessary agility to dodge she growled and tried the sizzling everchanging rope-maze located north where a slighty twitching female dragon was also training. It went even worse than the obstacle-course because the moment she touched one of the ropes out of curiosity it discharged a bit of magical energy that knocked her out cold. When she was awake again Lilith and the twitching dragoness were fussing over her. Skull felt an unfamiliar feeling of embarrassment and got back on her feet to try again...

 

In the meantime at Torch's cave

 

Hellfire Torch who had woken long before Hellfire Chimera sat silently in the mouth of his cave that was the highest in the hideout. His gaze went from the brilliant-blue fire on the torch next to him that symbolized his mate's life and status to the lowest caves far away where pitiful hatchlings were forced to fight for their lives. For the surviving female gendered hatchlings Torch soon would be the other 'prize' they would all fight for but it felt terribly wrong. Full grown female Hellfires were all bigger and stronger than the males so it should be him fighting for a mate not the other way round. But letting the already stronger ones fight to get even stronger was the undeniable logic of his keeper. It was for the same reason Isirion regulary stained his bladed with the blood of the hatchies that he deemed too weak in body or mind or both. Everytime Torch saw a hatchling killed by that wicked blade his heart cried out and he wished to die in it's stead but his keeper had made it clear countless times with his blade that without Torch the whole bloodline-project would serve no purpose anymore and having no purpose in the ice-cold eyes of Isirion meant certain death. Torch shivered at the thought of having the death of every hatchling and every dragon in the hideout on his conscience if he ever choose to escape this nightmare by ending his own life. Knowing his keeper he would just clean everything up and start anew maybe with a new breed if Isirion ever found one that showed even more promise than the scorching flames and the fiery spirits of the Hellfires. Thinking of Isirion made Torch shiver again in fear and to ease that fear he let his mind wander like he had done so many times before. Then he would not be a frightened Hellfire with a scarred body and a scarred mind but a cheerful Ochredrake that knew nothing of pain playing in the forest. He would be a majestic glittering Ice Dragon soaring high in the sky or be a beautifully coloured Sunrise Dragon enjoying a bath in the morning sun. He could even imagine to be a normal human being living a normal life worrying only about what to cook and that the children wouldn't scrape their knees while playing outside...

 

At the same time at the 'Sleeping Dragon' tavern

 

Candy the tavern owner and mother of Jaxon and Winny worried about a lot more than scraped knees as she intercepted her children from following Telia and Tonitrua into the forest. The boy's objection that the two dragons would need helping hands to carry more sticky-web-stuff to repair the trap was as resolutely brushed aside as the girl's moans that her missing chicken Feathershriek may have just escaped in there too. In Candy's mind her nightmare was still too fresh to let her babies anywhere out of sight. Ale seemed to feel that way too because he kept them company rather than his alcohol bottle. Orion and his dragons decided to stay close too just in case until they heard from Alzira who had flown off after a more than usual suspicious acting Henna.

 

At the same time at the exchange poles in the fishermen's village

 

Lunaspeeria sat motionless next to Henna as the herbalist sifted through the requests on the Egg hunter's pole. Like the herbalist had thought her newest Leetle leaf request had been seen and accepted. The payment asked for would be as agreed on a chicken and the fulfillment place and time would be the same as the last time. That would be today at dusk if her leaf supplier wouldn't run into a trap in meeting the hunter like she suspected. Henna cursed as she saw that there was even a request for the meeting and it had been seen and accepted already. If she had been here sooner she could have let that request vanish but now it was too late or wasn't it? The time for the meeting was also at dusk so surely the exchange of the leaves for the chicken would be done before the meeting wouldn't it? In that case she could just tell Isirion in person about her suspicions and ask him either not to go or at least not to spill anything about the leaves. Thus settled Henna whistled cheerfully and removed her own leaf-request sheets from the pole and let her new obedient female Hellfire Wyvern torch them carefully before she climbed on the dragon's back and flew away to gather some more herbs.

 

That scene was being watched by the one-armed beggar sitting not too far away under the beggar's pole and taking a mental note to mention that suspicious behaviour next time he saw a member of the group that had agreed to investigate the disappearance of his mentor. He hadn't had to wait long before he saw familiar green hair almost hidden under a hat make it's way through the crowd. Another moment later he spotted a White Dragon he had also seen yesterday at the tavern crouching low near a building as if trying to keep a low profile. Alas the giggle-jumping Vampire hatchie and the annoyed looking flame breathing Dark Myst Pygmy on the dragon's back made this effort rather pointless...

Edited by Isirion

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Alzira had told her dragons to stay back so she could install her pole business as inconspicuous as possible. She had even thought of a hat to keep a low profile. Although she had no trouble with her hair colour she didn't want to be noticed at first glance, especially since she was secretly following the herbalist. Being disguised like this she had approached one of the poles, pretending to inspect them while keeping an eye on Henna but she only saw her burning some papers. There was nothing more she could do at the moment so she moved to an empty pole nearby and decorated it with small sketches as a new ‘Art Request Pole’ where people could offer on or request her art.

 

As soon as she was finished and she noticed Henna was gone for sure she inspected the Egg Hunter's pole. She found some egg requests partly familiar to her and Sodger's request for the meeting with Isirion as well. What she didn't find were the Leetle leaf requests. This must be what the herbalist had burned so she wouldn't be connected to the Egg hunter! Alzira decided to leave the place to inform the others but maybe the beggar had found out even more since he had been watching the Egg Hunter's pole? Yes, she would ask him before she'll return to the others! She found him sitting under his own pole and approached him: "I'm not sure what the herbalist was doing there, but she just burned some papers, presumably her own requests. Do you know per chance what she did before that?"

Edited by Alzira

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The beggar looked carefully around before he grabbed an empty bowl and stretched it out to to Alzira as if truly begging. Now it wouldn't be too suspicious if he moved closer as well so that his begging target could see him in his full miserable glory and would spare a few coins out of pity. Cowering at the green-haired lady's feet he whispered: "The herbalist would be the frilly dress, pointy nose woman? All I could see her doing was checking through the requests like you did before her Hellfire burned some of them. I wonder if that counts as stealing from the pole as well and she's in for something like that too." To emphasize his words and to make his begging attempt more believable he waved his arm stump before shoving his bowl under Alzira's nose again.

 

In the meantime at Isirions's hideout

 

Isirion was busy organizing the newest additions to his livestock he had gained through the exchanges from the last requests. The electric hatchies had fetched him two reasonable fat chickens and the other eggs at least a hare and some dried meat. The meat he put in a cold food storage cave the hare he took with him as he checked on Hellfire Belia one last time before he would throw her into the pit again. The dragoness was wide awake panting as if she had just exerted herself in a training area otherwise she was perfectly fine. Isirion broke the hare's neck and dropped it into the feeding bowl then he said with his usual ice-cold voice: "From now on you will have to earn your food again through training and fights. Hellfire Asura already trains herself in the strength training area eager to settle the score with you. Her wounded pride lets her work extra hard so make sure you can keep up when she challenges you." After these words he vanished and Belia trotted over to her feeding bowl. She ate the hare in one bite then spread her wings then folded them again. Her body was perfectly ready to train and fight again but her mind wasn't. In the nightmare she had just awoken from before Isirion had checked on her she got injured all over and each injury had hurt more than the last until she couldn't stand it anymore and woke up. Belia realized that it was the fear of getting injured again that kept her in her cave but fear was a kind of weakness wasn't it? And as she knew from experience weaknesses got dragons killed around here much more certain than injuries. Thus with her survival instinct keeping her fear in check Belia finally left her cave and flew over to the different training areas. The strength area she dismissed at once as she sure wasn't ready to face Asura yet. The stamina area was too crowded with dragons that all tried to improve their constitution so they could handle consecutive fights like the Hellfire Games. That left the speed and the agility area but as her heart was still racing faster than her body ever could Belia decided to land in the resting zone of the latter. Dodging the fruits in the mini-arena would be the best start to get her game back without risking injuries wasn't it? At first she thought only two dragons were training there then she spotted another two that even though they had wings they looked as small and skinny as if they had just climbed out of the ungendered hatchie pit. Belia chuckled at that thought and remembered how she had gotten out of that pit. She had used her strength to subdue her age-mates and grab their food until her body had enough sustenance to gender. With her new wings she had proudly flapped out of the pit straight into her keepers ice-cold hands. Isirion had given her the name 'B' and had put her in the cave of the female gendered hatchies. Soon after 'C' joined her and continued the tradition of getting her tail handed to her until that fateful day. Lost in her memories Belia forgot that she came here to train so that she wouldn't get her tail handed to her and drifted into a peaceful nightmare-free sleep...

Edited by Isirion

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Alzira looked a bit embarassed. Although nobody could miss the beggar's injury she just had. For a moment she was just staring at him. His arm stump reminded her of his fate so she seacherd for some coins and let them fall into his bowl. She hadn't thought that burning finished requests might count as stealing, but who knows what the Egg Hunter would decide. Nevertheless this piece of information might come in handy. Alzira shuddered at the thought of what might happen to Henna and left the disabled man with a whispered: "Thanks for the information and if you like a decent meal once in a while, come and visit the Tavern again."

 

She aimed for her dragons who were waiting a few buildings away. She patted her shoulder so Sappo could reoccupy his place on her shoulder. "I've got some information, I'll tell you when we are all together again but now we should hurry back!" Then she mounted Susurro, moving the Vampire hatchie to the front and off they went.

 

Edited by Alzira

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On the way back to report Alzira again noticed how breathtakingly beautiful the lake the tavern had been named after was. The sunlight glittering on the waves and the occasional Water Dragon soothed her mind and she put her all into painting the scenery after she had told Orion the information she had gained from stalking Henna. Now it was up to the hunter to decide what he would do with his time until the meeting. The children looked pleadingly at him hoping he would convince their parents to let them go to the forest anyway as it would be much safer with him around. Candy and Ale however looked like they would expect him to do the exact opposite and tell them as any responsible adult would how dangerous the forest was. Or maybe they just wanted him to eat more delicious food...

 

In the meantime at the Leetle shrine

 

The Guardian sat under the Leetle tree and glared at a certain branch that was missing three leaves. Then he slammed his fist on the ground cursed into his beard and started the cycle again. Finally Lazarus the Lurker couldn't stand it anymore. He crept out of his hiding-hole even though it was bright daylight and not a cloud before the disgusting sun and growled: "Would you stop that already. You are worse than little Galandir when he was blaming himself for his father's fate. There is nothing you could have done. That stranger got us good." The Guardian slammed his fist on the ground again and murmured: "I know. I know. The worst thing is I can't even be too angry because Galandir is so happy that he will soon have a family again. He has even made up names for them. His first brother he will call Galad. The second one Andor and his sister Diadora." Hearing those names Lazarus gave a hearty laugh that sounded like a crumbling tombstone. The Lurker moved closer to the tree and the Guardian then he asked: "And what will you do?" The man pondered the question for a while then he decided: "There is nothing that I can do from here but if I go visit my old captain he can confirm if that stranger really was his apprentice or not. I am also worried about Eyes' disappearance that beggar told me about. He was always the one to look after everybody in the Royal Blue dragon regiment. Shame that there are so few of us left..."

 

After reliving a few happy memories of his old comrades the Guardian left Lazarus in charge of guarding the Leetle tree and went to the beach where he mounted one of the Sunrise Dragons. The dragon looked a bit haunted as if it hadn't slept well but nevertheless flew him to the spur of the mountain shadowing over the fishermen's village where Sodger had his hut. The Guardian dismounted and walked a few steps to the front door. It opened before he could knock because his former captain had recognized his footsteps and had come to the door to greet him and invite him in. A few minutes later the table was laid with food and wine that both men enjoyed while exchanging present questions and past stories alike...

Edited by Isirion

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Orion pinched the bridge of his nose as he thought of a quick solution to discourage the children from wandering the forest on their own. He would have gone with simply "it's dangerous" but if they were anything like he had been at their age, that just made it more tempting. Although Emeraldan sitting on his shoulder gave him an idea. He looked at both Jaxon and Whiny. "Hey guys, I was going to head out in a bit and I have a bow but even I'm a little nervous. Emeraldan though, isn't old enough. If I left him with you two for a bit would you stay here and play with him?" As the children nodded Orion smiled and tilting his head Emeraldan chirped in approval of the plan: "Play?" After that and a few goodbyes and farewells Orion walked out the door to start his hunt and clear his mind.

 

Outside his Hellfire Wyvern just took off followed by Alsia who begged the seething dragon while flying after him in concern: "Valerian, dear, please don't storm off." At almost anyone else Valerian would have snapped and asked for some time alone but she was nothing but good to him and he knew it. Even so, he needed space and needed to blow off some steam and eventually hunt his lunch.

Meanwhile Orion crept through the forest in silent pursuit of a full grown buck. The hooves of this particular breed were sharp enough to sharpen weapons with and the meat had the perfect taste when smoked or roasted. He had a list of things on his mind and though he didn't want to mention it to the others, he was starting to feel more than a little anxious. After his nightmare he now started to have momentary daydreams of suddenly feeling his shirt soaked with blood before finding his throat cut. He'd turn around and find nothing there after swearing he had heard footsteps. Of course Orion desperately wanted to find the source of his disturbing dreams and he had a list of important things to do today but these hours he was taking for himself so he could think over the information Alzira had shared while pursuing his hunt. He checked his bow one more time. All good. The buck was a rare game and he could plan his next course of action over a peaceful meal once this hunt was over. At last he was closer to the deer. Now he waited for the perfect shot, quartering away.

Soon it walked into a clearing, the opportunity for a shot practically gifted to him on a silver platter. Orion grinned and drew his bow. Just as he released his shot a blaze of red dove down from the sky and tackled the prey. The arrow meant for the deer hit the dragon in the leg. As it roared from the pain Orion quickly realized it wasn't just any dragon, it was Valerian. And Valerian was probably very, very unhappy. Valerian's head snapped to Orion, prepared to breathe fire until he realized who it was. Instead he gave him an equally angry glare that demanded explanation.

 

Quickly Orion told him: "Valerian! I'm really sorry. I was hunting a deer and didn't see you coming!" Satisfied with the answer but still irritated Valerian began roasting the deer with his flaming breath until his keeper asked him: "Would you mind if I had a little?" Valerian growled without looking away from his meal and finished cooking part of it. "Please? I love deer." Orion begged and the Hellfire Wyvern replied: “No problem. I am sorry if I'm short-tempered...more than usual." Then he chomped down on the neck area. After he had swallowed he made sure to cook one of the deer legs more thoroughly for Orion then he said: "It's alright. We all have bad days. Do you want to talk about what's bothering you? I'll share if you do." He said, slicing into the thigh and getting ready to dig in.

 

"Thanks. No problem." Orion sat back down and skinned an area of the leg with his knife before using it to slice a piece of meat free. It was a little more charred than he was used to but surprisingly he found the taste to be even better in a few aspects. "I guess I'll go first. The man with the bloodstained blade, the thieving ghost, call him whatever. Since we arrived to even now he had been an issue. It's as if he can be anywhere he wants anytime. I keep dreaming and daydreaming about encountering him. Whether it's us finally putting a stop to him, or finding myself killed by his blade I can't stop thinking about it. It's making me anxious and it is only getting worse, which is why I really want to stop him soon." Orion sighed. "So there's me. Your turn."

"You saw it the hatchlings...what if they were my own? If Alsia and I ever had hatchlings together I need to know I can protect them...not only that...I mean, who can feel right after seeing dead young ones period?" Orion understood only too well after the funeral yesterday: “"Oh man...look, Valerian, it's alright buddy. I know that'd it'd be hard for me in your position. I understand. Anyway, I'm here for you. If you don't really want to talk about it we can go blow off steam after this real quick. Sound good?" Slowly but surely a small smile creep onto Valerian's face and the Hellfire Wyvern breathed approving flames into the air: "I'd like that." Now Orion smiled back: "Great. Come on. Let's finish real quick and think of something fun." "Oh I've got one..." Valerian grinned and Orion's face paled. He knew just the game Valerican had in mind – Tag! For Orion tag had become a full body workout since he played it with Valerian while he had been a hatchie. Naturally Valerian had gotten bigger and faster over time and Orion had become something of an expert at running through the woods and dodging various obstacles. Friendly or not, being chased by something weighing thousands of

pounds gives you good incentive to run faster. "Sure." He responded in a nervous tone and started running…

Edited by Orion97

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While Orion or at least Valerian had fun playing tag in the forest Alsia watched them from the sky having quite a bit of fun too seeing her mate happy again. Her eyes fixed on the two of them running deeper and deeper into the woods the Ice Dragon didn't notice that some sparks from the flames the Hellfire had breathed earlier to cook the deer and to show his joy had not yet fully gone out. A steady wind brought the glowing sparks back to life and soon evolved them into a dangerous forest fire that could be seen from quite afar.

 

In the meantime at another part of the forest

 

At Telia's secret spiderweb gathering place hidden deeply in the forest Tonitrua finally heard more about the wicked blade wielding 'ghost' from the Ochredrake. While the two dragons worked together on coiling spider-webs onto branches Telia told the Thunder hatchling everything she had heard from the exorcist, the hunter and from the other members of her new group. Part of the tale Tonitrua had already heard during the meeting or put the pieces together himself but other parts were new. As Telia got to the part were she retold the beggar's story who had his hand cut off with a blade by somebody who seems to be able to get into locked rooms just like a ghost the Ochredrake suddenly gasped and pointed to the tree-tops: "A part of the forest is burning and the fire is coming closer. We need to hurry up and leave immediately!" The fire Telia had spotted burned fiercly red like hellfire turning trees first into towering black silhouettes and then to ashes. It filled Tonitrua's whole field of vision as the male Thunder hatchling looked into the direction the Ochredrake had pointed and suddenly the fearsome image of something he had forgotten until now flashed before his eyes...

Edited by Isirion

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The burning flames in the forest triggered a memory in Tonitrua's mind, one long forgotten and buried deep.

 

He was standing at the cool top of a snow-capped mountain surrounded by his friends, his only family. The Ice Dragon, Arctic Queen, and the Magma Dragon, Faercrag. As they looked down at him warmly Tonitrua could have sworn he saw a flash of angry red in Faercrag's eyes seemingly setting the world on fire with unmatched fury...

 

When he suddenly snapped back to reality, Tonitrua found himself gasping for breath. How odd, he thought as he sat there with the sticky-webs in his paws. His mind was recovering quickly but his body seemed to be frozen on the spot and he couldn't take his eyes off the flames that were coming closer with every breath he took.

Edited by EmmaD333

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Telia scrambles up a tree to get another stick then looks at Tonitrua, But sensing danger she tries to snap him out of his frozen state asking him what was going on and what had happened. She catches sight of the fire and scrambles down the tree, forgetting the sticky web in her clutches and for the first time since she was young she falls... as she falls she remembers the look on the hellfire's face in her nightmare and spreads her wings, but still she lands with a thud on her back then scrambles to her feet. She beats her wings and glides checking to make sure Tonitrua is following. She reaches the edge of the forest and plonks down near her trap, making sure the web doesn't get tangled while she rests. Her wings ache from the hard landing and she's out of breath "Tonitrua please be alright" she mutters to herself. " That fire was close we must warn the others! I hope they already know! what to do where to go first?" Telia panics but calms quickly, then places the web somewhere it won't get caught on anything and thinks about everything that has happened and where the fire came from, She looks at Tonitrua questioningly " What happened back there Tonitrua? why'd you freeze up like that?" she chirps then begins to pace uneasily, worried about everyone, about the forest; the place she grew up in, her home being consumed by the fire. The flames still burn behind her eyes and she stops pacing and lays her head on the ground closing her eyes.

Edited by isabella3

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"I... don't know. I really do not know." Tonitrua mumbled, and then stiffened with shock once more.

 

I have to get out of here! Tonitrua thought. I have to get away! Danger! Run! his instincts screamed at him. Tonitrua all too eagerly complied, running through the forest at the foot of the mountain. Don't look back. You can't look back. He told himself, but he could not resist the temptation. He glanced up at the huge mountain, his eyes tracing the outline. The top of the hill smoldered with a terrible red light. Fire of immense heat. A dragon screamed, and the noise pierced the silent night like an arrow.

 

Tonitrua found himself gasping again, as his mind returned to reality. "T-telia, I don't know what's happening to me! I-I dont know what to do!" He managed to say, after he had settled down a bit. "What's happening? Who screamed? Where am I?" He bombarded her with questions, the memory still etched upon his mind...

Edited by EmmaD333

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Telia opens her eyes, then looks at the Thunder hatchling, "Tonitrua settle we're at my trap see?" Telia gestures to the web strung about to create a net, "and what scream? I'll check it out later, alright? Tonitrua? my trap needs to be fixed, first priority is catching that horror of a ghost," Telia shudders at the memory of her dream, the ghosts voice still embedded in her mind she shakes her head to clear it and begins to sing, her voice sweet and clear, it's a simple tune, a happy one, but her mind still gets dragged back to her forest, burning, flames scorching her trees, the fruit and earth, everything she used to create a prank, but she stops thinking, turning her attention to the thunder hatchling and the web recently collected hanging on the tree she grabs one end of the thick, sticky web and gets to work on her trap "Tonitrua can you please grab the other end and help place it over the hole?" She leaps up over the web and using a slim branch she sits in a convenient forked branch then lowers her end in place, she begins joining it, finishing in under a minute, after, she swiftly glides to the ground. "Well do you think we should check out everything? we might uncover the cause of the scream you heard and see if anyone or anything is trapped in the fire and if we can help it."Telia squeaks, unable to not imagine the form of a helpless dragon, scorching, unable to escape from the flames.

Edited by isabella3

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