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Isirion

The Bloodline of Torch

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Orion looked at Alzira and smiled upon noticing the little dragons running around, then gave her a nod of approval. Upon asking for a ride Alsia looked at Alzira and nodded. "It's no problem, you can ride with Orion, as for the little island, it's probably worth checking out." Suddenly the pitter patter of little feet caught her attention, it was Emeraldan, he was running about in joy since he gets to spend time with a new friend. Orion then saw the two little dragons running about and smiled, right after he had a serious look and spoke to the group so everyone could hear,

"Alright, so it seems we know where we are going to look, check back here in an hour, if you find our ghost or even ghosts don't go in on your own, meet back here with everyone else so we can go together."

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In the meantime at Isirions's hideout

 

Foreboding shadows crept over the walls as Isirion prowled up and down in the torch-lit storage cave where he had put the spare boards of wood he had picked up in the dragon stables before returning. Although he had made sure that the White Dragon Susurro would be powerful enough to heal a wound like Belia's, the main problem still remained. Transporting Belia to Susurro was out of question in her state and instead bringing in the White Dragon into the hideout was of course not an option either. Frowning and still prowling up and down Isirion considered all the information he had at hand and finally came to a conclusion. If he managed to get his hands on some of the healing energy of the White Dragon he would have to move neither dragon. Now smiling while prowling up and down Isirion formed a plan in his mind on how to best steal the energy he needed without being noticed by the White Dragon in the process. Upon finishing his scheme Isirions smile changed to a grin and he spoke to himself with an ice-cold voice before he vanished on the spot: "Now which of my dragons should I pay a ghostly visit to hone my energy-stealing-skills before trying them on Susurro?"

 

A moment later at Torch's cave

 

Isirion reappeared on the landing platform in front of the big cave under the stony ceiling of his hideout and instantly hid in the shadows cast by the special torch that had been lit by Chimera's fire. Now, without hesitation or making a sound he sneaked into the cave. Inside, Hellfire Torch and Hellfire Chimera where lying nose to nose and shivering body to shivering body as if they were trying to shield each other from a nightmare they were sharing. To rule out even the slightest possibility of being heard by them, Isirion walked only on the incredibly soft Dragon Cashmere blankets that were all over the place as he crept closer. Finally he reached Chimera and very carefully placed his right hand over her head. He knew his hand was colder than her body temperature so he waited until the heat emanating from her body sufficiently warmed it up before actually touching her. His left hand he hold close to his own body to form a bridge for the energy like he had seen the White Dragon do during the healing process. With these preparations done, Isirion concentrated on tapping into the fiery energy that flowed through the Hellfire's body and directing it with his mind into his own body. After a minute he had collected enough energy for his purpose and he vanished on the spot leaving behind the female dragon that was now shaking violently in her nightmare because of the sudden and terrible feeling of having lost something vital to her...

 

Soon after at the 'Sleeping Dragon' tavern

 

As Alzira, Orion and their little dragons had safely mounted Alsia, Jaxon came running from the tavern with the maps Erastor had asked him to get. The boy handed a rough sketch of the forest with significant points like 'orange stuff tree' and 'better than rope vines' marked to the exorcist. The other map that looked a lot more professional he gave to Orion. This map showed:

In the center the tavern on the eastern shore of the lake that really looked like a sleeping dragon with the small island in the middle forming it's eye

 

In the North a rather plain landscape with lots of fields and the occasional farm house near the road to the next large town

 

In the East the supposedly haunted forest and the main path through it that leads to the small town from where Erastor came

 

In the West a small fishermen's village located right on the western shore of the lake with a huge mountain shadowing over it in the distance

 

In the South the green of the forest slowly changed to the dried yellow of a vast desert that seems to go on forever

After carefully studying their maps and wishing each other the best of luck, the two groups headed for their respective destinations carrying with them the huge and delicious smelling lunch packages that Candy had prepared for them at the last second even if they all were supposed to meet back in just an hour. After having irresistably forced her food donations on everybody, the sweet woman stood waving at the lakeshore and watched the magnificent sight of the Ice Dragon taking flight while the icicles on her body glittered in the rising morning sun. Soon Alsia reached the little island and prepared to land while the little dragons also riding on her back gave an excited squeak at the sudden but safe descent. While Alsia was circling low over the island in order to find the perfect landing place, Orion and Alzira on her back had the perfect opportunity to learn about the layout of the island:In the center of the island was a wooden shrine built around a strange tree that looked from the air like the slitted pupil of a dragon's eye.

 

In the North was a beautiful sandy beach decorated with rocks and shells and the occasional palm tree.

 

In the East the beach continued and stretched out on it some beautifully coloured Sunrise Dragons clearly enjoyed bathing in the early morning sun.

 

In the West there was a rather harsh stony cliff that seems to rise like an eyebrow over a roomy cave.

 

In the South between the palms covering most of this side of the island, the burnt remains of a wooden shack were visible.

Edited by Isirion

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The view was magnificent, Alzira enjoyed every minute of the flight. At first she had been a bit shaken, losing the ground hadn't been her favourite cup of tea, but Alsia's stable flight and the vista were just too great to feel uneasy any longer. Every inch of that island would have made a great scenery in one of her paintings but, alas, other things had to be done first. Alzira focused on finding a place where a possible hideout could be hidden, maybe the shrine was a good point to start the search? Perhaps the beaches were the better starting point, the burnt hut seemed quite suspicious. Her mind was racing in circles so she asked, trusting her instincts:"How about landing near the hut on the southern beach? I think it's worth a closer look. Then we could go on to the western shore and explore the cliff and possible caves, then maybe a break near the shrine? If we find something fishy we can always change our plans."

Edited by Alzira

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"That's almost exactly what I was thinking." smiled Orion. "Alsia, take us to that hut please." "Will do." Alsia began a steady decent a stone's throw away from the hut. The sun's rays beaming off her beautiful blue hide. Her riders dismounted to get a better view of the hut, herself as well. Then out of Orion's bag Emeraldan leaped out and began to circle around Alzira and Orion playfully, making the little squeals and sounds of joy most hatchies like to make.

 

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As the humans came close to the burnt hut, they first noticed that it had been big enough to hide a full grown dragon from sight. Backing up that theory was the fact that on one of the walls remaining were deep scratches from a dragon's claws in the charred wood. On the inside of the ruin a blackened metal chain was lying on a heap of ash. From another heap of ash a metal collar that was ripped open but was still connected to that chain stuck out. It had spikes on the inside that must have been painful for the poor dragon that had to wear it. Except from these things nothing else was distinguishable from the heaps of ashes and charred wood and so the humans started to look outside for clues. On the outside, near the burnt patch of grass where the front door must have been there was a little path to discover that led deeper into the palm forest and looked like it must have been used fairly regular by one or more humans.

Edited by Isirion

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As soon as Alsia had landed, Sappo jumped down and now he sniffed at the burnt remains of the hut. Someone had ignited a bigger and hotter fire than him. He was impressed and kept on sniffing at the different pieces of the ruin. Meanwhile Alzira had inspected the wreckage."Strange collar", she thought,"it must have hurt a lot to wear it. Who keeps a dragon in such a disgusting way?" and held the spiked piece of metal aloft so Orion could examine it closer "It seems someone had imprisoned and agonized a dragon but after a while the dragon managed to get rid of that instrument of torture, destroyed the hut and left, but where to?" Just at that moment Sappo noticed the path and blew a small flame to get Alzira's and Orion's attention. Alzira hurried to Sappo and glanced around. "Orion, take a look! There's a small path here, it seems it has been used regularly. Shall we follow it?"

Edited by Alzira

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"Sure, it looks like it was used recently." As they began down the path Alsia made some noise. She smashed half of the hut with her paws and using her head rammed down another wall, breaking it easily. When it fell she swatted at the boards with her claws. The hut was already mostly destroyed but Alsia took grim delight in tearing every piece left standing. "Such a thing should never exist." Alsia spat at the ground before walking to keep pace with Orion and Alsia. Emeraldan climbed up Orion's back and sat on his left shoulder and poked at a shiny button he found on Orion's clothes as he became even more interested in it. "Alsia, are you alright?" Orion said with concern. "I am, it's just horrible to think someone would do that to any creature let alone a dragon." "I agree, which is why hopefully we'll catch who or whatever did that." "If someone were to even think about doing that to Valerian..." Alsia breathed with a hint of anger. "He would incinerate them." Orion reassured her. After a moment of silence Orion asked Alzira, "Would you like to hear the story of how we met Valerian?"

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Alzira agreed completely with Alsia, such a thing should never have existed. Just imagining something like that could happen to Sappo or Susurro made her feel sick and furious at the same time. Sappo himself was a bit startled. The final destruction of the ruin caught him by surprise, but he concurred with his company. He moved closer to the noticeable upset Alzira. Noticing her little dragon she realized that her face had turned into a tense grimace so she tried to rela againx. Facing Orion she responded:"I'd love to hear it! Let's move on while you are telling."

Edited by Alzira

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Orion took a deep breath as they continued walking. "To begin, Alsia and I were at my house when the decision was made, at the time she was still only just taller than my knee." Orion smiled as he looked up to see how much Alsia had grown. "I had the map rolled out on an old table and was looking for a good place for us to go, we had already been to the mountains and the forest. Then Alsia jumped up on the table, only a week before had she gendered and her wings were coming in well. She still jumped around like a cat after a ball of yarn most days. I know I already said it but when she picked the volcano region I was pretty surprised, but she stuck with the decision. I rolled up the map and began packing while Alsia played with the cat that was still a kitten, just as Alsia wasn't fully grown either. I packed up plenty of food, a tent, a bedroll for me and a smaller bedroll for Alsia along with a pair of blankets. I took what rope I had, some cloth to make spare cloths as well as a couple shirts and the like. By the time I finished packing there was plenty of food and equipment in my pack but thankfully it wasn't as heavy as I thought it might be. I invited my friend James over to watch the house and the cat, while Alsia was stronger and could get away from danger the cat could barely catch a rat. I exchanged a couple of stories with James before we departed, he told me he heard quite a lot of hellfire activity in the volcano region but I thought little of it at the time. We bid him farewell and left. After a couple days travels we finally saw the volcano region there were hellfires all over the sky, busy with something, maybe it was mating season or they just wanted to fight. While our eyes were on the sky we barely noticed a handful of hellfire hatchlings 100 feet in front of us. Alsia and I dove behind a rock and observed before they would notice us, didn't want the screaming for their parents. It was a group of four hellfire hatchlings. One female, thee males, it looked like one of the males was being pushed back by the other approaching it, they looked like they wanted to hurt it and the female seemed to be in charge of the two threatening the other one, the one they threatened would be Valerian, although we didn't know it at the time. Then they lashed out at him, each attacking at once, while on his own he fought fiercely, had it been one on one it looked like he'd win but was soon overwhelmed and knocked over, then one of the others pinned Valerian to the ground and clawed at him. I looked for Alsia whom I expected to be next to me but I glanced up and saw her charging to help, she knocked over the hatchling pinning Valerian. He stumbled up and nodded in thanks and the two worked together to fight off the aggressive hatchlings. I ran to make sure Alsia and Valerian were okay but by that time they had already beaten and driven off the others. When I made it to the two of them Valerian fell to the ground unconscious. While I was unsure what to do Alsia looked at me with the most pleading eyes. So I took out my bedroll and laid him on it, I looked him over and patched up most of his bad cuts or scrapes using the cloth from my pack. I let him rest for an hour, then he woke up and and at first he was scared but I reassured him I would only help, he told us that he didn't have a real name, most others just called him smoke because he was the last of his peers to breathe fire and was often picked on. He wasn't sure who his parents were because the others said he was abandoned because a human tried to steal his egg but for some reason failed to but his egg still carried his smell. As he finished his story I told him he deserved a real name, not smoke, he agreed and Alsia and I looked at him for a moment, then I said Valerian, it was a brave, strong name. They both loved it, Alsia smiled and Valerian jumped in joy. That's when we heard a booming roar in the far distance. I packed up the bedroll and Valerian asked to come with us, I nodded and told him and Alsia we needed to be long gone when the other dragons arrived. We all walked away at a fast pace until night time several hours later. After resting for the night we continued home. After a couple more days of travelling we made it home safe and sound, I took a rest while Alsia and Valerian talked and got to know each other better and both played with that cat as well. That's how we met Valerian." Alsia smiled happily and Emeraldan looked at Orion strangely as it was the first time he heard the story as well but he could tell Emeraldan enjoyed it nonetheless.

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"That was quite an adventurous story", Alzira said, "I met Sapppo just outside a cave where I was trying to sketch some of the hatchlings for my paintings. I kept my distance so I wouldn't disturb the hatchlings or their parents. Sappo was just a small hatchling then, just one in a larger group playing together. He was quite a curious one who tried to set everything on fire. Didn't work too well, cause he couldn't breathe fire then, but he tried nevertheless. At the end of that day he was all alone and at first I thought his mother was still hunting, but when I visited the cave again, he was still there, looking really weak and famished. Someone must have tried to capture him and the human smell must have driven off his mother. So I fed him, nursed him back to health and he never left me since. " Alzira fell silent, Sappo's story always made her feel sad, that's why she rarely tells it "but" she tried to sound cheerful again,"now he is a perky little dragon."

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As the humans had finished sharing their stories they noticed that while they had been busy telling them, their feet had carried them quite far on the path they had discovered. Now they could see that at the end of the path through the palm forest was the shrine they had seen from the air. As they walked closer the sharper ears of the dragons accompanying them picked up a high-pitched wailing sound. It came from a hole in the wooden fence encircling the shrine. Behind it cowered a little guardian hatchling that tried to shield itself from view with the broad shield on its tail. On a much bigger shield on the fence near the entrance to the shrine was a carving of a strange tree and the words: Shrine of the Leetle Tree - You are free to enter and take a look but you have to take your leave without taking a leaf! - Signed The Guardian of the Leetle Tree

Edited by Isirion

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As they all looked curiously at the small dragon they could tell it seemed scared, Orion walked slowly until he was twenty feet away and got down to one knee. "Hey there, what're you doing here all alone?" Alsia joined in, speaking in a soft, mother-like voice. "Don't worry little one, we won't hurt you, are your parents nearby? Being alone isn't always safe." Before the hatchling had any real time to respond Emeraldan ran down Orion's arm and slowly walked up until he was a few feet from the hatchling. As Emeraldan neared he sounded an innocent hmm. Emeraldan was hoping that he and this new hatchling would become friends.

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The little hatchling seemed to be quite shocked by all the different approaches to it, but after a few seconds Alsias motherly-like voice did its magic and it loosened up. It lowered its shield and squeeked with a suprisingly bold tone: "I didn't know my mother, but my father was the most valiant and brave and strong and reliable and caring dragon. But a few days ago he failed his duty to protect that strange tree over there and the Guardian took him away to punish him. Now I have no one." The hatchling slammed his tail on the ground and cried: "Just because one of those leaves is missing I am missing my father!" And with that the hatchling started the high-pitched wailing sound again - only that it became interrupted this time with the unmistakeable sound of an empty stomach growling...

Edited by Isirion

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Orion reacted quickly. "I'm sorry about what happened to your father, here take this, at least you don't have to starve." he said as he handed the hatchling some bread from his pack. "All will be fine" Alsia continued to reassure him in an almost angelic voice. In the meantime Emeraldan inched closer getting a better look at the hatchling.

 

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Alzira watched them approaching the guardian hatchling. She searched her bag for food and offered the young dragon part of the supplies as well. "Take these too. Maybe we can help, for instance we can ask the guardian to send your father back to you." Meanwhile, sitting on Alzira's shoulder, Sappo eyeballed the hatchling, he felt sorry for the little one and he would definitely help to get his parent back. He emphasized Alzira's proposal by breathing a small flame.

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The little guardian hatchling who was quite starved, jumped forward and gulped up the whole food in almost one bite. After having some trouble swallowing the giant mouthful it squeeked: "Oh thank you so much - you saved me from starving, but can you really save my father? The Guardian captured him with a huge metal collar with sharp spikes pointing inwards and led him away with a chain. I didn't dare to follow him, because the Guardian said I had to stay and watch the tree in the place of my father if I ever want to see him again. Since then I stayed here and didn't even dare to go looking for some food in case the Guardian comes back to punish me too. He lives in the roomy cave on the western shore, but strangely enough the screams of my father I heard until yesterday came from the south. I don't want to think about what could have happened, I just want to see my father again!" And with that the little guardian hatchling picked up his high-pitched wailing again with renewed strength.

Edited by Isirion

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Orion spoke reassuringly, "Do not worry, you will see your father again." Then Orion turned and whispered to Alzira. "That burned hut we passed, think these things are related? either way we should check out where that cave is at and make sure this hatchling stays safe." Emeraldan walked closer to the hatchling after he ate, making indications he wanted to play. As he did Alsia asked the little hatchling in a soft voice, "What is your name, little one?"

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"Here, take some more, but wait a while before you eat it otherwise you'll get a sore tummy" With these words she placed some more food in front of the hatchling. "Don't worry, we'll try our best to get your father back to you." Then she put Sappo down so he could make friends with the little one and therefore distract him a little more. Then she whispered back to Orion:"Yes, it looks that way. The collar seems to be the one we found. I think we should hurry and look for his father as soon as possible."

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The little guardian hatchling stopped his wailing at once at the sight of the new food. Ignoring Alziras advice though he gulped it down like the food before. Now, as his little stomach was full to the point of protesting, the hatchling burped gratefully and afterwards squeeked: "Ahh that was sooo good, I Galandir, son of Galandor thank you all from the bottom of my heart!" Being so stuffed up with food, the hatchling seemed to have forgotten some of his worries and now it gladly reacted to the attempts of making friends from Emeraldan and Sappo. Soon the three hatchlings rolled over each other in the grass while trying to catch each others tails. Now Alzira and Orion could leave them alone to themselves at least for a while and mount Alsia to fly to the cave the had decided to investigate.

 

As it was impossible to land directly in front of the cave without getting wet, Alsia landed on the harsh stony cliff on top of the cave. From there small steps had been carved into the stone that lead down to the cave's entrance. Whoever would be adventurous enough to climb down the treacherously wet steps and peek into the cave would see an enormously built, bearded middle-aged man sitting near a fireplace being busy cleaning out the intestines from a large, fresh-looking guardian dragon carcass nearby...

Edited by Isirion

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Orion carefully walked down the steps quietly and peeked around the corner. Orion froze at what he saw. "Oh dear god..."Orion breathed as a tear of sadness and pity for the hatchling rolled down his cheek, as this was no doubt his father. Orion leaned back to Alzira and whispered to her what he saw. Then Orion stepped around the corner and stood clear in the mouth of the cave. "You! What did you do to that dragon!?" Seeing how huge the man was Orion kept ready to grab his bow in a heartbeat, in case the man became violent.

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Alzira was following closely behind Orion. As soon as he told her what he had found out she refused to believe it. This could not be true! Nevertheless she bent down and picked up some pebbles for she didn't carry any weapons. Primed like this she sneaked closer and peeked into the mouth of the cave without revealing herself. Once she adapted to the darkness inside she still had troubles to process what she saw. Poor Galandir! All she could manage was a weak "Why?" Still watching the the bearded giant, she felt a familiar feeling rise inside her. She felt sorry for the hatchling, sorry for his dead father and sorry for her inability to change what had happened. When Orion addressed the man, her sorrow changed into boiling anger and she stepped into the cave, next to Orion. She knew what she did was not the best of actions but she couldn't stop herself:"What have you done? How dare you torture and then even kill a dragon - a dragon who trusted you! Don't you feel a little responsible for your actions?" Alzira had to take a deep breath, oh she was so angry! Till now she hadn't known she could get that furious. "What about the now fatherless hatchling you have left behind? He was so afraid to leave his guarding duties he nearly died from starvation!" She hadn't noticed, but during her tirade she had moved forward and now she was right in front of the giant but the rage kept her fear in rein. She raised her arms and pushed the man in front of her. "Tell me, what were your despicable intentions, why did you do all this? What reason could justify your actions at all?" With every question she shoved him some more. "Tell me why they had to suffer!" Her monologe had started at a medium pitch, but now it had reached the top of her voice. By the time she finished she had to take several deep breaths, she was still enraged and she still clutched some pebbles in her fist.

Edited by Alzira

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As Orion had entered the cave and adressed him, the huge man had simply ignored him. Alziras rage also seemed to have little effect on him and her weak pushing neither made him interrupt what he was doing. Not bothered by Orion and Alziras presence at all, he threw the part of the intestines he had cleared out carefully into the fire where they started to burn with a sickening smell. Now the man put down the tool he had been using for the cleaning of the carcass and asked the intruders with a thundering voice that amplified in the cave: "What are you two thinking disturbing the Guardian with your pesky accusations? That dragon neglected its duty and to punish it, I separated it from its offspring. If it had accepted his punishment instead of setting the hut on fire and trying to flee, the metal collar would not have torn his throat. Feeling its end coming it flew to me for a reason I do not know, because it died from blood loss the moment it crashed in here. Now don't stand in my way, because I have to go look if that offspring showed the spirit of a true Guardian and stayed where I told it no matter the circumstances!"

Edited by Isirion

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Orion was nervous but angry and determined now. He backed up and began to string his bow as he talked. "We saw the disgusting hut you had...you have no right to hold a dragon captive. You will not see the hatchling again, he is safe now, far away away from your little shrine and there are half a dozen angry dragons at the shrine now should you go there." Orion was lying to try and intimidate the man although he knew he'd probably catch his bluff, in any case his bow was almost strung. "In any case you will NOT see the hatchling again." Orion boldly said as he looked the giant dead in the eye as he finished stringing the bow and reached to grab an arrow and nock it in the bow. He held it ready to draw and fire. "You will stop what you are doing right now." Orion was almost shaking but kept a bold outlook and ready for anything and ready to whistle for Alsia to help should he make any violent motions to him or Alzira.

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Alzira was perplexed by the Guardian's self-rightousness. For a moment she couldn't think of anything to say but then it gushed out of her: "What gives you the right to put such an instrument of torture around a dragon's neck in the first place? You knew there was a hatchling he had to take care of, someone he had to return to. No wonder he tried to flee and so his death is YOUR fault! " Although she was still enraged Alzira's voice was calm now. As she noticed Orion readying his bow, she stepped out of his way and hoped for the best.

Edited by Alzira

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The Guardian seemed to have no experience with bluffs or being lied to. He took Orion's and Alzira's words for the truth without questioning them. After they had finished, he furrowed his brow in anger, spat at the dragon carcass with visible disgust and bellowed: "So that worthless thing was a failure like his father and neglected its duty too. It can go die too for all I care - I don't need a dragon, that can't follow even the most simplest command!" The enormous built man stroked his beard as if to emphasize his anger, then he continued more calmly: "But I will need a new dragon - and a new collar. I have to go to the fishermen's village and leave a message for the blacksmith and the 'Egg Hunter'...Thankfully there are now the half dozen dragons at the Leetle shrine guarding it...I will be gone for some time..." And with that the man started to walk out of the cave simply ignoring the fact that Orion was threatening him with a magnificent bow and Alzira was at least trying to do the same with the pebbles she had picked up.

Edited by Isirion

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