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Isirion

The Bloodline of Torch

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Iris' actions almost made the usually impassive Dämon flinch as the sound of head against head cracked through the air. Before he could even think of what to do next, the 'Blue Lady' voice that seemed to come from someone other than Lady Alzira caught even Dämon off guard, he had let himself become too focused on the issue his sister had firmly planted herself in and failed to notice another individual had approached them, inwardly he admonished himself, outwardly he did his utmost to maintain a calm exterior in the face of adversary, and 'Death'. As the words that had been exchanged settled in his mind, especially the words of the assailant that Iris was so fond of, it was as if all but the final, and most crucial, pieces in a massive puzzle had been slotted into place and made it possible to comprehend the full scene laid out before him.


Iris blinked for a few moments, murmuring something to do with 'Blue' with some rather unsavoury and colourful additions to her mutterings, unlike her brother she was not in any state for showing tact or restrain. Despite the sharp object very close to her, Iris seemed to be completely dissociated from reality at this point, or at least she was dazed to the point where either her reactions had been reduced to near non-existent or she was too distracted to notice it. With struggle and some exertive sound effects echoing from her throat, Iris attempted to shift her weight and stand up, while pulling on 'Melidia'. Ultimately, even the attempt to shift her weight enough to try and stand up proved too much for Iris and she slumped back down drained of energy, barely having achieved even the slightest upward movement in her vain attempt.

 

It did not take Dämon long to clear his thoughts, even though this assailant had referred to the 'Bodyguard' as 'Death', and despite their unusual level of skill, it was not a guarantee that this was the real 'Death', at least not yet. With this in mind, Dämon mentally straightened himself out, his normal calm stillness falling into place as he took in the situation before him once more, falling into a state of cold calculation. Keeping his movements slow and non-threatening he reached with his right hand to his left arm, undoing the hidden mechanism that held the Dragon Claw Gauntlet firmly in place, the ease at which he undid it belaying the fact that he was the creator of the gauntlet, as only the one who created such a contraption would be able to operate and remove it with such proficiency. Once the gauntlet had been removed, Dämon then removed the mask and cloak, putting all three articles in a neat pile on the ground, leaving him only in his black silk party clothes that had been crafted to fit him, almost a little too well. With the more threatening and imposing parts of his costume removed he took a step towards the so-called 'Death', attempting to keep his threat level as low as possible and faced both 'Death' and Lady Alzira, the mask had been removed, both proverbially and literally. His eyes, still as cold and hard as jade, now looked as sharp and clear as a shard of thin diamond-like ice, something he had unmistakably inherited from his mother, and their ancestors who had carefully cultivated those eyes, along with many other von Gefallen features, over countless generations. Focusing those eyes on 'Death', Dämon put the full weight of his position as the undisputable future right hand and blade of the von Gefallen heiress into his words: "I will deal with my sister and her charge", his whole body language adding the unspoken words 'and not even Death will stop me from doing that'.

Edited by FallenDiablo

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As Dämon looked less and less like Blackjade with every piece he removed, Isirion finally managed to relax and mirror the noble's non-aggressive stance; even putting away the scavenged dagger. His voice however, was still every bit as vicious as he taunted Nightfeather: "Seeing as I can't use you anymore to deliver another message to your leader since those noble siblings claimed you, I'll just have to deliver a final message to your brethren myself." Nightfeather's eyes grew wide as she understood the full meaning of his words. While she was safe in Iris' hands and possible arms, Death would slaughter the rest of her guild. The thought was almost unbearable. Gritting her teeth, Nightfeather ripped out Trueshot's knife, that had come loose from Iris attempt to pull her up and threw it with all her might and rage. Anticipating the move, Isirion caught the assassin's knife with his left hand and drew his own blade with the right in one fluid motion. The sound the bloodstained blade made when it left the sheath was as eerie as ever, reminding a listener of the wailing of all the souls it had claimed. Perfectly adjusting to Nightfeathers forward motion, Isirion weaved under her throwing arm and pointed the tip of the blade at her throat, stopping the assassin dead in her tracks, lest she'd impale herself. Murder and venom finally gone from his voice, he addressed Dämon: "As you can see, this one is an assassin for real. I would be well in my rights to execute her on the spot for her recent attempt, but that would be a waste of her considerable skill. Use her strength well, but keep her on a tight leash, because if she comes after me or my charges one more time, I won't hold back again."

 

The party from Felicia's point of view so far

 

Felicia's plan of finding the master of ceremony in a jiffy to get him to insert the group's performance into the schedule had been derailed quite a bit. For starters there was no master of ceremony. In hindsight, a being as obsessed with exerting control over others as the Blue Lady would of course plan everything herself. Felicia felt like biting herself in the butt for her oversight, but that would not help at all. Having withdrawn in a corner furthest away from the commotion some idiot, hopefully unrelated to her group, had caused, Felicia weighed her options. With most of the minor nobles busy sucking up to the higher nobles, neither would pay much attention, if she posed as a fancy waitress, poisoning their drinks on the way. The only problem was that there were way too many of them to poison by hand before the first symptoms would show. Should she try to dilute the poison a bit more to gain a few additional minutes before it would take effect? No, she had already pushed the formula to the lower limit of its efficiency. Any more meddling and the poison wouldn't be potent enough anymore to kill a fullgrown human. Unbidden the picture of a pony-tailed figure wearing a lab-coat, square glasses and a look of constant curiosity, rose from the depths of her mind. Right, there had been a customer at her flower shop who had struck up the weirdest conversation about how they wanted to test the interaction between dragon poison and plant poison. Of course she had kicked them out pony-tail, lab-coat-tails and all because she was 'just' a simple flower girl, but somehow that peculiar idea must have stuck to her mind. Would it be possible to prolong the time it took for her poison to take effect while maintaining its efficiency by adding dragon poison? What wouldn't she give right now to know if that customer's research had born any fruit...

Edited by Isirion

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Seeing the unsheathed, bloodstained blade, the final piece of the puzzle fell into place, this man was without a doubt the man who had become an aspect of slaughter and fundamentally changed Dämon's life forever when he cut his way through the Black-Air-Hideout, with the single purpose of slaughtering Blackjade. His whole body tensed at the sight of the wicked blade that had pierced and later flayed her reinforced hide like it was nothing, his facial expression however relaxed visibly. Now, that he knew exactly whom he was dealing with, he also knew exactly how to act to fulfill his duty to keep his sister, the heir to the von Gefallen hive safe.

 

Calmly stepping closer, he gave an acknowledging nod to 'Death' and said: "I will make sure she learns her place in the Hive, the von Gefallen family has a long, proven history of enforcing discipline." Turning towards Nightfeather now, Dämon leaned in slightly and spoke to her in a controlled whisper, "If you truly are from the guild, you must have heard the stories about my family, about what we do to assassins and spies, however... I can assure you that their punishment was far worse than you could ever imagine, as will be yours if you lack either discipline or respect." At first, his tone was soft and warm, almost as if he were talking to a friend, although that warmth never reached his eyes, who were cold and hard like jade. Then his voice changed to the equivalent of a surgical blade, driving the point home that he made no empty threat: "My sister risked her own live to save yours, if your actions ever again threaten as much as a single hair on her head, you will wish for a long, long time that you died here today."

Edited by FallenDiablo

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Alzira was shocked by the voice. Not so much be the voice itself- she already knew it by heart for she had tried to imitate it the whole event but for the fact that the speaker had noticed them now and this let her fear the Blue Lady knew something was afoot. But was it truly the Blue Lady? Could it be that an other imposter was at this party? But it hadn´t sounded fake. She thought about it. Could it be she had just heard Celeris? She would most certainly be familiar with her mother´s speaking patterns. and they were close to her supposed hiding place. Luckily Isirion had snapped out of his enraged state and was back to his contained self which meant she could ask him about her suspicion. He should know the real one from an act. To her the proposed meeting smelled of trap, but this could still help their endeavor.

 

While Alzira was pondering the conclusions of her surmise, Dämon had removed his gauntlet, mask and cloak and Isirion had addressed Nightfeather once more. The resulting attack happened so fast that Alzira feared the malfactor might get lucky this time. Just at the moment a scream had wanted to leave her lips, Isirion had foiled the assassin´s attempt again. In a strange way it wasn´t even a unexpected, they had been at each other´s throats since they had met. Finally Dämon took responsibility and  Alzira, keeping up the facade, confirmed his claim with a slight bow: "I appreciate your approach and since we both have to take care of matters I bid you farewell." Sappo, who still sat on her shoulder, still smouldering gave a short burst of flame in consent. All this human interaction unsettled him more than he liked to admit.

 

"Finally",Alzira thought and she linked arms with Isirion and asked him conversationally:"So, what do you think...", and she told him about her hunch.

 

Edited by Alzira

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Isirion let himself be steered away from the two nobles and their not so obedient looking new disciple. Even through his dragon skin cloak he could feel the death-glares the assassin still gave them and that made him chuckle. When he and Alzira were out of earshot and back on track on the path to the tomb, he said: "I agree, that that had to be Celeris, but I don't think it is a trap. From the start this was supposed to be a test. We still have a chance to actually pass, if I don't run into anymore weirdos that remind me a little bit too much of Blackjade."

 

After a few minutes of quite silent walking, the tomb appeared before them. Hewn of blue-tinted stone and flanked by two majestic Royal Blues, it was a sight to behold even in the dark. Not so much the pint-sized, slightly grubby looking boy dressed in a self-made Golden Myth costume, who sat cross-legged on the left dragon and greeted them with a pip-squeak: "Halt travellers, none may approach my princess before facing me in honorable combat!" A very unlady-like snicker could be heard from atop the other dragon, but only a patch of darkness among more darkness could be seen...

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Alzira nodded thoughtfully at Isirion´s remark. She would remember this short episode for sure. Since they left their new aquaintances Sappo, as well as Isirion, had calmed down. In this new almost relaxed state they wandered towards the tomb. Alzira had to bite her lip not to snicker at the earnest young man in his costume. Such confident words needed a proper response. She whispered to her bodyguard: "Follow my lead and whatever you do, don´t hurt him." She then composed herself and answered in a most severe tone:" Greetings, oh mighty dragon warrior. Please state the rules of combat so we can pay respect to your most honourable lady."


Sappo eyed this scene with curious, almost shut eyes. Since they had left the other nobles he had stopped his flame and his dark silhouette was the only thing you could see of the Pygmy. He almost seemed to be a part of or rather a shadow of his keeper´s costume. There seemed to be a new game in progress.

 

Edited by Alzira

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Another snicker could be heard from the darkness, and a moment later Pip spoke again, sounding one part indignant and two parts melodramatic: "Celi, for the love of dragons, can you please stop snickering? You are totally undermining my performance. With Pride gone, I am the only dragon-friendly entertainer left in this city. I have to make a good impression on as many nobles as I can." The patch of darkness seemed to suck in his words, weighing them and finally threw them back with a laugh: "Pip, you made a good impression on the only noble that counts today - on me. Lady Death will not forget your ingenuity, that prevented a tragedy. If you hadn't suggested I'd imitate my mother's voice to stop those idiots, this game would have been ruined." Sounding quite pleased with himself, Pip returned the flattery: "If not for your flawless performance, my plan would not have worked at all."

 

"And now for the grand finale", Celeris Phirestone's voice rang out like a funeral bell and suddenly the patch of darkness around her lifted as she pulled back her cloak and threw a Magelight Pygmy into the air. In it's light the secret behind her invisibilty was revealed. Her dark, silky cloak was made of dyed Shadow-Walker manes, that had allowed her to seemingly melt into the shadows. Beneath it, she wore an intricate black tunic made of finely tanned dragon leather with matching gloves, trousers and boots. Her face was hidden behind a gruesome mask, carved from the skull of a Black Marrow. Suddenly, two dragon-tooth-daggers appeared in her hands. She threw one of them to Pip and in unison they taunted the green Fire Gem lady and her Black Dragon bodyguard: "To prove your worth, you must take them from us."

 

All the while the children had clearly fun with their performance, Isirion looked like a nightmare even darker than Blackjade had come true. It was as if Pride had shrunk and multiplied and there were now two more like him - even worse, he had to play along with them. Unable or unwilling to hide his frustration, Isirion drew his bloodstained-blade and growled like an very ill-tempered Hellfire: "Taking them from the jaws of that Blue-Banded Dragon had been a worthy challenge, taking them from your cold, dead hands proves nothing. But if you insist..." The eyes beneath the Black Marrow and the Golden Wyvern mask grew big, and then, as if practiced a hundred times, both children jumped from their stone dragons and ran away in opposite directions. Only the Magelight stayed, floating above the tomb entrance, giving off a steady light and an occasional Celeris-like snickering...

 

In the mean-time inside the dragon stables at the Blue Mansion

 

Lifting Fingers high against the reinforced bars of the dragon cage, he just caught him unlocking, the Guardian demanded an explanation. Fingers explained at length and the Guardian couldn't believe his ears. He called over Ale, who also wouldn't believe his ears. Only when a Nilia and a Misfit Pygmy swooped down in their faces to help the ex-thief, they started to believe just a little bit, that the cowardly runaway from the fishermen's village had teamed up with the one that had maimed him to free the dragons trapped in the mansion. Now it was Finger's turn to ask why the two ex-Royal-Blues were standing guard in stolen Nebula armour over their own dragons. The Guardian quickly explained, how 'delivering' Aseto as the culprit who had burned down a Neb arena had gone awry and he had ended up as a 'present' to be guarded for the Blue Lady. After a lot more questions and answers, Fingers summed it all up: "So you two are also here to free all those dragons and with the keys you talked off the noble who hired you it will go a lot faster. The only problem is freeing Leal's swarm. We found where the Nilia are on display, but they have all been pinned through their wingbones on purpose so they can't fly away." The Guardian thought about the problem and the conclusion he came to was as practical as it was cruel: "Leave them. If only half of what I heard about the Blue Lady is true, those pygmys had not only their bones broken but their minds as well. They would jeopardize the resuce of the dragons that can still be saved." Leal hissed and gave the bear-like man the most reproachful look he had in his repertoire, but it was to no avail. The wine bottle-like human had at least the decency to look ashamed at the floor, but he too didn't lift a finger at the Nilia's plight. Hissing again, Leal took off to find the only human that had truly understood him and been willing to help.

Edited by Isirion

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Alzira admired the cooperation between the kids. It was playful but with respect where it was due. The flawlessness of their cooperation suggested that they had known each other for a while now. She very much wanted to thank Pip for his ingenious idea to solve their previous conflict, but just as she thought about how to express her gratitude the game moved on. When she heard Isirion´s response to the challenge, horrorendous images crept up her spine but she reminded herself that she asked him to play along and since she had exagerated their introduction it was only right Isirion overdramatized his response to the challenge, or at least she hoped that was the case. Aaand the kids seemed to like it, like finally someone took them a bit more seriously and  bit less condescending.

 

How to proceed was the big question now. Should Isirion go for Celeris? She was his presumed daughter and considering her choice of costume and title "Lady Death" it would be the appropriate choice to get her attention and hopefully the dagger and her cooperation. She herself could go for Pip. Sappo could follow the boy in the dark easily and since he had trained with Leal he´d become quite adept in aimed fire and could stage a fight worthy of Pride´s arena and conquer the mighty dragon warrior and therefor gain the other dagger. She hoped for the boy´s love of dragons, theatrics and Sappo´s help to achieve this.

 

She turned to Isirion and relayed her plan.

 

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Still growling, because his frustration, if not his exaggerated death-threat, had been real, Isirion replied: "I agree, I'll hunt down Celeris while you two take down that runt from Pride's arena." Falling deathly silent, he switched into full predator mode and stalked after his prey, leaving Alzira and Sappo to follow an occasional golden glint between the now dimly Mage-lit trees.

 

It was soon clear that the children intended to turn 'Search' into their own glorified version of Hide & Seek. Every time Sappo came close to Pip's hiding place, a rustling could be heard and the boy stormed off to find another topiary to hide behind. Pip, for the first time after learning that his most favourite place in the world had burned down, was having real fun and so he forgot all about the 'honourable combat' and thoroughly enjoyed the running around like the child he was part.

 

Likewise, Celeris was hellbent on extending the fun game of leading the presumed noble with the awesome Death costume by the nose, but even with all her speed she could never get away more than a few yards before her pursuer caught up again. Oddly enough her shadow never tried to incapacitate her, only stuck close enough to not loose sight of her between the trees. It was as if he was more interested in the tricks she pulled in order to loose him than in actually catching her. That kind of treatment felt frustratingly familiar and so she slid to a stop and complained: "You are testing me. You are like my mother. You are no fun." Remembering at the last second that she was supposed to act diplomatic and all, Celeris added in her mother's voice and tone: "But I love your costume."

 

That stopped Isirion dead in his tracks. While testing his daughter's survival instincts he had intended to corral her in between himself and the back of the tomb, but now his head was filled with images of the veiled lady again. Of course his daughter used his distraction to disappear. Isirion grinned approvingly and gave chase. He was beginning to enjoy the game after all...

Edited by Isirion

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At first Alzira was concerned about Isirion´s approach, that it might be too harsh but as she glimpsed him stalk his prey she noticed a rarely seen - for a loss of a better word - none-tenseness in him. Somehow he seemed to enjoy it and a small smile made its way to her face as she watched their game.

 

One of Sappo´s blast hit quite close to her and she was reminded apruptly that she still had to claim a dagger. She had already noticed that Pip was enjoying their game and tried to prolong it. But all good things must come to an end she told herself reluctantly because she too relished in the delight of the moment which was in a harsh contrast to her recent routine. She beckoned Sappo to her and instructed him to herd the boy to a niche of the building they were circling playfully for a time now. There she intended to corner the boy and go on with their quest.


Sappo liked this new challenge and he took flight again, circling the boy and with a few well aimed blasts he would made the boy turn in the right direction. The little dragon eyed Pip and decided if the boy was quick enough he would give him a bit more time until Alzira would close in. He puffed a few smoke rings into the air.

 

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Having never seen Sappo' improved blasts that varied their colour and range, Pip slowed down and gawked with a dreamy smile. Pride's vision-mode had surely rubbed off because he could already imagine an all-pygmy-performance with the Dark Myst as it's star. His stage name would be Dark Myth of course. Suddenly noticing that he had been driven back against one of the stone dragons flanking the tomb, the 'dragon warrior' brandished his tooth-dagger and valiantly charging at Sappo he proclaimed: "Fierce beast, you will not take me alive. Lady Death will avenge me and wear your skin for a scarf!"

 

Celeris on the other hand had no intentions of letting the game end so soon. Running close by like a whirlwind she shouted: "Lady Death will kill you herself if you let yourself be beaten by that shoulder accessory!" Isirion, who had been drawn entirely into his daughters game, laughed and taunted in hot pursuit: "You should worry about yourself with Death so close behind." Celeris sped up immediately, clearing bushes and low topiaries as if she was flying. This was so much more fun than learning boring words and noble demeanor. Weaving around the obstacles himself, Isirion increased his running speed enough to overtake his daughter to once again try to coral her back towards the tomb. He figured it was about time that the difference in their build took it's toll on her stamina. Breathing hard Celeris tried to keep enough distance to choose her flight path, but soon enough she also found herself with her back against a stone dragon. Isirion changed his stance and approached her like a person instead of prey and growled in his most menacing voice: "You have nowhere left to run. Give me that dagger or I'll skin your friend and wear him as a scarf."

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Sappo grinned, he liked the tile of "Fierce Beast". He let loose a few well aimed fire balls, slightly different in colour to distract the young warrior. Nevertheless he didn´t forget to evade the oncoming attack. With a slight wingbeat he changed his flightpath and dived elegantly under Pip´s arm, then rolled and changed direction and rose behind the boy´s back. There he hovered for a short second and landed as he had done so similarily for a thousand times, only difference was the spot he chose. He quit his flame. The brave Dragon Warrior who charged so valiantly was outmanoeuvered and in a dire situation now, for the enemy was at his back, or was he? The boy turned around but he couldn´t see his nemesis.

 

Alzira was closing in, watching the fight Sappo had arranged for Pip. She was sure both enjoyed this elaborate fight, as it looked spectacular. It was like fireworks illuminated an epic last stand, including quick stabs, swift dodges and daredevil attacks but finally the dragon started his fiercest move. It was simply awe inspiring. She instantly recognized it. Knewing how it would end she hurried towards the boy so she wouldn´t miss her opportunity and commanded."Yield, young warrior! You fought valiantly and you brought honour to your lady. I think we showed you our worth, now show yours by transferring the dagger."

 

Pip was taken aback, yes the fight had been glorious, worth of any stage he could think of, but defeat? He almost shook his  head in denial, just at the beginning of the movement he noticed something too dark in the corner of his eye. Now fully turning his head he was almost eye to eye with the Dark Myst Pygmy. Sappo slightly showed his teeth in a grin, no fire smoldering there, but he wouldn´t need it at this distance any way. Pip was overwhelmed, what a magnificent dragon! He hadn´t noticed the additional weight of the dragon due to his soft landing at all. Realising the consequences had this been a fight for real made him gulp, but nevertheless, what a fight this had been! Therefore the noble lady  and her pygmy had rightfully earned the dagger.

 

Edited by Alzira

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Both cornered kids seemed to share a meaningful glance, then they bowed towards the presumed nobles that had spendidly gone along with their performance. As one they handed over the daggers and chorused: "You have shown strength, honour and resourcefulness using your dragon and the terrain like that. You have earned those daggers and a drink!" At the last words Pip and Celeris whistled and the Magelight came to them at once bearing two glasses and a bottle of Vine. The Phirestone heir took everything, filled both glasses and offered one to Isirion who nonchalantly passed it to Alzira. Celeris probably raised an eyebrow or two under her Black Marrow mask, but said nothing and clinked glasses with the green Fire Gem lady instead.

 

*clink*

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Posted (edited)

The moment the Magelight Pygmy arrived with the beverage Alzira´s eyes were checking the bottle top but it seemed still sealed. She was quite sure this beverage hadn´t been tampered with. Silly her, offering an already opened wine, especially Vine would be an affront to any guest, but still she couldn´t shake the uneasiness. She thought about their intended poison attempt and how far Felicia could be, but she hadn´t noticed her anywhere yet and their original distribution idea was more hands-on. She pushed her doubts aside, took the offered glass gracefully and clinked it with the young lady. She took a sip and prayed that her conclusions were not off.

Edited by Alzira

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As Alzira reluctantly drank from the glass of Vine, two pairs of blue eyes watched her intently. Isirion watched out for any sign of poisoning, while Celeris seemed focused on the fake-clawed fire-gem gloves. Only Pip paid no interest to the beverage and tried to befriend Sappo instead by offering him some sort of spiced meat, no doubtly swiped from the noble's buffet. When it was her turn to drink, Celeris called the Magelight to action just as she raised the glass towards her lips. With a bright flash the glass was suddenly empty and the space behind the Phirestone heir became mysteriously wet. Interestingly enough the wet space shot reproachful glances and flew straight at Isirion revealing itself to be an indignant Nilia Pygmy. Leal started squeaking and found himself snatched from the air in a splitsecond, followed by a quick inspection for any messages. Finding none, Isirion tried to interpret Leal's continous, desperate sounding squeaks. His apparent dragon mishandling earned him a few mumbled choice words from Pip and an icy stare from Celeris. Ignoring them both, Isirion concentrated to get the gist of Leal's predicament. About a minute later he bowed slightly towards Alzira and offered a slightly redacted translation: "My lady, this messenger pygmy seems to have flown too close to one of those dragon displays our host favours. He got spooked or shooed away and most likely lost his message there and then. Should I go back and search for the message in case it's important?"

Edited by Isirion

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Alzira was intensely aware that she was being watched taking a sip. The flash rattled her but nevertheless she managed to keep the glass calmly in her hand and look as if she enjoyed this rare treat. Since Isirion didn´t behave any more alarmingly than usual she even relaxed a bit. Now that was over she noticed that not her drinking but her costume and Sappo were the centre of attention. She scolded herself internally for not realising that the kids weren´t assassins in the making, at least not yet. They were children, surely with a lot of power, but still with a strong interest in play and dragons. Leal´s sudden appearance and especially Isirion´s seemingly harsh search made their love for dragons even more visible.

 

When Isirion told her about Leal´s predicament she simply answered "Please do. I hope it´s good news" In fact she was curious if it was a message of Felicia. She hadn´t seen her since the beginning of the event. It would be good to know what she was up to.

 

In the meantime Sappo had returned to her shoulder, still munching on a bit of meat. She turned towards the kids again, pulled a few short twigs from her sleeve and asked: "Do you want to see the little one play match? Maybe your Magelight wants to play too?"

 

 

Edited by Alzira

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A few seconds later two pairs of eyes were glued on the Magelight's first tries on igniting the twigs Alzira threw with her tail-flame in mid-air. Sappo of course had long mastered that game and every time Pip offered him another meaty treat, he generously showed-off that he could burn even the most difficult throws before they hit the ground.

 

Isirion, who had left the moment he got 'permission', focused on not running into any more surprise-nobles. Leal had sounded really anxious and was still fidgeting on his shoulder. Whatever the little one had seen, it must have been something able to ruin their plan. That was reason enough to cross the forest-garden with a sprint. Just before the Magelight checkpoint he slowed down and re-entered the party at a normal pace. Mindful of not drawing anymore unnecessary attention again, he tried to walk like the real nobles, at least those that weren't dead-drunk by now. That way, with Leal pointing his head towards the intended target-destination, Isirion soon found himself inside the Blue Lady's very own dragon stables. So far everything seemed as planned, most of the cages were unlocked already, with the docile inhabitants happily munching on a few morsels of extra-food the pygmies must have sneaked in. What hadn't been in the plan was Fingers being a tightly-gagged and tied-up inhabitant of one the still locked cages. Isirion cut him free through the bars so that the ex-thief could lock-pick himself out of his predicament. After that was done, Isirion very quietly demanded an explanation. Fingers, by now used to giving explanations, explained just as quietly that he had run into Ale and the Guardian who were here in Nebula disguise to also free the dragons, but refused to free the broken pygmies. Isirion immediately understood and whispered: "You have done your part Fingers, get out of here. I will go and put those pygmies out of their misery."

Edited by Isirion

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As Death and his Lady walked away, Dämon turned his attention to his new charge, a less than pleased look in his eyes, his voice just as chilling as it had been before, "Now that it's just us, I will warn you once, and once only, you have used all but the last of the grace that my sister's affections have bought you, and should you run, or do anything else for that matter without being told..." He let his statement trail off, leaving the specifics of what would happen to her if she disobeyed up to her own imagination, after all his last threat had been descriptive enough. With that taken care of, he looked at his incapacitated sister, then at his costume and sighed, "Pick that up will you, I would rather not have to carry both the gauntlet and Iris, lest I accidentally injure her in the process." With a wave at the gauntlet, cloak and mask he turned to Iris with an exasperated look, scooping her up and making his way back towards where the throng of the party was still proceeding, not even bothering to check if the failed assassin was following or not, his confidence that even if she ran that he could catch her absolute in his mind and demeanour.

 

A Short While Later, Back at the Courtyard

 

For Dämon, the most important part was to return to his mother and report on the proceedings, which was far easier than he had expected as she had remained at the edge of the throng of people, looking over the inferior masses like a queen atop her throne. When he got closer Dämon handed his sister to one of his family's servants with instructions to give her something to help her with her 'condition' while he delivered his report to the 'Hive Queen'. Walking slightly behind Königin, as a show of respect, Dämon recounted the events in order as they had transpired, leaving not even the slightest detail from his report.
 

"What a fascinating revelation, you did well despite your sister's uncontrollable, rash behaviour and actions." Königin looked pleased, a new chess piece had been laid on the board and she had every intention of bringing it over to her side before the Blue Lady or another influential noble snapped it up. The mention of the Taifa family raised one of her eyebrows quite high, perhaps things would become more interesting after tonight's party, besides Sodger's soon to be dragon raid that is. After a few moments of thought, Königin waved over one of the servants accompanying her. This particular one was a bit older than Iris, nevertheless having received training from the same special trainers as Iris when the 'Hive Queen' was busy taking care of family matters. "When the festivities end go invite the young Lady from the Taifa family and her unusual companion to visit the Hive tomorrow. That companion of hers will most likely detect you, so do be careful and act accordingly, since it would be most bothersome to find someone else to deliver the message should you fail. " Königin's voice held that icy tone that Dämon had used on 'Melidia' earlier, and with a brief description of their attire, including the stress on the fact that the cloak the 'unusual companion' was wearing was real black dragon skin, the servant was sent on her way to find the pair and keep them within her sight waiting for a perfect moment to deliver the invitation from the 'Hive Queen'. Turning her attention back to her son, Königin nodded slightly in approval, without his cloak, mask and cape he drew even more attention than when he wore them, his striking features from his von Gefallen lineage standing out from the rabble like a polished diamond among the silt, "Be prepared, when the festivities reach a high point you must take the attention away from the Blue Lady, after all an announcement such as ours deserves such an audience and atmosphere, and who better to prepare the masses and draw their attention than my pride, my son." What she did not say was that it would be an excellent way to slap the Blue Lady in the face, however, it was obvious enough to her son that he smiled slightly, nodding his head as he understood what she said.

 

"As you wish mother, their attention will be solely on House von Gefallen." He said smoothly in response to his mother's order, he would make sure to carry out her will to the best of his ability, even if it meant taking drastic action to do so.

Edited by FallenDiablo

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Having left Fingers behind with orders to rejoin the party and search for Felicia whose continued absence might bode ill for their plan, Isirion snuck around a few more corners until he stood before the pride and joy of the Blue Lady. A gigantic dragon diorama labeled 'The Sky' stretched along the full length of a wall, sporting dozens of Nilia pygmies seemingly dancing in the air, swooping down a waterfall or resting in a tree. While the art of the wallpainting providing the background was vibrant and dynamic like Alzira's paintings, the eyes of most of the pygmies pinned to it were lifeless and dull. The Nilias were all alive, but their bodies seemed vacant. Leal screeched in a futile attempt to get a reaction or even recognition from his swarm, but few even turned their empty eyes in his direction.

 

"If you can't stomach what I am about to do, you should leave', Isirion addressed the heartbroken pygmy. Leal screeched even louder and tried to bite the hand closing in on the neck of a particular pitiful looking pygmy. Catching Leal with his other hand, Isirion put him face to face with the pinned one and asked: "If that were you, wouldn't you wish for someone to end your meaningless suffering?" Leal fell silent, and only the sound of a neck breaking could be heard, soon followed by another and another and another...

Edited by Isirion

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Dämon slipped away from the area where his mother had been presiding, instead, filtering into the crowd and making sure as many people could see him as he passed, especially now that he no longer wore the majority of his attire that he had arrived in. On his way he stopped by the bar to collect a metal spoon and a glass with whatever was suggested in it and then he made his way over to a point near the area where the Blue Lady had made her announcement previously to let himself, not partaking of the drink he had collected, using it for the most part as a prop and possible improvised weapon if the situation called for it. Once he had found a good place to stand in full view of the party, where everyone could see him whether he be sitting or standing without drawing any direct attention, he simply stood waiting for the correct moment to interrupt the party with his announcement, "Probably when the Blue Lady is announcing her little 'game's' winner." He thought to himself dryly.

 

Königin watched her son move into a position where he would be able to draw enough attention, only her eyes moving as the rest of her body stayed perfectly still, and once he had found his place Königin started to make her way, far slower than her son had, towards the opposite side of the area that was most likely to be used for the announcement. Königin von Gefallen moved much like her son, albeit with decades more experience and practice, her movements and steps so light and careful that not even the slightest sound came from her as she walked despite moving at a reasonable pace through the crowd. To one looking from overhead they might equate the movement of the 'Hive Queen' to that of a needle threading in and out of a cloth, which in this case, Königin was the needle while the crowd around her was the cloth. When she reached the desired point she stopped and looked around, her eyes sliding over all of the staff that was within her line of sight, mentally noting those that were from her own spies, those that looked as if they would flee at the first sign of a conflict, and those that might provide a hindrance to the plan at hand. Though she normally left her son to take care of such things, Königin never truly let her guard down, she knew better than to be complacent even when you should be safe, especially when within the walls of this city.

Edited by FallenDiablo

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Posted (edited)

'Good', captain Darian Hightower thought as he observed the restless nobles finally calming down. When Dämon von Gefallen had reappeared in their midst, calm and composed despite having apparently lost a part of his costume, the brighter nobles immediately concluded that he must have found Celeris and participated in some kind of hidden challenge, no doubt emerging the victor. Thus, they saw no more reason to continue to search in vain while suspecting each other of working together with other houses to foil their chances at winning the Phirestone favour. Even the slower ones could tell that something had changed, when the Hive Queen passed through them like they weren't even there. It was time to act.

 

'Good', the Blue Lady thought standing tall on the battlements, focused on the approximate direction of the family tomb. A Magelight, no doubt her daughter's, was flashing constantly above the treeline, indicating that someone had cleared every part of the 'Search' game. She had had her doubts, when Celeris had suggested to include the newest Marrovarg adopt into the challenge, but utilizing the element of surprise was a valid battle strategy. Now, all that was left, was deducing who won the game. To her surprise every noble that had any chance of winning was present in the courtyard. Was there a dark horse among those she had dismissed as failures from the start? Her thoughts drifted towards the figure that had drawn so much attention earlier and a very quiet 'I wonder...' could be heard escaping her lips. Captain Darian Hightower, who had been waiting at a safe distance for a chance to safely deliver the message Dämon had given him, gathered his courage and finally approached her with his head bowed: "My lady, I bear a message from the first son of the von Gefallen family. A host of Hellfire Wyverns is approaching the city. If that light means, that the game is concluded, we should start preparations for evacuation."

 

*smack* A bloody gash appeared across Darian's face, left behind by the lady's whip. Cerulia looked even more furious than he had feared, even after he had waited to deliver the bad news until the goal of the party had been reached, presumably putting her in a good mood. Darian bowed even lower, not daring to make eye contact and presented the von Gefallen coin. The lady snatched it up immediately and hissed: "Those walking dressing puppets would not have handed over one of their precious coins to a nobody like you, if there wasn't a real threat. Patch yourself up and then go summon the Overton, Hightower and Marrovarg leaders to the 'Sky' to discuss strategy. You are not to breathe a word to anyone else about this. Do you understand?" Darian understood perfectly, if he failed to comply, a host of hellfires would be his least concern and a much more comfortable way to die...

Edited by Isirion

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For a few moments as all the nobles calmed themselves, the von Gefallens remained still, as if statues had been given life, however, Dämon's immobility was abruptly interrupted when he raised his glass up. He used his nails to tap against the glass sending out a sharp clear ringing tone out to draw attention, pausing for effect as he waited for all eyes to turn to himself, his own gaze almost burning a trail through the crowd with its intensity as he scanned to see if he had everyone's attention, and whether the unusual duo had returned from their foray to find the daughter of the Blue Lady, not that it mattered too much, there would be plenty of time to speak with them at another time. To those looking at him, it would appear as if he was about to give a congratulatory toast, however as he opened his mouth the words that left it next were anything but congratulations, "Lords and Ladies, on such a fine night..."  his words held a hint of sarcasm as he said that, although the night itself was quite nice, the very fact that the event was being hosted and run by the Blue Lady left a sour note in it, at least for the von Gefallens, "My family has the most grievous news to share with you all about the fate of our most beloved city." This time he held his sarcastic tone in check only his eyes twinkling slightly as he spoke, belaying how he was enjoying himself to those who knew him well, or that bore similar personalities to himself, however looking out at the crowd one thought pushed to the front of his mind as he spoke, "These Inferior creatures who don't know their place in this world are about to learn most painfully that they are not the top of the food chain".

 

At this point in time, Königin had decided that the atmosphere was perfect and walked up behind her son, letting him know she was there with a swift tap to the shoulder as not even he was able to hear his mother's movements. Dämon looked out at the crowd and announced, "I relinquish the spotlight to the head of my house, Königin von Gefallen." After which he shifted his position so that he was to the side and slightly behind his mother on her right side, as still as a marble statue while remaining vigilant. Königin stepped forward to occupy the space that her son had vacated, "Friends, foes and everything in between, it is with a heavy heart that I bring such dark tidings to you on such an important day for House Phirestone." The way she masked her contempt as she spoke, making it almost seem like she even had the slightest bit of remorse for what was most definitely going to ruin such a 'splendid' party, the display of false remorse yet another way to slap her Blueness in the face and make her seem pitiable. "Outside the city there is a host of incredible size, of Hellfire Wyverns waiting to attack this city." She paused to let the words set in and even let the crowd become restless and murmur, but before anyone could become too rowdy or speak up she raised a hand, the simple gesture holding a weight to it as if a whip had just been cracked. Even if she had not had their undivided attention before, with that simple, yet powerful sequence of actions, Königin would have gained their full focus, like if you were to beat an animal when it did something you didn't like only to then give it a treat to make it think you loved it and only hurt it out of love. Of course, the treat in this sense was the anticipation that there was more to the situation that might be good news in opposition to the hopelessness that was the countless maws of Hellfires waiting outside of the city waiting to snap them up like candied treats. "The good news is that this is no wild host of dragons, it is trained, highly disciplined and led by the ex-captain of the Royal Blues, who has a demand for the city, that the corrupted nobles and their 'nebula lackeys' as he so eloquently put it, are to surrender within 24 hours, which gives everyone here approximately till mid-day tomorrow to decide your fates." Königin then stepped back, breaking the effect she had on the crowd as she had said everything she had needed too and now was content to sit back and let the chaos unfold, and wait to see the furious face of the Blue Lady as she had undoubtedly heard from those 'nebula lackeys' already about the situation and without a doubt would not want to announce it during such an important party, Dämon had done well to see to it that the news would reach a significant enough individual in the ranks to assure the news reached her.

 

While Dämon remained on alert, as was his duty, he also kept an eye out for that unusual pair to return, interested to see how they would respond to the chaos that was most likely about to unfold.

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As the von Gefallen words sank in, the courtyard fell silent at first, then the whispers started. The murmuring rose into a crescendo of shouts, each voice demanding either an emergency meeting, an escort, protection, further details, the Nebulas to do 'something', the Royal Blue regiment to reform and take charge, the Blue Lady to retire instead, a glass of wine or simply an apology for being lumped in with those corrupted nobles...

 

*crack* *crack* *crack*

 

The Blue Lady furiously cracked her whip, the chaos in the courtyard drowning out the sound that was meant to regain the attention of the nobles. Torn between wanting to find Darian to strangle him for withholding important details in his report of the Hellfires and craving to jump down into the courtyard to strangle the whole von Gefallen family for ruining her party, Cerulia quickly weighed her options. The arena fiasko had left the Nebulas decimated, but still a force to be reckonend with. Her personal dragons were plenty and trained to utmost obedience, but would it be enough? Rumours had it that the Nebs had failed to take out a single attacker, what use would they be against a full army of Hellfires? Not even the mythical Death would stand a chance...or would he? A dangerous idea began to form in her mind. To take out an army you didn't have to take out each and every soldier, taking out the commander would lead to the command structure breaking down, weakening the army, possibly enough to repel it. With a clear plan in mind, the lady rushed towards the 'Sky', hoping against hope that at least some of the noble leaders would be there.

 

By the time she had descended the battlements, the Overtons had retreated to command and organize the remaining Nebula forces, followed by the Hightower tower-captains. The Marrovargs had left to go underground, planning to hide six feet under their own graveyard complex. The lesser nobles soon fled in droves too, some trying to hide, some trying to evacuate, none planning to help. The Hassleborough heir sought shelter with the assassin's guild, while Nightfeather remained in supposedly deep cover with the von Gefallens.

 

Thus, when the Blue Lady reached the 'Sky', she found it vacant, except for a Black Dragon skin-clad figure apparently messing around with the decorations. In desperate need to vent her pent up anger, Cerulia cracked her whip again, but the victim-to-be dodged with uncanny ease and grace, spinning around in a split-second throwing the corpse of a Nilia with a broken neck at her. A way too lively looking Nilia, started hissing and spitting and shrieking from the corpse-thrower's shoulder, but the man ignored it and just stared at her with very familiar looking icy-blue eyes from beneath a Black Dragon mask. The Blue Lady stared back, the corpse that had hit her, lying forgotten on the floor. Almost simultaneous both of them gasped: "You!"

Edited by Isirion

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Alzira noticed the party sounds were ebbing down slowly, "An announcement seems to be due shortly" , she thought. She looked at her little entourage as they were walking towards the center of spreading silence. Sappo was flying in front of them, still engaged in playful banter with the magelight. Then came the small group of Celeris, the Blue Lady´s heir, her faithful dragon warrior and herself. Alzira was almost eager to meet their host.

 

Suddenly she realized it was too silent, no more low murmurs and expectant tension before the highlight of the evening. She even managed to catch the last words of Königin von Gefallen. Just as she was grasping the meaning of this information, chaos erupted. The sudden outburst of panic and the likes of which almost stunned her. She beckoned the children closer, and looked around. She hoped to find Felicia in the turmoil, but wasn´t lucky for now. Sappo started circling close to her, providing a higher viewpoint. Nevertheless Alzira moved to higher ground to have a better view for herself and  to see were the masses were moving to. She noticed the nobles fleeing and hiding without  a special pattern. She didnt see the Blue Lady, but she was sure she had seen something blue vanish through a gate. A few people were heading towards the tombs, the Marrovargs, she assumed. In contrast the guards were moving purposefully and determined toward defensive positions as she presumed.

 

"Quite the impression the old soldier made", she told herself. "Well, mostly the Hellfires", she corrected herself. Did he really think they would surrender without resistance? This  could go so terribly wrong!

 

She needed to find the other members of their group and adapt their plan, again...  and she had to keep the kids safe as well. She looked around hoping to find a familiar face. She still couldn´t see Isirion or Felicia in the commotion, although she thought she recognized Pride in his costume glitter towards the outskirts of the area. She told Sappo about it and sent him to lead the former arena manager back to them. They needed to gather and decide further steps before the ultimatum was over.

 

 

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Pride had never felt so lost in his life, not even after watching his beloved arena burn to the ground. In half a day the whole city would be undistinguishable from the ashes of his life's dream. From the moment he had heard that the ex-captain of the Royal Blues was the one threatening the city, he knew it was all his fault. He knew he had provided shelter to a group of people in conflict with the Nebs, he knew they had broken the old soldier out of prison but ignored it because they had freed Mythy's grooms in the process too. He knew it couldn't have been a coincindence that almost all of them had left the night Hassleborough was slaughtered, only to come back bloodied and with assassin's on their tail. Golden Myth had tried to warn him, told him about the fresh blood he had smelled on the dragon killer, but he hadn't listened and it had cost him his arena. Now it would cost him his city. It was time to find his wife and his dragon and leave all this behind.

 

Fingers had never run faster in his life, whatever those nobles had gotten themselves into, the chaos following the announcement of the looming Hellfire Army provided the perfect cover to make his escape. He had never wanted any of this, only to find and reunite with the Gatherer who had shown him kindness and compassion. Still, he had done his part of the plan that had been forced on him, but this was all over now. It was time to leave this messed up city for good and start anew.

 

Felicia had never been more nervous in her life, not even on her wedding day. She had dealt with poisons most of her life pre-Pride, but actually trying to administer them in an attempt to poison most of the ruling class was nerve-wrecking to say the least. Every time a noble had looked at her, she felt exposed, unable to continue for fear of discovery and so she had moved on from potential target to potential target, never finding the right time or the right moment. The shocking announcement of Königin von Gefallen really came as a blessing in disguise. It was time to go back to being a simple flower girl married to a simple man, while that army of Hellfires would soon take care of the problem for her.

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