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Hatchlings

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Hearing footsteps, Rimaline groaned and turned over. She squinted her eyes open and saw Artemis run past and descend into the lower levels. Blinking sleep out of her eyes, she pushed herself up and looked around. Everybody else was still asleep.

Suddenly, Rimaline felt a jolt of excitement and fear. She ruffled her wings. "We're going to go flying again today! I'd better get ready!" She sat daintily and started to preen her white feathers, not giving a second thought as to why Artemis had looked so anxious.

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((I was really hoping more people would post before me but I guess we're stuck again. I'll get on it tomorrow.))

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Meanwhile, far off in the distance, away from the dense forests and winding rivers, standing out in the open, a large and frightening figure lumbered towards it's set goal, the safety of the local mountains. It was not unlike brute dragons to travel by themselves, as they were a prideful and hard-headed breed, who's physical prowess was matched only by their own tenacity and stubborn attitude. Though, it was difficult for this one dragon in particular to keep his head up, given the fact that in the short breaks between the sounds of his large feet compressing the earth beneath themselves there was the drip drip dripping sound, ever so faintly but quite clearly reminding him of the severity of his own injuries. The cuts and gashes upon the brute's thick hide oozed blood, some more than others, staining the earth beneath their host, forming a long straight crimson trail, marking the path he'd taken like some sort of gory map marker on the face of the landmass.

 

Despite remaining mobile, the brute couldn't help but grunt and groan in discomfort from time to time, sorrily regretting yet another one in a long line of blunders caused by his very bad judgement. Sodding whiptails, grrrh... -he cursed under his breath, as he trailed a blood droplet rolling down his nose, and out of view. Were Otto an optimist, he would at least be happy for his success in handing the situation and procuring a meal for himself, but the brute was not a jolly giant. His was a small but skeptical and pessimistic mind, focusing primarily on the negatives and the "what if's" ...unless his cavernous stomach starts growling, reminding him of the large amounts of flesh it demands each and every day.

 

He begrudgingly made yet another mental note never to try and take on several of those dodgy whiptails at the same time ever again. T'was a mental note he would inevitably forget, yet his tussle with the whiptails would ultimately always stay with him, reminding him of what to expect when facing off against them. It was in a brute's nature to forego basic things like common sense, substituting them with more information on bettering themselves in combat, and Otto was no different. His thick head housed a small brain, that knew little more than how to keep the rest of him going, and how to better crush things that stood in the way of his desires. Well, there was ofcourse that small part of him that was never spoken of. That tiny bit responsible for one of the brute species' most fearsome trait yet. For you see, in a twisted way, despite complaining and grunting in discomfort, Otto kind of enjoyed his injuries. To him, pain was a strong reminder that he was, in fact, still alive.

 

He hadn't been in perfect health since that frightful day he is always reluctant to speak of. Were there no ache, no sing, no pain of any kind anywhere for him to experience, he felt wrong on some strange and difficult to describe level. He felt inadequate, like a shell with no purpose, unsure of his own vitality. This disturbing complacency drove him into recklessness, much alike that of his kin. Yet for a solo brute dragon, it was always a risk.

 

Quietly blinking another droplet of blood away from his eyelids, he sighed and reassured himself, that it was always a risk worth taking... and so, he continued on his way, towards his set destination.

Edited by Ælex

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Irah's eyes flickered open at the sound of rushing feet and someone calling for Crusher. She sat upright and rubbed her eyes before looking over at Rimaline who sat a short distance away, preening her wings. This reminded Irah of her injury, she spread out her left wing in front of her to examine it. Maybe I'll be able to fly today! she thought, seeing the healed scar that led down the membrane from her forearm.

Just then, Artemis and Crusher went hurrying outside. Artemis was noticeably more worried than Crusher who followed behind at a slower pace. "What was that about?" she asked Rimaline, thinking that maybe Rimaline was awake long enough to know what was happening.

 

~~~

 

Artemis led Crusher to the path and looked down it, lacking the nerve to approach whoever it was on her own. They couldn't see through the dense trees but they heard a familiar voice.

"Hello? Anyone up there?"

 

((Gonna leave it there for now. I can never seem to write very well after taking a break.))

Edited by Booo

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"What was that about?" Irah asked.

Rimaline suppressed a yawn. "Erm, sorry, I don't know. I just woke up right before you..."

She blushed, slightly embarrassed that she hadn't really been paying attention to what Artemis was doing until Irah mentioned it.

 

The embarrassment was quickly replaced with unease. What could be so bad out there that would make Artemis get Crusher?

Rimaline's anxiety had lessened in the past year since she first came to the cave, but she still got streaks of panic sometimes. It was more potent than constant worry, but it came in short bursts. She felt one coming on, and took a deep breath. The feeling lessened, but she still felt her heart fluttering.

"We should probably stay in here and wait for them to come back. I don't think Artemis meant for us to wake up."

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"Speak up, stranger! What brings you here?" called Crusher.

"Crusher!? Is that you?"

Turning a corner, their visitor finally came into perfect view. It was a Nhiostrife and one that was recognizable due to her front legs and the maroon stripe on her back, oddities among her kind. "Zeditha!? You're alive!" Artemis shouted before running up to her and looking her over. Zeditha's wings were ripped badly and she appeared exhausted, her eyelids drooping and breath laboured. "You don't look too good... come inside I'll make something for you." she said with a motherly tone and began leading Zeditha up the hill with her tail draped over her. "No need, I just need some rest." said Zeditha, giving a slight chuckle. "Did you guys miss me? I mean we're friends... right?"

"Well, sure..." replied Crusher, walking alongside the two of them. The truth was that they hadn't got to know eachother that well before Zeditha disappeared and Zeditha had been uninterested in being 'friends' before. Her question struck Crusher as very odd but Crusher dismissed it seeing as she was clearly not in great health. "But you were gone so long without notice..." he continued, "Mind telling us what happened?"

"Uh...long story. I want to rest first, then we'll talk." said Zeditha. "Fair enough." reasoned Crusher, choosing to keep his mouth shut until they we're inside. However, as they were about to enter Zeditha stopped walking and lay down. "You can go ahead, I'd rather stay out here." she said in a tired voice. Crusher and Artemis exchanged confused looks before Crusher shrugged and went inside. Artemis removed her tail and said "Don't hesitate to call Crusher if you need anything." before giving her a smile and heading in the opposite direction to pick herbs. But Zeditha had other ideas and she wasn't going to let Artemis get very far. As soon as Artemis had her back turned Zeditha was up and ready to pounce. She jumped at her with claws out, coming down on the Shimmer-scale with enough force to push her down and dug her claws into her hind legs. Artemis screamed and instinctively tried to buck the Nhiostrife off of her like a bull, but Zeditha held on tight and tried to hold on with her teeth as well.

 

Crusher was checking to make sure all the hatchlings were there when he heard the scream. He rushed back outside to see Artemis bucking wildly while Zeditha held on to her, but Crusher didn't want to attack with magic or there was a chance he would hurt Artemis. Instead he ran at Zeditha and smacked her hard in the head, making her snarl loudly and let go. "What has gotten into you!?" he exclaimed, pinning her down with his front feet. Her response was surprisingly sinister, "REPENT YOUR SINS! Before the rest come for you..." she hissed, almost sounding like a completely different dragon. "What sins!? WHO SENT YOU!?" he shouted. Her response was a breath of blue fire to the face which Crusher barely managed to dodge.

 

~~~

 

"Yeah you're probably right." replied Irah and she lay back down. She heard Artemis and Crusher talking outside but didn't know who the third voice belonged to. When Crusher came in she closed her eyes and pretended to be asleep, hearing the occasional muttering of names as he checked on the hatchlings, but then there was a scream and Crusher was gone in a flash. Startled, Irah's eyes flew open and her heart was beating fast.

Stay calm... stay calm...

 

((The fight will continue but I'm leaving it open to Ælex if he wants Otto to join in. Or Otto can stay hidden and watch if that's his preference.))

Edited by Booo

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It was at the point of constantly having to blink his eyes clean of his own blood did Otto realize, it was time to engage in one of his least favorite pastimes of all; bathing. The water simply did not agree with him, nor did h with it. He felt slow and vulnerable in it, unable to effectively put enough momentum into his swings and charges to really do enough damage, should he have to defend himself while submerged. Letting off a growling sigh, the brute reared up to take a look around for the nearest visible body of water. No such luck... Just trees and distant hills in all directions, save for the steep mountain nearby. Muttering a cuss under his breath, Otto resumed his trek towards his goal. It would take him a little while to get his bearings, but eventually he made out the sounds of a bubbling stream along the winding mountain path.

 

Taking his time, he found a comfortable spot, where the water cascaded down from a steep drop onto the ground below, and thoroughly cleaned the blood off of himself, leaving only the slowly healing cuts and scrapes in its wake. Thankfully they had clotted, and weren't dribbling any more crimson. Once he was sufficiently cleansed, the brute turned his attention towards the top of the mountain. Although he was unsure of it, he thought he could pick up faint ramblings from somewhere up there. Hallucinating voices was something the brute had never had to deal with, so he assumed that there was in fact someone up there. Great... squatters. -he grumbled as he stomped up the narrow winding path, leading to Shatterpoint Peak's entrance. As the cave entrance came into view, he saw the commotion.

 

"REPENT YOUR SINS! Before the rest come for you..." -yelled a bizarre-looking wyvern, pinned securely under a magi's forelimbs. Suddenly, it released a jet of flames, clearly aimed for the magi's head, only to miss by a hair. The fire shot past Crusher's head, then went right on... engulfing the better part of Otto's head and neck as the flames fanned out with distance. Not fast enough to duck out of the way, Otto was at least able to blink and avoid injuring his eyes. When the scolding heat of the blast evaporated, he coughed out a bit of smoke, and observed the kerfuffle, with a bemused grimace on his face. He was too large to hide, anyway...You wanna try that again? -he growled, eyes locked on the wyvern.

Edited by Ælex

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Hearing the Brute, Crusher turned his head to see who was there while still pinning Zeditha to the ground. She took this split-second distraction as an opportunity to spit another flame at him, making him growl as he felt a wave of heat singe the side of his neck and head. Thankfully Zeditha had exhausted herself and wasn't able to produce enough to burn him severely. Her assault was enough to make him lessen his grip, allowing her to free her back legs, but it wasn't enough to free herself completely. "And who is THIS!?" he shouted, opting to hold her down by the throat so she couldn't pull the same stunt again. "A friend of yours I presume? How many should I expect to meet!? he interrogated. "He's....he's not..." Zeditha croaked, unable to speak due to him practically strangling her.

 

Artemis made sure to stay well away from the fight while she nursed her wounds, trying to wrap her head around what was going on. If the Brute tried to join in she would alert Crusher but she was nowhere near strong enough to fight alongside him, especially against a dragon of that size.

Edited by Booo

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Otto's scowl grew deeper when Crusher suspected he had some sort of ties to the crazed nhiostrife. He was never one to deal with zealous loons like her, let alone conspire with them. One thing was perfectly clear, though. If ever there was a bad time to confront the inhabitants of this peek, this was it. Even so, Otto cared not for the petty squabbles of these lowly randoms. All he wanted was to check the mountain peak out, and see if there was anything worth seeing, or taking from it. Glancing between Crusher and Zeditha, he huffed in discontent and grumbled: Only one thing to do with a mad dog... Moving his stare away from the wyvern, he lumbered towards the cave entrance, noting how it was barely large enough for him to pass through without having to duck down. To his disappointment, the insides were not what he'd expected. No gold, no treasure, no food, nothing.

 

Just a meager pile of resources to sustain a group like them for a while, which amounted to barely half a meal for a brute dragon. Such scarce gains were not worth the effort of getting into a scrap over, so the disgruntled dragon exhaled some fumes, and proceeded deeper into the cave, somewhat curious about its contents further down, disregarding any of the other dragons within it in the process. The place seemed to stretch down towards the base of the mountain through a stairway-like spiraling downwards path, into a dark and cavernous underbelly that wafted of many unpleasant things. The stench of decay was prevalent, hints of rotting wood and uncleaned waste from sources unknown were evident with but a few sniffs. Pests. -the brute thought, then took another big whiff...

Edited by Ælex

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Artemis inhaled sharply when the Brute ducked into the cave.

The hatchlings!

She got up and ran after him, stopping short of the entrance as to not cause alarm. She watched as he looked around for something but wasn't interested in anything on the first level. That's odd... she thought as the Brute disappeared down the tunnel. She decided to keep following, determined to watch over their visitor while Crusher dealt with the Nhiostrife. The Brute had passed the second room entirely and approached the huge stairwell that spiraled down into darkness. I could have sworn I hid that room! she thought, but was more surprised that a dragon of his size could make his way all the way down here. Taking a deep breath, Artemis slid down the slope into the second room to finally confront him. "And just what do you think you're doing?" she asked, trying to sound assertive.

Edited by Booo

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Just as Rimaline started to calm down, she heard a scream outside. Before she mustered the courage to take action (or do anything at all), a humungous dragon lumbered into the cave. Rimaline froze and stared at him. Her heart was pounding and she was half surprised that he didn't hear her gasping for air. The dragon ignored her and the other hatchlings and started to descend into the depths of the cave. Artemis ran past them, following the stranger. She was limping and had gashes on her hind legs.

"Where's Crusher?" Rimaline worried. "He must still be outside."

 

Rimaline scuttled over to Irah and stood near her, trying to stand in a position where she could see where Artemis and the stranger had gone and watch the cavern entrance at the same time.

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Crusher would had flipped Zeditha over, but by now she had a firm grip on his abdomen. Instead, to her surprise, he loosened his hold to let her speak. "Tell me then, who else is there? I'll do away with you if you don't give me a proper answer." Crusher threatened. Zeditha had already arrived in poor shape and was now unable to do much else after attempting to take down the Magi. Her response to his question was a sinister smile and that unfamiliar voice that said "You best be prepared, Crusher. Killing me won't stop the inferno coming your way." Crusher decided he'd heard enough and rendered her unconscious with one strike to the head. He wasn't going to kill her, not now. He planned on interrogating her later once she was awake and he knew Artemis could brew something to help sedate her.

 

~~~

 

Irah looked back at Sky and Quinn huddled together before stepping closer to the entrance to get a better look. Crusher was pinning down a Nhiostrife that looked a lot like an old friend of theirs. "It looks like he's fighting with...Zeditha!?" she told Rimaline. But how could that be? If she really did return then wouldn't Crusher be glad to see her? Irah glanced over at the hatchlings with a bewildered look, unsure what to make of this.

Edited by Booo

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When he had awoken that day, Sky had been feeling grumpy. Moreso than usual. It had become somewhat of a normality by then. Being restricted from flying in the open on most days tended to do that to a Skywing. With a sigh, Sky stretched, feeling his wings tingle.

 

"Maybe I'll get to use you guys today," he muttered to himself, folding his wings back. Noticing Irah and Rimaline conversing with one another in a corner, he hesitated, before slithering over to quietly join them, his ears flicking.

 

It wasn't long before trouble turned up at their doorstep once more, as it nearly always did. Sky watched the events unfold with only brief surprise in his eyes before he settled into an air of indifference. Seeing a Brute randomly wander into the cave caused alarm bells to go off in his head, as did any stranger, but before he could do anything, Artemis had gone after the dragon. Shrugging to himself, he turned back to watch the spectacle between Crusher and Zeditha. Hearing Irah's remark, he looked at her, wondering why she was sounded so surprised. Sure, it was a little unexpected that the Nhiostrife would come and attack them out of the blue like that but it wasn't really that surprising once he thought about it.

 

They'd barely known her and not for very long. Followed by the inferno that blazed across the forests, it wasn't that shocking that she would disappear and come back for hostile reasons. Again, they hadn't known her for very long. Coupled with Sky's distrust, it was enough to believe that attacking them was a very believable possibility coming from Zeditha.

 

"It seems that he is," he said calmly in reply.

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It was hard to tell whether Sky was surprised or not. He either didn't care or was hiding how he felt, the latter had become a habit over the years. "Well she did start that fire before she went missing." said Irah, turning to face the Skywing. "But maybe it was an accident. Or maybe..." Irah paused and looked back outside. Crusher had dragged the KO'd Nhiostrife into the grass in an attempt to conceal her from the hatchlings. He appeared sad as he looked down at her, shaking his head in disappointment. "What if she....changed sides?" mused Irah, her voice wavering near the end. Would anyone be crazy enough to do that?

Edited by Booo

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"It wouldn't be surprising if she did," Sky mused in a dull tone. After all, dragons did collude with evil for a lot of reasons. How they could benefit from a dragon like Evil Crusher was beyond Sky's reasoning but he wasn't interested in working out how other dragons' minds worked in the least. Glancing back further into the cave, he wondered if the dragon that had wandered in had been dealt with. Well, Artemis could handle herself. He'd only butt in if the situation called for it.

 

"Guess the excitement's over," he commented flatly, turning back to the other two. "I wonder if anything else will happen today."

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Irah felt a surge of anger. That lunatic must of brainwashed Zeditha somehow, but Irah could only guess at what kind of trickery he was capable of. And even though Sky's comment wasn't directed at her, she was quick to think of what else they should do rather than dwell on the poor state of their clan. We ARE going to fly today... she thought, determined not to let a traitor get in the way of their flight practice. Also wasn't there.....oh! Irah almost forgot her surprise. Turning to face the group she announced "Sky, I have something to show you. Follow me!" and went running to the back of the cave and down through the tunnel.

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Crusher growled to him self as he entered the cave shortly afterwards as well. Artemis had gone in here after one of the new comers who seemed to have just vanished. Once he found her scent he followed it to her "Artemis, could you make something to keep our..... friend sedated? We'll need her to give us more info if we are to properly prep for this.... darkness she spoke of." he explained.

He had an idea of what she might of been talking about, his counter part, had been really quiet lately, which worried him. Each time he had been quiet, that met he had found something to amuse him self, which only spelled more trouble in the future.

"Did the new comer harm the others?" he asked glancing up the passage knowing they had passed the area where the hatchlings rested.

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Sky blinked at Irah's back as she dashed off. Something to show him? What could it be? "Don't let it be another beetle." The Skywing internally rolled his eyes at the thought, though the memory was recalled with philia. He did recall Irah scuffling around the back of the cave sometime the day before. It hadn't seemed important at that time but now whatever she was going to show him piqued his interest.

 

Sky slithered after Irah, quickly catching up to her.

 

"What is it?" he questioned calmly. Honestly, he didn't see a point in asking the question if it was supposed to be a surprise but he might as well humour her excitement.

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Artemis had just given the Brute a mouthful, but instead of getting angry he went further down the spiraling path, presumably in search of food or treasure. When Crusher approached she was sitting with her hind legs sprawled and absentmindedly licked her wounds. "I'll try my best, but I can't promise she won't still want a fight." she said with noticeable fear in her voice. If what Zeditha had said true would they have to leave Shatterpoint? Where would they go? Artemis hoped that Crusher had a back-up plan. "That Brute ignored the hatchlings, so I don't think he cares about our presence. What do you suppose we do with him?"

 

~~~

 

Irah looked back once to make sure Sky was following before digging through a pile of Zedithas things. There were a few precious stones here and there but most of it was garbage. Rusty machine parts, broken cutlery... It made you wonder why Zeditha went to the trouble of stealing this stuff. "You'll see." chirped Irah, digging to the very bottom. She soon pulled out what appeared to be a droplet shaped jewel with her teeth and dropped it in front of Sky. It was an iridescent peach color, much like that of a freshwater pearl. "Isn't it beautiful?" she said, clearly fascinated by it.

Edited by Booo

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Crusher nodded "Just need her to be kept weak enough to not pose much of a threat should she escape her prison, I'll set to getting something ready to hold her. I'd feel better if I could get more info. More the better." he admitted before glancing over her wounds "As for the Brute, we'll just have to keep an eye out for him, we haven't fully explored the area we risk going right by him if we went looking." he pointed out before starting to turn to leave "Need a paw for those?" he asked gesturing with his muzzle to her wounds.

 

His counter part pumped his wings keeping him self high in the sky. It was nearing the time once more where he would fight his counter part and his friends. The last few times they always found a way to catch him in a portal that seemed to send him back in time. However this time, he had few new tricks of his own. If he could pick them off, would be easy, and make that battle, easier. His bone platting, and power with his skill in combat, it both puzzled and annoyed him that he lost twice to this already.

He growled, he would not let them get away so cleanly at least this time.

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Sky stared at it curiously, as ensnared as Irah was by its enchanting lustre. It gleamed and shined in the cave, as though as someone had vigorously polished it recently and didn't look as if it had just been buried amongst a pile of garbage. Although it resembled a jewel, it didn't seem just so to Sky. There was something else to it that he couldn't quite put his wing on. However, for the moment, he let himself bask in the brilliance of Irah's newly-found treasure.

 

"It truly is," he said solemnly. He reached out a wing to touch it but as he did so, he felt a familiar sensation as soon as his wingtip neared the jewel. "Magic," his mind whispered to him. Pulling his wing back, Sky frowned, his mind beginning to race as good, old paranoia tugged at his thoughts. "It's a trap, it's a spy, throw it, throw it-" Mentally shaking off those thoughts, he focused his gaze at Irah.

 

"Where did you find it?" he asked shortly.

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Artemis nodded back, but she still looked unsure about the whole thing. "Oh I'll be fine." she assured him when he asked about the cuts on her legs. "They hurt a little but they've already begun to heal. Once Zedithas awake, maybe it's a good idea I keep my distance from her from this time."

 

~~~

 

"I found it among all this stuff, but I hid it so that I could show you first." Irah said before picking it up with her wings. She liked to watch as the colors on it's shiny surface seemed to dance as she moved it around in the light of the caves crystals. There definitely seemed to be something magical about it, but other than it being a beautiful gem, any other purpose it may serve was a mystery. "Should we show the others?" she asked, hearing the voices of Artemis and Crusher talking in the other room. "Or..." Her voice then almost became a whisper. "We can keep it a secret."

Edited by Booo

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Crusher gave a nod "Agreed, I'll go get started." he said before turning and heading back to the cave entrance. He sighed looking at Zedithas before he moved her closer to the cave to at least provide shelter from rains and such. He grabbed some rocks and mouth full of long grass. With his tail, both his paws and his mouth he set to work in making what he had seen others do before. What ever it was called it was strong when twisted together. Though tasted bad. When he finished which would not be for a bit, he'd have enough to tie her down and restrain her.

Though he was not half way when a thud sounded a little ways behind him. When he turned he saw his counter part sitting there looking amused.

"Such a waste of time, should just kill her." he said with a bored tone in his voice. Crusher spat out the grass "Come to place a new rule over us?" he asked and Evil Crusher just chuckled "No, you might be happy, your all free to fly as you wish, just know that I have grown bored of your..... obedience. Was hoping more of you would.... break the arrangement, as such, I will now entertain my self once more. Population here has grown some what. You have some lives to spare." he said with a smile before coming over "Here let me help you restrain this pest." he said and with a wave of a wing a hunk of rock broke off from the cave entrance and fell on Zedithas's right wing, piercing it and into the ground. Evil Crusher chuckled "Enjoy." he said before taking off.

 

Crusher looked back at the hunk of rock and growled. The rock was far too large and heavy for him to lift. He quickly checked the cave entrance, it was larger now, but at least it was not coming down. "Artimes?" he called "Need you up here, bad news."

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