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 Fantasy Soar [CursieKittie/C^3]

Discussion in 'Roleplay Execution' started by CaliforniaCombatCony, Aug 17, 2018.

?

Dragons with four legs AND wings or dragons with two legs and winged forearms?

  1. Four legs AND wings.

    85.7%
  2. Two legs and winged forearms.

    14.3%
  1. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Thilly Wabbit Member

    Messages:
    588
    Local Time:
    8:48 PM
    J'erso Flyyn. The local wing commander, Kaddus Berhg, had never had such an unruly charge as the young tracker's son. His father, Netaht Flyyn, had been the same way and had been Kaddus' best and oldest friend. Kaddus remembered scoffing at his friend every time he told the supposed history of his family tree, how they could trace their bloodline all the way back to Khetus Mal, the mother of all dragons, the one who had created the Khitu ad'Drakon, the kin of the winged. Among Flyyn senior's ancestors was D'urso Mal, the greatest leader of the Khitu who had been the first to ride a dragon and bond with it. Of course, half the tribe claimed the same.

    Yet, watching J'erso jumping between the rock formations of the Drlessh bluffs as he fled from Kaddus, laughing and yelling like a hellion, it was easy to see that he had dragon blood. The boy was fearless. He'd slept among the nests of drakes that inhabited the rocky cliffs and Kaddus' wurm, Tenda, loved him like he was her own hatchling.

    The wurm's long neck swayed back and forth beneath him as its wings beat the air, carrying him aloft as he chased his young charge. J'erso was meant to be mucking out the wurm paddock today but he'd decided to shirk his chores and go exploring. Kaddus had seen a sand storm on the horizon and J'erso was running toward it, gleefully dodging away from Kaddus.

    The old wing commander had taken the boy in when his father had died and the boy had made himself useful caring for the steeds belonging to the local law keepers. They were a far cry from the magnificence of the ancient dragons who could blot out the sun with their wings but the wurms could carry a man aloft and gaining their loyalty meant you had a steadfast friend for life. Aside from Kaddus, Tenda would only let J'erso ride her. She'd never snarled at the boy. Never nipped him when he got too close as she would anyone else. He was truly a kin of the winged.

    "Get back here!" Kaddus roared from atop Tenda.

    "I don't want to shovel poop!" J'erso shouted back over his shoulder, tempting Kaddus' fury with a mischievous grin as he leaped another chasm. If he lost his footing, he would have plummeted to certain death. All the Khitu were sure footed, especially those under Kaddus' jurisdiction being that they made their home among the highest cliffs of Drlessh. But J'erso didn't even have to look where he was leaping. It was if he were most at home when his feet weren't touching the ground.

    "The sand, boy! The sand is coming!" Kaddus shouted, his fury cut with fear for his surrogate son.

    The wind was picking up and Kaddus could feel his exposed face and hands being peppered with sand spray, like little needle pricks. J'erso either wasn't listening or didn't care because he pulled his scarf up around his mouth and nose, took one last look over his shoulder at Kaddus and jumped again.

    Kaddus lost sight of the boy as an updraft made Tenda bank sharply. Even as he craned his neck to see where J'erso had gone, the boy had disappeared among the rock formations, his small frame slipping between rock sheets and through the many burrows that had been bored into the rock from centuries of erosion. Kaddus swore and wheeled Tenda around, the wurm making a sound of protest, her instincts telling her to find shelter in the warrens as well.

    Kaddus called out J'erso's name even as his voice was swept away on the wind and increasingly thick clouds of billowing sand. Tenda had her scales and he had his leather jerkin but the sand bit them anyway, forcing them down among the rocks. Kaddus unfurled a blanket from his saddle, draping it over Tenda's head and pulling his scarf up around his face, taking shelter behind one of the rock formations as he waited for the storm to pass, all the while praying to Khetus Mal to protect the boy. He also stole glances at the stormy sky, hoping Netaht wasn't watching from his place with the other holy dead among the clouds. All the Khitu became dragons in the afterlife. Kaddus was sure Netaht would swoop down and eat him if he lost his son.


    It took hours for the storm to pass and when it did, Kaddus shook himself, a fine cloud of white powder falling from his shoulders. He coughed, pulling the blanket off of Tenda. The wurm seemed a bit rattled but she remained still for him to mount her again, wings unfurling. He couldn't know for sure if she was as concerned for J'erso as he was but he liked to think so. Kaddus used some flint and tinder to light a flare, firing it into the sky with his bow to signal any of his law keepers in the vicinity to come and aid him in his search.

    Together, he and several of his men scoured the bluffs, looking for the boy.

    At first, Kaddus thought the odd rock formation was just that, its rough surface among the others almost indistinguishable from the grey mottled rock of the bluffs. Something about it seemed odd though and he made another pass, squinting against the glare of the sun. It was covered in sand and his eyes widened as he noticed the sand shifting, something moving beneath it. It was far too large to be a drake or a wurm and as he got closer, Tenda began to fuss, turning this way and that, railing against his commands as he tried to get closer. He set her down a short walk from the living rock, tethering her to a large stone before making his way through the warrens until he came out beside the mass of rock that was not rock.

    Kaddus held his breath as he watched more sand shift, a leathery wing raising. J'erso was still on his mind but he was distracted. Never before had he seen a true dragon. Few still existed. It was easy to see why his ancestors had worshiped them. He knew he should run, should take Tenda far away. Dragons might have been gods but they were predators too. And yet, there was an almost zealous need to stay, to take in every detail of the great beast.

    A great yellow eye fixed him with its vertical pupil as its enormous wing moved aside to reveal a horned head, jaw opening to reveal several rows of serrated teeth, its nostrils flaring. Kaddus froze, sure that he was about to be bitten in half, some ancient, cultural drive fooling him into thinking he might actually be ok with it if it meant getting a closer look at one of his gods. But the dragon made no move to devour him. It lifted its wing higher, folding it back against its enormous scaled body and Kaddus' eyes widened in surprise and awe. Nestled against its belly was a small human form, turned away from him. "J'erso..." He breathed incredulously as the boy stirred, turning over and rubbing sleep from his eyes. The absurdity of the whole image temporarily froze Kaddus in place, jaw slack.

    "Uncle?" J'erso said as he got to his feet, wiping sand off his face and shaking it from his hair. Kaddus looked between the boy and the dragon, eyes focusing on the dragon's belly. It was swollen. J'erso had been protected by a pregnant dragon from the sand storm. Pregnant dragons were among the most vicious creatures known to the Khitu but she had allowed J'erso to sleep beside her, under her protection. Could Nehtat's claims of ancestry with Khetus Mal been more than posturing and jokes?

    "Thank you," J'erso said to the dragon as if she had been a kindly old woman offering him sweet bread. In response, the dragon's eyes slid closed and it covered itself once again with its wings, ignoring the humans. Kaddus took J'erso by the shoulder, leading him away, back toward Tenda, pausing to look once more at the slumbering god before taking the boy home.


    Kaddus didn't go out of his way to brag about his surrogate son's congress with a god. In fact, he seemed reluctant to speak of it. J'erso deserved to be a normal boy, not hoisted by the nobility as a paragon, a representative of Khetus Mal's power on earth. Perhaps the boy would have wanted such a life, to be crowned the leader of his people, to enjoy the benefits of such a station. But on his death bed, Kaddus gripped the young man's hand in his final moments and knew he had made the right choice. His son had grown into a fine man, capable and strong. It was not J'erso who had been blessed that day by the dragon. It had protected the boy so that Kaddus could watch him grow into a son he could be proud of. With his last breath, he thanked Khetus Mal.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Dragons were few and far between in the years following but something drew them to the bluffs and on any given day, you could often see a black shape against the sun, leathery wings beating the air and carrying the gods across the sky. J'erso never saw his savior during the sandstorm again but her children knew of him. They were among the first to travel beyond the borders of Drlessh, into the lower continent. Stories of such winged creatures, once regarded as myth by the southerners, now became all the more real. Warlords and kings alike sought to capture these magnificent creatures, either to add them to their trophies or to breed them as weapons of war. But who could hope to tame such creatures. They look now to the north for answers.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    The dragon trainer was not what Tektus had expected. He had expected a grizzled old man with more burns than skin left. He had not expected a man of barely twenty winters with a face like the saints depicted in religious texts. The guard captain snuck glances at the odd foreigner as they walked to the queen's receiving room. His cloak was of a leather Tektus had never seen before, its surface glimmering with fine shiny scales. He carried strange weapons, hooked blades like crooked question marks, lengths of rope hanging from his belt and wrapped around his arms, dipped in some sort of resin that had dried over the fibrous strands. The dragon tamer's eyes were also unnerving, a green that was nearly yellow with flecks of gold around the pupils, barely visible from under the hood he wore, made of the same material as his cloak.

    "Did you truly need to bring the beast?" Tektus asked nervously, looking over his shoulder at the hulking mass of scales and leathery wings that followed the dragon tamer on two legs. It looked like an enormous chicken, if that chicken had hatched from a demon's egg in the depths of hell, it's muzzle pointed like a beak, eyes beady orange, clicking its rows of serrated teeth, its head making those little jerky movements like a bird of prey, turning its head this way and that to look at the guard captain. He could swear it was licking its lips and drooling with hunger when it looked at him.

    "She stays with me. Your people are so superstitious, I wouldn't want them mistaking her for one of your demons. It would be very unfortunate if they attacked her... for them anyway..." The dragon tamer's voice was calm as he gently tugged on the reigns, his wurm clicking her back teeth on the bit as it picked up the pace, eeling around a corner behind them and causing a scullery maid a little ways down the hall to shriek as if the devil were trying to peek up her dress. Tektus couldn't help remembering the similar way his men had screamed when they had first seen the winged creature descending from the sky.

    Tektus walked ahead of the dragon tamer, turning away any other castle servants in the halls ahead. They were only too happy to make a retreat when they saw the dragon tamer and his wurm coming down the hall.

    They eventually arrived at the receiving room where they would meet the queen. Tektus opened the large oaken doors, leading his charge inside, the miraculous and fearful beast in toe, looking quite out of place in the castle's fine decor.

    "Your Grace. May I introduce..." he paused, glancing at the dragon tamer. "Thurzo Frynn."

    J'erso ignored the mispronunciation of his name, stepping forward and throwing back his hood, sandy blond hair, contrasting with his sun darkened skin, falling in a messy tangle around his saintly features.
     
  2. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Pew pew! Member

    Messages:
    443
    Local Time:
    11:48 PM
    ((I think our votes are indicative of our different styles haha))

    The doors were made of the finest oak, embellished with gold and encrusted with veins of glimmering obsidian. The pillars that lined that great hall, leading to the grand room were very much the same-- white speckled marble and the dark tones creating such a striking contrast beneath the glint of the sun. It took two men to push the doors open, granting entrance to the ballroom. The high ceilings were made of glass, natural light filtering in and making the floor seem as if it was glowing. Ivy curled around the pillars of their own accord, box gardens lined the windows with various colorful blossoms soaking the air with their intoxicating perfumes. At the end, a gilded ivory throne sat atop a pedestal, stairs leading up to it, covered in a gorgeous maroon carpet, embroidered with intricate designs.

    And in the center of it all, a young woman and distinguished looking gentleman sparred.

    Castro Fehid spun, his broadsword clasped between both hands, swinging for his opponent's head. She feinted back, then swept her own blade up, one handed and knocked the larger weapon away hard enough to cause sparks to fly-- stone against steel. Her blade was black as night, glimmering in the daylight and whistled as she used her momentum to spin and swing for his arm. Castro was able to dodge, and the angle of his body was perfect to ram his shoulder into hers, knocking her back a few steps. He did pause and look up as the guest was announced, but before he was able to open his mouth to speak, he had to lift his head to avoid the edge of his opponent's sword digging into his neck.

    "I yield," he said, panting. "An excellent match."

    She was also panting, bright blue eyes, painted a shade of liliac and lined with kohl, narrowed. "Please. You practically gave that to me. Never take your eyes off of your aggressor. Didn't you teach me that?" She said, brows furrowed.

    "Right you are." He smiled at her. "I believe you still have the scar to prove it."

    Her lips pursed, and she turned the blade to pat him on his cheek. "Mind your manners. We have guests." She withdrew her blade and turned, letting the blade rest on the ground, one hand on her hip as she inspected the newcomers. A moment passed, she blinked, and she cleared her throat, giving Castro a glare.

    "Ah. My apologies. I believe I was recovering from a near death experience," he mused. He swept a hand through his chestnut brown hair and straightened, balling up his fist to lay over his heart, and he bowed. "Presenting, Her Royal Highness, Sequoia Arahn-Myr, first of her name; Ruler of the Kingdom Pruettehr and her seas, Liberator of the Mountains to the North, and Keeper of the Eternal Flame."

    Despite herself, Sequoia lifted her head and preened. It was the first time she had heard one of those titles aloud-- the conquest to free the men of the mountains had been one of her proudest achievements in the short two years that she had been in power. They were still sending their tributes, though she insisted that it was not necessary. But her pride withered as she realized just who it was that she was being presented to.

    "Ah... yes. The... 'beast tamer.' We've been expecting you." She cocked her head, thick black curls that framed her rounded face bouncing with the gesture. She sheathed her sword and raised herself up a bit higher to seem more regal. She could not appear so flustered in front of a perfect stranger, much less one with such weight in their visit. "You are a bit earlier than anticipated..."

    "Your Grace," Castro murmured, leaning down as if to keep it between them. "It may be you who are behind schedule. You were in the valley early this morning..."

    Sequoia balked, then snapped her head to glare at him. "Make yourself useful and fetch my crown," she hissed back at him. She then turned to head to her throne, high heels muted against the carpet. Her attire was an amalgamation of armor and a gown. Her corset was laced beneath her chain mail, and her rich purple skirts billowed from underneath. She was wearing her gauntlets and a golden ribbon to keep her bangs from her eyes. She settled in her throne, feet crossed at the ankles and hands folded in her lap. The throne was much bigger than her, clearly not built for her, but she sat upon it with every bit of confidence of a powerful ruler. Castro returned to her side and carefully fixed the diamond, gold, and sapphire glittering tiara atop her head.

    "Come. Let us speak of important matters. Tektus, you are dismissed." Her eyes were set firmly on J'erso. There was much to discuss.
     
  3. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Thilly Wabbit Member

    Messages:
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    Local Time:
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    Mingming seemed excited by the movement and sound of the two people fighting. She wasn't a war wurm but she'd been in a few scraps with J'erzo before and from the way she shifted her weight from foot to foot, it was obvious that combat excited her. J'erzo stroked her snout as she made a rumbling noise, calming her as he watched the woman he'd come here to meet.

    She was certainly not what he expected. This was his first trip this far south but he'd heard stories all his life of the southern monarchs and their strange ways. Blood meant something to Khitu ad'Drakon but they valued deeds above all else. It was an ancestor's deeds in life that made one proud to be related to them. However, southern rulers, it was said, were weak, their vast resources and riches making up for their lack of strength, position and merit passed down through male heirs.

    J'erzo was pleasantly surprised by the queen. Not only had a woman taken what would normally be a man's position, she also fought with a level of skill he'd not envisioned. Although the long blades of the south were foreign weapons to him, he could see her grace and ease of movement, even in such strange garb.

    And yet, his assumptions were challenged again as she spoke. She was unlike any chieftain he had ever met among the Drlessh tribes. He'd expected commands, threats, and certainly not to let anyone beneath her challenge her on any point, even the smallest of matters such as who was early and who was on time. Southerners still perplexed him, the way they veiled their words with civility to avoid offense. He'd had to learn quickly upon coming south that speaking one's mind was often frowned upon and much stock was placed in choosing one's words carefully. She said things like "Tektus, you are dismissed" instead of "Tektus, get out" as he was expecting. It was why J'erzo had decided that silence was often his best option since coming south or to limit answers to questions to only a few words. In keeping with such a philosophy, he simply nodded as the queen suggested they "speak of important matters." What was wrong with "talk about the job"? Southerners were weird. But, of course, he didn't say that out loud.

    "You have a dragon," J'erzo stated as Tektus left. It wasn't a question. That was why he was there. And he could understand why she wanted to speak to him since he would be training a valuable asset to her kingdom. She wanted to be sure it was taken care of. Still, it wasn't as if an interview would change the fact that he was the only person in recent history who knew anything about training the creatures his people had once thought were gods. Without him, she might as well kill the beast and harvest its valuable skin, bones, teeth, scales and horns. "I am here to train it." He really didn't think there was anything else to say, really. Aside, of course, for settling on a reward for his services.
     
  4. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Pew pew! Member

    Messages:
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    Local Time:
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    His accent and demeanor was a swift reminder of his origins-- A Northerner, a child of untamed lands, as her husband would say. She had seen her fair share of them, but none of them had seemed so otherworldly. She was quiet for a moment, even after he spoke, just taking him in and then in turn his companion. She didn't know that draconian creatures could even come in such a small size-- or stayed that way for long.

    "...Yes," she finally said, looking back to J'erzo. "I also wish to... Apologize for the suddenness of this venture." Her brow furrowed as she spoke. "But after what occurred, I would hope you understand why it was necessary. The beast's appearance to your people was the furthest it has wandered from the valley. I have no way of containing it without endangering others. It needs to be trained."

    Yes, the debacle from a few short weeks ago still kept her up late at night. She had no way of tracking the dragon down, unable to send hounds to the sky or send her battalions out as search parties without causing question and panic. She merely had to spend days sick with worry that he hadn't left for good and decided to make a nest atop a terrorized village. He did eventually return, but a group of men to the North had suddenly arrived to declare that they should take the dragon themselves, since their people knew how to handle it. Naturally, she declined-- but it took a great sum of riches to buy their silence on the matter and more to send a message to this so called trainer.

    "As for your compensation," she continued, pushing the thought from her mind, "You are an honored guest here, so anything you or your mount should require, we are able to provide. And you will be paid for your time, though I am unsure how much time you will need." Her expression hardened a bit. "But I trust you understand that somewhat confidential manner of your presence here?"
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
  5. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Thilly Wabbit Member

    Messages:
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    Local Time:
    8:48 PM
    MingMing was bored, nosing around the opulent room's polished floor, often having to be gently tugged back to J'erso's side by her reigns every now and then. J'erso had made a living out of taming wurms and drakes but he had never done so with an honest to god dragon. In the olden days, his people would never even attempt it, seeing a dragon as a god and therefor would applaud when it scorched a village or ate a flock of sheep. It was not a very productive mindset and eventually they made strides to further control the unpredictable creatures. For the most part, a settlement would take steps to deter a dragon from attacking in the first place. Others, taking a more progressive approach, learned to tame and train them. That was where J'erso came in. It was doubly important since the south was far more densely populated than the north were there were open skies and rocky bluffs for the dragons to roost and hunt far from any human settlement. Not to mention, the south had far more cities and larger towns that would draw the attention of a winged predator. And as soon as the queen's pet grew past its current size, it would be even more trouble.

    J'erso had heard of the dragon's appearance in the north and the stir it had caused. It was unfortunate that it had wandered into the territory of a people who had mostly abandoned the old beliefs, no longer seeing a dragon as a creature worthy of respect and admiration but as a resource to be controlled and exploited. J'erso wasn't entirely sure the queen didn't want to do the same but it was not his place to pass judgement. "My people are nomads, Heida <queen>. I am used to sudden and quick travel, especially when gold awaits me at my destination." A dragon's appetite for gold and other precious metals had translated quite easily to Khitu culture. A man's hoard was a testament to his deeds in life, after all.

    Her terms were acceptable and J'erso responded with a nod. "My steed needs a separate stable. She cannot be housed with horses or she will eat them. She requires abundant meat and water. I also have some materials I need acquired that will be necessary to my work." He pulled a roll of paper from his sleeve, holding it out to Castro. "I also require a paddock in which to train the dragon, something enclosed with a sturdy metal cage to keep it from flying away. Before I can train it, I must make it submit to me."
     
  6. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Pew pew! Member

    Messages:
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    Local Time:
    11:48 PM
    Though his conditions for himself and for his "steed," as he so casually referred to the great beast beside him as, were not unreasonable, it was his final request that caused a crease in Sequoia's finely groomed brow. She watched as Castro took the scroll from him and gestured for him to come close and unravel it for the two of them to look over. She looked over it a few times before waving it away and sitting up straighter.

    "I'm afraid you misunderstand, if you believe that will be necessary," she said firmly. "Your presence here is supplementary to my knowledge only. I did not bring you here to break an unruly stallion. You are here to teach me how to bring the beast to yield."

    "Your Majesty..." Castro murmured, his frown very prominent beneath his thick, trimmed, white streaked beard. "We have discussed this..."

    But Sequoia held up her hand. "You are an adviser. As hand to the queen, your position is to give me suggestions, not instructions." She fixed him with cool, but unyielding stare. There was a stubborn set to her jaw and her fingers were clenched against the fabric of her skirts. "The choice has been made." She then looked back at J'erso. "There will be no paddock. If your methods cannot succeed without trapping it, then perhaps you were not the proper man to call upon."

    There were several reasons for her refusal, but in truth there was nothing that size in a place that was safe to even consider bringing the beast near. The valley was wild, relatively left untouched by man. There were no trading routes that ran through it, and few sustainable resources-- none of which could be found useful to her kingdom and its people. It was the only place that she could comfortably leave the beast, and it at least seemed to be comfortable living there... Most of the time.

    She rose from her throne and began to descend the stairs. "If you cannot agree, I wish you a safe journey back to your homeland and extend my sincerest apologies for taking up your time. If you feel as though you can manage, then come with me. I hope you and your mount are not too exhausted from your trip. You still have a small ways to go." She did not seem interested in waiting for him to make his choice. He would decide one way or another, but she was going back to the valley. She tried to spend as much time there as she could when she didn't have too much to do in the Capital. Fortunately, there were plenty of things she had taken care of in the past few days where her presence would not be directly needed for a time. She could only hope that this time could be used wisely in the beginnings of training her dragon.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
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  7. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Thilly Wabbit Member

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    J'erso had mixed feelings. On one hand, he couldn't help but respect her unwavering commands. And the way she stopped Castro from overstepping his bounds was very in keeping with traits he looked for in any kind of leader. There was no question she was in charge. At the same time, he felt annoyed, partly at her and partly at himself. He hadn't made himself entirely clear in his intentions. Perhaps saying he wanted the dragon to submit to him wasn't the best word choice. Southern dialects could be tricky. But she also seemed to be disagreeing with his methods... which was the whole reason he was here...

    She was giving him an ultimatum but he didn't find her terms entirely unacceptable. Still, he had to make her understand. "Heida," he said as he turned to face her as she made for the exit. It would not do to explain in front of her servants waiting outside. She needed to appear infallible and he was sensitive to that. He knew he would have to choose his words carefully but training a dragon wasn't easy. It would be tough and dangerous and he could not hold his tongue on important matters simply because of her station. Northern rulers accepted that. He hoped she would be able to as well.

    He steeled himself, praying to Khetus Mal to give his mind the clarity to choose his words well. "The dragon is wild. It does not know you are its master, no matter what connection you have with it. Dragons are intelligent but they are still beasts, ruled by their spirits. To it, you are not Heida, a queen. Before you can rule it, you must make it realize that you are in control. It will resist, first by lashing out, then by fleeing. It must not be allowed to do so. I cannot fly to follow it if it does not respond to a command. If you cannot keep it in one place, it will simply not listen to you or me. This is fact, not subject to a trainer's methods. You are Heida. You say no paddock, there will be none. But there must be a way to keep it from flying away whenever we try to teach something it does not want to learn but must." It was the most he'd said since arriving on this continent. But if anything could make him talk, it was dragons. This was not a game.

    "Respectfully, Heida," he began, sounding out the first word carefully. It was not one he had ever heard before he had come to this part of the world. "You hired me for my knowledge, because my family spent time and lives to learn a dragon's mind and spirit. You would not have hired me if you did not need this knowledge. If you reject my services, I can make several recommendations for replacements but their methods will be far more brutal and harsh than mine. I know the way to make a dragon trust you." MingMing nuzzled him with her pointed snout as if she had somehow known just when to do so to punctuate his point. "Those I could recommend only know how to break its spirit and make it afraid of you. And a frightened dragon is no better than a sheep."
     
  8. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Pew pew! Member

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    There were things that needed to be said that Sequoia dared not speak to anyone within the palace walls. It wasn't that J'erso was wrong--but there were things he simply was not aware of. And perhaps it was for the best. They were the type of things that needed to be experiencing, rather than explained. So she only glanced at him, held his gaze steadily as he spoke, then turned back to continue walking. "Your words do not fall on deaf ears. But my time is limited. The decision is still yours to make." The doors were opened for her by the guards outside the throne room. "Castro will show you back to the front gates. I'll be there shortly, should you decide to join me," she said as she departed. She was quickly flanked by a handmaiden, who took her crown and fussed over her to be sure she wasn't injured.

    Sequoia was silent on the walk to her quarters, and sent her maiden away, despite her concern. She told the guards to mind the hall, and not her door, and shut the heavy oak doors herself. It was there, safely in her private Chambers, away from prying eyes, that she allowed herself a moment of doubt. Had she been wrong to seek outside help? Would the Northern leaders keep their word? Was this even worth the effort? The stress of it all, mounted with everything else she needed to keep in mind, was weighing heavily upon her mind, to the point that her temples throbbed.

    A few sips of mead between changing her clothes, and she was beginning to feel at least calmer. She took a moment to ensure she still looked regal, despite her attire-- the ruffles in her blouse on the collar and sleeves were not in the way of vision or movement, her riding trousers were not so tight that she felt immobile, and the cloak she fastened around her shoulders was hand embroidered and lined with rabbit's fur--a fine garment, but not so much to readily identify her, if she was seen at a distance. She stamped into her ankle high leather boots, worn with wear, and she breezed from her room, her royal visage renewed.

    Castro had done as he was asked, though he very clearly was not pleased. But he had left their guest to go fetch Sequoia's mare-- a sable beauty with a blonde mane and an distrustful glare for J'erso and his wyrm.

    "You're still here," Sequoia said as she descended the stairs. "Good. We'll leave at once." She plucked the reins from Castro and swung herself up into the saddle. "Mind the council in my absence. I'll return by nightfall," she murmured to her adviser.

    "Your Majesty, please... I ask that you reconsider this..." Castro's expression was tight with concern.

    "You know that I can't," was her only response before she coaxed her mount to start along the path. "Keep pace, if you please! I'm sure you're eager to begin your work," she called back to J'erso over her shoulder. "The valley isn't too terribly far."

    That was her perception, anyway. She made the trip so often, it seemed shorter every time. In truth, they would be riding for about an hour before the trees gave way to plains and hills that began to steep low before the grandious mountains that bordered the easterm perimeter of Pruettehr. The grasses we're greener and the river snaked through, leading into the lush forestry that was tucked between the rocky crags.

    Sequoia stopped in the fields and dismounted, letting her mare wander to the riverbank. She watched her with pride, knowing her loyal mount would remain nearby, content graze until she returned. "That wasn't too taxing, I hope," she said as she stretched and began to walk. "This way. I'm sure your, ah... companion will be fine to come along."

    In truth, she'd never seen anything like MingMing. She had questions, but she had to keep her fascination to herself. This was about her beast. She had no time for further curiosities.
     
  9. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Thilly Wabbit Member

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    J'erso said nothing to Castro as the man led him out to the courtyard. It wasn't that he didn't like the man. He assumed Castro was a perfect example of a southern male: flighty and weak willed. Or at least, that was what he'd observed so far. J'erso simply didn't think they had anything in common so he remained silent.

    He was mulling over his choice but he had decided to bare with the queen for now. It wouldn't do to make a hasty decision. That wasn't his way. He would wait until he had more information. But he didn't predict his departure from this venture. Even if his efforts were unsuccessful given the queen's unwillingness to grant his requests, he would still be paid for his time. Gold. That was his true goal. And if the dragon could not be trained, could not be molded into the Khitu ideal of the great beasts, then its time in the south had caused it to lose any divinity it had and he was not beholden to it.

    The queen arrived and J'erso made a quick assessment of her attire. It was practical. That was surprising. He'd heard rumors that southern women were forbidden to wear pants or boots. Then again, he'd also heard that some of them were forbidden from carrying weapons and the queen had already proved that wrong. He guessed that wasn't a proper indication of the southern way of life, though. She was a queen. She could do whatever she wanted.

    MingMing was eyeing the queen's mare hungrily but she made no aggressive move. She was too well trained for that. While he'd waited, J'erso had made sure her saddle was in place. It was an odd thing, like a long pad of leather along the reptile's back, buckled around the torso and leaving room for her wings to move freely. Near the back, there was wooden mechanism attached to another section of leather that seemed to be cushioned as well. It was raised a bit from the rest of the saddle, angled so that the rider could mould their body against the wurm's back so that it could make tighter maneuvers without throwing him off. However, the pad could also be raised and locked into place, acting as a sort of back rest for more leisurely flight. He did so, climbing onto MingMing's back easily and lounging in the saddle. Despite MingMing being about the same size as Sequoia's horse, she seemed perfectly strong enough to carry a man J'erso's size even on only two legs.

    J'erso flicked the reigns as Sequoia led the way and MingMing followed on foot, keeping pace with the queen. J'erso let one leg hang off the side of the saddle while the other boot came to rest on the pommel, leaning back into the backrest. MingMing seemed not to notice the shift in weight as J'erso laid the reigns over his knee, trusting MingMing to follow the horse as he reached into a pouch. He removed a clump of some sort of dried root and chewed on it as they traveled. He didn't try to cater to Sequoia's station or make polite conversation. In fact, he seemed to ignore her for the most part on the ride.

    When they arrived, he disembarked, returning the saddle to its normal configuration. "I will leave her. She would be unsettled by your dragon," he said as he attached MingMing's reigns to a stake and drove it into the ground with his boot. She could easily pull free from it but she'd been trained since she was a hatchling not to pull away from the stake.

    J'erso pulled his scaled cloak around himself and followed, adjusting the strap of a waterskin hanging from one shoulder. It was not for drinking though. Rather, it contained an oil that, when poured on the skin, increased one's resistance to fire. It would only protect one at a distance from the source but it was better than nothing. However, he guessed from how calm the queen was that the dragon was not aggressive, at least when she was present. "Why did no guards accompany us? Is your steward not frightened that I may be an assassin?"
     
  10. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Pew pew! Member

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    The twist of Sequoia's lips was a bit strange-- a little bitter, and perhaps a bit smug. "Of course he is," she answered plainly. "In fact, his rather sure that you are here to do as you please, cut my throat and steal my dragon for your Northern kings and gods." It was the first time she had referred to the beast as hers. She was much more comfortable here, and she was very sure that there was no one to hear them so she did not have to choose her words so carefully. She would anyway; she did not trust this man no further than she could throw him, but for now, he was her only option.

    Her eyes were narrowed as she glanced up at him. "I do not like to doubt the integrity of a man upon first meeting him. But my dragon's well-being is my only interest, as far as I'm concerned when it comes to you. The absence of guards does not mean you are not being watched. I hope you do not endeavor to disappoint me."

    By now, they were completely surrounded by a thick wooded area, the sunlight barely able to filter in through the leaves and branches. Sequoia looked around, then raised her hand to J'erso. "Wait." She lightened her steps and crept carefully forward. The air around them was warmer than it had been before. They were being watched.

    "Be on guard. He normally doesn't take kindly to visitors..." she murmured. She walked out into the clearing, loosening her cloak slowly and letting it fall. She knew what to expect, but having someone else in the dragon's lair was a variable. She peered around, standing on the tips of her toes to try and spot where the dragon might be hiding, but saw no trace of him right away.

    "Strange..." She spoke mostly to herself. "I could have sworn."

    And then suddenly, she was on the ground, caged between the dragon's back talons and trying to get the air back in her lungs. The branches had groaned and crackled as the mighty serpent crashed through them, dropping down right on top of them, snarling so loudly, the air seemed to vibrate. It was massive, by mortal standards-- standing at over 7 feet tall on all four of its legs, each of them having ivory talons on each end. The black scales seemed to writhe with the muscles underneath as the dragon positioned himself into a predatory crouch, wings spreading wide. His eyes were burning like embers as he glowered at J'erso, and smoke leaked from between his rows of fangs as he reared up and the snarl became a thunderous roar.

    Sequoia had plenty of room to crawl from between his claws, and had begun to do so, but she was plucked from the ground instead, first by his back claws before he tucked his head under, long neck stretching to grab her by her shirt between his teeth and turned to stomp away. His head was about the same size as the entirety of her upper half, so it took very little effort to pick up the Queen and carry her wherever he pleased-- a new habit.

    The dragon's tail snapped like a whip at J'erso, making it very clear that he was not welcome, as he began to move further into his lair. Sequoia cursed and struggled, just a bit. "That is enough!" she snapped. "You stop this instant!"

    And, surprisingly, the dragon did. Another growl rippled in his chest, but he did not seem eager to release her. In fact, he turned back to look at J'erso and flared his nostrils, which mussed Sequoia's hair, and hunched low, wings spread again. It was certainly a form of posturing-- he did not like the human being there.

    "Put me down. You saw me this morning, didn't you?" Sequoia snapped. "M'yunn, put me down!"

    Clearly displeased, the dragon obeyed, but not before hunkering down and tucking Sequoia among his coils. He hissed at the intruder and closed a wing over where he put her, shielding her from view. She let out a weary sigh and patted his warm side. "Now, now... I'm sorry. It's all right..."
     
  11. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Thilly Wabbit Member

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    The queen's response to his query only illicited a grunt in reply. He didn't try to deny any intention to betray her because he didn't feel he needed to. There were plenty of bandits and marauders in the north, embodying a dragon's propensity for greed through murder and thieving. But J'erso had a talent that gave him a certain station. A dragon trainer was valued by any tribal chief looking to build himself a stable of drakonids. And J'erso didn't fancy the idea of being labeled a queenslayer. Were he to betray one as beloved by her people as Queen Sequoia, he would certainly be hunted the rest of his days.

    As they walked, J'erso noted the signs of a dragon's presence in the area. The bark of the thicker trees was scored with deep claw marks, whole patches of vegetation were reduced to blackened charcoal, rocks were blackened as well, showing signs of melting under the heat of a dragon's expulsion of heated breath. They were in the heart of a dragon's lair, as evidenced by the utter lack of bird or animal noises.

    J'erso hung back, watching Sequoia creeping forward cautiously. "Heida!" He hissed, realizing the danger too late as an enormous black shape came through the canopy, pinning her beneath it. He was sure she was dead until the creature plucked her from the ground as mother cat might a kitten. He dove to the side as the enormous tail whipped toward him, rolling in the scorched grass and coming up in a crouch, pulling his cloak around himself in case the dragon tried a blast of fire next. But none came. In fact, the creature seemed more interested in protecting the queen, despite being rather uncooperative.

    The dragon trainer observed as Sequoia tried to persuade the great beast to release her. She didn't seem to be in immediate danger but J'erso could tell that while the dragon didn't seem interested in hurting her, it definitely didn't care for him. He didn't dare approach. Instead, he waited long enough to see that the creature really didn't plan on eating the queen before he went to work.

    J'erso pulled three hooked blades from his belt, their hilts tied with chord. He placed the thin blades between his fingers, the knives looking like claws on his hand as he moved over to one of the trees. He made sure to make eye contact with M'yuun before he placed the blades against the bark and drew them across the dragon's own claw marks, effectively crossing them out. It was common for dragons to mark their territory in this way. The process would be slow but J'erso needed to get M'yuun used to his presence.

    Next, he moved over to one of the melted rocks. He pulled another, smaller waterskin from his belt, and lifted it to his lips, holding the liquid in his mouth while he pulled out a flint and tinder, lit a piece of cloth on the end of a small stick, held it up in front of his mouth and spit the oil over it, causing an enormous flame to barrel forth and blacken the rock again. The oil was laced with a scent, unique like that of a dragon's fire. It would be easy for M'yuun to detect.

    J'erso was glad that dragons didn't emulate dogs by peeing on everything. He didn't fancy the thought of doing that in front of the queen. For the next few minutes, he continued in the same manner while still keeping his distance and only marking territory on one side of the dragon's lair. It was really just a small area inside the dragon's territory and he would likely have to mark it again several times before the dragon began to recognize it as J'erso's. Once it did, once it got more used to him, he could begin the process of getting it to learn commands. At the same time, he would have to emphasize Sequoia's dominance in all this, that the dragon was to take his commands from her. He would be working closely with the queen for a while.
     
  12. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Pew pew! Member

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    The word puzzled easily came to mind when Sequoia was able to see past M'yunn's wing and watch the strange man as he began what she could only assume was a part of his work. She could only tell that he was marking things, but it did not yet make sense to her why he would. She hoped that her dragon wouldn't take immediate offense and act out-- he'd never had his space challenged in such a way.

    And to his credit, M'yunn at least seemed to be being patient with it; patient enough, at least. His tail was swiping against the already flattened grass and he raked his talons into the loamy soil with a rumbling growl that Sequoia felt vibrating through her body. She reached to to shush him, rubbing under his scaly chin and down his throat until he quieted and pressed his snout into her chest.

    "It's all right. I don't think he means any harm. At least not to you... Something tells me he knows better." She glanced towards where she could still hear J'erso shuffling about. M'yunn snorted hard and tucked her further against him. "Now, now. No need to act that way." She pushed at him, hard enough that he at least felt the pressure, and after some consideration, he lifted his head and turned it away from her instead.

    "Oh, don't pout." She laughed a little and slid off his haunch and ducked under his wing to rejoin J'erso in the clearing. Her hair had been mussed, there was a scrape on her cheek from where she had landed on the ground, and she'd likely be sorry, but she seemed otherwise unharmed. She did take a moment to run her fingers through her short dark curls and looked back at the sulking beast.

    "Forgive me... I didn't have time to properly introduce you." She gestured to her dragon. "This is M'yun'nektal. I hope you can pardon his lack of manners. He isn't keen on... Anyone, really." A little grimace stole over her expression-- that could have very easily been her fault. But what did she know about socializing a dragon, and even if she did, how could she? He would have been taken, or worse.

    She glanced at J'erso again, fingers laced before her. "Suffice to say, he is more than a handful... Lately he's become more territorial with even the wildlife here. And he's starting to actually fly, as I'm sure you're aware. He hadn't been able to do more than glide until earlier this year.. and he's grown so much..." Worry twisted her expression. "I know he cannot be just a pet. He's already made that very clear. But in truth, I'm not sure how to handle these new behaviors..."

    She looked back at M'yunn, who was still refusing to look their way, busying himself by chewing on a talon. "I called upon you for your expertise," Sequoia admitted. "Whatever you suggest, I am willing to at least listen. But please know that I've only called you here because I want what is best for him, though I am also beholden to my kingdom. But Tal is everything to me..."
     
  13. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Thilly Wabbit Member

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    It was quite odd to hear the queen talking to the dragon like some unruly child. And not only that, the dragon seemed quite protective. He'd seen females do so but males were temperamental, territorial, and rarely cared for their own young. M'yunn, however, was treating Sequoia like a treasured hatchling. It was quite odd behavior and J'erso decided he would need to observe the dragon a while to learn about its unique mannerisms.

    He was finishing marking his little plot of territory as the dragon released her, returning the blades he'd used as claws to his belt as she approached. He watched the dragon as it ignored them. It had a curious pattern of scales on its forehead, the lines between them making a shape that somehow seemed familiar to J'erso. He couldn't tell why, though.

    His eyes met Sequoia's as she spoke and he was again perplexed by the way she talked about M'yunn. A handful... perhaps a few more weeks at most. After that, he would become a plague on her kingdom unless properly trained. "He nears sexual maturity. He will grow quite large very quickly and become very aggressive. Left to his own devices, he may even turn upon you, Haida."

    He regarded the dragon a moment longer. "I will need to observe him for a while. It would be best if you were present while I do. The more time he spends with you, the easier it will be for us to train him to respect your authority. But I shall need to teach you several things to keep you safe as he becomes more violent. Dragon dancing. How to remain in his blindspots when he is temperamental and we must make ourselves scarce. And I will need to gather some materials." He looked at the queen, showing emotion for the first time: concern. "Haida. There is a reason my people once believed, without a doubt, that these creatures were gods. For centuries, they were the embodiment of the ultimate predator. They are fierce, strong, and very intelligent. If we do not succeed in taming him, you will have to choose between your dragon and your kingdom. He will be drawn to the heat of your cities and he will seek to possess whatever territory he can see, regardless of who lives there. I know you care for him, Haida. But should we fail and he is allowed to live... many will die."
     
  14. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Pew pew! Member

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    His words turned her expression to stone, though here was no fear etched into her features. Her dark brows knitted together and her lips curved into a careful frown, but nothing more to betray how she felt. Sequoia knew what was at stake; otherwise she would not have done so much to bring him here while maintaining this secret for so long. "I understand the severity of the situation," she said, her tone flat and firm. "It is why you were called. No one is going to die if I have anything to say or do about it. And Tal will be kept out of harm's way. That is your purpose here." She moved away from him then to go and retrieve her things from the place she had left them before her dragon had made an appearance.

    She was quiet as she refolded the cloak and tucked it away in the small pack she carried with her, but before she tied it closed, her hands hesitated and she instead folded them over the bag. "I didn't know what I was getting myself into with any of this. Try and understand the position I am in..." She didn't dare turn to face him in her moment of vulnerability. "I am a Queen in a kingdom left behind by a careless king, given to his people in exchange for the prosperity of her own. My clan does not hail from here. Even now, I do not understand all of the Southern customs. But I am their leader now, and it is my duty to protect them in any way that I can, but..."

    Her gaze went to M'yunn who was now watching her intently, his eyes glimmering like emeralds. "I have been his keeper before he knew what the world was. I was given the egg by someone who thought a fossil was a befitting gift for a young wild girl." She gave a wry sort of smile. "And I treasured him before his first breath. By the time I was engaged to the King, we had already bonded. It's only been a few dozen moons, but things are happening so quickly. This isn't something that I can do on my own." She ran her hands through her hair, eyes lifting to the sky. "I know that I am already asking much of you, sir, but your patience is another request I must beg of you... It is of the utmost importance that we are successful. There is no other option."
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2018
  15. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Thilly Wabbit Member

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    J'erso listened with interest as she explained herself. It wasn't what he expected. Not only that she would open up to him so much about herself but that her motives toward her dragon seemed far different from what he'd imagined. There was no mention of using M'yunn as a weapon of war or an icon to represent her power. She cared for the beast, respected it, viewed it as something precious that needed to be protected.

    A distant memory surfaced of a great leathery wing and smooth scales cradling him atop a wind swept plateau as a sandstorm descended upon them from on high. He had felt the slow, even breaths of the creature that protected him and sensed the life in its belly. It protected him as it would its own hatchlings, even though he was not of its blood. Or was he? He didn't know. But it had saved him. His eyes met M'yunn's great emerald ones, like those of his mother that had regarded him as a boy, sheltering beneath her wing.

    J'erso met Sequoia's eyes again, nodding simply. It was enough. He'd made his decision. He would stay. As the dragon from his youth had saved him from the sandstorm, he knew it was his purpose to save the child she'd carried while sheltering him.

    "I have seen all I need for today, Heida," he said as he gathered up his things. "I suggest we return to your castle. I am weary from my journey. I will return tomorrow to re-carve my territory until... Tal is used to my presence. Then the work can begin."
     
  16. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Pew pew! Member

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    Sequoia had more than enough practice masking her reactions and emotions, so though she was able to mask the sigh of relief that threatened to escape her lungs, her shoulders did noticeably relax a little once she realized that J'erso had officially agreed to lend his expertise. Part of her had been concerned-- she was aware that was she was asking for was far beyond the ordinary, and she was sure that he didn't like being told how to do his job. But this was the utmost importance to her that this was done right. She had done her fair share of research, or as much as she could find. She knew that the relationship between dragons and humans was nothing like the one she had formed with M'yunn, and yet, she had no inclination to change it. The dragon was more than a beast; not quite a god, and not exactly a pet. In truth, she couldn't describe their bond, but she would not jeopardize it for anything. Not for her kingdom, not for any of its people, and certainly not for the ego of someone who thought they knew better.

    M'yunn let out a rippling growl, remind J'erso very clearly where he stood with him; he did not trust the human, nor was he very fond of his presence in general. But the staredown was not perceived as a challenge, since J'erso was the first to look away, so M'yunn shifted, turning his head and preening, as if he'd won.

    "I suppose you would be. I apologize for lengthening an already long journey," Sequoia agreed as she stood up straighter, but she did notice her dragon's posturing and determined that something needed to be done about it. It would be no use to any of them is M'yunn was intent on being so hostile.

    She walked over to M'yunn and hoisted herself up onto his side-- it was no harder than pulling herself up onto a particularly large stallion at rest, but he was definitely getting bigger. She sat on his back and began to scratch with her nails along his neck, working her way up until the dragon let out a rumble and stretched out on his side, wings and toes stretching a bit and even his hind leg kicking a bit at the air. She chuckled and leaned forward to keep scratching the same spot. "See? No need to be so uptight. It's all right..." she cooed, pleased to know that even in the face of adversity, her tricks still worked.

    M'yunn rolled over with a contented chuff onto his back and sat up to nudge his head against Sequoia affectionately. She wrapped her arms around his snout for a hug and a kiss, then patted his massive jaw.

    "I know you hate short visits, but I have to go back. Promise you'll be good?" she murmured against his scales. M'yunn snorted and grumbled, gnashing his rows of teeth. Sequoia opened an eye. "That didn't sound like a yes. Promise me." Another grumble, but he at least seemed a bit more amiable. Satisfied, she gave him a few more pats before moving to slide back down the ground. The moment her feet hit the dirt, she realized that J'erso had just been a witness to her coddling the dragon like a child. Her face went a bit red and she squared her shoulders to try and regain some sort of dignity. "Let's go..." she said, beginning to walk.

    M'yunn cocked his head and twisted to his feet to get up and begin to follow her. It was not unusual, and he usually knew better than to leave the shelter of the trees so Sequoia didn't seem concerned. He did, however, make it a point to growl at J'erso as he passed him, making it clear that he was to stay away from his human.
     
  17. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Thilly Wabbit Member

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    Her treatment of the dragon still surprised him but what really got his attention was how the dragon responded to her. She truly had a gift to calm the tempestuous creature with her affection. It would likely be quite useful in the days to come. He made no comment or change in his expression as she blushed but he got the feeling he was seeing a side of her she rarely allowed herself to show in front of others. Granted, he was an outside who would likely leave once the job was done but still...

    J'erso couldn't help a bit of unease as the dragon moved to follow them, walking past him with a growl. He seemed very well behaved when the queen was near but it was hard to be calm around a creature that viewed literally every other living creature as potential prey. Dragons were the top of any food chain and should M'yunn decide to eject J'erso for good, without the usual precautions in place while training a dragon, there was little he would be able to do about it.

    MingMing was agitated, having sensed M'yunn's presence long before seeing him. She pulled at the stake, dislodging it from the ground, her fear overtaking her training. But she didn't fly away. Her leash was still attached to the spike and some part of her knew that meant she wasn't to leave. Still, she backed away, making a squawking cry of fear, claws digging into the ground, wings flapping as if wrestling with the decision of weather or not to flee.

    J'erso moved to console her, stroking her snout and rubbing under her chin, speaking softly in his own language. She still jerked her head side to side, little eyes watching M'yunn vigilantly, but she was no longer backing away.
     
  18. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Pew pew! Member

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    Sequoia frowned a little, noticing the wyrm's distress at once. Her attention went to find her mare, and she was now alert and watching the strange creature fidget and squall. She had been exposed to the much larger dragon many times already, so she knew on her own to keep her distance (though in the absence of their Masters, she had gotten curious and learned from that mistake.) But she had no problem trotting towards Sequoia once she whistled for her.

    "Is she all right?" she called out to J'erso as she patted her horse's neck. She whinnied and nudged at her hands, expecting a treat. She reward her with a few kisses, then began to lead her further into the pasture. She glanced over her shoulder and found M'yunn crouched in the mouth of the forest, resting on his haunches, like a cat prepared to pounce. She could see his tail swishing behind him and his wings tucked against his back. It was a playful stance, but she had at least made it clear with many, many months of training that he understood not to go past the trees. And he at least seemed to like being there.

    "He isn't going to come after her. He knows better, most of the time..." She did look back at him and frown. M'yunn was rolling his shoulders, growling low in his chest. "Pardon me?" She furrowed her brow. "You will leave her alone!"

    M'yunn grumbled and rolled his eyes, laying flatter on the ground. It was a reluctant sign of submission, but one all the same. She stared at him for a few moments longer before turning back to swing up into the saddle. "There's no need to torment the poor creature. Let's go." She nudged her mare forward, and they began back towards the castle. She couldn't help but to look back one more time as they began to depart. M'yunn was sitting up now, tilting his head as he watched her go. It tugged at her heart strings, but she knew that she could not stay tonight. She had to ensure that her... guest was accommodated properly, and that no one would begin to worry that he might have done something to her.

    The journey back was quiet-- she did not have much to say that had not already been spoken of. The closer they got back to the citadel, the more on edge she felt. In truth, she did not know how much longer she would be able to keep her secret. He was still getting bigger-- and eventually, the forest would not be able to safely house him anymore. He was going to need more food, better shelter. And it would not be possible to bring him any closer without him being trained.

    This has to work... She closed her eyes, squeezing the reins tightly between her hands. She thought a quick prayer to the gods old and new, and took a deep breath to steel herself for what was to come. Another stretch of practiced smiles, well thought out replies, and feigned interest in the meetings she was sure she was going to be pulled into. She had been avoiding it for some time now, but the logistics of the diplomatic meetings she had suggested needed to be discussed with the council. She knew it was important, but she was more concerned with the actual execution. And with J'erso present, how was she going to be able to do both?

    Suddenly, she was exhausted...

    When they arrived, people began to peer out their windows and doors. Children bounded out to the streets, waving their arms and squealing for Sequoia's attention. The Queen's smile was slight, but warm as she looked their way and offered a wave in return. It was a nice reminder what all of that would be for.
     
  19. CaliforniaCombatCony

    CaliforniaCombatCony Thilly Wabbit Member

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    MingMing was still fussing, making sounds of panic. She rarely got this close to a dragon. Even drakes were above her in the dracconid food chain. It wasn't that dragons normally went out of their way to eat wyrms but they were an apex predator. If the mood struck them, they could eat whatever they wanted. MingMing knew this instinctively. But J'erso had trained her as a war wyrm. Granted, that meant she was used to going up against other war wyrms but he liked to think he had tempered her fear response somewhat. He took hold of the bit in her mouth, tugging it down so that he could look into her beedy little yellow eyes. "Shesha, MingMing," he said in a low but commanding voice. The wyrm instantly stilled, her attention taken by J'erso and his coded command. "She will be fine," J'erso said confidently. As soon as he broke eye contact, the wyrm seemed to remember her discomfort but she was far less expressive about it than before. J'erso had reassured her with the calming word and that was enough to trump her basic instinct for the time being.

    J'erso mounted up, riding normally unlike before when he had reclined in the saddle. It made MingMing more comfortable to keep the saddle in its battle configuration until they'd put enough distance between them and M'yuun.

    Upon arriving back in the city, J'erso took once more to the skies. He didn't want to frighten the people with MingMing's alien-ness so he flew high above until he was a small dark shape against the sun. MingMing instinctively knew where they were headed, banking leisurely toward the castle. J'erso attached a tether to the saddle and leaned sideways, pulling a spy-glass from his pocket and looking down. He didn't know why but the queen intrigued him. She was like no royalty he'd ever met and he watched as the children came out to greet her.

    A dark shape caught his attention in the dark space between two buildings on the main road. As the children and their parents came out to greet their queen, a larger shape moved closer. J'erso could see the flash of steel in the lurker's hand. He immediately closed the spyglass and made a sound to get MingMing's attention as he took the reigns. He lay flat on the saddle, directing MingMing into a steep dive. Excited by the activity, MingMing made a jubilant roar that caused everyone in the street to look around in surprise for the source of the noise. She dropped like an arrow out of the sky, the light of the sun behind her obscuring her form until it was too late.

    The assassin had left his hiding place, vaulting up onto a cart piled high with pumpkins and leaping toward Sequoia, a knife held ready as he made to unhorse her. His journey was cut short as the war wyrm's wings flared to slow her descent, her scaled form exploding into view as her talons plucked the figure from mid air. The man cried out as the full weight of the dracconid came down on him, crushing him under her feet, the knife skidding along the cobblestones. With a word from J'erso, MingMing lowered herself, sitting on the assassin as if roosting atop an egg. He cried out again, several ribs creaking and cracking. J'erso slid off MingMing's back and knelt to get a look at the assailant.

    "Heida, perhaps one of your good citizens would run and fetch the guard?" he suggested coolly.
     
  20. CursieKitti

    CursieKitti Pew pew! Member

    Messages:
    443
    Local Time:
    11:48 PM
    Everything is going to be fine, Sequoia had been coaching herself as their steady trot had been slowed to a bit something of the practiced ceremonious gait. It couldn't be helped, now that the people had begun to notice her presence among them. She hadn't been surprised that J'erso made himself scarce, but there was a slight bit of jealousy that brushed her mind as she wished there times she could do the same. What she would give to be able to be invisible to everyone, just for a moment, and have a true taste of freedom from scrutiny. Even when she was with M'yunn, she had to be extremely cautious that she hadn't been followed, or that nothing was near by to cause her dragon to react poorly. Every instant of her life was encased in worry over one thing or another. If she could just have a moment...

    The semblance of "fine" had very suddenly been shattered as a piercing sound-- unlike anything she had ever heard, cut through the gentle murmur that had begun to surround her. The quiet chattering turned to shrieks of terror, and Sequoia turned her head just in time to see a hooded man leap over a produce cart and be slammed into the ground beneath J'erso and his wyrm. Her mare knickered and nervously paced away, but she yanked on the reins to keep control, assessing the situation. Her eyes widened at the sight of a small, curved dagger that had been flung from his fist.

    "He was going to hurt the Queen," a bewildered man sputtered from the crowd, and a gasp sputtered through. The panic spread like wildfire, and while more had begun to race to get back to their homes, there were others who seemed petrified by the presence of the beast, the stranger, and the obvious criminal.

    As rattled as she was, Sequoia knew she had to get a hold of the situation at once. "Please, calm down!" she called out to the onlookers, despite still having to make the effort to calm her mount. "There is no longer a threat--" She had to swallow a curse as her mare balked and she had to yank at the reins for her attention. "Steady!" She quickly decided to swing down and keep her head low that way; there was so much commotion going on, she didn't want to be flung off on top of all of this.

    "You there! Find the nearest guard and send them here. We'll be escorting this man to the palace for questioning at once." Her eyes narrowed as she looked down at the bastard that still writhed beneath MingMing. She couldn't tell immediately where he had come from, but it was thankfully not anywhere near her own kingdom. The last thing she needed atop all of this would be mutiny. "I sincerely hope that whatever price you were promised was worth your risk," she said, her voice dropping a pitch.

    She then looked up at J'erso, her brow furrowed again as she studied him. "It would seem that I am indebted to you, sir..." she murmured, but something about that statement felt heavy and wrong. She had no reason to begin to think J'erso had anything to do with this, but his timing had been uncanny. She was not at leisure to rule anything out.
     

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