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Isirion

The Bloodline of Torch

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Realizing what Alzira, Pride and most likely Fingers must have seen, Isirion retracted his hand with his usual speed, but the damage was done - or more to the point not done. Cursing Pride's thrice distracting presence and himself for letting his guard down, he racked his brains for a likely explanation: "Working with Hellfires for years will make normal fire seem like nothing. And it was Sappo who made the flame corridor that saved you...I just led you through..." Fingers nodded vigorously, as if totally convinced, because his survival instincts told him to. Pride, like always, couldn't take a hint and started enthusiastically: "I totally forgot about the moving flames back then, but now I remember and that wasn't the only weird thing. What is up with your eye colour sometimes changing? They seem purple every time you are not wearing a hood." "It's not the hood, it's the shade", Isirion corrected before he could stop himself: "Bloody hellfire, forget I said that!"

 

"Not a chance in hell", Felicia, having returned from her bath at the exact right moment, beamed and pulled up a chair. "Now talk. Tell us everything, because we earned at least that for putting up with your temper all the time." "Fine", Isirion resigned and snuffed out every candle flame in the room with a wink of his hand. In the gloom his eyes appeared once again ice-blue and he said: "It is a little souvenir from my method of escape from the veiled lady, as is my name." Felicia stopped her husband just in time before he could interrupt with one of a dozen new questions forming and Isirion continued from where he had left off the last time he had shared something of his past: "The veiled lady, after buying me from the Nebs, put me in her own private arena to help her break newly acquired dragons. You already got a taste of the method involved, and while said method cut the stock in half, it was still very effective. After a few months of slaughter in the name of obedience training, the veiled lady came to my cage and dangled the prospect of freedom once again in front of me. If I could apply 'our' method onto enough already trained dragons, then there would be no more need to keep me locked up and I would get the chance to enjoy the fruits of 'our' work...Slightly confused at what she meant, I entered the arena to find myself face to face with a fully armoured warrior on top of a battle-scarred Royal Blue. Both of them perfectly in sync and clearly used to fighting together. Until now relying on my speed and skill with my blade and impromptu-daggers had been sufficient to survive, but facing off against a veteran of the Dragon War, a discharged warrior of the famous Royal Blue regiment, I felt like 'Dirt' again. Each one covered the other's blind-spots perfectly, the timing of their strikes matched without words and neither wasted their stamina. Soon I was with my back against the wall - I had focused on dodging the dragon's attacks because without armour they would take me out instantly, but the human had already wounded me twice. I felt the disapproving gaze of the veiled lady on me and since lying down and accepting my fate had never been my style, I did the only thing I could think of - kick sand into the dragon's eyes and leap up his joints to get to the rider. I slammed my blade at his wrist to disarm him and then pointed it at the gap under his helmet. The warrior looked at me calmly and said: "Do what you must do, but neither of us will surrender to you or that monster. To face the foe and stand proudly true - That is the honour of the Royal Blue!" Sensing that he really meant what he had said, I pierced his throat and then stabbed his unresisting dragon through the neck, killing it too. Even though I had managed to survive again, it didn't feel like a victory, because with the last breath of the dragon, my prospect of freedom died too. When the veiled lady came to punish me for my failure, I couldn't help myself but ask why she didn't use whatever she had used to capture that formidable warrior and dragon pair in the first place. The cracking of her many-tailed dragon-whip was the only answer I got. When my wounds were healed, she threw me into the arena again with a new plan. This time, I would only face the rider, and the dragon would be forced to watch from a reinforced cage. Only by submitting to the veiled lady would it be able to save it's rider's life. The Royal Blue warrior's swordsmanship was impressive, but without the support of his dragon, my superior speed soon overwhelmed him and I could incapacitate him. Just like the first, he stood proudly and unafraid after loosing. His dragon looking as proud made no sign of submission and once again I wondered, how another dragon and rider from the Royal Blues had ended up here. Since there were no contrary orders from the veiled lady, I questioned the man in front of me and he, for the first time, lost his countenance and spat: "Abominable Magi!" His outburst, a sign of weakness, didn't go unnoticed. Immediately the veiled lady ordered me to torture and cut him up until his dragon submitted. Obediently I cut the armour straps to get to some surface to work with and soon the sand was red with blood and the arena filled with growled death threats from the caged dragon, but still it did not submit. In the end the man bled out and the beast had knocked itself out from trying with all it's strength to break the cage. I wondered if that 'abominable Magi' had anything to do with the fact, that despite all the dragon's effort the bars weren't even bent. For a time the veiled lady put her plans with the adult Royal Blues on ice and focused on training surviving hatchlings and bringing minor nobles under her heel, occasionally using me to enforce her point. I used the time to train myself as best as I could, because I knew the veiled lady would not give up on cutting short years of training by making already trained dragons submit to her. Me, training myself seemingly for her cause, was something that pleased the lady immensely, for she came to my cage to watch me every day...

 

Months later, I had honed my body to be ready to face any foe and upon close inspection the veiled lady seemed to be fully satisfied with my progress. For the third time she sent me to face a Royal Blue dragon and rider pair and this time I succeeded in breaking their spirits by showing them, that I could not only beat each of them fairly on their own but even when they fought together. There was nothing they could do but to submit to my strength and the lady that commanded it. The rider was taken away as living assurance and the dragon became a pet. Each time a fight worked out like this, I was sure I had finally earned my freedom, but I couldn't have been more wrong. The moment she had enough battle-trained pets, she had me thrown into the deepest dungeon to waste away like her other discarded toys. After she locked the cage door for good, she threw me my blade through the bars and mocked me: "I'll let you keep your blade because I love your eyes. Too bad they are not much use to you in the dark. Try to kill the others to survive a little longer or try to kill yourself - I don't care, I already got everything I wanted from you." The veiled lady turned her back and left me to the darkness and the 'others'. When the last of her footsteps had faded, an eerie orange light illuminated the deepest dungeon and I saw half-eaten dragons still dragging their mangled bodies around, other dragons gnawing frantically on their own limbs while gibbering humans with already chewed off arms and hands stood nearby, staring blankly into space. The source of the light and most certainly the madness was the 'abominable Magi'. There were still traces to be seen of the magnificent creature she had once been, but down here she looked only barely less pitiful than the rest. Whatever power she had over them, just like them, just like me - she was a victim of the veiled lady's treachery. Unafraid, I closed the distance and offered to put her out of her misery. The dragoness gazed at me for a long time and I felt her mind brushing against mine, testing me, testing my resolve. Finally she spoke to me, her mind's voice reverberating in my head: "And who will put you out of your misery?" Certain that she could hear me, I thought as hard as I could: "With your flesh and blood I will survive for as long as I can, and the moment I hear footsteps again, I will play dead next to the door and when the next victim is thrown in here, I will use that chance to escape." "And after you have killed me and escaped, what will you do then?" "I will go and kill another dragon. The one that took everything from me and turned me into 'Dirt'. Blackjade." Suddenly my brain felt as if it had been set on fire, pure rage filled my mind, my whole vision became blood-red and I understood, that there was another thing the Magi and I had in common. This time I spoke aloud: "I will kill her for my sake  - and yours", and she answered in kind: "Yes you will. I will make sure you will - Now do it. Isirion!" The name of the Magi was Isiria as I knew the moment I plunged my blade into her heart. It means 'iron will' and with that iron will and her last strength she teleported me and my blade still wet with her blood into Blackjade's lair. I soon realized, that with her last breath Isiria had given me more than just a new name. She had given me her magic so that I would have a fighting chance against the Black dragon that had defeated her and taken my parents from me. Filled with her fury and my own I struck down every black-air bandit in the lair, who tried to oppose me and finally engaged the dragoness, that had devastated both our lives. The ensuing battle was gruesome and in the end I flayed Blackjade alive and took her skin for a cloak." With another wink of his hand the fire energy he had stolen from the flames returned and all the candles reignited themselves: "As a souvenir from that time my blade stained with Isiria's blood never dulls and what you perceive in the light as an abnormal eye colouration is the 'magi sight' I inherited. I am able see the flow of energy like a dragon and can manipulate it to some degree - especially fire energy." Another wink and one flame grew and took the fiery shape of a magnificent female Magi dragon radiating power, complete with eerie eyes burning purplish-blue. With a hint of sadness Isirion let the flaming image of Isiria vanish again, then he growled: "I bet the blue lady would love that party trick even more than my eyes...damn you all for making me remember everything..."

Edited by Isirion

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Alzira was unsettled by Isirion´s confession. To be true she had expected some dire story behind his behaviour, his pragmaticism and his effectiveness, but the truth she had been told just now was still more gruesome. To survive under such circumstances called for that kind of dedication his name stated.This Lady was not to be trifled with. Nevertheless his control over the fire could be the ability they were missing from their new plan that was forming in her mind. Sure, a lot of it depended heavily on Isirion and his showmanship... No, that wouldn´t work, but ... they had the perfect entertainer already amidst them. Pride would love this... she hoped.

 

She tried to put her notion into words: "I have kind of an idea, but first Isirion: How long can you keep up your fire-ability? I hope about an hour at least is possible. If that is so Pride should pose as an Party-Magican, performing an impressive lightshow switching on and off lights, first a few, then all and then groups of candles, maybe with additional sparkles now and then - something like fireworks or such whatever takes the audience in. In the meantime I could quick-sketch the nobles so they have to lift their masks and Felicia slips through the room and meddles with their drinks - Remember: No kids. Fingers, I ask you to open the cages and free Leal´s swarm and the caged dragons. You should get help by the remaining pygmies. Leal and Sappo will perform their fight, drawing additional attention away from you even more. More importantly:" Alzira fixed Isirion, "you would have to do all the fire manipulation in secret. The only problem I see is that you have to work closely together with Pride, stretching the act with grandeur and perfect timing. Maybe an magic spell or some elaborate gesture would be useful." She paused... "Ah, yes, our exit should be memorable: Pride, Leal, Sappo and I should leave with a kind of bang, a pompous exit to the show, and imprinting our alibi. The rest should slip away as soon as our tasks are finished and since they aren´t that exposed to the audience a silent exit would be best I guess. What do you think? Did I forget something?" she paused again, recalling what else they needed to do at the ball. Well, the killing of the Blue Lady was still a problem, she needed Isirion with her as well. Seemed he had a full plate. She voiced her worries concerning that to him.

 

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"No." Isirion's answer came as quickly as a blade-strike, but seeing as he was already beleaguered by Pride conjuring a vision of a travelling theatre where they all would dedicate their performance to bettering the audience by showing them how awesome dragons and their magic could be, it seemed slightly doubtful that that 'no' had had anything to do with Alzira's concerns. Felicia, used to her husband in 'vision-mode', let the adjusted plan play out in her mind and found it nearly perfect. Smiling, as if she had been the real mastermind behind everything, she said: "I really like the part where you make the nobles take off their masks, so we don't chance poisoning a child unlucky enough to be already of adult-height. If we go over the top with this performance, which is very likely, since my husband is born to entertain, this will grab their attention entirely. Between the magic and the pygmy show I will have plenty of time to poison all our targets, before they drink to the blue lady's health. To make sure they don't drop dead before you get your private audience with her, I will adjust the mixture to only take effect after a minimum of ten minutes, which also beats the usage of taste-tasters by more paranoid nobles. This should be enough time to let yourself be found again after your grand exit and let yourself be 'convinced' by that sadistic snob to tell her all your training secrets in private while also giving Isirion the time to change back into his 'bodyguard' gear to accompany you. The longer the show lasts, the more of Leal's swarm can be freed. The other dragons should already be getting food sneaked in by Leal and every other pygmy helping him so they have enough strength to fly to safety. After hearing about the 'abominable Magi' and those weird reinforced cages, we can't be sure there aren't any other trickeries involved, so for subtlety reasons, the thief should try to unlock every cage, just to make sure. Fingers - can we count on you?", Felicia asked with a reassuring smile, normally reserved for her husband, which worked it's own kind of magic. The pitiful beggar-looking thief straightened up and said firmly: "I never wanted to be a thief, just, like I now believe, he did not want to become a bloody murderer, but we are what we are today and we both are very, very good at it. I'll promise you that I will use my skills as best as I can to free all those dragons, if he promises, this will not turn into another massacre. Indicating Isirion both times, Fingers now waited patiently for a satisfactorily reply.

 

"I promise, I will not turn this into another massacre unintentionally", Isirion stated, his tone indicating slight amusement. Fingers, from a safe distance, did not give up so easily: "I know you enticed my guild master into attacking your 'blind, old master', so you could slaughter us all. I kind of understand now why both your Ex-Royal-Blue-master and you hate criminals and those that use them so much, but listen to me - listen to a reformed criminal. I could only change my ways, because you only took my hand and not my life." "That has been my master's request", Isirion immediately countered, but Fingers hadn't been finished yet. The ex-thief was done with cowering. Having heard that even his personal nightmare had been vulnerable once gave him a sort of reckless courage: "I feared you more than anything in my life, but now I can't help but pity you. The blue lady turned you too into an obedient tool, not just her dragons and even though that Magi's sacrifice freed you, you ended up belonging to a different master. Tell me 'iron will', how much of the death you caused and planned to unintentionally cause is really your own will. Tell me!"

 

Fingers, his heart racing and his face flushed like a Royal Crimson, groped the table to keep from running away after all, when Isirion advanced on him, with an unreadable expression. There was no sign of the assassin's knife, nor the blade stained with Isiria's blood, but Fingers had no illusions that 'Death' could kill him any other number of ways, including, as he had just learned, turning him into barbecue at will. As ready as he would ever be to finally look death in the eye, Fingers stopped squirming, but Isirion merely spoke: "My will is my own. Know that I would gladly kill every corrupted noble and bandit-lackey in this city personally, but since this group has earned mine and my master's trust, I am willing to try it your way. In the end it doesn't matter, what we will do or not do at that party." Fingers looked mighty relieved, but Felicia's brow furrowed like a hundred-year-old tree-bark and that omnious last sentence. Pride, as usual, heard only what he wanted to hear and beamed: "Great, everything is settled then. I'll ready our costumes for the performance of our life-times. But before, one question, Isirion - I need to know - how did you become so good at telling stories? I felt almost like I was there with you in that cage. And how did you know that Isiria fell victim to Blackjade and what her name meant? And didn't you say you worked with Hellfires for years - but it couldn't have been with the blue lady, they aren't blue are they? And what happened to the Royal Blue riders, are they still alive somewhere? And what did the lady mean when she said she already got everything she wanted from you? You were just her murder weapon, were you? And most importantly - how could those half-eaten dragons still be alive?" Isirion took a deep breath, by now he knew, short of killing him, there was no way of getting rid of Pride, besides answering: "Firstly. I was there - and since my master is blind, I am used to describing things to him. Secondly. When my blade pierced Isiria's heart, she gave me her magic and part of that were her strongest memories. I could see Blackjade's acidic magic tear through her defenses, could feel her magically reinforced claws rip her skin and hear her scream in the agony of defeat. Thirdly. I started working with Hellfires after I thought I had left that city behind for good, also female Hellfires are wreathed in blue flames because their fire is hotter and stronger than the males' red. Fourthly. No, the blue lady had me put them to death most entertainingly. Fifthly. Yes, I was her murder weapon, her pet and her toy and I assume that becoming bored of playing with me, is what she meant when she tossed me away. Lastly. They weren't alive, they were corpses animated by Isiria's magic to keep them as a prolonged food source. That is what you will be too, if I hear one more question. Now get everything ready." Pride's smile could have replaced the sun for a month as he agreed with a conspiratorial voice: "I was born ready for this. Our new performance will be even better than 'the Death and the Dragon' - We are going to call it 'The Union of Blue Phire and Fiery Death!"

 

In the mean-time at the Hive

 

Under the watchful eye of Königin von Gefallen, no servant dared to show anything but cold purpose towards their given tasks. In record-time family heirlooms, research, trade goods and tools in addition to food reserves had been relocated to the lower levels of the hive. Her honour-guard was stationed and battle-ready, more of her personal spy-drones ready to be deployed. Where to, depended solely on the intelligence her daughter would bring back. Königin trusted that Iris was up to the task, her information gathering skills were unmatched - but only if her mind was in the game too. Königin had made it clear enough that too much was at stake for a childish blunder so it was only a matter of time until Iris returned with crucial intel. Her other child, Dämon, had already succeeded in putting the Nebula towers on alert, but being alert was not the same as being prepared for an actual army. Once again Königin silently despised the spineless cowards strutting around in armour they hadn't earned in the least. They had not fought in the Dragon War, they hadn't been tempered in the heat of battle. It was no wonder that five or six year old ghost story had re-surfaced again and most citizens, despite all the posters saying otherwise, believed that 'Death' himself, had run rampart, piling up Nebula corpses as high as their towers. Königin mused quietly if there was a connection to the Hellfire Army outside, but a messenger-drone suddenly interrupted that train of thought: "My queen, the heiress has returned."

Edited by Isirion

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Königin looked irritated that he would interrupt her thoughts but due to the nature of the information Iris was meant to collect she stayed her hand, and right after the Messenger-Drone alerted her that Iris had returned, the girl in question appeared behind him with barely a sound, giving the poor creature quite the fright. Königin seemed unfazed at her daughters light-footed nature, almost as if she had 'sensed' her enter the room, after all she had trained the girl, and Königin gave her daughter an intense look as she asked, "What did you learn on your journey, and be quick about it."
 

Iris, in her ever cheery voice began recounting her findings as she put out the pictures she had drawn onto the planning table. Her obvious dismissal for things like respect made her mother annoyed once more but due to the situation she let it slide, for the moment at least. As she talked she recounted the layout, sizes and genders of all the dragons she could see as well as the fact that the camp itself had been set up more as a ambush rather than an assault base to attack the city. Eventually she reached the part about the blind old man that the dragons seemed to listen to and respect as some sort of leader, pointing at a drawing of the man. Königin paused as she heard the description, it seemed highly familiar and her thoughts drifted back to the Dragon War, in a barely audible whisper she said "Sodger... is it possible?", her thoughts were focused especially about the royal blues and their captain that had put an end to the Dragon war, however she refused to make a complete assumption without seeing this man with her own eyes. Königin listened to the rest of Iris' report before flicking her wrist towards her private servant and instructing them to prepare both a mount to get her to her Black Dragon's nest as well as her cloths for upcoming festivities at the Blue Lady's mansion. She left the room without even a glance at her daughter or a word of praise, which the girl was used too, as the Hive Queen went to get ready to head into the desert to see for herself and attempt to communicate with this man before things went south in a major way, especially before the party began. She was seen hurrying towards the lower levels where her son spent most of his free time and where he was currently at.

 

Iris, realizing she was free from her mothers grasp, gathered all her stuff back into her bag and with a little giggle she left to find her little brother. The servant-drones that had known Iris since she was a kid could tell from the way she giggled that she was looking for her brother and the gossip began once again now that they had completed the transport of anything valuable on the upper levels down to the vault.

At the same time in the von Gefallen Vault

 

Dämon placed the last pile of notes carefully into the vault and looked around at the carefully organised room, however he soon went back to the laboratory and workshop. On the table there was a man who was laying face down and had a large tattoo along his back in the shape of a black dragon, and Dämon went over to the man, taking out a few syringes filled with what seemed to be blood from a black dragon and after laying them out on his bench he began injecting them into different areas of the mans body. First he injected one of the syringes into the base of the mans neck, where the neck and shoulders lined up, then he injected several into the mans veins across his body, equally distributing the injections across the torso and limbs.

 

As Dämon finished the injections, and cleaning his tools, Königin walked into the laboratory room, a look of approval for how efficiently and quickly he had cleaned everything important into the vault, and now was continuing with the experiments that could benefit the house. She walked over to the table as her son knelt, inspecting the subject, an already large muscular man who looked to be in good health and on of the most promising subjects that had been selected, this one having been more than willing to undergo the treatment unlike most of the others. "Any progress? This experiment could be a crucial piece of what we are about to deal with." as she spoke to her son, her voice had a powerful tone that also had a soft undercurrent to it.

"Yes mother, this is his second round of injections, besides a seeming need to administer the injections occasionally to retain the effects, the subject seems to be stable, I hope to find a way to make the changes more permanent however I still have not found a way to do so." 
Dämon explained as he stood up once more to finish putting away his tools, keeping his stance towards his mother respectful as he could.

 

"Good, the situation with the Hellfires has changed and I will be travelling to meet their leader personally, which you will accompany me on and if the subject wakes up and is ready in time then he shall come as well, other than that bring along whatever else you feel is required and Nyx, we will be paying her mother a visit, I trust no other dragon to bear me safely there and back." Her voice held an affection she held for no other dragon for her Alt Black Dragon, Black Death, whom she had inherited much like Dämon had inherited Nyx when she was but an egg, at a young age and raised her herself, and even survived the Dragon War with.

With a bow of respect, Dämon began gathering the basic essentials he would need, putting his gauntlet back on, grabbing his favorite Dragon-back Scimitar which he strapped to his back, grabbing the supplies of food and water to make sure they would be able to make the journey swiftly and without issue, and finally donning his Black Dragon skin cape while placing his mask into his satchel so that he would be ready for the party after they got back.

Edited by FallenDiablo

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Königin von Gefallen watched with barely hidden approval the time-efficient manner in which her son gathered his belongings and made ready for the trip. Her daughter on the other hand earned herself a look of unveiled disapprovement, as they encountered her giggling in front of the vault entrance, clearly waiting for Dämon. Passing by Iris without a second glance, Königin mounted the transport-steed ladden with everything she had commanded. Trusting that her son would follow on Nyx as soon as possible, the Hive Queen made her way to her dragon's nest. It was strategically placed, highly fortified and majestic - just like the Hive itself. Knowing that Black Death hated interruptions and discourtesy as much as herself, Königin politely announced her presence before entering. Black Death awaited her, bearing her battle-scars from the Dragon War like a queen would bear a crown. "It has been too long that we flew together little bee", the dragoness stated, using Königin's oldest nickname. "Indeed, it has", Königin agreed and quickly explained the reason of her visit. Black Death lowered her frame to the ground, so that Königin could transfer her saddle and gear more easily, then she rose up and said: "I will fly as fast as I can. If my daughter and your son can't keep up, you spoil them too much."

 

When the desert wind was in her face again, Königin finally replied: "You are right, but Dämon is the child of my love, I can't be as strict with him as with Iris for fear of loosing him again. I never felt so weak and helpless as at that time when my little angel boy was stolen from his crib." Black Death nodded in mid-flight, her strengthened flight muscles quickly bearing them towards the Hellfire camp. She clearly remembered those emotional times when her rider had been as unstable as an hive without a queen and it reminded her of something else as well: "If that man endangering the city is really Sodger, the ex-captain of the Royal Blues, then showing weakness, fear or hesitation is something we can't afford. We have to 'face the foe and stand proudly true' - just like the motto of the old Royal Blue." "I know," the Hive Queen replied curtly: "it will be just like talking to the blue lady." Hearing this, Black Death snorted and agreed: "Exactly, while inspiring his comrades through courage and conviction, Sodger always punished cowardize and lack of discipline without mercy. The blue lady with her whole 'obedience is everything' obsession could easily be his granddaughter." Both rider and dragon enjoyed to be able to drop the regal act in front of their soulmate. Königin laughed like she hadn't in years and quipped: "You are on to something Blackie. Now we know why he became the leader of the Royal Blues - that colour-craziness must be a family thing." "You are one to talk little von Gefallen bee, with your black dragon, black crest and black heart," Black Death teased back. Königin couldn't stop a giggle, that sounded just like Iris' and added: "Not to mention the Black-Air-bandits. That were some fun times...remember that chatty brat? He is actually their leader now and calls himself Chet. I should invite him to come to the party so we can tease him again." Black Death snorted again in pure laughter, then suddenly stopped herself after catching glimpses of motion in front and behind: "We are near and so are our offsprings."

 

Meanwhile in the big city

 

Pride had had a great time airing out the costumes, adding more details here and there and having everyone, at least once, parade them across the room. His perfectly reasonable explanation being, that, since so much hinged on the performance, everyone should be comfortable and able to move perfectly - the real reason was of course, that he wanted to see his once-again-personal hero wear an outfit he had made. Leal had finally checked in with them and confirmed that he and the other pygmies had delivered extra food to the caged dragons and were ready to serve as an additional distraction if necessary. Felicia had finished adjusting the poison and Alzira had added the finishing touch to the make-up of everyone not wearing a full-face mask. Isirion distributed the fake-invitation he had saved while Fingers, now dressed as a performer too, but still under Sappo-supervision, was allowed to organize transport to the blue lady's mansion. When the ex-thief returned, he brought back the latest gossip he had picked up: "There is a lot of buzz going around and the city is full of wanted-posters, but we should be safe since they got most of the details wrong. They don't know that Alzira dyed her hair charcoal black and that the Guardian isn't even with you anymore. But their description of Pride is accurate as hell, so he should not take of his mask at all costs. Pride looked really disappointed at that and in order to cheer himself up he ordered one last parade. Felicia took his arm and soon two dragonflies with glittering wings swirled around in perfect unison. Alzira, in her green Fire Gem outfit, gracefully joined them while directing Sappo and Leal. Fingers, acting like a performer's assistant, smiled and occasionally waved his hand. Isirion on the other hand had already had enough from the last parade. Being constantly stared at reminded him too much of his time in the arenas, so he left his costume to be more inconspicuous and snuck out the door mumbling 'I'll be back in a few minutes'. Outside he took a deep breath and banished the picture of Pride's compound eyes following his every move. He checked his surroundings to make sure he was completely unobserved and teleported away.

 

Isirion reappeared inside the old couple's house they had taken shelter in earlier and searched for the residents. Too much was at stake to allow any loose ends and so he made sure that, wether their sleep had been genuine or feigned, they now slept eternally. There was another reason he had snuck out - he barely had enough dragon energy left to light a candle, so in order to conjure up all that flame magic Pride envisioned, he needed to refill. Outside, Drake's hideout had burnt out and the Nebs had left after checking that none of the armored bodies matched the cloth-wearing subjects they had been looking for. As he had hoped, the Nebs had also ignored every non-Royal-Blue dragon trapped or injured during the fire. Carefully sneaking over to the ruins, Isirion searched the collapsed stable for dragons that were still alive. He stole the energy of every dragon he found and killed them afterwards. The last one he found looked very familiar. It was a Red Dragon from the fishermen's village, whose energy he had stolen countless times to power the torches in the hatching and growing areas of his hideout. Sparky, trapped under a fallen beam, didn't notice the touch of Death. His mind drifted into the familiar sleepiness conjuring peaceful memories of home. Until his last breath the Red firmly believed he was once again rolled up at the base of the heating system in Wallet's mansion knowing that the kind servant nearby would let him sleep...would always let him sleep...

 

When the Red Dragon had died with a serene smile instead of even a hint of a struggle, his murderer felt a strange kind of sensation, as if, once again, the Fever Wyvern's poison had invaded his body. His heart certainly beat faster and it felt as if patches of heat were spreading from it in waves that aligned with an uncomfortable tugging feeling. Suddenly appreciating a powerful distraction like Pride, Isirion dismissed the strange sensation and teleported back to the tavern. Nobody had seen his instant arrival and so he casually opened the door and rejoined the others. He put on the full Black Dragon disguise, sporting his own cloak spruced up with glitter and spikes by Pride and an almost too life-like Black Dragon mask, also courtesy of Pride. Almost instantly Pride's many eyes were on him, but this time he didn't even mind...

Edited by Isirion

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Dämon saw his mother and went down on one knee in a respectful pose towards his 'Queen' and when she left he turned towards the subject, trying to wake him up, which took more than a few moments too long. Having succeeded at last at waking the man he instructed him to prepare his flying gear and to grab the fastest spare dragon they had that wasn't an experimental subject or one of the family's private mounts, the man heading off to do as he had been instructed by his master.

 

As he himself passed through the exit to prepare his own gear he ran into Iris who jumped him with a flying tackle hug, her favorite form of greeting, and just hung off his neck still giggling. "Little Brother, stay home this time, mother is strong enough to do everything herself so don't follow her." Her tone was sad as she had already guessed that he would follow their mother without needing to be told, he was like that, always had and always would be. Dämon sighed a little as he knew he had already had to leave in the middle of speaking to her once but he could not let his mother go to the army alone, it was practically an instinct to protect the 'Queen', and he would do so even when his sister became 'Queen' after their mother. "Sister, you know I must go, it is my duty, and you need to stay here and make sure everything is ready for the Blue Lady's party, I promise we will be there to go with you."

 

Before she could make a response Dämon deftly picked her up and set her back on her feet and strode down the hall, heading straight to the private caves where Nyx was waiting. "Time to pay your mother a visit I believe." His words were met with an appreciative grin, or what would pass for one for dragons, but she decided to save her words for when they were in the air in order to save time catching up to Dämon's mother, who had already left before them. Dämon climbed onto her back and they took off into the sky, taking the route to leave the city where no Nebula's would see him, the man he had given the injections following behind.

 

Right after her brother left with his newest experiment to follow the 'Queen', Iris went back to Shade, grabbing a spare water canteen and together they followed after the others, Iris wearing a mischievous grin while Shade was practically sighing as the young lady dragged him into trouble once again.

Edited by FallenDiablo

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Königin observed the Hellfire Army encampment with a spyglass of her own and found it exactly as her heiress had described. She then directed her gaze towards the old man walking around impatiently as if waiting for something. Her body tensed up instantly - that man was indeed Sodger, ex-captain of the Royal Blues. Black Death noticed the change in her rider and whispered: "I recognize him too. He still has that impressive, ox-like physique and those sentry wyverns look even more impressive and strong." "Indeed, and they might all charge like a bull if we don't play this smart like we planned. Land here and we talk strategy when our offsprings have caught up."

 

It didn't take long for Dämon and his test-subject companion to close the distance since he had wasted almost no time following his mother's orders. Königin greeted them with a curt nod and said: "You two will be my honour guard, flanking me while I ride into the camp in plain view. Once the sentries have called my arrival out to Sodger, I will greet him with his old title and the motto of the Royal Blues and introduce myself with the motto of the Black Dragon regiment and my full title. Neither of you is to speak a word unless necessary. Chances are he won't recognize my voice, but he won't have forgotten the von Gefallen name. Now, let's proceed."

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As his mother instructed him and the test subject, he noticed a small figure move ever so slightly nearby, not enough for most to notice but still enough to set his already high alert senses on fire. He made a motion with his hands to let the others know there was something watching them and approached the point swift and quietly, and grabbed the small figure with his gauntlet, only to let it fall back to the ground with a small 'whump'. The small figure made a little sound of complaint and Dämon sighed as he watched his older sister rub her back grumbling about how her brother had been too rough with her and needed to be 'gentler', next time. "Iris, why are you here?" Dämon's tone was worried, his eyes turning towards their mother who had already noticed his movement, and with a sigh he stepped aside.

 

Königin strode over to her progeny, looking down at Iris with a distasteful expression. When Iris tried to speak Königin held up her hand to cut her off and even Iris could tell this was not the time to patronize her mother, not when she was this serious, "You foolish girl! What possessed you to make you think this was a good idea?" Königin paused for a moment as if waiting for Iris' response, however she started speaking once more, "Your being here means that should something happen to us, there is no one to manage the family, and as much as it irks me, you are my successor and the most suitable to inherit my title." After she finished talking she glared at her daughter expecting a response that would satisfy her.

Once her mother had finished with her barrage of statements mixed with questions, Iris cleared her throat and looked towards her little brother to address him since he was the first to address her, as well as to slightly annoy their mother, "I was worried about you little brother... and well I was rather curious". As soon as she added the 'and' Dämon's expression turned into an even deeper frown and she turned slightly sheepish, although she powered on finishing her statement.

Königin let out a long, exasperated sigh, thinking to herself "This girl will be the death of me", rubbing her brow as she thinks. It only took her a few moments to decide what to do, "Iris, stay with Dämon, Dämon keep your sister from being eaten by a Hellfire, or anything else for that matter, I get the feeling even if we left her behind she would follow us in." Her choices were partly because she knew she could take care of herself, but Iris was not as capable as herself or Dämon, and partly because she could tell Iris would rather cling to her brother the whole time than do anything else she was instructed to do.

 

Iris gave no complaint and they organised themselves again, Dämon following on the left and the Test Subject on the right of Königin while Iris was riding behind Dämon on Nyx's saddle. As they rode towards the camp in full view slow enough to be obvious they were diplomatic, Königin called out in a strong, loud voice "I am Königin von Gefallen, Wing Commander of the Black Dragon Regiment, Black Dragons destroy their enemy with fearsome might, we are the deadly shadows of the night. I am here to speak with Sodger, Captain of the Royal Blue Regiment, To face the foe and stand proudly true - That is the honour of the Royal Blue".

Edited by FallenDiablo

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Having been alerted by the two closest sentries to the arrival and composition of the small group, Sodger stood ready to face them. Having no trouble placing Königin's voice, still confident and commanding as ever, he hailed her back: "Greetings Königin von Gefallen, nicknamed Queen of the Battlefield and Wing Commander of the Black Dragon Regiment. I am Sodger, the ex-captain of the Royal Blues. You are no doubt here to assess if I am a threat to the city. The greatest threat to the city are it's corrupted nobles and their bandit-lackeys. I have come to take care of both. Now, I must bid you leave with your company, lest your presence warns off our first prey, the Sunstone Bandits."

Edited by Isirion

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Königin raised an eyebrow, not even a flicker of emotion crossing her face at his words and she looked around at the encampment before addressing what Sodger had said before, "You and your deeds may be legendary, however, to lead a host of Hellfires towards the city, even with the noblest intentions, would prove..." She paused as she thought about the best way to phrase her statement before finishing, "Problematic, to say the least."

 

Königin paused for a moment before adding "As you have said, I am here to assess the situation and attempt to come to a diplomatic solution to avoid the destruction of the city or my household, preferably before you commence any assault on city or bandits." Her tone was disciplined and instead of her usual overbearing and regal tone, she spoke in a more controlled tone that she only used when addressing those who she felt held power or status equal to her own, a tone that still held a hint of regality but also held much of what a true Commander would sound like instead of a queen. It would be to little surprise to nearly anyone that Königin never used this tone towards any of the other nobles in the city, after all, she felt no connection or respect for them and their many debauched fancies.

 

While their mother attempted to begin diplomatic discussions, Iris, who had been sitting quietly in the saddle behind her younger brother with her hands holding onto his shoulders, decided this would be a great time to wrap her arms around his waist and cling to him tighter than before and grin cheekily as if they were not surrounded by fire breathing lizards while their mother tried to reason with what Iris could only describe as an angry old blind man. Dämon provided no resistance to her actions but kept his eyes moving, counting numbers and noting positions to make sure he was ready for any situation that might arise, especially if he needed to protect either his sister who was now clinging to him stronger than a barnacle or his mother who was speaking to the very battle-worn old man.

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All the while the Queen of the Battlefield spoke, carefully choosing her words and tone, Sodger had stood rigid like a stone, listening intently. The desert winds had changed and now brought with them a sound most welcome: Wingbeats alternating between powerful and frantic, as the predators he had sent closed in on their prey, corraling it right into the trap. Calculating the perfect moment in his head from the sounds and the perimeter he had walked tirelessly, Sodger raised his fist high into the air. The sentry wyverns roared and rose up until they were high above the Sunstones. Bodies blazing, the Hellfires covered the sky in fire, denying even the slightest chance of escape. On the ground their hidden brethren shed their cover and aimed straight for the vulnerable underbellies of their confused enemies. Concentrated fire, overwhelming and precise made short work of the already harried host of Sunstones, but Sodger wasn't finished yet. Now that their mounts where falling onto the earth like ashes, it was time to deal with the bandits. A single gesture with his hand, universally understood and the Hellfires that had driven the Sunstones into the deathtrap simultaneously spewed fire from behind. The bandits, already scared out of their wits were incinerated on the spot and breathed their last in excruciating agony. Sodger seemed deaf to their cries, his face bathed in red and blue flames, he smiled and let loose a victory cry not unlike a full grown Hellfire. His re-unitied army responded in kind until another pass of his hand silenced the now battle-proven Hellfire Army. Knowing he was still facing Königin von Gefallen since neither of them had moved an inch from the moment he started the assault, Sodger bowed slightly as befitted her status and simply said: "The corrupted city-nobles and their Nebula lackeys have 24 hours to surrender to me."

Edited by Isirion

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