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Isirion

The Bloodline of Torch

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Jack had grown more and more anxious by the minute since the big city was in plain view. From above it looked a bit like a hedgehog that inexplicably suffered from partial spike-loss. There were a lot of high needle-like buildings - the roosts of the Nebula Dragons employed in the city's service. Then there were larger patches of stone, marble and green surrounded by lots and lots of spiky fences. Even the normal buildings looked rather vicious from above because of the razor-sharp dragon scales adorning their roofs. Unlike the fishermen-village those roofs harboured not only the scales but countless other sharp dragon parts too too in order to keep their living counterparts away. Nobody wanted to be greeted on their morning walk by a pile of steaming dragon dung; the random pigeon droppings were bad enough. This system however only worked for roofed buildings - the open-air markets suffered not only from the inevitable pigeon droppings and occasional dragon dung but also quite frequently pig, cow and horse manure. The goods sold on these markets were mostly processed food or grains, milk, honey, wine, venison and leather. But as everyone knew or at least guessed the place were most of the income of the city came from, was far away from the smell. It was the underground markets and arenas that made more profit in a week than another city in a month.

 

It was the underground market Jack was trying to reach with at least two goals in mind. First and foremost he wanted to hire an assassin to avenge his fallen guild members and second he wanted to sell a few 'goods' to raise the coins necessary for this. Of course to reach either goal he had to arrive alive and without alerting the 'Nebs'. Seeing as they had left the air-bandits and pursuers far behind made it almost a certainty that they would arrive alive - but unfortunately it was also a certainty that they would fly right into the formation of the Nebula sky patrol. Every dragon had blue star-patterns on his wings and a formidable fighter on his back. Jack cursed heartily; but there was no escaping them now. From their high roosts they must have seen his group coming from miles away. Thinking quickly, he decided the best course of action was to appear as frightened, but law-abiding traders and related this to Finn, Steve, Walt and Jill.

 

A minute later the captain of the sky patrol blocked their path with his men and commanded: "Halt, state your business and intentions!" Jack swallowed his pride and made his tone grovelling as he replied: "Fine Sirs, you're our salvation. We barely managed to escape the air-bandits on our way here. Please let us into your city so we can rest and recover our losses. All that we have left is the bunch of weapons we gave to our bodyguard so he may appear dangerous enough to frighten them off." The captain had calmy observed the group while Jack spoke and what he saw made what he heard a lot more believable. One man with only one hand was a shivering mess, another had distressed trader written all over his fat face. There was also a servant and of course the bodyguard. A quick search of the saddle-bags also confirmed the story - a few trading papers, supplies, but nothing of value anymore. The captain nodded and gave his men a signal to spread out and said: "You are lucky to have escaped with your lives. We will escort you to the city."

 

At approximately the same time at Isirion's hide-out

 

Little cracks appeared almost at the same time on the six eggs bathing in the red torch light. Within the span of fifteen minutes the cracks grew larger and larger. Finally one little head after the other poked through the cracks and spotted the world beyond the egg-shell for the first time. It was made of torch and stone and contained one little scrap of meat lying right in the middle of the six eggs that had apparently been arranged in a circle before their occupants hatched.

Edited by Isirion

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Breaking away from the rest of the egg and observing their surroundings, Treasure's eyes land on one of the torches. That must have been the light the hatchling had seen through the shell. It looked even prettier now that they could fully see it in detail. Treasure felt like she could watch the fire do its little dance for hours on end, but their stomach said otherwise. Resentfully Treasure looks away from the torch and looks down in front of her to see a scrap of meat. This was surely not going to feed all six hatchlings and Treasure knew it. If anyone was to get the meat it might as well be them right? Another hatchling must have had the same thoughts as Treasure because just as she picked it up with their mouth someone else did too. With narrowed golden eyes, Treasue lets out a growl and pulls in an attempt to snatch the food away.

Edited by AK-Meow

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The other hatchling held onto the meat scrap and shot a quick glance around. One hatchling was observing the fight from the remains of it's egg shell with a hungry look in it's eyes, the other three were already closing in fast. One prepared to jump forward and snatch the scrap of meat but was thwarted by another one who had the same idea but from the opposite direction. Those two, dazed from their accidental head-butt, surely would be out of the way for a while, so with one hatchie still only watching, the struggle was down to a three-way pull that couldn't be decided by strength alone. Only exercising their mind as well as their body would give one of those hatchies the edge necessary to secure their first scarce meal...

Edited by Isirion

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Not daring to let go of what would might be the only meal she'll get in a while, Treasure thinks. It's obvious the other two weren't going to let go. There seems to be only two options. One was to simply hang on until the others gave up and the other was to simply let go and give up. Choice number two is obviously out of the question. Or is it? The three were pulling mighty hard. Without a second thought Treasure let go. Due to them pulling so hard the two hatchlings stumble backwards, unbalanced. Taking this opportunity Treasure tackles them and snatches up the meat.

Edited by AK-Meow

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Now that, except for the golden eyed hatchling, all the other contestants for the scrap of meat were out of the picture, the remaining hatchling who had observed everything from it's egg shell seized it's chance. With all the speed it could muster it ran towards Treasure with the single aim to snatch the scrap of meat away before it was fully consumed. For a newborn the power of it's final jump was great but mostly due to the flickering red torches the direction was a little bit off. Instead of knocking away the other hatchling it knocked itself out on a rock. The impact was brain rattling and it took the hatchie quite a while to regain conciousness but finally it opened it's eyes again to see what has changed and which of the dozens of blurred hatchies it was seeing had gotten the scrap of meat.

Edited by Isirion

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Footsteps could be heard getting closer and closer by the second. Looking up, the hatchling could see yet another one charging straight at her with no signs of slowing down. Why now? Can't a dragon eat in peace? Holding on tightly to the second thing dearest to them in their mouth, Treasure looks the challenger dead in the eyes. The light from the torches dance in her golden eyes. The hatchling stood their ground.

 

Treasure braced for impact, but the collision never came. Instead they merely watched as the charging hatchling miscalculate its aim and leaped head first into a rock with great force. Surely they didn't survive that? Treasure waited a moment to see if the hatchling would get up only to remember about the one thing they were even fighting for in the first place: food. It was gone within a few ravenous bites.

 

With a stomach as satisfied as it was going to get, the curious mind took over. Treasure's eyes wondered back over to the 'dead' other. Apparently it was still alive. Darn, just when it seemed like there would be one less to other keep a watchful eye out on.

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Blinking away the pain in it's head the hatchling noticed the food was gone. It couldn't have been eaten by the two who had head-butted into each other and were still lying on the ground. Of course the two hatchies growling in frustration weren't to blame either - it was all the fault of the hatchie with the golden eyes who sat there with an apparently full stomach. Why couldn't I get the food? Why wasn't there more food? Would that hatchie ever stop staring?

 

Glaring back at Treasure the hatchling wanted to assure itself by winning at least a stare contest between the two of them. The chances for that growing slimmer by the second as the head-ache came back and the image of the hatchie started to multiply again before it's eyes...

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After a moment of staring, Treasure blinked as the hatchling glared at them. What did they do wrong? She tilted her head at this question. Maybe it was because they didn't share? What complete nonsense. Treasure didn't have to share if they didn't want to. Besides, there wasn't enough to share anything and it didn't look like that hatchling had any plans on doing so in the first place.

 

Treasure was becoming a little bored, so they inched closer to the other who seemed ready to pass out again. Maybe they could do something together? Like what? They didn't seem all too happy to see Treasure, but neither did the other four and she felt like they didn't want her to be around them anyway. Trying to look somewhat friendly, they look at the hatchling stopping about a foot away from them.

Edited by AK-Meow

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As Treasure inched closer the hatchling with the skull-splitting head-ache moved back. It knew it was in no condition to fight any of the multitudes of golden eyed hatchlings before it. Why had it tried it's luck? It could have just played dead and waited for the next scrap of meat to appear. Now judging by the grin of the hatchlings itself would be the next scrap of meat to be devoured...

 

Backing away even further it bumped into one of the other hatchlings who growled warningly. That hatchling knew there was no place at the top left anymore in the current pecking order - but if it bluffed good enough it could claim the second place. Growling some more and snapping at the distressed hatchling worked wonders. It got frightened so much it rolled on it's back and offered it's throat. The other hatchlings watched the development with mixed emotions. The two who had head-butted mostly anxious to be next, the last hatchie from the three-way-struggle with envy. Why hadn't it thought about establishing it's position? Those other hatchies didn't smell like family so they must be taught their place. Creeping up behind the head-butters it slammed them with it's tail and hissed: "Stay with me and the next scrap of meat will be ours!"

 

In the mean-time at the fishermen's village

 

In his search for Fingers Isirion had checked the house where he had found the thief the last time. At that time the house had been full with randomly assorted luxurious clothes and trinkets. Now it looked almost empty. If not for the tell-tale bloodstain on the floor next to the bed he would have thought he had come to the wrong place. Thinking of it as the right place however felt wrong too since there was no clue to be found as to where the thief could possibly have fled. Isirion left the house again and investigated the dragon-for-rent-stables next. The Water Dragon lender had a full stable but the Grey Dragon lender was short one dragon. Of course that could be just a coincidence but it was the only lead he had. Wasting not a second more he sneaked into the stable to check the papers. The missing dragon had been rented by a man who had signed the contract with 'Jack'. Isirion had no problem scrutinizing the signature in the dark; it looked nothing like the request Fingers had written as he had aspired to become the second Egg hunter apprentice. But there was something familiar about the writing nonetheless: The 'a' and the 'c' looked almost identical to the a's and c's in the letter from 'a concerned visitor' that had started the feud with the thieves guild. Isirion put the contract back and sighed; this place was a dead-end too. By now Fingers had surely by one means or another acquired a dragon and was already miles away. All he could do now was return to his hide-out and come back here in the morning to ask around for eye-witnesses...

Edited by Isirion

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Treasure watched the two in amusement. The one who snapped at the other seemed to be a bit aggressive, but nothing Treasure should worry about yet. The one that is on its back seemed to be a bit pathetic. It was surely going to get itself killed at this rate.

 

For a brief moment the golden eyed hatchling turned their attention to the three others. From what Treasure could tell, one of them was trying to get the others to become allies. This, of course, gave her the same idea. Turning back to the two hatchlings, Treasure went up and stood between the two before the 'aggressive' one harmed the 'pathetic' one. "Hey, instead of ripping each other's throats out. Why don't we work together? That way none of us will go hungry or end up getting killed." They spoke. Treasure hoped the two would see common sense in their plan.

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Just before the golden eyed hatchling had made it's offer the aspiring second place hatchling had lost some confidence after seeing it's 'partner' from the three-way-struggle gaining two supporters at once. Naturally it jumped at the chance to team up with the strongest hatchling around and evening the odds. It nodded and then spoke: "I will team-up with you and so will the other." One glare down at the 'pathetic' hatchling ensured it's agreement to the statement. Suddenly it gasped: "Look over there!"

 

In the mouth of the stony cave a figure had appeared. As it came closer Black Dragon scales reflected the light of the red torches but the figure quickly approaching wasn't a dragon at all. It was a human male clad in the spoils of it's kill. Now he looked down at the bunch of new-born hatchlings with ice-cold eyes. Then, with one lighting-fast movement he grabbed the 'pathetic' hatchling and broke it's neck. One glance had sufficed in telling him that there was something wrong with the head of this hatchling. The others appeared to be in good shape and Isirion lost no time picking them up and carrying them to the ungendered hatchie pit. The path he took brought him close to the feeding area for gendered hatchlings where he spotted two that looked familiar. It seemed that by chance he had found the thick-clawed hatchling and another one that had escaped the pit. Both had gendered male and ended up where they should have anyway. Isirion wondered shortly if it had been their own idea to blend in with the other hatchlings, then he concentrated on the hatchlings he was carrying again. He had grabbed them all by their tails to render them unable to fight back. As soon as he reached the ungendered hatchie pit he lowered them down into the circular structure that was as deep as he was high. The floor was covered with saw dust except for the one place where a small through was carved out and filled with water. Isirion gave the five hatchlings one last glance before he left them to dispose of the body of the hatchling he had killed before.

Edited by Isirion

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Treasure felt a little relieved when the hatchlings agreed to team up. That means there are less hatchlings to worry about that will try to take food away from them. Treasure was beginning to have second thoughts about the 'pathetic' one though. At the other hatchlings words, the golden eyes hatchling snapped out of their thoughts and looked in the direction it was looking at. Something was in the entrance that wasn't there before. The figure had black scales of a dragon, but as it came closer Treasure realized it wasn't a dragon at all. How could they have dragon scales, but not be a dragon? She pondered this while the being inspected all six hatchlings with ice-cold eyes. The hatchling nearly jumped when they snatched the 'pathetic' hatchling up and snapped it's neck in one swift motion. Oh well. It wasn't like that hatchling would be any help in the first place. It couldn't even stand on it's own two feet!

 

Treasure could feel them self being grabed by the tail and into the air. "Hey! What do you think you're doing?" the hatchling hissed at the man, but made no attempt in trying to get free. As they left the cave, Treasure tried to get a good view of their surroundings, but everything was upside down. She could hear the sounds of other hatchlings as well. Is that where the man is taking them? Apparently not since he walked by them. Instead they were put in a different area. At least the ground was a bit softer than the one from the cave. Treasure turned to the hatchling who agreed to team up with them and said " If you're still with me, I suggest we stay away from those three." Without waiting for an answer, Treasure went to the opposite side of the pit and curled into a ball with their back turned to the others. The hatchling felt oddly tired. They watched the fire of one of the torches do it's little dance until sleep took over them.

Edited by AK-Meow

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While the five surviving hatchies got accustomed to the pit Isirion left the hideout to throw the dead hatchling into the lake to be devoured by Water Dragons as he had done with the last corpses. The female gendered hatchling with the shredded wings who had feasted on them before was still on the loose as was the lighter-coloured hatchling who had talked her into leaving the hidden bone-yard. However he had no time to search for them again right now because he was still under orders from his master to find Fingers and bring him back. With the sun just showing on the horizon the new day had begun and it was time to make the necessary inquiries at the fisher-men's village...

 

In the mean-time in the big city

 

Escorted by the 'Nebs' Jack, Jill, Steve, Walt and Finn had been allowed to land at the bustling dragon-station reserved for business. Jack glanced around for eavesdroppers, found none and quickly whispered to his companions: "We have to split up for a while. I have to meet with my...fellow businessmen in the underground. Walt and Steve will go to the mansion and secure our lodgings. Jill and Finn you find a good stable for our dragons and meet us at Lord Hassleborough's mansion once you are done. I don't have to tell you to unpack everything valuable in advance." With these words Jack freed his Grey Dragon from it's saddle-bags, slung them over his shoulder and marched off. Wallet and Steve followed suit leaving Jill alone with Finn and the not too difficult task of finding an excuse to leave on her own too.

Edited by Isirion

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Drake considered going off on her own and leaving Fingers to find a stable on his own. However, Taellonn refused to leave her side. He clung close to her like a frightened hatchling; in fact, he had done this very thing as a hatchling. True, Drake had been much younger then and less capable of pushing him away, but Taellonn saw no reason not to stand right by her. Maybe it was sabotaging her plans or drawing attention to them, but Taellonn didn't care. He was terrified out of his wits of this city, with it's blade-like appearance and a shady feeling that he couldn't shake away. Drake would ultimately have to leave Taellonn somewhere, and she knew he wouldn't let some stranger take him to a stable without persuasion. Drake couldn't think of a way around this, and presented her idea to Fingers (and Taellonn, for that matter.) "Finn, you should be fairly safe with dragons trailing you to find a stable. It might be in our best interest, however, if I left to investigate this place. To stop conflict before it begins. Do you agree?" Taellonn was distressed by the idea, but Fingers agreed and left to find a dragon stable, taking Taellonn as well (who was somewhat more comfortable with going to a stable, rather than facing conflict.) Drake was only partially lying when she said she was going to investigate, as the same shady feeling that Taellonn felt was also experienced by her. Putting her guard up, she went to go see whether this shady feeling had a real basis, or was just from instinct.

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Being back in the big city where her quest to take out the egg shatterer and his accomplices started really put Drake on edge. Every sighting of a decoration that had once been part of a living dragon made her feel like puking but also heightened her senses. Thus it was no surprise that she caught the hand that was about to dip into her pocket by the wrist. It was a very small hand belonging to a very small boy with a grubby face and ash-blonde hair. Instantly he went rigid and begged: "Please don't turn me over to the Nebs. I just wanted to take enough coins to see my favourite dragon in the arena! They just announced they found a new challenger for Golden Myth!"

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Drake herself had never been to the arena, but she had heard talk of it, along with talk of a Golden Wyvern that was a champion for one such place. She saw no real reason to turn over the young boy before her to the Nebulas, and handed him enough coins to get into the inner ring before sending him off. Drake considered continuing her investigation into the city, but realized that the arena may be the best place to do that. Surely she was bound to find someone that knew about any shadier side to the city or even about the egg shatterer. She was fairly certain that she had all the information she needed about the shatterer, but anything else (shatterer related or otherwise) she could possibly learn to put her and her comrades at an advantage would certainly be useful. She quickly planned to trail the boy unnoticed and get into the arena. Thinking of an excuse in case this failed and waiting for him to get far enough away, she began to follow, hoping he would stay unaware.

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The boy walked away on clouds and wouldn't have noticed a full-grown Royal Crimson behind him. All the way to the arena he talked to himself as if he was already there watching the fight: "And Golden Myth shows his Glaring Sun move and blinds his enemy. And then his Golden Tail finisher. Or will he make a Razor Dive this time? I can't wait to see it but I feel kind of sorry for his challenger - the poor dragon has no chance in hell..."

 

To the guards on either side of the arena entrance the ash-blonde boy seemed to be a familiar sight. One of them ruffled his hair and said: "Here again to root for Golden Myth? With a fan like you he can't loose! I bet by now he can even recognize your frenetic screams!" The boy's eyes lit up and he said: "Do you really think so? Can I see him? Please?" The friendly guard absently wiped his hand on his breastplate and said: "Of course little boy. You always bring us poor thirsty guards something to drink while we are on duty. You know the way. Off you go!"

 

The boy gave the guard a hug and went off to a side entrance for human arena challengers. Nobody in his right mind would use this entrance apart from being such a challenger so this entrance had no guards at all. There was no need for that - either you came out the way you got in or you found yourself facing a dragon. If you were lucky it was still behind bars in the arena stables - if you were not you faced it without the bars in the arena. The dragon of the hour - Golden Myth - was in his comfortable stable being groomed by two boys that looked as grubby as the ash-blonde boy watching them through the bars. The Golden Wyvern recognized the smell even before the boy and he chuckled: "My secret groom has arrived again - and this time he brought a girl!"

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Following the boy into the side entrance, Drake glanced to the side opposite of the Golden Wyvern. She saw a male Royal Blue and, to get rid of her city-induced paranoia, had to quickly remind herself that it'd be near impossible for Taellonn to be here. While looking at the dragon more carefully, she remembered the dragon that had been ambushed on the flight to this city. Hope he's alright... she thought, before looking to Golden Myth ...That wyvern must enjoy it here... I guess if he likes it, it's fine, but it still feels wrong. She looked to the boy, whose enthusiasm had seemed to leave him blind and oblivious to her so far. Drake considered leaving this area and going back out and eventually into any crowd there might be of an audience, but realized that talking to a dragon (or even one of the grubby children, if need be) instead might be easier. If the Royal Blue was indeed the one from before, there was a chance he wouldn't as know about this city, unlike the champion Golden Wyvern. She went to get the dragon's attention before noticing that she already had. Drake spoke to the dragon as endearingly as she could, "Sorry if this is a bad time, but after hearing that I might be able to see the champion in all his glory, I couldn't help but come. I'm not disappointed, you're just as impressive as I've heard. But I'd come to this city for an investigation before becoming sidetracked- and if you'd be interested and able to help with some information about this city's defenses, crimes, any black market, or similar subjects, that'd be great."

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Golden Myth instantly radiated helpfulness, for him Drake sounded like a devouted fan to be and his fans were everything to him. The little boy didn't mind Drake's presence either - her explanation sounded absolutely reasonable to him too. Who in his or her right mind wouldn't want to meet Golden Myth if he or she got the chance? The Golden Wyvern twisted his body a little bit to get closer to the bars and spoke: "The Nebula Dragons and their riders are everywhere protecting the city. Only yesterday one of my personal staff members said the Nebs punish every crime in the city they deign to notice at day - and commit every crime they can get away with at night. Hal could tell you more about them but I haven't seen him since...Thinking about it I haven't seen his brother Cal either. Do you two know where they are?" One of the grooms he had addressed shook his head but the other said with a painfully slow and careful voice: "The Nebs took them away. Something about illegal betting. My pa said that's bogus and they took them to the pits." Golden Myth saw the confused look on Drake's face and explained: "In this arena the fights are well-rested, well-fed dragon against well-rested, well-fed dragon. Human challengers are very rare and do so out of their own free will to prove their courage. In the pits the dragons are mostly wild and starved. Human offenders are thrown in with them and if they survive their crimes are cleared. There is a nasty but persistent rumor that not only criminals are thrown in the pits but normal people too if they offended the Nebs."

 

Suddenly the first groom who had shook his head before spoke: "That's true. I heard them say just before I came here to groom Mythy that they will make an example out of that old sod who insulted them because they won't do anything against the air-bandits who stole his Royal Blue!" Hearing this the caged Royal Blue opposite Golden Myth roared angrily and started to release white-hot steam threatening to scald not only the bars but Drake and the grubby boy too...

 

In the meantime at the fishermen's village

 

Isirion's search for eye-witnesses who had seen Fingers proved to be an utter waste of time. Nobody had seen the one-handed beggar/thief since yesterday's late afternoon. The only thing of interest he learned was that it had been a man with an enormous moustache who had hired the Grey Dragon missing from the stables. That description fitted the master of the thieves guild who was also missing perfectly. The moustached man had flown off alone but that didn't exclude the possibility that he had picked up Fingers later somewhere. Having learned from his night-time examination of the hiring-contract that the guild master had used the alias 'Jack' he added this information to his inquiries as well as the name 'Wallet'. Both names turned out to be a dead-end until he asked the bartender of the Leetle Fish about them. The bartender denied knowing any of them so vigorously Isirion knew instantly he was lying. He grabbed the man by throat and asked again with a voice that promised a slow painful death. The bartender miraculously recovered his memory and Isirion left the Leetle Fish a few minutes later to report everything he had just learned about the number one fence and treasurer of the local thieves guild back to his master...

Edited by Isirion

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Drake turned around, saw the steam, and darted out of the way. She didn't notice until after the fact that she had instinctively pulled the boy away from the steam as well, akin to the way she would grab a large hatchling. She let go and apologized for grabbing him. Drake began to recall the information she'd just been given. Glad that wyvern gave into flattery- I don't think I had the resources to bribe a dragon that big. she thought, before reevaluating her plans to gather her comrades. She was mainly concerned about the Nebs finding the group suspicious. Guard dragons usually weren't much of an issue when it came to her family; her older siblings could usually reason with dragons better than she could, or even fend them off if there were no other options. With any luck, they wouldn't offend the Nebs, and Drake was fairly confident that wouldn't be an issue anyways. Drake thanked Golden Myth and the boys for helping and turned to the opposing stable containing the Royal Blue.

She walked to the stable, staying to the side in case the dragon decided to shoot out steam once again. She was hesitant to say any plans to the Royal Blue, because she didn't know exactly who his owner was; only that they'd been in pursuit of her group. That was beside the fact that she didn't really have a plan... One she liked, at least. Drake turned back to Golden Myth and asked, "If I fought in place of this Royal Blue, would he be released?"

Edited by Drakessis

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Instead of Golden Myth the boy Drake just had saved blared: "I don't want to sound ungrateful since you just saved me but you don't stand a chance against Golden Myth. There is no dragon alive who would - so why would you - a mere human?" Hearing this Golden Myth first looked proud and then deep in thought. Gently he shoved his grooms away and slowly as if he didn't really believe what he was saying, said: "Down in the arenas there is a persistent, dark legend of a human that slew countless dragons there. Nobody knew where he came from or what he had been convicted of, but after he suddenly appeared in the underground arena he slew every dragon they threw in with him until his blade was forever stained with their blood. Death is the name they gave him and that he brought until he disappeared as mysteriously as he had appeared. I can't say I believe this particular legend but since it is still on the public mind they maybe a lot more interested in what another human challenger can do than seeing me defeat the seventy and sixth dragon."

 

The Royal Blue had something to say as well after apologizing for his attack: "To face the foe and stand proudly true - That is the honour of the Royal Blue! Normally I would never run from a fight - however from what I just heard my master will get killed in that underground arena they took him to unless I can come to his rescue in time. Those liars promised me he would be safe if I played along and posed as an arena dragon but it seemed they planned to get us both slaughtered for the entertainment of the paying masses. If you can get me out of here - please do so as quickly as possible!"

 

In the mean-time at Sodger's hut

 

Upon arriving Isirion would have thought for the second time within a few hours he had come to the wrong place if not for the unmistakeable hut of his master. The place had looked like a battlefield but now all the corpses were gone and neat rows of flower-adorned graves had replaced them. The man responsible for digging them leaned sweat-and-dirt-covered against the door of the hut and looked half-dead himself. Even so Isirion's respect for the Guardian rose instantly because having dug so many graves in so little time was a feat of considerable strength and determination. Nodding his approval he approached the Guardian and said: "I have come to report the information I managed to collect about 'Wallet'. Is my master back yet?"

 

The Guardian shook his head then he said with a worried and exhausted voice: "I have seen neither him nor Aseto since they left. Maybe I am worrying too much but back in our regiment days a search would be deemed pointless after a few hours since whoever you were searching for could be miles away on dragon-back by then." Isirion who had come to the same conclusion nodded again and said simply: "If he isn't back by now, I must consider him missing too. I need some time to think about my next course of action..."

Edited by Isirion

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The haze in Drake's mind was as thick as the steam the Royal Blue had released. Drake didn't want to be a challenger; she couldn't even imagine herself in that position. She was starting to abhor these arenas more and more at the thoughts of the slaughter they brought. She could try to just break this Royal Blue out, but that might be at the expense of being caught by the Nebs. Fighting a starving dragon wasn't a good idea for her; there was no way she could fight one without having to actually do damage. This brought her back to the thought of challenging Golden Myth. Surely she could avoid doing anything too drastic- she'd never even been taught to fight dragons to kill them. I could get past it...Maybe I'll be called a coward but...I'd still...Hell, I don't know! she thought, interrupting herself throughout. But Drake wanted to help the Royal Blue get back to his owner. If that meant fighting a dragon, she'd do it. She didn't know if she could really stand up to Golden Myth, but it wouldn't hurt to try- well, no, it probably would hurt, and there was definitely a large risk. But Drake tried not to let that deter her. She spoke up, "If a human challenger is what's on the audience's mind, I don't see the reason to deprive them, or the reason to keep this Royal Blue away from his master." Drake adjusted her footing, ready to dart off to whoever she needed to and asked, "Who do I go to help to free this dragon?" She didn't want to risk trouble by taking action herself- she needed to keep suspicion away for when she summoned her comrades.

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Drake's determined state of mind that was visible in her pose gave the Royal Blue the assurance he needed. He could trust this human and he would. Golden Myth seemed to think so too as he had no worries telling her exactly what she wanted to know: "The arena master has his living quarters right next to the arena. He is called...I forgot what he calls himself but it is something ridiculous...You must speak to him if you want to fight me instead of the Royal Blue. If you can't convince him to release that dragon that is only here because it was tricked you could try to buy it off him if you have enough coins. Your fight with me is going to be a spectacle of the rarest kind so he will earn back easily whatever he thinks he loses by letting the Royal Blue go."

 

One of Golden Myth's grooms offered: "I can show you where the arena master lives. He calls himself 'Pride' by the way. He is proud of his arena but the name is still ridiculous - Mythy is right as always." With that fundamental truth declared the groom ran off and Drake followed him to a pompous building right next to the arena. Luck was with them as 'Pride', a man about forty with the taste in clothes of a 4 year old, just stepped outside. A soft breeze made his crayon-colour clothes flutter like the butterfly wings they looked like.

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Drake walked up to the man (whilst attempting to look as fierce a warrior as possible in her walk.) She clearly was going to waste no time in her arguments as she began. "Excuse me... er...'Pride,' sir..." Drake's words started to stumble along like a drunk tavern regular as she fully took in the appearance of the man before her. She hadn't really examined him before, and now that she had, she was put off. Regardless, she continued. "My name is Drake. I went to see the champion wyvern here after hearing of him, and couldn't help but notice the Royal Blue that was set to challenge him. The Royal Blue was very unenthusiastic in being forced to fight, to say the least. From my experience, a dragon unmotivated in any area is sure to perform poorly. Surely an incredible arena like this is worthy of a real fight, with a real challenger. Not some dragon putting in a half-hearted effort to merely survive because he's got no other choice." Drake gave the man a few moments to think over what she said before going on. "That's why I'd like to present myself as a challenger to Golden Myth instead of the Royal Blue you've got now. I honestly think that," -she made sure her hands were positioned so that the claws adorning them looked powerful and intimidating- "I could prove a real challenge to that wyvern that no average, unmotivated dragon could. And what would sound better to a person contemplating whether to watch (and, may I add, pay) or not- watching another dragon sure to lose, or watching a young human who thinks they're enough of a match for a legend?" Drake provided another few moments for contemplation. "If you release the Royal Blue you've got now, I'll fight Golden Myth. But if just my volunteering isn't enough... I could pay to free him. Maybe not a fortune, but I'm sure we could work something out." Drake's voice had weakened towards the end, but she didn't care. "Please."

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Pride took utter pride in the fact that the stranger approaching him already knew his name and thus his disposition towards Drake was friendly. He listened to her request and never interrupted her. His thoughts already formed a picture and it was a splendid one. This female fierce warrior would entice the masses and they would pay a lot to watch her. Now...all that she needed was an arena name that would rival the mythical 'Death'... Pride scratched his arm and then blurted out: "I'VE GOT IT! LADY DEATH! We have to hurry and send Pygmys around to inform everyone about the change in the fight line-up. We have to get you a cape with a hood too. A silken, black one. You will walk into the arena and the crowds will go silent. Who is this? What does he want here? And then you will rip the cape off your shoulders and show them. Your armor is stylish enough for the arena with all those dragon scale motives and the claws are a nice touch too but that dirty, used-look...Horrible!...We have to find someone to paint your armour pitch-black and put some fake blood on it. Like you drink in the light and life of those around you. Yes this is perfect! Come with me. Come with me!"

 

Pride ushered his new prize-fighter to the dragon quarters of the arena where everybody tried to look like they saw Drake for the first time. He patted Golden Myth affectionately on the snout through the bars and said: "Mythy - this time you will be in for a real challenge. Forget that lame old Royal Blue - You will fight - LADY DEATH!" The Wyvern rolled his eyes. Pride had done it and finally found a name even more ridiculous than 'Pride'. He mustered his acting skills and said: "A marvellous name as usual." Pride nodded vigorously and then commanded the grooms including the one that shouldn't even be here with the various tasks he mentioned earlier. It seemed he had already forgotten the 'lame old Royal Blue' as he made no attempt to open his cage and set him free like he had agreed to.

Edited by Isirion

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