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Fantasy Broken Balance

--Two days earlier—

Katsumi waited on an old wooden bench in front of his small lodge. He stroked his long white hair while he waited for his company. He’s going to enjoy the conversation that’s to come. His curiosity on how the dragons will take the information will be intriguing.

It was late afternoon, and the beautiful orange sunset kissed the ground. Indeed, it is a warming sight. Snow lightly drifted down to the earth, remaining every one of the season.

Alas, the distant thrumming of the air stopped his wandering mind—a sound pattern of two dragons approaching him. The elf sat in his seat and waited for the dragons to land.

“Ahh, Starfall, Celestina. Good to see both of you. How do you fair?”
His orange foxlike eyes carefully studied both the dragons. As if to discover their secrets.

“Maybe a bit of warmth should do it.” The elf held out a hand. A red ball of energy formed, radiating heat to keep the chill away.

”They can fly and breathe ice? I guess fire is also an ability for them as well. Dragon look-alikes on two legs? I’ve been told of the Mythic world before by a powerful magician like yourself. I remember him saying that this world hides itself in many ways and consists of unique creatures. Are the drakes one of them? I might have seen one at Diabmoure.” Using Blade’s description, Jura tried to picture a drake—an upright walking dragon. Jura smirked as a picture formed in her head. She imagined herself standing on her hind legs and walking, which she had done before. But no, that can’t be what they look like—more human. The legs will have to be a different shape and the torso. She then pictured Ashe with scales, wings and tails. Changing the head shape is challenging to visualise.

Jura shortly gave up trying to picture a drake. It's best to see them in the flesh. Her thoughts moved onto Blade’s explanation of why the drakes are loyal to dragons. She’s learnt a lot about them now. Her curiosity grows. It sounds like the mountains are just as a home for dragons as for drakes. Seeing as they helped them subdue the land. She’s expecting to be treated very well, almost like royalty by the sounds of it.

”What are they like as a people? What is their culture like? How do they compare to Eraylian culture?”


“War changes things quickly. History can be formed within a matter of days. Hours even. It’s all a giant build-up to on peak. It may seem slow now, but the drakes are working very hard. So are us Guardians. It may seem like we aren’t doing much, but that’s our secret. Our footprints are very hard to find.” Haru continued about the times changing.

“You never know. Curiosity might get the better of you. She has the most extraordinary testimony. I, for one, believe in learning about the past to better the future. Lots can be learnt from Crytsal’s story.” Haru went on with Crystal’s life. He seemed to be enjoying the topic.

“Aye, it does get freezing during this time. Personally, I’m not a fan of it, but it does have its merits. It makes hot food all the more enjoyable. And it’s also when all nine tails have a use.” Haru believed that Wolnir would be warm enough with the multiple heat sources. He has given him no reason not to ask if he isn't.

After Haru returned from finding some extra fuel for the fire, he placed it next to the lit pit. He saw that Wolnir was finished with his second bowl. He picked up the bowl. He was about to leave before Wolnir asked a favour.
“Of course, I can keep that safe for you.”
He took the necklace and wrapped the chain around his arm multiple times to stop it from dragging to the ground.
“That’s a beautiful piece. Drake's craftmanship, by the looks of it. They have a unique style.”

Haru returned inside, carefully put the dragon’s necklace on the centre table, and washed the remaining dishes. Afterwards, he went back outside to put extra logs into the fire. After his labour, he looked at the already sleeping dragon. Watching the bright dragon in his peaceful state put a smile on the corner of the kitsune’s lips. He cast two spells over the tent. The first is to reduce the noise inside, and the second is a ward. Whoever walks near will know not to disturb Wolnir. The spells will wear off once he wakes.
“Good night, Wolnir.”


“Well, let me think. It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen her.” Crystal stroked her chin as she recalled memories of Rega.
“In a sense, she is like me. She has a motherly instinct around her. She was always taking care of her loved ones and others around her. Always make sure everyone leaves with a full belly. Sometimes to the point where they cannot walk. She cooks the best food. One of her most prominent characteristics is her protectiveness. When you first hatched, when I was working as a maid, I had difficulty convincing her to let me close. Don’t blame her. You are her only offspring and a very cute little draggy. Well, not so little for me.

As for the disguise, she’ll know who I am. I’ll drop my name and where she remembers me. If that doesn’t work, my eyes will give it away. She is one of the few whom I’ve told that I am in disguise but refused to show my authentic self for her sake. I can also share my memories with her. Between all those points, I think I have an excellent chance of convincing her. That or she’ll just set my tails on fire.”

Crystal almost missed Valadir’s questions concerning Blade while pondering about the white dragon.
“Oh, he was one of my first friends when I joined the Guardians. While he’s not a part of my group, he does work closely with us. During my time at the Elemental Islands- a trio of large islands beyond the Zashac desert. I was going through my many years of rehabilitation. He was one of the few who dared talk to me. I made a big name at that time due to my poor history. He was very young at the as well. We kind of just kicked it off well. We meshed well, and ever since, we’ve been good friends. In the later years, we don’t see each other as often as I would like, but we catch up now and then. The past few years, however, I didn’t know if he was still alive, and I couldn’t search for him because of my responsibilities to the Guardians. He’s a lecturer and teacher of mana energy. Well, probably not anymore. Very nice dragon.”

”You’re in an obscured position Val. I’d never wish anyone to be where you are. Don’t be surprised at your inner fight. I can confidently tell you that there will be a tipping point. You will be at your absolute limit where you will break and you will have to make a choice. This is where your true colours will be brought to light. What it is, or what it will look like, I’m not sure but, everyone goes through it. It will dictate how you play out the rest of your life. I will support you in every way I can but, only if you accept it. I’m not perfect, I still make mistakes. Hopefully you learn from mine. Just please, Val, please. Do not let your rage get the better of you. Nothing good will ever come from it.” Crystal’s last sentences turned into a plea. She still has a duty to the Guardians, and if Val turns for the worse, she must also make a choice.

”I can probably create something for that.” Crystal responded to Valadir’s request about his father's cover-up. She sensed Valadir's saddening emotions rise. She put a reassuring hand on him.
”Not all is lost Val.”

Crystal admitted to Val about spilling some of the information to Kolias. ”I told him roughly what we are doing so he can better select a party. Needing to fly fast isn’t a good description of what we need for protection.”

In quick succession, the drakes took off the Mountain one by one and resumed a tight V formation behind Valadir to conserve their energy as much as possible. The clouds blocked the moonlight, leaving next to no light. The snow drifted past the flyers as they sliced through the air.
After finished stretching her muscles whilst walking, Ashe thought about Rega’s new information. Ice breath? I wonder how that would look? She let out a slight laugh when Rega said they were less talkative.

Ashe raised an eyebrow at Rega when the dragoness doubted herself. Ashe said, “My speculation of your role in this war was not to simply persuade you with false hope. Whether it is a small role to fulfill, even the smallest of actions could have great effects.”

“Ah, very well. Do not hesitate to ask if you need rest,” Ashe replied upon Jura’s refusal. The three dragon companions’ injuries laid in the back of the halfling’s mind. She glanced at Rega, her wounds have appeared to stop bleeding. I wonder if Blade and Jura opened a few cuts due to flying.

Ashe stiffened for a few seconds when Rega offered to ask Blade about his telepathic abilities. She casually dismissed the idea, “Do not worry about it.” Her lack of knowledge about telepaths was always a source of curiosity yet it would only open the door to a conversation she desired to remain shut for the time being.

The young human halfling enjoyed hearing Rega’s answers about what she might do upon reaching the southern mountains. She hummed her agreement at the thought of eating a hearty meal. “If their kitchens are not great, I am sure you will definitely give a gmood berating.” Ashe leaned a bit closer to Rega, half-whispering, “Just let me know which food to avoid when we get there.” Ashe stood straight once more continuing to watch the horizon. “It will be a pain to get used to new food again.” It was difficult switching from fine feasts to little more than moldy bread, grass and burnt rabbit.


Theon, perturbed by Madam Houdini’s sudden appearance, slowly made his way back to the guild hall. I hope the people partying have gone home. He fidgeted with his jacket and rearranged the circular glasses he wore. He sighed when he heard there were still drunk voices shouting from inside.

He opened the doors and saw Sir Ian arm wrestling with two other guild members at the same time. There was a group around them no doubt betting and cheering them in the right corner. He went up the stairs, bumping into Myra who was coming down. She gave him a warm smile and asked, “Are you staying at the guild hall tonight?”

He gave her a nod, replying curtly, “Uh, yes. It is 3 am.” He glanced over his shoulder back at the loud people and continued, “And try to get a few hours of sleep at least.” Myra’s smiled, patting his shoulder, “Do not worry about the noise. It is time for them to be quiet or leave.” As he went up to the top level he heard Myra’s voice sternly shouting, “Alright ladies and gentlemen, move your partying to the City Main or calm down.”

A guildmember in the back complained, “Oh come on Myra, the night is still young.”

“No. You know the rules,” Myra continued, “This is a guildhall, and there are people who are getting up early tomorrow. A few of you here signed off on contracts and I expect you to fulfill those roles, or I am giving them to someone else.” No one moved, and there were many voices heard muttering.

Myra standing tall, her figure a picture of grace, waved her hand to the side, a purple energy appearing. “Well, well. It appears you are all in need of motivation. In her hand was a hammer weapon, as tall as she was. She tilted her head and smiled. This caused everyone to hustle upstairs or run outside. Anyone who passed her way said a polite goodnight. Sir Ian was the last to wobbly walk up the stairs to the top floor.
"Your assessment is correct. The drakes are, indeed, a fragment of the Mythical World." Blade told Jura, confirming what she was told about that other part of the world not many know. It's safe to assume she barely knows anything about it. "You are to know the following. Once we arrive to our destination, the barriers keeping you from perceiving the Mythical World with crumble. In a way, your mind will open to it. You will start noticing it in your surroundings. It's subtle and efficient ways of hiding will be less effective against you. You might suddenly feel surrounded. Watched. Do not be alarmed. It's all a natural part of the process of discovery to this new world. With time, these negative perceptions will vanish. You are welcome to seek me out whenever you need to discuss your findings of the new world that awaits you.

As for their culture, it is very different to the one you and me are accustomed. It is harsher. Unforgiving. They are, often, devoid of the option to choose their future actions. Harshly punished for even the smallest of mistakes. A drake is expected to do everything in their power to accomplish a task to a certain standards or to mend a mistake. Even if that is only achievable with lying down their lives. They are an authoritary society. Yet, their commitment to accomplish goals is impressive. The quality of their weapons and armor is unmatched."


"I-i hope so..." Wolnir said when Haru insisted on his thoughts about things on saying things would change quickly.

He nodded when he mentioned how the cold winter made warm things more enjoyable. "True... I-I'm more of an autumn and spring guy"

The dragon felt haggle when the kitsune complimented his necklace. He doesn't know how Val managed to get it but he's glad he did. He likes it a lot. And it's almost the only possession he has. He shyly asked to be careful with it.

Valadir kept his smile when Crystal spoke about her experiences with his mom and how she was, reminiscing his hatchlinghood. He's grateful to have her. He's seriously considering that, if the situation comes to it, he'll be happy to lay down his life if that means she'll make it to the mountains. Now that he knows she's alive, he doesn't want to live in a world without her. Seeing his father's corpse was already enough.

"I remember when she sometimes brought home the leftovers from the restaurant or from a fest she had to work in... i consider that i ate way better than the rest of my race. Even then... I'll always prefer her food. I can't wait for all of this to be over so I can get stuffed with her food and recover my weight and figure..."

He clenched his eyes when she mentioned the maid disguise. He tried to remember but couldn't recall a maid at his home. "I don't remember ever having a maid at home... Guess I really was that small then"

He blushed when she mentioned his cuteness. "Oh, stop it..."

"Wasn't that dangerous? Telling her you had a disguise going? I wonder how insistent she was about you dropping it" He's also curious to see the reveal. See if he remembers or recognizes the maid or whoever she used to be.

"That'll be fun to see too!" He said regarding the part about her tails being set on fire.

Valadir listened with attention the story about how Blade and Crystal met. So it was when Crystal was trying to be less of a terrible person. Safe to assume it was ages ago. Them knowing eachother is making the world feel smaller.

"That explains why he talks the way he does. He does seems to be a smart guy... I mean, given he's a teacher and everything" The dragon said regarding how Blade and her met. He found their shared story to be cute. "Sounds like he really helped you with your change phase. Think I'm starting to see the similarities between you two and us..."

"That's what I'm afraid of..." He said after Crystal gave her opinion about what's to come. He doesn't like to talk about the matter but it is something that worries him. "I'm afraid of changing for the worst and of seeing that breaking point. I'll appreciate your help"

He saw how she touched him. "Hope not... thanks..."

In the air again. Each minute there is a minute closer to their objective. Best to not think about that possible scenario where they arrive too late.

"This is the second winter I'm missing out on..." He said to lighten the mood but mainly to distract himself from the thoughts about failure. "If this shit wasn't happening, i'd be with friends, in the town or in the city enjoying the snow...
Also, who am i linked with?"


"They actually gave me a nickname of sorts after i nagged them the first time" Rega told Ashley when she continued on the food matter. "I think i'll have to do so again and traumatize them again..." She said in a bit of a joking tone but she means it. From the first time she went to the mountains to the last, the quality of the food hadn't changed much and she doesn't expect it to have changed much since the last time. It has been one hundred years since she last visited. If she remembers correctly, the drakes had isolated themselves from the rest of the world which can only mean the quality must have decreased. Less ingredients and less knowledge at hand about cooking in general.

"Well..." She then said after her companion asked about any food worth keeping away from. "The only one i remember right now is a black fruit that makes you puke. I'll probably remember more when we get there..."


Starfall went ahead and knocked on the door. He's a corpulent, dark grey dragon with a lighter toned underside, whiteish paws and a lion like light brown mane around his neck. His eyes are amber. Runes are etched on the sides of his body. Part of a spell to aid him in his fights.
"Sis?" He asked while knocking. "Mister Katsumi has summoned us"

The sound of steps behind the door, while soft, grew louder until the door opened.
"What does he want?" The dragoness asked with slight annoyance. It's getting late. She'd rather stay in relaxing. She's smaller in size than his twin brother. Her wings are feathery, unlike his brother's leather wings and her colors are the same as her brother but darker in tone. Perfect for stealth. "Does he want to check again if our spells are working properly?"

"I'm unsure. He hasn't specified the reason"

Celestina the sister sighed. "Fine... better be worth it" She stepped out and closed the door behind her. "Have you found anything regarding our parents' deaths?"

"No..." Starfall admitted. "Any intel about their last moments is, most likely, in the capital"

Celestina's expression was of frustration. "You think we'll ever find out?"

"When the outside world calms down, probably..." Neither him nor his sister have seen their bodies but they were told the news. No funeral. The cause of their death is unknown to them, which has made them suspect about it. How was it? It's hard to not wonder about it. His sister has been the one that has been affected the most. A moment of silence between them.

"You think they'd be proud of us?" Celestina asked with some sadness. "Even now?"

Starfall touched her chin and raised her head to meet his gaze, staring her dead in the eyes. "We followed their footsteps and their example. They always wanted us to be in the army. Just like them. Don't you remember how happy mom was when you surpassed her and made it to lieutenant? How happy dad was when I made it to captain and beyond? Sure, we aren't there anymore, yet we are still following their steps in a different way. We are helping people"

That wasn't the first time she asked that, nor it would be the last. It has been rough for her. She doesn't know if this is the right way to follow. That's why he takes the time to answer each time she asks like it's the first time she does. It makes him bond with her a bit more and even if they are twins, he sometimes feels like he's the older sibling, and lovingly so. He dropped the paw from her chin after he finished talking.

"You always know what to say about it..." She said a bit more relieved. Then took a deep breath. "Let's go..."

The twins then flew through the orange twilight sky. Lovely.

They landed a comfortable distance away from the elf that summoned them in order to not hit him with some cold wind.

"As good as possible in uncertain times like these" Starfall answered. "There a spell you don't know?"
-- Two days earlier --

“Good to hear you are doing your best. That’s all we can ask for.” Katsumi responded to Starfell. His voice is soft and relaxed. Easy to listen.

However, he found his question amusing. “The continuation of mana is always evolving. One can always improve daily, no matter how small the advancement is. So yes, I’m always learning new things. For example, both of you are about to learn a great deal, and it’s not particularly a light topic either.”

The short elf rose from his seat and walked towards the dragons. He looked around, ensuring no one was nearby before casting a spell. A sizeable green bubble formed around the trio. It quickly dissipated, leaving a barely noticeable clear haze around them. The world around them became uncomfortably quiet.

He explained to the dragons, “No one can hear us if we are in the dome. Please have a seat.”

Katsumi stomped on the ground. Vines suddenly appeared beneath him, and with some churning and twisting, they formed a chair which he sat on. Next, he held out his hand as if to hold a cup. A second later. A wooden cup materialised with his palms, filled with hot tea.

“Would both of you care for some tea?”

After taking a sip, he placed the cup between his legs, using it as a source of warmth.

“Now, the reason I summoned both of you. There is no easy way to tell this. It will take much faith to believe, but what I’m about to say and show you is utterly true. Please keep your answers till the end.”

Remember when Jura was here, and we all talked briefly about the Mythic world? Without knowing it, you have experienced a tiny amount here. Some many unseen creatures and forces linger unnoticed. Once you see some of it, it will start to flood in. It will be like a torn veil, and your eyes will be opened. This phenomenon cannot be explained. It’s just how it is. You will be confused at first. You will feel like something is always watching you, hiding in the shadows, but you will never find the eyes. Once I reveal this world to you, these creatures and forces will expose themselves, and you will be granted a proper understanding of what is happening around you. I’m telling you this because it dramatically affects your race. I can give you many answers. The reason why your race has been heavily persecuted. The reason why Eraylia has turned its back on you. And a path for you to choose. Whether you accept it is up to you. Know this: I’ve been keeping an eye on both of you. Courageous and fearless young dragons you are. You are seeking purpose to protect and uphold what is right. You have done well, but it's time to test yourselves.

Without further delay…”

The elf took another sip. His eyes glowed, His long brown hair lightened into orange. His pointed ears disappeared, and new large foxlike ears folded atop his head, covered in short orange fur, while the inside has white fur with long hairs sticking out.. Three red marks appeared on each cheek and two on his forehead. Noticeably, two small fangs grew from the upper row of teeth. Lastly and the most prominent feature, nine large tails grew from his backside. They flowed down to the ground and waved around as they pleased. They are coloured in a deep orange while the tips of them are white.

Katsumi gave the dragons a few seconds to comprehend what had just happened.

“I am not an elf. I’m what you call a kitsune. Resembling close to a fox if you can’t pick it. Additionally, if you have seen an abnormally large fox scurrying around in the past, that was also me.”

Katsumi paused, showing a hint of regret.

“I am one of these creatures that hide in the Mythic World. Now that you have seen my true form, I have fully exposed you to the new world. Nothing will change at this moment, but with a little time, things will change. Give it a day or two.”

The kitsune took another sip.

“Now that you know who I am, I must tell you why I am here. I am a part of a group called the Guardians. We work within the Mythic world, hence why you have never heard of it. Our goal is to protect the greater land, to keep it from threats that cause an imbalance. We also help those who cannot defend themselves wherever we can. We do our best but are not perfect at it, hence the constant suffering. But more recently, we have let a great enemy slip through our fingers, and they are the reason for your race’s suffering. We call this enemy the Infesters.

This is very recent knowledge, but it started five years ago. A ship full of adventures travelled to an island to gather supplies, little to their knowledge, these Infesters had been spawning there, and they took over the crew. These evil creatures dig themselves into the mind and control their host. They are almost impossible to detect. Over the past five years, they have multiplied and infected many people, mainly those with great authority. With the leaders of the land under their control and with the use of propaganda and time, they have convinced everyone to have a distaste for dragons, marking them all beasts with great bounties on their heads. As you know, the purge of your race has happened in the past year and a half, and now only a handful of dragons remain. We know little of these infesters, but we suspect they don’t like fire or intense heat. Hence, they cannot control dragons, so they are trying to eliminate all of them instead.

This brings me to my next point. As I speak, there is a great war emerging. The armies of Eraylia and Caledonia are being sent South to the Great Drakken Mountain range. I’m sure you’ve heard the rumours and stories of the cursed mountains. Whoever goes in, never comes back out and if they do they are missing limbs and their sanity. There is a population of creatures there who are also a part of the Mythic world. They are known as drakes. Drakes have a long history with dragons and will serve them to their dying breath. They will serve you at any request and for your comfort. The infesters have led the armies to the drakes and will engage them in combat because, like yourselves, the drakes are immune to the Infesters.

If you choose to accept, my task to both of you is to travel to the Southern mountains and join the fight. Your skills and abilities will be greatly needed. It will also be in your interest to go. It’s time to stop hiding here. Castrock has escaped the Infester's notice, but everyone will die if the drakes fail to stop them. I’ve kept them at bay as long as possible, but eventually, they will find this island.

I know this is an overwhelming amount of information. Please ask your questions.” Katsumi leaned back in his chair, expecting a dozen questions.


Jura went quiet. She didn’t want to believe that a world had been hidden from her whole life. Yet everything points in that direction. Everything she has seen in Diabmoure, what multiple people have told her. She’s forced to believe it. Everything she knows, her world is crumbling. Everything is backwards. Nothing is in her control, and hates it. She’s been missing out on so much. She’s not so sure if she wants to see this new world. It is like she will be a helpless hatchling who needs protection from her parents again.

As for the drakes, maybe that is something she can find a little comfort. Based on Blade’s description, she can find some of her personality in them—hard workers. Very little can stop them from achieving a goal. Like herself when she dreamed of being a knight. She did not stop until she got it and after that, still proved her worth. She had her weak moments but always managed to bounce back. Perhaps with the drakes, she will be in her element.

Assuming they arrive to their destination. With Ashe and Rega on foot, chances are slim. Alas, they push themselves.

Finally, she spoke, ”I don’t feel ready to participate. I don’t really want to. I think this is far beyond my ability. I might have made a mistake in agreeing with Ashe… I don’t think I can protect her. Blade, for the time being, can I stay close to you?” Jura ensured she didn’t come across as attached or needy.

The feeling of being chased came over her again. There is no way she can prove it. Jura doesn’t even trust the feeling. It might just be her anxiety and is needlessly pushing the group, but the off chance that they are being hunted. It’s a wise choice. A wrong decision is better than none.

The light snowfall annoyed her. She’s never been an admirer of it. It disrupts her vision and makes her worse. She’s always preferred hot days.


“I doubt you will remember me. I was there for a few months. After that, like everyone else, I watch over a long distance. Throughout your life, you would have met several Guardians without knowing. We help each other to keep an eye out for those we consider important to watch.” Crystal replied to Valadir about his childhood.

“Nay. It doesn’t matter whether she knew I was disguised or not. She had no clue who I really was. It made her a little weary, but she trusted me. She knew I could work with mana as well. That helped my case as my skills proved useful. She did try to foil my disguise a couple of times. After that, she accepted that she couldn’t figure it out. I’m sure it will be a bit of a shock to her when we are reunited.”

Crystal thought about Rega’s reaction. A few ideas went around in her head. Some of them included getting swatted by her tail, fainting, or maybe a big hug, which would be nice.

“No, that will not be funny. I put too much work in my tails for them to be treated as kindle.” Crystal became a little sensitive to her tails. She grabbed two of them to reassure herself that they would not be set on fire.

“Oh, by the way, Val. The way to spot a disguised kitsune is the eyes. We can’t actually change our eye's shape or colour. Thought that might be useful for the future. Haven’t told you before, thinking that you didn’t need to know, but it might get you out of trouble.”

“Yes, Blade was- is a good friend to have. He’s very wise. Even at a young age, it’s like he’s lived a thousand years before. I’ve learnt a lot from him. So yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if you see our friendship similar to ours.” Crystal continued about Blade. The more she spoke about him, the more her excitement grew about anticipating meeting him again.

”The past is in your head, the future is in your hands. I can give you the tools to help you, but how you use them is up to you. I would love to make decisions for you, but what’s the point of having free will? It’s a scary thing to be taken to your absolute lowest point. It’s impossible to prepare for it. I’m sure you will fight through it, and then you will be stronger than ever.”

Crystal cast a spell over Valadir, Sabato and herself. It will make them feel a little warmer, enough to keep the jittering cold off them. It is more for the kitsune, seeing as the dragon has greater resilience to the extreme weather.

The female kitsune smiled when Valadir mentioned about playing in the snow.

”After all these years, you’d think I would be finished with the snow. I still find myself getting into snowball ball fights. Sabato loves it when I throw it at his face. Don’t you Toto.”

”I do not think you have ever kept my discrepancy seriously. Why do you always insist on dragging me into your ‘events’.”
Sabato’s voice stayed neutral. Almost annoyed.

”Because, you don’t know the definition of fun, so I force it on you. Oh, Sorry Val, I’ll find out which of the drakes will be talking with us.”

After a minute, Crystal spoke to Valadir again. ”So you will communicate with Sabato, Gathrea and myself, a few more than what you are used to, so we will do our best to coordinate to speak one at a time. Gathrea...”

A strong, deep voice said to Valadir, Crystal and Sabato a second after Crystal spoke, ”It is an honour to fly with you Unbroken.”

Gethrea, the four-winged drake flew next to Valadir.

“I will be in contact with you for the remainder of the mission. The only time another will speak to you this way is if we are in desperate need or I’m dead. I will have you understand a few things. This mission is off the books. Whatever happens, doesn’t reach the ears of anyone else. With the exception of Virve, Thieve and myself, no one else has travelled beyond The Ruined Stronghold. And that was one hundred years ago. I will coordinate the party, and you focus on navigation. We will do our best to match your pace. Also, keeping you alive is our priority. If we are to engage with an enemy force, keep yourself alive above all else. We are a very unorthodox bunch and are conditioned fighters; be aware of our brutality and straightforwardness. Oh, and don’t stare at Virve in the eyes. She’s much more… Predatory than the rest of us. She’s the ice drake. Questions?”
Shortly after, in the sky above the airborne group. A red dragon appeared in the distance, it seemed to be heading directly towards them but never got any closer. The dragon locked eyes with Valadir for a second before disappearing.


Ganjiro and his companion, Akuma landed by the water. They stooped off their mounts, and their feet silently landed on the wet sand. For a moment, everything was silent. The soft crashing waves in the night created an eerie mood. The two black-tailed kitsune stood with their arms crossed, staring at the waves. Akuma’s wyvern sniffed the sand. It’s tongue flicked out, grabbing hints of their victims.

Akuma spoke. “They are a few kilometres out. We will have them within minutes.” Akuma’s voice is dark and cold.

Ganjiro paced around his nycon wolf, contemplating.

“What’s wrong now? We are about to have your prize.” Akuma questioned Ganjiro.

The other two wyverns landed close by, and the other two black kitsune walked into the conversation.

“Why have we stopped? We’re so close.” Keras, the female kit, expressed her distaste and annoyance clearly in her voice.”

Ganjiro stopped and asked Keras, “I need you to scry someone for me. His name is Valadir.”

Keras rolled her eyes. She walked to the water and raised her hand. A moving image materialised over the surface of the water. It showed the black dragon Valadir and his surroundings—two kitsune on his back and escorted by drakes.
Genjiro smiled.
“So he is on his way here.”

“Then we need to seize our targets before he arrives.”

“No… I want him to come.” Ganjiro quickly silenced Keras.

“But your obligation to the Akarma.”

“I couldn’t care less about them. I want Valadir. I need to get close to him—new plan. We obviously cannot sneak up on our targets. Blade will sense us. We will stay just in his range so he knows we’re coming. When the others arrive, we will get them all.”
Ashe laughed politely, finding humour in Rega’s nickname and decision to enact trauma. She knew all too well of a chef’s love, pride, and discipline over their kitchen and food. Her mind flashed to a memory of when she was a child, no more than 7 years old. She attempted to sneak into the kitchen and steal a few desserts back in her past home, Solas Castle. She was caught by the head chef, and he used a wooden ladle to wack her hands away. Ashe thought aloud, “I must see you when you traumatise the drake cooks. I imagine it will be a sight to behold.”

Ashe took note to avoid the black fruit, “Thank you. I just hope my stomach will be okay adjusting to the different cuisine.” Ashe looked on ahead observing little snowflakes drift in the wind. She dove her hand into the inner pocket of her fine tunic pulling out her small gem storage. She used it to materialise a fur coat, that was easy to manoeuvre in. She made sure to leave her arrows and bow accessible when wearing the cloak. The young halfling commented, “It certainly is getting colder. Hopefully, it is warmer in the mountain ranges?”

She rotated her head to the sky wanting to spot Jura and Blade. Deciding the action fruitless, Ashe turned her efforts to scanning the environment once more. Her mind flashed back to Diabmoure, in the Akarma’s chambers. She felt unnerved by that dark figure in the corner. His eyes were cunning and his thoughts well-hidden even to an adept observer like me.
"I thought nothing escaped your nerdy brain" Starfall said jokingly, light heartedly. Without the aim to offend. Then magic in general seems to be like most scientific and social advancements. Always moving foward.

The dragons did sit down when the elf told them so, with Celestina doing so warily due to the spell cast on their surroundings. While she knows Castrock as a whole is a relatively safe place, she'll never get used to not being fully aware of her surroundings.

Then, the topic of discussion began. The Mythical World talk again. Been a while since it was last brought up but still rememberable. Celestina rolled her eyes when the matter was brought up. She thinks it's just a bunch of crap made up by mages to either strike fear on the uninvolved with magic or to picture themselves as superior, and not something that actually exists. She thinks that if it actually existed, she'd seen it on a mission either for the guild or while in the army. Yet, the idea of finding out the reason her race has been killed off is really intriguing. It's the reason she's still listening.

Starfall, on the other hand, has kept an open mind about that other part of the world he doesn't know about. Precisely because of that. Because it's mysterious. Because he thinks that mages are naturally more involved in that sort of thing and thus they know better. He doesn't doubt its existence.

The male twin sat more upright when Katsumi mentioned he had been watching their fearlessness and good deeds. He feels prideful about what he has accomplished. His sister took notice about his change of posture. A bit odd since he's normally more humble that that. While it's nice the elf recongizes their accomplishments, she feels a bit uncomfortable about it. Not because of him recognizing them but because he admits watching them. She's normally used to be the watcher, and not the watched. She wondered about how long were they watched, but as the elf said before, questions are to be done after he finishes.

Then Katsumi revealed his true form. A great, unexpected surprise. The twins' change in their stance and expression made their surprise apparent.

"Still think it's all 'a buncha crap'?" Starfall teasingly asked his sister after the creature in front of them revealed its true form.

"Not a word..." She said back grumpily, like she isn't willing to admit she was wrong. Even then, this is the greatest piece of evidence she was presented about the existence of this world the mages talk about. Her previous opinion is starting to change. She wonders if she has actually seen an abnormally large fox before. Maybe in the middle of a mission, going through the forest to recon an enemy position? Now she ain't sure.

Katsumi continued his explanation after giving the twins a bit of time. Then he's a part of a group of do-gooders that is fighting against an enemy that seems to be way too powerful. It seems that these infesters had everything well planned out. A five year plan that seems to have gone as planned. Painful memories were remembered by the twins. The mysterious deaths of their parents and their discharge from the army. Their lives quickly turning upside down. All because of an unseen enemy that has controlled the powerful individuals in society to control everyone and get their kind hunted down to extinction. Well, not everyone it seems.

Plus, it seems that the mountains down south aren't really cursed. Turns out there's an overly reclusive race living there that is allied to their kind that will help. Was it a well kept secret?

Their overall thoughts? Lots of confusion. Like they are hatchlings again and have just been let out of their cave for the first time. World seemed relatively simple, but now it seems there was an entirely new one out there. At least, they no longer wonder about why everyone suddenly seemed to hate them overnight.

"What do you think?" Starfall asked his sister. "Do you want to go?" He's already decided. He wants to go join the fight. It'll benefit their kind, and by the sounds of it, it'll be for the greater good. A chance for stopping the losses of more innocent lives. Like being in the army again, for a noble cause.

Celestina nodded in agreement. "It's the right thing to do. I guess we've always put our lives on the line for those in need, haven't we?" She feels like she has found a new calling. A new purpose. "But what about the rest of the people in here? How many know about Castrock's eventual dowfall? Will they be safe? For how long have you been watching us? How many of your kind are there?"

Her noble side has come through once again. Starfall is proud. She has asked the same questions he wanted to ask. Yet, he has one more to ask.

"Anything else you can tell us about the drakes? It's common knowledge the southern mountains are cursed. Why would they forge that tale? Why are they so willing to serve us?"

The opposite scenario is also true. Celestina thinks his brother's questions are also quite valid.


"You may, if it brings you comfort." Blade responded to Jura's question about sticking close to him. He understands her position. To add to their current predicament, she has just been told there's a world surrounding and watching her that she never knew existed until now. "Your current position is understandable. A wide, ever present world has made its way to your ears. It's existence unknown to you until this moment. It's most logical you feel intimidated by it, specially adding our current predicament into the equation. You'll have nothing to fear, given the proper precautions are taken by your part. This new world has dangerous sections, as well as harmless. To guide you through it will not be a burden for me, for it is part of my office."

He is unfussed by the snow. Actually, he finds cold weather to be more comfortable than the other options.


Rega gave Ashley's comment a thought.

"I don't remember having anyone outside of the kitchen staff see how i work... I'll kindly ask you to remove yourself from the room if i feel embarrased by having to yell at people with you around"

The girl then thanked the mention of the black fruit. The dragoness wonders how that came to be. Given how tasty fruits normally are, having one that makes you throw up sounds counter intuitive.

"Any allergies?" She instinctively asked. "Any repulsion for spicy food or anything?"

"I hope so too..." She said regarding Ashley's comment about the cold weather. "The kitchen and the dining hall are logically going to be warmer. I wonder if they'll ever give you a warm room to stay in. Although, i think it's better if you sleep with your friend, just to be safe..."

Her face expression suddenly changed, as if she had connected two dots.

I... don't suppose me and your friend have met before? She seems oddly familiar... Don't suppose i went as a chef to a festival at your place sometime?"

"You been watching me since the start because of the prophecy thing or because my race needs watching?" Valadir said continuing on the matter about him getting watched on throughout his life. Definitely a matter they discussed previously. "Will I get to meet those other guys that been watching me?"

He laughed a little when Crystal mentioned how she'd rather have her tails spared from a fire volley.

"Good to know" He said regarding how to spot her kind in disguise. She's been looking at him from afar so that probably explains why he hasn't seen a human with blue cat eyes before. Makes him wonder how things would have been like if he saw it back then.

He nodded when Crystal mentioned how wise Blade has always been. More evidence that suggests he's really smart. He wonders how he turned out that way.
"Funny to hear someone smarter than you... Also, he looked to be unscathed. He's obviously really thin like me because of the obvious, but he ain't have a scratch"

"I-I hope so..." Regarding the future mental toll he'd have to withstand. A balance between hearing her advice and making his own decisions. He'll value her guidance.

He smiled a little when the snowball fight talk took place.
"If we three had one, I'd probably throw balls around your sizes. Kinda want to do it now... Maybe when everything is over?"

He quickly erased his little smile when Crystal found out who of the drakes was linked with them.

"We have been four before already, don't you remember? Back when we saved Wolnir's tail"

Circumstances are acceptable. Only one drake being linked to him is fine to him, as long as another one is quick to take over in the probable cause of certain death. Last thing he wants is a handful of voices in his head asking him about his own life or overall cluttering his thoughts. Plus it seems each group will focus on what each does best. Doesn't take a genius to figure out that he knows his way around the land. Obviously, a race that has kept solely within their land's borders is oblivious about the outside while an outsider does. That's what he thinks this group of drakes has figured out. Luckily, he actually knows his way around almost everywhere.

The dragon was close to say that he doesn't need to be babysat, given that the drake mentioned one of their objectives is to keep him safe. Yet he didn't. Can't know what the future holds. Maybe he'll need to be protected, who knows.

When he was told to not look at a certain someone to the eyes, he took it the wrong way. To him it sounded more like a threat. Like that drake didn't want to be present in the mission. He already has a low opinion on the drakes in general. He doesn't feel like putting up with that sort of behavior too.

"Yes. Can you get her to mind her manners? I don't have the time to put up with her tantrums"

Shortly after, a most curious thing happened. A red dragon in the distance coming their way. Valadir and the red stranger briefly made eye contact before the other reptile vanished from view. It had been too short of an encounter as to identify them. It made him be uneasy. He's unsure of their intentions and he now feels like he's being watched. Or followed.

"Tell that half to watch that direction!" He told Gethrea. "Tell me you saw it..." He then aasked Crystal if she saw it too.
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-- Two days earlier --

Katsumi found amusement at the twin’s astonishment at his proper form. It’s always interesting to see reactions.

Celestina’s first question proved his point. They’re always looking out for others. Even if they have decided to go, they still care for the welfare of Castrock.
“Castrock has escaped the Infester's notice due to the protection of a great spirit and myself. Also, their focus is on the Southern Mountains. We will remain out of sight as long as the drakes are alive. If they fall, the infesters will eventually find us, and we won’t be able to stop them. There will be a great battle soon, and the drakes will need all the help they can get.

The Mysterious Mistress. Madam Houdini also knows of the Mythic World. She, too, has taken part in the protection of Castrock. I plan to tell the other officials of the Guild the news after the festival, which will be in three days.

And to answer how long I’ve been stalking both of you. Ever since you arrived, along with Jura and Ashe. However, my focus has mainly been on you three dragons. I won’t go into it too much, but most dragons are watched by the Guardians one way or another. Dragons naturally contain a lot of destructive power and strength. By which not even great mages can match. Thus, it needs to be considered. But, as I’ve mentioned, both of you have become fine young dragons, and I can confidently say I don’t think you will be doing much of the destructive part.

As for the Mountains… Most of my group are there. Some of us, like myself, still have essential missions throughout Eraylia. I’ve been in contact with my associates down South. When you arrive, the drake’s border patrol will first greet you. Have them direct you to the Guardian’s camp. There, you will look for someone named Crystal Tenko or Sabato Xensi. Both will be able to fill you in on everything completely.

Ah, the drakes. They’re an exciting bunch. Not easy to explain them. They don’t follow the social norm. Because of their isolation, they’ve developed a strict, authoritarian, aggressive culture. They started their isolation a hundred and fifty years ago and completely disappeared a hundred years ago. Anyone over one hundred will remember them, but even then, those memories are fading. Only the older dragons genuinely know them. To understand their isolation, you need to understand their purpose. Before Eraylia and Caledonia existed long ago, there was the Dragon Age. For a long time, the dragons ruled over the land with fire. With Diath the Great Dragon to lead them. You see, the drakes had not yet entered the ground. They came from a separate part of the world. The dragons ruled for a very long time. However, their reign was not forever. The other races developed courage and fought back. With numbers on their side, the dragons quickly lost the battle. Coincidently, drakes had flown from over the waters and quickly came to the dragon's aid. Why? I do not know; that’s a question for the King of the Drakes. With the numbers of the drakes, the battle evened out, and neither side could gain the upper hand. Eventually, an agreement was formed, and everyone was able to coexist. Countries were formed. The dragons learned to live with everyone peacefully; the drakes, on the other hand, not so much. The most they could do was tolerate everyone else. You see, they had helped the dragons. After that, they had nothing left to do except live their lives with everyone else. That didn’t sit well with them. They are a predatory, carnivorous race and slow to adapt to new ideas. They needed to hunt and conquer. Fights slowly broke out, and until a more recent time the drakes sought to establish a home. The southern mountains have never been fully occupied because they are a very hostile range. Many strange creatures lurked there. The drakes are a persistent bunch. They fought for their right to take the Mountains, and the dragons played a significant role in helping the drakes secure them. From then on, dragons have always been welcomed to the Drakken Mountains. This is why the drakes consider themselves to be in debt. As for their isolation. They knew they would lose if the combined armies directly attacked them. They don’t have the numbers for that kind of war. So, the combination of mistrust, fighting and just how they are lead them into hiding. And for the past hundred years, their efforts have been focused on mastering the mountains. Believe it or not, they’re the youngest sentient race here.


There you go. A history lesson of the drakes. Any other questions?”

Jura gave Blade a mental nod. After that, she didn’t talk much. She was instead focused on her flying. She kept a steady beat and used as little energy as possible. She continued her periodic circle between Blade and the other two on the ground, wishing they could fly.

Eventually, she asked Blade, “Sensed anyone else? Sorry, my anxiety won’t let me leave you alone.”


“Because your race needs to be looked out for. Who knew that a flying, fire-breathing, armoured dragon with the strength to kill in one strike needs to be slightly accounted for. The prophecy wasn't a thing back then.” Crystal shrugged her response. It was the truth.
“If you had turned into a tyrant. That wouldn’t be a very good thing now, won’t it.”

“And you are likely to find the others observing you. I’m not sure who they are, though. They were around in my absence.”

On the topic of Blade, Crystal had a few words, “Smarter? No one is smarter than a sly fox. I have plenty of years ahead of him. Wiser, well we have a little debate about that. Of course, that’s my opinion.

If he didn’t look like he had any physical damage, he’s put magic to good use.”

”Aye, maybe when everything is over. Our little snowball fight.”
Crystal smiled at the idea of fighting with Valadir. She imagined herself throwing one at the dragon, which had no effect on him. On the other hand, Valadir can seriously hurt her. Assuming he can hit her.

Sabato had no further comments on the subject. His silence speaks for his distaste for the idea.

Crystal squinted to recall the memory Valadir brought up.
”Forgot about that. I guess this won’t be as hard for you then. That’s good.”

Gathrea chuckled at Valadir’s response. He explained a little further on what he meant.
” She’s a half-breed of a dragon. I will let her know of your desires.”

Shortly after Valadir’s exclaimed, a few drakes looked directly ahead.

Crystal also studied the area.
”Umm…. No. I didn’t see anything. What did you see?”

The rescue party had the Ruined Stronghold to their left within a few hours. From their point of view, it looked like a long wall lit with torches occupied by many armies. It’s arms stretched over the land, from sea to sea, creating a seal between the Mountains and the rest of the land. The drakes looked at it with disgust in their minds but did not say a word. Rather, they kept their focus on matching Valadir’s fast pace.
The evening Madam Houdini made her way to the cliff dubbed Talon’s High. She was travelling from the cliff’s sibling, Talon’s Low, a river trapped those in on the island's west side. Rather than use the common ferry Madam Houdini glided across the river, covering herself in a cloud of mist. The forest grew denser, where even at midday, the tall trees shadowed the paths. It was within this thick forest; a two-story wooden hut was found built into a large grey rock structure. Vines climbed along the walls and many wonderful and strange herbs and plants lined the paths that led to the front door.

Madam Houdini acknowledged two adult humanoid figures whispering by her front door. Her white eyes noted they were sweating, awkwardly shifting around their heads swivelling about the dark forest. Mist surrounded and altered her figure to her guise as an old woman. Once more her back was bent, her skin wrinkled, yet her eyes remained unnervingly white. She hobbled her way to the couple the mist following her wake.

The male hesitated to knock on her door, when he jumped out of his skin after Houdini crocked, “What business ye a human male and an avian female interrupting my peace and privacy?” Both were quiet as the cloaked old woman flicked her door open waiting for her permission to speak. Not receiving one they lingered by the front door, not daring to enter her house.

Madam Houdini glanced back, gesturing to enter, “What am I a goblin, that you fear I will eat ye flesh? Before I tire of your presence, enter, or leave.” The man began to explain to which the woman unwrapped her wings revealing a small still infant, “Please, Madam Houdini, we didn’t know where else to go….”

Madam Houdini hobbled over to the infant, feeling nearly no breath. She glanced at the human’s body and then the avian’s. Poor thing, the mother seems to have an affinity for mana, yet the father has a lack. The baby must have some mana blocked she thought. She mumbled aloud, “Common, She ordered the couple to sit the baby on the table off to the side of the room surrounded by shelves of dried herbs and potions. They did so as she searched for a small golden liquid vile.

It was on a top shelf, and she tapped the man, “Be a dear and that for me.” Once she held the vile she positioned herself behind the infant. She spread some of the golden liquid on her hands and swallowed some. She placed her hand on the infant’s back, applying some pressure. Her eyes glowed white. The child’s ability to absorb energy through her body is blocked due to her human father’s lack and her mother’s strong affinity with magic. It is a common problem only seen in half-mixed races. The golden liquid warmly lit up and entered into the infant’s body. Her parents gasped and the wife clutched her husband’s arm tightly.

The infant started crying, and its breathing and heartbeat strengthened. Simply stimulating the body with magic through a medium such as Houdini’s potion is an old wives’ fix from ancient practice Leaving the infant, the parents picked the baby up, overjoyed by their baby’s animated emotion and movement. Houdini pointed to another herb and gave it to the father, “Have the baby suck on the leaves for two months after a feed. He will cry in pain for two weeks as his body gets used to the new energy flowing through him.”

“Oh thank you,” the mother cried. Madam Houdini rubbed her forehead as if a headache was building. The father turned to her saying, “How can we repay you?”

Madam Houdini shooed them out, “Thank me, by leaving. And ye is a farmer of fruit and vegetable?” He nodded, to which Houdini continued, “I desire free crops when I come by.” He nodded, “Yes, consider it done.” Houdini ignored the confirmation and cracked a potion on the ground. The coloured mist appeared in front of the couple, “This will lead ye to the common ferry. Leave now, your emotions annoy me.”


Ashe nodded politely acknowledging Rega’s professional boundaries, “I shall never get between a chef and their work again.” Ashely easily answered the second question, “I do not have any allergies; I enjoy spicy food on occasion; and I avoid eating oysters, fish eggs, and the herb called coriander.”

Listening to Rega agree with her sentiments about the cold made her think of how Jura dislikes the snow. Ashe wanted to grumble about having to share sleeping rooms with another but she did not overly mind if it was Jura. “It should not be a problem to share a room with Jura.” Yet I do long for the comfort and luxury of home.

The young ex-noble saw Rega’s expression change and then heard her ask about cooking in Eraylia. Festivals in Eraylia were a joyous event, some ranging from a day or two to a whole week. She never recalled hiring a dragon in Solas Castle in the Rhinehart territory. Careful not to mention her previous noble rank and role, she replied, “It is certainly probable, that the capital may have hired you before the purge laws for a New Year’s festival, or the Regency Balls perhaps. To my knowledge, Jura worked in the King’s military.” Her expression softened when she spoke next, “I hoped you would have been able to enjoy Eraylia’s festivals. You would have seen many in your lifetime. Have the drakes their own celebrations?”
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The twins were dropped information regarding the questions they asked.

So it's a matter of time before Castrock as a whole is compromised. It'll fall if the battle down south is lost. Another reason to go. Starfall thinks it makes sense that Missus H knows what's what regarding this new world. Confirms his suspicions about mages knowing more about it. The twins didn't give missing the rest of the festival much of a thought. They consider the fight to be much more important, since victory means people will be able to keep enjoying the usual fest calendar. Defeat might spell the opposite. Death, and thus no more fests.

"I get you are letting people enjoy what's left of the fest before you announce this war, but isn't it wiser to tell them now? Three extra days to prepare could make a big difference" Celestina added.

Then, to the matter of them being watched. So Katsumi has been watching them since they arrived at Castrock. Not that long ago. She has also revealed that their kind overall is watched constantly by her little group out of care due to a normal dragon's natural capabilities for destruction.

"I thank your compliment" Starfall added with a smile. He quickly dropped it when he continued talking. "I wish the reasons of your comrades' vigilance were untrue. We already had to kill our kind during our duties in the army"

"Thanks for reminding me..." Celestina told him grumpily. Her uneasiness from before continues, yet in a lesser amount. Now it turns out she's been watched for a long time. But it seems that she has passed the test, given they were told they have been good boys.

The twins nodded when they were told to look for at least one of two individuals in particular for more details.

Then they were given a short history lesson about the drakes. Then they were a harsh, authoritarian culture that voluntarily secluded themselves out of mistrust with help of their kind. And everything shortly before they were born.

"That sounds so recent..." The male twin said. "It's really odd that none of our kind have told us about them. If they are so indebted to our kind, you'd think they'd try to reach out to all dragons. In any case, i'm guessing that explains why they haven't helped during this last year. Isolation rarely allows for news from the outside. Plus, it sounds they have been busy. Is that correct?"

"I guess..." Celestina said. "I just wish that was different..."

"Don't torture yourself with what could have been. It'll only bring you pain" He said in an effort to reassure her. He knows her well enough to know she's mostly referring to their parents. With their deaths still being a mistery, there's no way of knowing if the drakes' timely intervention could have saved them. "Do you want to go get ready? Pack up our bags, get a bite and head south?"

"Sure" The sister said while standing up.

"In that case..." The brother also said while standing up. "This is farewell, Katsumi. I hope we see eachother in the future. Good luck with your duties and thanks for your help" Words he said gently and with a bit of a smile. Not fully knowing if they three will survive what's to come but hoping they do.

"Do your best to keep people safe" The sister said. Together, both twins began to go to their accomodations to fetch their backpacks. To perform this journey with no supplies, considering it'd take a couple of days to get to the southern mountains, would be like asking for failure.

"You been overly chatty today" Starfall told his sister.

"Yeah, well, just look at you" Celestina told him back. "You feeling prideful for once. Never thought i'd see the day!"

The male twin couldn't help but blush. "It feels nice to get a compliment..."

The dragons fetched their backpacks when they reached to their accomodations. Both share a similar design. The colors complementing the scale color of their respective user. The main difference being that Starfall's is bigger. They are the same ones they've used in their army days. Both have their names sewn on the upper front area. A badge of their rank sewn next to it and also on the right sling. Quality, spacious bags used on a variety of missions both in the army and after it.

They kept the standard army protocols for situations like these. Keep personal, irrelevant content to a minimum, prioritize what's useful for the mission at hand and mind the weight. A pelt in order to sleep under the cold of winter without a fire going, a compass, knife, canteen and a couple light medical items. And some money for the food expenses.

They reunited outside.
"Hope you slept well today" Starfall told his sister. "We'll probably be having little sleep until we arrive"

"Right, everyone will be out to kill us. You think we'll find another one of our kind? If we do, i think we should tell about the southern mountains. Convince them to tag along" Starfall, in return, nodded in agreement. It's been over a year since everything went down the drain. If any of their kind is still out there and they happen to stumble with one, the most humane thing to do is to at least try to save them as well.

Then they went to the hall to have a bite and ask for rations for the trip. They sat together to eat, leaving their packs to the side. The ambience feels lovely with the fest going, yet it feels like they can't enjoy it given the mission ahead. Starfall got himself a big meat stuffed omelette while his sis had some stuffed bell peppers.

"Decided to eat light?" He asked.

"That's right. Can't get over the eggs?"

"No. Nothing's better. There's just so many ways to have them..."

After they finished, they walked over to the kitchen and paid for a couple days' worth of rations. Starfall offered himself to carry them given he has the bigger backpack and his strength over his sister's.

After, they walked outside with excitement and ready to start their mission. Been lots since they got such an important task to fulfill.


"I do not" Blade replied to Jura's inquiry. "I wish our journey to be as tranquil as it has been thus far, yet I predict my wish will not be granted. The security in the compound must be researching our escape"


"Ye right..." Valadir said regarding Crystal's explanation about his kind being watched. Makes sense. "I thought prophecies happened at birth"

He shrugged when his friend mentioned how it wouldn't have been nice for him to have randomly chosen to become a tyrant sometime in the past. "Would have been neat to try" Said as a joke.

"I have doubts about that..." The dragon said about whether Blade is the smarter individual.

"That does make sense" Regarding the white dragon's lack of injuries. Given his apparent involvement with magic, it does sound logical for him to keep himself healed. He'd do the same if he could. "Hope he can do the same to mom if our backup can't"

"Looking forward to it..." Referring to the snowball fight talk. He's amused at the idea of making the snowballs big on purpose, at least compared to her size. He's imagining a ball half her size going her way.

"So you mean one of my kind and one of yours have had kids and she's the outcome?" Valadir then asked Gathea about the half breed matter. If that's the case, he already feels disgusted.

"One of my kind..." He said with a troubled tone when he was asked about what he had seen In front. "Something about it rubs me off the wrong way. I got a bad feeling. Like their intentions not being good for us. We can't trust anyone out here, so try to see if they come back. We can't know for certain if someone's blackmailing them or otherwise buying them off to interfere with our plans"

The ruined stronghold was in sight. If he had to take a guess, Valadir would say the number of troops stationed there has increased since the last time he went over it. Frankly, it worries him. What if they get spotted , either now or on their way back with the others? He thinks that in that scenario they wouldn't stand a chance.

"Are your superiors thinking about a plan regarding all of those folks piling up at your doorstep?" He asked Gathea.


"Again?" Rega asked about what Ashley has said about getting in a chef's way. "Sounds like you've interfered before. What'd you do?"

The girl has also spoken about her dietary limits. She can work around most of what she has said. Oysters and fish eggs are normally available only to the most wealthy of families, and if she remembers correctly drakes aren't fans of seafood. As for coriander... definitely frustrates her a bit. Food'll be a little less herby without it. It does, however, give room to experiment a bit.

"I do like to add a tiny bit of spiciness to the meat dumplings"

"Ah, that explains a lot" The dragoness said regarding why she recognizes Jura somewhat. "I have beet in change of the food for several festivals for several people. And as for the drakes' fests... they have several. They are certainly different than ours. I do believe the challenger games are coming up...
And if you are wondering, no I haven't cooked for them yet"
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-- Two days earlier --

“Your view is reasonable to assume, coming from your background, Celestina. However, there is nothing Castrock can do against the Infesters besides sail to a new land over the great seas. Yet, we do not possess a ship of that calibre to tackle such a feat. Furthermore, we are at blows with the Arkarma. That’s a big enough war for the Guild. In short, let the people enjoy the festival without worry of war. I say again, Castrock will be safe as long as the drakes live.” Katsumi is convinced that the hidden island will remain confidential.

“Aye, I wish we did not need a watchful eye. The last thing we want is a mad-driven dragon torching towns. What you see as a natural thing, having wings and fire, is a threat to everyone else.” Katsumi pointed out a couple of reasons why the dragons are watched.

The kitsune noticed Celestina’s distraught attitude.
“Your kind are not the only ones who we watch over. We keep in account Kings, Queens or anyone with great authority. Don’t be troubled, Celestina. While we have been watching, we are called Guardians. We are also here for your protection. Although, we’ve clearly done a good job at that.”

“The drakes were in an intense isolation. Not a single drake left except for the exiled. And yes, they have been swamped. Very hard workers.”

When the dragons said goodbye to Katsumi, he replied, “I’m sure we will see each other again. Use your new abilities wisely. Remember, they will make you tire quickly if you’re not careful. Watch out for each other’s tails. You are both each other's greatest strength. Oh, before you leave, I have this for you.”

Katsumi held out his hands, and a silver ring appeared in each hand.
“Rings for you. They have three enchantments over them. One will always let each other know where you are, another is to stop anyone from trying to scry you and finally, you will be able to communicate with eachother like I have done with both of you telepathic. These rings will be very useful. Use them well and don't lose them. They weren't easy to make. Once you leave Castrock, no one is to be trusted. Even be careful of other dragons.

Farewell to you both. Safe travels, and may we meet again.”

Katsumi terminated the spell and watched the dragons leave.


“Nay. Prophecies can happen whenever. What makes yours special is that we cannot find the origin of it. Also, multiple people saw it at the same time. I only know one person who can pull that off, but I don’t think Elijah could keep it a secret for that long. The only other explanation is a spirit of some sort.” Crystal is still in the process of figuring out the prophecy. “Perhaps we aren’t meant to find the source.”

“I’m sure he would have helped everyone in his company. He’s charismatic. And can sleep through a bloody storm.” Crystal trailed her sentence off, talking to herself mostly.

”Correct Unbroken. The seed from her father has made her a great hunter. However, she can make some exciting decisions to say the least. Her strength will be proven beneficial.” Gathrea continued about Virve, the half-breed ice drake.

” A dragon can impregnate a drake, but the reverse is untrue.” He sounded unbothered at the prospect.

Crystal scanned their surroundings with her mind. Looking for the dragon that Valadir saw.

”I can’t sense anyone near us. Let me know if you see it again. Maybe your mind is playing tricks. Had enough water?” Crystal cannot explain what Valadir saw. In theory, no one knows where they are.

”We attacked them last night. I oversaw it. We poisoned their water and burnt as much of their food as we could. That is all we can do against them while they occupy in Stronghold. We will have to wait for them to move in the mountains to have the advantage. We are also creating a narrow path between the small peaks before the Valley of Flowers for them to walk through. That will be our first defence line. After that, it gets complicated. Hopefully, we can stop them before they reach the valley. They’re large in number.” Gathrea is confident they will stop them at the first few mountains.

The rescue party followed the beach between the mainland and the desert. Hours passed and they have not seen or sensed a single soul. The snow got heavier, and the moon faded behind the clouds, leaving the group in darkness. Only the wind rushing past them filled their ears.

Crystal felt some of the drakes starting to tire and struggling to keep up with Valadir’s quick pace. She dug into the reserves of her mana and boosted their stamina. Sabato also did the same. Only the skydrakes can keep up. Crystal is amazed at Valadir’s flying ability. She hasn’t met many dragons who can keep this speed for this long—much less the drakes.

Despite Crystal’s uncomfortable position, she started to doze off. She would have fallen asleep if-

”I sense someone. No multiple. Three.” Sabato’s voice spoke to Gathrea, Crystal and Valadir.

Crystal instantly became alert and started scanning. He is right. She also sensed three others.

”I’m going to investigate them.” Crystal carefully reached out to these other minds and lightly began probing their minds. If they aren’t magicians, they will not sense her. However, she immediately felt the familiarity of one of them.
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Ashe glanced back at Rega when the dragoness caught her slip of the tongue. Her home in Solas Castle made for many mischievous moments in the chef’s kitchen attempting to steal food and drinks. However, Ashe being experienced in the realm of words and ploys was able to casually reply without suggesting her forsaken nobility. Instead, she opted to recall a recent example of her old habit in Castrock Island.

She explained, “Our guild hires a chef, proud of his culinary skill, and kitchen. In fact, and please take no offence, his pride may very well match that of a dragon. Unfortunately, on hot or tiring days, I have made the mistake of being caught trying to take his smoothies, cocktails, and pastries.” Ashe rubbed the back of her head, continuing with a little laugh, “I may still have a few bruises from his wooden ladle.”

Ashe was pleased that Rega had participated in Eraylia’s festivities, especially if she had served in the hospitality behind the scenes. Hearing there was an upcoming festival in Drake’s homeland made her very curious. However, I wonder if during war times they may skip the festival or use it to improve morale and distraction. “I am surprised to hear you have not cooked for the drake's festivities yet considering their honour for your kind and your skill in the culinary arts.”

The land seemed to stretch eternally before them, the coastline carving a twisting shape into the continent. Ashe decided to remain quiet pondering on the new information Rega had given her. Through their conversation, a fondness grew for the old dragoness. The young half-human turned her attention to her companions and environment surroundings in the silence.


On Castrock, the harvest festivities had ended close to two hours ago, with a few groups taking the celebrations to their private dwellings. From his home in the main city, Eldendrul, a dark haired Eraylian could still here the music or laughter of such small gatherings. At his desk, the man faced the window overseeing the centre of the city leading to the bay and port. A dwindling candle lit his desk, which held a small invitation, addressed to him, Mr. Resiel Yorkdunn, inscribed with a secret meeting’s time and day.

Form what Mr. Yorkdunn understood, Likewise similar invitations were sent to the other trusted leaders of minor cities, and communities of Castrock. The leaders were not sijmply the rulers or heads to the major areas of Castrock. Rather, they were highly trusted by the people and were given the responsibility of caring for the inhabitants and the island. There would be around eight leaders present, and an additional two from Castpoint guild. Yet, this all left the Elendrul city head, confused. What would Katsume require of all the figureheads gathered? The older man sighed, deciding to turn in for the remainder of the night. Although, his uneasy feeling about the meeting tomorrow left him believing he wouldn’t get a restful sleep that night….and perhaps due to the noise from the last parties.
Celestina forgot this conflict is unlike all others she has fought in. It is not between two organized forces. Not between armies. Nor between the king's soldiers and a rebel or criminal stronghold. It is about a small island... against almost the entire world. Thus what Mr. K says is true. Not much to do if they get made in this situation.

"We know" Starfall said regarding the constant vigilance to their race. "Fighting our kind has always felt wrong and cruel. Even if that is part of the job of protecting people" Then, nodding towards his sister, he said "It was her idea for us to learn dragon language to try and talk our targets down"

Celestina nodded. "Right. That way we can warn them. Try to talk them into more peaceful means and thus minimize our kind's death count"

The twins were then given a pair of identical, plain silver rings. Starfall grabbed the bigger one without hesitation, yet in a careful fashion in order to not hurt the kitsune and put it on his thumb. He believes the enchantments it has are really useful.

Celestina grabbed the remaining ring and looked at it for a bit. She feels a bit uncomfortable about the telepathy aspect. Sharing a part of his brain with her brother of all people is not something she's a fan of, but she recognizes the immense tactical value in it. Better communication while in the air, plus shell be the one scouting ahead. Thus silently relaying crucial data from afar with her mind is too good to pass up. So she put it on his index.

"We know" they both said regarding Katsumi's warning for them to be careful outside.

"Farewell" Starfall told her before they went to get ready.

When they were about to take off, Celestina randomly remembered she forgot something.

"Hold up. Forgot my shovel. The small one" She intends to use it to hide their sleeping locations and the places where they do their necessities.

"Could you go to my place and bring mine? And my comb?" Starfall asked.

"Sure" Celestina quickly darted off to fetch the items. She guesses his brother is referring to his favorite comb. A silver one their parents gifted him when he finished boot camp, with an opening to pour perfume on it's teeth. She thinks then that it's fair that she also brings a personal item. It won't occupy any space in her pack and she's sure it won't distract her.

She went to her place, fetched her shovel and put it in her pack. She also grabbed a necklace mom gave her when she finished bootcamp and put it on. Moonstone with a black chain. She's also carrying a spare silk cord for it in the side pocket of her pack. Then went to his brother's place and grabbed the things he requested.

"Thanks" Starfall said to his sis when she brought back the requested things. "You sure you want to risk that?" Referring to the necklace, asking while he saved his things on his pack.

"I'm sure. We don't know if we'll be back here. I'd rather have it with me in case that happens"

After Starfall finished, they begun their journey south.

"I see..." Valadir said about the prophecy's erratic origins. "I call spirit. Back when Eragon and me were caged and he wasn't a piece of shit, we had one or two visions and/or dreams, and he thinks they were caused by a spirit given we had the same vision or whatever at the same time, we could see eachother and we had an incorporeal looking or sounding thing talking to us. Maybe we'll know for sure the origin of the prophecy when everything is over? Hopefully earlier..."

"I hope so..." He says regarding Crystal's theory about Blade helping his group. According to what she has said about him so far, it does sound like he'd at least try to help. As for him being charismatic, he doesn't know for sure but he'll take her word for it for now. Sure, he talks funny but they haven't talked much. "So he's a deep sleeper or something?" He asked regarding what she says about him being able to sleep through a storm without issues. A part of him finds thay funny. "If that's the case... I wonder how often he's arrived late to his job because of it. Or if he's been pranked on much..."
The other part of him finds it really unconvenient. What if they get ambushed and he's asleep?

Valadir remained disgusted when the drake squad leader gave further information about the mix of dragon and drake genes. He deeply disapproves. Why would a dragon waste his energy and time doing that sort of thing with an inferior spices with no free will? At least it's one-way.

"I hope her strength is as good as you say"

"I feel fine. I'm one hundred percent sure of what I saw. You absolutely sure you don't see anything?
The dragon said regarding Crystal's assessment. "How I feel doesn't matter"
She doesn't see anything which makes him more uneasy. He gets the impression that the one he's seen is perhaps more powerful than he first thought. Maybe that dragon has magic knowledge and is thus concealing himself to follow them to strike when the time is right with whichever abilities it has. Or maybe it is just following them from afar and saving his energies for the right moment. Or maybe he's overthinking it, but it's something he can't help.

He was told about what they'd do about the stronghold. Only some sabotage.

"Wish you could do more. Shame that there's too much personnel there to do anything else..."

Quiet followed. It's dark and it's snowing. Conceals them even more. Valadir doesn't feel tired at all. He's used to flying distances such as this on similar speeds, plus the fear of losing his mother keeps him motivated without sleep.

He kept to himself for a while, immersed in the thoughts of his troubled mind.

His heart sank and his attention aimed to the ground when Sabato announced he's sensing a group of three. They are still flying over the beach, and it makes sense for mom and her group to be in the area. The water would hide her paw prints. But what troubles him is the number of members in the group. They were four when he left. The most logical conclusion is that someone has fallen. What if mom is the one? He's starting to lose control of his feelings. He's starting to feel sick.


"That's just a stereotype..." Rega said regarding Ashley's pride comparison between that chef she mentioned and her race. "I've been noticing a decline in pride throughout the decades amongst my race. In any case, your behavior reminds me of Val's when he was little"

"The reason's simple" She began explaining when the girl noted how she doesn't cook for the drakes' festivities given her skills and honor. "When i used to go there, i went in order to rest. To vacation. Not to do my job somewhere else. That hasn't stopped me from complaining about their food though"


While doing some mind sweeps to scan their surroundings, Blade sensed a group ahead. With the sweep that detected said group, he could identify a member. A familiar mind, recognized. Crystal. Awfully convenient for her to be around. Her presence peaks his interest. What's she doing here? He sweeped once again, managing to make out the races forming the group. A dragon, two kitsunes and a handful of drakes. With this information at hand, the mage thinks it's safe to assume the dragon is Valadir and that he's got the help he promised to bring. Curious that he also knows his former colleague. He also senses a great amount of stress coming from the dragon.

"Our allies are present. Aid has arrived. They are ahead" He transmitted to the members of his group. Rega smiled. She already feels safer, like she finally has a greater chance to live. She transmitted to Ashley the information she has just recieved.

"Crystal, old friend, it's a most pleasant surprise to encounter you once again!" He transmits with glee to her colleague. "I did not expect you to form the forces coming to our aid. When the cirumstances become more favorable, we are to discuss the matter about the creatures controlling the population. I believe i have new information regarding them"

He also poked into Valadir's mind to see his stress. See if something can be done about it. His mind is a mess. It feels like flying with strong winds against you. He's blocking and it's easy to see why. He's starting to think his mother has sadly passed. Not if he can help it. He formed a connection with him and used his mind to soothe him. Then he relayed some information in a one way connection due to the distance.

"Valadir. It's Blade. I thank you for bringing the aid you have promised. Your parent is alive. She's just as you left her. She's below us. We have been guarding her since your departure. Has been chatting with Ashley all day. They seem to be getting along"

Valadir has felt the effects of Blade's soothing connection. He feels his mind becoming clearer and no longer feeling mentally sick. When he was told mom's still alive... He feels a lot of relief.

"Thanks for watching over her. I've been really worried all day" Unaware he's telling that to Crystal instead.
Crystal’s tails twitched when Valadir talked down about Valadir. She has spoken to Valadir about the topic, so she kept her mouth shut against her will to speak and stopped herself to cause an argument about the relationship between Eragon and Valadir.

She said to Valadir, “I don’t know. It would be nice to find the answer. Sometimes, looking for answers is more energy than what they are worth.”

Crystal quickly pulled a confused face, followed by saying, “I spoke too soon. This prophecy is over your life, which makes it significant to you. When the time is right, and when there are less pressing matters. We can definitely search for an answer, but you must be careful it doesn’t consume you. You’d be surprised how deep you can get when finding answers.”

Crystal’s ears perked when Valadir questioned Blade’s sleeping habits.
“Oh, yes. He’s a profound sleeper. A couple of friends and I used to pull pranks on him when we were all at the Islands. That was a few hundred years ago. I wouldn’t worry about him getting ambushed in his sleep. After what I’ve done to him, he’s learnt to set spells that wake him if there’s danger.” The kitsune is confident that not much can sneak up on Blade anymore.

”I didn’t see anything. I can’t sense anyone, either.” Crystal didn’t want to say it, but it could be Valadir’s mind playing tricks on him. A dragon's eyes are far keener than a kitsune's. She could have easily missed what Valadir saw. Even so, none of the drakes picked up on anything.

Jura immediately looked at Blade in disbelief, almost in shock. Some of her doesn’t believe his words, and the logical side of her tells her Blade has no reason to lie. Ultimately, her anxiety took over, and she decided not to trust in their rescue. It is safer to doubt than to believe. She immediately thought of Ashe and what Blade had said.
”I’m going to land with the others.”

Jura dived and landed softly next to Rega and Ashe. She nodded to acknowledge them both.
“I assume Blade has told both of you.”

She crouched on the sand.
“Ashe, climb on. I’ve learnt a little about our rescuers, and I’m not risking anything. Have your bow ready. Also, some of your herbs still sting.”

Jura doesn’t feel relieved for the moment. They may have gotten help, but their danger of being tracked is still very real. She doesn’t want to know who is behind them.

The fur on Crystal’s tails frizzled up when she heard Blade’s voice in her head. She wiggled with excitement.
“Hi Blade. Of course, I’m here. Right where the action is, and yes, I agree. We have a great deal to discuss, as you can probably tell. Surely you must be asking, ‘what the hell is Crystal doing with a bunch of drakes?’. We will meet you on the ground. We have food and water.”

Crystal then spoke to Gathrea and Valadir. ”We will meet them on the ground.”

Gathrea mentally acknowledged the kitsune and commanded the drakes to have a defensive position ready.

Crystal got confused at what Valadir had just said to her. She quickly realised that Blade had spoken to Valadir, and Valadir was unaware he was talking to her.

She said to Blade, ”Valadir gives his thanks. He hasn’t realised he said his response to me.”

She than spoke to Valadir, ”There you go Valadir. Told you she will be fine. Let’s go get her.”

Within minutes, Valadir and the drakes made their descent to the dragons. The drakes stayed airborne and flew further out in different directions, looking for any threats, while the remaining four landed with Valadir. Creating a sizable square around them with their backs facing them.

Crystal and Sabato slid off Valadir and slowly approached the others.
“Ahh,” Ashe hummed upon hearing Rega clear up the misunderstanding on a dragons’ pride comparison. The dragoness continued to elaborate on the decline in her race's hope. Her mind turned to Jura. That does align with Jura’s case. After our exodus, Jura seems to have hardened herself however her temperament is still rather proud… oh, did I hear that right?

Just after Rega, had explained the dragon stereotype, then her observation of her people, and then how Ashe reminds Rega of her son Valadir. Ashe pursed her lips together, mouthing a small Eraylian swear word without any sound slipping out. I do not know whether to feel insulted or not. Validar is…arrogant. She recalled their first meeting, when Valadir glared at her in contempt perhaps disgust if Ashe read him accurately. It annoys me to have a similar habit as him. Although Rega means well. “Thank you, I appreciate your fond words,” the young half-human replied.

Ashe was glad when the conversation flowed onward to discussing serving the drakes in food. “Everyone needs time for themselves to recuperate and replenish.” Silence entered the conversation then Rega seemed to concentrate elsewhere. Ashe made a small glance in the direction Blade and Jura was flying, assuming she was communicating telepathically. Then Rega relayed the message of Valadir’s return to Ashe, which ought to have been relieving. Yet Ashe felt slightly more unsettled knowing the aid included the company of drakes.

I wish… Before she finished her thought Jura landed beside her, gesturing to mount her back. As she complied, her friend revealed her concerns to which the young half-human replied, “Tis as though you had read my mind. As for the herbs, it means the healing is working…or so Houdini would have assured me.” Ashe flicked back part of her hood from covering her quiver. Her bow was already strung yet now she held it firmly by her side.

She shifted more weight to her legs leaning forward. She quietly whispered so Jura could hear her, “Remind me to slap the face of the slythanine who removed the saddle in Diabmoure.” Unfortunately, Jura’s scales caused small lacerations to her legs without adequate riding protection. The clothing Ashe currently wore would only do so much, and this ride would completely wear them out. Ashe subtly tapped Jura with her fingers letting her know she was awaiting her action. Remaining with a quiet voice Ashe commented, “Lest things go sideways, I will be ready for any escape manoeuvres you initiate. Nonetheless, let us see how the coming interaction will proceed to its entirety.” Ashe was sure Jura could feel her heartbeat quicken, not simply due to meeting a new race but a race that were respective apex predators and had little regard for those of her own kind.
Valadir nodded when Crystal noticed how important the porphecy is for him given it's something that has changed his life directly and drastically.
"We can definitely make consistent progress if I happen to make the same amount of connections as before everything went to shit" Valadir has said about Crystal's comments on searching for the prophecy. She's right about why he wants to find answers. "Pay them for information and things like that when I have enough money. People get that lost in things like these? You seen that many?"

The dragon nodded to the sides in dissapointment when the kitsune spoke about how much she and some others bugged Blade in his sleep. "Poor guy... Even if you caused an oddly convenient side effect for this situation. Don't know how he doesn't hate you yet"


"He told me" Rega said when Jura came around to pick Ashley up. "I told her everything I know about the place we are going"

After Ashley had been picked up, Rega quickly began to feel alone and nervous, even if she has the others watching over her. She notices she's shivering a little.


Blade sensed Jura's doubts about the incoming help. Yet he didn't say anything, for she would soon see for herself his words are true. He nodded mentally to her when she said she'd land for a sec.

The white dragon is pleased to hear Crystal is well and still on the right path, even with everything going on.

"I am, indeed, curious about your presence. It seems you are still following what we taught you. I appreciate the provision supply, for I have had meals of scarce content for months. My energies are scarce. Thus, as out might be aware, my ability to cast spells is greatly hindered, in the case we are to fight. The guardians currently possess my necklace. I am sorry to ask, but... is it in your possession?"

"I was only performing my duty"
The white dragon said when Crystal mentioned how Valadir accidentally sent a message to her instead of him. He thinks it is a good idea for them to link up proper when they meet.

Valadir didn't say anything when Crystal said everyone would meet at the ground. He just started descending, eager to see mom again.

"I mean... can you blame me for it? She's all I have left..." He said regarding Crystal's words.

On his descent, Valadir completely ignored Jura. He's still offended about what she said. He's not really a fan of having her on board but he feels he doesn't have a choice.

"Forgot to mention it. One of the ones we need to rescue, the blue 'ness, had a human girl accompanying her last time I was with them. Don't engage or it is going to get really ugly really quick. Tell the rest" Valadir told Gethrea. He meant to tell them earlier during their trip. He hopes it's not too late to say that.

When he saw mom, he began to feel happy and relieved. Seeing her is another confirmation to him that he's actually on time and that she now actually has a chance to live.

Blade landed near Rega to wait for the reinforcements with her, so he doesn't leave her alone and so he would see her and Valadir reunite.

"Aren't you cold?" The dragoness asked. Blade nodded. "Cold temperatures are comfortable to me"

She thinks that's weird. "Well, I can't wait to have a warm bed to sleep on. Same goes for the food"

"We share the same desires"

When Valadir landed, he immediately smiled and went to tightly embrace his parent. Her wounds began to burn yet she didn't say anything.

"I thought you had died... I couldn't stop thinking about whether you'd be alive or not during the trip..."

"Well, i've had good company"

She feels his chestplate is making the hug be way more uncomfortable than it needed to be. Took him a while to let her go. He found himself close to tears but he held them in.

Overall, Blade thinks he's done a good job.

"Thanks for watching over her" The black dragon told the white.

"I have only done my task"

"Did that girl hurt you?" Valadir then asked his mother.


"Did she try to?"

"Oh Val please..." Rega said in an annoyed voice. "She's just a sweet little girl!"
“I’ve seen a few lose their souls. One who was very, very close to me.” Crystal spoke with a sombre tone, remembering who she knew long ago.

“It’s heartbreaking, to say the least. It’s like a sickness that slowly but surely envelopes them. It makes them go mad. If I see it coming, I will not hesitate to rip you out of that path.” She spoke of Valadir’s prophecy.


“That crazy woman better be right. I’m in no condition for a fight.” Jura spoke softly but sternly regarding her injuries and the herbs Ashe had prescribed her.

Jura stood back up, dusting her belly from the sand, and then walked with Rega. Her first few steps were wobbly on the uneven sand from being in the sky for many hours.

The blue dragoness smiled when Ashe mentioned the saddle. Wearing it is a bit uncomfortable for her, and sometimes itches. For Ashe, it’s a game changer.
“I think you should do more than a slap. Maybe skin their legs? Ah, that might be a little sinister for you.”

Jura noticed that her mood had improved compared to hours ago.
“I doubt it will go wrong. I have a very high rank among the drakes. A guest of honour. Perhaps all I need to say is, ‘Don’t touch Ashe’.” The dragoness found some humour in it.

Jura felt much safer with Ashe on her back. Her unique ability to disassemble spells protects them from any magic users who might come against them. And with Jura’s wings, they have a decent chance to escape. At least, that’s what she hopes for. She doesn’t know if the drakes are good flyers. Nonetheless, caution is always advised.

”I can imagine you would be having a tough time lately. Lot’s to talk about. Of course, I have your necklace. It never leaves me. In fact, you’ll find that its mana pool has increased.” Crystal’s previous serious mood has left her after being reunited with Blade.

”Understood Unbroken. Though our eyes will be keeping a close eye. Anyone not drake or dragon out here is not to be trusted.” Gathrea replied to Valadir when he gave the drake information about a human with the blue dragon.

As soon as Valadir and the drakes landed, Jura assumed a crouched position, ready to take off. Ultimately, she had her eyes on the four drakes that landed. They surrounded which made her nervous. She was a little overwhelmed by the sudden action. She was not prepared for the small humanoid things with many tails. She didn’t move, however, and kept her eyes on one drake in particular. What Jura assumes is a male drake. Who is shorter than herself. Blade’s description of them finally makes sense. They look like dragons but on two legs. The one Jura is eyeing off is wearing black and green armour, with a spear in hand and what appears to be folded blades on his forearms. His scales are forest green and his eyes are orange. Blade did mention most drakes are green. But this one has four wings while the others have two. Regardless they are peculiar creatures. She doesn’t know to be intrigued or disgusted.

Next, she turned to the small thing that was approaching Blade. It’s shaped like a short human. Wore black clothing but, its most prominent features are its many white, disproportionally large tails.

Unable to conclude a decision she asked Ashe, “So what do you think? And what is that small fluffy thing? There’s two of them.”

Instead of engaging with the newcomers immediately, Sabato added to the drake’s efforts by searching their surroundings with his mind and eyes, looking for intermediate threats. Only the crashing waves could be heard, but he suspects they’re being watched. After he was satisfied, he studied the new crew. He counted four of them but only felt three minds. The only one he cannot detect is the human halfling. He stared at her and tried to find her mind but could not see anything.
”What is this spell she’s using? Why would she hide herself.”
He had his hand on his katana in case she pulled anything sneaky.

Crystal walked over to Blade and looked up to meet his eyes. She stood still, appreciating him, trying not to shed tears and almost playing a staring game to see who will move first. She cracked in a few seconds and dashed to him. Wrapping her arms around his leg, and pressed her face against his scales. A couple of tears started from her eyes, and happy sobs from her lips.
“I missed you so much. I thought you didn’t survive; I assumed the worst. I’m so relieved you’re here. By the way, you smell like shit.”

Crystal turned her head and saw Rega.
“Oh hey Rega, It’s Crystal, Valadir’s maid when he was a little hatchling. I was the human taking care of him. Long story, but as you can see, my secret was me being a kitsune.”
After Ashe was properly mounted on Jura, she chuckled a little at Jura’s name-calling, “She is most certainly out of her mind that old woman, well at least out of ours.” Replying to Jura’s next comments she said, “Perhaps, but I prefer more economic and psychological damage as a punishment. Yes, hopefully for my safety, what is only needed are your words of protection.”

As Jura walked forward to be next to Balde Ashe glanced about the area, investigating the new figures landing about them. She saw Valadir touch down first with two humanoid, animal-like creatures and four reptilian creatures. These, I assume, are the drakes. She noted the perimeter the four drakes made around the group before looking back up towards the sky from the point of their descension. There hovering were more drakes, who appeared to be scanning the area. Ashe thought, We all seem to be sizing up one another.

She smirked when she overheard Blade comment on being unbothered by the cold weather and desiring a warm bed. Returning her attention to other ground-level events, the guests on Valadir’s back had dismounted already. She forgave Val for ignoring their presence when he rushed to his mother’s side. Although Ashe did not express so, she felt pleased when Rega mentioned she had good company. She too was good company despite the situation.

Then Valadir continued overhearing his words, Ashe wanted to scoff, yet she remained composed. It is as if our service to accompany Rega and provide healing herbs are inconsequential to this arrogant slythanine. vShe muttered a High Eraylian curse under her breath, “Ngam lei’suffrence defeci’equite.” In the common tongue, it directly translated to ‘lest I suffer others’ etiquette deficiency.”

Her focus was then returned to the other small, oddly dressed creatures, approaching them when Jura asked of her opinion Cat ears and nine tails? Ashe was perplexed at seeing another new race. She answered with a low tone as they drew nearer, “I am unsure. The way they dress reminds me of Katsume but…shit.” Ashe flicked her bow casually in a position that would be unhindered to shoot an arrow instantly. She continued, “They are the same as a creature back in Diabmoure. One that made me greatly unnerved.”

Glancing at the newcomers, Ashe felt the drakes’ eyes on her for the first time. She tensed readying herself for an attack praying to the Heralds it would not occur. Heralds give us strength. Ashe took a deep breath, concerned about the new depth of mana she felt being syphoned to herself. She was sure it was due to these catlike creatures.

She listened to the female one converse with Blade and Rega, hearing the term ‘kitsune’. Ashe whispered to Jura, “Blade and the female…kitsune, seem to be on good terms. The male one keeps staring at me. I cannot help but wonder if the kitsune from Diabmoure is near.” The human halfling then waited to speak or introduce herself until the others finished their greetings.
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"Can I ask who that was?" Valadir asked softly when Crystal mentioned how she lost someone to the madness caused by prophecy searching.

"Doesn't sound nice. Please do" He said when it was mentioned how people searching for the origins of prophecies have a good chance of losing themselves in the process with no guarantee of finding answers. Given how she has put it, he's willing to give it a go but he'd rather have someone stop him if he starts to go insane. Retaining one's mind is preferable.

"My most sincere appretiations!" Blade transmitted to Crystal when she confirmed she still has his necklace.

Blade looked down and met his colleague's eyes when she stood there staring at him, maintaining a smile throughout their small stare contest. It's an activity she has always liked to do. Something he always done with her whenever she happened to show up on his workplace and that he has grown to enjoy. She couldn't hold her excitement for long and eventually ran to hug him, even if she could only embrace his leg due to their size difference. He caressed her back with care. He feels true happiness after all those bleak months in prison. He laughed a bit, both due to her embrace and due to her commend about his smell.

"Regrettably, baths weren't provided during my imprisonment. Amongst my fears were also the possibility of a cruel destiny to you or your comrades. My studies have kept me alive, to my luck" He wishes to ask about her activities since the last time they've seen eachother a year ago, but her attention was quickly focused elsewhere to Valadir's parent. Apparently they share history together. He intends to listen.


"You too smell, mom..." The black dragon told his only remaining family member when he overheard Crystal note Blade's smells. Her stench is a mix of rot, her own blood and a year's worth of dirt.

"I know... I mean, it's not like I got to bring the things from the bathroom"

"These guys have the sweetest baths I've been in, I swear. First time I went, I've been inside for an hour..." He says with one of the cheeriest voice tones he has had in a long time. Unbeknownst to him, he's lowering his guard a lot. If he hadn't, he'd be both yelling at the healers for not doing their jobs and would be demanding Jura an apology. A part of him is feeling like a hatchling again. "I can't wait..."

Rega is now aware he's not only been to the mountains to ask for help. He's been around, for she knows the place he's talking about. She knows he's never been at those mountains before, else she'd know. Plus, he doesn't smell at all. Thus that means he's been there recently. And he's got those fluffy ones with him. When the time is right, she intends to ask some questions.

Crystal then said hi to her and introduced herself. Turns out they know eachother.

"Sweet, now I'll get to see if she's actually going to burn you to ashes..." Valadir told Crystal when she talked. He's already setting his expectations high about how the conversation will play out. He thinks he'll get some fun out of it.

Rega was about to say to the ball of fur that she's insane, for she remembers she hired no fluffball for that. Yet... her eyes feel oddly familiar. Particularly so. She's half convinced those eyes do belong to that maid. But if she knows something about that other half of the world mages love to talk about, is that is better to double check since she remembers seeing some wacky shit since her first visit to the southern islands.

"Care to prove it?"
“My brother. What? Crystal, you had a sibling?” Crystal cracked a joke, but her tone was solemn.

“Yes, I did. Most assume I’m an only child because it was a very long time ago.” She chuckled, realising how the conversation had shifted.

“You must be intrigued now. Well, the story goes like this: We were both born from the same litter. Our parents instantly dumped us on the side of the road. Luckily for us, a dwarven couple happened to be passing by. Their compassion for us was great. Oh, by the way, kitsune are born as foxes first, so all they saw were two little baby foxes. They took us in for our early life. For two years, they thought they were raising two pet foxes. Lot’s of fun stories with them.”

Crystal made a shallow smile upon remembering her foster parents.
“You should have seen their faces when they realized we are kitsune. Priceless. Anyway, they were the ones who gave us our names, Crystal and Sol. Now, we mature much quicker than most races. By the time we were ten, we were ready to venture out on our own. Despite our early upbringing, it is natural for us to leave. Sol went out to search for our parents. The question burned in him. Why did they leave us for dead? Do you know how long it took to find them? Don’t answer, I’ll tell you. Sixty-three years. Least to say he turned into a misguided soul. When he found them, there was no warning, no reasoning. My mother struck him with the blow that killed Sol. I soon found out and plotted for a hundred years to kill my parents, which I did in the end. To this day, I don’t know why they killed Sol. I’ve accepted that I’ll never as to not end up like my brother.”

Crystal turned to Valadir. Wondering what he was thinking.
“That’s how I know questions sometimes aren’t worth the effort. Don’t feel sorry for me. I’m at peace with it. I also think this is a learning curve for you. Don’t ever do anything that you might even slightly regret later. We live for an indefinite amount of time. It’s better for our minds to not be riddled with self-inflicted trauma. I learnt that the hard way. I don’t want you to do the same. So think with your head, not your passion.”


“Wait! You were in prison? No, don’t tell me, Stories later.” Blade shocked Crystal when he mentioned he was locked up. As far as she’s concerned, the Infesters want all dragons dead. Maybe he does know something about them.

Crystal can read it on Rega’s face. She was confused and annoyed. The kitsune didn’t give her much information. She didn’t step too far from Blade, in preparation for the worst-case scenario.
“I can.”

Within a few seconds, the kitsune shifted her appearance. Her ears folded into her hair. The colour of her hair changed from white to brown, her tails disappeared, and her skin darkened. New ears formed on the sides of her head. She looked exactly like a human, but her eyes were fox-shaped.
“See. Nothing to be afraid of. Unless my weird human ears freak you out, then that’s completely understandable.”

Crystal shifted back into her kitsune form.

“I’m sure that’s a lot to take in. Please think about it over some food and hot tea.”
She placed her hand on the ground and all the prepared sandwiches and tea appeared on the sand. “Please help yourselves. One of the drakes and myself will also attend to your wounds.”

Crystal then slowly approached Jura and Ashe. It was then she noticed both of them looked defensive and confused. The human had her bow out in a readied position. Crystal immediately took note of the situation and quickly glanced at Sabato, who she found had been watching them.

“Hello, my name is Crystal, the one who’s eyeing you off is Sabato. Don’t worry, he’s friendly. I’m sure this is very confusing for both of you. As you probably saw, I’m a kitsune, and I’m sure that Blade has spoken to you about who the drakes are. We aren’t enemies, only friends who are helping. Please lower your guard. You’re in safe hands now. Have some food and hot tea and if you would like, I can attend any wounds and injuries for you. I’m a mage like Blade.”

“I hope you haven’t been spending too much time with her. I don’t want you picking up her habits.”
Jura spoke about Houdini. Ashe knows of Jura’s scepticism of the older woman. But she has never done anything to harm Ashe or herself, so she is reasonable to trust.

Jura heard Ashe’s curse, and while it was probably warranted, Jura still disapproved of it, however, she didn’t say anything about it.

Instead, she said, “We must get on his good side. I want to apologise to him for my earlier behaviour. That will be a start.” She made sure only Ashe could hear her.

Jura listened carefully when Ashe mentioned what she knew about the kitsune. It was little knowledge but, anything helps. She felt her friend shift her bow to rest it on her side.
“Careful with that. I’m sure the one staring is looking at everything you do.”

Jura made a quick assessment of the potential threats. The kitsune with the dark brown tails looks ready for a fight. If it can use spells, that will be a problem. Ashe must shoot her arrows from her back to protect them from the spells.

Shortly after, the other white-tailed kitsune approached the blue dragons. The kitsune introduced herself as Crystal and clarified that no one meant no harm. Jura didn’t respond. Instead, she let Ashe speak as she communicates better. So far, Jura is more convinced. Jura crouched to her belly to give Ashe a better view.

One of the drakes hesitantly approached Rega. He was the second smallest. Dark green scales and wore blue and black armour. The drake shaman bowed before Rega, never looking at the dragon's eyes. He kept his focus on Rega’s feet. The drake seemed jittery and nervous in front of the dragoness.
“Would you like for me to attend to your injuries Soul-Eater?”
“I do not spend that much time with Houdini,” although Ashe enjoyed her odd conversations with the old lady. “She is quite the well of knowledge and wisdom,” she continued knowing of Jura’s doubts.

Glancing at Valadir for a brief moment before returning her gaze to the male kitsune, the halfling said to Jura, “Getting on that dragon’s good side is going to be difficult. Your apology may help but I doubt how much so.”

Shortly after Jura’s warning about watching Ashe’s own movements, the female kitsune finally approached the pair. She felt Jura crouch which provided a better view of the white-tailed humanoid. The kitsune greeted them to which Ashe noted a degree of friendliness. She replied in kind deciding on a candid tone, “It is our pleasure to meet you Crystal, and Sabato.” Ashe bowed her head slightly before resuming, “My name is Ashe Loftwood, and this is my companion Jura. I thank you for your assurances and offer of food, warm drinks, and service. Yet I will still ask for your forgiveness on behalf of our taken caution.” Ashe diplomatically decided to lay her bow on her lap which remained within easy reach however she used the gesture as a sign of good faith. “Healing would be much appreciated for my colleague. I am without need of such.”

The halfling limited her syphoning range to a smaller proximity to avoid tampering with Crystal’s recovery spells. Waiting on the white-furred kitsune Ashe questioned maintaining a neutral tone, “I must inquire do you have knowledge of a male black-furred kitsune with green eyes? I had a near dealing with him in the Akarma of Diabmoure. Per chance is he your colleague of sorts?”


Back in Castrock sitting by her lonesome in her secluded cottage, Madam Houdini was busy writing records of her potions utilities. She rubbed her ears after feeling them ache…"Tish, tish, tish, is someone talking behind my back? Hmmmm...”
Valadir finds the joke he was told to be well founded in the perception he has of his fluffy friend. She indeed carries herself around as someone without any siblings. His expression revealed how invested he was in the story he was hearing. He found it overly touching, couldn't help but to feel sorry for her even if she explicitly told him not to. At first he thought he won't be fixated on the prophecy for the same amount of time she has with his brother matter, but he quickly changed his mind. Can't know for sure. Specially for things as serious and deep as these.

"Yet acting on feelings is something everyone with the gift of conciousness eventually does. It's unavoidable sometimes. In any case, i'll appretiate your advice when the time comes" The story has given him things to think about.

The dragon looked attentively at the interchange between his mom and his friend. He believes she'll actually get immolated. Seeing Crystal change shapes in real time was weird, but now he knows how his "maid" used to look.


"For a future occasion, then." Blade told Crystal, maintaining his smile. He thought she'd ask a thousand questions about his confinement. Yet she has a point. Better to do it in a tranquil place without the ever present threat of death going about. "When we reach safety"

Apparently Rega is to know some important things about her past. If that has to do with the Mythical World, he believes she'll actually listen. It would seem the relation is true, given Crystal has just transformed into a human. He thinks she'll listen, given the fragments of her mind that have slipped into his. It'd seem she's already familiar with that.

He gladly and quickly took one of the sandwiches his colleague manifested.
"Appretiations" He told her.
He then unwrapped it and took a big bite out of it. The smiled when he did. The constant lack of quantity of the meals he was given at Diabmoure make him think this'll be the greatest meal he'll ever have. Tea ain't bad either. It's still hot.

Amidst his sandwich devouring process, he's overheard his colleague introducing herself to Jura. He swallowed what he was chewing.
"Remember what we've discussed!" He told Jura. "She's my colleague. She seeks only to help you"


Rega stayed quiet throughout Crystal's demonstration. Before she could say anything, the kitsune left to attend the others, leaving her with her opinions. She finds herself conflicted. One part believes while the other says it's just the mythical world playing tricks on her.

"If you want my input on the matter" Valadir told her upon seeing her expression. "I believe her. She told me the entire thing before arriving. I got no reasons to doubt her. I thought i'd get to have fun and see you burn her alive"

"What did she tell you?"

"Uhmm you know, things like you not allowing her to get near me. Or you knowing she had a costume going but not managing to convince her to drop it"

Rega certainly remembers those. Specially the second. Having someone she actually knows verify the tale helps. She's closer to fully believing that she's actually that maid. Next time she's available, she plans to ask her a very specific question about her stay. If her answer checks out, she'll be fully convinced.

The dragoness then grabbed one of the tea canteens and a couple of the sandwiches, offering one of them to his son.

"I've already eaten before coming" Valadir told her. "I got them specifically for the three of you"

"You sure?"

"I'm sure"

She then unwrapped one of the sandwiches she grabbed and inspected the filling. Took her a bit to remember what it was. She didn't see no mayonnaise on the bread, plus she considers it better to make a paste with the filling for a more uniform spread and easier eating. Yet, given the current circumstances those are only inconsequential observations. Not criticisms she'll hold against whoever made them.

After she finished her first sandwich, she downed it with some tea. While she was doing that, one drake sheepishly came around to offer his healing services. Been long since someone last called her with her title. Shame she got called that right in front of his son. She gets the feeling he'll start to suspect and want some answers eventually. She already knows what to say when that happens. She put the canteen aside and answered.



Valadir stared at the healing process for a bit. He thinks the drake's attitude is most appropriate. His mind quickly deviated to how the drake called his mom. That does sound like a title the drakes would grant. Is that right? Did mom actually go there a couple times without telling him? He doesn't want to believe it, but there's a strong possibility of it. He plans to ask her later. He feels that during the times of peace before their current situation, without the prophecy or other pressures bugging him and making a certain couple individuals behave like dicks, he could have had some fun.

He eventually started to get distracted. Everyone seemed busy doing something. Mom getting healed. Blade eating. He must be going through his third sandwich. And Crys having some words with those two. No apology in sight yet.

With nothing better to do, he got up and began to scan their surroundings in case someone was planning to ambush them. During his small patrol, he thought he heard something. A faint crying of sorts. He headed to the direction of the noise carefully, becoming clearer with every step. When he got close enough, the crying stopped altogether as if the source knew he was coming. It was coming from some bushes. As he got near it, he could see a figure that seemed to be staring at him, not deciding if it should keep still or run away. It's orange and blue. Like a small version of Wolnir. He thinks he knows who he's staring at.

"That you Cass?"

The figure stood up, revealing a really unkept line of hair that ran from her head to her tail.

"Uncle Val?"

"Yup. Missed me?"

The small dragon then went to embrace him. He carassed her hair.

"You still have that medallion i got you..." He said observing her necklace, golden with a tree engraved on it. He remembers when he got it and also when he gave it to her for her hatchday. Even if Valadir's glad to have found her... just looking at her makes him shiver. She's alone, which probably means his parents didn't make it. She's got bags around her eyes. Her blue eyes were really dilated. She's thin and hurt. Thus, he concludes she's seen and been through hell. That infuriates him. If he remembers correctly, she should be around ten years old by now. He considers the influence the infesters are applying has already crossed all limits. They've convinced people to go and try to kill a kid that should be at school with her friends.

"Listen..." He began to tell her while rising her head to look at her stressed out eyes. "Me and some friends are going to some mountains south of here. You may have heard they are cursed but they are not. It's safe for us. Your brother is there. Do you want to go?"

Cass' expression changed when she heard his bro is still around. She nodded in order to answer the question.

"Great... my guys are just around the corner. We packed some food and tea if you are hungry. You're going to see a lot of things you won't understand, or at least not at the start. Let's go with the rest"

Val took the small dragon back to where the others were.

"Look who i found! She's also coming with us" He told the rest. Cass limited herself to cover herself behind Val, as if she doesn't want the rest to notice her.
Jura looked at Blade briefly when he reminded her of their earlier conversation about some of his colleagues. She eyed Crystal down as Ashe spoke to the kitsune. She looks smaller and slender than Ashe but those eyes. Something about them tells the dragon this many-tailed creature has experienced more than anyone she’s ever met. Someone who has seen the best and the worst of life. It gave Jura an eerie feeling.

Jura didn’t contest when Ashe mentioned that she needed some healing. She didn’t particularly want a stranger performing magic on her, but she could not think of a reason against the idea.

Crystal waved Ashe’s and Jura’s alertness off. “Oh, I’m sure your caution is well founded. Especially in these times. Not easy to find anyone to trust. But it’s nice to meet you both. I would love to get to know both of you better.”

Crystal looked at Jura, “May I? Referring to her wounds.

Jura snorted. She relaxed and rested her head on the sand. “Fine. Do what you can but don’t think I trust you yet. That is earnt.”

Crystal nodded her head and approached the dragon’s side. The kitsune ran her hands over Jura’s blue scales. They are surprisingly smooth but are worn. The more she looked the worse it got. There are many minor cuts and scales missing. It’s like she’s been in many, many fights. Crystal didn’t press the subject, it’s not her business and Jura doesn’t seem like the type who would want to discuss it.

She asked the dragoness, “Where are the worst ones?”

“I have long slices on my wings and deep cuts along my neck and underside.” Jura responded mutually.

Crystal got Jura to fan her wings so she could stitch the holes back together. While she laboured, Ashe asked her a question that stopped her in her tracks. She looked at Ashe with a troubled expression. “If your description is true, we are all in great danger. That is one kitsune we do not want to mess with. If the Akarma sent him to get you, we will certainly be on our tails now.” Crystal’s voice sounded alert.

She immediately contacted Blade and Sabato, ”Ganjiro might be involved, stay on high alert.”

She then refocused on her task with Jura, speaking to the dragon and Ashe. “He is an evil kit. He answers to only himself, does as he pleases, kills as he pleases. Ganjiro is his name.”
Shivers went down Crystal’s spine when she mentioned the name.

Speaking to Ashe now. “I’m astonished you were close to him and not sustained any injury. Ashe, before we reach the mountains, I will need to go through your mind and look for any enchantments he has placed on you. I cannot afford any risks if he is involved.”

The drake shaman healed Rega’s worst injuries first and cleaned any debris off more minor wounds that could get infected. He did so very carefully in order not to upset the dragoness. Because of Blade’s earlier treatment, it didn’t take the drake very long.

Once he finished he bowed and asked, “Is there anything else?”

After Rega the drake approached Blade. He bowed politely. “Anything that I can help you with, Radiant one?”

Sabato watched Valadir deviate from the group. Keeping a close eye on him. He went as far as to hover over his mind and look for sudden emotional spikes that could alert him of danger. One of the drakes kept a close watch as well.

A little while after, he received a warning from Crystal. In return, he mentally nodded back. He hoped that they would not see him while they were out here. An encounter with the black-tailed kitsune will prove extremely dangerous.

After that, Valadir came back and exclaimed that he found someone. Sabato’s eyes widened when he saw who it was. Wolnir’s little sister Cassiopeia. To say Sabato is surprised is an understatement.

Sabato acted; he picked up one of the sandwiches and a canteen of tea walked over to Valadir and stopped beside him. He said to Valadir, “Where do you keep finding all these dragons…”

Then, in a calm and loving voice, he said to the small dragon, “Hello Cass. My name is Sabato. Here look. I got you something to eat. He held out the wrapped sandwich and waited for her to approach him.

He then contacted Crystal, ”When you get the chance come here. We have another dragon. A youngling.”

”Of course we do…”
“Let us then take time to acquaint with one another in future, Ashe courteously replied to Crystals invitation. Curiously observing Crystal’s magic, she enjoyed the seldom times it was used in her midst. She felt gratitude towards the kitsune’s service to Jura. When Crystal answered her last inquiry, she took the opportunity to dismount on the side where the kitsune stood placing the bow over her shoulder. She noted how the white-furred creature paused in her service providing a dire warning.

Ashe commented, “Then we should all take great caution for what may follow. Perhaps it is best if we make our way within the next few minutes.” In the silence of the conversation, the young halfling cast her eyes over the area around them. The darkness is a great refuge for our group, yet a hindrance should a fight arise. Crys was the one who brought her immediate attention back by describing this Ganjiro character. Ashe said, “I can assure you I am free from any curse or enchantment. However, I would insist on sharing my report with your intelligence on this tyrant.” I need to warn my guild of this new development. Ganjiro may force a change in my plans in de-establishing Diabmoure.

The halfling now reassured of the new company’s reputation, turned to Jura, “I am going to get some food for us to eat.” Deviating to the centre amidst the drake’s permitter close to where Valadir, Rega, Blade and the male kitsune a new commotion arose. It was close enough that the halfling could observe the commotion was a shape, coloured orange and blue.

Ashe picked up enough food that she required both arms to bear hug it to her chest to keep it from falling and use her chin to stabilise the top. Moving back to Jura, intending to be on their way soon placed the majority of the food before her. She only kept one sandwich for herself. She chuckled, “This is perhaps the largest sandwich I have ever beheld, and perhaps the fastest one I will consume.” After swallowing a bite, she informed Jura and Crystal, “I believe a small new dragon has joined our company. Seemingly, hope for the dragon race increases by the moment being around Valadir.” Ashe would not recall whether her last sentence was sarcastic or not in the days to come. The young halfling wondered of the coincidence bringing these dragons together, and if the twins ought to be called forth as well from Castrock.

Ashe would not recall whether her last sentence was sarcastic or not in the days to come. The young halfling wondered of the coincidence bringing these dragons together, and if the twins ought to be called forth as well from Castrock. Ashe managed to wolf the sandwich down, hunger and concern overriding some of her manners. She asked Crystal, “What are our plans for travelling to the south?”
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"Understood" Blade replied when his colleague mentioned the possible involvement of Ganjiro. He's aware of who that is. Sadly, a part of the many evils that dwell around. A kitsune that dedicates himself to the dark side for his own personal profit is something that has always worried him given the innate powers of said race. Reminds him of his colleague. Only that she has reformed while the black fox has never showed remorse for his actions. "Thus, it's wise to provide me with my necklace at your earliest, in case he conjures an ambush"

While Valadir was away, he had finished his third sandwich. He's intending to have one or two more. He was helping along his latest sandwich with some tea when Valadir had returned with an extra companion. A small girl that seems to be terrified of existing in this current context, given how she seems to be hiding behind his companion. He thinks that Sabato's intervention is not the best of actions. He considers that given her apparent levels of stress, the reveal of the Mythical World to her might be a bit too much for her to handle.

In any case, he's on board with having her along. Leaving an apparently lone, little girl to find for herself is not the right thing to do. He stopped drinking and he didn't grab any other sandwiches, considering it rude given her prescence.

"I find myself well. I appretiate your concern" He said to the drake that offered his help.


Rega watched her wounds dissappear. Not something she's used to, but it is highly convenient. It's unnerving to see your body recover at this speed right in front of your eyes. At least that's one less thing to worry about.

"Thanks" She said to the drake when he finished, although in a rather cold voice. She still dislikes that race, but at the same time she considers the least she can do is to thank the service she was granted out of politeness.

After he left, she unwrapped her second sandwich.

"How'd you get that title of yours?" Ahe asked Blade, taking a bite right after asking.

"The color of my scales had caught their attention when I first visited. And yourself? Yours is most peculiar"

The dragoness swallowed before responding. "When I first went there, I went to the kitchen to complain about the food. With extreme prejudice. I happened to say I'd have their souls for dinner if they didn't improve what they offered" She then took another bite.

Blade nodded. "Of course. It sounds most logical that someone from your craft should fulfill a certain quality standard"

Rega was finishing his second sandwich when her son came back with someone else. A small girl. Her motherly instincts began kicking in. She looks really thin, thus why she considers it wrong to keep on eating. She can't help but picturing herself eating right in front of a small, hungry version of her son. Even if that girl isn't hers, still gives her the same feeling. It doesn't feel right. Thus, when she finished what remained of her sandwich she stopped eating altogether.

Seeing Sabato carry food and a tea canteen to her, plus her feelings, inspires her to carry an extra two to Cass.


"I don't know" Valadir replied, shrugging, when Sabato asked him how he managed to keep finding more members of his race. It's certainly something he's doing a lot of lately, feeling that's mostly a result of a series of strange coincidences and some lucky timing. "Us dragons have a tracking instinct. You wouldn't understand" He says, bluffing and not too seriously.

Cass walked back in a crouching stance when Sabato approached her, maintaining distance. Why is there a fox like thing coming? She aims to put Val in the middle. Better for him to deal with it.

"Come on Cass" He said with a soft voice tone in order to convince her to take what she was being offered. She looks like she needs those. "He's a friend. I made those sandwiches for you"

That made Cass approach Sabato slowly and very carefully, taking the food at the same speed when she was close enough. She then walked back and began to eat. Her careful attitude diminished by each bite. Val couldn't help but smile.

Rega came around with another two for the youngling. He left them in front of Val in order to not disturb.

"How nice of you, given you don't know her" The black dragon told her. He noticed her wounds are gone. The drakes are finally doing something right.

"She reminds me of you when you were little. I can't help but feel really sorry for her" She then slowly approached the smol dragon.

"Hi, sweetie..." She slowly stretched her paw towards her. Cass's head recoiled back when Rega's paw came close, but she eventually let herself get touched by someone from her own race. Rega then ruffled her hair, which made Cass smile a bit.
”You’re right.”
Crystal responded to Blade, regarding his necklace. Just as Crystal finished healing Jura’s wings, she held her hand out, and Blade’s necklace appeared. The centrepiece is nearly the size of her head, and the chain dropped to the ground, showing the size difference between the kitsune and the dragon.
”Here, catch this.”
With the use of magic, the necklace darted towards Blade and stopped in front of him seemingly on its own accord.
”Hehe. Nice catch. Setting wards while we’re out here would be a good idea. The Infesters have eyes everywhere.”

Crystal responded to Ashe, saying, “That is something I can agree with. The sooner we leave, the better.”

Then, she spoke to Jura, “Can you please raise your head.”

Jura did so without uttering a word. She just let Crystal do her job.

While Crystal stitched up the deeper cuts on the underside of Jura’s neck she wondered why Ashe was so interested in Ganjiro. Not that she is against telling any information. She started to connect some dots. Ashe talks like an Eraylian noble. Both she and Jura appear to be close friends. Crystal remembered what Sabato said before they found the others. That he could sense three minds. There are four here.

Crystal became suspicious of Ashe. Could this be an ability of the Infesters? Able to hide one's mind?

She said to the human, “Well, if you insist on Ganjiro. I know he doesn’t have any ties with the Akarma. He doesn’t operate like that. The only reason why he would be with that group is for self-benefit. If he didn’t gain anything from there, he would leave.”

While Crystal spoke, she tried to probe Ashe’s mind. Trying to look for it but could not find anything.

Crystal then contacted Blade concerning the problem.
”Blade. I cannot sense Ashe’s mind. How long have you been with her? Have you tried contacting her before?”

Once Crystal was finished with Jura’s neck. She moved onto her belly, getting Jura to roll on her side. Crystal found herbal oils over her wounds. She cleaned them off and started stitching them together.

Jura felt slightly exposed to the kitsune, letting her touch her underside. She tried to ignore the thought as much as possible and ate the sandwiches that Ashe supplied.
“Thank you, Ashe.”
The dragoness immediately started eating.

Jura looked to the others and indeed did find another amongst the group. Questions immediately started forming. Where did she come from? Was she alone? Jura felt responsible.
“She’s only a child… What have they made of us?”
It wasn’t long before Jura started to feel angry. She doesn’t know the situation. She could guess the young one had been through much. She looked away before she made a drastic move.

Jura replied to Ashe’s comment about the newcomer. “I wouldn’t call that hope. That’s evil.”

Crystal grew sombre at Jura’s words. She had to say something.
“And now she is with us. Don’t worry, Jura. Her life is above mine.”

The dragoness is surprised by the kitsune’s words. There is a similarity between them. They both are bound to protect.

“I’m not sure yet. With Rega, it’s not going to be easy. The longer we stay out here, the worse it gets. We’ll think of something. For now, let’s focus on moving first.” Crystal responded to Ashe’s question on how they are to travel.

“All done Jura.” Crystal took a few steps away from the blue dragon and dusted herself off. “I stitched up the flesh wounds and popped your ribs back into place. You still have some internal damage, but you’re not bleeding anywhere. Take it easy.”

Jura rolled onto her feet and arched her back like a cat. She was stretching her spine, looking for any pain. When she found none, she sat upright. “Thank you, Crystal.” Then she grabbed another sandwich.

“You’re welcome.” Crystal happily replied. “If you will excuse me. I have to see what’s going on over there.” Crystal dipped her head at Ashe and Jura before heading to the other side.

When Crystal left, Jura told Ashe, “Curious thing isn’t. She’s already growing on me.”

Sabato didn’t look into Cassiopeia’s eyes in order not to frighten her. Instead, he looked at her body movement. She’s weak—almost limp. She looks beaten down and worn. It put an angry fire in his heart.

He recoiled as soon as the little dragon took the sandwich. Very quickly, Rega came over, she took over the situation. Better suited than himself.

The male kitsune looked at Valadir brutally.
With his mind, he said to Valadir. ” I share your anger Valadir. This is way too far. It will not be overlooked, I swear it.”

Sabato turned around and saw Crystal quickly coming his way. Almost running. Clearly wanting to see Cassiopeia. Sabato reached his hand out intending to stop Crystal.
“Crystal let Rega handle this.”

“Shut up.” Crystal dodged Sabato and went straight to Cassiopeia. Nothing was going to get between her and a little dragon. Well, at least she was expecting a small one.

Crystal's eyes widened when she saw the colours blue and orange.
”I forgot Wolnir had a sibling. How dare you Sabato. As if you were trying to keep me from her. She so cute and cuddly.”

”That's exactly why I was keeping you away.”

Crystal ignored Sabato and stopped next to Rega. Cassiopeia is the same height as herself. Maybe taller. At least she won’t have to strain her neck.

Crystal completely ignored Valadir and looked straight at Cass. Her eyes melted Crystal's heart.

“Awwwww, you poor thing. You must be freezing. Here.”
Crystal held her hand out and a dim red ball appeared above them. It radiated intense heat.

Crystal walked beside Cassoipeia and put a hand on her side and started patting her.
“It’s ok sweetheart. Everything is going to be fine now. Here look.”

Crystal put a hand behind her back and materialised the cookie she asked of the drakes earlier.

“Look, I got you a warm yummy cookie.” She held it in front and offered it to Cassoipeia.

She continued to caress the small dragon. Crystal studied her body further. Scratches and bruises. Her hair is a mess. Just like how she found Wolnir. She refrained from using magic to heal her, better to not freak her out. Crystal gently reached out to Cassiopeia's mind, intending to soothe her. While the dragon might not know what it happening. The calming force will help.

Further down the beach, on the sand. A crimson blood coloured dragon sat comfortably. He stared at Valadir with a smig grin. As if to say look at the postion he's in. None of the drakes seems to notice the dragons presence.

”I sense someone. They are close to my position.” Drahaka, one of the patrolling drakes, contacted Gathrea.

Gathrea immediately stiffened from the warning.
”Do not alert them of your presence, come straight back here. I’ll tell the others.”

”Yes, sir. They definitely didn’t see me, but if they have a mage-“
Drahaka immediately went quiet.

“Drahaka? Drahaka! Drakes. Regroup! We have hostiles.”

The four drakes on the ground unsheathed their weapons, and each went to a dragon to protect. The skydrake Blademaster went to Blade's side, while the shaman, went closer to the water at Jura's aid.

Gathrea and Virve, jumped at Valadir, Rega and Cassiopeia defense. All the drakes stood between who they are protecting and whatever is coming North.

Jura eyed the frantic movements of the drakes. Sensing immediate danger she growled.
“Ashe!. Up, now!”
Jura crouched and allowed Ashe to jump up on her back. Jura flared her wings, ready to fight.

“We have hostiles inbound! Prepare yourselves.” Gathrea warned the group.

Crystal's ears flattened. She stood in front of Cassiopeia and put a hand on the hilt of her sword. With the contact of her feet on the sand. Mana flowed out of her and a shield formed around the large group, excluding , Jura, Ashe and Blade.
“No one move. Unless I break the shield.”

Sabato stood where he could easily reach everyone. He didn’t go for his weapons. Rather he cast a ward with a radius of one hundred metres in every direction. If anything moves within the radius he will know what it is and where. He studied everyone’s position. They formed a triangle and Sabato is in the middle. The biggest group is behind while he has Blade and Jura in his vision.

No one moved. The only noise is the crashing waves.

Crystal muttered under her breathe.
“Please don't be him.” It was almost a plea. Subconsciously, her tails started wrapping around Cassiopeia's legs as if they are protecting her.
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