The air was wonderful and chilly and finally, the sky wasn’t soo painfully bright, keelester having taken off the ”sunglasses“ he‘d made some time ago, being an elf of a sort had great advantages, like not sleeping, so keelester was able to enjoy the crisp nights that reminded him of home. It was easy to see in the darkness the clear sky and shining moon making such just a tad better, keelester able to see everything as clear as day. perching upon one of the caravans the Drow was testing the effectiveness of some magnifying glasses he‘d “improved” upon to give them a more clearer zoom. That’s when he heard the odd noises of beating wings his ears twitching just a little. only to see a huge dragon begin to circle the caravan Keelester had seen one or two in his time but still. this could hardly be a good thing. "oh this isn't going to be the best hey?" keelester said trying to keep the mood a little lighter clearly his expression was one of worry, that was when the fire burst out around it the glaring the painfully bright light blinding the poor drow for a moment. that was when the dragon stalked its way into the ring of fire the caravan was now trapped in its huge winged limbs dragging itself across towards them so it could make its demands apparently they were being accused of conspiring with some sort of murderer, worst of all if they did manage to get out of this alive their animals were gone, this wouldn't have happened with Steeders if anything the titanic arachnids would probably attack the dragon. "surly noble dragon you can not expect us to understand your demands with an entrance it's clearly left us all in disarray and I am unsure of who you speak of perhaps a description of whom this fellow is may assist" keelester seemed to explain calmly as if this was normal when in reality it certainly wasn't keelester was kinda terrified.
With a stomach full of calming, happiness imbued soup, Carrick had settled into a peaceful, restful slumber. He dreamt of many beautiful things, from men and women to hold close for warmth and comfort to a furry companion to snuggle against him before curling up and making a bed out of his lap. The last thing Carrick would have expected was to wake up with a start. He sensed a shifting in the wood of the roof of his wagon, as if a large wind had rocked the carriage. His eyes snapped open and he was surprised to realize that it was to the shroud of night that he found himself awaking. Within moments, however, his mind kicked into full consciousness and it dawned on him what had shook him from his sleep: a large swell in presence, like the roar of a tsunami. It was as deafening in his mind's eye as was the very real booming voice that followed.
A wry smile crossed Carrick's face once the message was delivered. Alinari... hah. Who knew his estranged family would be causing trouble, even out here. Still, the gigantic presence would have been taken more seriously by the guard if their sources might have been more accurate... Carrick didn't know who was this Caden, but he certainly would have been aware if there was an Alinari in their midst.
Still, the mere might if this creature felt like nothing to be underestimated. Carrick sprung from his bed, grabbed his sword and dagger, and strapped them to his hip. He was grabbing a bow and slinging on a quiver when he heard a commanding female voice call his name. It made him chuckle and shake his head. He wasn't sure if Rega remembered that despite her chilly demeanour she wasn't the boss around here, but Carrick decided to leave the chat about it for later.
"Of course, wouldn't want to miss the party," he replied, yawning dramatically, as he stepped out from his wagon. His eyes took in the wall of fire, the people about him, and then the dragon. He had never seen a dragon in the flesh before but the mere sight of it has pulse quickening and adrenaline kicking in.
His eyes snapped next to Keelester who was trying to reason with the dragon. Could dragons be reasoned with? Perhaps it was worth the try since the dragon was the one to start the conversation to begin with.
Carrick stepped forward to join his silver-haired travel companion. "We hear your requests, O Mighty One," he projected. The name sounded tongue-in-cheek to him but maybe it would be something the dragon appreciated. "We are sympathetic to your trouble, but alas we cannot help you. The one you're looking for is not here," Carrick announced to the beast, deciding to cut to the chase. The sooner this chaos was resolved, the sooner he might be able to see if he could get seconds of Talia's stew and return to the fantasy of his dreams.
Evening turned into night, and Orien had got stuck with the night watch, as was usual. He didn’t mind too much, as he understood that being the youngest meant he usually got the worst jobs. But tonight was different, as Rega had stayed up with him. He resented this in a small way. Even though she probably had a good reason to do so, he couldn’t help but feel it was because she didn’t trust him on the midnight shift. As if he didn’t know his duty, and as if he couldn’t look after himself.
One minute, it was a pleasant sort of night, with a full moon just rising over the mountain tops, the next, Rega shouted out an alarm, and Orien dashed from wagon to wagon, waking up everyone in an attempt to get them away to safety. This was doomed to failure, because he had barely made it to the wagon he shared with Wilhelm and Kai when flames leapt from the ground, encircling the camp. So it was to be like that, he thought to himself, as he banged on the wagon's door. ”Kai, Wilhelm, wake up! We’ve got a dragon!” He shouted through the door, before turning back around just in time to catch the dragon walking through the circle of flames, accusing someone of murder. Orien didn’t know this Caden, but he knew that it wouldn’t matter much to the Dragon. It was already something of a miracle that it hadn’t just torched them all and sorted through the bodies afterwards, judging from how angry it seemed.
What was it Master Isan had told him, so long ago, about dealing with dragons. He knew he had listened at the time. No other living human had more experience with dragons than Isan. It had something to do with any weapons you might be carrying…
And then he remembered. Disarming yourself was a sign of defeat or surrender among humans, especially in situations like this. But among ancients like dragons, it was a sign of peace. Worth a shot. As Carrick and Keelester tried speaking to the dragon, he managed to catch its scorching gaze, feeling a powerful and foreign desire to cower before the menace and murder promised by it, as he slowly drew the scabbard carrying his sword from his waist and placed it on the ground at his feet.
Of all the ways Sahak could have predicted waking up, screaming and fire...were depressingly likely, actually. He bolted awake, and managed to grab his hunting knife before throwing himself out of the caravan to see—
Now that, he could not have predicted.
[Shit,] he said, and shoved the knife back into its sheath. The dragon (a dragon) wasn’t looking at him, so he took the opportunity to duck back into the wagon and grab his healer’s pack before taking cover alongside Charlize. “Who is it looking for?” he hissed to her. “Who the hell is Caden Alinari?”
Looking at the reaction from those around him it was easy to note the great amount of fear and particular worry this large fire-spewing winged reptilian had caused clearly it was by far more terrifying than he had previously anticipated, taking note of one particular had laid down his weapon as to why Keelester wasn’t all too sure why he’d do such a thing, it seemed downright insane to just disarm one's self he really didn't know if that was such a good idea? but then again knowing dragons somewhat it was likely a form of deference to the large beast as to show you mean no harm. thusly keelester would look at the dragon placing a knife on the ground and then a few more form under his odd armor and dress along with two small hand crossbows and a few more knives being a Drow one was best to be heavily armed just in case.. so it led to a comedic situatuon.
[“Mother, why did you return to the Atoll? Your stories, they’re AMAZING! Wasn’t it everything you dreamed of and more?”] . . . . [“I had something else to dream of, my darling.”]
With Orien on night watch, she retired to their cabin for the evening with Wilhelm; however, instead of falling asleep, she stayed up to read. With her hands cupped around a teacup her thumb gingerly stroked one of the many blue butterflies that adorned it, her shoulder barely touching his, and her golden eyes softly glowing from an internal source as they darted across the worn pages from a book that had seen better days. How long they had been reading, she couldn’t say, but at one moment they had been quietly discussing amongst each other only to have her familiar speak up with an attention-grabbing ‘merow’ followed by an annoyed growl.
“Kismet?” She softly called out to her cat, whose hair on the back of their neck stood up against their arched back. Their back to her and their gaze staring up and out of the window. With her knees bent she closed the book by folding her legs up and in and staring at nothing in particular she listened, breathed deeply, and listened more deeply to the sounds coming in around them. [“Thrumming. It’s rhythmic,”] she said as she looked Wilhelm in the eyes only to gasp as her familiar leaped up into her lap with a guttural growl and, along with them, a primal sense of fear registered in her chest.
”Kai, Wilhelm, wake up! We’ve got a dragon!”
“Fucking hell! If it’s not one thing, it’s the next,” she spat out as she cradled her cat against her chest, not grabbing anything else as she knew that it would do them no good in this circumstance.
Opening up the door, the word insignificant came to mind, and the smell of the earth being charred filled her senses. For a moment she glanced about to the other travelers, relief barely registering as she saw that no one had been murdered, yet. Deeply scarred, bare feet gripped into the floorboards and her eyes closed from the heat, and she looked down to Orien to see if he had been hurt yet.
“I have found you at last! Cowards and murderers, or friends of murderers in the least. As you can see, it would be pointless to try and run now that I’ve caught you. Bring forth the one I seek, and I may still be inclined to let the rest of you go. I seek that murderer, who so callously slew one of my kin, a young dragon, in Cantarta. I seek Caden Alinari.”
Standing, motionless aside from her hair billowing up, her brilliantly glowing eyes connected with the ancient one; excitement, fear, and hunger boiled in her stomach like never before. Her power resonated within her, and her arms encircled Kismet who began to burrow themselves into her let down hair, and with her arms freed she raised them up as Orien laid down his scabbard and she, painfully slow, went to stand beside him and looked back to her mentor to see what he was up to at this precise moment.
Wilhelm was a fan of the food that was being served. Having a warm meal every night reminded him of better times. Yet, he was wary of the companions he now surrounded himself with. For the first time in years, he was surrounded by people he did not know, after choosing to keep to himself, so feelings of dread were persistent. He kept a knapsack ready to go in the event he would ever be forced to flee in the middle of the night. Yet, Kai was the reason he stayed. She kept him grounded and calm, preventing him from fleeing. In only the brief time they had reunited, both of them had reformed that student-teacher connection they had, spending their nights going over notes and practicing magic.
After the dinner, both of them had retired to their wagon, with both of them going over some notes and readings, trying to piece together some of Wilhelm’s life that had not yet returned to his memory, as well as research more of the plague that drove them from their homeland and if there was a way to reverse it.
It was then when the warning from Orien had jolted him and put him on alert. Without even a word of warning, Kai had dashed from their cabin before Wilhelm could stop her. A dragon and she was going out to face it. Was she even his student anymore? Even Wilhelm wouldn’t take on a dragon, preferring a hasty retreat.
Grabbing his satchel full of components, Wilhelm followed her.
As soon as he was outside, he saw the mystical beast of legend. In the past, Wilhelm had only read about them, never having seen a full grown dragon up close before, but here it was. This dragon was demanding the sacrifice of one of their traveler, one who went by the name of Caden Alinari, for the crime of destroying of kin.
He stood by Kai, placing a hand on her shoulder to calm her down. “We are not going to win this one. Stand down.” he instructed her. Turning to Orien, he saw that the young man had laid down his arms in front of the dragon, a symbol of respect. “Get Caden out here now. We need an explanation of what is going on exactly.
Even if Carrick were to look away from the dragon, through his sixth sense he would feel the strength radiating from the beast and practically see the flames that churned within its gut. The guard felt very aware that he was within range to become barbecue if he wasn't careful. Some movement behind him did lure away Carrick's attention though. The head guard turned to see Orien putting down his sword. He turned back to see Keeleester the walking armory unloading his weapons as well.
Carrick eyed the pommel of his sword briefly before also drawing it out and laying it flat on the floor, along with his dagger and boot knives, before slowly taking two steps back from his relinquished equipment. Would this work? Carrick wasn't sure. He didn't exactly have experience dealing with mythical creatures. All he knew was that he felt naked without his tools, but he wasn't sure what choice he had but to play along with everyone else's actions. There was nowhere to run and they were trapped between a ring of fire and a demand that could not be fulfilled. However, as sure as hell the gears in his head were churning to come up with something. Waiting for any opportunity.
It rarely failed to amuse him when his mere presence caused so much panic among humans. He did not often venture within sight of these small two legged beings, but it did usually give him a sense of power. As was the case this time as well. Most of the humans, fear in their eyes, scrambled for cover behind their frail wooden wagons. He could not blame them for seeking cover, despite the fact that the only cover around would become a bonfire if he chose to make it so. A few brave ones decided to stand against him, and he admired their courage, even as he plotted their violent deaths if they hesitated to give him the one he wanted. A Dark Elf, surprisingly, and a collection of humans. A dark haired Shahrazadian, an Oronian boy and girl, an older Oronian male, and a white haired woman.
He could smell him, Caden. The odor was subtly different then what he had picked up at the castle, this was true. But time and distance could distort many things. He was he, and he knew it.
His eyes first fell on the Dark Elf, ignoring the dark haired human who had spoken, for the moment. “Hmmmmm… A description, you ask for. I know him by smell alone, though the guardians of the child provided me with one. A black haired man of average height, brown eyes. He smells of Shahrazad.” His wrathful gaze fell on the other Shahrazadian. “Much like you. Tell me human, is it coincidence that I search the land for this caravan to find a Shahrazadian, and once I find it, I find one here? Perhaps not the one I seek, at least not yet. Do you know what I think, human? I think he is here somewhere, and you are hiding him from me. A foolish game, simply because I am in no mood to play games.”
He looked around at those who remained, and as he did, he saw something astonishing. The Oronian boy human was laying down his weapon in front of him. Was this child seriously attempting to ask for the rite of arbitration? It was such a foolish notion, because Var’Dhun was certain beyond any doubt that he had the rite of vengeance! But as he watched, two more humans stood beside the boy, and the Dark Elf began laying a veritable mountain of small weapons. His gaze wandered back to the original accused, who was also laying down his arms. Slowly, he turned to glower at the only other human who had stood against him, the white haired woman. If she laid down her arms, he would have no choice but to submit to arbitration.
It was dishonorable to slay unarmed opponents who were not guilty of a crime.
Just then, though, a horn sounded, coming from a wagon. He turned quickly as the horn sounded again, and several extraordinary things happened at once. First, he saw a finely dressed middle aged male striding out from one of the wagons. Var’Dhun had not known he was there, so his appearance was slightly surprising. He was blowing on a truly beautiful bone horn that was inlaid with a filigree of gold and silver.
The second astonishing thing to happen was that, as the male was blowing the horn, the wagons began to emit a soft blue light. The longer the horn sounded, the brighter the glow became.
The third, and most astounding thing, that happened was that the ring of fire he had conjured to corral these humans flickered briefly, and then died altogether.
His anger burned brighter as the flames he had conjured died. How dare this human cause this to happen! What he should have done right then and there was burn the man to ashes and conjure his flames once more. But caution killed this impulse. He did not know how the human had done this, so it seemed wiser to gather more information before he acted.
Phineas Elias Hawkes, elected leader of the Blue Caravan, strode from his wagon, blowing his horn. He hadn’t a clue, really, why the wagons reacted this way when this horn was blown. He doubted anyone ever really had. All he knew was what the previous leader had told him, when he had given him the wagon that came with his position.
“Should the caravan ever find itself in dire peril, blow this horn. Whatever magic exists with the caravan seems to react to its call, and when the horn is blown, the caravan acts to protect its travellers.”
He had never had an occasion to blow it before, and now that he did, he found he was somewhat… disappointed. The ring of fire disappearing was a good thing, to be sure. It would allow the less combative members of the caravan a chance at escape, and he hoped they would take it. But he had just expected something more… drastic.
No matter. He lowered the horn from his lips, and turned his gaze to the dragon. “I greet you, fearsome one. And I convey my apologies for invoking this magic. I understand it is terribly rude of me to do so, but I cannot simply allow you to threaten this caravan or its members. I am Phineas Elias Hawkes, leader of this caravan. I remember this Caden you speak of. He was a guard here previously, but left with no explanation. I do not discount your words, but the fact remains that the one you seek is not here. You will have to find your justice elsewhere.”
Black anger surged through Var’Dhun as he heard the older man's words. He would not let this human spout his filthy lies, not after his completely insulting actions. But he could not simply slaughter these humans, as much as his anger was consuming him. And neither could he let them go. He knew Caden was here somewhere. He could smell him! His gaze wandered back to the white haired woman, who had yet to lay down her arms, and was even looking back at him with a stubborn gaze. This unexpected circumstance almost caused him to laugh.
“I will not accept your words, human.” He said, addressing the so-called leader, but still staring at the white haired woman. “But it would seem that I cannot simply demand you give him to me. And since it seems that most of you…” he said, his voice dripping with malice and a hint of amusement. “... have laid down your weapons for the rite of arbitration, I grant your request.” He glared for a moment longer at the white haired woman, before turning his gaze to Shahrazadian. “Tell me, humans. If Caden is not here, why do I still smell him?”
So Hawkes was magic. That was new information. Or at the very least, he had a magic horn, which might have been stranger. The fires died, and still the dragon continued to bellow and threaten. They were all going to die if no one answered this creature's questions directly, that much was clear. Sahak didn't have the first idea who Caden Alinari was, and he didn't know anything about talking to dragons, but he very much wanted to not die.
"Scent lingers!" Sahak blurted out, and pushed himself up from the dirt. He stepped out from behind the wagon and made eye contact with the dragon. Very large, very terrible eye contact.
All gods, that was a big dragon.
"Scent lingers," he repeated. "Even after someone dies, it lingers for days. Not that I think he's dead, just--I don't know who Caden Alinari was--is--but I'd wager that he was here and left." He raised his voice. "And if anyone in the caravan knows anything about him, I'm sure they would happily tell you where to find him."
The comically large pile of weapons now infornt of keelester seemed to have appeise the dragon at least somewhat. Then the oddness continued with the flames suddenly being snuffed out by the blow of a horn how strange the drow felt as If he should have a look at said horn such a artifact would clearly prove a viable product afterall replicating and manufacturing magical items was a artificer fortay. it seemed the caravans leader had decided to join them as they where the one that blew the horn questions about it where for later however for now the dragon was more important. The dragon then revealed how little it knew of its quarry and that it was tracking them by smell and a barge description, while keelester didn't doubt the powerful sense of the dragon that very same strong sense of smell likely led them here prehaps the caravan had interacted with there intended target and thusly they now had the man's scent? The caden fellow was apparnelty one of the previous guards according to there leader keelester felt it prudent to speak speak up once again. "There a few reason I believe Mr Hawkes did Caden per chance leave any gear or equipment? Personal effects? If he did so ita a good chance its that the only other option I see is the man has somehow remained on the caravans without us detecting his presences"
Inyri was simply too flustered with her mistake to respond to Keelesters kidding remark. It was not that she was embarrassed by her ability. Far from it, it was often highly useful, especially in her occupation. But her parents had recently taken to telling her that it might be best to not make it too obvious that her fluency sprung from a magical source. She knew why. There was a growing sense of unease among people when it came to magic. She couldn’t understand why truthfully, but it was usually best to err on the side of caution in these cases. She had heard some pretty nasty stories in the past.
The rest of the day slipped by amicably, and Inyri turned in for the night shortly after sunset. It wasn’t, though, to be a restful night.
She had barely lain down for bed when she was woken by a pounding at her door. Orien was yelling something about a dragon and telling her to find cover. Disgruntled, she got up and slipped on her only set of clothes, and went outside.
To find herself in a ring of fire and staring into the snarling visage of a dragon. Inyri didn’t consider herself a cowardly person. She knew she was no warrior, and that some things were best left to other people. But she liked to think she wouldn’t be one to panic and run.
But this time her courage failed. Her face paled as the dragon's harsh voice spoke to them, and she immediately hid behind the wagon she had come out of, the absurdity of hiding behind a wooden wagon while a dragon was threatening them only vaguely registering in her mind. Talia had also chosen to hide behind this wagon. There was nothing for the two to do besides try and stay out of the dragon's sight.
Several minutes passed before a few strange things happened. A horn sounded, and the wagons and carts around her began glowing in time with the horn calls. As the sound of the horn reverberated through the woods beyond the wall of fire, inexplicably that wall of fire sputtered and died out. It was such an obvious sign that it was time to go, that she gently took Talia’s hand and motioned to the woods. ”Come on, Miss Talia. There’s nothing we can do here.” she said quietly. She got off and started off towards the woods. She only stopped to tap the healer, Sahak, on the shoulder as she left, gesturing towards the woods. She hoped that, if things ended up turning out alright, Sahak would let everyone know that she and Talia had hidden in the woods.
With that she turned, and tried to put as many trees as she could between them and the Dragon, trying her best not to think of how this was the second time she had fled the safety of a caravan for the uncertainty of woods, and hoping it wouldn’t turn out the same as the last time.
Carrick's head swung around when the fires were extinguished. He certainly felt the force that had erupted from the horn and crashed upon the flames like a tidal wave. But even he could not believe at first the might of this mysterious power. What a strange horn, a strange man Hawkes was, and a stranger caravan still.
He redirected his attention to the dragon, the matter at hand. The situation was under control for now but whether it remained that way had yet to be seen. Carrick had rather they were clear of the dragon completely and him and his companions allowed to return to their night in peace.
He moved to try to stop Sahak from jumping out or doing anything reckless, but there was no stopping the man chipping in his two cents in. Carrick mulled over the healer's words. Scent lingers. Carrick didn't know much about Sahak yet, but his impression was that the healer was a clever man and worth his salt. 'Scent lingers.' Carrick wondered how long ago it was that Caden Alinari might have been at the caravan.
Whether the dragon smelled Caden's residual scent or effects, as Keelester suggested, Carrick did not know. But, Carrick felt he could add two words on the matter. "The Alinaris make a home in the desert nation of East. Shahrazad. You may have heard of it." Carrick didn't want to divulge any more information than he needed to, but it seemed worthwhile enough to get this dragon out of their hair. What a troublesome family the Alinari were. Carrick hoped the dragon would find Caden and burn him away and the rest of the Alinari family too.
How dare they do this. How was this caravan their prey? The insolence of this creature; and all because it could roast them alive if it so chose to. A scoff wanted to sound, but she bit her cheek instead.
“We are not going to win this one. Stand down.”
Her once intent gaze hardened and narrowed with his instructions. What did he think she was doing? Irritation boiled in her blood, her shoulders stiffening, heart racing, breathing quickening, and feet curling against until her gaze fell to where his hand was and she instantly softened. She brought her gaze up, but could not look him in the eye; instead, she softly bowed her head and said “Yes, master.”
She would not let her explosive temper get them into danger again and turning to face their quarry she softly pressed her shoulder against Wilhelm’s hand. Instead, she watched Orien and his deeds and wondered if his laying of the sword would be enough to ease the dragon’s mourning. Astonishingly, both Keelester’s and Carrick’s mimicking seemed to appease the dragon, but her eyes darted over to Rega to see that she had yet to lay down her weapons and prepared for the worst. However, at both the sound and then the deliverance of magic, another sight garnered her attention, called forth by Hawkes. She shivered, in both astonishment and relief as her features lit up with the most beautiful brilliance that she had ever had to witness and looked to Orien as she curled her lips in to not to smile. So, the stories her mother used to weave did hold truth to them; however, she needed to keep herself focused on a more pressing matter.
Listening to all involved, her thoughts began to turn;
“Tell me, humans. If Caden is not here, why do I still smell him?”
A question for the masses, indeed. Her body became still, and her breathing rhythmic, as her gaze locked on a charred blade of grass that she took as her focus. Sahak was right, as was Keelester; but there was one bit of information gleaned earlier that she would not believe to be true.
“Perhaps he is still here; Sir Hawkes, was there a wagon that he laid to bed in? I say we work with this ancient one to see if it coincides with what they are smelling; though, I know I am but a simple merchant. ” She spoke up, her voice ringing out strongly, and squaring her stance she clasped her fingers together and looked the dragon straight on. “Though, I think a better question lies unspoken,” her lips parted softly in thought, “What makes you think that a single human, do correct me if I am wrong, could slay one of your kin? Why this, Caden Alinari?” Her gaze turned pensive but soft as she quirked an eyebrow up to them, “Was it the caretakers that so willingly gave this description of him?” Her gaze hardened with that thought, “What makes them so reputable, and us so repugnant?”
Everything slowed around the young blonde haired elvish looking woman as the glow of the orange of fire consumed the wall of her wagon. Her doe-like golden eyes widened as her face contorted with horror and terror at the sight of the large amount of fire that erupted violently. Detail faded into darkness for her as she stood there unable to hear or think. All consumed by fear and horror as her eyes locked on the fire. Near quiet pathetic whimpering sounds escaped from her quivering lips.
“Talia, I love you so much,”
Her mind pulled deeper within itself with reminders of the smell of burning flesh, and twisted screams while laughing echoed in the distance. Jeers and cheers while a male voice cried out in pain. The flames eventually silenced the male’s screams...a vision burned forever in her memory. The smell of the ashes of her home and husband lingered in her mind.
Orien glanced around at everyone else. Most of them seemed to be taking their cue from him and were busy laying down their arms. There were a few holdouts, but Orien hoped that the gesture would not be ruined by this. Because, really, if they couldn’t just get this dragon to talk, tonight would probably be a very very bad one. Orien felt more then saw that Master Wilhelm had sidled up to them. At the last command, though, Orien shook his head slowly side to side. “There is no Caden in the Caravan, Master Wilhelm. At least not right now.” he said, in answer to it.
Before anything else could happen, a horn sounded from behind him. Orien, not really wanting to expose his back to an irate dragon, glanced over his shoulder to see Mr. Hawkes, the leader of the caravan, walking from his wagon, blowing an intricately designed horn as he walked. The wagons began to glow a soft blue, but the glow quickly intensified and became nearly blinding to look at. If the situation weren’t so dire, Orien would have been begging Mr. Hawkes to show him the horn. As it was, he simply stood transfixed as the horn calls echoed around him. And then, suddenly, the circle of flames flickered and died. Orien was shocked, and turned back to look at the dragon. He didn’t want to think about how the dragon would react to this turn of events.
Fortunately, after Mr. Hawkes speech, the dragon seemed to calm down, but only a little bit. He at least did not burn them to the ground.
“Tell me, humans. If Caden is not here, why do I still smell him?”
Fortunately, everyone had the reply in hand. But it was Kai who brought up the more important question, at least in Orien’s mind. Putting on his best speaking voice and mannerisms, he stepped forward. “I don’t think we can deny that at one point, Caden was with the Caravan...Uh… Sir.” He said, finishing somewhat lamely, but standing up straight and clasping his hands behind his back nonetheless. Exactly like Master Isan had taught him to stand when speaking to anyone of importance. “And that might explain why you can still smell him. As our friends Sahak and Keelester have said, scent lingers, and it could be that some of his belongings may still be here.” he said. He had started speaking with nervous butterflies in his stomach, and though they were still there, he found that it was much easier to continue now that he had started.
Orien inclined his head towards Kai. “Perhaps you could also tell us what exactly the guardians told you happened?” he said, adding his own list of questions to those already asked. At this point he felt it was a better idea to try and keep talking and at least seem like they were trying to be helpful.
A dragon? Now, this is not what Alcred had signed up for previously. He had signed up to be an entertainer, not to deal with an overgrown lizard that could fly and also spew fire from its mouth. He would be having a nice chat with the leader of the caravan about the dangers. He expected dangers like bandits, weather-related complications, bounty hunters looking for someone who had joined up, and maybe a slaver or two, but dragons? Absolutely not. With his deliciated constitution, he was made for distraction and entertaining, not slaying the dragon.
When the alarm was sounded, he poked his head from his cabin, peeking from the edge of the door to get an idea of what was going on. It seemed like a fair amount of those traveling with the caravan were outside, facing the dragon, well, at least those who looked like they could fight. The dragon was asking for this “Caden” person to show themselves and to answer for his crimes. This “Caden” was not part of the caravan, and if he was, Alcred would support just giving him up to the dragon at this point. Kin slaying was inexcusable, and having a dragon facing you down, ready to burn the entire party to a crisp was not a ending he would wish to meet. He had no skills at his disposal for resolving this quarry.
A deafening sound filled the air. The sound of a horn being blown. Light surrounded the caravan and the flames that once surrounded them were extinguished. Looking around, he noticed two members of their party began to make for the safety of the woods. Through the nights shroud, he wasn't able to make out who they were, but they had the right idea. Looking both ways, Alcred slid from his wagon, following the group for a distance as they made their way to the safety of the forest.
Talia and Inyri had the right idea. Sahak glanced up at the dragon to make sure that it was well and truly distracted by the others, then scrambled after them towards the dark tree line. He bumped into the entertainer--Alcred? Was that his name?--on the way. "Careful," Sahak hissed, grabbing the other man's arm. He pulled him forward. The fire had only burned briefly, but the air still smelled of woodsmoke, and charred plants crunched under their feet. It smelled like funeral pyres, Sahak thought, and then forcibly put the thought from his mind.
The forest was dense enough that they soon lost sight of the caravan, and even the dragon. They found the girls huddled behind a cluster of trees. Sahak forcibly put thoughts of funeral pyres from his mind and slung his pack off his shoulder. "Is anyone hurt?" he whispered. "Talia, Inyri--are you alright?"
Orien’s correction hopefully put some more minds at ease. By the time Wilhlem had joined, he had not heard of this Caden person and now knowing he was not part of this caravan made things a bit easier. While the threat of combat with the dragon was still on the table, it would make it easier for the group to talk it down and send it off, but words were to be chosen correctly as they already had offended it and another slight would result in an inferno being set upon them.
He made note of Kai’s reaction. His pupil seemed insulted by the dragon’s accusations, insinuating that they were in league with a kinslayer and as such, they should suffer the same fate if they were hiding this Caden figure. Wihlem knew that anger, but his words seemed to reassure her that fighting this would only end in defeat. No lesson or lecture required for this. He was extremely proud of her speaking mannerisms, going on the defense, but acting in a respectful manner so that the dragon would not take any further offense. It was a time for diplomacy, and if that failed, well, it shouldn’t have to fail.
It was then that Orien stepped up to address the dragon, pointing out that there may have been some deception. Bold, but the way he spoke made him seem like a trusting figure. Apologize, admit that Caden was part of this caravan, but had left long ago, but deflect to the point that they could potentially use this as a moment to get the dragon away from them and pass safety. He stood there, staring at the dragon and waited for the response.