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Isirion

The Bloodline of Torch

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Drake had told Taellonn to stay put while she followed behind Pride and Isirion, ducking behind whatever nook she could find. Seeing them head towards Golden Myth was exactly what Drake had been hoping for. Finally, maybe she'd get an opinion on this stranger, this Isirion, from a dragon that wasn't too preoccupied with her safety or was already affiliated with Isirion in some way.

And oh, what an opinion she heard.

She had known before that there was something suspicious about him. She already didn't trust him and knew he was dangerous; but between Taellonn's skittishness and her own quick assumptions there was that slight doubt that maybe, somehow, she thought wrong. After hearing all the confirmation she needed, she returned to Taellonn, about ready to tell him off for not telling her about the blood scent he could surely smell too. But Taellonn whispered to her instead right as she returned, cutting her off. "I've seen two Pygmies flying around the area, with little harnesses and one with a letter on its chest. They've been pestering the others and trying to steal their banners and such- I think they're from your comrades, pygmies from home! I even made eye contact with one very quickly, and they started to fly towards me before I think they realized you weren't there." Drake's anger turned into some sort of victorious smile. The corners of her mouth rested as she gestured and whispered, "Go, go get them and the letter, read it as well as you can, and unless something's wrong tell them the whole thing can be tonight, but the plans are changing a bit. We've got something between an ally and a target now. Tell one of the pygmies to stay and trail us and eavesdrop this whole time, though. I'll give you a signal-" she tapped her heel twice as an example, "-then you tell them. Go!" Taellonn scurried off to wait, checking that no one was watching every so often.

Drake was just where Isirion and Pride had left her when Isirion approached her and asked her to lead him to Wallet. She nodded, but added, "Though if you meant right now, that may not be the best time to do it. There's witnesses everywhere, and I have a..." she paused, momentarily deep in thought, "...system that could distract the Nebs and let us get to Wallet with no issues tonight. No sooner, and no later than when I say, though." Hoping she was doing a good enough job convincing him, she continued. "I already had a solid plan in place before meeting this whole lot- you're just going to make it easier."

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Using the night as a cover went well with Isirion's usual methods and so he approved of Drake's plan despite the fact that it brought another delay with it. He told her he would use the time until nightfall to fully recover his strength and advised the female warrior to do the same. After that he retreated into an easy defendable spot and sat with crossed legs and his back straight against a wall. His hood made it impossible to tell if he was really resting or just carefully watching his surroundings...

 

In the mean-time Ale and Alzira had agreed that they would take no chances with the Nebula patrols and better leave Barrel and Susurro behind in the safety of the arena. They would investigate on foot and only take Sappo with them to send him for help if necessary. The Pygmy let out a blue flame to show that he could defend the whole group as well as a full-sized dragon. That earned him a cricket from his keeper and an interested sideglance from Pride. The arena owner was busy explaining the whole performance thing to Aseto. The battle-scarred dragon snorted at the idea of a fake fight, but in the end he agreed to it to repay his debts. The Royal Blue made sure his master was still being treated well and then coiled himself up to rest and mentally prepare for the fight.

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Alzira wasn't too happy to hear about disabling dragons but at the moment that was postboned, so she might have some time to think of something. She was quite sure the disabled ones would end up dead or at least with a lot of nasty wounds... Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a blue flame. "Right," she realized, "I should concentrate on the next step first, finding the Guardian is our priority now." The green-haired lady fed Sappo a cricket which was gulped down immediatley and commented with a satisfied purr. She turned towards Ale and said:"Where do you think we should start looking? As far as I remember he mentioned talking to the authorities. I haven't been to this part of the world before so I don't know how things are handled here, but there should be a headquarter of some kind, shouldn't it?" She looked at him and hoped it wasn't to far away because without the quiet presence of Susurro she felt quite vulnerable. It seemed like Sappo had read her thoughts because just now he took his usual place on her shoulder where she could feel his reassuring weight and she gained her balance again.

Edited by Alzira

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While the two left the arena through the seldom-used entrance for human challengers, Ale pondered their best approach. It was out of the question to show their faces again at the tavern they had used as a meeting point after the rescue, but there shouldn't be anything wrong about visiting another. Most bartenders and innkeepers knew by heart which palms to grease for favours and information. Ale voiced his thoughts and then answered Alzira's question: "Old Royal Blues like me really don't go well with corrupted authorities so you better try your charms on them alone. Just try one of their patrol towers. Do you have enough coins to buy yourself some loose tongues?"

 

Meanwhile at the Shadow guild head-quarters

 

Passing Jack's jewel and gem bag from his right hand to his left and back again, Nightblade, the Shadow leader who had accepted the assignment, wondered which of his lucky underlings should he give the task to assassinate the blind old man and his apprentice. That backwater thug had it made sound like they had faced-off against Death himself, but that was ridiculous. Still, it would literally pay-off to be careful just in case and so he decided to split the task between two experienced Shadows, who both excelled at using ranged weapons. He summoned Nightfeather first and described the task to her. Her partner Trueshot had been present during Jack's visit and already knew the details. Trueshot still had troubles taking the assignment seriously, but the pay was nothing to scoff at. The desperate guild master had payed enough in advance to buy even Lord Hassleborough an untimely death...

Edited by Isirion

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Alzira thought about this and checked her purse. She had a bit of money left, and her reserve in case something happened. Now was the time, wasn't it? She hoped it would suffice so she nodded and said:"I don't have lots to spend, but I guess I'll manage. If you say Royal Blues don't go well with the authorities here, I'm quite sure we'll find out something soon. Someone as straightforward as the Guardian will leave an impression for sure." She sounded more confident than she was, but asking around shouldn't be to difficult and Sappo was with her too! "Let's head to the next patrol tower and try our luck there", she told the Pygmy on her shoulder. "Look, there is a guard! Let's ask him about the big guy!"

Edited by Alzira

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The Nebula's high roost loomed in the distance, threatening to impale everyone with it's spikes and thorns who didn't approach it carefully. The guard Alzira had spotted looked likewise menacing. Altough he was wearing the same kind of armor the guards at the underground arena had, his demeanor made it obvious that he was standing at the center of the Neb's power and knew fully well that with a mere whistle he could summon death from the skies his companions dominated. However the green-haired lady approaching did not warrant such a call and he asked her quite friendly: "State your business and the proud and noble protectors of this big city might be at your service." That boastful sentence followed a bowing kind of gesture that ended with one hand outstretched and the palm forming a perfect bowl for depositing some coins...

Edited by Isirion

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Alzira was quite impressed and a bit intimitated by the aggressive appearance of the guard and his post. His intentions became quite clear as he greeted her, but since Ale had informed her she was prepared and said:"I'm sure such a fine man like yourself can help me find a missing person in no time!" and with these words left some coins - not too little, she didn't dare to offend him, just enough to keep him interested - in his palm. She moved a little closer and said:" I'm looking for a big guy with quite a straightforward demeanour. He was supposed to meet me after he went to you guards but since he didn't come I presume he got lost somewhere in between. You coincidentally don't happen to know where I could find him?" She hoped that vaguely question would get her some answers but to be sure she held a few more coins between her fingers alluringly.

 

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The guard let Alzira's coins vanish with a speed even Fingers wouldn't be ashamed of. His coin purse had gained sufficient weight to buy him a nice evening in one of the more entertaining taverns and so he honestly thought about the question. The image of a man with the strength and build of a bear knocking out two Nebs before he could be restrained appeared in his mind and he said carefully: "Look, that big guy you are looking for...you better stop looking. He attacked two of my fellow guards and has been taken to a holding cell. With all the unchecked and recent troubles that broke out in our city, we have to re-establish our authority and set an example. He will be executed in public tomorrow morning. I am sorry."

Edited by Isirion

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That was bad news. Very bad news. Alzira couldn't imagine what had agitated the Guardian to the point of attacking the guards while searching for Sodger on his own. He must have known how things where dealt with in this city, didn't he? Thinking about that made her realize that with his stubborn honesty he might have had a problem or two with greasing the right palms or more to the point greasing in general. What could she do now? Maybe she could stall a bit and get more specific information about the Guardian's whereabouts. "Good heavens! Is it possible to pay him a last visit, and to do so, could you point me in the right direction?", Alzira asked and then she let the coins she had prepared slip into his palm. She hoped he would cooperate a bit longer and tell her where to go because she didn't know her way around that town too well. Besides it would be helpful to have as much pointers as possible.

Edited by Alzira

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This time the guard weighed the coins a bit in his hand before letting them join their brethren in his purse. It was a really big metallic family now and so the answer the guard gave was especially polite: "My dearest lady, we Nebulas are the heart of the city and our heart is easily as big. Of course you can pay him a last visit. He is being held under strong surveillance in this tower so that he can't escape and cause even more trouble. The safety of honest and generous people like you is our first priority. I can't leave me post yet but I can call you an escort if you want to see him right now." The guard gave a soft and alluring whistle and half a minute later a pitch-black Pygmy appeared crawling down the outside of the tower headfirst. It jumped on the guard's shoulder and hissed at his mirror image sitting defiantly on Alzira's shoulder. The guard patted the agitated Pygmy's head and scribbled a note to be delivered upstairs. He had an especially awful handwriting but the important words 'lady', 'visit' and 'bear' were at least readable. The Dark Myst Pygmy picked up the message and scurried away again. Trying to make a conversation while waiting for confirmation the guard asked the green-haired lady: "Pardon my curiosity but that bear-like brute...what is your connection to him? He is not your friend is he? You truly deserve better!"

 

Elsewhere in a well-hidden forest dwelling

 

Dragonfire consumed a message that was too dangerous to be kept or passed around on paper. The city Pygmy that had delivered it stared into the flames with a disappointed look. No message meant no reward, didn't it? The Draikenflaeme that had memorized the message before destroying it, easily read the Pygmy's thoughts and eased them with a big chunk of boar meat. Afterwards he stormed off and personally passed Drake's message on to the commanding Flaeme leader. The leader stood very still for some time trying to remember whose alias Drake was. Secrecy was the lifeblood of their organization but it made communication a bit difficult if you had to manage a lot of undercover missions. The image of a girl with brownish-reddish hair beating up a boy twice her weight for treating her like a baby surfaced from his memory and he smiled. Roxanne, offspring of one of the core branches of the Draikenflaeme family, a fierce warrior and dragon protector who had never been afraid of getting hurt herself, only afraid that dragons would. Calling herself Drake showed how much more she valued dragons over humans but that was the one thing that bound them all together, wasn't it? Draikenflaemes and their supporters risked everything to support their beloved dragons even if it meant living the life of an outcast in a forest. The Dragon War had changed things but not much and not always for the better. Now, more than ever people needed to be reminded of the value of a dragon's life.

 

The leader exhaled deeply and decided it was time to rally the troops. After everyone was assembled he spoke to them, his voice earnest and proud: "We always suspected that Hassleborough was the spider in the net, but our Roxanne has found the proof we needed. All the strings come together at that disgusting mansion full of dragon trophies of his. He might not be the only collector, but he is the one managing the connections to other cities or villages. If we manage to take him out we can save countless dragon lives. Tomorrow we will raid his mansion and plant our banner in his heart so that his demise will serve as a warning to others of his kind. They will know that not even trading through a backwater village will save them from their fate! Hassleborough's death will mean a drastic drop in demand that will serve our cause well. It will show everyone in that corrupted city that the just fire of the Draikenflaemes will consume egg shatterers and dragon abusers wherever they hide!"

 

Dragons, supporters and Flaemes alike roared their approval to the leader's speech, loudest of them all Roxanne's brothers. The eldest brother even suggested that the honour of killing Lord Hassleborough should fall to his sister, seeing as only her determination and research had made the entire operation possible. The leader struck his breast plate right over the heart and said: "May the Guardian of Nature be my witness, you are right. Roxanne should have the honour of finishing this. Go, hurry and follow the Pygmy back to your sister and inform her in person of our decision! All the others - ready yourself, ready your weapons and get ready to march in one hour!"

Edited by Isirion

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The appearance of his spitting image, at least for human eyes, rose Sappo's curiosity. He was following the other pygmy with his eyes, where it came from and more importantly where it left to with the message. Although he wanted to follow the other dragon he wouldn't leave his keepers side without a dire reason.

Alzira noticed the little dragon's shift in alertness and decided to keep the guard's attention by talking a bit more although she was not sure what she should answer. She didn't want to lie because she simply wasn't good at it so she decided to tell part of the truth: "Well, I just met him a few days ago and he brought me here to this city but then we got separated. You know the rest - he was supposed to meet me but he didn't so I came looking. I don't know what kind of business he had with you but I didn't expect to find him imprisoned." What else could she say? Alzira was in no position to free the Guardian but she could gather some information like his exact exact location or the tower's layout. Hopefully the others could work out a plan to save him before tomorrow morning!

Edited by Alzira

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Upon hearing this the guard furrowed his brow quite a bit. It was not that he wasn't believing the lady before him, quite the opposite. He had remembered the other guards talking about how the bear they had finally managed to overwhelm had kept insisting that he was only searching for somebody. Who wouldn't go out of their way and mind to be re-united with such a fine and generous lady? When he spoke next the guard's face radiated pity and helpfulness all woven together: "If...if it was just a misunderstanding and your friend was just desperatly searching for you and had nothing to do with the riots that broke out in our beloved city...it would mean an investigation...a very costly investigation to prove his innoncence before tomorrow morning...I don't know if it can be done...I need to ask my superiors about this..." The guard's heart didn't seem to be fully in his attempt to sell the Guardian's life to the green-haired lady, he sounded more like it was his duty to do so. Shortly after he had finished his monologue, another guard came to take over his shift so he could accompany Alzira during her visit of the tower. The release explained that the permission had been given right after deciphering the word lady. The first guard looked very happy about this and escorted the green-haired lady up a first flight of stairs. Each step made his armour and coin purse clink. The second flight of stairs however reduced the clinking considerable because he was already out of breath and walking very slowly. The holding cells were on the third floor if you could call the few cages behind an ancient oak door really a floor. Facing north and south two narrow windows provided the prisoners with a little bit of daylight and fresh air. Or rather the prisoner seeing as the Guardian was the only occupant at the moment. He gave Alzira a recognizing nod through the heavy iron bars of his cage but remained otherwise still.

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She had followed the guard, using every break he took to glance around and remember the lay of the tower, where there were doors and stairs. Finally Alzira had reached the third floor and was looking at the cages that were supposed to hold prisoners. The one thing she noticed first were the rather narrow windows which meant no rescue attempt of her companions through there. What should she do now? Since there was no one else except the guard, herself, and the Guardian, this was an opportunity to act. But what could she do? She was neither Drake nor Isirion, battlehardened and coldblooded enough to spring the prisoner free through a fight. Furthermore, she was without a trusty weapon of any kind which she wouldn't know how to use anyway. All she had were Sappo, a few coins, and her wits. Hopefully she could play for more time.

 

She turned to the guard and said - with her voice barely loud enough for the Guardian to hear what was as stake, cautioning him to stay silent with a small gesture of her hand - "I'm sure this is a misunderstanding, it has to be. He has nothing to do with any riots here. Why would he come to the guards if he was guilty of unsettling the city?", she paused and asked:"Is there absolutely no way to delay the execution?" She let her hand once again wander to her purse of receding coins, hopefully the gesture alone was enough to enforce a positive reaction.

 

 

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Luckily for Alzira she had the guard's full attention otherwise he would have noticed the prisoner's disgusted frown. Instead of being happy to see a comrade he looked like someone had glued him on to a Turpentine Dragon. His sense of honour rebelled mightly against everything the corrupted Nebulas stood for and he found it more than disgusting that the green-haired lady had to lower herself to the Neb's level to bargain for his life. The guard had no such problems and he smiled his eyes big and shiny like coins as he answered: "A reprieve of, say, one day would cause a lot of administrational problems that would probably amount to, say, about 500 coins. If you can raise this sum your friend will live to see another day." All the pretense of pity and understanding was gone from the guard's demeanor and to drive the point home he added menacingly: "Otherwise he will die as scheduled and we need to investigate what exactly is the relation between that convicted rioter and yourself."

 

In the mean-time at a tavern not far away

 

Ale gulped down the strongest liquor the tavern had to offer like it was water. He wanted to drown a lot of bad memories but the face of the boy-bandit kept resurfacing. The Sunstone Dragon falling to her death was a close second followed by the frequent nightmares he had at the Sleeping Dragon. Why did the past always come back to haunt him? Hadn't he given enough in the service of the Royal Blues? That reminded him that he hadn't come to this particular place to get mindlessly drunk but to find information about a fellow Royal Blue. Someone like the Guardian would leave an impression regardless wether he had gotten in trouble or not. Ale carefully slurred his words pretending to be even more drunk than he already was and complained: "Did you guys know that back in my old days I was the strongest there is. I could wrestle anyone down - even a bear! A bear! But now-nowadays it's all spineless whimps. Not one worthy opponent around. Not one! Burp"

 

'Clink' A group of young men set another glass of liquor in front of the old man and their glassy-eyed leader said amiably: "Now, now. No need to whine old man. There are still a lot of strong people around. Just today I saw a fine body of a warrior woman toss a full-grown dragon around and not long ago a bear of a man pounded two Nebs senseless. That really took some guts I tell you. So no more saying everyone is worthless here. If it had been me of course I would have strangled the dragon with my bare hands and speared the Nebs on their own bloody tower...always looking down on us like we are ants. I really should go right up their tower and finish the job he started. I'll beat their whole arrogant attitude out of them and when I'm done they will know better than to go and arrest such a fine fellow! Bloody hell, we could free that guy and then punish them together...hick..."

Edited by Isirion

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Alzira swallowed, she knew she didn't have that kind of money. Now it was time to bluff her way out again. She looked around, hoping to find some inspiration on how to proceed. Sappo nudged her and an idea came to mind; maybe the little dragon could sneak outside and find Ale at the tavern, carrying a note with their whereabouts to guide them, but this would mean she had to get a few minutes alone with the Guardian... She turned to the guard, who had finally shown his true colours, and said, "I'm sorry, I don't have such a sum on me right now. Would you at least let me have a private talk with your prisoner before I get the money?"

 

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The guard nodded his hands already counting the imagined coins, then he retreated into the doorway to give Alzira at least a semblance of privacy. The Guardian growled softly but at least the Neb was out of earshot. He leaned closer to the green-haired lady and said: "Don't waste your time on me. My old captain should be your priority now as he had been captured and sold long before me. I have at least a day left. Go now!"

 

In the mean-time at Pride's arena

 

Pip, Mythy's secret groom was sitting cross-legged in front of the dragon he admired the most and listened intently to every word the wyvern grumbled: "So Pride sent you here to figure out what rubbed my scales the wrong way? Has he lost his sense of sight as well as his taste? That man he brought here reeked of death and he was covered in blood. Fresh blood - and not only from one dragon!" Pip scratched his head and offered: "Maybe that's why Pride wants him to play Death?" Golden Myth shot the boy an annoyed glance to check if he was serious but apparently his groom was and so the dragon just sighed before he went on: "Dragons get into fights with each other all the time. They fight for territory rights or mates or just to prove their strength - but for a human to get so much dragon blood on his clothes...he must be a dragon killer in the service of one of those abominable trophy collectors; allowed to keep a part of the spoils. That bloodstained cloak of his was made of dragon skin if I ever saw one...Tell Pride if he doesn't get rid of him, I will..." The little groom looked really anxious now, but he still dared to ask: "But, in this city, isn't just about everyone collecting trophies? So many houses have dragon scales on the roof, spikes and talons on their walls and fences, horns as good luck charms on their doors. Why aren't you upset about those?" The wyvern considered his answer for a bit before he growled: "Because those people didn't KILL the dragons, they just scavenged the corpses after someone like him has done the dirty work." Pip scratched his face again, then he said: "But if those people didn't demand scales and spikes and talons and horns, then there wouldn't be a need to kill dragons. I think the collectors are much more to blame and besides Pride would be really sad if he had to cancel the performance. You know he would choose you over anything but he would still be sad. I don't want him to be sad because he made my dream come true!" Golden Myth had a pretty good idea what the boy's dream had been and he smiled. Then he carefully patted him on the head and growled softly: "Alright, but right after the performance that dragon killer has to leave." Pip perked up like a hatchling using his wings for the first time and flew back to Pride to give him the good news.

Edited by Isirion

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Alzira went to the Guardian, positioning herself with her back to the guard. She started to write on small piece of paper as soon as she was sure her motions wouldn't be detected. At the same time she whispered,"Don't fear for your captain, he has already been freed. You are the one we are worried about now and I was sent here to find out more. Right now I'm writing a note including the layout of this tower. Sappo will be the messenger." With these words Alzira finished her work, rolled the message up as small as she could and gave it to Sappo. She spoke urgently,"Take this to Ale, he should be in the tavern close to this spot. Don't get caught! If I can't manage to leave, you have to save me as well." She didn't want to say this aloud but since she was afraid it slipped her tongue. Sappo looked at her worried, but he he knew he had an important task to fulfill. The little dragon nodded silently and and slipped away in the shadows. Luckily the room was sparsely lit and he managed to reach the window in no time. He looked back at his keeper and the guard, and just when this man looked away, thanks to Alzira distracting him, he slipped through the window, climbed down the tower, and blended with the vast air traffic of messenger pygmies while following the smell of food and - most importanly - alcohol of the nearest point Alzira suspected Ale to be.

Edited by Alzira

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Nobody thought the little Pygmy worth a second glance - if they noticed him at all. Sappo reached the tavern closest to the tower unchallenged if you excluded the pungent alcoholic stench. Not only Ale but also the group of young males surrounding him all looked and smelled like they had drowned in the stuff. Sappo tried his trusted waking-up-Alzira-treatment and jumped on the old man's stomach. Ale gave a grunt and stared bleary-eyed at the pygmy. He patted it on one of it's many heads and returned to his alcohol stupor. Even the tiny dragon knew then that the man called Ale was no help to anybody in that condition and he had to find the help his keeper needed somewhere else.

 

In the mean-time at Pride's arena

 

The arena owner had wasted no time and had already painted an example banner for tomorrow's performance. It was labeled 'The Death And The Dragon' and showed a pitch-black humanoid blob facing a much larger and scaly blue blob with horns and wings. Upon seeing this abomination Pip stopped dead in his track and only managed to say: "Uhm, the blob has to go after the performance." Pride looked up in confusion and the boy rephrased his previous sentence a bit: "Mythy said that the dragon killer has to go right after the performance." Pride nodded absent-mindly, still trying to figure out the blob-statement and Pip wisely decided to leave it at that.

Edited by Isirion

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Sappo was annoyed. How was he supposed to deliver the message if the ones he needed to act were of no use? He decided to go where Susurro and the others were hiding - the arena. At least Susurro would be able to stress the importance to get help to their keeper! So he slipped back and mingled with the air traffic once again.

Soon he arrived at their hideout and hastened to the White Dragon. Susurro was surprised at the sight of the little dragon without seeing Alzira nearby. Quite alarmed he took the note, read it and chose to act immediately. He left the stable and hurried to look for their comrades, preferably he'd find Sodger or Drake first but Isirion would work as well. The important thing was that they used the information Alzira provided as efficiently as possible. They had little time but a bit of coordinating wouldn't hurt. So he headed to the preparation quarter where he headed for Sodger's bunk. Susurro couldn't resist and took a peek at his wounds and sent some healing magic along as well. The exhausted soldier would need all his strength soon he presumed. Nevertheless he had to wake him, Alzira needed help. He nudged him awake and told him about the message.

Sappo in the mean time was getting restless, he didn't like being separated from his keeper for too long, especially if she was in danger. He slipped out just before Susurro, his flame changing colour again...

Edited by Alzira

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Susurro's gentle nudge woke up Sodger almost immediately. The old soldier's instincts took over and he once again gripped for his sword that no longer was at his side - otherwise he might have stabbed the White Dragon. In time he remembered that he was at a safe place and relaxed again. He sat up and carefully listened to the dragon's words. When Susurro had finished he said calmly: "I owe your keeper a debt I intend to repay in full. On my honour as a Royal Blue I swear that I will leave neither her nor the Guardian at the mercy of those corrupted Nebs. They will pay for their insolence even before the air-bandits. Isirion!" "Yes, master", his ice-cold voice answered without delay. Upon feeling the White Dragon's familiar healing energy Isirion had been intrigued to watch it's powerful effects again and so he had silently crept close enough not only to observe but to eavesdrop on the entire conversation. Standing like a shadow next to the White Dragon he awaited further orders with an unfathomable smile on his face. Sodger mirrored the smile although it was invisible to him and said: "For some reason I already feel strong enough to take on those accursed Nebs on my own but showing myself to them so soon after leaving their hospitality, wouldn't be wise. Isirion, I trust you can handle those Nebs for me?" "Yes, master", Isirion answered once a again and wondered inwardly if this assignment too would be changed on a whim like the one before.

 

In the mean-time Sappo lost no time to get back to his beloved keeper. He moved so fast he didn't even noticed the other Pygmy that entered the arena the same way he had just left it. That Pygmy also moved with a burning sense of purpose that cumulated in finding Drake in a secluded spot and spewing a little flame right in front of her. Only a Draikenflaeme would know the secret meaning behind this peculiar behaviour - another Draikenflaeme was close by and asked for a meeting in secret.

Edited by Isirion

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Roxanne's eldest brother grabbed the saddle of the dragon he'd brought along, and was far beyond proud to have by him- his mother's battle scarred Royal Crimson, whose torn up snout, exposed teeth, constant sweeping glances around, and huge stature above the rest of the dragons made her more of a dominating presence than even the leader here. However, his dreams of valiantly approaching and showing off to his sister after several years of not seeing her were quickly swept away when the Royal Crimson spoke with a tone that couldn't be more different from her former main companion's, saying, "Ha! I'd take a smaller dragon, little Ezra. Someone stealthier and not so huge, eh?" Knowing arguing would get him nowhere with that dragon who was probably either being sincere or plain lazy, Ezra borrowed a brother's light-footed Black Dragon, promising to return the dragon as quickly as possible (though not bothering to actually ask permission.) The now impatient pygmy led Ezra and the dragon to Roxanne, using as stealthy but quick a route it could discover. The speed from a smaller and generally quicker dragon surprised Ezra, who'd always gravitated towards the bigger and stronger dragons. That interest had even brought him closer to Roxanne; or, at least, it would have if Roxanne hadn't been more interested in lugging around and trying to wrestle with a Royal Blue hatchling she'd been presented with. But, it was only to find the little hatchling much preferred chomping at the legs of anyone who dared 'threaten' her and had kept 'protecting' her as he quickly grew much larger than she did. Ezra stifled a laugh behind his unkept, thick layer of a beard as he remembered the interrupted fights, knowing the fun was all over once Roxanne made the smallest sound of distress; or rather what that jumpy Royal Blue must have thought to be a dying gasp, despite the clear life from the little girl that'd pound him over and over with energetic fists as he refused to get off her or let go of her. Anyone who wasn't an adult or dragon didn't even try to get the Royal Blue off- once you managed to get him away (a finger and later on hand-risking feat in itself,) you still had an angry little girl stuck in some predatory mode, willing to bite or scratch or punch or grab or pull or kick or tackle you. Needless to say, siblings would rather offer up dragon companions to stand their ground against Roxanne once she got to be a teenager, either to avoid getting hurt or just to see if she could manage it. Bloody noses, chipped claws, and layers of scales and reddish brown hair littering the floor sprang to Ezra's mind...

The reminiscing ended abruptly when the pygmy stopped the Black Dragon from going any farther. Ezra noticed the arena dead ahead. That was where she was? Fighting dragons he could understand... But her staying somewhere dragons were surely slaughtered for ungrateful, sadistic audiences? That didn't seem right... But, despite his concerns, he wasn't going to doubt his sister over an incomplete story and was going to boldy ride over on his brother's Black Dragon just as he would on his mother's Royal Crimson. Or at least, he was going to until the pygmy buzzed around and decided to steer and park Ezra and the dragon somewhere out of sight from the arena.

 

Drake was, in simple terms, completely bored and restless out of her mind. She couldn't take time to relax or regain energy because she was stuck in this hell-city right with a dragon killer and doing absolutely nothing between now and the attack on the mansion. Well, maybe not nothing. She was either pacing around or sitting/leaning alone (mind a watchful Taellonn) against a wall with a shaking leg. Not like that was much better, though.

Taellonn saw the pygmy before Drake, but it was clear he wouldn't get a word in when the pygmy ignored him in favor of puffing a flame at Drake. Anyone nearby could have seen the sudden shift in Drake's expression. It went from bored and frustrated to... Angry. She still followed the pygmy, despite the constant thoughts of Wasn't everything arranged already? and What are we gonna do if we get caught on the way there? blocking out any good thoughts about actually seeing a relative. Taellonn, not wanting to face a restless and angry Drake, silently followed.

The pygmy let itself rest on the Black Dragon's tail, stretching its wings this way and that and letting out a smoky yawn. Drake looked up at the dragon's rider and squinted at the unfamiliarly bearded face. "Ezra?" Drake's voice became angry. "What the hell are you doing here so early?" Ezra smiled. Same Roxanne he'd known before. "I've come to deliver a message to you." Drake scowled. "And the pygmy couldn't?" Ezra slid off the dragon and walked up to Drake, shoulders proud and swinging. "I just wanted to see..." He was right at eye level with Drake. On top of a dragon he hadn't really noticed how tall she was but now- eye level? That made two sisters his height, then. But only Drake had also inherited their father's wide shouldered and solid frame too. Though that didn't mean she didn't boast the more Draikenflaeme-esque looks of her mother with the reddish-brown hair, tealish eyes and tanner complexition; unlike Ezra, with his father's clear outsider looks of yellow blond hair, Cassare-Dragon-brown eyes, and paler skin that was barely tinted with the Draikenflaeme tones. Ezra refocused. "...you again. Before we would part ways again and all that. Aren't you glad to see me?" Drake sighed, but her guard was still up. "Yeah, it's been a while. What did you need to tell me?" Ezra was upset at her tone and his face didn't hide it much, but he went on. "Well, what I wanted to say is that we've decided, rather, I've decided, that you should-" He hoped no one was eavesdropping, and lowered his voice to a whisper. "-kill... the main target. The egg shatterer himself. Arrange the whole thing beyond what you have already, too." Drake relaxed a bit and the corners of her mouth rose ever so slightly. "You say that like that wasn't already my intention. But thanks... You said I get to plan out everything?" Ezra nodded. "Least that's what I got from it. Why? You got big ideas already?" Drake's near hidden smile almost instantly blasted into its full potential, a lopsided toothy smile that squished up half her face as she started to talk, albeit quietly. "I think I've got it mostly on the ground, all I need's a spotter to watch out for me..." Ezra interrupted. "Or two with their dragons." She continued, "Only if we've got the resources. I need most of everyone else to be distracting the Nebs... Hopefully reasoning with the dragons themselves but maybe just holding them back until it's all said and done." Ezra nodded again. "So keep back some dragons while you kill one little coward? Doesn't seem too bad." Drake shrugged. "Well, the shatterer's not going to be the only one there... There's some people I used to get here and..." Her smile faded as quickly as it had appeared, realizing the gravity of everything once again. "I'm... Not sure how they are with fighting but... They're not my main concern. I've met up with some suspicious people here, to say the least, and I've gotten confirmation one's a dragon killer, the very one who's going to the mansion with me to kill the shatterer." She swallowed a bit and continued before Ezra could interrupt, his face now mirroring Taellonn's resting expression in all its anxious sincerity. "I can't let this slip past me, Ezra. I don't care if you're the spotter or not or who you bring along- just make sure I'm not going unprotected, mind Taellonn. You've got all that?" Ezra didn't respond much, beyond hooking an arm around Drake's neck and hugging her. He laughed almost forcefully, like he didn't want to show the terror he had at the raised stakes, with his own little sister at the helm. "I'll tell them everything, alright? I've got the best dragon to have your back too, and I know she'd protect you to the ends of the world, and more..." Drake was starting to get fed up with her brother's sudden expression of concern, and it only worsened when he hugged tighter and let out, "Good luck, Roxanne." before jumping right back onto the Black Dragon and telling the pygmy to lead them back to the others.

Drake wished she'd gotten a chance to correct him, but realized that he probably still saw the fourteen year old he'd said goodbye to before. It didn't seem like a great excuse to her, but she was almost physically tired of being mad, especially at her brother. Taellonn broke the odd silence by telling Drake they should go back to the arena, back in the secluded area she'd claimed. Getting back gave Drake time to think more... Specifically, who Ezra was talking about. She had a lot of dragons she'd grown up with and trusted. That vaguely familiar Black Dragon didn't seem Ezra's type of company, with its dainty feet and swift snake-like body movements as it sprinted away. No, Ezra would have someone powerful by him, a dragon that even a Draikenflaeme wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of- and then it hit her. With gnarled edges of each scale and wing, and enough scars on her face and tail alone to tell stories lasting a good section of a lifetime, why wouldn't Ezra want to bring along such a familiar dragon, him and Drake's mother's own trusted Royal Crimson, Relantia. She'd favored a young Drake enough to let her actually ride her, and apparently she'd formed that same trust with her former main companion's oldest son. Drake guessed Relantia was the strongest out of all the summoned comrades if she were here, but that didn't stir any worry at all. If she wasn't going to be looking out for Drake she'd be taking care of Nebs... How effortless that would probably be for her! Drake's mind kept wandering, unknowingly putting her into the same position as the boy just as starstruck by Mythy as Drake was now by Relantia. Drake had even seemed to have lost all restlessness at the arena, sacrificing the wall she'd been using for back support and using Taellonn's side instead, seeing that he didn't mind. Taellonn felt a little off because of Drake's seemingly lack of focus, but he'd just be her eyes instead for now. She deserved a rest, didn't she?

Edited by Drakessis

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Back at her secluded spot, Drake noticed that she wasn't the only one who had disappeared. Isirion was nowhere to be seen, save the abominably botched un-likeness on the banner Pride was making worse with every stroke...

 

At the Nebula tower, Sappo climbed back up and snaked inside through the narrow window to re-unite with his keeper. By now two more guards had gathered to ensure that nothing, especially not a change of mind, happened to the generous green-haired lady. Both newcomers offered to escort Alzira back to her assumed mansion to help protect and carry the coins she was supposed to fetch for the prisoner's life. Said prisoner was so mad by now, that his fingers all but dug into the iron bars of his cage. The first guard seemed pretty mad too und absolutely unwilling to let his companions 'steal' away with his 'fortune'. Little Sappo didn't understand everything but what he understood made him mad enough to spit a burning blue flame. How dare did those men talk about his keeper as if she was a piece of food to be fought over like a bunch of hatchlings?

 

Not far away Isirion prowled along the streets trying to ignore a very persistent and very white shadow. Susurro mad with anxiety about the green-haired lady's fate had insisted on following him to the patrol tower to make sure nothing happened to Alzira. Isirion sighed and cursed the fact that that dragon turned out to be just as over-protective as Drake's. There was just no way people wouldn't remember such an unusual pair as them. Unless he made sure there wouldn't be anyone left to remember anything - but in plain sight of the patrol tower that wasn't even an option. There were people and eyes everywhere, just like the last time he had visited the big city...Isirion cursed again and vented his anger on the White Dragon: "If you insist on drawing so much attention on us then at least find a way to distract them long enough for me to sneak into the tower!"

Edited by Isirion

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Susurro didn't like it but Isirion was right. He was drawing attention since he was a White Dragon walking in the company of a man of an undeniably dark presence. He wouldn't let Isirion out of his sight though. Maybe he could do that by air as well. He turned to Isirion and said:"I agree, together we are a bit too obvious. I will take flight and circle the top of the tower for a while. That should keep their eyes away from you and you can sneak in. I will then land on a nearby building and watch your escape. As soon as Alzra is outside I shall leave and meet you at the arena again."

 

Glad that Sappo was back save and sound Alzira felt a bit safer now. She too had noticed the growing tension between the guards. She turned toward the first guard again, trying to buy more time and asked him how the procedures would go from here on. In the mean time Sappo slipped away for he couldn't keep calm. He moved to the Guardians cage who seemed as angry as the little Pygmy was frustrated now, hearing the guards haggling about Alziras supposed riches. He knew that he couldn't burn iron but he was agitated and needed to let off some steam - or to be more accurate - a bright blue flame. Intentionally or not he hit an iron bar and noticed almost immediately that it reacted to the heat. He heard a sizzling sound and smelled the faint scent of burned dirt, dust and something new, a smell he just knew from a blacksmith's. He looked at the Guardian and squeezed his leg to get his attention. Then he focused a very thin and even hotter flame at the iron bar again, maybe he could weaken the material a bit more.

Edited by Alzira

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As soon as Susurro had taken to the air, Isirion melted into the shadow of a large building. In broad daylight it wasn't easy to vanish from sight while wearing black but starting from the corner of the building he blended in with whatever crowd, piece of architecture or market stand he could find. He swapped his predatory moves with a slow purpose walk that eventually brought him right next to the patrol tower in question. There he patiently waited until the tower guard's eyes wandered skywards wondering about the curious flight path of a certain White Dragon. Isirion didn't waste a single second and slipped behind the guard's back into the tower. Inside he gave his eyes a moment to adjust to the relative darkness then he carefully climbed the first flight of stairs. He had memorized the layout of the tower from the distress message the White Dragon had shown him and managed to avoid detection quite easily. Halfway up the second flight of stairs Isirion could hear the guards arguing about how they would split up the coins they wished to extort from the green-haired lady. Upon reaching the third floor the arguing guards would undoubtedly have paid with their lives for their inattention if not for the Guardian. With his cage facing the doorway he was the only one to notice Isirion's approach and correctly guess his murderous intentions. To save the guards' lives the Guardian inhaled deeply and shouted: "Isirion!"

 

The three guards almost jumped out of their armour from the sheer volume and tensed up even more as they followed his fierce gaze back to a menacing figure clad entirely in black. Isirion who already had gotten a taste of the vocal capacity of the bear-like man at Leetle island recovered even more quickly and said in a cold, business-like tone: "I have been sent here to deal with you." The first guard relaxed a bit and patting his well-fed coin purse he said: "The bear and the lady have caused us noble protectors some administrational problems that amount to 500 gold. If you happen to carry said sum they are free to go." Somehow the 'if not' part got stuck in his throat as he accidently looked straight into the stranger's eyes. Standing in the middle of a horde of Hellfire Wyverns unleashing their fell flames would still not be enough warmth to burn the chill out of his very bones and soul. The guard backed away until he bumped into the little dragon fire-breathing on the prisoner's cage. Mortal fear gave way to confusion which turned into anger to relieve his anxiety. He kicked the pitchblack Pygmy against the next wall and screamed in a high-pitched tone: "Stupid messenger dragon, that's not food or anything. Don't come here unless you are called!"

Edited by Isirion

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The Guardian's yell shook Alzira. She didn't know where to look first, at the prisoner or at the newly arrived cold presence of Isirion, but that was soon negligible as she saw the guard stomping towards Sappo and kicking him across the room. Alzira let out a faint whimper when she saw the little dragon hitting the wall. Sappo himself was quite lucky and when he pulled himself up just a few seconds later he just felt a bit dizzy. He had pulled his wings close to his body and had managed to reduce the impact that way. His wings did hurt as he stretched and tried moving them but that was nothing that would stop him from protecting his keeper. Nevertheless he decided to stay out of the guards attention for a while and watch her back from a little distance.

 

What a relief! Alzira just noticed that she had held her breath until the little pygmy raised again and slipped with a slight limp into the shadows. Then she turned back to the shaken guards - how would this situation evolve now? She didn't wish for the guard's death but a punishment - at least for Sappo's mistreatment - seemed due.

 

In the mean time Susurro had landed on a nearby building where he could keep the entrance as well as the windows of the cells in view. He had seen Isirion enter the tower and now he was waiting for their escape. He expected them any minute now.

Edited by Alzira

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