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Fantasy Broken Balance

"I-i see..." Wolnir thought to Reptar as he was told why the rest of his kin didn't want him to leave. Because of their isolation, as he had suspected, but also because, as he understood it, he was part of the royal lineage and thus he probably had his share of responsibilities to fulfill. And learn how ruling worked. Made sense.

When he and Crystal went out, they came across her boss whom the dragon had already said hi to. The dragon breathed in deeply a couple times while the others talked amongst themselves in order to ease his emotional shock, the conversation being mostly unrelated to him. Although he did pick up that he'd be taking Crystal to the camp.

He blushed when he was complimented on his wings and scales.

"T-thanks..." He told Elijah. "I-i hope so too..." He said referring to the invitation for a cup of tea and a chat sometime. Since that one was Crystal's boss, he was looking forward to it. Definitely would be an interesting individual to talk to given their relationship. Although... he doubted he'd get along with him as good as with Crystal. She was a stellar friend.

Now the camp awaited. He had already agreed to it so he considered he couldn't back down until they arrived there. Even with her assurances about the well intentioned people within, he was still visibly nervous about it.

"H-how far is the camp?" He asked.

"I'm unsure if i understand your joke" Blade told Ashley in response to her joke. "It does sound unfair" He was sure that given an equal sleep time, he could perform the task as well as her. Even then, he didn't voice those last thoughts in order to not be on her bad side.

"Once again, i thank you and wish you luck on your efforts to awaken me. You shall watch over me after our meal". The white dragon seemed relatively unfazed to the smell of the nearby decaying corpse. The dead from his cell and surrounding ones often took days to get removed, the hot desert climate making it worse. Thus making him used to both the smell and to sleep by a dead being. Not the most pleasant of things to get used to though, but that's how it is. How it has been for the last handful of months. It took him a long time.

"That's the role i got demoted to? Storyteller?" Rega jokingly said back when the human jokingly said her lack of willingness to tell her stories would end up favoring her survival. Because she'd try to keep her alive in order to hear them later. In bleak situations such as these, she considered that humor and stories may be part of the few things left to raise one's hope. But of course, in her there was also her reunion with her son.
"Enough about me..." She then said. "What do you do? Why help us?"

"It is a true pleasure to have gotten the chance of meeting you, Ashley" Blade told Ashley after she introduced herself. She had proven to be a good ally so far, willing to pitch in.

"Nice to meet you" Rega said after. It then came to her mind that neither her nor Blade knew the name of her son, although Blade already knew they were related. They didn't get to present themselves, and given that they'd all be together until they arrived to the mountains, she considered it appropriate to mention it.
"I don't think neither of you know my son's name. You know, of the guy that went to ask for help. His name is Valadir"

"Valadir had already shared his name with me" Blade added. "And if i may, i felt safe whilst in his brief company"

"Did you now?" Rega asked. "How'd you meet?"

"As you are already aware, i have fled from Diabmoure recently. Valadir had found me nearby whilst i was catching my breath in close proximity to this beach. He had leaded me to this location, his judgement being this is a safe position"

Rega took a moment to decode what Blade said, deciphering his way of expressing himself. That did sound like something his son would do.

The dragoness sharpened the thin branches she found, sharpening both ends. One in order to skewer the meat and the other to secure the branches into the ground. She was cutting some pieces of the buck when Jura came out of the cave, conscious once again. She asked about the corpse inside the cave. Neither she nor Blade replied to her question. Blade glanced at her for a second but didn't say anything because he considered it was Rega's decision to share that information, and the dragoness didn't because she wasn't ready to talk about it. During their survival, he always put her wellbeing above hers since she was the most vulnerable. And now he died because of her. After sharing more than a century together and raising their son. She sighed deeply in order to not cry due to her memories and emotions. Quietly resuming her job. Luckily the dragoness and the human didn't really seem to care about the answer since they quickly started chatting between themselves.

Shortly after, Rega skewered the meat and nailed the sticks to the ground by the fire. One stick for each, with several pieces of meat. She extended her paw near the fire to judge the temperature. It'd take a pawful of minutes to be done, and she'd have to rotate the meat every now and then for it to cook evenly. She sat by the fire, watching the meat get cooked.

She heard her name being... named. She instinctively raised her head to the direction of the sound. Ashley seemed to be telling Jura about who everyone was, given her pointing and telling she's the chef of the group. Rega made a gesture with her paw to say hi to her, staring at the blue dragoness for a bit. She looked oddly familiar.

"It's good to see you've risen!" Blade told Jura when she stepped out of the cave. He soon felt the smell of the cooking meat, an experience he dearly missed given his imprisonment. Always being handed room temperature food in very small rations. He couldn't remember the last time he smelled fresh food. His mouth began to water and his stomach rumbled. Even if it was going to be meat on a stick.
Crystal looked up at Wolnir's face. She smiled at him and put a hand on his foreleg, reassuring him. She would reach for his shoulder, but he's too tall to consider that option. While his features are vastly different from hers, she is old and wise enough to see what any creature feels—even a bird.
Before she answered his question, she said, "All will be well Wolnir. This is just another new experience for you. Better yet, a good one I believe. Remember the last time you went to camp? The first time we arrived at the Golden Mountain. A lot has happened in a week. More of us are there now. More friendly faces to meet. You haven't even met my cousins. They're fun to be around. Oh wait… There aren't any dragon-sized lodges. Oh well, guess we'll have to build one." She started getting really excited. Now that Wolnir is finally staying with her. She wanted it to be perfect for him for at least a night.

Together they walked toward the flying platform to the side of the mountain where Wolnir could freely take off. She continued as they did, "Camp has slightly shifted position. Deeper into the Northwest forest. About a twenty-minute flight from here. It's easy to miss among the trees. I'll show you when we reach the forest."

With Wolnir's consent, Crystal climbed onto his shoulders. Her legs dangled on either side of his neck. She grabbed onto his mane and kept her head low. Her tails covered majority of his back. Not too long ago, she wasn't particularly fond of flying, but now she enjoys it. She wished she could go on joy rides and just spend time with Wolnir in the air, but alas, there is too much work for her to have time for that.

"Ah shit. I forgot about Valadir…" Crystal mumbled to herself. Her thoughts went over to his whereabouts. She didn't think to check for him earlier in the morning. She wondered if he had left the mountains. She doesn't blame him for leaving. A lot is on his mind. She didn't particularly help him in that regard. Probably made it worse, which she regrets, but she won't say sorry. It was an innocent offer to help him. Next time they meet, she should bring the topic up instead of it being a taboo subject. She hates leaving things open like that. She hopes he isn't foolish enough to get into trouble while he's gone. He's a bright and capable dragon. Best not to stress over it. It's out of her control.

Before Wolnir launched into the sky, she located Elijah's and Sabato's minds and relayed information about Valadir. She didn't know how long he would be away. If he is, that is. She received a mental nod from both. They will look for him after they break the news to Lenera. From the quick link, she could tell Sabato felt a little queasy about it. Unusual for him to be nervous. Elijah is as calm as ever.
Serenata roared and slammed her fist against a stone wall. She couldn't take it anymore. She has been his most faithful and dependable servant. By doing his bidding, he promised her all his power, but now she has realised that was never his intention. The spirit she served turned his back on her. How could she have been so blind? Of course, he would prefer the dragon.
"Valadir the Unbroken…" She said the name to herself as if the dragon were her enemy. In a sense, he is. If her master has his eyes on Valadir, it leaves her underneath him.
"I could kill him. Solve my problem. No, that's a stupid idea. Not even I could do that."

Serenata sat on her chair in front of the lit firepit. Its flames created dancing shadows across her face. She rested her head on her fist and stared at the firepit. High up the mountain is her living quarters. Away from most drakes where it's quiet. She is rarely disturbed. Her walls are dark grey, almost black. A costly black marble with white streaks made the floor. Most of the light came from the firepit. She has the lanterns covered by shade. Where she lived his much smaller than what her title would expect. Single story and made of four rooms connected to a hallway that leads to a flying platform.

She has a predicament that she needs to deal with now. Her master wants Valadir. Once he has him, he will free her brother. However, she wants the power that was promised. She will not receive it if Valadir takes it. Leaving her with what she only has. What made her angry was that her master took Eragon captive. He also has shown his true colours to her. She was never a part of the equation. Only a tool to be used so he can gain rulership over everything. Does she follow through and give Valadir up for her brother? Or does she fight for her brother? If she fights, she will lose any power gained by the dragon spirit. It also doesn't guarantee that she will save his brother. In fact, she's sure that it will be lost fight. She doesn't have hope of defeating him.
"Dammit. Suddenly, I'm at a loss no matter what I do."

She sat in silence, pondering any other way. Feeling defeated, she hissed her frustration. It may be time to give up her habits. If she is honest, she only went to find power to save her race. Her current master promised it, so she went for it. Afterall, isn't that the purpose of an Armageddon? To serve and preserve your race no matter what. Her master has no regard for them. He only wants to rule with fire.

"I can't do it. I can't continue like this… I need to turn from my ways. I'm only hurting what I keep up."

The more she thought about it, the more she felt confident. She has to let go of her selfish ways. Strip back her pride and save her brother. She doesn't want to betray Valadir either, leaving her with only one option. Fight against the dragonic spirit. She can't do it on her own however. She needs help. "Maybe the Guardians will help me… Unlikely, but it's worth a try."

Deciding on a course of action, she rose from her seat, determined to right her wrong. She will fly to the Guardian camp and plead for help. Her pride will be hurt. She will be embarrassed. Brought to her knees, but she will never surrender her morals and values. Like her brother, drakes and family first.
Jura yawned and seated herself closely to Ashe in more of a protective manner than anything. While the tanned dragon doesn't pose a threat, she's learnt not to trust strangers. And her human friend will never be a match for a dragon. Winged or not. Yet again, Ashe has been known to pull a trick out occasionally.

"Respect the fallen Ashe. Have care how you speak about such a delicate topic. His fate may be the same, but his loved ones will change forever." Jura criticised Ashe. For Jura, it is especially a sensitive subject. She's lost many friends over her life. In battle, natural causes, illness. Her parents' death struck a chord that changed her life forever. She refuses to admit it but knowing true joy is a rare occurrence.

Jura didn't answer Ashe straight away. She genuinely thought about her current state. Her muscles ache from overuse. Her broken ribs are causing much discomfort. Many of her flesh wounds sting or otherwise feel like they are burning. Probably from Ashe's remedies applied earlier. Her throat is dry. She looks like a dead dragon. Some of her scales are missing from combating in Diabmoure. She felt lethargic and exhausted, with a headache to annoy her. And to finally add to her list, her mood hasn't cleared up. While she isn't angry, she's visibly frustrated and annoyed at recent events. At least Ashe cares for her well-being.
"I'm a little sore but otherwise fine."

Jura gratefully took the flask from Ashe and slowly drank the water, taking small sips at a time as much as she wanted to gulp down the water as fast as she could. It's better to drink slowly.

"Good to see you as well, Blade." Jura liked Blade. He kept his standards a little higher than most. He's a good companion. It's a pity she didn't talk to him during their stay at Diabmoure, but she had her reasons, and she will keep by it. Honestly, she would have lost against him in a fight to the death. His magical prowess is too strong.

The blue dragoness blew smoke from her nostrils, showing her distaste for Ashe's comment about how she smelled. Jura knew Ashe was just having a poke at her humour, but she wasn't in the mood for games. She wanted to lash out at her but refrained. If only she knew what I have to put up with daily… In general, Jura didn't like the scent of humans. Or elves and dwarfs, for that matter. They sweat salty water and are covered in natural oil they produce. Dragons do not have such downfalls. To her they smelt the same as pigs.

She eyed Rega labouring over the food when Ashe mentioned who she is. A brief rundown of what the other dragons are up to as well. She didn't know the name Valadir but any logical sense points to the dragon she yelled at. She felt guilty for her outburst. It was uncalled for. If he returns, she will apologise to him.

Then Ashe began to reason with Jura in an undertone. Voicing why she wants to go South. Jura made her opinion very clear when they were first introduced to the proposition. To her, it makes no sense to go. It's on the opposite side of Castrock. They know nothing about the land. If the Allied armies were there, it would only prove more dangerous for Jura. Besides, she has never heard anything good come from the cursed mountains. Anyone who enters them doesn't come back. However, she knows that Blade is utterly convinced that these drakes exist, and she somewhat respects Blade as an older dragon with greater wisdom than herself. Maybe she can find the reasoning behind the mass murder of her race. She didn't particularly care about creating contacts. She doesn't see the need for it, nor can she see how they will keep a long-term relationship with anyone across the land that would take at least two days of flying without sleep or food breaks.

After thinking about what Ashe said, with a lowered voice to match Ashe, she finally said, "If Valadir comes by tomorrow evening with proof of these drakes. I'm willing to go and at least find some answers. If not, we are heading straight back home. With or without the others." It pains her to say the last sentence, but she cannot help the other dragons if they are unwilling to accept it.

Jura stared at the cooked food outside the cave. She had dearly missed a good meal. In Diabmoure, they were only fed scraps and bones. Some of it wasn't even edible. Her aching hunger once again raised to a dangerous level. Her last meal- if you can call it that- didn't satisfy her. A few large bites out of a human during her escape. She left him dead and half-eaten. An ugly sight for anyone to see. Her stomach churned and made loud noises. Her mouth started to water. She slightly shifted her eyes down to the fire. Something about it made her feel uncomfortable.
Wait… Fire!
She looked to see that the smoke had gone high in the sky. A signal for anyone to see, and they had just escaped Diabmoure. They aren't known to let two dragons run for long. Her mood instantly turned, and her survival and training overtook her thoughts.
She shouted, "Quickly extinguish the fire! Our pursuers could be on us very soon. We need to leave now."
Jura rose from her seat and quickly looked around, already conscious that they are probably being watched.
Ashe snickered at Blade’s lack of understanding her joke. She didn’t bother to explain instead thinking to herself That would have been a good joke back home. She was glad Rega cracked a joke as well setting the mood in a lighter tone. For a moment she felt herself relax, until Rega broached her with a question.
What do I do? Why help them? She looked at the tan dragoness, the fire complimenting her scales.” Jura and myself are part of a guild. Our mission is to help and serve those who cannot for themselves.

Ashe dipped her head with trained grace after the two dragons were happy to meet her. “The pleasure is mine.” she sad. Ashe listened to Blade’s explanation then Jura woke up and sat down next to her. She hid her smile at her friend’s protective position, glad for it. Jura had been through too much to easily trust again. As have I. Either way, the the other two dragons seem to be of good faith. In fact, I seem to have taken a liking to each of them. Perhaps not yet of Valadir though.

It was then that Jura criticised her on her callous remark about the fallen dragon. She took a side glance at Rega, observing her distress. “Indeed, I shall.” She knew it was not her place to make such comments. Ever since she served ties wth her homeland, she noticed herself become ever more hard-hearted. Even that is a poor excuse of my behaviour. Especially when the dragon species had taken a heavy blow. What demanded a vicious attack against the dragons in the first place? The causes all remain a mystery. I wander if Blade, Rega or Valadir know?
Ashe darted her eyes to the cave then back to Jura. Perhaps I will ask if Valadir returns.

After waiting for Jura to assess herself, the dragoness gave her reply. Ashe tilted her head towards the blue dragon and eyed her up and down. Beneath the numerous wounds, Ashe raised an eyebrow at Jura, “You’re obviously not just a little sore.” Her friend was clearly not in the mood for humour or sarcasm. She sighed and begun her reasoning to head south.

Despite Ashe’s wishes to travel to the mountains, she deeply respected her friend’s say on the mater. Whatever Jura, decided Ashe would abide by. Which was why it was a relief to her when Jura said she would wait until tomorrow evening. It was suitable and wise. Ashe’s hunger returned to her mind. She looked at the other three dragons and then the food Rega was cooking up. She frowned at herself, annoyed at her disposition. It is not enough for all three dragons. I must ask Rega to divide my share among the others. Ashe enjoyed watching Rega work. There was something about her that was calming. Whether it was her presence of just being protected by three dragons Ashe didn’t know. She close her eyes, attempting to rest more before her watch.

Just before Ashe fell into a light sleep, Jura jumped up, causing her to flinch. The blue dragoness shouted to quell the fire and flee the cave. Upon her command, Ashe gathered what little that belonged to her. She readied her bow in case of need. In a blink of an eye, she slid next to the fire. “Blade I’ll deal with the fire. Coordinate with Jura where to seek shelter. Your eyes see further and clearer than even my elven lineage allows.”

She gathered sand from the ground and dumped the fire, depraving it of oxygen. She berated herself for the mistake. The fire would have acted as a beacon to any followers, bandit or enemies of the like. She doused the flames, the sand blocking much of the smoke from arising. She coughed slightly, before standing beside Jura. “Next course of action?”
"I-i guess that's is true..." Wolnir said upon hearing Crystal's words. He had forgotten that most of her kin were out of the mountains. Now there were more of them. Maybe almost everyone was safe now? He hoped so since he was well aware of the hell outside. In any case, new people to meet. New potential friends to be had. He could use more of those, specially since the ones he had have either died or alienated him out of their lives. Well, except Val. And now Crys was around too.

"I-i don't know anything a-about building..." He said shyly. He thinks he'll have to sleep outside again. Building a lodge takes time right? Surely more than an afternoon. And it sounded like people were still settling in which probably meant their lodges had priority over his.

"I-it sound like i-il be a load..."

"Sounds like you have your work cut out for you..." Rega said when Ashley spoke about what she occupied herself with. She helps folks out. If that was actually the case, then it was pretty convenient.

She kept watching over the food when she heard the new orders. Diabmoure's security were probably looking for the others and thus the fire was a pretty clear way to locate them.

"Fuck..." she said under her breath as she sighed. Things were going too well. Nothing could be that easy. A threat to the others meant a threat to her as well, thus she allowed the fire to be extinguished.

"It's unwise for you to eat this" she told Ashley while she was still close. "Haven't had time to cook it completely"

She then grabbed the skewers and distributed them between the others, splitting Ashley's share in three equal pieces. The situation made her wonder what her masters would think of the situation. How would they react if they saw her handing undercooked food to someone, even if they wouldn't get sick over it? After what they taught her? Would they be dissapointed, finding it unacceptable? Or would they give her a pass after trying in a though survival scenario such as this?

"What should i do with the skinned animals?" She asked the others. "Counts as a trail, doesn't it? And how shall we tell Val we left?"
While she awaited her answer, she grabbed her share and ate it quickly in order to not waste time. First time in a while she eats anything other than cold, raw food. First time in days where she actually eats.

Blade had been told to coordinate with Jura in order to find a place to move to. He nodded and stood up. Shame, he was starting to feel right at home, with the promise of hot, fresh food and some sleep. He was really looking forward to those but sadly it seemed it would not be happening now.

"It seems we have been assigned together once again" He told Jura. "I'm not familiar with this area, but my mage training will allow me to sense our pursuers with ease"

Then Rega came around with their small meal.
"You have my thanks" The white dragon said. As she asked what she should do, Blade ate his share quickly in order to perform his task. Hot food, even if simple and only half cooked. Even then, it felt better than Diabmoure's meals. He only wished two things. More and time to eat it properly, but alas, work awaits.

Valadir flew to the mountains quickly. The others' lives were depending on him, or so he kept telling himself to not slow down. If he took too long and they died because of it, he doesn't know what he'll do. His conscience wouldn't forgive him. On his way to the mountains, Valadir overflew the stronghold down south, near the mountains. The sight wasn't pretty at all. Lots of armed personnel could be seen, both inside the stronghold and around it. Groups heading to the mountains. Not good at all for the rescue plan. He's been told a lot about the robustness of the drakes' defenses, time to see if it's true.

The amount of personnel around the stronghold also meant that his rescue attempt would need a plan to overcome this new obstacle. Couldn't go through it at all, for that someone would need to command a well organized attack. It would take more time than available. The only real choice is to go around it, but how? His mother couldn't fly, and that blue dragoness that yelled at him was both unconscious and overall on a bad shape, so going by air wasn't really a choice. Going by land was too suicidal. So the only choice was to go by sea. The only way he could think about was by stealing themselves a ship somewhere far from the stronghold's field of view. Board it, kill the armed crew and force the ones assigned to the oars to go to the mountains' shores. Then disembark and maybe kill the crew. Didn't sound that bad. Would definitively have to discuss the details with whatever crew he could scrap together.

On his long trip, he has also thought about carrying food for his mother and the others with her. Get the people in the kitchen to help him make at least a dozen sandwiches, wrap them on paper and get them on his backpack. Borrow some canteens and load them with water, juice, hot tea or hot soup. Pretty much anything except alcohol for two reasons. Alcohol, hunger and dehydration don't mix well. And also he needed them to stay focused. With no clouded judgement.

He eventually crossed the mountains' edge. He was formally inside friendly territory, yet he didn't slow down. On a different ocassion, he'd relax. But not now, there were lives at stake. He crossed the border a bit sooner than he expected. Sun was still up. Still a handful of hours before nightfall.

On his trip, he had decided to fetch Crystal first, since he considered she was more likely to help him out of her own good will. Question is, where was she? She tended to change her location pretty often. He decided to ask in that camp they went together to a handful of days ago. If he remembered correctly, most of her kin was in there. With enough luck, she'd be there as well.

Didn't take him long to get there. Only problem is that halfway through he noticed he was going to the wrong direction, the camp had moved since the last time he was there.

He landed on the camp's outskirts. Way more crowded than he expected. And there were several races in the camp too, not only kitsunes. Elves and humans too. Disgusting. To beg for the enemy for help. To the races that has almost killed off his whole race. To the one that mistreated him his whole life. That was too low for him.

He turned around and prepared himself to leave... yet halfway through he stopped. He took a couple deep breaths. He reminded himself that it was the better alternative. Better than asking Eragon or Lenera and risk a shady deal. That the others' lives were at risk. His mother's. That, if those elves and humans were in drake territory, it meant they weren't trying to kill off the rest of his race. That Crystal trusted those people in the camp.

He swallowed his pride and walked in the camp, feeling uncomfortable, nervous and anxious. Uncharacteristically for him.

He asked the following question several times to whoever he came across, his reasoning being he'll either attract enough attention to himself for Crystal to notice him or someone would point him to wherever she was:

"You seen a kitsune around this size? White hair with a white and red dress?" Lifting his right paw in order to give a rough estimate of her height. Asking to everyone who happened to walk near him.
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“Please, Wolnir, don’t be so negative. You’re not going to drag anyone down. The opposite rather. You don’t have to worry about building anything. The dwarfs cover all of that. They can build it in a day but, won’t start until tomorrow. Too late now. Dark is near. We can pitch a tent next to my lodge for now. I would offer you to stay with me, but you will have a hard time squeezing in. I don’t think you will fit through the door.” Crystal hugged Wolnir’s neck. Essentially stuffing her face in his mane. His hair started to smell again.

” And I think you’re due for another bath. I dibs washing your hair.” Switching over to speak with her mind as she readied herself for flight. She cast a quick spell to protect her clothing and skin from being shaved off by Wolnir’s hard scales while she sat on him.

During the flight, Crystal guided Wolnir to the Guardian’s makeshift campus. Once again. The random collection of coloured tents and lodges scattered between the evergreen forest trees. The forest at large is covered with a light coat of snow, with more expected to fall during the night, making it difficult to spot. They would miss it if she didn’t know where it was. Clearings have been made within the trees to create easy access and store larger objects that have been brought or otherwise to create an open area for a large fire to burn throughout the night. Some of these fire pits have already started. From the Northmost lodge to the Southmost is a ten-minute walk.

The kitsune pointed to where her home it. Along the South side of the large camp. Closest to the drakes. She gave him a mental image of its location and a clearing next to it for Wolnir to land. Before they landed, Crystal spoke to Wolnir, ”Remember Wolnir, be yourself. Relax. No one is going to hurt you. Maybe when charge to hug you but other than that. You’re completely safe.”

When Crystal slid down Wolnir, she thanked him before turning to her lodge. A large firepit a few metres diagonally from the two-room, log-stacked house that is just taller than Wolnir at his full height. A door and square window on one side while the other three accommodate no natural lighting for the lodge. The only interesting feature of the external walls is the ropes that are hooked between the walls and the trees. A few of the strings had clothing and sheets to dry. She found that there was some smoke rising from the square chimney and that it is lit inside. The pleasant smell of food filled the area from the single open window next to the door.
“Smells like Haru has been cooking up a storm. Speaking of which…”

The orange-tailed kitsune opened the door with a big smile on his face. His amber eyes switched between Crystal and Wolnir.
“It’s about time both of you got here. Was starting to think that you weren’t coming. Wolnir, a pleasure to meet you again. I’ve been expecting you.”

“Haru, good to see you as well.” Crystal walked over to the male kit, and they embraced each other for a few seconds. “I assume that’s you cooking food for us.”

“Yes ma’am. It’s been ready for an hour. I’ll get some bowls. Be right with you in a minute.” Haru went back inside to get some food for the other two.

Meanwhile, Crystal started organising a tent for Wolnir. With her mind, she contacted some of the locals to see if they had a tarp big enough for a dragon-sized tent. She also asked around for any spare sheets, blankets and quilts. Luckily someone had a big green canvas, and a couple of others had sheets to spare. While they brought it over, she grabbed a mallet and a few large nails with hooks on the end and asked Wolnir if he could nail them to the top of the lodge. Crystal prepared the ground by clearing the snow and any loose sharp flora.

A couple of minutes into the labour, Haru brought two bowls of vegetable soup. He passed the first one to Crystal, which she gratefully accepted. Haru paused in front of Wolnir. He looked at the dragon and then at the bowl he was holding. He went back inside and, within a minute, appeared again with a much larger bowl filled with soup and a spoon to suit. He struggled to carry it to Wolnir.
“There you go. Thought this might be a bit more appropriate for you. Enjoy.”

- - -

The dwarf finished packing his bag and was about to head off to his lodge. He looked back at the framework of the new cabin he is was building and searched for anything that would give away any weakness in the joints. When there was none, with a satisfied grin, he picked up his heavy bag full of tools and took a few steps before hearing an unnatural rhythmic beat of the wind. Within seconds a black dragon landed near him. The dwarf stared at the dragon wide-eyed.

The dragon started explaining to him that he was looking for someone. After a few more seconds of staring, he snapped himself out of his dream, “Oh umm. Well, there are several with that description. Assuming you’re looking for Crystal Tenko. She’s urrr. That way.” The dwarf pointed South. “Southmost lodge. It’s a small logged stacked cabin.”

- - -

Jura quickly gobbled down the food she was given. She was using as few bites as possible. She then immediately started clearing the tracks with her wings and tail.
I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner. You idiot Jura. You could have cost everyone’s lives.

“Rega, Ashe, start walking South along the water to keep your tracks hidden. Blade and I will watch over you for pursuers or any other trouble. If there is any, I will come down and warn you. Leave the animal’s remains in the cave with the dead. And stay close together.”

Jura then engaged with Blade. “So it seems. Too bad we are still running for our lives. I know the area well enough, but when we pass the Whistling plains, my knowledge is as good as yours.”

Despite Jura’s slight distaste for magic, she is glad the Blade can use the great power. It has many uses beyond her understanding. In response to his ability to see the enemy with the use of it she said, “good. That will make it easy to avoid traps. I have a question. Are you able to sense when Valadir comes back? If he does, that is. He’ll need to know where we are.”
After Ashe slid next to the fire, Rega explained that the meat was inedible for her body. Ashe shrugged and said, "Naver worry about me. You three need more than me anyways." The young human made quick work of the fire before adjusting the weapons back on. Having no food to scoff down, she gave more attention to tightening the holsters she wore.

She saw Blade convene with Jura, as well as Rega. Jura's directive was the wisest to submit under, as the dragoness had extensive experience in tactics and war. Ashe stood near the blue dragon outside the cave, awaiting her peer's instructions. She coursed the landscape with her eyes. She noticed other rock formations further up the coastline. "You got it," Ashe replied curtly upon Jura's order.

"Jura, I noticed more caves southward above the water level. We will head in that direction," Ashe explained. Glancing over her shoulder, she called out to Rega, ready to leave. She headed out a couple of steps awaiting the tan dragon. The fire was one mistake. Dare not make any more.


"Looks like it will rain tonight," commented Sir Ian. The broad-shouldered knight sat on a sleeping mat laid on the ground. A small lantern in the middle of the tent barely illuminated the two figures present. He looked at Wran, still draped in his ranger's cloak. He asked again, "What do you think, Wran?"

The ranger was fiddling with his ring finger, a habit he was constantly seen doing. He replied, "It will only be a drizzle. We can still reach the island at first light."
Sir Ian stretched his neck out, relieved to be shed of his armour for the day. His eyes fell unto Wran's hands, watching the grisly man's habit. Ever since he returned from Outcast, his habit has worsened. The knight frowned, noticing the golden wedding band was missing from his companion's finger. For as long as I can remember, Wran has worn that ring. Is that the cause?

Wran stopped fiddling after he knew Sir Ian was observing the movement. The knight asked, "Have you lost the ring? I understand it belonged to your wife, who is no longer with us."?

"No, I placed it in a safe place that I need to return to," Wran answered. Sir Ian didn't think much of the matter and changed the subject. He said, "It will be the end of the harvest festival when we arrive at the island. Tell the men in the morning to move discreetly as not to disturb the celebrations." Wran stood, grunting his reply. "I will check the loot and then the perimeter. See you in the morning, Ian."

The two said their goodnights, and Wran left. He walked the quiet campground, seeing all still. Only those on guard duty and himself were awake. The ranger approached a single tent in the centre, where three stood around it. One elf and human standing before the entrance, and a feline-like human circling it.

The elf and human stiffened at their superior approaching, unnerved by how the cloak merged with the environment. After seeing the lot was secure, he silently walked to the closest perimeter mark. Then he followed the outskirts of the camp. Nothing posed a threat to the group, yet Wran felt unsettled. He picked a tall tree to perch in, able to watch over the campground and the comings and goings of the guards.

He tightened the cloak around his body, his figure merging into his surroundings. He pulled his hood further over his head more for the cold. It would be another sleepless night for him. Something bugged him since their time in Diabmoure. Their security seemed lacking despite the encounter with Jura and Ashe. It makes me wonder... Perhaps the Akarma sent their strongest after the dragoness and Guildmaster.
He sighed, deciding it would be too late to reach them in time, even if he sent a warning.

He resigned to the task, his lack of sleep playing into his grumpy character. Again, he began to fiddle with his hands where the golden ring once was.
"Agreed" The white dragon said when Jura said that it was a shame they were, again, together under a new, dire circumstance. "We ought to do something recreational together after we reach safety"

"That task is within my abilities" Blade said when he was asked if he could also sense Valadir whenever he reunites with them. "I am also able to communicate with others from a distance. With my mind. I shall do that in order to inform him of our presence once he is near. And, with your permission, i shall perform the same with you once in the air. The wind will difficult other communication attempts" The white dragon then proposed. He then continued explaining, expecting her to wish to have more information on the matter before experiencing something from a world she doesn't understand.

"This is what you will feel. Whenever i communicate mentally with you, you'll start having thoughts not your own. It shall feel similar to when you are rehearsing a speech. You'll sense my voice with those outside thoughts. I shall not access your own thoughts since that is considered a violation to your privacy. I'll need to link myself with you before we depart. I shall not judge you for your decision"

Rega started to follow the instructions she was assigned, dragging the animals to the cave. Closing her eyes whenever she was about to enter the cave in order to not look at his former life partner. The stench was also pretty strong, but if anything it would give some cover to the animals. Perhaps, to the unexperienced they would pass as rotten?

As she performed her task, she overheard the conversation between Blade and Jura about mental communication since she passed right next to them while hiding the corpses.

"I want in on that" She said. "I mean, given that we'll be far apart and you'll be watching over Ashley and me..."

"As you wish" The white dragon said. "Maintain eye contact with me, if only for a moment"

They maintained eye contact for about two seconds.

"Done. This is how it shall feel"

"It feels... strange"

"Do you wish to opt out?"


Ashley called out to her shortly after.
"Hope we get lucky..." Rega said, leaving shortly after to reunite with the human.

"The further we are from that cave, the better..." she told her.


"Y-yeah, probably not..." The orange dragon said when he was told he wouldn't fit in her lodge and that he'd get a tent tonight and a lodge tomorrow.
He felt a bit relieved when he heard he'll have a lodge for himself. Downside is that he'll have to sleep in a tent for now. The heat retention wouldn't be as good as the lodge, but it beats sleeping outside.

He smiled when he was hugged. Hers were warmer and fluffier than Val's. He held her by her back as she embraced her. He stopped, however, when she told him that he smelled. He knew for a fact it wasn't true, thus he didn't know why she decoded to say that. Was she having a joke at his expense? Something uncalled for if that was the case.

"Y-you are making stuff u-up..." He said. "I-i did bathe several t-times since we arrived... i-including yesterday..."

They started their flight to the camp shortly after, Wolnir following the directions he was given. Eventually, the camp appeared in sight with a thin snow sheet covering it. The dragon found it bigger and way more crowded than last time. He found himself nervous from that fact.

They eventually landed by a lodge at the southern end of the place.
"I-i hope so..." He said when he was told no one would want to hurt him.

The dragon eventually distracted himself with the lodge they had landed next to. He found its size amusing. A home that was barely taller than him. And with something tasty getting cooked inside, judging by the smell. Good news since he was hungry.

"I-its so small that it's c-cute... I-it looks like a d-doll house..."

He nodded when she noted how there was something getting cooked.
"I-i hope I can try some..."

Haru then showed up shortly after, greeting them.
"L-likewise..." He tried to remember who that guy was. If he remembered correctly, he was her boyfriend.

The dragon then was assigned a task while the food arrived. To get some nails secured to the top of the lodge. Should be easy enough given he had easy access to it. He grabbed the mallet, put the nails somewhere close where he wouldn't lose them and got to it. At least, that activity gave him something to get distracted with. It broke the monotony.

"D-done..." He said after he finished, gently leaving the mallet on top of the lodge.

Shortly after he finished, they were handed their meals. Some soup bowls. Finally something that broke the monotony of eating meat on every meal every day. He was hungry too.

Crystal was handed hers first, and when Wolnir was being handed his, Haru seemed to get second thoughts and returned inside. Luckily, he returned with a bowl appropriate for his size.

"T-thanks!" He said, drinking some spoonfuls of the soup after. It was nice and warm.
"W-what does this have?" He asked.

He finished his bowl eventually and asked for a refill and a piece of bread.


"If that turns out to be untrue..." Valadir said in a threatening tone to the dwarf that told him where to find Crystal. "I'll make sure you'll regret it..."

He quickly left to the direction he was told to. Luckily the first person he asked to was willing to give him an answer. Time will tell if it is a truthful answer. He hopes it is. He doesn't have enough time to spare as to ask everyone around. Lives were on the line. Asking Crystal for help would be hard. Not because of his pride, but because he'd need to relieve the image of his dead father.

Under different circumstances, he wouldn't have threatened the dwarf and would take his time to get to know the place, given that it looks different from most other places he has been in. Its like a fresh city being built from the ground up. Yet the current circumstances makes him hate the place. It's a meeting point for the races that took the effort to kill his father and his friends and use what little remains of his kin for their entertainment. He can barely stand the place. Looks forward to be out of there as soon as possible.

The place's more crowded than he wished. It made him walk slower than he wanted to. He ignored everyone who walked by him, not willing to have a chat with anyone except Crystal. On his way south, he saw a recognizable orange and blue spot landing on the distance. Clearly Wolnir. What was he doing here? Why come willingly to a place like this? He couldn't find a reason for him to do so. He would ask if he could. In any case, his presence meant two things. Given that him and Crystal were close, it meant that Wolnir either was with her or knew where he was. A backup if the dwarf's directions were false.

The dragon managed to pick up the pace a little and arrived where his friend was. Crystal was there with him too. Seems the dwarf wasn't lying after all. He caught them drinking soup.

Without bothering to say hi or anything, he quickly looked at Crystal.
"We need to talk. Now. It's a life or death matter"

After he got her attention, he held her by her shoulders and took a deep breath before he started talking.

"I did leave. Last night. But before you start saying 'buT I tOLd yoU tO noT do iT' listen to me for a fucking minute."

He then subconsciously tightened his grasp on her shoulders. He closed his eyes, lowered his head and took a deep breath to keep composed. The images were returning.

"I found my dad's corpse." He said, his voice solemn and overall reflecting his sorrow. "Mom was there too but she's alive. Wounded but alive. There's a dragoness too that looks like crap and went unconscious shortly before I came here. And another guy who seems to be fine... I promised them to come here and get them help to bring them to safety..."

Valadir then broke down in tears and held his head against her chest.

"P-please... i-i don't w-want my m-mom to d-die too..."

Wolnir left his bowl on the ground and embraced his friend.
Jura couldn’t tell if Blade was flirting with her. The way he suggested that they should spend time together made her believe so. However, logic made her accept it as an innocent answer.
“Maybe. If we ever get the pleasure of time.”

Jura stiffened when Blade offered to communicate with their thoughts. She has experienced the phenomenon once before in a similar scenario. She didn’t particularly like the experience. It felt intrusive. The idea of it is invasive. That is her opinion, at least. But, it’s the best way to communicate. That, she cannot argue against.
“Fine, do it. If you need to, let Rega know as well. I doubt your mind powers will work with Ashe.”
Just as she mentioned Rega, she popped over, asking about the conversation, how convenient.

Replying to Ashe Jura said, “just stay against the water. We will alert you if any trouble is nearby. Do not go into any caves without me I want you where I can see you.. Rather you are not killed by some beast we’ve never seen before.” Jura thoughts went back to Diabmoure. When she was in her cell. A few times she looked past the iron bars that locked her. In the other cells that held different creatures. Some she could name, others she had never seen. There was one that struck her awe. It looked like a dragon. In the sense that it has wings, scales, tail. A head that’s the same shape as any other dragon, but it stood on two legs. Some kind of human-dragon hybrid. She remembered its demeanour was dark and heavy. Maybe that was what Valadir was talking about. A colony of them? Based on what she saw, she was eager to find out more about them. Either way, she will find out. Perhaps Blade knows about it. He hinted that he knows something about these drakes.


The dwarf stared at the dragon while he rushed off. A blank expression across his face. He set his backpack full of tools and watched the dragon until he disappeared into the snow and trees.
“Was that Valadir? Did he just threaten me? That’s so cool. I talked to a dragon. They’re never going to believe me when I tell them.”

He picked up his bag again and trotted off.


“Mushrooms, potato, carrot, kohlrabi, onion, cabbage, a little bit of garlic and some herbs. Basically, anything I find. The drakes supplied us with some food. They’ve been a big help.” Haru replied to Wolnir when he asked what the soup was made of. The make kit sat next to Crystal on the ground. “Do you like it?”

“You didn’t pour a bowl for yourself”, Crystal asked Haru as she politely sipped up the soup from her spoon.

“I had my fill before. Couldn’t wait to eat my own food.” Haru smiled and rested his head on Crystal’s shoulder. “Taste nice, doesn’t it.”

“Are you having a go at me?”

“Maybe.” Haru directed his following sentence as Wolnir. “She’s not the best cook.”

“Excuse me.” Crystal smacked his head.

Haru recoiled from Crystal with a chuckle and walked past her to the firepit, purposely brushing a few of his tails over her. He rearranged a few logs around and lit the fire. Then went back inside to grab another bowl of soup for Wolnir.
Crystal rolled her eyes and continued eating. Her ears flicked towards the Guardian’s camp. She didn’t pay much attention to it. It sounded like someone was stomping around in the centre. Nothing that someone else can manage.

She sipped on another spoon full, only to spit it out and look up to find Valadir suddenly looming over her, demanding her time. She nearly spilled her bowl. She craned her neck to see his massive figure right in front of her.. He didn’t give her a chance to speak. When he rested his paw on her shoulders, it was more like her whole side, which gave her the image that he could probably pick her up with one set of claws.

Crystal’s eye’s widened. Valadir’s position is much direr than she thought. She winced when he tightened his grip on her. Haru, who was standing at the door, noticed Crystal’s pain. He would have stopped Valadir, but Crystal motioned him not to come close. Out of all the dragons he could find… His parents. Not only- but others as well. Valadir has been brought to a low. Crystal couldn’t help but pat his head. What got to Crystal, however, was when he spoke of his mother. That he doesn’t want to lose her as well. He has already lost so much. She didn’t talk straight away. She pondered on her own emotions. It pained her to see Valadir in this state. Anger welled up inside her. Almost rageful. It was a wave of anger she had not felt since she joined the Guardians. Crystal looked at Haru. Her eyes burned into his. In response, the male kit saddened, as if to tell her not to do whatever she is planning. Crystal ignored him.

“I do not condemn you Valadir, for your actions. You did what you must. But now is not the time to be sorrowful. Take up your strength. Find your courage. We will go and save them, even if it’s the last thing I do.” Her voice became stern and vengeful. A characteristic that does not come across often.

Crystal retracted from Valadir, “I must get myself ready. Wait a minute.”

She went inside the lodge and gathered a few objects. She put her white and red ribboned staff on the bed and her katana. Then, she undressed from her typical red and white kimono and white undergarments. She put together a new array of clothing. A black juban (undergarment), a dark blue kimono and a pair of black hakama (pants worn over the kimono). Before putting any of it on, she looked at her bare back in the mirror. She studied the silvery fox tattoo that covered her back. It took on a new appearance. Instead of its darkened colour, it has a red tinge to it. The fox’s face had a red teardrop of blood coming from its eye. Crystal shrugged and dressed. She fasted a black obi belt and then fastened her katana over it. She looked at herself in the mirror. It was a long time since she had worn anything like this before. It’s more suited for combat, which she is expecting plenty of.

Before she could leave the lodge, Haru blocked the door with a disappointed look.

Crystal spoke first, “You cannot convince me otherwise. I must go. I cannot even think about what will happen if his mother dies.”

“I know I can’t. Please don’t do anything stupid. Please Crys. With you gone, we can’t function. I can’t… I won’t be-“

Crystal covered his mouth. “You know very well I will put my life before the dragons. It’s the least I can do. Repay them back for what I had done to them hundreds of years ago.”

“Crys. You were younger than. You didn’t know what you were doing.”

“No. I was old enough to make my own decisions. And now I am making one now. Step aside please.” Crystal’s voice grew darker at the end.

“Fine. But take Sabato with you and don’t you dare do anything stupid. We haven’t had a litter yet.”

Crystal chuckled. “Don’t worry. Nothing bad will happen. I’m one of the oldest, beings alive. Not much can take me by surprise.”

“But there are still a few things. Now go. Bring the dragons back.” Haru stepped away from the door.

“Take care of Wolnir. Make sure he’s fat and lazy by the time I’m back.”

“I will.” Haru stayed inside the lodge, not wanting to see Crystal leave again.

Cyrstal walked outside, staff in hand while her other was on the hilt of her blade. She walked to Valadir. “We ready to go?”
Ashely called back to Jura, “Okay,” after the blue dragoness told her to travel by the water. With Jura watching over, and Rega next to her she began walking down the coast. It’s getting dark now. Let’s hope the cover of darkness will work to our advantage. Ashe rested one of her hands on her knife by her hip. She welcomed the silence, listening to the tide pulling in and out, the wind shifting the sand beneath them. She made sure to move at an appropriate speed for Rega, keeping in mind the tan dragon’s injuries.


Something aroused Wran from his sleep. He stilled his movements and from his perch scoped the land with his eyes. He listened intently. Owls cooing. wind rustling the leaves. There is something there. It was subtle, quiet, but it was more mechanical compared to the natural forest sounds. Perhaps a stealth skill, but that didn’t stop him from hearing footsteps nearing their camp. He flicked his eyes to where he thought the noise was coming from, slowly readying an arrow in his bow.

He squinted and saw 6 dark shapes moving unnaturally against the background. They were at the camps west outer border, too close for Wran to deal with them all. He aimed his arrow, deciding to strike the fire with a mana infused arrowhead. It would cause the central fire to explode, creating a loud warning for the whole camp.

He let his arrow fly causing a loud and the fire to flare up. The 6 shapes panicked at first, then instantly went into attack mode. But it was too late. There ambush was exposed. The adventurers were up and awake, ready for action. Most went to defend against the 6 attackers.

Wran swivelled his head to the opposite end of the camp checking the other side. His hunches were right to do so. There was another set of 5 attackers mobilising. He shot a fire arrow, striking one the 5 down. The fire illuminating the area providing a warning for those around there. Sir Ian was the next to lead the attack on this end, taking down 2 with his sword.

W/in 15minutes, the fights were over. Wran saw 2 enemies run off back into the forest, calling quickly to two close members, “Delina! Chan! We got two rabbits. Rhina tell Sir Ian to go ahead.” The three set off immediately after the escapees.

It took an hour to corner the two, having snuck up on them. Wran drew his bow, fatigue making him sway on the spot. He shook himself and took down one. Delina slayed the other with Chan. The three regrouped to Wran’s position. “Good work, we need to scout to make sure they aren’t any others.”

Delina and Chan nodded, knowing what to do. Wran glanced back at the bodies. Covering these up will be a pain,” he grumbled. He didn’t know how much time he’d lose, anger rising in him at the thought of Myra’s disappointed face. He rested for a couple of minutes before heading back. His body hating him.

He shadowed Delina and Chan back to the Island. They had to skip through the water on a second ship to reach the island. No other threats were found.


It was the early afternoon, the last day of the Harvest festival. Myra began walking back to the guild’s building, checked another item off her to-do-list. Last few things she had to complete was a disciplinary hearing back at the guild and then finish administrative chores for Ashe while the guildmaster was away.

Once she made it back to the guild building, the young boy Kimmel was seen bounding out the door, a gleeful grin spread across his face. Myra smiled as he passed and she pushed the doors open. Those who were there called out greetings which she replied to. There the tall elf walked to the front desk and where Jacquine was working. “Have the procedures been prepared for the adventurers return?”

Jacquine nodded and patted Myra’s shoulder, “Stop worrying about it, Myra. We have it handled. Why don’t you do and enjoy your night off. Still planning to go to the floating grove?” Myra nodded, checking off the last item on her to-do list. “Well then I will leave you guys to it.” She walked to the third floor and got ready for the evening.

She quickly placed some documents unto Ashe’s desk, locking the door. Then went to get ready for the evening. She changed into a warm green flowing dress, lacing her silver locks into a gold leaf head ornament. When she paused in the mirror, she thought it was missing something. She decided to pull out the gold ring hung around her neck, allowing it to be shown off. A couple of hours had passed once she had finished, the sun lingering on the horizon.

She travelled outside was shocked to see Sir Ian and the adventurers returning. Sir Ian stopped to greet her, “Myrthinda, you are beautiful tonight. Out to enjoy the festivities?”

“Yes, I am,” She glanced to see fewer had returned than when they had left. Is Wran not with you?” He shook his head, “We were ambushed last minute by a group sent from the Akarma. We lost 4 more men in the attack. But thanks to Wran he sounded the alarm right before the fight started. He was tasked with hunting down the runners left with a small team.”

Myra kept her face neutral, “Ï see. So, he is not here.” Myra couldn’t help feeling the disappointment well up inside her. She smiled at Sir Ian well seeing them she glanced around, but she disappointment hit her. She smiled back and thanked Sir Ian, “Well sine you are back I am sure you can enjoy the last of the festivities.”

Sir Ian noticed the disheartened emotion in her features. It was then observing the elf, he noticed the gold ring on the necklace she wore. Suddenly he recalled Wran’s words about his wedding ring “ I placed it in a safe place that I need to return to. ” He chuckled under his breath not believing his eyes. He patted her shoulder stepping past to enter the building, “Have faith, he will return.”

Myra turned to the top of Talon’s low, where the floating grove was. It was a normal grove, with a beautiful willow drinking from a small still pond. The reason it got its name floating, was simply due to the fact the grove was on a cliff. She sat down on the grass, leaning on the willow’s trunk. A perfect view of the night sky, and stars. There would be no moon tonight, letting all see the full glory of these brilliant, coloured lights explode across the sky. Peppersparks they were called. An invention of a black powder and magic. When lit these small things would soar straight up into the sky, creating a loud bang. Then it would illuminate the night sky in fire and shapes.

Myra sighed and waited patiently. After 2 hours passed, it was time for the peppersparks to begin. After the first one lit up the sky in a brilliant neon green, Myra stood up and walked to a stone wall and leaned her elbows on it. The cold, rigidity of the stone shared what she was beginning to feel – the reality of disappointment. She placed one hand on the ring around her necklace, “Making a lady wait like this…I should really teach him a lesson.”


The guild hall was now filled with laughter, jokes, and obscene drinking competitions by all the adventurers that came back. Few had left to join their families in the city. The doors swung open, revealing three figures, Delina and Chan who was supporting Wran. The room quietened then Sir Ian stood, boisterous and loud. “You’ve finally arrived. Ahahahaha!” The knight strode towards them, drink in hand, “I’m surprised you took this long.”

At Sir Ian’s last comment Wran glared at him. The ranger shifted his weight so that he was no linger being supported by Chan. Sir Ian thanked the other two adventurers, “Why don’t you both enjoy the festivities tonight?” When they left, Sir Ian leaned in, and whispered to his companion, “She’s waiting for you my friend. As the floating grove.”

Wran looked at the larger man and a smile broke out on his face, surprising Sir Ian. The grisly ranger tapped the knight’s shoulder, “Thank you.” With that Wran sprinted off, ignoring his protesting body.


Myra was about ready to leave. She was about to pass the old willow tree when her pointed ears picked up on a rustling noise. She smiled and turned, “Took you long enough.” Wran slowly hobbled to her, the exhaustion finally kicking in. He was only a meter away from Myra when his body collapsed. Myra caught him just in time, sinking to the floor under his weight. She leaned against the trunk, sitting with Wran’s head in her lap. She repetitively bushed his long hair with her pale fingers. “I’m sorry I’m late,”

“Don’t be, you got here just in time.”

The two sat, enjoying the peace the other’s presence brought, watching the peppersparks.


Sir Ian sighed, looking at the cliff from the door. He travelled outside, wandering about the guild’s gardens after Wran left. He had long since abandoned his drink returning to his duty. A few thoughts plagued his mind, a swift contrast to the jolly inside the guild building. He walked through a private section of the garden, the peppersparks going off in the background. He stopped when he stumbled upon a brunette elf, wearing a beige and green kimono. An unusual piece of clothing. “Katsumi Tata…Well I suppose I would find you here in one of your gardens.”

Sir Ian sat down beside a small pond, grunting as he did. “I don’t mean to interrupt you, but might I have your ear for a moment?” The knight looked to the stars, glad he had found Katsumi here. The elf was a trusted confident of Sir Ian’s. He waited on the gardener’s reply before saying, “The festivities are quite joyous and grand this year compared to past ones. It seems the guild and us leaders have done something right.”

He paused before continuing, “But I fear the worst. I wander if we can truly fulfill our promise to keep these people safe from harm. That is the guild’s purpose. A burden too great for Ashe. She is young but I feel chained by the weight of her duty. Jura is a stout soldier with neigh able to slay her. But she is riddled with betrayal and guilt. I often think to myself if what we are really doing here to helping people build a new life of merely run away from their demons?”

The knight looked to the flowers before him, the white petals reflecting brilliant light. “Forgive me, for bearing these heavy thoughts upon you Katsumi. Your words and ears are a relief to have at service.”
"I am certain we shall find time after we reach safety" Blade told Jura after her skepticism about ever having free time in the future. He thinks that after being jailed together for the last couple of months, they owe themselves a bit of friendly quality time together.

The white dragon question in his head the reason why the dragoness thinks Ashley is immune to communicating mentally. It's not like Jura knows about the magical world, she has admitted such, and the human doesn't irradiated any magical energies that he can detect. Doesn't matter. Now it's not the time to dwell or inquire on such matters. Maybe when the circumstances are more favorable.

"Very well. Maintain eye contact with me for a brief moment, please"

Blade stared at Jura's eyes for two or three seconds, with a face devoid of expression and without blinking, only doing so after he finished establishing the link.

"It has been done. This is how it shall feel" He told her mentally.
"In order to communicate this way, you shall think about the words you want to relay, and I'll be able to sense them. You are unable to do the same with Rega as she isn't linked with you. I shall be the middle dragon between the two of you.
I shall insist on my lack of desire to dwell into your thoughts. I possess no right to violate your privacy. I shall sever our link after we reach safety"
Blade then relayed the same information to Rega.

"Like this?" She asked.

" Precisely"

"Thought it would be uhm... harder"

"We dragons possess greater ease to perform this practice"

Rega then told Ashley about it, as they walked.
"So Blade and me have this... link of sorts? Am not sure what it really is. But we'll be able to talk to eachother over long distances, so if they see anything, they'll be able to tell us easily"


Wolnir nodded when he was asked his opinion on the soup. He briefly lowered it and said he found it tasty. He made a quick job out of the soup, a good break from eating the same thing every time.


Valadir immediately raised his head to meet Crystal's gaze with his reddish eyes when she said she'd help, almost like he was saying "Really??" with his movements. Good thing he decided to ask her. He's deeply glad that she still cares about him. He briefly embraced her before letting her go in order to express his thanks.

He let her go since she had to go get herself ready. His rescue plan was starting to take shape. With her around, the chances of success were vastly improved. He took the time to start calming down, breathing in deeply a couple times and get rid of the shock. Get his head straight again. Reminding himself that time was of essence and there was none to be had for crying.

Wolnir embraced his friend harder when him and Crystal split up.
"I-i think she'll be fine..." The orange dragon told his friend, referring to his mother. "A-after all, y-you two already saved me..."

"R-right..." Valadir had mostly forgotten about it already. The big difference is that he'd have more help for the rescue. More targets to save too.

Shortly after, Crystal had come back. Wolnir let his friend go, who looked at her curiously since he hasn't seen her not wearing her dress before. Except when they first met. He nodded when he was asked if she was ready and waited for her to get on.

"I-ill be staying here for the next couple o-of days..." Wolnir mentioned. "Good luck!"

"I-i hope they'll be fine..." He told Haru.

While on the air with Crystal, Valadir directed themselves to the golden mountain.
"So while i was coming here, i made a plan of sorts. No offense, but i really don't think we'll be able to save all of them between the two of us. I remember meeting one of the drake chiefs several days ago... He seemed relatively trustworthy. Definitively less full of shit than Eragon, so my plan is to ask that chief for help. A quick reminder that his race's job is to help mine should do it...
Have him round up a group of folks. Go to the kitchen and have the cooks make a dozen or so sandwiches and fill some canteens with drinks since mom and company were looking pretty bad...
Then... explain the things to the group while the food is coming and set off. Mom can't fly, so i was thinking about hijacking ourselves a ship in order to dodge the stronghold nearby since it's packed with personnel.
Anyways... we force the ship's crew to get us to the mountains' shores and then we kill them off after we arrive..."

Valadir thought, telling her his plan. Only after explaining it, he thought that Crystal and his mom already know eachother. After all, she did say that he was there when he hatched. And now that he thought about it, why didn't she tell him any of this. He found it hard to believe him own mother didn't know anything about the prophecy going for him. In an appropriate time, he'd ask her about it.

His mind eventually returned to the ones he was supposed to save. His mind racing with doubts. Was he taking too long? It'd take a while to get help and go back. Maybe they were getting attacked at this moment. Maybe he should get to them with Crystal and deal with it? What if his mom wasn't alive when he came back? How fast can the drakes fly? Probably not as fast as him. Too many things to consider...
"I left them around six hours ago... A-and i don't know if they are fine or not. I don't know if they are getting attacked, or if they'll even be alive when we arrive. D-don't know what i'll do if she dies..."
He ended cutting himself short. Taking several deep breaths to regain composture.
After a couple of minutes, he asked.
"Do you think my mom will recognize you after all this time? I remember you telling me you saw me hatch..."

They eventually arrived to the mountain. Valadir started asking around to where Kolias is.
“Another joyful night by the sounds of it. Hope they don’t get into much trouble this time.” Just beyond the kept garden, past the trimmed hedges and clipped trees. Katsumi Tata watched the open door for a few seconds. A bright light emitted from the inside. The cheers and laughter are exceptionally loud. If he can hear it from his position. Other might complain about the noise. The opposite side of the Guild Hall is the fantastic show of the pepper sparks. Balls of fire shot into the air that make a colourful explosion—a nifty invention of entertainment.
“Can’t blame them. There aren’t many times that they can get up to this much mischief and get away with it.”
It’s the last night of the Harvest festival so, it’s to be expected that the people of Cast Rock Island will be at their loudest. Some of them probably can’t walk in a straight line right now. It humoured Katsumi the simplicity a sentient mind can achieve—forget about all the cares. To let loose and enjoy the night.

Katsumi cannot share the experience. His mission weighs too heavy to let his mind waver from drink. He would most certainly like to, but the evil doers always manage to slip through when he isn’t paying attention. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with being outside, where it is quiet and calm.

A pair of footsteps headed towards the elf, he already knew who it was. A deep voice invaded Katsumi’s peace. Not that he was bothered by it.
“Do I need to be elsewhere?” Humoring Sir Ian’s words about his whereabouts.

Katsumi took a seat next to Ian, crossed his legs and studied his face. His amber orange cat-like eyes stared into Ian’s soul. As if to find the meaning of his being. Before the human said anything, the elf already knew something was troubling him. He saw it in his eyes.
“Of course, you can have my attention. Tell me, what has been troubling you?

The elf listened intently to Ian’s concern. Kept his eyes on him while he spoke. Katsumi didn’t speak right away. He looked away at the small pond. A few waterlilies with flowers floated on the still water.
“It’s good that you worry. You care for those you protect. Care for the service you provide. I’d be worried if you didn’t worry. Also don’t think about the reason why others come here. That is up for them to decide and you can’t change their opinion. If all they are doing is running away from their past life so be it. Forcing anyone to think otherwise doesn’t do anyone good.

Katsumi sighed when he thought about the two leading hands of the guild. The moment Ashe left to save Jura, they are both now open to a whole new world. One that the elf wishes no one finds. The mythic world is as beautiful as it is dangerous.
“They’re both strong in their own ways. They do indeed have much on their plate. Maybe more than they can chew. We must support them as much as we can. In any way we can. Especially now. And to do that is run the Guild in their absence. Don’t expect them to come any time soon. I sense they have come across something they cannot ignore.

“But do not be dismayed. Our strength is in each other. The closer we are, the stronger we become. Everyone plays a part. Where it be fighting and defending or tending a garden. Both roles are important. You have allies Ian, trust them to do their job and don’t be afraid to seek help. There is no shame in having close friends to rely on.

“Besides, this is the worst time to be thinking about such heavy topics. Go have a drink with the others. It’s the last night of the festival. Go enjoy yourself.”

Jura recoiled from Blade when their minds linked. It felt uncomfortable. Having foreign thoughts that you have no control over, and they speak to you. Moreover, the idea of Blade being able to see every memory she has. He can find out her whole being. Things she loves and hates. What makes her angry and happy. That power is why Jura dislikes it. She cannot do anything to stop the white dragon from prying into her memories. All she can do is rely on his words that he won’t, however she made sure that Blade could sense her caution of his powers. That she does not enjoy having him in her mind but knows the necessity.
”I don’t mean to be rude with my… Thoughts Blade. I don’t have anything against you. I have a general mistrust towards anyone with abilities like yours. It isn’t the first time someone has lodged their mind with mine. But you are the first to ask permission.”

Practicing speech through her thoughts she said, ”Let us be off then. Can’t waste any more time.”

Jura dug her claws into the sand and launched herself into the sky. She felt better already after a few hours of sleep and something in her belly, even if it was just a snack. She circled a few times, waiting for Blade to join her before going ahead of Rega and Ashe. A long the shore line, making sure that the path is free of any potential threats. Every so often she will circle back to check up on the other two down below.

“I’m sure they will be. I’d be worried for whoever they come against. Crystal sometimes… Doesn’t show her nice side. Oops did I say that out loud.”
Haru heaved over another large bowl of soup for Wolnir.
“Here is your second bowl. Just don’t eat to much, don’t want to get a sore tummy.”

While Wolnir, ate, Haru finished the tent. A few of the close neighbors dropped off a large canvas, a few sheets and large pillows for Wolnir’s comfort. With the assistance of magic Haru, hooked the canvas on the nails then hammered it to the ground creating a triangular cover, purposely leaving one side over hanging, which he used to make a back wall. After that he spread the sheets and pillows on the ground. Finally, he grabbed a lantern from inside with no glass around it. It did not have a flame inside. Instead, a dim red glow that radiated a lot of heat. He hung it inside the tent, against the lodge.
“There we go. Not the prettiest thing to sleep in but it should do the trick.”

Crystal intently listened to Valadir’s idea of the rescue mission. She agreed when he mentioned that the both of them combined won’t be able to go on this venture alone, however, the more he explained, the more doubts formed in her head.
”I don’t know if going straight to a Clan Chief is a good idea. The drakes have strict rules regarding anyone leaving the mountains. I don’t think the Chiefs have the power to grant others leaving the mountains. Can’t ask Eragon, he’s out of action. Lenera is babysitting him along with Elijah and Sabato, which by the way, you need to talk to. He has something important to tell you.
Regardless I think our only option is the Chief you’re talking about. I don’t think it will play in our favor.”

She kept her doubts about the boat idea. Finding that course of action hard to believe that it will go smoothly.

Crystal put a hand on Valadir’s neck when he started to get worked up over the safety of his mother.
”Valadir. It’s ok. They will be fine. All they need to do is hold out for a little longer. You only hinder yourself thinking about the worst. Relax.”
A few minuets later he popped an interesting question.
”Not in this form. To her I was a trusted human friend, Call it a lie if you will but if they knew of the mythic world long before they had, their lives would have played much differently, which is why us Guardians play out cards in secret. Once I drop a name, she will know who I am… I remember your mother, Rega, she is a lovely, humble dragoness to be around. Until she was in the kitchen. Complete opposite.”

When they landed, Crystal immediately slid off Valadir and adjusted her clothing. She followed after Valadir while he asked where to find the Chief. She struggled too much his pace.

Valadir approached a large orange drake. The drake understood the urgency from the tone in the dragon’s voice and knows better than to turn down the help he offers.
With a deep grumbly voice he said, “Better, I can take you to him. Follow me.”

He quickly took them into a wind tunnel where Crystal was forced to ride Valadir fifty metres up where they were lead though a series of hallways and rooms until finally, they reached a large door. Above the door is a read tapestry with a black and gold picture of a pair of wings with a symbol between them, representing a drake’s head.

Two guards in red armour with spears. The orange drake walked right to them and tried to convince them to let them pass. One of the guards walked through the door. After a couple of minutes, he walked back out and motioned to the dragon and kitsune to walk in.

Kolias sat in front of a lit fireplace with an open scroll in his hand. When he heard the footsteps of the dragon’s claws and the light padded feet of the kitsune he rose from his feet and bowed before the dragon. “Evening Valadir the Unbroken and Crystal. Would you like something to drink?"
Hope we get lucky… Ashe repeated Rega’s words in her mind before agreeing, “Indeed, let us pray that nothing unfortunate occurs.” Ashe kept in mind Rega’s injuries and subtly walked at a pace bearable for the dragoness. The young half-human glanced at her colleague. Compared to a couple of hours ago, she seems more determined. Hopeful even. At that thought she shifted her eyes to find Jura above them. Unfortunately, the night sky shrouded her friend’s figure making that task impossible. Jura seems hopeful to have met the other dragons, yet she keeps her distance.

Ashe tightened her hand around the grip of her knife that was strapped to her thigh. The journey ahead of them into the southern mountains will be hard. She wondered about these drakes. What their culture would be like, and how to communicate with them. Then she loosened her hand once more. These thoughts are for another time. Instead, Ashe focused her senses on their surroundings. The sounds of the waves lapping on the shore, the silver light from the stars and moon, outline of any rock formations in the distance, her companions breathing. It may be a long while until something happens…so I wonder if Rega would know anything about the drakes. She asked Rega quietly, “Do you have knowledge of the southern mountains Valadir spoke of?”


Sir Ian listened to Katsume’s words intently. Hearing them, he sighed and nodded his head. “You are right, as usual.” He thought about the guild and the island’s residents. “Perhaps I worried too much. The guild and the safety of this island are enough of a headache,” Sir Ian laughed as he said the last sentence. “Tonight is proof of that.” He glanced at the elf and patted his shoulder. “Thank you friend I suppose you will not come back with me for a drink and join the festivities?”


Myra was humming a sweet melody as she ran her fingers through Wran’s hair. The tall elf was leaning on the willow’s trunk as Wran was laying down, with his head on Myra’s lap. He slept soundly, his breathing even. Looking at the fireworks slowly end, only a few small golden sparks. The final pepper spark exploded in a brilliant rainbow fire that danced across the night sky. Myra smiled “It seems our inventor Theo has gone and outdone himself this festival.” Wran mumbled an incoherent reply, before doxing off again.
"It is only natural you feel this way" Blade said when Jura respectfully explained that she holds a certain degree of mistrust against folks with skills similar to his. She's not the first to say that, yet he understands where she is coming from. Magic is a great power that only a tiny percentage of the entire population understands. "No offense has been taken"

However, he remained curious on the matter. Why so? Under which circumstances was she linked to someone else? Sounded like someone did peek into her thoughts. A move he despises that he considers really unprofessional. To not pry into someone's thoughts is a teaching he considers basic and fundamental to those capable of performing the link. In any case, he planned to ask later.

" Agreed" He communicated when it was mentioned that it was time to go.

"I am able to sense our surroundings with my training" The white dragon told both Jura and Rega while him and the blue dragoness were in the air. "I am able to sense very being a couple of kilometers around us. I shall inform you if i catch anything"


Rega was asked if she knew anything about the mountains they would go to. Sounds like a rather logical question to make, given that for her and Jura it was an unknown destination.
"I do. They don't trust your kind. They'd rather keep you out. But given that you are coming with us, I am confident they'll leave you in. Anything else you want to know?"

She recieved Blade's message. She, in part, thought he's talking out of his ass. She can't imagine that being possible, but decided to trust him anyways. After all, he fixed his wounds with what seemed like little effort. If his level of magic was as he said, he could be the most valuable member of the team.


Wolnir was assured that his friends would be safe. That, if anything, the ones standing in their way would be the ones in danger. He also hopes so. Losing his only two friends wouldn't be good. But, he remembers that Val has fought against the humans with success, according to what he said when they tried their armors on for the first time. And Crystal knows some good magic. Sounds like they can manage themselves. He only hopes they arrive to the other dragons in time.

He thanked Haru when he handed the second bowl of soup, letting out a small chuckle when he was told to avoid eating too much.

"Since when d-do you and Crys know eachother?" He asked between spoonfuls of soup.

After he finished his second bowl, Haru finished his tent and thus the orange dragon was eager to check his new, if temporal, accomodations. He handed back the bowl and spoon and entered the tent. It was a bit small, but not to the point of uncomfortability. Hopefully it wouldn't be windy, that would be an issue for a tent.

"C-could i get some hay o-or something soft to sleep on?" He asked innocently.


Valadir was told that his plan had a gap. According to her, asking a chief wasn't the best of ideas since it wasn't clear if he would have the required clearance to grant them personnel. He would have asked in a really unfriendly tone if she had any better ideas if not because she admitted it still was their best shot.

"What about?" He asked when he was told there were some people that seeked to talk to him. "If y'all are still trying to convince me that slavery is a good idea, don't bother. You'll be wasting your time..."

He was also informed that Eragon was out of action for the time being. Explained why he wasn't showing up to pester him recently. Not his mate.
"What's wrong? He got a stress spike?" He said in an irreverent tone, as if he was making fun of Eragon's condition.

"I-its just that I'm afraid of losing her... I don't want to see her cold corpse as with dad. She's almost the only thing I have left from my previous life..." He said when Crystal told him they were going to be fine, in a tone full of nervousness.

Later, after he managed to calm down a bit, he had asked Crystal if his mom would recognize her. Apparently not due to her keeping her true form hidden. And also hid that side of the world that he hadn't heard about either. And he mentioned that his mother is a lovely person outside of the kitchen.

"Yeah... i've heard that i've inherited her social traits. And that working under her is like being in the army..." He added with a bit of a smile. Allowing himself to calm down further.

Later, they arrived back to the main mountain, and after he had asked a drake where Kolias was, he offered himself to guide them to their destination. Convenient. That's certainly the faster option. Halfway through he had to take Crystal with him to go upwards a bit. He only noticed that she was trailing behind them at that moment.

They arrived before long. Their guide had to convince the guards, and the whole scene overall made him uneasy. Right now, his plan seemed to depend on other people, and in his opinion this is where it has a higher probability of failure. It depends on other people's abilities. The weakest point of the plan in his opinion. Frankly, he didn't know how to ask the chief for the kind of help he wanted. He hasn't done something of this magnitude before. He hoped that, with telling him how dire the situation, he'd listen to his more altruistic side and offer help. What he fears the most is the chance of him offering help for his own personal gains.

He was relieved to see that they would be allowed in. He didn't even glance at the guards as he and Crystal went in.
"No..." He said, turning down the drink offer. He looked at him straight to the eyes to apply a bit of pressure on him and then started talking.
"We need your help. I did some scouting out there and found three wounded dragons. They probably won't last beyond a couple days. They are around six hours away from here. I've been told that you are a trustworthy and efficient chief, so i've come to humbly request some men to assmeble a team in order to rescue them. I bet you already know that most of my kind has been killed off..."
Just under the cloud line, Jura circled the travellers on foot. She flew between them, forward into the direction they’re going for scouting purposes and occasionally backwards to see if they’re being followed. Thankfully, they’re in the clear, though she doesn’t have high hopes that it will stay that way. No doubt the Arkarma be after them. It’s not like them to let two dragons escape for very long. One of two things will happen, either Valadir was telling the truth, and they have a chance at survival, or he made a convincing excuse to fly away to safety and avoid the responsibility of the other slower ones. Jura’s doubtful but hoped for the first one.

She looked down to see Rega and Ashe slowly hobbling along the shoreline. The tide has come in, the cold weather got colder, the first snowflakes are falling, and the sun is gone. This will be a stressful night. She feels as if she has the sole responsibility over everyone. Not that she does. Probably her older training took a small toll on her mind again.

”I wish I had Ashe with me. Her protection is always welcomed. Even if it’s extra weight.”
Jura talking to herself as she caught up to Blade in the air.

”How did you get locked up?” Jura asked Blade.


“Of course I am. It would be a sucky if I weren’t.” Katsumi chuckled at his joke.

“Oh no. None of that for me. It’s too loud over there. Besides, I prefer the quiet where I can hear myself think. Also, I get to beat the fools who get lost here and step on my flowers…”
He trailed the last sentence in a lower tone.
“You go. Have some time to relax while you can.”

Haru sat back and rested his chin on his palm in thought. “Crystal and I have known each other for the past three hundred years.”

Haru laughed at his thoughts. The memories started seeping back. “She was one messed up kit. Think of every evil and wrong thing you can think of. She’s probably done it ten times over. Well, we first met when she started with the Guardians. She was one hard tail to grab, but I straightened her out. Mostly. She still sometimes is a nut case. But yeah, safe to say we’ve known each other for a long time.” He explained a little of the relationship he shared with Crystal while he finished on Wolnir’s tent.

When Wolnir asked for more blankets, Haru tilted his head and scratched his ear.
“Um yes. Let me go find some.” He walked inside and, within a few minutes, walked back out with four grey blankets.
“Here. Let me spread them out.”
As he covered the base of the tent, he asked Wolnir, “When did you meet Val?”
Before Crystal spoke, she studied Valadir's tone about Eragon and the prophecy. Clearly, he is had enough of hearing about his destiny which is understandable. But his remark over Eragon caught her by surprise. Evidently, some fallout has happened between them. She wishes to ask him about it. Alater time will be best.
"As a matter of fact, it's related to it. It's about Eragon and his condition. It's serious Val. He might die without your help. I don't know what has transpired between you and Eragon but before you start making excuses and accusations, think about what he has done for you. Think about his being. What he really means to you. He is your friend Valadir. He's not perfect. No one is. Do not be so easy to give up on others. On our way to your mother and the others I will speak to you further about the subject. For now, have it at the back of your mind. I'm warning you now so you are not surprised by it when we return"

Kolias stared back at Valadir a little confused about his intense gaze, but it made sense when he started talking. He frowned.
“First of all, if you had been anyone else I would have booted you out for speaking out in such a rash manner. Even if you are a dragon, you are an honoured guest, not a commander. However, with these circumstances at hand, it’s warranted.”

He sighed and leaned against the table in thought. “You put me in an interesting position Valadir. I cannot approve of drakes leaving the mountains, even within my clan. I need Eragon’s or Lenera’s approval who are both out of reach at the moment. To add with the enemy at our front door. I need every able drake who can bear arms. Not to mention the trouble I will have to deal with from the other nosy Chiefs if I help you… I can’t give handouts, Valadir I’m sorry.”

Crystal stepped to Valadir’s side to have a perfect view of Kolias. She craned her neck to see his face. Kolias couldn’t help but notice the small kitsune and looked down. They looked at each other for a few seconds before Kolias continued. The hulking drake suddenly looked a little nervous, then continued to speak. “However… It seems that I do not understand the heaviness of the situation. Yes, I’m aware of your dwindling numbers. Tell me more about this situation. Where are they? Who do you need? What do you need? Maybe I can seek something out.”[/I]
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“My kind,” Ashe echoed, “that being of human born. Well, I suppose I cannot blame these drakes for disliking humans. I should then be grateful that four dragons have graced me with their acquaintance.” She amused herself by saying the last phrase. 10 years ago, she never could have pictured herself in such a position. Back then, Jura was the first dragon Ashe had ever come across. Before our friendship was forged, she thought me an entitled, petite noblewoman. She glanced at the sky quickly, failing at her attempt to spot Jura. Now then I have hundreds of questions, but I shall only ask a few in our brief time.

Ashe kept her voice low, as they continued walking. “Well, considering their hostility to ‘my kind’ I wonder how to avoid offending them. I am not foolish as to believe I will be welcomed simply because I am friends with a dragon. How does one fall into the good graces of drakes? Do they have certain greeting customs? My second question is why are they worshippers of dragons? From what little I have gathered so far, they would sacrifice themselves for you, why? Thirdly why have they remained so isolated? Why not defend dragons as they are hunted across the nations?” Ashe paused, ending the torrent of questions coming out of her mouth. “I apologize for laying many questions upon you. I realise the last ones may be difficult for you to answer.”

She waited for Rega to answer, letting her set the pace of their conversation. She wondered if she would have to ask Valadir the answer. At that thought she inwardly grumbled. He is not the friendliest, but I must ask him many things. Although he seems like he is more willing to break my bones than answer my questions. At least Rega is kind…I cannot fathom how Valadir is her son.


Sir Ian laughed boisterously hearing Katsume’s reasons to stay. “Well, I shall hope those fools ought to have some sense in avoiding your gardens.” He ran his hand over his long white beard and said, “Yes, I ought to take a load off while I have the opportunity.” He walked away in a happier mood, whistling a local tune as he went.

Sir Ian’s heavy foot stomps getting quieter and quieter. There was a moment of silence before a hoarse woman’s voice remarked, “I was wondering when Sir Knight would leave. A white-haired, old lady tall and fit for her age stepped out from the shadows. Her wrinkled face did nothing to hide her wise silver eyes. From a stranger’s perspective, it appeared like she had no pupils or iris, simply white eyes. She slowly moved over to stand beside Katsume, a slight hobble in her step. “My old friend, how fares thee?”

She stooped down to the pond, dipping her fingers in the cold water. She moved her hand back and forth motion, saying, “Sir Ian’s concerns do not go unwarranted. During my meditations, I glimpsed a powerful evil following young Jura and Ashe’s paths. Prepare Castrock we must?”


At the top of the talon’s low cliff, where the last pepper spark had flowed from, stood a well-dressed man in a long jacket and circular spectacles. He had just seen his last pepper spark explode, watching little sparks of coloured light dance across the night sky. Two men who had helped him with his inventions for the festival walked up to him, bags packed and ready to leave. The taller one patted his hand on the inventor’s shoulder saying, “All right Theo, me and Dray are going to go to the bar in the city. Possibly score ourselves a beautiful woman.” Theo glanced at the city and declined the invitation. Dray joked said, “Come on, Redin, you know Theo is too respectable for that… or is it because be flirting with the guild master?”

Theo pinched the space between his eyes, feeling a headache coming on listening to these two men. He interjected, “It is neither of those, I need to finish some of my research back in my workroom. Then I will go to the guild hall for the festivities.”

Dray and Redin paused and looked at each other before joking some more. Theo rolled his eyes, smiling at the two. He chucked another bag for Dray to catch, “enough of that. Help me get his equipment to the guild hall and then you both can go and be promiscuous.”
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Aside from stray animals and the other two members of the group, Blade couldn't sense anything of relevance. Better that way. By the looks of it and in his opinion, Ashley is the one better suited for combat as she is uninjured, equipped and judging by the fact she dragged a deer and a rabbit earlier, she's also rested. Things himself and the others lacked. Rega is wounded. Jura is, too, and both the white dragon and her are also tired.

He heard something coming from Jura's mind. He could sense it was unintentional. Something he thought to herself, but as he said before her private thoughts aren't his business so he just ignored it. However, if he sensed it happening again he'd bring it up.

She then asked him about how he got captured. A fair question to know eachother better.

"I was ambushed during my slumber. As you are already aware, I am not easily awakened" He replied, recalling how both their cellmates and the guards had trouble waking him up during the times when he had to fight but found him oversleeping.

"I suspect my captors were already aware of my existence and skills. Their degree of preparation for my capture was high. A quality plan under their sleeves."

He was ashamed to admit the reason behind his capture. He thinks that getting captured because of your sleep issued sounds silly. Yet that's how it happened.

"And yourself?" He asked. "You are undoubtedly more skilled than myself in a survival situation. I only ask you to be sincere, as I have"


Rega took a bit to process all the questions she was asked. It reminded her of Val when he was a dragonliong. She could remember a couple times when he did something similar.

"Your mere prescence is likely to offend them already, so if i were you, i'd stick with your friend at all times. They are conditioned for war. Aggresive by nature. They don't know and/or care what money is, only who has the longest horns so... maybe be as aggresive as them? Play tough? I wouldn't know what to do if i were you besides sticking close to her.

They consider your kind to be unworthy given your more peaceful approaches to things. As for why are they willing to throw themselves at our defense... my kind helped them to secure the mountains they currently live in ages ago, way before our time. Thus they decided to repay that debt by welcoming all dragons there when they please and helping us when they can.

As for why they aren't helping us now... I have no idea but it pisses me off a lot!. My only bet is that they didn't know because of their isolation. Not mingling with the outside and this now hearing nor caring about what happens over here..."

Rega couldn't help but to grow angrier at the thought. Now that she thought about it, the reason she thought for the drakes to not help them didn't make complete sense.

"... but how could they be so stupid? Didn't they realize no one of our kind was going their way anymore to visit for over a year.?!?!

Me and whichever moron is in charge there need to have a little chat..."


Wolnir stuck his neck inside the tent when Haru asked him how him and Val met. Before he answered he took a look at the sheets. An upgrade, yet not ideal but it would do for now. After all, he was told it would be temporal and overall resources are scarce.

He then proceeded to answer the question. He told the same story he told Crystal a week or so ago.

"W-we met at an inn. I-i was getting harassed b-by a couple humans. Val was eating a-at that same place, s-so when he finished he came and scared the humans away...

H-he then grabbed his backpack and left and i-i didn't get to thank him, s-so I went to that inn e-every day for a week or so in order to thank h-him...

H-he eventually did and things took off from there. I-i didn't expect him to do that s-since we didn't know eachother..."


"He is not my friend. He lost that status the moment he changed his attitude. Besides, why can't you help him? Why do I have to do it? You probably know more than me about whatever it is that he has" He told Crystal when she explained he had to save Eragon later, reminding him that they were friends. And sure, he has saved his ass and brought him to a safe place but at what cost? Back then he thought he did it out of a sense of duty and honor, but now he thinks otherwise. That from the start he planned to make him his puppet. A part of him wishes he hadn't done it and left him to die. At least that way he wouldn't have to deal with this mess.

However, he couldn't help but consider the options for a moment. A dead king in a situation like this doesn't benefit anyone but the enemy. Widespread disorganization and loss of morale amongst the many downsides. No solid decisions yet, he needs more information to go on but he may help him just so it doesn't affect the war in a negative manner. He feels Eragon will owe him one if he does. Relishing in the alluring thought of having a kind in his pocket.
"He has only brought me here to use me. Nothing more"

Valadir took a bit of offense when he was told he would have been booted out if not because of his social status. In his opinion, he was asking Kolias to perform both his job and his kind's duty. Yet he didn't say anything in order to not hurt his chances of success.

Then, he heard the one thing he didn't want to hear. That he wouldn't get any help. He didn't feel sad, but furious. Why were the drakes so useless? Why were they constantly refusing to do their jobs and help his kind? He was told a hundred times over that they were really capable fighters and that they'd serve his kind, so why weren't they doing so?

He was fed up. He fully intended to physically vent out his fury at the drake's expense, but before he close to even do anything to foward that plan the drake suddenly changed his mind. Blankly looking roughly at his direction. Following his gaze, him and Crys were making eye contact.

He took a couple deep breaths to calm down.

"Uhmm... Well, at my flying speed they are six or seven hours away from here. Near the shore by a treeline in front of that desert. Their wounds are deep and very serious, so having a healer or two would be great. I'm thinking one or two scouts to go around any dangers we can't deal with. Fighters too obviously... We don't have a way of knowing what we'll be up against, so it's better to be prepared for the worst.

Them dragons down there are lacking sleep, food and water, so when we are done here I'll head to the kitchen in the dining hall to get them provisions. It'd be great if I could meet your people there and fill them in."

The dragon then acquired a way more serious tone.
"In short, they are very injured, weakened, starving, thirsty, cold and alone. Would you able to live with yourself if you leave them to die?"

"What did you do?" He asked Crystal.
Jura smirked. She knows how deep of a sleeper Blade is. ”Same as you, ambushed in my sleep. I’ve been ambushed a few times before but, they were well-prepared. Too well in fact. I still killed a few of them before I was eventually taken by net and chain. It was interesting. It was like my position was betrayed. That question has been burning my mind and I don’t think I will ever get it answered. Pity, I would have loved to see my betrayer’s face while I plunged my claws through the gut.”

A little while after Jura turned back to see the others on the ground. She spotted them almost immediately. Like little moving specs. She doubted they could see her even though they know she’s watching them. Jura didn’t particularly trust Blade’s ability to see his surroundings with his mind. She’s never heard a thing like that before. The closest idea she can get to it is like sniffing the air with her eyes closed. While her sense of smell is superior to most races, creatures and animals. She isn’t a dog. She cannot follow scents accurately.
Bah! It’s unfair that he can have such power. I’ve dedicated my life to be an outstanding fighter and all he does is sleep and read books. Yet he can easily kill me by lifting a finger.
Jura thinks to herself. Blade’s abilities frighten her. She knows almost nothing about him, his background, the extent of his powers. All she can do is hope he doesn’t turn against her.
The only chance I have against him is surprise. Even then. He’ll probably see that coming.

Jura’s thoughts eventually went to Valadir, who she had met briefly for a few minutes. The only reason way she said they should travel South is him. The off chance that he is right and he returns with these ‘drakes’. Otherwise North is the only safe place for all of them. Even thinking about it now, the current plan feels like a terrible idea but there is no turning back now. Their pursuers are probably behind them. In truth she doesn’t know if they are being chased. They could probably rest for a day or two without trouble. Her anxiety won’t allow them. Besides, she knows the Akarma well enough. They must be on their trail.
Everything about this makes me nervous. On the run from the deadliest criminal organisation. Trusting someone just by their words. I don’t know the lands past Eyralia. I’ve put Ashe in serious danger. Funny thing is she wanted to go South. I’m still not convinced it’s a good idea. She should be up here with me. At least she’ll be safer. But then Rega will be by herself. Most of us are half dead. The only one who can defend herself is Ashe and even then. I don’t trust her ability to fight off anyone who is bigger than herself. No offence… Hopefully, Valadir returns. I need to apologise for my distasteful tone before. Completely uncalled for. Besides, he might be right. I don’t want to start on a bad note with him. Blade seemed to think he was telling the truth. He’s the only hope we have now. If he doesn’t return, we all die. At least with Blade, we might be able to take out a few more.

She looked back at the ground. Specifically looking at Rega. She looks like someone she knows. It took her a couple of minutes to come to the conclusion that they may have met at a festival.
Jura talked to herself, unaware that she is still linked with Blade.

After she was satisfied that the two on the ground aren’t in any immediate danger she went back next to Blade. She asked him, ”have you sensed anything?”


“That’s nice of him to stick up for you. A bit weird that he left but nice of him. One thing I’ve noticed that the other races have that’s kits don’t is strangers help each other. Outside the Guardian’s kitsune live solitude lives from a very young age. Rarely we come across each other and if we do. It usually isn’t a pleasant interaction.” Haru explained a little about kitsune lives in the wild.
“At least dragons are more supportive to each other. Actually I think they are the closest to each other when compared to other races. Elves are probably next.”

Shortly after a human girl appeared from the dark and slowly walked up to the pair. She is of short statue and has long brunette hair and wore a grey dress. She held some folded white sheets.

“Alice! Hello, How are you?”

“Good thank you.”

“What are you up to?”

“I thought I would offer some more sheets for Wolnir. I had these laying around and it gets a little cold out here.” Alice stared at Wolnir in awe.

“I see.” Hard turned to Wolnir. “Wolnir. Will you accept these?”


”He’s doing what he thinks is right. I can guess what has happened between you. I’ll let you know that when you rejected his offer to take up whatever it was, he tried taking it upon himself to seize the power that has been prophesied over you. It backfired and has left him in the condition he’s is in now. Trust me Val. He’s not trying to take advantage of you. He was trying to help you. If someone else was in your shoes he would have done the same to them. Drakes aren’t like everyone else. They are a superstitious bunch and they don’t understand other’s cultures. They just think you will do whatever you need to get the job done, regardless if it’s painful. That’s how they are. Patience is key with them. And to answer your question, I’ve tried helping him. I’m to weak to get him out of his coma. I don’t know why it’s you. Elijah has discovered something and you are the best one for it. All I know is it ties in with the whole prophecy. You might discover the origin of it. I promise you will find some answers from this.” Crystal responding to Valadir’s standing with Eragon. She understands why he thinks the way he does. He values his freedom above all. However she doesn’t particularly agree with that ideology. While freedom is important, the Guardian’s value putting others first. Above themselves. Even those who despise the Guardians. It is hard to explain that to someone and it is hard to understand. She didn’t want to bombarded him with the flaws he contains according to herself. Right now he has other important matter to attend.

Crystal eyed Valadir. He looked like he was about to strike Kolias. She clenched her fist, half expecting him to follow through. Luckily he didn’t. They would not get any help if he did that.

Kolias stroked his chin and considered what Valadir said. He sighed. “Break my horn and wrap my tail. I’m going to get it for this. Alright Unbroken, game on.”

The drake loudly knocked on the desk and the two guards walked in.

Go to the kitchen with one of my guards and ask what you need. Then he will direct you to the North platform. I will meet you there with a party. If I’m going to get into trouble, might as well try to loose my head while I’m at it. Drax, go with Unbroken to the kitchen, Ferror, get me five messengers now.”

Both the drakes bowed and executed their tasks swiftly. Crystal and Kolias had one last stare down before she left the room.

She replied to Valadir, ”Something I shouldn’t. Don’t worry about it.” Crystal mostly brushed the question off. She’s not surprised if Valadir question’s her further. Kolias changed his mind very quickly.

Crystal’s usual positive and joyful mind has mostly left. Leaving a serious and focused version of herself.

On their way to the kitchen she asked Valadir, “Can you carry two kitsune on your way there?”
Katsumi had no idea that his friend was skulking around in the shadows. Bad on his part. He should always be checking his surrounds with his mind. "Madam Houdini. Intersting to see you having a stroll in my garden. And yes, I'm doing fine thank you."

The elf sighed when she immediately brought the long awaited discussion up.
No small talk first. How boring.
"I am aware of there misfurturne and unfortunately there is nothing we can do about it. They will have to fend for themselves. I've pondered whether we should make the other leaders aware of the happenings of the outside world. I think the longer we withhold the information the worse it is. One way or another we are going to get involved. Whether we are in an all out war with the Arkarma after Ashe's stunt or the Infesters finds us. It is time to let them know. Tommorrow morning we should gather everyone who is in command."
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Hearing Rega’s advice Ashe thought more deeply of the drakes’ culture. To her, it appeared that they had a warrior-like mentality with fierce loyalty albeit only to dragons and one another. She said, “Thank you for your answers, I had surmised that I need to stay by Jura’s side at all times lest my life be under threat. As for playing tough…” Ashe stepped a little in front of Rega showing, arms held up and looking herself up and down. She easily joked, “I can do just that but I mean look at me compared to a dragon. My skin is soft. The only tough thing I might have for me is my mind,” She continued to ponder aloud, “Do these drakes have a superiority complex? That is, do they believe themselves to be the superior race?”

Ashe had to admit though when she heard Rega say that the drakes thought other races are unworthy, she felt a stab of offense. Feeling slightly insulted she gave a curt laugh, one that was layered with sarcasm. She slowed her pace once more to be walking beside Rega. A slight doubt seeded in her, If money does not interest them, and they see other races as unworthy then a deal might not be possible. Ashe hid her sigh and building disappointment. Well, maybe I should focus on building a relationship between their race and the guild first. Before that though I need to make sure the Jura and the others are taken care of.

She was about to ask what Rega thought of the other races when she heard anger enter the dragoness’s voice. Her newfound companion was answering her last question. Ashe said, “Yes, it is odd for their ignorance. My guess is that they would not know what goes on in the rest of the continent due to their chosen isolation. Which begs one to inquire, why isolate themselves in the first place? It has been so long no one remembers their existence. Common knowledge prevails that no-one travels into the southern mountains because not one has returned.”

Ashe allowed a moment of silence to pass between the two. She offered encouragement, “Do not dwell on dark thoughts otherwise you will not be able to live on. Not for yourself or the people who need you. Believe me, I know from experience.”


Madam Houdini laughed however it sounded as though it verged on a cackle. She said, “Tish, tish, tish. It is less interesting I wander your gardens than ye suffer that thick-skulled knight.” She continued to twirl her fingers in the water in a circular motion. Hearing Katsume sigh, she crooned, “Come now little fox, ye knew this chat of ours was coming.” The old woman sat down, her feet on the water’s edge. A grey smoke surrounded her figure and a subtle white light glowed. Her appearance shifted, her wrinkles fading yet she remained with the body of a tall older woman. Her eyes remained white, and her cloak kept herself shrouded in secret.

“Ahh, that is better! My back hurts from all that leaning over like a century-old croon.” She did not take her eyes off the water. “Yes, it is time I think as well, and I think ye will be the one to gather them tomorrow morning. I have a cooky mysterious reputation to uphold. Hehehe. Yes, the Akarma will be a tough one to face, I fear that necromancer will be led to Castrock due to Ashe’s actions and Jura’s capture.”

She sniffed her nose and added, “Your snowdrop flowers could use some work. Tish, tish, I need those to grow better for my potions.”
"You have planted the seed of doubt within myself. Now i, as well, wonder if an acquaintance or former pupil has shared information about my person. It is certainly a possibility that cannot be ignored" Blade thought back to Jura when she shared how she was captured. In her sleep too. He felt a bit less ashamed of his capture now. "However, unlikely we find the answers we seek" So far, with the evidence he has, it seems that getting ambushed in your sleep isn't that strange. How many of the prisoners in Diabmoure were captured in those circumstances?

Then Jura started thinking aloud again. He planned to do as before. Ignore her thoughts as those are only hers, and after he didn't sense them anymore, instruct her so she can excert greater control over them. Control which ones she relays to others and which ones are kept to herself. Yet, he found himself unable to ignore part of the thoughts she accidentally relayed. Some of them were full of fear, envy and mistrust against him. He's not angry at her, he understands where she's coming from but considered it wise to discuss the matter to prevent things from escalating further. Even if that meant breaking the promise he made.

"You are thinking out loud, Jura..." He started. "I wish to extend my most sincere apologies for breaking my oath, but i find myself unable to let your considerations about my person pass. We are companions. Comrades. We are to trust eachother if we seek to survive through this trip. Do not permit your sense of fear to dictate your thoughts and actions.

With that said, i shall start. I do not possess any desire to cause harm or discomfort to any of you. To cause harm or attempt against the life of our kin, companions, friends and the innocent is to violate a basic yet crucial magic rule. Magic is to not be used lightly. It is to be used to protect and better the lives of those around you. To thread this path is to take this and other principles to heart. Those who stray from it are of impure mind and soul. Unworthy of the knowledge they possess. Unbeknownst to you, you have already witnessed an example of what i have mentioned. In our confinement, i had offered my help to our cellmates with their wounds. To not let them perish from the injuries they sustained in battle. Since they accepted my help, i treated their wounds with my knowledge. You have seen this. You may recall i attepted the same with you in several occasions, yet you refused to give your consent. Magic laws prohibit me from helping you with that area of magic without your acceptance.

You have compared your dedication to honing your skills to mine. How you feel your effort has greater validance than mine since you think i have done none to earn my skills. It is most understandable you feel this way. Your knowledge on the magical field seems scarce, which justifies your way of thinking. It is natural to fear the unknown, yet i'm afraid your perception is false. Similar to yourself, i have dedicated my entire existence to be an upstanding mage. Contrary to what you think, this path is not only about adquiring knowledge through books. It is true they play a part in it, but there are more important factors. To be a good mage requires plenty of practice and dedication, besides the study of morals and principles i previously mentioned. Trial and error. Perseverence. You are required to train your mind and push it to it's limits. To points you never thought possible. It is true i possess great skill in my field, yet it has been a long process. It has been a path i threaded since i was a dragonling. To become what i am has taken me over a century. Now, i dedicate myself as a magic professor, in order to teach this craft to the new generations of mages and ensure they don't stray off from the noble path. If you so wish, i am able to instruct you on how to excert greater control over your own thoughts, so i become unable to percieve those you deem private

That is what i have to say in my defense. I hope it's enough to bring you comfort.

And i do believe Valadir will return. I have personally travelled to those mountains on a number of occasions. I have met the drakes he has spoken about. They are indebted to us"

Speaking about the drakes subject made Blade think for a bit on the downtime that followed. Coming back to what Valadir had told him about how this whole problem started. He mentioned how there are these parasites controlling everyone else in an effort to exterminate his kind since they are unaffected by them, and also because said parasites are naturally weak to fire. Something his kind is known for. That has revealed a long lost memory.

"I can only sense harmless wildlife" The white dragon said his blue companion when she asked if she could sense anything. "Rega is a skilled chef. I wish we were in a better circumstance to taste some of the animals i have sensed"

After getting rid of that brief distraction, Blade's mind returned to the infesters. He has decided that he'll tell his companions about it, both because they deserve to know and because it would help to further build trust with them, specially with Jura.

"Jura. Rega. I have reasons to believe i possess enough evidence to present a preliminary hypothesis about the origins of our kind's extermination. I have spoken briefly with Valadir shortly before encountering all of you. He has shared crucial information about this matter, and it has awakened a memory i thought forgotten. This is what i know:

Around two years ago, some colleagues had summoned me for my opinion on a peculiar finding inside an elven corpse. A creature laid within the brain. Shaped as a small, black, pulsating sphere with tentacles lodged into the elf's brain. At that moment, we were unsure of the creature's nature. Now, however, can hypothesize about it with Valadir's infomation. He has mentioned the existence of a parasite controlling the other races, unwillingly driving them against us without their knowledge or consent. I believe the creature i previously described, the one i have seen years ago, is one of those parasites.
However, they are unable to affect our kind. We are able to resist them. These creatures fear us because of it. Because of our natural fire. Given our similar properties, and the fact they are still willing to help us, i hypothesize the drakes are also unable to be affected by them.

I am unable to determine the number of these creatures controlling the others, but i speculate they only control key individuals around the continent. The ones with more influence. Reaching the general population would be more effective in that fashion.

As a final note, i estimate that these creatures have had plenty of time to formulate and execute this plan of theirs. Several years have passed between the time my colleagues discovered them and our extermination. I believe the progressive alientation our kin has suffered the years leading to our extermination has, as well, been planned by these parasites in an attempt to weaken us before commencing their attack"


"True..." Rega said when Ashley presented her doubts about playing tough around the drakes. Besides the things she mentioned, she's also smaller than them.

"I am sure they do" She answered when the human asked if the drakes have some sort of superiority complex. In her opinion they make no effort of hiding it.

"Those idiots should have noticed no one of my kind was visiting anymore!" She furiously said when Ashley shared her guess on the drakes' obliviousness of the whole situation. Sure, it made sense but she still wasn't fully convinced about it. In her opinion they must have noticed that her kind suddenly stopped visiting. She considers it something really easy to notice. It's like they were ignoring them on purpose.

"I should still be married! My son should still have a father!"

Then Blade's thoughts arrived. Rega was close to telling him to fuck off, but his proposal sounded promising so she contained herself. He shared his theory about how this mess came to be. All moves against their kind, including their alienation through the last few years, caused by a parasite that wishes their kind's end and has influenced the most important individuals around to achieve it. It's good to finally have an idea about why things turned out as they did, yet that doesn't make it pleasant to hear. Yet there's two doubts he has over it.

"Should we trust Ashley, after what you said?"

"Without a doubt" Blade replied. "She has helped Jura and me escape from our confinement. If she were to turn against us, she wouldn't be joining us to our journey southward. She would have sent forces our way already"

"I guess it's true... Did Val tell you where he heard what he told you?"

"He has not. I haven't inquired either"

Where did his son hear what he told Blade? Obviously the drakes don't know anything about it, given they barely know her kind is on the brink of extintion. Who has he been mingling with?

"How are you feeling?" Blade then asked her. Her negative thoughts from earlier had unknowingly been transmitted to him. "Do you feel unsafe?"

"I feel fine. I just have a lot to think about..."

Rega then decided to tell Ashley what Blade told her about the infesters. She's a part of the team and in the blue about what's happening.


"I-i know..." Wolnir said when Haru noted how overly nice Val had been with him that day. "O-once I asked him why he did it. H-he said he doesn't like h-how humans tend to pick on us because they are the more plentiful race..."

"W-why so?" He asked when he was told kitsunes overall tend to not like to be around eachother.

"I also think it's true..." He said when the kitsune mentioned how dragons support eachother the most out of all races. The majority of his friends were of his own race, even if he also had human friends. He found them easier to relate to and overall nicer. His theory is that given that dragons have always been the least populous sapient race, they choose to band together and support eachother more.

Then a human girl came around. Wolnir became nervous and instinctively raised his guard, constantly staring at her. He relocated himself behind Haru so he'd protect him in case anything happened.

Turns out she just came to offer him some extra sheets.

"S-sure..." He nervously replied. "T-the more the b-better..."


"I really don't think he was trying to help me..." Valadir told Crystal when she started answering his questions. A part of him wishes that she had seen the scene for herself, so she could get how much of a dick Eragon was in his opinion. However, with some of her words she managed to feed a tiny bit the side of him that told him he was being selfish.

The dragon sighed when she then explained that she tried her best to help with the drake's condition, yet she failed and thus he was the best shot. Of course the forces behind the prophecy were moving things around to get their way...

"Ugh..." He finally said regarding what he was supposed to do. "Fine, i'll go... I really want those answers. And i guess i do owe him one..." Even then, he agreed to help Eragon because of the benefits he thinks he'll get. A king alive in this situation will prevent loss of morale and allow things to move more smoothly. No infighting about succession or doubts about the one that'll take his place. And he expects Eragon to feel indebted to him after he saves his scaly ass. Maybe then he'll be able to get the king to do what he wants. Put more effort in to save his kind and get a new title would be good places to start.

"Nice. Finally..." He thought to himself when Kolias finally agreed to help. The plan is taking shape. The less time spent here, the better. Each minute counts. "Good" He told the drake in a rather cold fashion.

"I mean..." He started saying to Crystal when she dodged his question. "I'm not complaining. Whatever you did helps us save mom. I don't give a shit how moral that was. I just want to know what it was"

When they exited the room, Valadir sighed profoundly, as if he was holding in a lot of emotions and was starting to let out some tension. Frankly he didn't want to be in that room for even one more second. "I don't know if it was noticeable, but i SWEAR i was THIS close to splitting his fucking skull in half... I was SO ready..." He relayed to Crystal with notable fury. He took the effort to calm down. It was not the time to get carried away by those feelings.

"You heard him" He told the drake that accompanied them.

"Who is it?" He asked when she asked if he could carry two kitsunes on his back. "Is it someone i know? Pretty sure i carried shit both larger and heavier than the two of you..."

Arriving to the dining hall, Valadir directed himself to the kitchen in the back.

"Listen up" He began to tell the cooks as soon as he saw them. "I need you to prepare me some provisions. Make two dozen sandwiches with the meat you have already cooked, wrap each one individually with paper and put them here" He got his backpack out and put it on the ground in front of him. "Heat up some tea, fill five canteens with it and put them in the backpack too. This guy here is going to supervise you do as you are told and check the edibility of the sandwiches. I swear I'll report all of you for uselessness if you fail"
Jura squinted and bit her lip when Blade told her he could hear her thoughts. She forgot that she is connected to him. How stupid of her to let him hear her doubts. She needs to exercise her thoughts for greater control. Not that she knows how to. Regardless, she isn’t ashamed or will take back her thoughts. They are what she thinks, and made that clear to the white dragon. ” I cannot help how I think. I’ve learnt not to trust people whom I barely know. This is why I’m alive.”

Jura allowed Blade to justify himself. At first, when he explained that mages and general magicians have a code, she could relate to that. As a knight, she swore a code to protect the innocent. His words are tested to be accurate as he gives the example of when they were imprisoned. He helped others recover. She refused his help if they faced each other, she would not hesitate to kill him, which she has explained before and still stands by her decision. She’s thankful that it didn’t come to that.

He then went on with his experiences and how he has developed. He has given great points. That he has trained differently to become who he is. He has convinced her that his path is well-earned but still thinks it’s unfair that he possesses greater strength than herself. Not physically but with his powers. When he mentioned that he teaches others, she wondered if she can learn it.

She pondered on his thoughts. He has indeed given her no reason to mistrust each other. On the contrary, everything he’s done is to build upon their relationship. She’s the weak link between them. She also can’t find a reason for him to go against her. If an already scarce race turns against each other, they are doomed to die. It makes no sense for him to attack her. He can’t gain anything from it. However, she cannot overcome the fact that she is inferior to him. Over time she will accept it, but now, she is cautious of him.
”I guess you haven’t given me any reason to mistrust you. I’ve rarely known anyone who can defeat me in combat. There have been small-time mages and magic users I’ve come across, but I was confident in my ability. You are the first dragon mage. Those words alone must mean you have great power—the strength of our race and the knowledge of a magic user. I am grateful that you are not against me, but I cannot shake the feeling that I’m powerless against you, so caution will always be there. Maybe some of this feeling comes from jealousy. I do believe you are a dragon of honour. This is how I currently stand with you. Over time, like all things, it will change.”

She considered Blade’s proposition in instructing her to have better control over her mind when speaking with others. The idea sounded appealing but for another time. Too much is currently at stake for her to focus on something else.
”Maybe another time. For now, we should be focusing on staying alive.”

On the other subject of Valadir, who is why they are travelling this way. She responded to Blade, saying, ”How have I not heard of these drakes before?” If they are so interested in our race, would they not pursue to save us?”

Blade’s hypothesis and description of these parasites sounded like another wild story for children. Jura started piecing the puzzle together. The past year they have been heavily hunted. While dragon hunting has always been a thing, it was never against domesticated dragons. It was also frowned on. But now it is encouraged. Date further back a couple more years when laws started to change against dragon-kinds favour. This must be why she was revoked of her title. These parasites must have the King. If they have taken over the other races for a few years now. They have been granted much time to achieve their goal. It looks like their plan has gone flawlessly.

All this time, she has been fighting the Arkarma, there has been another battle happening. The reason for the disappearance of her race. The reason why her parents have been executed, as well as all of her friends. The thoughts burned in her mind. Why would they do this? It boiled her blood to learn this. This whole time she thought that the Arkarma was the main enemy. Is this why the combined Eyralian army has gone South? To fight the drakes? It this the actual battle that is going to take place. If it hasn’t already, of course. Jura has made an excellent choice to listen to her friend.
”Is that all you know of these parasites?” She asked Blade.


Haru sat back and grinned when Wolnir asked why kitsune stayed isolated from each other.
“That’s been a long debated question. It’s generally concluded that the nature of kitsune is selfish and unfriendly. Like foxes, we are sly and cunning. Individually, we hold a great deal of natural mana. The combination of these traits makes us extremely dangerous. We all know that especially each other, so we try to constantly best each other in any way. I’ve never known another race who is as cruel and careless as the kitsune. The origin of this extreme behaviour is unknown. You will be wise to stay clear of any kitsune outside the Guardians. They will appear friendly, but we have perfected the craft of luring unsuspecting prey into a trap for our pleasure. Especially the women. They’re ruthless. Of course, any kitsune within the Guardians is the complete opposite, as Crystal has demonstrated. Elijah has shown us that it’s possible to be delivered of our old ways and start a new and fruitful life. One with joy and fulfilment. Between him and Crystal, they’ve had the greatest transformations.”

Haru immediately picked up on Wolnir’s defensive behaviour and gently touched his paw.

Alice, completely oblivious to Wolnir’s actions, smiled at him and said, “Great, want me to go spread them out for you?”

“Thank you for the offer, Alice, but I can handle that. Just leave them there.”

“Oki.” Alice dropped the sheets and put her hands behind her back. “If you need anything else, just let me know.” She took one last look at Wolnir and waved goodbye.

“Thanks, Alice. Have a good night.”

Alice trotted off back to her cabin.

When she left, Haru chuckled and took his hand off Wolnir, “It’s all right, Wolnir. No one here is going to hurt you. Guess you’ll learn that over time. Here let me go take care of these sheets for you.”

Haru picked up the extra sheets and walked to Wolnir’s makeshift tent.


”I lied to him. Gave him a falsehood of the future if he denied your wishes. During my short time with the drakes, I’ve learnt a thing or two about how to manipulate them. Don’t expect me to keep doing it.” Crystal told Valadir how she convinced Kolias. Seeing that he didn’t drop the issue.

”It was very noticeable that you were nearly at blows. I’m surprised Kolias didn’t act as much about it. I’m sure he noticed it as well. Luckily you didn’t. That would have ended very badly for us. Keep your passion in check. We’re not done yet. And be nice to the guard.” Crystal kept her voice calm but devoid of friendliness.

On the topic of an extra passenger, Crystal said, “Sabato. His skills will be very useful. The combination of our weight won’t be more than sixty kilograms.”

When they entered the kitchen, six drakes in white armour turned their heads to face the invaders. The blanky stared at Valadir as he shouted orders at them and threatened them. There was a moments of silence. The boiling pots were the only noise. The closest chef broke the silence. He picked up a large iron spoon and threw it at another chef. Hitting him in the chest.
The abusive chef shouted, “You heard him! Get on it you gutless shanks! Grab the strathlaw from the spread! Get that deer over there! Where is the TEA? Hurry up!”

The chefs immediately acted and quickly completed their commands. The guard eyed every chef, ensuring none had a second to spare.

Crystal watched the interaction from behind Valadir. She rolled her eyes and found it amusing.
“Valadir, don’t put them in your bag, let me take them. You need the least amount of weight as possible.”

When sandwiches and canteens were put together before they were put into Valadir’s bag, Crystal
touched it all with her hand, and it all disappeared into thin air. The guard gave a nervous grunt when she performed the trick.

When they finished, the chefs bowed and waited for further orders. Crystal grew bold, and climbed onto a stone bench. Her ears flattened, and her tails twisted together. She shouted at the top of her lungs, “I want a cookie!”

The chefs looked at each other and then looked back at Crystal. One of the drakes even smiled. To them, she was like a small child having a temper tantrum. The guard butted his spear against the ground, making a loud thud, asserting Crystal’s demand. One of the chefs then disappeared for a second then handed Crystal a giant plain cookie. The kitsune grabbed it with two hands and smiled. “Thank you.” She climbed down from the bench. “All right. Now we’re done here.”

The Guard then lead them to the take-off platform, where everyone is expected to meet. They used a wind tunnel to fly up the mountain, which Crystal needed the assistance of Valadir, then through a series of hallways until finally, they arrived at the highest platform that faced North.

Crystal walked onto the platform and was immediately greeted by the cold air. The platform was covered in a fresh layer of the current falling snow, which left her bare feet cold. It was big enough to hold a dozen drakes. The sky at this time was black; the only light came from the two flameless lanterns that hung on each side of the platform entrance. Her kimono was fitted with a loose hood which she used to cover her ears and head. He walked to the edge of the platform and looked down. They overhang the mountain's main wall, giving them a view of the ground at least a thousand metres down. That explains why the air felt very thin. She found it a little harder to breathe. She grew a little nervous and stood back from the edge. She assumed a position next to Valadir and wrapped her nine tails around her legs for warmth. “At least it’s not windy.”

The guard stood by the entrance in silence. The cold didn’t seem to affect him. Nor did the thin air.

While they waited, Crystal cast a small red ball of energy that floated before herself and Valadir. It emitted intense heat. Enough to keep the chill off.

They waited for an hour before eight drakes showed up together. Behind them was Sabato. Who dressed similarly to Crystal. He immediately greeted Valadir and Crystal.

The eight drakes. One is easily identified as Kolias. Once they were all on the platform, they all acknowledged Valadir. Each drake wore a unique set of armour. The only common denominator is that all their armour is black. The design of their armour complimented their rank and fighting style. One of these drakes, have notable white frosty scales.

“Listen up.” Kolias explained, “All of you have been hand-selected to accompany Unbroken and the kitsune outside the Mountains on a rescue mission. Valadir has found more dragons, and they need to arrive at the Golden Mountain at the cost of your lives if necessary. We are outside of our jurisdiction with this one lads, but when did that stop some of you anyway. Gathrae, step forward.”

A smaller green drake with piercing yellow eyes took several steps towards Valadir. His most notable features are his four wings.

“Gathrea will be the leader of the party. Any disobedience, and I will peel your scales off and feed them to the wolves.” Then Kolais spoke to Valadir. “Each of these drakes is a renowned and proven warrior. All of them have claimed at least Blademaster status and further. They're all skydrakes. Among them is a shaman, hunters, scouts and warriors. They will serve you well. Are you happy?”


Ganjiro slid off his nycon wolf, Kagerou. The dragon-sized, winged wolf started sniffing the surroundings, looking for anything interesting. On the other hand, Ganjiro immediately focused on the tracks on the ground. He stooped down and ran his hand across the sand where a dragon print was left. “Looks like our targets found some friends. Total of four dragons and the human half-breed. Very interesting.”

The kitsune walked around the cave, looking for more information about his prey. He didn’t gather much. Shows that they were here for a short while before moving South according to the tracks that lead to the water.

“What’s that treacherous smell…” He walked into the cave, his feet did not make a sound. He relied on his night vision to navigate. The cave is surprisingly deep. The smell grew stronger the further he walked until finally finding the source—a decaying dragon corpse. Ganjiro sighed, “What a shame. Shit place to kick it.” He walked right next to it and studied it. The corpse is at least a week old. The gut is bloated, filled with gas, and the flesh is disappearing. His interest was in the face. It looked all too familiar to Valadir. “Could it be?” He kneeled next to the head. “It is. Poor Valadir, I wonder if this made him angry.” With one smooth motion, he unsheathed his katana and cut the head off it’s neck, then sheathed his sword. He touched the decaying head, and it disappeared. “Save that for later. If he’s dead. Rega is probably running and Valadir might not be far off. There is also Blade. He’ll be the hardest to take out. Might need help with him.”

He walked back outside, past the deceased firepit, about to call his mount. He stopped in his tracks. He turned back to the charcoal logs and sticks and kneeled beside them. “It’s wet. They’re not far off.”

He placed a hand on the sand, and the ground immediately shook. A deep rumble and growl emitted from the earth. In front of him, a giant sinkhole formed. Its bottom could not be seen. Once the sinkhole had reached its full size, the ground became still. A moment of silence before hissing emitted from the sinkhole. A black claw emerged from the hole. It sunk into the sand. Another claw followed. Out crawled a black wyvern. Its scales darker than night. As if to be a devouring void of light. Its claws and spines are also black. The only colour from it is its green eyes. Its arms doubled as its large leather-like wings. Its head is similar to a dragon’s, with horns and a snout. Its body is skinnier than any dragon and slightly smaller than the average dragon, nor can it breathe fire.

The wyvern stared at Ganjiro and made an ear-piercing screech before turning away to study its surroundings.

Another two identical wyverns crawled out of the sinkhole with hissing and unfriendliness. After the wyverns, their tamers climbed from the hole. Three kitsune’. All dressed in matching black kimono. Their tails are dark brown, as is their ears. All of them had the same green eyes as the wyverns. The three kitsune are armed. One with a bow and quiver of arrows, another with a katana and two matching throwing knives. The last one carried a staff. All of them are an equivalent height of 158 centimetres.

Ganjiro smiled and stood up. The ground shook once again, and the sinkhole filled with sand.
“Gentleman. Welcome back.”

“Get on with it Ganjiro. What do you want?” The one holding the staff spoke; his voice is surprisingly deep for his size.

“I’m glad you asked Akuma. I have a few dragons to catch. I need a little help subduing them. One of them is an excellent mage, the others are a few stragglers running for their lives.

“You have summoned us to catch a few pesky reptiles? Do you think that lowly of us?” Akuma spoke again.

“I assure you, this will not be an easy hunt. There is a human half-breed with them. I’ve sensed it before. She has a unique ability that I haven’t figured out yet but is dangerous. We will have trouble with her. Another three dragons. One of them goes by the name of Jura. An ex-knight, strong warrior and the other has a great prophecy spoken over him. He has an invisible hand of protection over him and may interfere. We must catch them before they reach the Drakken Mountains and meet with the drakes.” Ganjiro explained the scenario he is in.

Akume spoke, “I’m guessing the Arkarma sent you off like a little rat again. Doing whatever they tell you to do. When will you grow up Ganjiro. You should join us.”

Ganjiro laughed mockingly. “And here you are. Summoned by me. I think I’m good. Besides, I work with them, not for them.”

“Whatever. I’m tired if talking. The longer I stay in this realm, the more I want to puke. Let’s leave.”

All four kitsune called their mounts and flew South, after the dragons.


"You know that's an insult right." Katsumi politely calling out Houdini calling him a fox. Knowing her, she probably knew that.

Corner of his eye he saw her transform into a younger form of herself. He wondered why she hides so much but. He's never been bothered to ask. He's sure she has some good reason. Besides, up until tomorrow, he has disguised himself as an elf. But his reason is well grounded. Many of these folls haven't seen a kitsune or even know what it is. Perhaps it's for the best that he doesn't know her backround.

"I have been thinking about releasing the information for a good while. It will cause a freak out. Better do it now before it's too late. I will gather them tommorrow. Will you be there?"

Katsumi looked at the flower Houdini mentioned. They're not in season but he sees what she means. "My flowers are not for you're potions. Stop stealing them."
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Ashe was curious about the prolonged silence from Rega after her brief outrage. She gave a cursory glance to the dragoness, considering the reasons for it. Then the young half-human raised her head to the sky above guessing Blade had interjected with telepathy. Blade must have sensed something… Ashe shrugged her bow from her shoulder and held it within her right hand. She scanned the area around them, her eyes enabling her to see 70 meters away. She did not notice any enemies or anything out of the ordinary. Only the ocean’s tide lapped the shore, and the rock formations were quiet and still on their other side. Little white light was provided by the moon and stars which were barely enough to see by.

Ashe waited for Rega to speak first then saw Rega’s eyes fill with distrust when they fell on her. This caused her heartbeat to quicken as she wondered if the dragoness next to her would become a foe. I do not need to fight a dragon right now. Surely, I will not win. Ashe subtly widened the distance with which she walked next to Rega however her fears were dissipated when Rega informed her what Blade had spoken.

“Infesters...Creatures that are able to control a being by connecting to their brainstem. The beings targeted are that which are of great influence,” Ashe repeated to make sure she heard Blade’s hypothesis correctly. She continued her own thoughts aloud, “Then greater the influence the greater the impact upon a wider populace…” Ashe’s face darkened as pieces of the puzzle fell into place. The timeline that Blade provided in his hypothesis matches when the Eraylian law began changing. It was only a couple of years ago that Ashe and her father had fought the King’s council against tyrannical decrees and policies. Such decrees led to Jura’s parents’ death and stripped her of her military title. Then my own father turned… The memories left a bitter taste in Ashe’s mouth. If these parasites truly exist then the King and my father have fallen. The kingdom of Eraylia is fallen. The realisation that dawned upon her birthed a silent fury within her core.

Ashe forced herself to relax and subdue her anger. She asked Rega, “May you question Blade if the evidence is concrete? Have these infesters actually invaded or is this all suspicion? How would we check if someone is infested aside from behavioural changes?” I wonder what Jura thinks about this. If the infesters have taken the King, then her anger is misplaced. Then again, we cannot assume the infesters are to blame for all our problems especially if it is only speculation.

Ashe recalled the mistrust she saw in Rega earlier and realising the reason why now. She reassured the dragoness, “Do not fear, I understand your suspicion, yet I am not infested. If I were I would have killed Jura and Blade at Diabmoure or all three of you when you were at your weakest before.”


In Castrock Island, Madam Houdini continued to sway her fingers in the waters pond before her. She cackled at Katsumi when he picked up her insult. “Tish, tish. I meant it in an endearing way. Foxes are quite intelligent animals” She added to continue her teasing, “Where do you think the saying what does the fox say comes from?” Her cackle sounded once more from her throat. She suddenly stopped mid-way laughing and snapped her head right. She stayed still for a few seconds before pulling out some grass from the earth and rubbing it in her hands. Then she pulled a small vile from her wide sleeve and added the grass to it. The liquid in the vile changed into a murky vile. She mumbled a few incoherent words with a few making sense after she put the vile away.

Houdini returned to swaying her fingers in the pond, a moment later hearing Katsumi explain his plan. She did not look at him as he spoke only facing him after he finished. Her eyes were an eerie white as if she had no pupil or iris. She replied, “The truth always finds ways of letting itself be known. Deceit always finds ways of tripping itself up and killing the one who uses it. I say let yourself be known to the leaders on our island. For evil is upon our footsteps. Soon it will be knocking on the door.”

Houdini turned back to the pond, her bare feet now on the water’s edge. “I find no use in revealing my true physical form. Nor have I anything else to reveal. I have no façade nor mask otherwise I wear over my nature. I have simply isolated myself. I am Madam Houdini, the witch in the hut that rests on Talons High. That is me, not a façade nor disguise merely the fun of an old lady. I will be there, however. I have made my mind up about whom I will pass my legacy to. Myra the elf. She has the potential to learn my skills and knowledge.”

When Katsumi told her off about the flowers, she whined, “But no one else’s gardens are fit for my potions. I will not use second-grade ingredients when these are perfect! Only your touch, is the difference that causes such plants to thrive! Do not accuse me of stealing what mother earth provides you.”
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Blade remained silent when Jura defended her overall lack of trust, in order to not worsen things. He disagrees with that she says, at least considering their current situation.

Then he defended himself.

Jura's reaction was of caution. Even then, progress was made. She trusts him a bit more now. A lesser efect than the one the white dragon was aiming for, but it was a nice start. Trust is hardly earned this quickly. It'd take time.

"You humble me with your words" The white dragon said in a soft tone when his partner brought up his level of honor.
"And yes, it is true. I am unsure about the cause our kind distances itself from the arcane arts. The amount of dragon mages since the dawn of time can be counted with a single paw. I consider it a great privilege to be a part of such a demographic. The first dragon mage has, in fact, made great discoveries in the field of magic understanding for our kin. Said efforts are still present to this day

Even with the strengths of our kin, I do not consider myself to be an adept fighter by any means. Without my knowledge as a means of defense, I would have surely perished long ago...

It is most understandable for you to feel cautious given your limited exposure to the magic world. Time will surely accustom you"

Those were his comments about Jura's new opinions. She's jealous. She seems to consider herself to be inferior with him around and doesn't seem to like how that feels. In his opinion, she shouldn't feel that way. They are just different.

"As you wish" He communicated when Jura declined his offer about restricting her thoughts. "As i said before, i shall not mingle with your thoughts"

"You see..." He started explaining to Jura when she asked about the drakes. "The drakes do not trust the other races. They hate them. Think they are worthless weaklings that can only carry out evil deeds. Thus they have decided, approximately one hundred years ago, to not mingle with them and thus isolate themselves from the rest of the world. You may have heard their mountains are cursed. That is not entirely true. It is a mechanism of defense from their part to keep themselves isolated. If a member of a race that is not drake nor dragon is found within the southern mountains, the drakes make sure to kill them to keep themselves secluded. In case this information has you preoccupied for Ashley's security, i consider that given our current situation, they shall not target her. Yet, if i were in your position, i would remain by her side at all times. Not letting her wander off on her own

And regarding your second inquiry, i am unsure as to why the drakes have not come to save us. I theorize that, because of the seclusion i have mentioned, they haven't discovered our extermination. Since they have not heard of it, they have not acted to prevent it. Yet, it is most odd they have not noticed the sudden absence of our kind inside their borders. Before our current predicament, our kind was free to visit their mountains anytime. I have visited on numerous ocassions during my vacations"

He then answered Jura's request, asking further information about the parasites he mentioned earlier. He could feel her anger.
"I regret to dissapoint you, but that is the case. That is all the information i currently dispose of. However, there is a skilled colleague of mine that may be able to provide further detail on this matter. When and if we reach our current objective, i shall begin inquiring about her whereabouts"
That begged the question. Where's Crystal? Knowing her, she's probably well aware of what's happening. Probably acting in the background. Yet her location is currently unknown for him.


"I'll ask"

Rega presented Ashley's questions to Blade. Sure, she's been asking about a lot of things lately, but with good reason. And this latest row of questions were of a really important topic for everyone involved.

"Regrettably, this is all of the information I currently possess" Blade replied. "I apologize for not being able to bring you two further enlightenment on this matter. Yet, I am confident on this theory. However, one of my colleagues might possess further data on this matter. I am unsure of their location. I shall inquire about their whereabouts once we reach our objective.

Regarding a methodology for verifying a possible infection. As I have mentioned, i believe most of the population has been influenced by the infected individuals at the top of our society. Thus, the most effective course of action would be to dispose of a noble, a high ranking officer or a ruler and collect their remains for inspection. An insurmountable task in our current position. Is Ashley capable of performing such a task?

"How much do you trust that friend of yours?" Rega asked him

"Highly. They are part of a remarkable group of individuals that are, most likely, acting in our favor. Several of those I have personally trained"

"That is if they haven't turned..."

"I'm sure they have not"

Rega then told Ashley what Blade told her.

"I know" She said when Ashley spoke in her own defense. About not having any reason to betray the group. Were her brief suspicion and mistrust so evident? "He has mentioned that. How come you and him aren't linked? You don't trust him with your thoughts?"


"Y-your race doesn't sound too friendly..." Wolnir commented on Haru's answer, hoping he doesn't pass as offensive. It honestly sounds like a race full of small fluffy psychos. "I-ill keep that in mind... B-but i don't think i'll get to be out there again...

W-was Crystal really that bad? S-she doesn't look like that k-kind of person... W-what she do?"

The orange dragon's attention was fixated on Alice, paying attention to her every move. Not taking his eyes off of her until she left.

"T-try saying t-that after what i-i've seen..." Wolnir nervously said after Haru assured him that no one wanted to hurt him. He didn't know if he could ever let that go. He thinks that both of the places he could stay in had some important downsides. The mountain from earlier is big and he can go wherever he pleases there, but everyone is busy so he mostly feels alone in there. Like a big empty place with no one in it. And here he has people he knows and feels less alone because of it, but at the same time the other races are here too and that triggers his fight or flight response. His memories torment him.

He gazed at the horizon while immersed in his head. That is, until he yawned. He didn't realize it was night time already. He went to check on Haru and his tent, intending to ask him for another bowl of soup and try to get some sleep afterwards.


"Hope it was something about suddenly missing a family member. Wish I could do what you did. It sounds super useful" Valadir said to Crystal when she explained what she did. In his opinion, a shame she won't do it again.

"I can't help it. This race is so useless and pathetic that they are driving me nuts! I can't stand them anymore!" He said when his companion told him to keep himself together.

"Ye, it's odd he didn't do anything. Bet he was affected by what you got him to believe"

"I really can't be bothered to do that. Got no reason to" He then said when Crystal told him to be nice to the guard. First of all, in his opinion a drake's duty is to serve his kind no matter what. And second, why is it that Eragon and his mate can mistreat him and get away with it and he can't do the same in return?

"Ah, that guy..." So Sabato was the extra someone coming. If he actually helps then he's welcome. Having such a thing as "enough help" for the task at hand is not possible.
"I'd still call it a light load"

Then they were in the kitchen. As soon as he gave the cooks the instructions, they went to work with someone shouting them into speed. He sat and saw them work. He enjoyed the scene, even smiling a little. Seems that telling them to get it done for yesterday would be unnecessary.

They were done quickly. Crystal told him to not get the food in his bag. He was about to protest and say it wouldn't be a big deal since it wouldn't add any noticeable weight, but before he could speak she made things vanish.

"Where you send those to? It's not funny!" He said while angry, remembering that once she confessed to doing terrible things in the past. "Did you miss the part where i carry heavy shit for a living??"

"The fuck is wrong with you?" He simply said when she made a scene to get a cookie. He thinks she just isn't taking the matter seriously anymore. He took his backpack back.

The dragon then made his way with Crystal to the designated meeting point. He sat with his back against the stone wall and waited, gazing the outside night sky. He hoped his team wouldn't be long. Each minute counts.

"You'll get wind anyways while we fly..." He said when Crystal noticed the lack of wind. "The important thing is that it ain't raining"

"How do you call it?" He asked while they waited, referring to the floating hot ball. "Big hot ball?"

The dragon grew increasingly more anxious as time went on. With the current context, he didn't like sitting idle. Thus he seeked more conversation to keep himself calm.

"You still remember how mom looks like?" He asked her. "Just remember to never bring up her lack of wings and such...
Speaking of which, the other two are a blue girl with a bit of hair and a ton of wounds, and a white guy with purple wings and green stripes. Talks in the most exaggerate manner too... You seen any of them hatch like you did with me?"

At the twenty minute mark, the dragon stood up.

"I'm going to the bathroom. Last thing i need is to have the need to go while we fight"
"And because i'm getting too anxious to stay sitting there" He thought to Crystal while he left. He went to the bathroom in his room and did number one and two. When he got back to where the waiting location was, the party still wasn't there. He felt frustrated. If he could he'd be flying to where the other dragons are but he knows that doing so would spell defeat.

Valadir eventually sat again, once again with his back against the wall but closer to the edge of the platform. Again looking at the outside

Another while had passed.

"I don't really want this guy to hear this... But i wonder what former me would think about current me. Last time i killed someone was when i broke out of that damned cage and i really liked it. And i'm really looking forward to doing so again. I'm so angry after dad's... I should have gone out earlier instead of staying here and pretending everything's mostly fine. Maybe then i would have found him alive...

And I know it's a stupid thing to
say given the circumstances, but if we get the chance, I'd love to bury what's left of dad. I don't like the idea of him just rotting away in a hidden cave and have some vultures finish him off..." His mental tone growing sadder as he kept communicating. Deviating his gaze downwards, to himself.

After another while. "So what's your deal?" He asked the drake accompanying them.

Eventually, a lot of simultaneous steps coming their way could be heard. Valadir looked at the hallway and a group was coming. His group. The dragon stood up in a jump. Finally. The way felt endless.

He was described the composition of the group. Overall sounded good. Maybe they'd have half a chance. Even then, he thought that someone being called a shaman sounded stupid. What was he going to do? Pray that someone came to their aid? Please...

"What? No" He said when he was asked if he was happy. "You took way too long. I will be once we arrive back here with my kind alive. But i do believe we have a fair chance of succeeding. I've been told your kind knows how to fight, so please try to not dissappoint me..."
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Maybe if there were more dragon mages, they wouldn’t be in such a horrible position. Whatever. It can’t be changed. Jura thinks to herself.

The more Jura heard about these drakes, her interest grew in them. They seem like a very particular and unique group. A whole race who thinks they are better than the rest. They left instead of trying to take control, which she thought would happen. What an odd way to think. Jura will do well to ensure Ashe is always by her side. She has heard many rumours and stories about the Drakken Mountains. Whoever enters them never comes back out, at least in one piece.

Jura continued the topic with Blade. ”So it’s these drake people who occupy these mountains. They must have hidden well if only rumours of cursed mountains is all that’s commonly known about them. Everything you’ve told me about them so far. They seem like a unique race. A different culture. I’m still finding it hard to picture that there is a hidden civilisation that is completely willing to help us. It’s so… Serendipity. What do they look like? They must be similar to us if they are devoted to our race. Why are they in our service? Did you do something to them?”

Jura felt like she is entering a whole new world of the unknown. She’s never travelled past The Pass. The majority of her life has been within Eraylia. Unsure of everything. It gives her feelings of uneasiness and anxiety. Just another challenge to overcome.


“You’re damn right about that. We’re a bunch of psychotic little shits.” Haru agreed with Wolnir. Kitsune aren’t friendly. But the kitsune's opinion differed when Wonlnir spoke about leaving the mountains. “I wouldn’t hold your breath on that. Circumstances can change very quickly—especially times like this.”

“Question is. What didn’t Crystal do? Murder, torture, torment, lust, pleasure. Anything you can think of, she’s done it several times. What made her scary is how she used her power. I don’t know many others who were as clever and tricky with magic and the dark arts. If you want details about her past, ask her about it. She wouldn’t mind me sharing it, but hearing it from her is better. But I will say. How she was as a person then, isn’t very different to how she’s now. She just had her understanding and values changed. But, you can one hundred per cent trust her.”

When Haru finished spreading the last sheets, he double-checked to make sure none of the ground could be seen. He dusted his hands off and stepped back, hearing the orange dragon's heavy footsteps come towards him, he said, “Between the sheets, the lamp and the fire. I think you might be a little too warm. Hopefully, the snow doesn’t build up too much tonight.”

The kitsune shook his tail to rid himself of the snowflakes.

“Yup. I can get you another bowl. Gotta keep in mind that you eat ten times the amount than what I do.”
It took two minutes for Haru to go in and out with another bowl of soup.
“Don’t be shy to ask for anything. Doesn’t mean I have everything, though, hehe.”
He put the bowl on the ground. He then went to find more wood for the fire.


“You need to be as light as possible to travel faster. That’s how it works, right? I sent them into an invisible space close by, which only I have access. The tea will stay warm, and the food will be fresh when we get to the others.”
Crystal explained to Valadir what she had done to the food. She doesn’t believe he can argue with her logic.

“I want a cookie. It is vital.”
She replied to Valadir with a calm voice. She didn’t eat the treat, however. Like the rest of the food, she made it disappear.

Referring to Crystal’s floaty magic warm ball, she shrugged at Valadir. “I’ve never considered naming some spells. It’s called big hot ball now.”

“Aye, It’s hard to forget someone like her. She’s one of the few that left an imprint on me. She’s a lovely dragon to be around.” Talking about Rega
Crystal considered the description of the others that Valadir gave. A blue dragon with blue hair didn’t ring a bell. She’s met many dragons with the same report. The other one, though, sounded very familiar. She only knew one with markings like that.
“Did this white dragon give you a name? Is it Blade?” She last saw him at the Elemental islands, a few years ago. She has had no idea how he’s been since—a dear old friend.
“Is he alive still?”

When Valadir returned from the lavatory, after some time, he struck a deep thought.
“I understand how you feel. I’ve been there long ago. My heart was torn in two by my ex-lover. It wasn’t just that, however. It was a build-up of events and inner rage. I eventually lashed out. I got so fed up with life, so angry with everything. Especially myself. I once killed a whole village of people—hundreds of them. It felt good at the time, but it didn’t change anything. After, I felt like an empty shell for many years to come. Violence is not the answer Val. You will always have enemies. The best thing is to forgive and forget. Obviously, that is much harder than it sounds. I still haven’t forgiven my parents or my ex, and it’s been nearly a thousand years. I don’t blame you if you can’t, but, if you do, that makes you one of the strongest I know.

Of course, we can bury him. It won’t take long at all if we all work together,”

Valadir got her pondering on her past experiences for a short while.

The drake looked at Valadir, slightly confused by the question.
“I’m here for your protection until the party arrives.”

“You will not be disappointed, Unbroken. These drakes have a unique set of skills. They’ll inform you of their roles and strengths on the flight.” Kolias reassured Valadir. “Their loyalty will not falter. But you must go now. Go fly and save more dragons.” Kolias stepped back to let the others have space to take off.”

Gathrea, the four-winged drake, flared his wings, ready to fly. “Lead the way Unbroken.”

Crystal and Sabato hopped on Valadir’s back and firmly planted themselves.


“The fact that you are hiding something. How can you say to reveal myself? Your life is a mystery. You don’t talk to anyone. People come to you in need of something. Maybe something needs to change. Of course that’s, my Guardian side coming through. But yes, I think I will be revealing myself tomorrow. If everyone is going to die. At least they should know what they are dying to.”
Katsumi found some humour in his last sentence.

“It’s getting late. I’m going to head off to bed. Until next time.”
He started to walk away before turning back to say, “Foxes are intelligent. But should you trust them?”
With the night stretching out before them, the sea to the side and the open rock desert to their other, Ashe continued with the company. The new information about “infesters” was the 4th thing in the last 48 hours that had caused the young human to almost lose her composure. There was seldom that would have been able to do such a thing. She snickered to herself I must be slipping.

Ashe listened intently to Rega when she relayed Blade’s answer. She still had her doubts about these infesters. A part of her prayed these things did not exist lest it might be the Continent’s end. Yet another part of Ashe wishes they were real as this presented a precise target to avenge her kingdom and family. She glanced away from Rega when a dark realisation dawned upon her. If these infesters cannot be dislodged from the host my hand may be forced to kill the king…and my father.

From the corner of Ashe’s eye, she saw Rega’s composure build around herself again after she had pointed out her observance. She said to the dragoness, “Perhaps being a dragon in this current time is a blessing in disguise. Should infesters be real they are hellbent on wiping your kind which may suggest dragons are their natural enemy… I would take that these drakes are fire-breathing creatures also?” Her last sentence was not a direct question more than it was an observation said aloud. Continuing, she attempted to uplift Rega, “Perhaps you have more to offer to this fight than you believe.”

Taking the scope of their situation once more, Ashe considered Rega’s condition, “Let us know if you need to pause for a few minutes should your body require rest. It may be some time before we discover another covering or before Valadir returns.” Ashe casually stretched her legs as they trekked. She considered Rega’s question about why she was not telepathically linked to Blade. The young half-blood dismissed it, “I was not aware of Blade’s telepathic abilities, and was outside the cave when he linked to Jura and yourself.”

Ashe continued to stretch, this time her arms and neck, “Surely it will be a delight to freshen up. Have time to bathe, sleep and eat without worrying about our lives. What shall you do when we arrive at the Southern Mountains? Will you remain there or decide to take safe residence elsewhere?”


“Ah! Now this is what I call a party!” exclaimed Dray, one of the guild members that had helped Theo carry the equipment down Talon’s Low. The three men had arrived at the Castpoint guildhall the evening long since passed. It was perhaps around two in the morning and the guildhall’s lounge and bar were still filled with laughter and merriment. The new participants were met with a cheer by all those who dwelled inside. Theon observed that more than half of the people present were drunk and raising their voices. There were 5 in the corner playing lively loud music, some songs were lyrical about the harvest.

Theon instructed them to leave the equipment in the hallway that was behind the bar. “All right, be on your way now. Thanks again for volunteering tonight,” he said to the two men. They just laughed with Dray exclaiming, “Ah no problem chief, Next time you wanna light shit on fire and watch it explode, you can ask us anytime.” The man side-hugged him turning to face the rest of the large lounge, somehow already holding a pint of beer. Raising the mug he called the attention of the rest of the room by shouting, “Let’s hear it for Theon’s sky fires.”

The people present turned their eyes onto Theon, who went stiff with all the attention on him. They raised a roar, congratulating him on another show well done. Theon awkwardly dipped his head, readying to get away from the crowd. Dray still had his arm around him, perturbing him slightly.

He shrugged his shoulders and stepped away saying to those close to him, “Well, yes. Have a good evening…or rather, morning now…doing whatever it is…done…I really must be going.” Hearing a few disappointed voices, he left rather unnoticed through the front entrance.

When the doors closed, he sighed his relief. Fixing his circular glasses, he went to walk about the guild’s building taking in the crisp clean air and magnificent display of stars out. Observing the architecture and the well-maintained garden. He walked further up the cliff of Talon’s Low thinking about his current inventions and projects. Below him, deep within the garden, he noticed a subtle white light for a few seconds. Curious he drew out a little telescope of his design, that could enhance his vision up to twenty meters. The image was slightly blurred as the lenses always needed adjustment.

He sat down and stared through his telescope where he saw the white light. Gone now, he moved his eyes around, searching until he happened upon two humanoid figures sitting before a small pond. A few branches and leaves were covering his view of the two figures. One he could notice oddly rarely seen in this continent, some sort of robe. By this, he easily identified himself as Katsumi the elf. He liked the conversations with that elf. They were always insightful, and genuine and sometimes the elf’s words provided breakthroughs with a few of his best inventions. The next figure was shrouded in a dark cloak, one that covered the whole body. Odd… is that the crazy old woman, Houdini…


Madam Houdini took in Katsumi’s criticisms of her chosen isolation. She had always been a recluse. She sighed with exasperation and said “It is ye guardian side showing, goody-two-shoes. Yet tis not wrong.” She dipped her feet further in the pond until the water reached her knees. Another subtle glow morphed her body into a youthful woman’s picture. She pulled her hood slightly off, her eyes glowing brighter. She continued, “Then thy shall stand with you and reveal my true being to the high authorities of this society.”

She remained silent for a minute then slapped him on the shoulder for his last sentence, “Your humour is ill-found, should you die or anyone else, what fun shall be left for me to be had? None. Is not the purpose of our given revelation to thwart evil’s hand by preparing this island for what is to come? Speak no bad words lest they become omen.”

She huffed after berating then pausing, leaning back on her hands, and looked far off to her right where the cliffside of Talon’s Low rose. A smile spread across her face, “Well, well, if ye little inventor came out to play, so may I decide my next prey.”

When Katsumi got up, Houdini’s eyes dimmed in their brightness. “Yes indeed, Ye shall prepare tomorrow’s meet and I prepare some tea.” She laughed at Katsumi’s quip on being a fox however it sounded similar to a cackle. “Touche’.”

As Katsumi left, Madam Houdini mumbled a few words as she pulled out a singular blue vile. She smashed it upon the ground and hazy blue smoke surrounded her figure. Once it cleared, no being remained seated by the pond. All was still and empty.


“What in the…” mumbled Theo watching what was clearly an exchange between Katsumi and Madam Houdini. His head left his telescope when Houdini’s head turned to look in his direction. An eerie sensation jostled his body but he continued to observe the two below. When he looked through the telescope again, the elf was gone. And suddenly Madam Houdini was gone in a puff of smoke.

He stopped peering instead; he condensed the telescope by pushing both ends. Putting it away in his satchel he always carried he leaned back. He nearly jumped out of his skin exclaiming, “Shit!” when an all-knowing woman’s voice said surreptitiously, “Well, did ye have fun being a sticky nose?” He turned; he mouthed a swear word upon seeing Madam Houdini step out from the shadow, or at least he thought it was her. Her voice was younger and the figure before him was a beautiful, silver-haired woman, tall in posture and cloaked from head to toe in one garment.

“What is the inventor gawking at? Must ye be shocked to find not all as it seems?” Madam Houdini approached him, to which Theo cautiously took a step back. “Come now, Theon Reuel Gennady, move a step away, I must take another forward and I am already too tired. So stop ye from moving.”

He thought to himself, I cannot fathom…. He breathed, “Houdini…?”

“That be Madam Houdini to you.”

She moved closer to him and he bade her warning and did not step away. She said to him, “You ever hear how curiosity killed the cat, little inventor?” Theon swallowed hard, sweat beginning to drip from his forehead. Rumours of the woman, swirled in his head most he knew to be false about what Madam Houdini did to trespassers. Yet standing in the moment before him caused him to fear the rumours had true foundations. Seeing his fear she asked, “Are you a cat?”

Theon frowned, not sure how to answer, “Well…no, not literally...”

“Then why are you shaking, I said cats get killed by curiosity. Clearly, ye do not have four legs and a tail. Stop sweating like such.” She went to leave, which relieved Theon greatly, but he stiffened once more when she turned around once more. She reached her hand out and bopped him on the nose. “See you tomorrow little inventor.” Then in another puff of smoke and a blink of an eye, she vanished.
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"Picture the following..." Blade started to explain to Jura how the drakes look overall. "A dragon with a human form or, if you may, a human with dragon characteristics. Both terms are equal to describe a drake's outside appearance. They stand upright. They walk on two legs, like the races exterminating us. Yet, they possess wings, scales and tail like our kin. Green is the predominant pigment across their race. There are, as well, different types of drakes. To exemplify, some drakes have the ability to breathe ice, while others posess a total of four wings and are thus able to surpass us in speed.

In regards to their affinity towards our kin... millenia before our time, during times of peril to our race very similar to our current predicament, the drakes had come to our aid. Their quest completed, they soon found themselves with no purpose. With no task to complete, they sought a place of their own. Somewhere to call home, far away from the rest of cultures. Said place are the southern mountains. Our current destination.

Yet these mountains, during that point in time, were inhabited by all sorts of wild, dangerous creatures. Due to the great peril that dwelled within the mountains, the drakes called our kin for aid. Together, both races fought side by side until the threats were eliminated. As a means to repay our kin's generousness for this act, the drakes bowed to welcome any members of our kin from then on to their new home from that moment on. Their home is also ours. It has always been from that point on.

Thus, i'm sure you can safely conclude that i have not had anything to do with this matter"


"H-how so?" Wolnir asked Haru, having a lot of doubt about his affirmation about things changing quickly.

"N-now I don't know i-if I really want to know..." The dragon said after Haru mentioned several of the horrors Crystal has done thought the years and that he'd have to ask for further information. He doesn't know if he has the stomach to hear about more crimes against civilization in general.

"C-can't really have enough a-at this time of year..." He told Haru when he joked about him being too warm with the amount of sheets and heat sources he was provided. "I-i hope it d-doesn't get windy either. T-tents and wind don't mix..."

"T-thanks..." Haru then left to get him the soup he had asked. As he left, the dragon entered the tent and put himself comfortable. See how the tent felt. Overall not bad. Warm and big enough to sleep inside. The only issue is that he's still somewhat vulnerable to the elements due to it being a tent and not something more solid like the rocky surroundings of a cave or the walls of a house. He reminded himself that it's meant to be a temporal thing, and for that purpose the tent is nice. He laid on his stomach, facing the tent's opening. He was covering himself with some sheets when the kitsune came back with his soup bowl.

"T-true..." He replied when Haru told him he could ask for anything but at the same time reminding him he couldn't do miracles. The dragon thanked him again and picked up the soup bowl, consuming it within the warmth of the tent. He did so carefully in order to not spill any on the sheets.

After finishing it, he put the bowl back outside.
"G-goodnight..." He told the kitsune. He then got his necklace out of his neck. "C-could you s-save this for me? I-i don't have a place to put it on i-in the tent..."

He went to sleep after, wondering if Val would return by the time he woke up. Hopefully he would.


Valadir was very close to verbally lashing out against Crystal with insults and everything. He would have if not because she said the tea would remain hit and the food fresh with whatever that spell is.

"Not when the additional weight is that low. Just how much do you think that weights?" He replied to her question. "Mom had me move a ton more food than that at once for her festival preparations. And as I mentioned, I'm used to flying under load. I know how to maintain my speed under those circumstances"

"Just stop acting like a brat..." He coldly asked when she insisted on having her cookie.

The dragon smiled a bit when Crystal ended up taking his suggestion for the magic ball's name. It was a bit funny. "I could name a few more..." He said confidently.

He smiled harder when she mentioned how nice his mom is in general. "I feel lucky to have such an awesome mom... She's the best... Anything in particular that struck you?"

"Oh, and i think i realized something. You said she has only seen you in a disguise of sorts. She doesn't know your actual form. How are you going to convince her that person you pretended to be and you are the same?"

"Uhmm, yes on all questions..." He answered when he was asked further about Blade. "I can tell he's important to you due to your tone. How did you two meet? What does he do? Or rather, what did he used to do?"

Valadir remained silent for a bit after Crystal shared her side about his inner conflicts. Letting her words sink in. Her former predicament sounds awfully similar to his. Yet he feels conflicted.
"But... i'll have to go and kill people again later when the war gets going. What if i like it? What if it changes me? If i delve too deep into the revenge i want? If i get too carried away with the anger i feel? I'm afraid about it... And suppose we win the war and everything returns back to normal. I don't know if i'd be willing to be back with the races that killed my dad, my friends and that almost get me and mom... There's a human girl accompanying mom and the others and i don't trust her one bit. She better not try anything against mom or i'll kill her and that blue girl that was with her..."

"I hope so... thanks..." He then said after she agreed to bury his dad. "Another dumb thing i want to ask... i don't suppose there's a spell or something to make him look and smell less rotten? He's really fucked up and i don't know if i can stomach seeing him in that state again..." He took some deep breaths to calm down. He suddenly felt like crying again but now was not the time.

"So no name for you or anything? Why are you so lame?" He rudely told the drake that accompanied them after he missed the point of his question.

Valadir thought Kolias' last phrase sounded really weird. "Did you tell him to say that about having me save my race? Because it sounds like it. It's odd as fuck..."

"Try to keep up. I normally fly faster than the rest of my race. I'm not slowing down"
After Sabato and Crys climbed up, the dragon took off. Frankly he isn't really interested to get to know the drakes. Knowing what they are good at regarding their current mission is more than enough.

Even then, it feels good to be moving again. The plan continues. Hopefully they aren't late.


"Nice assumption..." Rega told Ashley when she correctly assumed drakes breathe fire like dragons do. "Although there's a drake breed that breathes ice instead of fire. Those are even less talkative than the rest..."

"Iiii don't think so..." She said when Ashley tried to convince her she's still useful to the group. "I'm not really good at fighting and i'm unsure about how much fire i have left. That's food dependant if you didn't know"

"I've been still for long enough in that cave, thank you. Now i feel like we'll die if we stop..." She said about Ashley offering time to rest. The dragoness looked at her wounds for a bit and to the sand behing. For now her wounds were holding on. They aren't getting worse and she isn't bleeding all over the sand. She only plans to stop if she tires out, if the pain increases too much or if her wounds reopen or worsen.

"Want me to ask?" She offered when Ashley admitted she didn't know about Blade's skills.

"Yeah..." She admitted when her human companion mentioned how nice it would be to stop surviving and have some normalcy such as a proper meal, bed and a bath. Her stomach rumbled at the thought of a decent meal. "It's been too long...
As for what i'll do... I'll probably stay in those mountains. It's the only safe place there is. And besides, i've already been there a couple times. Although their food is way below what i consider acceptable. I'm thinking about yelling at the cooks like i did the first time i arrived there and have them cook us a feast..."

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