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TOPIC | Th' Cap'ns Log
Ahoy, landlubbers.

This topic actually came inna existence 'cause one o' me stories stopped fittin' in th' biography o' th' dragon it be meant fer.

P'raps I'll get this introductory post a wee bit more filled out in th' future but nay yet.

So, this'll serve's me place t' put actual tales me crew tells, includin' me own. Fer now, it starts off with th' tale th' inhabits one o' th' biographies.
Th' tales do feature violence, though nay ferocious from what I've written thus far, savvy? Good.

Some o' me tales, 'specially th' first one ye'll be readin' involves a "progressive biography". A quick phrase I used t' explain what was goin' t' happen. Simply, it be that th' scallywag started in diff'rent clothin' unique t' their personality, their location, 'r even their past. Throughout th' story, ye'll notice they lose it, gain some'n else, an' what not. If ye keep a wary deadlight on th' hand th' tale focuses on, through me dragon page, ye'll see that ('r, if ye fancy seein' each dragon update 'ere, simply tell me).

An' one final note: I write in th' mornin' an' the story tends t' be updated daily, albeit not post by post. This might apply t' future tales 'r it may not. So, if ye fancy bein' pinged fer every wee update just ask, I will, 'r check by daily (I tend t' write on th' weekdays 'tween five an' six in th' mornin', Flight Risin' time o'course). If ye fancy bein' pinged fer new tales, ye can also ask fer that.

Note: If ye 'ave any suggestions 'bout th' way th' posts 're handled, 'r anythin' like that, go ahead an' message me, suggest 'em 'ere, etc.

If ye fancy readin' a tale 'bout a particular member o' me crew, request it 'ere. I entertain th' fact o' knowin' there be deadlights on th' words I spew out from time t' time. Good form o' motivation fer some dragons (though I write noneth'less).

An' finally, I've crossed claws an' blade with many a clan fer their plunder. It wouldna come's a s'prise if pillage'n plunder from yer clan. So, if ye want yer crew t' be featured in some way either by bein' pillaged 'r some minor form, message me'n we'll discuss this. More involvement'll require a form o' currency 'n ye'll be lettin' me do th' writin', o'course.

Tales from th' Crew

1. Alibi's Start
2.

Th' Cap'ns Log

1. Bilge
Ahoy, landlubbers.

This topic actually came inna existence 'cause one o' me stories stopped fittin' in th' biography o' th' dragon it be meant fer.

P'raps I'll get this introductory post a wee bit more filled out in th' future but nay yet.

So, this'll serve's me place t' put actual tales me crew tells, includin' me own. Fer now, it starts off with th' tale th' inhabits one o' th' biographies.
Th' tales do feature violence, though nay ferocious from what I've written thus far, savvy? Good.

Some o' me tales, 'specially th' first one ye'll be readin' involves a "progressive biography". A quick phrase I used t' explain what was goin' t' happen. Simply, it be that th' scallywag started in diff'rent clothin' unique t' their personality, their location, 'r even their past. Throughout th' story, ye'll notice they lose it, gain some'n else, an' what not. If ye keep a wary deadlight on th' hand th' tale focuses on, through me dragon page, ye'll see that ('r, if ye fancy seein' each dragon update 'ere, simply tell me).

An' one final note: I write in th' mornin' an' the story tends t' be updated daily, albeit not post by post. This might apply t' future tales 'r it may not. So, if ye fancy bein' pinged fer every wee update just ask, I will, 'r check by daily (I tend t' write on th' weekdays 'tween five an' six in th' mornin', Flight Risin' time o'course). If ye fancy bein' pinged fer new tales, ye can also ask fer that.

Note: If ye 'ave any suggestions 'bout th' way th' posts 're handled, 'r anythin' like that, go ahead an' message me, suggest 'em 'ere, etc.

If ye fancy readin' a tale 'bout a particular member o' me crew, request it 'ere. I entertain th' fact o' knowin' there be deadlights on th' words I spew out from time t' time. Good form o' motivation fer some dragons (though I write noneth'less).

An' finally, I've crossed claws an' blade with many a clan fer their plunder. It wouldna come's a s'prise if pillage'n plunder from yer clan. So, if ye want yer crew t' be featured in some way either by bein' pillaged 'r some minor form, message me'n we'll discuss this. More involvement'll require a form o' currency 'n ye'll be lettin' me do th' writin', o'course.

Tales from th' Crew

1. Alibi's Start
2.

Th' Cap'ns Log

1. Bilge
Cap'n o' th' Crowned Thresher
Pirates Risin'
(Public lore regardin' pirates o' Sornieth)
Below Deck! (Personal Lore Thread)
[center][b]Alibi's Start[/b] [url=http://flightrising.com/main.php?dragon=7685357] [img]http://flightrising.com/rendern/350/76854/7685357_350.png[/img] [/url] (Progressive Startin' Appearance Nay Featured)[/center] [i]"Here, here, who wants to buy a dragon? While not as wide-eyed and easy to lug around as a hatchling, how can you go wrong with an adult dragon?" I announced standing to stretch my wings before I took a seat again. It was well into the evening and the only dragons that were still at the auction house were the ones who had chosen to take a night shift. Most of the dragons were quiet, standing by the items or dragons they had out for display and the dragons that were being sold were fast asleep having been that way since the moon first made appearances. "Oh, come off it, Shadow, nobody wants to buy whatever dragon you have for sale and obviously the dragon didn't want to stick around!" one of the neighboring sellers remarked. We had taken to addressing each other by eye color for the short time the Fire dragon had been standing near me. "What are you talking about?" I asked feigning incredulity. "He's right here!" I said nodding my head. "Only I would get stuck next to an insane Shadow dragon," Fire remarked. She was a massive guardian with a permanent scowl etched across her bright yellow features but that didn't stop her from managing to sell all of her hatchlings to one clan. Now she was trying to get rid of recently purchased ones she regretted. We turned our attention to a fae wandering along the row of dragons with as much disinterest as a fae can show. "Well, hello there! Want to buy a dragon?" I asked sitting up. The fae paused peering around. "Where's the dragon?" it asked. "Why, right here! And for a measly twenty five thousand, he too, can be yours!" I said, baring my teeth in an encouraging grin. The fae hovered in the air for a few heartbeats before quickly moving on. "I can spend twenty five thousand on a hood and at least see [i]that[/i]!" it hollered behind it, not even glancing at the guardian's clutch. "You wouldn't know a good sale if it bit you on the wing," I remarked, snorting. "Oh, but I would," someone remarked nearby. I glanced down the row to see a trio of dragons approaching. Unlike the fae, they were clad in odd pieces of apparel while still having the same colored kerchief and all equipped with the odd sharpened trinket. "Good evening!" I greeted them, flashing my best grin. "If ye can call it that," the middle dragon, a mirror, remarked glancing up at the skies. "Dark clouds rollin' in makes fer dangerous tides!" I resisted the urge to chuckle as the mirror spoke from between the other two dragons, both of which were also mirrors and aside from the glowing lamp-like items they had around their chests, they looked exactly alike. She sounded odd, and spoke in peculiar accent that I'd never heard before. They all smelled of the sea but didn't look like any water dragons I'd ever seen. "So, ye said ye 'ad a good sale, landlubber. What be that exactly?" the middle dragon asked, not taking her eyes off of me. I paused for a moment, trying to figure out what she just called me. "Looks like he swallowed his tongue, cap'n!" one of the other mirrors said, followed by an odd sort of snort. "Or he forgot how to talk," the other mirror snickered. I smiled, glancing at the lookalikes before focusing my gaze on the middle mirror and presumably the leader. "Hardly. I was simply trying to figure out where you all hail from. Your leader's accent is remarkable and, if I might add, quite lovely," I said, but nothing changed about them except one of the lookalikes' temperature rose slightly. "Watch your tongue!" the mirror snapped, a male from which he could tell by smell, if barely. "Calm yerself, Jibber," the leader said, taking a step forward. "Flatterly won' keep ye alive 'ere 'n won' make me want t' buy whatever yer lookin' t'sell. Now, I'll ask ye once more. What be yer so-called [i]sale[/i]?" she hissed, keeping her voice low. I wasn't going to admit it but I felt slightly intimidated. Three mirrors and one with a short temper wasn't something I wanted to deal with but I'd already dug my hole, it was only befitting that I jumped in it. At least I could do it with flair though. "Conjure this image for yourselves: A strong, shadow-flauged dragon weaving in and out of your clan's ranks prepared to do battle by your side, breed, or be your master prankster all for the measly price of twenty-five thousand gold pieces!" I said the smile returning to my face. I could be an auctioneer with this kind of enthusiasm! The lookalikes raised their heads in what I could only assume was confusion and the one that spoke up, presumably Jibber, curled his lips back. "Are you playing with us now?" he snarled. "Do we have to show you what we do to dragons that waste our time?" the other lookalike asked crouching. "Who're ye tryna toy with, lad?" the leader asked shaking her head. "Nobody, he's right here to be sold," I began but she interrupted me. "Why would we spend twenty-five thousand on a whelp of a lad such's yerself when we could simply take those fancy pieces o' clothin' ye got 'n earn twice's much's we'd spend on ye?" she asked, laughter slipping into her voice. At the sound of it, the other two brightened, amused as they understood what she was saying. I frowned, watching them. They'd seen past my first jest, or at least the leader did and furthermore insulted my price! "It's a fair price!" I argued. "Where else could you find a mature dragon with fair coloring and the willingness to join another clan?" "Actually two rows past ye fer ten thousand. Yer no more'a sale then a yeti be willin' t' join a crew with a welcomin' embrace. "Now, tell me, where's yer clan leader? I'd fancy runnin' 'em through fer allowin' ye t' survive with th' intelligence o' a dodo!" While my anger built, I found myself grinning at her question. "Well, you're looking at him," I said, lowering my head in a bow. "Oh, aye? And where's th' rest o' yer clan, ye slimy bilge rat?" she asked. "I am my own clan," I stated. "Be that so?" she asked, smirking. "Well, we ought t' break ye o' that wee problem 'n o' yer other problem's well!" she stated to her clanmates' surprise. My eyes widened, mirroring their surprise. "I didn't think anyone would!" I admitted as she procured a satchel with gold coins in it. "Aye, I assume's much," the leader said, counting coins before handing me a handful. I glanced down at the small amount surprised. "Where's the rest? I said twenty five--I know what ye said, landlubber!" she snapped. "Now, put that away'n let's go. Arcane magic goes a long way when it comes t' browsin' th' Auction 'ouse 'n those twenty five coins'll grow if ye don' keep 'em somewhere small's a bag," she interrupted, turning around and walking away. I put the coins away shooting a smug glance towards the guardian but Fire had a horrified look in her eyes. "What's that for? I just made some treasure!" I announced to her shooting a glance towards the departing dragons. "You just sold yourself to one of the worst possible things!" she hissed. "They can't be that bad," I snorted. "They're pirates! Captain...Fire something leads them and she's [i]never[/i] let a dragon off of her ship alive!" "Don' make me 'ave t' send th' twins back 'r I'll let 'em deal with ye," the mirror yelled. "Pirates don't exist. They're just stories to keep hatchlings like you from getting too close to the sea," I snickered. "I'll be sure to send you a message of my existence once I sell myself out of the clan too!" I snickered turning around and walking away. "So," I began catching up to the three mirrors. "Just what do I call you?" "Jibber," one of the lookalikes said, a yellow lamp casting shadows across his orange face. "And I'm Jabber," the other lookalike remarked, shooting a glance back at him. She had a blue-green colored lamp that barely cast a light on anything. I fixed my gaze on the leading mirror. "What about you?" I asked. "Ye'll be callin' me cap'n Firefeather," she said as we made our way out of the auction house. I felt my step falter. This was a game. It had to be. My clan was trying to get back at me for my clever way of earning gold so they dressed up in odd outfits and pretended they were pirates, or hired other dragons to do that. However, I thought, shooting a glance at dragons we passed. Some of them shrank away and others shrouded their hatchlings under a protective wing as we passed. I'd never seen dragons do that. "And where are we going?" I asked watching as two sellers huddled their hatchlings under their wings and backed away, heads bowed. "Where d'ye think, ye slimy bilge rat? T' th' ship. We'll be waitin' out th' storm an' once it's passed 'r had its blows, we'll set sail!" Firefeather snapped. "Oh...kay," I said glancing down. I had to think of a way out and fast. I could make a run for it but from the looks of the dragons, I might not get far. The best and only plan I had for myself was to sell myself again. All I had to do was sneak out from under their eyes after I earned their trust to do as such and once I was in another clan, I would be set! "So...what's a ship?" ----- [i]I'd done my fair share of traveling and managed to sell myself out of my Shadow clan to two different clans in two different flights. I first sold myself to a clan of the Fire flight before selling myself to the Arcane flight. It worked quick well and I found myself happily making gold where no dragon thought I would. I finally sold myself back into the Shadow flight before finding myself stuck with these weird dragons. In my travels, though, I'd seen a few things that left me speechless from the magics of the Arcane to the ingenious smelting of the Fire. When we arrived at the docks, I thought I'd be looking for some sort of kite. After all, it seemed like the best possible idea for a ship. They hadn't explained it to me. What I saw, was far beyond that. Yes, there was a kite, but it was at the top of this hulking thing made of bright green wood. It creaked and rocked with the current of the water but went nowhere because of ropes tying it to the dock. "Behold," Jabber said walking behind him as he slowed his pace. "A ship." I couldn't find the words to speak as we walked along the side of it. I could hear voices coming from it and saw a ridgeback walking along the rail, checking ropes. How could he check them all? There were[/i] so[i] many ropes that this thing could've made a spider jealous. Some of the dragons were climbing them, mostly mirrors. I paused just before a plank of wood that led on to the ship. Jibber and Firefeather had already crossed but I found myself peering over the edge of the plank to the dark waters below. Did this ship go below water? If it did, did they know I couldn't breathe underwater? I felt my heartbeat increase much tot he chuckling of the mirror behind me. "It's a little early to start panicking, don't you think?" she asked pushing me forward with her snout. I started walking across the plank. I wasn't afraid of heights, or water for that matter. I just didn't want to drown because they thought all dragons were born with gills. "Welcome aboard th' Deadlight!" Firefeather announced as I stepped over the edge of the ship and onto its surface, a flat ground made up of green boards. "Now, first thing's first. We'll 'ave t' strip ye of yer encumberin' luggage," she said snickering. I shot her a dark glance. "What do you mean?" I asked. "I don't have any luggage except for the clothes on my back!" "Exactly. D'ye see any o' me mates concealed in cloaks 'r capes?" she asked glancing around. Other dragons had stopped what they were doing to gather around. Not all of them but some and none of them had capes. I took a step back. "I purchased this with my own gold! I'm not giving it up," I growled meeting the solid form of a dragon behind me. I'd forgotten Jabber was still there. "Can't have ye drownin' 'cause th' cape be sinkin' ye t' th' depths an' it'll get in th' way o' th' work so aye, ye won' be needin' it anymore, lad. Take off th' cape," she demanded, red eyes flashing. "Don' give me a reason t' let me crew rough ye up a bit. It isna me first choice o' breakin' in a new sailor but it certainly isna me last if they become stubborn, savvy?" I glanced around. The ship was lit with lanterns here and there so there was no escaping into the shadows. I reluctantly removed the cape and once I did, everything fell into darkness save for where the lanterns dimly lit the ship. "Good, now 'bout tha' ratty cap'n necklace o' yers," she began. "No!" I snapped curling my lips back to reveal sharp teeth. The captain laughed followed by some of the crew and the only thing that was going through my head was what I got myself into. "Alright, bein' that yer wet behind th' wings, 'specially when it comes t' ships, I'll be stickin' ye with Gut," she began. "We'll be docked 'till th' storm passes, gives ye enough time t' learn 'fore we set sail so when I give ye an order, I expect ye t' act like ye know what yer doin'," she finished turning around. "Coggs! What did ye want t' talk t'me 'bout?" her voice rang out as she departed from the group. "That's a nice cape ya got there," a black mirror snickered approaching him. "Wouldn't mind if I took it?" he asked, watching me with beady red eyes. I stepped on the cape, growling at him. "Go away!"I growled. He grabbed a part of the cape and started pulling, glaring at me all the while when I saw a flash of brown and he was rolling away. I glanced around to see a wildclaw standing over me watching the black mirror. "Belay that, Dusker and go find something to do!" the wildclaw ordered as the mirror got to his feet and shook his head. "Ya don't have to take care of him! He'll be just a cryin' hatchling by the time we're done with him," the mirror spat turning around and walking away. "Uh, than--The only dragon you need to be thanking is the captain or yourself. This isn't a clan, it's a crew and Dusker," he said gesturing to what I was sure was a silhouette in the darkness. "Was just trying to get ahead of the game." I narrowed my eyes. What was he talking about? I wasn't sure I liked it either way. "Ahead of the game?" I echoed bunching the cape up in my claws. I'd have to hide this somewhere, if I could. "Aye, you'll learn that later. In the meantime, you're better off stowing that away. Every dragon's got a hoard but it's hidden otherwise things get stolen. Anyhow, follow me and I'll show you around the ship. Name's Gut, by the way," he explained turning around and heading towards one side of the ship. "Alibi," I said following him as he disappeared through a hole in the wall of the ship. I paused for a moment glancing around. This wasn't going to be an easy ship to get off of. When morning came, it brought rain and wind and I found myself relieved and cold. I had followed Gut around the ship and already learned how to tie knots with ropes. He was teaching me what parts of the boat were called what and how to decipher orders from the captain. My claws were sore but Gut had assured me that the real work would begin when we departed. I stood on the deck of the ship overlooking the docks. There wasn't a lot of action on the boat and when I glanced around, I only saw two other dragons. One of taking food out of a barrel and the other one was washing the deck. This would be the perfect time to escape! I walked along the side of the boat, starboard is what they called it, until I found the plank leading to the docks. Without glancing back, I left, running down the docks and back into the Auction House. To the Plaguebringer with the cape! I'd buy another one later! I found an available space among hatchlings being sold and went to work. "Selling a dragon for cheap profits! How much, you might ask? Why, only ten thousand for a strong, sturdy male!" I announced waking a clutch of hatchlings nearby. I waited but there were no takers, not even the slightest interest. I risked a glance down the row of dragons but didn't see anyone approaching. This couldn't take long, I had to be sold and soon! I stepped away from the open selling spot and started down the row. "Anyone at all? Ten thousand for a male mirror! Only ten thousand!" I announced glancing around. "Shut it and go find a selling spot like everyone else!" a ridgeback hissed. "Ah hah, I thought I'd find you here! You know, you're building quite a little reputation of selling yourself, trickster," a familiar voice chuckled behind me. I whipped around to meet the purple-pink gaze of a white tundra. I narrowed my eyes as I saw a hulking guardian standing behind her. Of course, she had to bring her faithful mate along. "I've already been bought," I announced, mustering more confidence than I felt. I'd sold myself to the wrong clan and now I had my previous clan biting my tail. "Oh?" the tundra said glancing around. "And where is your clan? Or are you lying again?" she asked, tail flicking in irritation. "Actually, th' lad's not lying," someone stated behind me. When I glanced over my shoulder, I saw the other mirror, the 'captain'. Except she was alone. "And who are you?" the tundra asked but a hiss from the guardian told me that at least he had the memory to recollect a tale or two of pirates. "Th' lad's cap'n. Cap'n Firefeather, o' th' Deadlight. If ye fancy buyin' 'im, ye'll be payin' a hefty price but I might be willin' t' sell 'em," the captain said walked around me to confront the tundra. "I didn't sell him and whatever you are, you're not his leader nor his clan. Now stand down," the tundra growled. Suddenly the calm demeanor the captain had was lost and her teeth were bared. "Actu'lly, landlubber, I did buy 'im from 'imself. 'e be part o' my crew now an' ye won' be takin' 'em without a fight," she snarled, muscles tensing. "Fine, Ackor, show this odd mirror that we'll be taking Alibi back to his clan by force, please," the tundra ordered. She didn't see it but I did when the guardian hesitated, eyeing the blue mirror with uncertainty. "Well, if you're not going to do it," the tundra growled, closing her eyes. At first I thought she had lost her mind but suddenly little blue symbols danced around her head. She was meditating! I risked a glance at the guardian before turning my attention to the tundra as the captain bowled into her and pinned her to the ground. At some point, Firefeather had unsheathed her blade and held it to the other dragon's throat while the tundra was pinned to the ground. "D'ye know what this be?" the captain hissed at the tundra. I glanced at the guardian again but the only thing he'd done was drop his fins. He hadn't so much as moved! The tundra muttered something but confidence that had danced in her eyes before had been replaced with fear. "Aye, an' ye know what I'll do if ye cross me again? Yer lucky there be an audience otherwise I'd o' fed ye t' Kanibl in a burlap sack o' chopped tundra!" the captain snarled pressing the blade to the tundra's exposed neck. "I've fought stags more imposin' than ye!" she hissed. The captain backed off of the tundra shooting a dark glance at me. "Let's go, picaroon," she spat, glancing back at the tundra. "Let this serve as warnin' t'ye an' t'all o' these landlubbers," she snapped glancing around. "Don' cross me an' don' try stealin' me crew!" With that, she started to walk away without glancing back. I shot a smug glance towards the tundra before following the captain, falling in stride beside her. "Uh, thank you," I began, feeling that I owed her that, at least. She didn't respond but her raised body heat told me she was either angry at me or angry at the tundra. I didn't say anything else and she wasn't interested in talking. When we got back to the ship she led the way on to the deck. "Well, look who's back from his shore leave," a black mirror snickered as I set foot on the deck. "That was short lived!" I ignored him, searching for Gut. I had one chance to escape and I'd failed. It was best, until I ha another chance, to simply fall into the clan like the rest of the dragons. "So, ye think ye can outsmart yer cap'n?" Firefeather began causing me to glance ahead. She was facing me and the only thing that led me to believe she was still angry was her raised temperature. Apparently she knew my intentions. "I thought no such thing," I lied but I kept my head lower than hers. "Oh come now," she began walking around me. "Ye expect me t' believe that? Yer a Shadow dragon after all an' ye were sellin' yerself. A clever idea, I'll give yer that but yer nay th' first lad t' do that," she explained, smirking. "Well, I got away with it," I huffed. "Until now. Sellin' yerself an' stealin' gold be pirate material, lad, an' now yer in me crew. Taste th' freedom o' abidin' no clan rules an' takin' whatever ye want 'cause that's all yer gonna be doin' now, ye thievin' coward," she snapped. "Weigh anchor, lads! Th' storm's passin' quickly an' it be high time we teach our new hand what a pirate's life be!" she ordered.[/i] I'm going to interrupt this story for a moment. The captain and I weren't exactly on good terms as you can read. After all, she's not the sort who enjoys betrayal. Now, I enjoy recording certain events of my life as a story for other dragons, especially those I feel are significant and the only reason I started writing was because I thought I'd need a reminder of why I needed to get off the ship, especially after what happened. [i]It'd been many days since I'd first come aboard and I had learned quite a bit. I was nimble, more so than the imposing ridgeback, Cyclone, or even the black mirror, Dusker. I climbed the ropes like a snake with legs and could reach the crow's nest without a ladder. My claws still hurt occasionally from cracking but they'd developed hard callouses from walking the deck, manning the rigging, and other tasks. I felt so bold as to say that the captain was now looking at me as the better hand of her crew. Among the things I had learned, it was to never call the captain out by her name unless 'captain' preceded it. The first time, she'd give you a dirty look and the second time, she'd throw you overboard into the cold water. It wasn't worth it and in the middle of a vast sea with no land in sight, that ship is the only thing that served as solid beneath my claws. Besides, after the stories I'd heard about what's in the water, I didn't want to stay floating around. I did remove my encumbering garments. These pirates were right. They just got in the way. My Shadow hat kept falling off and the feathers I wore on my tail kept catching on things. It wasn't worth my life and I didn't mind the mockery from some of the dragons. It was well into the evening and while most of the sailors were below deck sleeping, I found myself unable to join them. There were various reasons from the foul smell of dead things someone was hoarding to one of the ridgebacks snoring but either way, I abandoned my nest and went up to the main deck. The snores and smell didn't reach here but a chill breeze did. It was quiet, with the only thing lighting my way being the half moon. It's reflection danced, broken apart, on the sea's black surface with nothing to disturb it save for the imposing vessel I stood on. Nobody else was on deck that I could see, so I wandered to the rail to peer over the side of the ship. I was no water dragon but at night, the ocean reminded me of the woods, mysterious and almost fore-boding. I could see why certain dragons loved it, lived in it, and on it. Out here, I could see water to the horizon and beyond and still no land and yet, there was a whole world beneath the ship, alive and menacing. It amazed me that the twins even fished! "If ye be lookin' t' jump, ye'll find it a long swim t' any land from 'ere," a familiar voice noted behind me. "You think I don't know that by now? No, I couldn't sleep," I admitted, preparing myself for some snap of words or command. "Yer still young, wet behind th' wings, lad. Not t' mention there be forces at work that'll keep a dragon from sleepin' 'r wake it up from a deep slumber. It 'appened t' th' crew 'fore but we ne'er found out what it be, 'specially seein' as most o' us arna night-savvy," she explained coming up beside me. I shot a glance at her but her gaze was towards the water, dark and unreadable like the current below. I studied her face, looking at the scar, still bright against her dark hide as it ran down the side of her face like a streak of lightning. She glanced at me, her eyes narrowing. "What're ye lookin' at?" she snapped. I looked away, back at the water. "Nothing," I began but shot another glance at her. "How did you get that scar?" I inquired. As far as I knew, nobody had ever asked her that. The only questions that were tossed at the captain were to benefit the ship and the winds. She snorted, glancing back at the ocean. For a few heartbeats, she said nothing and I began to wonder if she'd just ignore the question but suddenly, she said, "Ye don' live's long's I do as a cap'n without makin' enemies, includin' ones that were allies once, 'fore we set sail for th' first time," she explained, her voice low and thoughtful. I didn't say anything at first, thinking it over. It only came as a mild surprise that she'd once been a 'landlubber' as she would've called it. The ship itself had age, and it's captain did too, memory-wise. What enemies did she make on land, and over what, I wondered, though for a heartbeat, I gave in to the thought that Plague dragons were ruthless to begin with and she was a Plague dragon. I shot a glance at her. It was getting too quiet and for a heartbeat, it looked like she was lost deep in thought. I wasn't going to let the silence lengthen. It was interesting to learn about her past, even a small scrape of it but I didn't want to get caught having a heart to heart (which is what I called it), with her. "Oh, come on," I began, flashing a grin. "A ruthless captain like yourself remembering the past?" I began, nudging her with my wing. "What's the past there for if not to remind us why we go and do what do?" I asked. She fixed her gaze on me, her eyes darkening. "Aye, so what're ye standin' 'ere fer? Git t' sleep 'r git t' work, ye lazy bilge rat!" she snapped turning around and walking back to her cabin. I watched her leave, smirking. If I had anything to recollect anything off the ship for my own future, it's that the notorious captain Firefeather had tender memories of her own. The only thing I was mildly shocked at, was how I wasn't interested in using them. In fact, I wanted to learn more about her. Her 'crew' or clan was loyal to her despite her merciless ways but I'd seen her walk a dragon to the edge of a plank in shark-infested waters simply for disregarding her orders. What kept her as captain and how did she become so ruthless? The next two days went by quickly. I learned that we were 'adventuring' or looking for islands to explore. They'd come across quite a few islands away from the mainland but hadn't ever returned to them. I was busy eating my morning ration of dried meat, in the crow's nest when I spotted something odd fast approaching. I could barely make it out for a short while until I realized that[/i] we[i] were approaching it! It wasn't above water, but rather below it and dark, almost black and large, larger even, than the ship. "Grab the halyards, hoist the sails!" I suddenly yelled. For a heartbeat, the dragons below paused, looking at me with surprise and irritation. Were they dumb? Had they not heard the surprise in my voice? "Quickly!" I snarled. "Something large dead ahead!" was all I could manage before Hialt scrambled up the ladder to stand beside me. "What's the meaning of this?" He huffed, angered. "That!" I said nodding towards the ever growing darkness. We were almost upon it! Hialt's eyes widened and suddenly he was yelling orders over the side of the crow's nest. "And somebody fetch the captain!" he added as the crew came to life, pulling the sails up and turning the ship away from the dark waters. By the time she had come up to the crow's nest, the ship was just rocking gently with the waves, no longer in motion. "What be th' meanin' o' this?" she snapped glaring at us. I opened my mouth to speak but Hialt was quicker to answer. "Captain, look to starboard. I've never seen anything like it," he explained following her gaze to the shadowy water. She stared, her eyes darkening the more she looked at the dark water. "Prion!" she said, looking over the side of the nest. "Aye, captain?" the skydancer answered below. "Fly high, avoid gettin' caught in th' riggin', an' tell me what ye see," she ordered. "Aye, aye!" the dragon answered. There was a whoosh of air and suddenly, the smaller dragon was above their heads. She hovered in the air, glancing down. "Captain, it's a large circle of dark waters! Black, almost," she yelled to us. "How large?" the captain returned, her brow furrowing. Prion glanced down again, before flying a little higher. "Five ships in length, I'd say," she announced. "Well, that can't be possible," Jibber stated peering towards the dark water from below. "We've never even seen that," Jabber added coming up beside her brother. The captain had fallen into silence, staring at the water. "Come down, Prion, don' waste yer energy hoverin' anymore," she ordered. "Captain," Hialt began shooting a glance at the water. "We could go through it, but I wouldn't say it's worth it. It's like a black spot in the sea, why not just go around?" he suggested. They hadn't seen anything like it and I had never set foot in or on the ocean until this ship so I had no idea what to do. I glanced down the side of the crow's nest to see the twins still staring at the water. They fished in these waters all the time and they'd never seen anything like it. "Why not send the twins into it?" I suggested, cursing myself for not thinking for suggesting. Hialt shot me a dark look. "Are you mad? What if--Jibber, Jabber!" the captain interrupted glancing down at them. "Fancy takin' a look underwater?" "Absolutely!" Jabber answered. "Ready when you are," Jibber said and suddenly they dove in with a splash. "If that's deep water, then you've just doomed them to potentially running into the deadlights," Hialt growled shooting a dark glance at me before fixing his gaze on Firefeather. "We'll nay know 'less we investigate," she said, ignoring his anger. "An' th' twins be th' most fit fer underwater duty. They've seen more'n us, they'll know when t' turn back," she explained. "And what if they can't? What if that thing gets to them first?" he snapped. "They know th' dangers o' goin' in every time they jump th' ship, Hialt. Now, go oversee th' crew 'fore Tiros an' Mi'Rah start fightin' again!" she snarled, turning a sharp gaze on him. "Aye, aye, captain," Hialt muttered after a moment's retaliation before climbing down from the crow's nest. I watched him leave, glancing back at the dark waters. What else was in there? I wasn't well versed in the creatures beyond the flights I'd been in and I'd never heard of anything that sounded like 'deadlights'. I knew for a fact the ship was named after that but it was an odd name to begin with. I shot a glance at the captain. She was still staring at the water and the tension in the air was almost palpable. "Captain," I began. "What are the deadlights, exactly?" She snorted, shooting a glance at me. "Yer deadlights be yer eyes, lad. That'd nay be where me ship got its name though. Many moons ago, 'fore most o' this crew was even hatched, we were sailin' in th' evenin'. There wasna a moon t' be 'ad but we followed th' stars. Ye'd think we were scared from our own shadow when we saw some'n like th' moon gone under th' water. There were several blue-white lights that swam 'longside th' ship 'n those moons, they blinked. They were th' eyes o' a creature larger'n me ship. One o' th' first times we realized there were mysterious things 'neath th' waters. Th' twins 'ave 'ad their share o' run-ins with monsters, nothin' like th' deadlights but nothin' very tame either," she explained. I nodded, frowning. Creatures larger than this hulking vessel I stood upon wasn't an enticing thing to hear. "Did ye see that?" she asked, taking a step forward. I followed her gaze, she was still staring at the dark water. "What?" I questioned. What was she staring at aside from the water? "Somethin' breached just now," she explained, gaze narrowing. "Breached?" I echoed. There wasn't anything aside from the rippling of the water that I saw. She shot me a dark gaze. "Ye don' stop starin' 'till ye be gone 'r know fer sure," she snapped just as something splashed below them. I glanced down to see a black creature trying to crawl up the side of the hull. "Captain!" Duli yelped from the rigging. He'd seen it too. "Something's got our hull!" Just then, another creature jumped up, crawling up the side, letting out a wheezing growl. "What in th' name o' th' Plaguebringer," she muttered. "All hands t' deck! Ready yer weapons!" she announced leaping off the side of the crow's nest and narrowly avoiding a rope as she hit the deck on all fours. I started to follow but Hialt ordered me to stay in the crow's nest. "We need eyes above!" he yelled following the others to the side just as the first creature hauled itself over the rail and onto the deck. I glanced up, searching the black water. Did those come from there? What were they? Nothing disturbed the gentle waves and my curiosity was nearly overwhelming. I shot a glance below to find Tiros helping haul the other black creature on deck. When I glanced back up, I thought I saw the ends of a splash near the edge of the black water. Was it just a fish? I glanced around. What else was in there? Below me, Hialt and the captain were shouting orders and the sails were being dropped. Suddenly, something breached the water below slapping against the hull and rocking the ship. I grabbed ahold of the mast as the ship rocked slightly. What was that? When I glanced down again, something had risen out of the water. It looked almost like a... "Captain! There's a tentacle to starboard!" I yelped. Cyclone jumped into action, grabbing his cutlass. For a giant dragon, he moved quickly but I didn't have time to watch the fight. Another tentacle was rising out of the water a little ways away and for a heartbeat, I could've sworn the black water was actually reaching towards us. The ship was already moving, turning to port and suddenly, I could swear the tentacles were actually individual creatures as one loomed out of the water, reaching down as it searched for the ship. It was massive! If it came down fast, it could smash the ship to pieces, I was sure of it! "Captain! More tentacles at the stern!" I warned. "Tiros, Mi'Rah, get yer slimy carcasses t' th' stern o' th' ship!" the captain ordered below. As the ship gained speed, in the upper hand with the wind behind us, I watched as the tentacles reached out, trying to catch us. In the distance, where I could still see the beginnings of the black water, something breached slowly. Jagged turquoise spikes arose out of the water followed by massive tentacles. I realized slowly that those weren't spikes. They were fins attached to the head of what looked like a giant octopus. The ship was propelled by the waves that the creature was causing, and for a heartbeat, I thought we had gotten away safely as it sank below the water again. A few of the crew cheered below followed by a sharp snap from Hialt but I wasn't quick to join them. My heart was beating in my stomach as I watched the distance where it had disappeared. Suddenly, the water seemed to split apart in great waves as it leaped out of the water, with those giant fins flared outwards. It didn't go far at all, falling right back in a little ways closer to us. The crew had fallen silent as the sea seemed to rise from itself, over the creature and towards us. "Captain!" I shouted but she was already aware, yelling orders below. "Brace yerselves!" the captain snarled I wrapped my claws around the mast, the moment's worth of silence nearly deafening as suddenly the wave came down. Ice cold water crashed over my body, breaking me loose from the mast. I heard nothing but my heartbeat in my ears and when I opened my mouth to breathe, I inhaled salty water and air. The only thing I saw in my vision was the rigging flying back and water beating me in a race down and suddenly, my vision went black. Somewhere I could hear voices. They were distant echoes but I was sure they were calling my name. I was shrouded in darkness and for some reason, the voices were familiar but I couldn't place them. In fact, my mind felt foggy. Where was I and what was going on? Who was looking for me? The voices were getting closer and louder until it felt like they were ringing in my ears! I shook my head, snarling, "Go away!" as I did and suddenly I was greeted with the dim light of the setting sun and faces staring down at me. Someone grabbed my head, holding it in place. "Not the sort of thing you want to do after a fall like that," someone warned behind me. "Fall?" I murmured before it suddenly came back to me. Pain throbbed in the side of my skull and I groaned. My mouth was dry and when I licked my lips, I was sure I tasted blood. "Drink this," a green Imperial said, holding a potion to my lips. It tasted odd, almost like blood but thinner but as I drank it, the pain slowly started to ebb away until it was a dull throb to the side of my skull. "What happened?" I asked rolling over. "You shouldn't get up so fast," Kanibl warned as the pain intensified and my vision danced slowly. "I'm fine!" I snapped. "Well, if ye were a proper mirror, ye'd be!" the captain snarled somewhere nearby. "What mirror falls on 'is side? Ye've got a tail an' wings fer a reason, ye picaroon!" I ignored the snickers that followed her insult as I stood up. "I'm fine," I repeated as my vision started to settle. Something dangled below me and when I glanced at it, I realized it was a bandage. "Leave that on," Gut said from where he stood by Kanibl. "You don't want that cut to infect," he warned. I nodded, gritting my teeth as my head throbbed from a wave of pain. "By the gods, that was unpleasant," I hissed. "Ye took a fall an' landed on yer head. 'course it was unpleasant. Get t' th' sleepin' quarters 'n rest. Yer no use t' me when ye canna focus," the captain ordered turning around and walking away. "I'm fine," I growled causing her to stop in her tracks. "What?" she asked turning around. "I can still work. It's just a little bump and I can see perfectly fine," I said, lying only partially. My vision was only slightly fuzzy. "Ye hit yer head. Ye were bleedin' out o' yer mouth. 'ad we not 'ad a healin' potion available, ye might o' died. It isna a strong potion so I know it didna fully heal yer injury, now get below deck," she snapped. "An' I won' take retaliation from ye!" she added walking away. I snorted, shooting a glance at Gut. "What happened anyway? What was that? A flying octopus?" I asked as if he had nothing better to do. He raised his brows, surprised for a heartbeat before shaking his head. "Right, you were in the crow's nest. Jibber and Jabber came aboard covered in some sort of black slime. They almost suffocated in it! We were trying to fight the tentacles when we started sailing and Cyclone cut into one of them but that didn't do much form the looks of it. And yes, it was. They're called octoflyers and we've had a share of running into them. They aren't as big at all. That one was several times the size of the ones we hunt," he explained. "No more of that, Gut, we need to gather what we can of the broken barrels," Hialt said coming up to them. "Aye, aye, sir," Gut answered turning around walking away. I shot a glance at the first mate. His gaze was dark as he turned his attention towards me and his temperature raised. "You nearly killed the twins," he growled. For a heartbeat, I was confused. What was he talking about? "They could've suffocated, died in that black slime because you didn't think it through," he added, teeth bared. I narrowed my eyes. "I offered an idea," I began, not stepping back when he took a step forward. "Don't offer what isn't needed. You're still learning, pup, so I suggest you keep your trap shut until you fully understand," he snarled. I curled my lips back, baring my teeth. "Then don't act so afraid next time. Better to take risks and learn rather than avoiding darkness because you don't have a good feeling," I growled. A low rumble sounded in Hialt's throat but it was gone as quickly as it happened and he straightened up, eyes still dark. "I have a ship to run and you go nurse your wounds. And by the Plaguebringer, you'd better not be like that spot, an ill omen to this ship," he stated turning around and walking away. I watched him leave, tilting my head sideways. He didn't help the pain but it was odd how he managed to gather his wits for no reason. I glanced around but there were no dragons standing behind me save the two wildclaws jabbering by the rail. Hialt had vanished to the other side of the ship, talking to the captain. I snorted, shaking my head. No doubt, he was whining about me. He was supposed to be a fearsome pirate and yet he got up in arms about a useful suggestion. I retreated below deck through a door located on the deck (which they called a 'hatch'). The crew's quarters wasn't my favorite place to be because it was where many of the dragons hoarded things. It smelled like a combination of death and fruit and I found it sickening most of the time (a reason I came to attribute to being unable to sleep). It was vacant. Nests had been disturbed and a lot of them were broken and scattered. I chose a spot in the far back. I didn't want to want to sleep, I'd been knocked out and had slept enough. Even now, as I curled up in a nest of old branches and bones, I found myself returning to the event. As soon as my eyes closed as I back in the crow's nest watching tentacles rise out of the ocean like fast-growing trees until they were past the height of the ship. What if they had come down and broken the ship? We'd die in the middle of the ocean without any way of getting back. The thought sent a shiver down my spine. Was this what it was like to be a pirate? Sailing on the only thing solid beneath your feet until some bizarre creature took it out from under you? The thought remained with me as sleep stole away my consciousness. "Land, ho!" I glanced up from where I'd been munching on a fish, watching the water lick at the sides of the ship. Once again, Kuro called from the crow's nest excitedly. Other dragons perked up and rushed to the bow of the ship before echoing Kuro's announcement. Where did he see land? I made my way to the bow with the rest of the crew, making sure not to abandon my only meal for the day as I did. In the distance, just breaking the horizon was a line. It didn't look like much to me but it instilled eagerness in the crew. Was it the mainland? The idea sent a rush of excitement through me just as the captain started talking above the crew. "Alright, ye bilge rats, belay that rattlin'," she ordered from the quarterdeck. "I've spoken t' Prion an' she isna sure what piece o' land this be. We be several days away from th' mainland so don' ye go thinkin' we can just make port'n leave th' ship, savvy?" "When we get close enough, I'll figure which hands'll be leavin' t' explore th' island. 'till then, heave ahead!" she ordered. The crew responded quickly until we were cutting a path through the water like a thresher to food. I watched as we steadily approached the land, finishing my meal with new found appetite. What would we find? It might not have been the mainland but it was exciting nonetheless. We dropped anchor when we'd gotten close enough to see the tree line. "Duli, Gut, Jabber, Dusker, Tiros, and Alibi, gather your weapons," Hialt ordered as he headed to the port side railing. I found my heart quickening at the thought of exploring the island. What were we going to find? When most of the others that had been selected to go were ready, we jumped over the side of the railing and flew up. It felt good to stretch my wings again. I didn't use them often and not at all since I'd been on the ship so it felt like a sigh of relief. When we landed on the beach Hialt was quick to assume command. "Duli, Jabber, and Gut, scout the West side of the island. The rest of you, with me to the East side. We'll meet back here at sundown," Hialt explained walking away. Duli followed Jabber as they started towards the West side and Tiros and Dusker followed Hialt. I turned to follow them but a hiss from Gut made me pause. "Watch what you say around them," he warned, his voice low. I shot a glance at him, surprised. "Why?" I asked. "Hialt doesn't like his tail being stepped on and he'll do what he has to to keep it from happening again," he explained shooting a glance past me. "Don't underestimate him," he warned before turning around and catching up with his group. I snorted as I turned and caught up with the other three, falling behind the group. Dusker was bragging about how many hatchlings he'd stolen but Tiros didn't seem to be listening. Sundown wasn't very far away which meant we had a limited time to explore. I studied the tree line. The flora sort of reminded me of Nature's trees. While I'd never lived there I did have the pleasure of passing by the territory once. The trees varied in size but they had one thing in common. Their leaves were shaped like tear drops with red dots in the middle. There were large bushes with drooping leaves at the bases of some of the trees. What could be in trees, I wondered. We were skirting the edge of the island when we could be exploring its depths. Maybe there was a cave or creatures to take back and sell. Without realizing it, I had passed Tiros and Dusker and was slowly passing Hialt. "Where's he goin' in a rush?" Dusker muttered. Tiros made some sort of snorting noise but I didn't hear anything else. I slowed down once I'd realized what I'd done. "Where do you think you're going?" Hialt asked shooting a glance at me. I shrugged my wings falling in pace with him. "I wasn't paying attention," I admitted shooting a glance at the tree line. "Haven't been on an island before. I was wondering what there might be," I began. "Might be?" Hialt echoed. "What, like treasure?" "Maybe. I would think it's possible to find treasure or gold on an island no dragon's set claw on before," I said. If I played on their good side, they might not attack me. "Aye, treasure for pirates to collect, mate," Tiros rumbled behind me. Dusker snorted. "Us, pirates, not him. He's not a pirate," he snickered. I ignored Dusker, falling behind the group once again. After Gut's warning, I was starting to feel like I was walking on glass when it came to these dragons. Once again, the group was plunged into silence and I started watching the tree line again. The only sounds that greeted our ears was the hiss and roar of the waves as they crashed on to the beach. Hialt paused glancing at the sky before turning around and facing us. "We'd best turn around. The sun's going to start setting soon," he explained passing us. I started to follow him, the sand stinging the cracks in my claws. We still hadn't found anything. I'd have to make the suggestion, when we met with the other group, about exploring the inner workings of the island. It was better then wasting a visit, in my opinion, even if Gut didn't agree. "That bracelet looks familiar," Dusker hissed beside me. I shot a sharp glance towards him. He was inspecting my armband, red eyes narrowed. "It shouldn't. It's mine," I started. "No, no," he said keeping in stride with me. "I've seen it before. In fact, I believe that's my bracelet!" he insisted, his lips twitching as he met my gaze. "Aye, he wore a bracelet like that. The little lad stole it from his mate," he said nodding. "Best give it back before we have to take it from you, mate," he added shooting a glance down at me. I slowed my pace but they kept right alongside me. "You aren't playing that game with me," I growled. "Sir, it's mine. I took it meself! The cap'n isn't here, so I insist that I get the chance now to take it back," Dusker snarled glancing at Hialt. Hialt glanced back at me and shook his head. "You don't steal from one of your fellow hands!" he sighed before glancing at Dusker. "Do what you have to to get your bracelet back." I darted forwards just as Dusker leaped towards me. Within seconds my heart was pounding in my ears as I narrowly avoided Dusker's teeth snapping down on my tail. I whipped around to see the dragon nearly upon me once more and scrambled out of the way. These dragons were insane! Something stepped on my tail halting me in my tracks. "Apologies, lad, can't have that," Tiros said leaning heavily upon it. "Let go!" I growled trying to pull my tail free. It was starting to bend painfully but before I had another chance to react, Dusker leaped on my back, sinking his claws into my shoulders. His hind claws dragged along my hindquarters, tearing up flesh. "You won't be so quick to retaliate now!" Dusker hissed trying to bite my fins. Somewhere, somehow, the pressure on my tail was relieved and I barreled forward with the other mirror under me. My back throbbed with pain and I felt something running down the side of my leg. Blood? It didn't matter now. Dusker was snarling beneath me, trying to get up and I swore I heard Tiros laughing behind us. "Now, that was amusing!" he admitted watching us. "Stop standin' there ya over-stuffed hedgehog and help me!" Dusker snarled as he finally scrambled out from under me. "No, no, I quite like watching you fight. It's pathetic, mate," he admitted, taking a seat. I jumped back as Dusker leaped forward, his red eyes flashing with, what looked like, glee! I ran around him just as he looked to where I had been standing previously and crashed into his unguarded flank causing him to roll and expose his underside. I didn't try to pin him or leap on him, even. The pain had been dulled and replaced with growing anger as I lashed out and cut into his skin with one set of claws before he had a chance to get back on his feet. As he rolled on to all fours I ran around him and ran into his other flank, rolling him again. It was a tactic I'd learned in my home Flight, Shadow. A tactic said to be as "old as time itself" and a maneuver Shadow was known for because it was as much a game as it was tricky to get ahead of. I managed to roll Dusker two or three times more and with each roll, delivered another painful wound to his skin. The last time I had a chance to do it, I ran headlong into him and smacked his skull with my own. Dusker slumped to the ground but that was all I saw as the world spun around me and my head throbbed. "Tiros," Dusker spat stumbling to his feet. "Oh, alright," Tiros growled. I shook my head, trying to right my vision just as a large shadow fell over me. "That was a fair game you played, lad," he admitted behind me. I went to turn around and felt something catch my side and fling me across the sand. "But you won't be playing that game with me," he added coming towards me. "Just get the bracelet!" Dusker snarled. When I spared a glance towards him, he was standing again with blood dripping down his sides. "I would likely rip his leg off with these claws, Dusker. How about you start owning up to that notable plundering and take it yourself," Tiros said as he came within a wing's length of me. I moved to scramble out of his reach but he caught my hind leg and flung me towards Dusker. Before I had a chance to react, the dragon was on top of me, grabbing at the armband and pulling it off. Dusker jumped off, sliding the armband on to his own arm. "Next time, ya'll think before ya run!" he snickered, not casting a glance at his wounds. It didn't look like they'd phased him! I started to get up, to get away but Tiros stepped on my foreleg. "No, no," he said, shaking his head. "I cannot have you getting up and walking away, especially after that mess, lad," he said, starting to put his weight on to my foreleg. I tried yanking it out from under him. "Stop, no!" I growled. He snorted. "Begging so late into the act is bad form," he stated before leaning on to his leg. I swore I heard the snap before the pain zigzagged to my brain like lightning. I howled in agony as Tiros started walking away, following Dusker. At a glance, the leg looked horrible. It stuck out at an odd angle and all I could do was stare at it. The pain was too much to do anything but let it sink in. In the back of my mind, I knew there was no way to fix this. The problem was, I was weaker without my foreleg and if the pirates marooned me on this island, I would be doomed. My attention turned to the trees. It had been intriguing to look at before but now it seemed unwelcoming. I laid my head on the sand and shut my eyes. Pain burned on my back and my leg was practically screaming with agony. If I didn't do something, I would surely die on this island or worse... Darkness greeted me with icy claws nipping at my body. I glanced up, looking around. For a heartbeat, I didn't know where I was but my memory returned as the full moon watched me with its unblinking stare. I was still on the island. I glanced at my leg. It was still odd and the pain had dulled. My back ached and something cold was caressing my skin. The tide had come in and was slowly starting to surpass me. I had to get back to the ship. The thought went through my mind followed by a flash of fear. What if the ship was gone? What if those thieving cowards told the captain I had died or betrayed them? I narrowed my eyes at the thought. It was as unwelcoming as the thought of what might happen when I showed up. I had to do something though. I wasn't going to drown or die on the island. Not without a fight. The first thing I had to do was get up. My leg ached but it wasn't as bad now. I budged my right foreleg which had been resting under the broken one and the pain pulsed but didn't hurt severely. Slowly, I got my hindlegs under me and my working foreleg beneath me to push up. They ached, and faltered once causing me to land on my lame leg. I gasped as hot pain raced up and down it and had to take a moment to recover. Once I was back on my legs, I started what, I was sure, was going to be the longest trek I'd ever done. The ship, thankfully, did not disappear. It was graced with the light of the moon and I had to thank Shadowbinder that the moon was out tonight otherwise I might have missed it. I studied the ship, my thoughts trailing towards Dusker and Tiros. What would they do if I returned to the ship and told the captain about what they did? Would they try to kill me? It made more sense than I wanted it to. I sighed. They didn't consider me a pirate and I made it out of the attack with one of my items lost and my leg broken. To them, I was weak and useless and I was starting to feel that way. I could obey orders but in a matter of days I'd hit my head, broken my leg, and could barely defend myself. The only thing that I was sure of was that I wasn't staying on this island. The first mate was against me and Gut warned me but didn't come back to help. I launched off the beach with my hind legs and started the flight back to the ship. I wasn't going to let these dragons get the best of me, one way or another I was going to beat them. I just hoped my newfound resort would help. Save for the dragon occupying the crow's nest and one sleeping on deck, there was no one else. I glided silently on the winds to the ship and landed as quietly as I could. The dragon on deck didn't stir, one of the mirrors, and I didn't hear a sound from the crow's nest. I headed towards the quarter deck, my gaze fixed on heavy fabric drawn over the opening to the captain's cabin. It was secured in place by a rope looped through a hole on the frame of the opening. There was no light from inside nor was there a sound that I heard and I didn't want to sneak in. The last dragon that had ever went inside the cabin without permission had his tongue cut out, from what I'd heard once. For what reason, I didn't know. "Captain," I hissed, glancing over my shoulder. Nobody had moved nor did I hear anything from within. "Captain!" I repeated, louder this time. Still no response. I cursed myself as I abandoned my previous fear and undid the rope but just as I started to pull the fabric aside I heard a voice within. "Ye come a step further'n I'll spill yer innards. What're ye doin' in me cabin?" While I wasn't in the cabin, I didn't want to argue. "I need to speak with you," I pleaded. "'bout what? Hialt tells me ye abandoned ship. Why've ye come back?" the captain growled. The only thing I could see in the shadow of the cabin was the reflection of red eyes which didn't make me feel anymore welcomed. "I didn't abandon ship," I started as the fabric drew back. "Then how d'ye explain yer miserable look? I was told ye tried killin' one o' me hands an' Tiros broke yer leg fer yer mutiny," she stated. I snorted, my eyes narrowing. "Of course they'd play that off," I muttered, feeling anger starting to boil in the pit of my stomach. "What was that?" she asked. "We separated into two groups. Hialt, Dusker, Tiros, and I while the others went the other way. I was attacked. Dusker laid claim to my armband, asked if he could retrieve it, and when Hialt approved, he attacked me," I explained, irritated. "'e laid claim? Wanted yer armband?" she asked. "No, claimed I'd stolen it from him," I clarified. The captain didn't say anything, turning around to bring light into the cabin through a lantern. "Wait on th' quarterdeck, ye bilge rat," she ordered without turning around. "Aye, aye, captain," I responded leaving her and heading up the stairs. When I turned around, I watched as she left her cabin and delivered a swift blow to the napping mirror. "Go fetch Dusker and do it smartly!" she snarled. "Aye, aye, cap'n!" the mirror wheezed ducking away. Within heartbeats he returned with the black mirror. "Ye best be goin' belowdeck, Kuro, yer no use t' me sleepin'," she snapped. Dusker hadn't said a word as Kuro disappeared belowdeck. "Dusker, follow me. I need t' 'ave a word with ye," the captain ordered leading the way to her cabin. Dusker followed and for a heartbeat, it looked like there was excitement in his eyes. I carefully made my way down the stairs, straining my ears to hear what was going to happen. Was the captain going to punish him or get reconfirmation about my actions? The idea didn't sit well but I wasn't about to miss out on what they were saying. When I was just out of sight of the opening, I could hear most of what they were saying. "...did ye get that exactly?" the captain said. Dusker was speaking low and the only thing I heard was, "plundered it." "Interestin'ly enough..." the captain's words faded into the darkness. "No! It's mine!" Dusker barked suddenly. "Ye lied t'me," Firefeather hissed. It was followed by something banging and a screech of pain. "Lie t'me again an' ye won' 'ave any deadlights t'use!" the captain snarled as Dusker backed out of the cabin, shaking his head. Blood, black in the light of the moon splattered to and fro as he shook his head. He disappeared belowdeck, snarling. I couldn't help but feel a little smug. I had no idea what had happened except that Dusker appeared to be injured. It wasn't a just revenge but it was a start. I limped down from the quarterdeck and approached her cabin once again. "Get inside, ye picaroon," she snapped without glancing over her wings. "I've got somethin' that'll fix that up," she explained. I walked through the heavy fabric into the dimly lit cabin. Shadows danced across a hand drawn map and for a heartbeat, I was fixated on it. It stretched across the length of the wall and reached to the ceiling. I could see the mainland clearly along with written points of interest and names of, what I was sure were, clans. Then, there were islands away from the mainland. More than I would've thought. "Drink this," the captain commanded, holding out a bottle with some glowing orange-green liquid in it. I'd seen healing potions before and they had never been that color. "What is it?" I asked accepting the bottle. The liquid was warm against the glass. She snorted taking a step back. "Water from the freshest o' springs," she stated rolling her eyes. "It be a concoction o' me own. There be a wee bit o' th' strongest o' health potions in there along with a serthis remedy. Yer body wouldna be able t' handle a potent health potion by itself so I weaken it." I narrowed my eyes. "Aren't the serthis enemies to dragons?" I asked. "If ye don' want it then I'll take it back," she snapped reaching for the bottle. I pulled it away instinctively. "No, I'll drink it. I just wanted to know if I was going to die from it first and why don't I just drink a weaker health potion?" I challenged. "Weak health potions cover minor injuries. They cause th' flesh t' rapidly 'eal in some cases. If th' wound be too great, ye could drink several bottles but that makes everythin' worse than what ye started with an' makes ye more likely t' get sick. If ye notice, no dragon on this ship carries anythin' but weak health potions. I want 'em t' learn from their mistakes not get better," she explained, eyes narrowed. I could understand that. Which meant no amount of healing would help Dusker. I paused cutting my eyes towards her. "Then why are you helping me?" I asked, suspicion growing. Maybe this was a trick.
Alibi's Start

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(Progressive Startin' Appearance Nay Featured)

"Here, here, who wants to buy a dragon? While not as wide-eyed and easy to lug around as a hatchling, how can you go wrong with an adult dragon?" I announced standing to stretch my wings before I took a seat again.
It was well into the evening and the only dragons that were still at the auction house were the ones who had chosen to take a night shift. Most of the dragons were quiet, standing by the items or dragons they had out for display and the dragons that were being sold were fast asleep having been that way since the moon first made appearances.
"Oh, come off it, Shadow, nobody wants to buy whatever dragon you have for sale and obviously the dragon didn't want to stick around!" one of the neighboring sellers remarked. We had taken to addressing each other by eye color for the short time the Fire dragon had been standing near me.
"What are you talking about?" I asked feigning incredulity. "He's right here!" I said nodding my head.
"Only I would get stuck next to an insane Shadow dragon," Fire remarked. She was a massive guardian with a permanent scowl etched across her bright yellow features but that didn't stop her from managing to sell all of her hatchlings to one clan. Now she was trying to get rid of recently purchased ones she regretted.
We turned our attention to a fae wandering along the row of dragons with as much disinterest as a fae can show. "Well, hello there! Want to buy a dragon?" I asked sitting up.
The fae paused peering around. "Where's the dragon?" it asked.
"Why, right here! And for a measly twenty five thousand, he too, can be yours!" I said, baring my teeth in an encouraging grin.
The fae hovered in the air for a few heartbeats before quickly moving on. "I can spend twenty five thousand on a hood and at least see that!" it hollered behind it, not even glancing at the guardian's clutch.
"You wouldn't know a good sale if it bit you on the wing," I remarked, snorting.
"Oh, but I would," someone remarked nearby.
I glanced down the row to see a trio of dragons approaching. Unlike the fae, they were clad in odd pieces of apparel while still having the same colored kerchief and all equipped with the odd sharpened trinket.
"Good evening!" I greeted them, flashing my best grin.
"If ye can call it that," the middle dragon, a mirror, remarked glancing up at the skies. "Dark clouds rollin' in makes fer dangerous tides!"
I resisted the urge to chuckle as the mirror spoke from between the other two dragons, both of which were also mirrors and aside from the glowing lamp-like items they had around their chests, they looked exactly alike. She sounded odd, and spoke in peculiar accent that I'd never heard before. They all smelled of the sea but didn't look like any water dragons I'd ever seen.
"So, ye said ye 'ad a good sale, landlubber. What be that exactly?" the middle dragon asked, not taking her eyes off of me.
I paused for a moment, trying to figure out what she just called me.
"Looks like he swallowed his tongue, cap'n!" one of the other mirrors said, followed by an odd sort of snort.
"Or he forgot how to talk," the other mirror snickered.
I smiled, glancing at the lookalikes before focusing my gaze on the middle mirror and presumably the leader. "Hardly. I was simply trying to figure out where you all hail from. Your leader's accent is remarkable and, if I might add, quite lovely," I said, but nothing changed about them except one of the lookalikes' temperature rose slightly.
"Watch your tongue!" the mirror snapped, a male from which he could tell by smell, if barely.
"Calm yerself, Jibber," the leader said, taking a step forward. "Flatterly won' keep ye alive 'ere 'n won' make me want t' buy whatever yer lookin' t'sell. Now, I'll ask ye once more. What be yer so-called sale?" she hissed, keeping her voice low.
I wasn't going to admit it but I felt slightly intimidated. Three mirrors and one with a short temper wasn't something I wanted to deal with but I'd already dug my hole, it was only befitting that I jumped in it. At least I could do it with flair though. "Conjure this image for yourselves: A strong, shadow-flauged dragon weaving in and out of your clan's ranks prepared to do battle by your side, breed, or be your master prankster all for the measly price of twenty-five thousand gold pieces!" I said the smile returning to my face. I could be an auctioneer with this kind of enthusiasm!
The lookalikes raised their heads in what I could only assume was confusion and the one that spoke up, presumably Jibber, curled his lips back. "Are you playing with us now?" he snarled.
"Do we have to show you what we do to dragons that waste our time?" the other lookalike asked crouching.
"Who're ye tryna toy with, lad?" the leader asked shaking her head.
"Nobody, he's right here to be sold," I began but she interrupted me.
"Why would we spend twenty-five thousand on a whelp of a lad such's yerself when we could simply take those fancy pieces o' clothin' ye got 'n earn twice's much's we'd spend on ye?" she asked, laughter slipping into her voice.
At the sound of it, the other two brightened, amused as they understood what she was saying.
I frowned, watching them. They'd seen past my first jest, or at least the leader did and furthermore insulted my price! "It's a fair price!" I argued. "Where else could you find a mature dragon with fair coloring and the willingness to join another clan?"
"Actually two rows past ye fer ten thousand. Yer no more'a sale then a yeti be willin' t' join a crew with a welcomin' embrace. "Now, tell me, where's yer clan leader? I'd fancy runnin' 'em through fer allowin' ye t' survive with th' intelligence o' a dodo!"
While my anger built, I found myself grinning at her question. "Well, you're looking at him," I said, lowering my head in a bow.
"Oh, aye? And where's th' rest o' yer clan, ye slimy bilge rat?" she asked.
"I am my own clan," I stated.
"Be that so?" she asked, smirking. "Well, we ought t' break ye o' that wee problem 'n o' yer other problem's well!" she stated to her clanmates' surprise.
My eyes widened, mirroring their surprise. "I didn't think anyone would!" I admitted as she procured a satchel with gold coins in it.
"Aye, I assume's much," the leader said, counting coins before handing me a handful.
I glanced down at the small amount surprised. "Where's the rest? I said twenty five--I know what ye said, landlubber!" she snapped. "Now, put that away'n let's go. Arcane magic goes a long way when it comes t' browsin' th' Auction 'ouse 'n those twenty five coins'll grow if ye don' keep 'em somewhere small's a bag," she interrupted, turning around and walking away.
I put the coins away shooting a smug glance towards the guardian but Fire had a horrified look in her eyes. "What's that for? I just made some treasure!" I announced to her shooting a glance towards the departing dragons.
"You just sold yourself to one of the worst possible things!" she hissed.
"They can't be that bad," I snorted.
"They're pirates! Captain...Fire something leads them and she's never let a dragon off of her ship alive!"
"Don' make me 'ave t' send th' twins back 'r I'll let 'em deal with ye," the mirror yelled.
"Pirates don't exist. They're just stories to keep hatchlings like you from getting too close to the sea," I snickered. "I'll be sure to send you a message of my existence once I sell myself out of the clan too!" I snickered turning around and walking away.
"So," I began catching up to the three mirrors. "Just what do I call you?"
"Jibber," one of the lookalikes said, a yellow lamp casting shadows across his orange face.
"And I'm Jabber," the other lookalike remarked, shooting a glance back at him. She had a blue-green colored lamp that barely cast a light on anything.
I fixed my gaze on the leading mirror. "What about you?" I asked.
"Ye'll be callin' me cap'n Firefeather," she said as we made our way out of the auction house.
I felt my step falter. This was a game. It had to be. My clan was trying to get back at me for my clever way of earning gold so they dressed up in odd outfits and pretended they were pirates, or hired other dragons to do that. However, I thought, shooting a glance at dragons we passed. Some of them shrank away and others shrouded their hatchlings under a protective wing as we passed. I'd never seen dragons do that.
"And where are we going?" I asked watching as two sellers huddled their hatchlings under their wings and backed away, heads bowed.
"Where d'ye think, ye slimy bilge rat? T' th' ship. We'll be waitin' out th' storm an' once it's passed 'r had its blows, we'll set sail!" Firefeather snapped.
"Oh...kay," I said glancing down. I had to think of a way out and fast. I could make a run for it but from the looks of the dragons, I might not get far. The best and only plan I had for myself was to sell myself again. All I had to do was sneak out from under their eyes after I earned their trust to do as such and once I was in another clan, I would be set!
"So...what's a ship?"



I'd done my fair share of traveling and managed to sell myself out of my Shadow clan to two different clans in two different flights. I first sold myself to a clan of the Fire flight before selling myself to the Arcane flight. It worked quick well and I found myself happily making gold where no dragon thought I would. I finally sold myself back into the Shadow flight before finding myself stuck with these weird dragons.
In my travels, though, I'd seen a few things that left me speechless from the magics of the Arcane to the ingenious smelting of the Fire. When we arrived at the docks, I thought I'd be looking for some sort of kite. After all, it seemed like the best possible idea for a ship. They hadn't explained it to me.
What I saw, was far beyond that. Yes, there was a kite, but it was at the top of this hulking thing made of bright green wood. It creaked and rocked with the current of the water but went nowhere because of ropes tying it to the dock.
"Behold," Jabber said walking behind him as he slowed his pace. "A ship."
I couldn't find the words to speak as we walked along the side of it. I could hear voices coming from it and saw a ridgeback walking along the rail, checking ropes. How could he check them all? There were
so many ropes that this thing could've made a spider jealous. Some of the dragons were climbing them, mostly mirrors.
I paused just before a plank of wood that led on to the ship. Jibber and Firefeather had already crossed but I found myself peering over the edge of the plank to the dark waters below. Did this ship go below water? If it did, did they know I couldn't breathe underwater? I felt my heartbeat increase much tot he chuckling of the mirror behind me.
"It's a little early to start panicking, don't you think?" she asked pushing me forward with her snout.
I started walking across the plank. I wasn't afraid of heights, or water for that matter. I just didn't want to drown because they thought all dragons were born with gills.
"Welcome aboard th' Deadlight!" Firefeather announced as I stepped over the edge of the ship and onto its surface, a flat ground made up of green boards. "Now, first thing's first. We'll 'ave t' strip ye of yer encumberin' luggage," she said snickering.
I shot her a dark glance. "What do you mean?" I asked. "I don't have any luggage except for the clothes on my back!"
"Exactly. D'ye see any o' me mates concealed in cloaks 'r capes?" she asked glancing around. Other dragons had stopped what they were doing to gather around. Not all of them but some and none of them had capes.
I took a step back. "I purchased this with my own gold! I'm not giving it up," I growled meeting the solid form of a dragon behind me. I'd forgotten Jabber was still there.
"Can't have ye drownin' 'cause th' cape be sinkin' ye t' th' depths an' it'll get in th' way o' th' work so aye, ye won' be needin' it anymore, lad. Take off th' cape," she demanded, red eyes flashing. "Don' give me a reason t' let me crew rough ye up a bit. It isna me first choice o' breakin' in a new sailor but it certainly isna me last if they become stubborn, savvy?"
I glanced around. The ship was lit with lanterns here and there so there was no escaping into the shadows. I reluctantly removed the cape and once I did, everything fell into darkness save for where the lanterns dimly lit the ship.
"Good, now 'bout tha' ratty cap'n necklace o' yers," she began.
"No!" I snapped curling my lips back to reveal sharp teeth.
The captain laughed followed by some of the crew and the only thing that was going through my head was what I got myself into.
"Alright, bein' that yer wet behind th' wings, 'specially when it comes t' ships, I'll be stickin' ye with Gut," she began. "We'll be docked 'till th' storm passes, gives ye enough time t' learn 'fore we set sail so when I give ye an order, I expect ye t' act like ye know what yer doin'," she finished turning around. "Coggs! What did ye want t' talk t'me 'bout?" her voice rang out as she departed from the group.
"That's a nice cape ya got there," a black mirror snickered approaching him. "Wouldn't mind if I took it?" he asked, watching me with beady red eyes.
I stepped on the cape, growling at him. "Go away!"I growled.
He grabbed a part of the cape and started pulling, glaring at me all the while when I saw a flash of brown and he was rolling away.
I glanced around to see a wildclaw standing over me watching the black mirror.
"Belay that, Dusker and go find something to do!" the wildclaw ordered as the mirror got to his feet and shook his head.
"Ya don't have to take care of him! He'll be just a cryin' hatchling by the time we're done with him," the mirror spat turning around and walking away.
"Uh, than--The only dragon you need to be thanking is the captain or yourself. This isn't a clan, it's a crew and Dusker," he said gesturing to what I was sure was a silhouette in the darkness. "Was just trying to get ahead of the game."
I narrowed my eyes. What was he talking about? I wasn't sure I liked it either way. "Ahead of the game?" I echoed bunching the cape up in my claws. I'd have to hide this somewhere, if I could.
"Aye, you'll learn that later. In the meantime, you're better off stowing that away. Every dragon's got a hoard but it's hidden otherwise things get stolen. Anyhow, follow me and I'll show you around the ship. Name's Gut, by the way," he explained turning around and heading towards one side of the ship.
"Alibi," I said following him as he disappeared through a hole in the wall of the ship. I paused for a moment glancing around. This wasn't going to be an easy ship to get off of.
When morning came, it brought rain and wind and I found myself relieved and cold. I had followed Gut around the ship and already learned how to tie knots with ropes. He was teaching me what parts of the boat were called what and how to decipher orders from the captain. My claws were sore but Gut had assured me that the real work would begin when we departed.
I stood on the deck of the ship overlooking the docks. There wasn't a lot of action on the boat and when I glanced around, I only saw two other dragons. One of taking food out of a barrel and the other one was washing the deck. This would be the perfect time to escape! I walked along the side of the boat, starboard is what they called it, until I found the plank leading to the docks. Without glancing back, I left, running down the docks and back into the Auction House. To the Plaguebringer with the cape! I'd buy another one later!
I found an available space among hatchlings being sold and went to work. "Selling a dragon for cheap profits! How much, you might ask? Why, only ten thousand for a strong, sturdy male!" I announced waking a clutch of hatchlings nearby.
I waited but there were no takers, not even the slightest interest. I risked a glance down the row of dragons but didn't see anyone approaching. This couldn't take long, I had to be sold and soon! I stepped away from the open selling spot and started down the row. "Anyone at all? Ten thousand for a male mirror! Only ten thousand!" I announced glancing around.
"Shut it and go find a selling spot like everyone else!" a ridgeback hissed.
"Ah hah, I thought I'd find you here! You know, you're building quite a little reputation of selling yourself, trickster," a familiar voice chuckled behind me.
I whipped around to meet the purple-pink gaze of a white tundra. I narrowed my eyes as I saw a hulking guardian standing behind her. Of course, she had to bring her faithful mate along. "I've already been bought," I announced, mustering more confidence than I felt. I'd sold myself to the wrong clan and now I had my previous clan biting my tail.
"Oh?" the tundra said glancing around. "And where is your clan? Or are you lying again?" she asked, tail flicking in irritation.
"Actually, th' lad's not lying," someone stated behind me.
When I glanced over my shoulder, I saw the other mirror, the 'captain'. Except she was alone.
"And who are you?" the tundra asked but a hiss from the guardian told me that at least he had the memory to recollect a tale or two of pirates.
"Th' lad's cap'n. Cap'n Firefeather, o' th' Deadlight. If ye fancy buyin' 'im, ye'll be payin' a hefty price but I might be willin' t' sell 'em," the captain said walked around me to confront the tundra.
"I didn't sell him and whatever you are, you're not his leader nor his clan. Now stand down," the tundra growled.
Suddenly the calm demeanor the captain had was lost and her teeth were bared. "Actu'lly, landlubber, I did buy 'im from 'imself. 'e be part o' my crew now an' ye won' be takin' 'em without a fight," she snarled, muscles tensing.
"Fine, Ackor, show this odd mirror that we'll be taking Alibi back to his clan by force, please," the tundra ordered.
She didn't see it but I did when the guardian hesitated, eyeing the blue mirror with uncertainty. "Well, if you're not going to do it," the tundra growled, closing her eyes.
At first I thought she had lost her mind but suddenly little blue symbols danced around her head. She was meditating!
I risked a glance at the guardian before turning my attention to the tundra as the captain bowled into her and pinned her to the ground. At some point, Firefeather had unsheathed her blade and held it to the other dragon's throat while the tundra was pinned to the ground.
"D'ye know what this be?" the captain hissed at the tundra.
I glanced at the guardian again but the only thing he'd done was drop his fins. He hadn't so much as moved!
The tundra muttered something but confidence that had danced in her eyes before had been replaced with fear.
"Aye, an' ye know what I'll do if ye cross me again? Yer lucky there be an audience otherwise I'd o' fed ye t' Kanibl in a burlap sack o' chopped tundra!" the captain snarled pressing the blade to the tundra's exposed neck. "I've fought stags more imposin' than ye!" she hissed.
The captain backed off of the tundra shooting a dark glance at me. "Let's go, picaroon," she spat, glancing back at the tundra. "Let this serve as warnin' t'ye an' t'all o' these landlubbers," she snapped glancing around. "Don' cross me an' don' try stealin' me crew!" With that, she started to walk away without glancing back.
I shot a smug glance towards the tundra before following the captain, falling in stride beside her. "Uh, thank you," I began, feeling that I owed her that, at least.
She didn't respond but her raised body heat told me she was either angry at me or angry at the tundra.
I didn't say anything else and she wasn't interested in talking. When we got back to the ship she led the way on to the deck.
"Well, look who's back from his shore leave," a black mirror snickered as I set foot on the deck. "That was short lived!"
I ignored him, searching for Gut. I had one chance to escape and I'd failed. It was best, until I ha another chance, to simply fall into the clan like the rest of the dragons.
"So, ye think ye can outsmart yer cap'n?" Firefeather began causing me to glance ahead. She was facing me and the only thing that led me to believe she was still angry was her raised temperature.
Apparently she knew my intentions. "I thought no such thing," I lied but I kept my head lower than hers.
"Oh come now," she began walking around me. "Ye expect me t' believe that? Yer a Shadow dragon after all an' ye were sellin' yerself. A clever idea, I'll give yer that but yer nay th' first lad t' do that," she explained, smirking.
"Well, I got away with it," I huffed.
"Until now. Sellin' yerself an' stealin' gold be pirate material, lad, an' now yer in me crew. Taste th' freedom o' abidin' no clan rules an' takin' whatever ye want 'cause that's all yer gonna be doin' now, ye thievin' coward," she snapped. "Weigh anchor, lads! Th' storm's passin' quickly an' it be high time we teach our new hand what a pirate's life be!" she ordered.

I'm going to interrupt this story for a moment. The captain and I weren't exactly on good terms as you can read. After all, she's not the sort who enjoys betrayal. Now, I enjoy recording certain events of my life as a story for other dragons, especially those I feel are significant and the only reason I started writing was because I thought I'd need a reminder of why I needed to get off the ship, especially after what happened.
It'd been many days since I'd first come aboard and I had learned quite a bit. I was nimble, more so than the imposing ridgeback, Cyclone, or even the black mirror, Dusker. I climbed the ropes like a snake with legs and could reach the crow's nest without a ladder. My claws still hurt occasionally from cracking but they'd developed hard callouses from walking the deck, manning the rigging, and other tasks. I felt so bold as to say that the captain was now looking at me as the better hand of her crew.
Among the things I had learned, it was to never call the captain out by her name unless 'captain' preceded it. The first time, she'd give you a dirty look and the second time, she'd throw you overboard into the cold water. It wasn't worth it and in the middle of a vast sea with no land in sight, that ship is the only thing that served as solid beneath my claws. Besides, after the stories I'd heard about what's in the water, I didn't want to stay floating around.
I did remove my encumbering garments. These pirates were right. They just got in the way. My Shadow hat kept falling off and the feathers I wore on my tail kept catching on things. It wasn't worth my life and I didn't mind the mockery from some of the dragons.
It was well into the evening and while most of the sailors were below deck sleeping, I found myself unable to join them. There were various reasons from the foul smell of dead things someone was hoarding to one of the ridgebacks snoring but either way, I abandoned my nest and went up to the main deck. The snores and smell didn't reach here but a chill breeze did.
It was quiet, with the only thing lighting my way being the half moon. It's reflection danced, broken apart, on the sea's black surface with nothing to disturb it save for the imposing vessel I stood on.
Nobody else was on deck that I could see, so I wandered to the rail to peer over the side of the ship. I was no water dragon but at night, the ocean reminded me of the woods, mysterious and almost fore-boding. I could see why certain dragons loved it, lived in it, and on it. Out here, I could see water to the horizon and beyond and still no land and yet, there was a whole world beneath the ship, alive and menacing. It amazed me that the twins even fished!
"If ye be lookin' t' jump, ye'll find it a long swim t' any land from 'ere," a familiar voice noted behind me.
"You think I don't know that by now? No, I couldn't sleep," I admitted, preparing myself for some snap of words or command.
"Yer still young, wet behind th' wings, lad. Not t' mention there be forces at work that'll keep a dragon from sleepin' 'r wake it up from a deep slumber. It 'appened t' th' crew 'fore but we ne'er found out what it be, 'specially seein' as most o' us arna night-savvy," she explained coming up beside me.
I shot a glance at her but her gaze was towards the water, dark and unreadable like the current below. I studied her face, looking at the scar, still bright against her dark hide as it ran down the side of her face like a streak of lightning.
She glanced at me, her eyes narrowing. "What're ye lookin' at?" she snapped.
I looked away, back at the water. "Nothing," I began but shot another glance at her. "How did you get that scar?" I inquired. As far as I knew, nobody had ever asked her that. The only questions that were tossed at the captain were to benefit the ship and the winds.
She snorted, glancing back at the ocean. For a few heartbeats, she said nothing and I began to wonder if she'd just ignore the question but suddenly, she said, "Ye don' live's long's I do as a cap'n without makin' enemies, includin' ones that were allies once, 'fore we set sail for th' first time," she explained, her voice low and thoughtful.
I didn't say anything at first, thinking it over. It only came as a mild surprise that she'd once been a 'landlubber' as she would've called it. The ship itself had age, and it's captain did too, memory-wise. What enemies did she make on land, and over what, I wondered, though for a heartbeat, I gave in to the thought that Plague dragons were ruthless to begin with and she was a Plague dragon.
I shot a glance at her. It was getting too quiet and for a heartbeat, it looked like she was lost deep in thought. I wasn't going to let the silence lengthen. It was interesting to learn about her past, even a small scrape of it but I didn't want to get caught having a heart to heart (which is what I called it), with her. "Oh, come on," I began, flashing a grin. "A ruthless captain like yourself remembering the past?" I began, nudging her with my wing. "What's the past there for if not to remind us why we go and do what do?" I asked.
She fixed her gaze on me, her eyes darkening. "Aye, so what're ye standin' 'ere fer? Git t' sleep 'r git t' work, ye lazy bilge rat!" she snapped turning around and walking back to her cabin.
I watched her leave, smirking. If I had anything to recollect anything off the ship for my own future, it's that the notorious captain Firefeather had tender memories of her own. The only thing I was mildly shocked at, was how I wasn't interested in using them. In fact, I wanted to learn more about her. Her 'crew' or clan was loyal to her despite her merciless ways but I'd seen her walk a dragon to the edge of a plank in shark-infested waters simply for disregarding her orders. What kept her as captain and how did she become so ruthless?
The next two days went by quickly. I learned that we were 'adventuring' or looking for islands to explore. They'd come across quite a few islands away from the mainland but hadn't ever returned to them.
I was busy eating my morning ration of dried meat, in the crow's nest when I spotted something odd fast approaching. I could barely make it out for a short while until I realized that
we were approaching it! It wasn't above water, but rather below it and dark, almost black and large, larger even, than the ship.
"Grab the halyards, hoist the sails!" I suddenly yelled.
For a heartbeat, the dragons below paused, looking at me with surprise and irritation.
Were they dumb? Had they not heard the surprise in my voice? "Quickly!" I snarled. "Something large dead ahead!" was all I could manage before Hialt scrambled up the ladder to stand beside me.
"What's the meaning of this?" He huffed, angered.
"That!" I said nodding towards the ever growing darkness. We were almost upon it!
Hialt's eyes widened and suddenly he was yelling orders over the side of the crow's nest. "And somebody fetch the captain!" he added as the crew came to life, pulling the sails up and turning the ship away from the dark waters.
By the time she had come up to the crow's nest, the ship was just rocking gently with the waves, no longer in motion. "What be th' meanin' o' this?" she snapped glaring at us.
I opened my mouth to speak but Hialt was quicker to answer. "Captain, look to starboard. I've never seen anything like it," he explained following her gaze to the shadowy water.
She stared, her eyes darkening the more she looked at the dark water. "Prion!" she said, looking over the side of the nest.
"Aye, captain?" the skydancer answered below.
"Fly high, avoid gettin' caught in th' riggin', an' tell me what ye see," she ordered.
"Aye, aye!" the dragon answered. There was a whoosh of air and suddenly, the smaller dragon was above their heads. She hovered in the air, glancing down. "Captain, it's a large circle of dark waters! Black, almost," she yelled to us.
"How large?" the captain returned, her brow furrowing.
Prion glanced down again, before flying a little higher. "Five ships in length, I'd say," she announced.
"Well, that can't be possible," Jibber stated peering towards the dark water from below.
"We've never even seen that," Jabber added coming up beside her brother.
The captain had fallen into silence, staring at the water. "Come down, Prion, don' waste yer energy hoverin' anymore," she ordered.
"Captain," Hialt began shooting a glance at the water. "We could go through it, but I wouldn't say it's worth it. It's like a black spot in the sea, why not just go around?" he suggested.
They hadn't seen anything like it and I had never set foot in or on the ocean until this ship so I had no idea what to do. I glanced down the side of the crow's nest to see the twins still staring at the water. They fished in these waters all the time and they'd never seen anything like it. "Why not send the twins into it?" I suggested, cursing myself for not thinking for suggesting.
Hialt shot me a dark look. "Are you mad? What if--Jibber, Jabber!" the captain interrupted glancing down at them. "Fancy takin' a look underwater?"
"Absolutely!" Jabber answered.
"Ready when you are," Jibber said and suddenly they dove in with a splash.
"If that's deep water, then you've just doomed them to potentially running into the deadlights," Hialt growled shooting a dark glance at me before fixing his gaze on Firefeather.
"We'll nay know 'less we investigate," she said, ignoring his anger. "An' th' twins be th' most fit fer underwater duty. They've seen more'n us, they'll know when t' turn back," she explained.
"And what if they can't? What if that thing gets to them first?" he snapped.
"They know th' dangers o' goin' in every time they jump th' ship, Hialt. Now, go oversee th' crew 'fore Tiros an' Mi'Rah start fightin' again!" she snarled, turning a sharp gaze on him.
"Aye, aye, captain," Hialt muttered after a moment's retaliation before climbing down from the crow's nest.
I watched him leave, glancing back at the dark waters. What else was in there? I wasn't well versed in the creatures beyond the flights I'd been in and I'd never heard of anything that sounded like 'deadlights'. I knew for a fact the ship was named after that but it was an odd name to begin with. I shot a glance at the captain. She was still staring at the water and the tension in the air was almost palpable. "Captain," I began. "What are the deadlights, exactly?"
She snorted, shooting a glance at me. "Yer deadlights be yer eyes, lad. That'd nay be where me ship got its name though. Many moons ago, 'fore most o' this crew was even hatched, we were sailin' in th' evenin'. There wasna a moon t' be 'ad but we followed th' stars. Ye'd think we were scared from our own shadow when we saw some'n like th' moon gone under th' water. There were several blue-white lights that swam 'longside th' ship 'n those moons, they blinked. They were th' eyes o' a creature larger'n me ship. One o' th' first times we realized there were mysterious things 'neath th' waters. Th' twins 'ave 'ad their share o' run-ins with monsters, nothin' like th' deadlights but nothin' very tame either," she explained.
I nodded, frowning. Creatures larger than this hulking vessel I stood upon wasn't an enticing thing to hear.
"Did ye see that?" she asked, taking a step forward.
I followed her gaze, she was still staring at the dark water. "What?" I questioned. What was she staring at aside from the water?
"Somethin' breached just now," she explained, gaze narrowing.
"Breached?" I echoed. There wasn't anything aside from the rippling of the water that I saw.
She shot me a dark gaze. "Ye don' stop starin' 'till ye be gone 'r know fer sure," she snapped just as something splashed below them.
I glanced down to see a black creature trying to crawl up the side of the hull.
"Captain!" Duli yelped from the rigging. He'd seen it too. "Something's got our hull!"
Just then, another creature jumped up, crawling up the side, letting out a wheezing growl.
"What in th' name o' th' Plaguebringer," she muttered. "All hands t' deck! Ready yer weapons!" she announced leaping off the side of the crow's nest and narrowly avoiding a rope as she hit the deck on all fours.
I started to follow but Hialt ordered me to stay in the crow's nest. "We need eyes above!" he yelled following the others to the side just as the first creature hauled itself over the rail and onto the deck.
I glanced up, searching the black water. Did those come from there? What were they? Nothing disturbed the gentle waves and my curiosity was nearly overwhelming. I shot a glance below to find Tiros helping haul the other black creature on deck.
When I glanced back up, I thought I saw the ends of a splash near the edge of the black water. Was it just a fish? I glanced around. What else was in there? Below me, Hialt and the captain were shouting orders and the sails were being dropped.
Suddenly, something breached the water below slapping against the hull and rocking the ship. I grabbed ahold of the mast as the ship rocked slightly. What was that? When I glanced down again, something had risen out of the water. It looked almost like a...
"Captain! There's a tentacle to starboard!" I yelped.
Cyclone jumped into action, grabbing his cutlass. For a giant dragon, he moved quickly but I didn't have time to watch the fight.
Another tentacle was rising out of the water a little ways away and for a heartbeat, I could've sworn the black water was actually reaching towards us. The ship was already moving, turning to port and suddenly, I could swear the tentacles were actually individual creatures as one loomed out of the water, reaching down as it searched for the ship. It was massive! If it came down fast, it could smash the ship to pieces, I was sure of it!
"Captain! More tentacles at the stern!" I warned.
"Tiros, Mi'Rah, get yer slimy carcasses t' th' stern o' th' ship!" the captain ordered below.
As the ship gained speed, in the upper hand with the wind behind us, I watched as the tentacles reached out, trying to catch us. In the distance, where I could still see the beginnings of the black water, something breached slowly. Jagged turquoise spikes arose out of the water followed by massive tentacles. I realized slowly that those weren't spikes. They were fins attached to the head of what looked like a giant octopus.
The ship was propelled by the waves that the creature was causing, and for a heartbeat, I thought we had gotten away safely as it sank below the water again.
A few of the crew cheered below followed by a sharp snap from Hialt but I wasn't quick to join them. My heart was beating in my stomach as I watched the distance where it had disappeared. Suddenly, the water seemed to split apart in great waves as it leaped out of the water, with those giant fins flared outwards. It didn't go far at all, falling right back in a little ways closer to us. The crew had fallen silent as the sea seemed to rise from itself, over the creature and towards us.
"Captain!" I shouted but she was already aware, yelling orders below.
"Brace yerselves!" the captain snarled
I wrapped my claws around the mast, the moment's worth of silence nearly deafening as suddenly the wave came down. Ice cold water crashed over my body, breaking me loose from the mast. I heard nothing but my heartbeat in my ears and when I opened my mouth to breathe, I inhaled salty water and air. The only thing I saw in my vision was the rigging flying back and water beating me in a race down and suddenly, my vision went black.

Somewhere I could hear voices. They were distant echoes but I was sure they were calling my name.
I was shrouded in darkness and for some reason, the voices were familiar but I couldn't place them. In fact, my mind felt foggy. Where was I and what was going on? Who was looking for me?
The voices were getting closer and louder until it felt like they were ringing in my ears! I shook my head, snarling, "Go away!" as I did and suddenly I was greeted with the dim light of the setting sun and faces staring down at me.
Someone grabbed my head, holding it in place. "Not the sort of thing you want to do after a fall like that," someone warned behind me.
"Fall?" I murmured before it suddenly came back to me. Pain throbbed in the side of my skull and I groaned. My mouth was dry and when I licked my lips, I was sure I tasted blood.
"Drink this," a green Imperial said, holding a potion to my lips. It tasted odd, almost like blood but thinner but as I drank it, the pain slowly started to ebb away until it was a dull throb to the side of my skull.
"What happened?" I asked rolling over.
"You shouldn't get up so fast," Kanibl warned as the pain intensified and my vision danced slowly.
"I'm fine!" I snapped.
"Well, if ye were a proper mirror, ye'd be!" the captain snarled somewhere nearby. "What mirror falls on 'is side? Ye've got a tail an' wings fer a reason, ye picaroon!"
I ignored the snickers that followed her insult as I stood up. "I'm fine," I repeated as my vision started to settle. Something dangled below me and when I glanced at it, I realized it was a bandage.
"Leave that on," Gut said from where he stood by Kanibl. "You don't want that cut to infect," he warned.
I nodded, gritting my teeth as my head throbbed from a wave of pain. "By the gods, that was unpleasant," I hissed.
"Ye took a fall an' landed on yer head. 'course it was unpleasant. Get t' th' sleepin' quarters 'n rest. Yer no use t' me when ye canna focus," the captain ordered turning around and walking away.
"I'm fine," I growled causing her to stop in her tracks.
"What?" she asked turning around.
"I can still work. It's just a little bump and I can see perfectly fine," I said, lying only partially. My vision was only slightly fuzzy.
"Ye hit yer head. Ye were bleedin' out o' yer mouth. 'ad we not 'ad a healin' potion available, ye might o' died. It isna a strong potion so I know it didna fully heal yer injury, now get below deck," she snapped. "An' I won' take retaliation from ye!" she added walking away.
I snorted, shooting a glance at Gut. "What happened anyway? What was that? A flying octopus?" I asked as if he had nothing better to do.
He raised his brows, surprised for a heartbeat before shaking his head. "Right, you were in the crow's nest. Jibber and Jabber came aboard covered in some sort of black slime. They almost suffocated in it! We were trying to fight the tentacles when we started sailing and Cyclone cut into one of them but that didn't do much form the looks of it.
And yes, it was. They're called octoflyers and we've had a share of running into them. They aren't as big at all. That one was several times the size of the ones we hunt," he explained.
"No more of that, Gut, we need to gather what we can of the broken barrels," Hialt said coming up to them.
"Aye, aye, sir," Gut answered turning around walking away.
I shot a glance at the first mate. His gaze was dark as he turned his attention towards me and his temperature raised.
"You nearly killed the twins," he growled.
For a heartbeat, I was confused. What was he talking about?
"They could've suffocated, died in that black slime because you didn't think it through," he added, teeth bared.
I narrowed my eyes. "I offered an idea," I began, not stepping back when he took a step forward.
"Don't offer what isn't needed. You're still learning, pup, so I suggest you keep your trap shut until you fully understand," he snarled.
I curled my lips back, baring my teeth. "Then don't act so afraid next time. Better to take risks and learn rather than avoiding darkness because you don't have a good feeling," I growled.
A low rumble sounded in Hialt's throat but it was gone as quickly as it happened and he straightened up, eyes still dark. "I have a ship to run and you go nurse your wounds. And by the Plaguebringer, you'd better not be like that spot, an ill omen to this ship," he stated turning around and walking away.
I watched him leave, tilting my head sideways. He didn't help the pain but it was odd how he managed to gather his wits for no reason. I glanced around but there were no dragons standing behind me save the two wildclaws jabbering by the rail.
Hialt had vanished to the other side of the ship, talking to the captain. I snorted, shaking my head. No doubt, he was whining about me. He was supposed to be a fearsome pirate and yet he got up in arms about a useful suggestion.
I retreated below deck through a door located on the deck (which they called a 'hatch'). The crew's quarters wasn't my favorite place to be because it was where many of the dragons hoarded things. It smelled like a combination of death and fruit and I found it sickening most of the time (a reason I came to attribute to being unable to sleep).
It was vacant. Nests had been disturbed and a lot of them were broken and scattered. I chose a spot in the far back. I didn't want to want to sleep, I'd been knocked out and had slept enough. Even now, as I curled up in a nest of old branches and bones, I found myself returning to the event. As soon as my eyes closed as I back in the crow's nest watching tentacles rise out of the ocean like fast-growing trees until they were past the height of the ship. What if they had come down and broken the ship? We'd die in the middle of the ocean without any way of getting back.
The thought sent a shiver down my spine. Was this what it was like to be a pirate? Sailing on the only thing solid beneath your feet until some bizarre creature took it out from under you? The thought remained with me as sleep stole away my consciousness.

"Land, ho!"
I glanced up from where I'd been munching on a fish, watching the water lick at the sides of the ship. Once again, Kuro called from the crow's nest excitedly.
Other dragons perked up and rushed to the bow of the ship before echoing Kuro's announcement.
Where did he see land? I made my way to the bow with the rest of the crew, making sure not to abandon my only meal for the day as I did. In the distance, just breaking the horizon was a line. It didn't look like much to me but it instilled eagerness in the crew. Was it the mainland? The idea sent a rush of excitement through me just as the captain started talking above the crew.
"Alright, ye bilge rats, belay that rattlin'," she ordered from the quarterdeck. "I've spoken t' Prion an' she isna sure what piece o' land this be. We be several days away from th' mainland so don' ye go thinkin' we can just make port'n leave th' ship, savvy?"
"When we get close enough, I'll figure which hands'll be leavin' t' explore th' island. 'till then, heave ahead!" she ordered.
The crew responded quickly until we were cutting a path through the water like a thresher to food. I watched as we steadily approached the land, finishing my meal with new found appetite.
What would we find? It might not have been the mainland but it was exciting nonetheless.
We dropped anchor when we'd gotten close enough to see the tree line.
"Duli, Gut, Jabber, Dusker, Tiros, and Alibi, gather your weapons," Hialt ordered as he headed to the port side railing.
I found my heart quickening at the thought of exploring the island. What were we going to find?
When most of the others that had been selected to go were ready, we jumped over the side of the railing and flew up.
It felt good to stretch my wings again. I didn't use them often and not at all since I'd been on the ship so it felt like a sigh of relief.
When we landed on the beach Hialt was quick to assume command. "Duli, Jabber, and Gut, scout the West side of the island. The rest of you, with me to the East side. We'll meet back here at sundown," Hialt explained walking away.
Duli followed Jabber as they started towards the West side and Tiros and Dusker followed Hialt. I turned to follow them but a hiss from Gut made me pause.
"Watch what you say around them," he warned, his voice low.
I shot a glance at him, surprised. "Why?" I asked.
"Hialt doesn't like his tail being stepped on and he'll do what he has to to keep it from happening again," he explained shooting a glance past me. "Don't underestimate him," he warned before turning around and catching up with his group.
I snorted as I turned and caught up with the other three, falling behind the group. Dusker was bragging about how many hatchlings he'd stolen but Tiros didn't seem to be listening.
Sundown wasn't very far away which meant we had a limited time to explore. I studied the tree line. The flora sort of reminded me of Nature's trees. While I'd never lived there I did have the pleasure of passing by the territory once. The trees varied in size but they had one thing in common. Their leaves were shaped like tear drops with red dots in the middle. There were large bushes with drooping leaves at the bases of some of the trees. What could be in trees, I wondered. We were skirting the edge of the island when we could be exploring its depths. Maybe there was a cave or creatures to take back and sell.
Without realizing it, I had passed Tiros and Dusker and was slowly passing Hialt.
"Where's he goin' in a rush?" Dusker muttered.
Tiros made some sort of snorting noise but I didn't hear anything else.
I slowed down once I'd realized what I'd done.
"Where do you think you're going?" Hialt asked shooting a glance at me.
I shrugged my wings falling in pace with him. "I wasn't paying attention," I admitted shooting a glance at the tree line. "Haven't been on an island before. I was wondering what there might be," I began.
"Might be?" Hialt echoed. "What, like treasure?"
"Maybe. I would think it's possible to find treasure or gold on an island no dragon's set claw on before," I said. If I played on their good side, they might not attack me.
"Aye, treasure for pirates to collect, mate," Tiros rumbled behind me.
Dusker snorted. "Us, pirates, not him. He's not a pirate," he snickered.
I ignored Dusker, falling behind the group once again. After Gut's warning, I was starting to feel like I was walking on glass when it came to these dragons. Once again, the group was plunged into silence and I started watching the tree line again. The only sounds that greeted our ears was the hiss and roar of the waves as they crashed on to the beach.
Hialt paused glancing at the sky before turning around and facing us. "We'd best turn around. The sun's going to start setting soon," he explained passing us.
I started to follow him, the sand stinging the cracks in my claws. We still hadn't found anything. I'd have to make the suggestion, when we met with the other group, about exploring the inner workings of the island. It was better then wasting a visit, in my opinion, even if Gut didn't agree.
"That bracelet looks familiar," Dusker hissed beside me.
I shot a sharp glance towards him. He was inspecting my armband, red eyes narrowed. "It shouldn't. It's mine," I started.
"No, no," he said keeping in stride with me. "I've seen it before. In fact, I believe that's my bracelet!" he insisted, his lips twitching as he met my gaze.
"Aye, he wore a bracelet like that. The little lad stole it from his mate," he said nodding. "Best give it back before we have to take it from you, mate," he added shooting a glance down at me.
I slowed my pace but they kept right alongside me. "You aren't playing that game with me," I growled.
"Sir, it's mine. I took it meself! The cap'n isn't here, so I insist that I get the chance now to take it back," Dusker snarled glancing at Hialt.
Hialt glanced back at me and shook his head. "You don't steal from one of your fellow hands!" he sighed before glancing at Dusker. "Do what you have to to get your bracelet back."
I darted forwards just as Dusker leaped towards me. Within seconds my heart was pounding in my ears as I narrowly avoided Dusker's teeth snapping down on my tail.
I whipped around to see the dragon nearly upon me once more and scrambled out of the way. These dragons were insane!
Something stepped on my tail halting me in my tracks.
"Apologies, lad, can't have that," Tiros said leaning heavily upon it.
"Let go!" I growled trying to pull my tail free. It was starting to bend painfully but before I had another chance to react, Dusker leaped on my back, sinking his claws into my shoulders. His hind claws dragged along my hindquarters, tearing up flesh.
"You won't be so quick to retaliate now!" Dusker hissed trying to bite my fins.
Somewhere, somehow, the pressure on my tail was relieved and I barreled forward with the other mirror under me.
My back throbbed with pain and I felt something running down the side of my leg. Blood? It didn't matter now. Dusker was snarling beneath me, trying to get up and I swore I heard Tiros laughing behind us.
"Now, that was amusing!" he admitted watching us.
"Stop standin' there ya over-stuffed hedgehog and help me!" Dusker snarled as he finally scrambled out from under me.
"No, no, I quite like watching you fight. It's pathetic, mate," he admitted, taking a seat.
I jumped back as Dusker leaped forward, his red eyes flashing with, what looked like, glee!
I ran around him just as he looked to where I had been standing previously and crashed into his unguarded flank causing him to roll and expose his underside.
I didn't try to pin him or leap on him, even. The pain had been dulled and replaced with growing anger as I lashed out and cut into his skin with one set of claws before he had a chance to get back on his feet. As he rolled on to all fours I ran around him and ran into his other flank, rolling him again.
It was a tactic I'd learned in my home Flight, Shadow. A tactic said to be as "old as time itself" and a maneuver Shadow was known for because it was as much a game as it was tricky to get ahead of.
I managed to roll Dusker two or three times more and with each roll, delivered another painful wound to his skin. The last time I had a chance to do it, I ran headlong into him and smacked his skull with my own.
Dusker slumped to the ground but that was all I saw as the world spun around me and my head throbbed.
"Tiros," Dusker spat stumbling to his feet.
"Oh, alright," Tiros growled.
I shook my head, trying to right my vision just as a large shadow fell over me.
"That was a fair game you played, lad," he admitted behind me.
I went to turn around and felt something catch my side and fling me across the sand.
"But you won't be playing that game with me," he added coming towards me.
"Just get the bracelet!" Dusker snarled.
When I spared a glance towards him, he was standing again with blood dripping down his sides.
"I would likely rip his leg off with these claws, Dusker. How about you start owning up to that notable plundering and take it yourself," Tiros said as he came within a wing's length of me.
I moved to scramble out of his reach but he caught my hind leg and flung me towards Dusker. Before I had a chance to react, the dragon was on top of me, grabbing at the armband and pulling it off.
Dusker jumped off, sliding the armband on to his own arm. "Next time, ya'll think before ya run!" he snickered, not casting a glance at his wounds. It didn't look like they'd phased him!
I started to get up, to get away but Tiros stepped on my foreleg.
"No, no," he said, shaking his head. "I cannot have you getting up and walking away, especially after that mess, lad," he said, starting to put his weight on to my foreleg.
I tried yanking it out from under him. "Stop, no!" I growled.
He snorted. "Begging so late into the act is bad form," he stated before leaning on to his leg.
I swore I heard the snap before the pain zigzagged to my brain like lightning. I howled in agony as Tiros started walking away, following Dusker.
At a glance, the leg looked horrible. It stuck out at an odd angle and all I could do was stare at it. The pain was too much to do anything but let it sink in. In the back of my mind, I knew there was no way to fix this. The problem was, I was weaker without my foreleg and if the pirates marooned me on this island, I would be doomed.
My attention turned to the trees. It had been intriguing to look at before but now it seemed unwelcoming.
I laid my head on the sand and shut my eyes. Pain burned on my back and my leg was practically screaming with agony. If I didn't do something, I would surely die on this island or worse...

Darkness greeted me with icy claws nipping at my body. I glanced up, looking around. For a heartbeat, I didn't know where I was but my memory returned as the full moon watched me with its unblinking stare. I was still on the island.
I glanced at my leg. It was still odd and the pain had dulled. My back ached and something cold was caressing my skin. The tide had come in and was slowly starting to surpass me.
I had to get back to the ship.
The thought went through my mind followed by a flash of fear. What if the ship was gone? What if those thieving cowards told the captain I had died or betrayed them? I narrowed my eyes at the thought. It was as unwelcoming as the thought of what might happen when I showed up.
I had to do something though. I wasn't going to drown or die on the island. Not without a fight.
The first thing I had to do was get up. My leg ached but it wasn't as bad now.
I budged my right foreleg which had been resting under the broken one and the pain pulsed but didn't hurt severely.
Slowly, I got my hindlegs under me and my working foreleg beneath me to push up. They ached, and faltered once causing me to land on my lame leg. I gasped as hot pain raced up and down it and had to take a moment to recover.
Once I was back on my legs, I started what, I was sure, was going to be the longest trek I'd ever done.
The ship, thankfully, did not disappear. It was graced with the light of the moon and I had to thank Shadowbinder that the moon was out tonight otherwise I might have missed it.
I studied the ship, my thoughts trailing towards Dusker and Tiros. What would they do if I returned to the ship and told the captain about what they did? Would they try to kill me? It made more sense than I wanted it to.
I sighed. They didn't consider me a pirate and I made it out of the attack with one of my items lost and my leg broken. To them, I was weak and useless and I was starting to feel that way. I could obey orders but in a matter of days I'd hit my head, broken my leg, and could barely defend myself.
The only thing that I was sure of was that I wasn't staying on this island. The first mate was against me and Gut warned me but didn't come back to help.
I launched off the beach with my hind legs and started the flight back to the ship. I wasn't going to let these dragons get the best of me, one way or another I was going to beat them. I just hoped my newfound resort would help.
Save for the dragon occupying the crow's nest and one sleeping on deck, there was no one else. I glided silently on the winds to the ship and landed as quietly as I could. The dragon on deck didn't stir, one of the mirrors, and I didn't hear a sound from the crow's nest.
I headed towards the quarter deck, my gaze fixed on heavy fabric drawn over the opening to the captain's cabin. It was secured in place by a rope looped through a hole on the frame of the opening.
There was no light from inside nor was there a sound that I heard and I didn't want to sneak in. The last dragon that had ever went inside the cabin without permission had his tongue cut out, from what I'd heard once. For what reason, I didn't know.
"Captain," I hissed, glancing over my shoulder. Nobody had moved nor did I hear anything from within.
"Captain!" I repeated, louder this time.
Still no response. I cursed myself as I abandoned my previous fear and undid the rope but just as I started to pull the fabric aside I heard a voice within.
"Ye come a step further'n I'll spill yer innards. What're ye doin' in me cabin?"
While I wasn't in the cabin, I didn't want to argue. "I need to speak with you," I pleaded.
"'bout what? Hialt tells me ye abandoned ship. Why've ye come back?" the captain growled.
The only thing I could see in the shadow of the cabin was the reflection of red eyes which didn't make me feel anymore welcomed. "I didn't abandon ship," I started as the fabric drew back.
"Then how d'ye explain yer miserable look? I was told ye tried killin' one o' me hands an' Tiros broke yer leg fer yer mutiny," she stated.
I snorted, my eyes narrowing. "Of course they'd play that off," I muttered, feeling anger starting to boil in the pit of my stomach.
"What was that?" she asked.
"We separated into two groups. Hialt, Dusker, Tiros, and I while the others went the other way. I was attacked. Dusker laid claim to my armband, asked if he could retrieve it, and when Hialt approved, he attacked me," I explained, irritated.
"'e laid claim? Wanted yer armband?" she asked.
"No, claimed I'd stolen it from him," I clarified.
The captain didn't say anything, turning around to bring light into the cabin through a lantern. "Wait on th' quarterdeck, ye bilge rat," she ordered without turning around.
"Aye, aye, captain," I responded leaving her and heading up the stairs. When I turned around, I watched as she left her cabin and delivered a swift blow to the napping mirror.
"Go fetch Dusker and do it smartly!" she snarled.
"Aye, aye, cap'n!" the mirror wheezed ducking away.
Within heartbeats he returned with the black mirror. "Ye best be goin' belowdeck, Kuro, yer no use t' me sleepin'," she snapped.
Dusker hadn't said a word as Kuro disappeared belowdeck.
"Dusker, follow me. I need t' 'ave a word with ye," the captain ordered leading the way to her cabin.
Dusker followed and for a heartbeat, it looked like there was excitement in his eyes.
I carefully made my way down the stairs, straining my ears to hear what was going to happen. Was the captain going to punish him or get reconfirmation about my actions? The idea didn't sit well but I wasn't about to miss out on what they were saying. When I was just out of sight of the opening, I could hear most of what they were saying.
"...did ye get that exactly?" the captain said.
Dusker was speaking low and the only thing I heard was, "plundered it."
"Interestin'ly enough..." the captain's words faded into the darkness.
"No! It's mine!" Dusker barked suddenly.
"Ye lied t'me," Firefeather hissed. It was followed by something banging and a screech of pain. "Lie t'me again an' ye won' 'ave any deadlights t'use!" the captain snarled as Dusker backed out of the cabin, shaking his head. Blood, black in the light of the moon splattered to and fro as he shook his head. He disappeared belowdeck, snarling.
I couldn't help but feel a little smug. I had no idea what had happened except that Dusker appeared to be injured. It wasn't a just revenge but it was a start.
I limped down from the quarterdeck and approached her cabin once again.
"Get inside, ye picaroon," she snapped without glancing over her wings. "I've got somethin' that'll fix that up," she explained.
I walked through the heavy fabric into the dimly lit cabin. Shadows danced across a hand drawn map and for a heartbeat, I was fixated on it. It stretched across the length of the wall and reached to the ceiling. I could see the mainland clearly along with written points of interest and names of, what I was sure were, clans. Then, there were islands away from the mainland. More than I would've thought.
"Drink this," the captain commanded, holding out a bottle with some glowing orange-green liquid in it.
I'd seen healing potions before and they had never been that color. "What is it?" I asked accepting the bottle. The liquid was warm against the glass.
She snorted taking a step back. "Water from the freshest o' springs," she stated rolling her eyes. "It be a concoction o' me own. There be a wee bit o' th' strongest o' health potions in there along with a serthis remedy. Yer body wouldna be able t' handle a potent health potion by itself so I weaken it."
I narrowed my eyes. "Aren't the serthis enemies to dragons?" I asked.
"If ye don' want it then I'll take it back," she snapped reaching for the bottle.
I pulled it away instinctively. "No, I'll drink it. I just wanted to know if I was going to die from it first and why don't I just drink a weaker health potion?" I challenged.
"Weak health potions cover minor injuries. They cause th' flesh t' rapidly 'eal in some cases. If th' wound be too great, ye could drink several bottles but that makes everythin' worse than what ye started with an' makes ye more likely t' get sick. If ye notice, no dragon on this ship carries anythin' but weak health potions. I want 'em t' learn from their mistakes not get better," she explained, eyes narrowed.
I could understand that. Which meant no amount of healing would help Dusker. I paused cutting my eyes towards her. "Then why are you helping me?" I asked, suspicion growing. Maybe this was a trick.
Cap'n o' th' Crowned Thresher
Pirates Risin'
(Public lore regardin' pirates o' Sornieth)
Below Deck! (Personal Lore Thread)
"Oh fer th' love o' th' Plaguebringer an' all things infected, are ye goin' t' ask questions 'r ye goin' t' do yer body a favor first?" she snarled. "If it makes ye feel better," she began, turning around and pulling another of the glowing green bottles from a crate. "I'll drink some with ye, but nay with th' health potion," she explained.
"Alright," I said, tipping my head. She echoed my actions and within a heartbeat, I was drinking the potion.
The first thing I tasted was a very bitter sweet flavor which burned as I swallowed it. As it settled in my stomach, it warmed and bubbles slightly. As the bitter taste disappeared, it was replaced with a sweet flavor that lingered. I glanced at the empty bottle before putting it down and when I looked at the captain, she was replaced her empty bottle in the crate.
Something popped sharply and pain erupted throughout my foreleg causing me to cry out. When I glanced at it, I saw the leg realigning itself and within a heartbeat, the horrible pain was fading away. I moved my foreleg slightly. It hurt but the pain wasn't blinding and when I placed it on the floor of the cabin, there was only a dull pain.
"There'll be some bruisin' an' swellin' but looks like ye'll be more use now than ye were crippled," the captain acknowledged, nodding.
I shot a glance towards her. "Why are you helping me?" I asked, not letting go of that question until I had an answer. Pirates didn't help each other, did they? Gut didn't help me so why would the captain?
"Aye, I s'pose that deserves an answer," she said, putting my empty bottle away. "Yer weak. Barely fit fer me ship. Ye be a quick an' good hand but yer nay fit fer battle, pillagin', an' I'd wager plunderin' also. Ye let two o' me most arrogant scallywags get th' best o' ye with nothin' t' show 'cept some scratches on Dusker's flanks.
I've decided ye could be o' use t'me in th' long run, aye. Ye could be good fer this ship but ye need t' be trained properly. I can see ye still be wet behind th' wings an' still a wee bit o' a landlubber at times but it can be fixed. So, from now on, ye'll be at me side on land so I can teach ye 'ow t' be a proper pirate, if there ever be one. On deck, yer on yer own but every time we make port 'r find an island, ye'll be with me ashore," she explained to my growing disbelief.
"I can handle them," I started to argue but it was drowned by laughter.
She shook her head, the laughter subsiding to chuckles. "Nay, me hearty, yer more likely t' win a battle with a fish than with me crew an' that'd barely be a win even," she said, grinning. "So, there ye 'ave it. No questions asked," she stated.
I must've looked baffled. I knew my jaw was hanging open and my eyes were wide but what else could I do? I didn't want to be stuck with the captain! In the back of my mind, I knew for a fact that if I wanted to get away from the ship, I needed to be away from her and the crew. The only thing I did like about this idea was that I'd be able to defeat those two rats in the long run.
"Yer goin' t' need one o' these t' start with. Most dragons don' adapt well t' gettin' more use out o' their forelegs but yer on me ship, 'n ye'll be usin' yer forelegs fer more than jus' makin' knots an' hoistin' th' anchor, savvy?" the captain added placing something on the ground in front of me. When had she moved?
I glanced down to see an oddly shaped piece of metal and a belt and suddenly it dawned on me. She was giving me a cutlass! I picked the sword up, wrapping my claws around the hilt. It felt odd. I returned it to its home on the belt before picking the whole thing up. "Thank you," I muttered.
She snorted, sitting down. "Yer goin' t' want t' put that on when ye get outside. It becomes a wee bit o' a hassle but ye'll get used t' it. It can save yer life where yer claws canna. Now, get below deck an' rest yer deadlights, lad. Ye'll be seein' a lot o' work once we reach land," she ordered.
I nodded heading towards the fabric which covered the opening. "Captain?" I started pausing.
"What d'ye want now?" she asked.
"What was that green stuff in the potion?"
"I once saw one o' th' serthis drinkin' it. I gave it a wee taste once an' when nothin' bad 'appened, I drank it. It warms ye in th' coldest o' nights'n if ye drink more'n one bottle, yer likely t' find yerself swayin' an' too relaxed. So, don' drink it on foreign land," she warned.
"Right, until morning," I said heading outside. My step wasn't swaying but I was sure the world was moving a little bit more than it usually did.

"All hands on deck!" Hialt's voice rang through the foggy sleep I'd been having.
"Weigh anchor and hoist the sails, you rats!"
I sat up, feeling my right foreleg stiffen at the sudden movement but it didn't hurt. Dragons scurried ahead of me and through the hatch. I yawned before stretching the sleep out of my limbs and followed them on deck. The captain was at the helm and Hialt was shouting orders as he helped weigh anchor.
I started to help with the sails but just as I'd grabbed a hold of one of the ropes I heard, "Alibi! C'mere an' smartly!"
I shot a glance towards the captain to see her eyeing me. "Aye, aye, captain," I said heading towards the helm.
Tiros was tugging on a rope as I passed by him and I saw him pause watching me as I passed him by the mainmast. He muttered something that I couldn't hear as I climbed the stairs.
"Ye be lookin' fairly confident this mornin', wouldn' ye say, Hialt?" Firefeather stated shooting a glance towards the first mate as he approached them.
As I met Hialt's eyes, I thought I saw a flash of hidden fury in them and found myself raising my head a little higher. "Mornin' captain, and Hialt," I said nodding my head towards them.
"Aye, confident," Hialt said, eyes narrowing.
"I 'ave some things t' tend t' in me cabin, so I need ye t' take hold o' th' wheel as me helmsdragon, savvy?" she asked fixing her gaze on me.
"Aye, aye, captain," I started approaching the green wheel. I hadn't seen any one dragon that had remained at the helm save for the captain. Except the problem was... "How do I use it?" I asked, grabbing hold of it with my claws. My foreleg still ached as I bent it but it was better than the searing pain from the night before.
"Hah! You're worse than a tundra!" Hialt barked, subsiding in snickers.
"Belay that, Hialt!" the captain snarled, shooting a dark glare my way. "Simple. Ye turn th' wheel starboard, it'll go starboard. If ye turn it t' port, it'll turn t' port. Our course be set so don' make a habit o' turnin' it, savvy? I jus' need ye t' maintain a straight course. Th' winds be with us now but don' let th' ship go astray," she explained.
"Aye, aye, captain," I responded and with that, she departed down the stairs and below. I glanced at the waters ahead of us. There were no dark clouds rolling in and the sea seemed fairly calm. Slowly, I turned the wheel first to port and then to starboard, testing the feel. How come she didn't have a proper helmsdragon? I didn't know much about ships save for what I'd learned since I'd been on the Deadlight but if there was a position for steering the ship then surely it had to be filled?
"How did you escape?" Hialt asked glaring at me from where he stood by the stairs.
I shot a glance at him. His temperature had risen but he remained very composed. While the captain might've been the face of the ship and a threat in her own way, Hialt had the muscle to take care of crew, it seemed.
He seemed as baffled as Tiros had been. They thought I would never get off that island, or that if I did, I'd be put back on there because I was crippled. The thought had settled in the back of my mind boiling with an unseen anger. The captain had promised me aid and I wasn't going to keep looking like a fish out of water so long as I was on this ship. The next time I met Hialt and his muscle, I wasn't going to just walk into my own death.
With a smile I answered, "Same way I got into that mess, with wings, of course!"
Hialt's eyes narrowed but he turned around and went down the stairs snapping at Prion to scrub the deck spotless.
I watched him head to the bow, head low and temperature risen. I wasn't going to tell him that his dear captain had helped me. That was a secret I couldn't let escape from my jaws. I was, however, going to stop acting like a newly hatched dragon on the ship.
The captain returned shortly afterwards casting a sharp eye on me. "Alright, out o' th' way, I'll take th' helm from 'ere," she ordered.
"Captain," I began stepping aside. "Why not let someone else control the wheel?" I proposed. "Before you give me that look, hear me out. You being at the helm takes you away from any other ordeals. What if a fight broke out on deck but you couldn't stop it because you were busy steering the ship? Don't misunderstand me, you're probably very talented at turning the wheel but you could be needed elsewhere, especially in times of danger like with that octoflyer," I explained shooting a glance towards some of the crew lounging about on the main deck. "Besides," I added, smirking as I shot her a glance. "What pirate doesn't need to see their lovely captain strutting on deck, making sure all's in order, aye?"
"Get out o' 'ere, ye mangy bilge rat!" she snapped swinging at me with sharp claws. "I don' need yer ideas when I know 'ow t' run me own ship!"
I backed away heading to the rigging when suddenly I heard her shout, "Ankor, get yer sorry carcasss t' th' helm!" I paused midway up, shooting a glance at her as she spoke to the silver wildclaw and found myself smirking again. By the Shadowbinder's fins, I wasn't just going to survive, I was going to triumph!

"Land, ho!"
Shadows were lengthening when Dusker made the announcement. In the distance, was the silhouette of land barely breaking the horizon.
I blinked, glancing up. I was at the bow of the boat which was now pointed towards the land. Within moments, the captain was beside me holding up an odd looking instrument to one pair of eyes. "Haharr, sharpen yer weapons, ye scallywags, we'll be pillagin' tonight!" she hollered after a moment.
The crew roared in excitement but I found myself puzzled. What did they mean? We weren't actually going to attack a clan, were we?
"Ready t' be a pirate, lad?"
I shot a glance towards the captain, puzzled. "What are you talking about?" I asked.
"Ye've done th' sailin' portion but this be what it means t' be a pirate an' 'ave th' reputation we 'ave," she explained, lips drawn back in a grin. With that, she left, tucking the instrument she'd used before, away in her belt.
I watched her leave, trying to figure out just what she meant. I wasn't a Plague dragon! Shadow dragons didn't do this, at least not the ones I knew.
"All hands t' th' main deck! Dusker, Mi'Rah, Belleza, Archibald, Hialt an' Prion, ye'll be stayin' aboard t' watch th' ship. Don' let anyone near 'r on it. Th' rest o' ye, we wait 'till nightfall. We'll pull th' ship close enough t' swim but nay near shallow waters. Our prey be th' Nature flight. Rather'n racin' in, we'll ambush an' burn. I'll take Alibi an' we'll tell ye when t' attack. Wait fer me signal. Tiros, ye'll be carryin' a wee crate o' firestarters. It be a fire-resistant crate but nay water resistant, don' get it wet an' ye won' burn yerself 'r ruin th' plan. Savvy?" the captain asked amid the crew.
I listened from the back, unable to see the captain. The crew responded with excitement, more than I'd seen since I'd first come aboard. I glanced at the territory as we sailed closer. Now I could see the brightly colored foliage Nature was notorious for having, even in the shadows that clung to the land. It reminded me vaguely of the eternal darkness that I once called home.
I hadn't thought of it but a few times since I'd come aboard. Had I really forgotten that I belonged on land? Clans never caught my interest and I'd never stayed long enough in any one to care for what they had to offer.
I blinked, shooting a glance towards the starboard railing to find Dusker glaring at me with blood-colored eyes. An eyepatch hid what was surely mutilated beneath and below the skull that covered his head, I could see a stretch of bandage hanging loosely. Nobody knew nor had asked what had happened to him and he hadn't spoken much since that evening.
I raised my head, resisting the urge to smirk at his misery and I could see his temperature rise. I was sure that the next time the captain sent me with him we were going to butt heads again.
"Alright, ye mangy dogs, t' me! Alibi, come t'me side. If anyone gets a so much's a whiff o' a territory marker, tell me!" the captain ordered once night had fallen. There was no moon in the sky but rather many stars, gazing down like several eyes of the Shadowbinder.
The grass was cool and damp underfoot when we touched ground after flying over. The air was filled with sweet scents of the flora that was called the everbloom gardens.
"Alright, search fer territory markin's; Alibi, ye stay at me side. Don' stray too far from this spot, none o' ye," the captain hissed shooting a glance towards me.
"Aye, aye, captain," some of the crew responded.
I followed her, listening to the rustling that broke the silence. It could've sounded like the wind but these dragons didn't know how to hunt quietly and made more noise than a snoring snapper. A dragon would hear them coming before there was even a plan.
In front of me, the captain was quiet, sniffing the air and moving through the brush like a phytocat with air for paws. I wasn't going to admit that I was impressed. It was no secret that Plague dragons would rather attack outright than ambush, let alone be quiet for a moment's time.
"You've hunted before?" I asked, keeping my voice low as I came alongside her, ducking under a fruit-laden branch.
"When permitted, aye," she muttered, sniffing the ground. "Check th' bush over there," she ordered nodding towards a flat looking plant with leaves that stretched across the ground.
I headed over, sniffing the leaves before reeling back towards her, sneezing. They smelled awful!
The captain snickered watching me. "Yer many travels must not'a brought ye t' Nature. Those plants be good at maskin' scents if ye can stand t' be among them long enough," she explained, grinning.
"Only if you don't have the sense of smell to deal with them," I remarked, snorting.
Something whistled into the darkness. A soft, high-pitched sound that faded away. The captain's head shot up and she whipped around. "They got somethin'," she hissed darting towards the sound.
I followed her, narrowly avoiding getting caught in brambles as she snaked her way towards another whistle, not making a sound.
The gargantuan ridgeback, Cyclone, was standing, gazing towards us. Could he even see in the darkness? He was a Water dragon, not a Shadow dragon.
"What did ye find?" Firefeather asked glancing up at him.
"Strong markers. Not just scent but visible," he stated nodding towards the ground. A scalloped shell sat on the grass and even from where I stood near the captain, I could smell the strong clan scent. Nature clans tended to have a scent similar to soil, from what learned and it stuck out from the others unless Plague was around.
"Let's go. Cyclone, Tiros, an' th' rest o' ye thumpers get yerselves t' th' back. I don' want us t' be seen 'fore we're heard, savvy?" she ordered leading the way past the marker.
I smirked shooting a glance behind me. They were quicker to be heard than seen, was more like it, in my opinion. The larger dragons did fall back, though, and I could see the heat of smaller dragons snaking through the underbrush right behind us and for a heartbeat, I felt excitement race through my body. I'd never been part of this kind of clan, except it wasn't a clan, it was a crew!
In front of me, the captain was maneuvering around some boulders, pausing only to sniff them before continuing onward. The brush was thicker here and I could smell the overwhelming scent of the the clan. We must've been getting close to their lair.
She stopped suddenly, gazing through the foliage at something before whipping around. "Stay 'ere, wait fer th' signal," she hissed to the twins as they came up behind us. "Echo that order and keep yer tongue stilled," she commanded before turning and veering to port suddenly.
I followed, trying to figure out what she'd seen as she ducked below branches but I was sure it was what I heard rather than saw. There was a chatter of voices somewhere nearby but I couldn't pinpoint where.
The captain slithered up on to a boulder, pressing herself against it as she glanced around.
I watched her, not admitting to myself that I was intrigued at how she managed to stay so quiet when the world she lived in was filled only with noise, even on the quietest of nights. She would make a great Shadow dragon if she'd ever returned to land.

Stop that kind of thinking, you fool! I scolded myself, shaking my head. When I glanced back up at the rock, she was gone.
I scampered up there, my heart suddenly pounding. Oh, by the gods, if I lost her, she'd have my head for it, I was sure! No, though, she'd stopped ahead, focusing on something to her starboard side.
I followed, picking my way carefully through the soft ground. These dragons didn't choose their lair well because I was sure they'd made a home out of a swamp with the way my claws were starting to sink.
"See that lad there?" the captain asked as I approached her. She nodded towards the brush.
I followed her gaze, suddenly seeing the varying colors of warmer temperatures and the distinct outline of a guardian.
We were just close enough that I could hear him talking. He was speaking to a hatchling that was curled up by his leg.
"...and you will take my place. It's that simple. I still need to find my charge," the guardian was saying, staring off into the plants as he rambled.
"Aye?" I responded, keeping as quiet as possible.
"'e be th' night watch, 'r at least it looks t' be that way. Should be easy t' distract," she explained crouching low.
"But he's got a hatchling!" I said glancing back at the small collection of temperature.
"Easy t' sell, too!" she said, smirking. Suddenly, a high-pitched whistle erupted from her causing the guardian to glance up.
I felt my heart start to pound as we waited. I wasn't focused on the guardian, I was watching the hatchling. These dragons had no rules, nothing to go by! I was aware of the buying and selling of hatchlings but to steal them and put them back into the auction house? That was horrible!
"Get down!"
The sharp order made me duck my head instantly just as the guardian started coming towards us. The captain whistled again, a quieter sound but the guardian still hadn't dropped its fins.
There was a rustle of sound nearby and a flicker of light and I suddenly realized this wasn't just a distraction.
As the guardian turned around to glance at the rustling, the captain leaped forward, crawling up the guardian's back before disappearing among a flurry of great wings.
"Intruders!" the guardian yelled, his raspy voice ringing around the large clearing just as the other pirates raced into the clearing and suddenly, it was madness.
I glanced around watching as the crew was met with some very awake dragons, while some of the others disappeared among the brush. Somewhere in the midst of the smell of blood and nature was the distinct scent of something burning.
"Pirates!" someone yelled above the cries of attack.
There was too much chaos for me to figure out where to put my claws when suddenly I was face to face with a bright green wildclaw. The echoes of rage glittered in its amber eyes as it leaped forward with sharp hind-claws.
I darted out of the way, my heart beating in my ears as I raced around and head butted the wildclaw forward. What was I doing? This wasn't fighting!
"Leave us alone!" the wildclaw hissed turning around and racing towards me.
I bared my teeth, darting out of the way but the wildclaw was hot on my tail. All around, the scenery had changed from the serene environment that was Nature to something out of a story. Flames danced at the edges of the clearing catching every little bit of life and turning it black and hot but I couldn't feel the increase of temperature and I could no longer rely just on my second pair of eyes. Without realizing it, I'd ran right behind the guardian from before but not only did I not see the captain but I found myself right behind his hind leg which came up and kicked me backwards.
The wildclaw was on top of me before I had a chance to catch my breath. It kicked at me, dragging those sharp hind claws down my side.
I was on the ground again, losing a fight I'd walked into again. The dragon's claws kept catching on something and suddenly, I remembered what I'd been given the night of my broken leg. I reached down, grabbing the cutlass that lay secured on my belt and swung at it's hind legs cutting into flesh and bone.
The wildclaw cried out in pain jumping off of me and I scrambled to my claws, eyes narrowed and a newfound anger burning inside. I wasn't going to die here!
I glanced around, identifying my mates through the smoke and odd temperatures. I'd though there were more than there really were but apparently I had been mistaken. The clan outnumbered us and we were still fighting!
Nearby, I caught a glance of someone familiar but I didn't recognize her immediately. Then, just as she danced back through the smoke, I saw the captain smeared in blood and dirt. Her eyes blazed with a fire stronger than that around us as she disappeared back through.
"Capta--I started to call heading towards her. What if she was injured? Something ran into me, a small thud against my foreleg and I looked down to see the hatchling from before, eyes wide and terrified against the embers and battle.
I sheathed my cutlass and grabbed the hatchling, a young pearcatcher who was still very attached to its sphere. "Let me go!" the small hatchling squeaked as I found a crevice among the nearby rocks.
"Hide here, and don't come out at all!" I hissed dropped the hatchling in front of it before turning around.
As quick as the battle had started, it looked like it was wearing down when suddenly the guardian stood up. "Enough!" he snarled, his voice ringing across the clearing above the cries of battle. "There's been enough bloodshed tonight! We submit," he said glancing around. Blood trailed down the side of his face and his fins were still dropped.
Looks of astonishment reflected in his clan's eyes but their tired appearance and quickness to stop fighting revealed more than they let on.
I glanced around and found the captain crouched to the ground, her gaze fixed on a coatl and mirror but it flicked towards the guardian for a heartbeat. Somewhere to my starboard side I thought I saw the beginnings of a dragon laying on the ground but I didn't want to see who it was nor if they were still alive.
The fire still danced around us as the crew started to realize they'd won. While the clan backed towards the guardian, which appeared to be the only giant they actually had, I spared a glance towards the fallen form. Whether alive or dead, it was beat up badly and it happened to be the very same wildclaw I'd fought against. I felt my blood freeze and glanced away, breathing audibly.
"Where's yer clan's hoard?" Firefeather snarled, approaching the guardian.
The guardian's eyes were narrowed but other than that, he didn't do anything. "Over there, in a den," he said nodding towards a burnt away hole. "Leave our hatchlings alone, though, that is all I ask of you," he requested, glaring down at the mirror.
The captain snorted, shaking her head. "Ye lost. Spare me yer woes, landlubber," she snarled. "All o' ye hulkin' ones, keep t' th' clearin', keep an eye on these Nature-lovin' picaroons," she ordered backing away from the guardian.
"Aye, aye, captain," some of the dragons responded.
I glanced towards the guardian, my heart still racing as I headed towards the captain. She was breathing heavily and I was sure she was bleeding from somewhere but I couldn't see where. I didn't say anything but she shot a victorious glance my way.
"Fer this, I'd give up me landlubbin' days always," she muttered.
I narrowed my eyes, glancing around. Other dragons, those who didn't have size to the gain were following us. The rest of the crew had fallen in behind us save for Tiros, Kanibl, and the other larger dragons.
When we reached the den, I could see it split two ways and one had the beginnings of the hoard and treasure barely showing itself while the other was dark.
"Well?" the captain snarled glancing over her shoulder. "What're ye waitin' fer? Take anythin' an' everythin' useful. Half o' ye, take hatchlin's. We'll be gettin' rid o' 'em soon enough!" she hollered to the crew's delight.
They raced past her into the dens and I could hear the clattering of objects and cries of delight. In the other one, it was the opposite, surprise and fear as some of the crew emerged with hatchlings.
I glanced back towards the captain where she stood. "Are you alright?" I asked, watching her.
"Don't show me petty concern, lad. Go plunder yer spoils. This be what it means t' be a pirate. Take what ye want, give nothin' back," she explained, smirking. "Now go, an' stop showin' me yer soft side," she snarled when I didn't move.
I slowly left her, heading into the den. It was a different kind of chaos. The twins were hoarding only what they could wear but was anything they could find while Gut was carrying a crate with food stacked on top.
"You came in a little late, there," Gut acknowledged as he passed me.
I didn't respond walking by him. The captain's words still echoed in my mind. This was what it meant to be a pirate? It was both horrifying and surprising. All that bloodshed to reach the stores of food, armor, and other things was something out of a tale. Dragons passed me with as much as they could carry in their claws, mouths, and even on their backs and when I finally started to rummage through the piles, I wasn't sure what to do.
My side was starting to burn as the echoes of battle subsided from my mind. I glanced around, still looking to find something to take and saw a piece of clothing sticking out of a pile of food. It was a hat which I stuffed with some leftover food before leaving the den.
The captain was still standing there, her gaze fixed on me as I left. "Pah, ye've a landlubber's 'eart still!" she snapped, irritated. "We'll drain ye o' that when th' time comes."
Something moved from by her legs and suddenly, a small head appeared. Another hatchling!
"Is that another pirate?" the hatchling asked, staring at me. It was a small wildclaw hatchling with large green eyes.
"Aye, an' if ye quick t' learn, 'n strong, ye can be a pirate's well," the captain said, her voice softening beyond what I'd ever heard. "It'll give ye a real chance t' live instead o' hidin' among th' clans, bein' breedin' fodder," she explained but the hatchling wasn't paying attention anymore. It was watching me and I was watching the captain.
This was a side I'd never seen before. "Uh, captain," I said, clearing my throat.
She glanced up, eyes narrowing suddenly. "What're ye standin' there fer? Let's go! I been waitin' fer ye so ye didna get ambushed, ye pile o' bones!"
"Oh fer th' love o' th' Plaguebringer an' all things infected, are ye goin' t' ask questions 'r ye goin' t' do yer body a favor first?" she snarled. "If it makes ye feel better," she began, turning around and pulling another of the glowing green bottles from a crate. "I'll drink some with ye, but nay with th' health potion," she explained.
"Alright," I said, tipping my head. She echoed my actions and within a heartbeat, I was drinking the potion.
The first thing I tasted was a very bitter sweet flavor which burned as I swallowed it. As it settled in my stomach, it warmed and bubbles slightly. As the bitter taste disappeared, it was replaced with a sweet flavor that lingered. I glanced at the empty bottle before putting it down and when I looked at the captain, she was replaced her empty bottle in the crate.
Something popped sharply and pain erupted throughout my foreleg causing me to cry out. When I glanced at it, I saw the leg realigning itself and within a heartbeat, the horrible pain was fading away. I moved my foreleg slightly. It hurt but the pain wasn't blinding and when I placed it on the floor of the cabin, there was only a dull pain.
"There'll be some bruisin' an' swellin' but looks like ye'll be more use now than ye were crippled," the captain acknowledged, nodding.
I shot a glance towards her. "Why are you helping me?" I asked, not letting go of that question until I had an answer. Pirates didn't help each other, did they? Gut didn't help me so why would the captain?
"Aye, I s'pose that deserves an answer," she said, putting my empty bottle away. "Yer weak. Barely fit fer me ship. Ye be a quick an' good hand but yer nay fit fer battle, pillagin', an' I'd wager plunderin' also. Ye let two o' me most arrogant scallywags get th' best o' ye with nothin' t' show 'cept some scratches on Dusker's flanks.
I've decided ye could be o' use t'me in th' long run, aye. Ye could be good fer this ship but ye need t' be trained properly. I can see ye still be wet behind th' wings an' still a wee bit o' a landlubber at times but it can be fixed. So, from now on, ye'll be at me side on land so I can teach ye 'ow t' be a proper pirate, if there ever be one. On deck, yer on yer own but every time we make port 'r find an island, ye'll be with me ashore," she explained to my growing disbelief.
"I can handle them," I started to argue but it was drowned by laughter.
She shook her head, the laughter subsiding to chuckles. "Nay, me hearty, yer more likely t' win a battle with a fish than with me crew an' that'd barely be a win even," she said, grinning. "So, there ye 'ave it. No questions asked," she stated.
I must've looked baffled. I knew my jaw was hanging open and my eyes were wide but what else could I do? I didn't want to be stuck with the captain! In the back of my mind, I knew for a fact that if I wanted to get away from the ship, I needed to be away from her and the crew. The only thing I did like about this idea was that I'd be able to defeat those two rats in the long run.
"Yer goin' t' need one o' these t' start with. Most dragons don' adapt well t' gettin' more use out o' their forelegs but yer on me ship, 'n ye'll be usin' yer forelegs fer more than jus' makin' knots an' hoistin' th' anchor, savvy?" the captain added placing something on the ground in front of me. When had she moved?
I glanced down to see an oddly shaped piece of metal and a belt and suddenly it dawned on me. She was giving me a cutlass! I picked the sword up, wrapping my claws around the hilt. It felt odd. I returned it to its home on the belt before picking the whole thing up. "Thank you," I muttered.
She snorted, sitting down. "Yer goin' t' want t' put that on when ye get outside. It becomes a wee bit o' a hassle but ye'll get used t' it. It can save yer life where yer claws canna. Now, get below deck an' rest yer deadlights, lad. Ye'll be seein' a lot o' work once we reach land," she ordered.
I nodded heading towards the fabric which covered the opening. "Captain?" I started pausing.
"What d'ye want now?" she asked.
"What was that green stuff in the potion?"
"I once saw one o' th' serthis drinkin' it. I gave it a wee taste once an' when nothin' bad 'appened, I drank it. It warms ye in th' coldest o' nights'n if ye drink more'n one bottle, yer likely t' find yerself swayin' an' too relaxed. So, don' drink it on foreign land," she warned.
"Right, until morning," I said heading outside. My step wasn't swaying but I was sure the world was moving a little bit more than it usually did.

"All hands on deck!" Hialt's voice rang through the foggy sleep I'd been having.
"Weigh anchor and hoist the sails, you rats!"
I sat up, feeling my right foreleg stiffen at the sudden movement but it didn't hurt. Dragons scurried ahead of me and through the hatch. I yawned before stretching the sleep out of my limbs and followed them on deck. The captain was at the helm and Hialt was shouting orders as he helped weigh anchor.
I started to help with the sails but just as I'd grabbed a hold of one of the ropes I heard, "Alibi! C'mere an' smartly!"
I shot a glance towards the captain to see her eyeing me. "Aye, aye, captain," I said heading towards the helm.
Tiros was tugging on a rope as I passed by him and I saw him pause watching me as I passed him by the mainmast. He muttered something that I couldn't hear as I climbed the stairs.
"Ye be lookin' fairly confident this mornin', wouldn' ye say, Hialt?" Firefeather stated shooting a glance towards the first mate as he approached them.
As I met Hialt's eyes, I thought I saw a flash of hidden fury in them and found myself raising my head a little higher. "Mornin' captain, and Hialt," I said nodding my head towards them.
"Aye, confident," Hialt said, eyes narrowing.
"I 'ave some things t' tend t' in me cabin, so I need ye t' take hold o' th' wheel as me helmsdragon, savvy?" she asked fixing her gaze on me.
"Aye, aye, captain," I started approaching the green wheel. I hadn't seen any one dragon that had remained at the helm save for the captain. Except the problem was... "How do I use it?" I asked, grabbing hold of it with my claws. My foreleg still ached as I bent it but it was better than the searing pain from the night before.
"Hah! You're worse than a tundra!" Hialt barked, subsiding in snickers.
"Belay that, Hialt!" the captain snarled, shooting a dark glare my way. "Simple. Ye turn th' wheel starboard, it'll go starboard. If ye turn it t' port, it'll turn t' port. Our course be set so don' make a habit o' turnin' it, savvy? I jus' need ye t' maintain a straight course. Th' winds be with us now but don' let th' ship go astray," she explained.
"Aye, aye, captain," I responded and with that, she departed down the stairs and below. I glanced at the waters ahead of us. There were no dark clouds rolling in and the sea seemed fairly calm. Slowly, I turned the wheel first to port and then to starboard, testing the feel. How come she didn't have a proper helmsdragon? I didn't know much about ships save for what I'd learned since I'd been on the Deadlight but if there was a position for steering the ship then surely it had to be filled?
"How did you escape?" Hialt asked glaring at me from where he stood by the stairs.
I shot a glance at him. His temperature had risen but he remained very composed. While the captain might've been the face of the ship and a threat in her own way, Hialt had the muscle to take care of crew, it seemed.
He seemed as baffled as Tiros had been. They thought I would never get off that island, or that if I did, I'd be put back on there because I was crippled. The thought had settled in the back of my mind boiling with an unseen anger. The captain had promised me aid and I wasn't going to keep looking like a fish out of water so long as I was on this ship. The next time I met Hialt and his muscle, I wasn't going to just walk into my own death.
With a smile I answered, "Same way I got into that mess, with wings, of course!"
Hialt's eyes narrowed but he turned around and went down the stairs snapping at Prion to scrub the deck spotless.
I watched him head to the bow, head low and temperature risen. I wasn't going to tell him that his dear captain had helped me. That was a secret I couldn't let escape from my jaws. I was, however, going to stop acting like a newly hatched dragon on the ship.
The captain returned shortly afterwards casting a sharp eye on me. "Alright, out o' th' way, I'll take th' helm from 'ere," she ordered.
"Captain," I began stepping aside. "Why not let someone else control the wheel?" I proposed. "Before you give me that look, hear me out. You being at the helm takes you away from any other ordeals. What if a fight broke out on deck but you couldn't stop it because you were busy steering the ship? Don't misunderstand me, you're probably very talented at turning the wheel but you could be needed elsewhere, especially in times of danger like with that octoflyer," I explained shooting a glance towards some of the crew lounging about on the main deck. "Besides," I added, smirking as I shot her a glance. "What pirate doesn't need to see their lovely captain strutting on deck, making sure all's in order, aye?"
"Get out o' 'ere, ye mangy bilge rat!" she snapped swinging at me with sharp claws. "I don' need yer ideas when I know 'ow t' run me own ship!"
I backed away heading to the rigging when suddenly I heard her shout, "Ankor, get yer sorry carcasss t' th' helm!" I paused midway up, shooting a glance at her as she spoke to the silver wildclaw and found myself smirking again. By the Shadowbinder's fins, I wasn't just going to survive, I was going to triumph!

"Land, ho!"
Shadows were lengthening when Dusker made the announcement. In the distance, was the silhouette of land barely breaking the horizon.
I blinked, glancing up. I was at the bow of the boat which was now pointed towards the land. Within moments, the captain was beside me holding up an odd looking instrument to one pair of eyes. "Haharr, sharpen yer weapons, ye scallywags, we'll be pillagin' tonight!" she hollered after a moment.
The crew roared in excitement but I found myself puzzled. What did they mean? We weren't actually going to attack a clan, were we?
"Ready t' be a pirate, lad?"
I shot a glance towards the captain, puzzled. "What are you talking about?" I asked.
"Ye've done th' sailin' portion but this be what it means t' be a pirate an' 'ave th' reputation we 'ave," she explained, lips drawn back in a grin. With that, she left, tucking the instrument she'd used before, away in her belt.
I watched her leave, trying to figure out just what she meant. I wasn't a Plague dragon! Shadow dragons didn't do this, at least not the ones I knew.
"All hands t' th' main deck! Dusker, Mi'Rah, Belleza, Archibald, Hialt an' Prion, ye'll be stayin' aboard t' watch th' ship. Don' let anyone near 'r on it. Th' rest o' ye, we wait 'till nightfall. We'll pull th' ship close enough t' swim but nay near shallow waters. Our prey be th' Nature flight. Rather'n racin' in, we'll ambush an' burn. I'll take Alibi an' we'll tell ye when t' attack. Wait fer me signal. Tiros, ye'll be carryin' a wee crate o' firestarters. It be a fire-resistant crate but nay water resistant, don' get it wet an' ye won' burn yerself 'r ruin th' plan. Savvy?" the captain asked amid the crew.
I listened from the back, unable to see the captain. The crew responded with excitement, more than I'd seen since I'd first come aboard. I glanced at the territory as we sailed closer. Now I could see the brightly colored foliage Nature was notorious for having, even in the shadows that clung to the land. It reminded me vaguely of the eternal darkness that I once called home.
I hadn't thought of it but a few times since I'd come aboard. Had I really forgotten that I belonged on land? Clans never caught my interest and I'd never stayed long enough in any one to care for what they had to offer.
I blinked, shooting a glance towards the starboard railing to find Dusker glaring at me with blood-colored eyes. An eyepatch hid what was surely mutilated beneath and below the skull that covered his head, I could see a stretch of bandage hanging loosely. Nobody knew nor had asked what had happened to him and he hadn't spoken much since that evening.
I raised my head, resisting the urge to smirk at his misery and I could see his temperature rise. I was sure that the next time the captain sent me with him we were going to butt heads again.
"Alright, ye mangy dogs, t' me! Alibi, come t'me side. If anyone gets a so much's a whiff o' a territory marker, tell me!" the captain ordered once night had fallen. There was no moon in the sky but rather many stars, gazing down like several eyes of the Shadowbinder.
The grass was cool and damp underfoot when we touched ground after flying over. The air was filled with sweet scents of the flora that was called the everbloom gardens.
"Alright, search fer territory markin's; Alibi, ye stay at me side. Don' stray too far from this spot, none o' ye," the captain hissed shooting a glance towards me.
"Aye, aye, captain," some of the crew responded.
I followed her, listening to the rustling that broke the silence. It could've sounded like the wind but these dragons didn't know how to hunt quietly and made more noise than a snoring snapper. A dragon would hear them coming before there was even a plan.
In front of me, the captain was quiet, sniffing the air and moving through the brush like a phytocat with air for paws. I wasn't going to admit that I was impressed. It was no secret that Plague dragons would rather attack outright than ambush, let alone be quiet for a moment's time.
"You've hunted before?" I asked, keeping my voice low as I came alongside her, ducking under a fruit-laden branch.
"When permitted, aye," she muttered, sniffing the ground. "Check th' bush over there," she ordered nodding towards a flat looking plant with leaves that stretched across the ground.
I headed over, sniffing the leaves before reeling back towards her, sneezing. They smelled awful!
The captain snickered watching me. "Yer many travels must not'a brought ye t' Nature. Those plants be good at maskin' scents if ye can stand t' be among them long enough," she explained, grinning.
"Only if you don't have the sense of smell to deal with them," I remarked, snorting.
Something whistled into the darkness. A soft, high-pitched sound that faded away. The captain's head shot up and she whipped around. "They got somethin'," she hissed darting towards the sound.
I followed her, narrowly avoiding getting caught in brambles as she snaked her way towards another whistle, not making a sound.
The gargantuan ridgeback, Cyclone, was standing, gazing towards us. Could he even see in the darkness? He was a Water dragon, not a Shadow dragon.
"What did ye find?" Firefeather asked glancing up at him.
"Strong markers. Not just scent but visible," he stated nodding towards the ground. A scalloped shell sat on the grass and even from where I stood near the captain, I could smell the strong clan scent. Nature clans tended to have a scent similar to soil, from what learned and it stuck out from the others unless Plague was around.
"Let's go. Cyclone, Tiros, an' th' rest o' ye thumpers get yerselves t' th' back. I don' want us t' be seen 'fore we're heard, savvy?" she ordered leading the way past the marker.
I smirked shooting a glance behind me. They were quicker to be heard than seen, was more like it, in my opinion. The larger dragons did fall back, though, and I could see the heat of smaller dragons snaking through the underbrush right behind us and for a heartbeat, I felt excitement race through my body. I'd never been part of this kind of clan, except it wasn't a clan, it was a crew!
In front of me, the captain was maneuvering around some boulders, pausing only to sniff them before continuing onward. The brush was thicker here and I could smell the overwhelming scent of the the clan. We must've been getting close to their lair.
She stopped suddenly, gazing through the foliage at something before whipping around. "Stay 'ere, wait fer th' signal," she hissed to the twins as they came up behind us. "Echo that order and keep yer tongue stilled," she commanded before turning and veering to port suddenly.
I followed, trying to figure out what she'd seen as she ducked below branches but I was sure it was what I heard rather than saw. There was a chatter of voices somewhere nearby but I couldn't pinpoint where.
The captain slithered up on to a boulder, pressing herself against it as she glanced around.
I watched her, not admitting to myself that I was intrigued at how she managed to stay so quiet when the world she lived in was filled only with noise, even on the quietest of nights. She would make a great Shadow dragon if she'd ever returned to land.

Stop that kind of thinking, you fool! I scolded myself, shaking my head. When I glanced back up at the rock, she was gone.
I scampered up there, my heart suddenly pounding. Oh, by the gods, if I lost her, she'd have my head for it, I was sure! No, though, she'd stopped ahead, focusing on something to her starboard side.
I followed, picking my way carefully through the soft ground. These dragons didn't choose their lair well because I was sure they'd made a home out of a swamp with the way my claws were starting to sink.
"See that lad there?" the captain asked as I approached her. She nodded towards the brush.
I followed her gaze, suddenly seeing the varying colors of warmer temperatures and the distinct outline of a guardian.
We were just close enough that I could hear him talking. He was speaking to a hatchling that was curled up by his leg.
"...and you will take my place. It's that simple. I still need to find my charge," the guardian was saying, staring off into the plants as he rambled.
"Aye?" I responded, keeping as quiet as possible.
"'e be th' night watch, 'r at least it looks t' be that way. Should be easy t' distract," she explained crouching low.
"But he's got a hatchling!" I said glancing back at the small collection of temperature.
"Easy t' sell, too!" she said, smirking. Suddenly, a high-pitched whistle erupted from her causing the guardian to glance up.
I felt my heart start to pound as we waited. I wasn't focused on the guardian, I was watching the hatchling. These dragons had no rules, nothing to go by! I was aware of the buying and selling of hatchlings but to steal them and put them back into the auction house? That was horrible!
"Get down!"
The sharp order made me duck my head instantly just as the guardian started coming towards us. The captain whistled again, a quieter sound but the guardian still hadn't dropped its fins.
There was a rustle of sound nearby and a flicker of light and I suddenly realized this wasn't just a distraction.
As the guardian turned around to glance at the rustling, the captain leaped forward, crawling up the guardian's back before disappearing among a flurry of great wings.
"Intruders!" the guardian yelled, his raspy voice ringing around the large clearing just as the other pirates raced into the clearing and suddenly, it was madness.
I glanced around watching as the crew was met with some very awake dragons, while some of the others disappeared among the brush. Somewhere in the midst of the smell of blood and nature was the distinct scent of something burning.
"Pirates!" someone yelled above the cries of attack.
There was too much chaos for me to figure out where to put my claws when suddenly I was face to face with a bright green wildclaw. The echoes of rage glittered in its amber eyes as it leaped forward with sharp hind-claws.
I darted out of the way, my heart beating in my ears as I raced around and head butted the wildclaw forward. What was I doing? This wasn't fighting!
"Leave us alone!" the wildclaw hissed turning around and racing towards me.
I bared my teeth, darting out of the way but the wildclaw was hot on my tail. All around, the scenery had changed from the serene environment that was Nature to something out of a story. Flames danced at the edges of the clearing catching every little bit of life and turning it black and hot but I couldn't feel the increase of temperature and I could no longer rely just on my second pair of eyes. Without realizing it, I'd ran right behind the guardian from before but not only did I not see the captain but I found myself right behind his hind leg which came up and kicked me backwards.
The wildclaw was on top of me before I had a chance to catch my breath. It kicked at me, dragging those sharp hind claws down my side.
I was on the ground again, losing a fight I'd walked into again. The dragon's claws kept catching on something and suddenly, I remembered what I'd been given the night of my broken leg. I reached down, grabbing the cutlass that lay secured on my belt and swung at it's hind legs cutting into flesh and bone.
The wildclaw cried out in pain jumping off of me and I scrambled to my claws, eyes narrowed and a newfound anger burning inside. I wasn't going to die here!
I glanced around, identifying my mates through the smoke and odd temperatures. I'd though there were more than there really were but apparently I had been mistaken. The clan outnumbered us and we were still fighting!
Nearby, I caught a glance of someone familiar but I didn't recognize her immediately. Then, just as she danced back through the smoke, I saw the captain smeared in blood and dirt. Her eyes blazed with a fire stronger than that around us as she disappeared back through.
"Capta--I started to call heading towards her. What if she was injured? Something ran into me, a small thud against my foreleg and I looked down to see the hatchling from before, eyes wide and terrified against the embers and battle.
I sheathed my cutlass and grabbed the hatchling, a young pearcatcher who was still very attached to its sphere. "Let me go!" the small hatchling squeaked as I found a crevice among the nearby rocks.
"Hide here, and don't come out at all!" I hissed dropped the hatchling in front of it before turning around.
As quick as the battle had started, it looked like it was wearing down when suddenly the guardian stood up. "Enough!" he snarled, his voice ringing across the clearing above the cries of battle. "There's been enough bloodshed tonight! We submit," he said glancing around. Blood trailed down the side of his face and his fins were still dropped.
Looks of astonishment reflected in his clan's eyes but their tired appearance and quickness to stop fighting revealed more than they let on.
I glanced around and found the captain crouched to the ground, her gaze fixed on a coatl and mirror but it flicked towards the guardian for a heartbeat. Somewhere to my starboard side I thought I saw the beginnings of a dragon laying on the ground but I didn't want to see who it was nor if they were still alive.
The fire still danced around us as the crew started to realize they'd won. While the clan backed towards the guardian, which appeared to be the only giant they actually had, I spared a glance towards the fallen form. Whether alive or dead, it was beat up badly and it happened to be the very same wildclaw I'd fought against. I felt my blood freeze and glanced away, breathing audibly.
"Where's yer clan's hoard?" Firefeather snarled, approaching the guardian.
The guardian's eyes were narrowed but other than that, he didn't do anything. "Over there, in a den," he said nodding towards a burnt away hole. "Leave our hatchlings alone, though, that is all I ask of you," he requested, glaring down at the mirror.
The captain snorted, shaking her head. "Ye lost. Spare me yer woes, landlubber," she snarled. "All o' ye hulkin' ones, keep t' th' clearin', keep an eye on these Nature-lovin' picaroons," she ordered backing away from the guardian.
"Aye, aye, captain," some of the dragons responded.
I glanced towards the guardian, my heart still racing as I headed towards the captain. She was breathing heavily and I was sure she was bleeding from somewhere but I couldn't see where. I didn't say anything but she shot a victorious glance my way.
"Fer this, I'd give up me landlubbin' days always," she muttered.
I narrowed my eyes, glancing around. Other dragons, those who didn't have size to the gain were following us. The rest of the crew had fallen in behind us save for Tiros, Kanibl, and the other larger dragons.
When we reached the den, I could see it split two ways and one had the beginnings of the hoard and treasure barely showing itself while the other was dark.
"Well?" the captain snarled glancing over her shoulder. "What're ye waitin' fer? Take anythin' an' everythin' useful. Half o' ye, take hatchlin's. We'll be gettin' rid o' 'em soon enough!" she hollered to the crew's delight.
They raced past her into the dens and I could hear the clattering of objects and cries of delight. In the other one, it was the opposite, surprise and fear as some of the crew emerged with hatchlings.
I glanced back towards the captain where she stood. "Are you alright?" I asked, watching her.
"Don't show me petty concern, lad. Go plunder yer spoils. This be what it means t' be a pirate. Take what ye want, give nothin' back," she explained, smirking. "Now go, an' stop showin' me yer soft side," she snarled when I didn't move.
I slowly left her, heading into the den. It was a different kind of chaos. The twins were hoarding only what they could wear but was anything they could find while Gut was carrying a crate with food stacked on top.
"You came in a little late, there," Gut acknowledged as he passed me.
I didn't respond walking by him. The captain's words still echoed in my mind. This was what it meant to be a pirate? It was both horrifying and surprising. All that bloodshed to reach the stores of food, armor, and other things was something out of a tale. Dragons passed me with as much as they could carry in their claws, mouths, and even on their backs and when I finally started to rummage through the piles, I wasn't sure what to do.
My side was starting to burn as the echoes of battle subsided from my mind. I glanced around, still looking to find something to take and saw a piece of clothing sticking out of a pile of food. It was a hat which I stuffed with some leftover food before leaving the den.
The captain was still standing there, her gaze fixed on me as I left. "Pah, ye've a landlubber's 'eart still!" she snapped, irritated. "We'll drain ye o' that when th' time comes."
Something moved from by her legs and suddenly, a small head appeared. Another hatchling!
"Is that another pirate?" the hatchling asked, staring at me. It was a small wildclaw hatchling with large green eyes.
"Aye, an' if ye quick t' learn, 'n strong, ye can be a pirate's well," the captain said, her voice softening beyond what I'd ever heard. "It'll give ye a real chance t' live instead o' hidin' among th' clans, bein' breedin' fodder," she explained but the hatchling wasn't paying attention anymore. It was watching me and I was watching the captain.
This was a side I'd never seen before. "Uh, captain," I said, clearing my throat.
She glanced up, eyes narrowing suddenly. "What're ye standin' there fer? Let's go! I been waitin' fer ye so ye didna get ambushed, ye pile o' bones!"
Cap'n o' th' Crowned Thresher
Pirates Risin'
(Public lore regardin' pirates o' Sornieth)
Below Deck! (Personal Lore Thread)
We left through the clearing, collecting the remaining crew. The fire still raged, now spreading outward and away from the clearing leaving only blackened remains in its wake.
"Belay yer waitin', me hearties," the captain ordered.
I fell in behind her and the larger dragons shooting one last glance over my shoulder. The wildclaw I'd fought had died and as we left, the clan broke its invisible chains and rushed to aid the dragon.
Meanwhile, all I had to show for our ruthless pillaging was a hat and some food. We'd left the clan in ruin, their home destroyed, and their hatchlings were taken. I felt the vague echo of horror as the image of the fallen dragon burned in my mind but mostly, I felt numb. I was beginning to grow confident that I wasn't cut out to be a pirate.

We had left the greens of Nature in our destructive wake and all signs of land had vacated the horizon as we set sail. Wherever we were going, the captain didn't want them to see us first.
My side was starting to heal but I found myself unable to catch a full night's sleep. The deck was vacated and the only dragon that wasn't tucked away sleeping was the one in the crow's nest.
I peered over the railing, down at the black waters that slapped against the hull. Even if I jumped, I had no where to go. As I closed my eyes, my mind raced towards the battle. Smoke filled my nostrils and the cries of battle rang in my eyes. Through the smoke and embers, the wildclaw leaped at me, ready to cut me open with its sharp hind claws but I found my cutlass once again and quickly removed the other dragon from this world.
I took a step back, staring down at my enemy where it lay. What did I feel?
Anger was the first thing to leap at me, my heart was still pounding, and I was angry that that this dragon had attacked me. Inwardly, I felt victorious that I was going to live another day, to see the light of the morning to come.
Around me, the war still waged on and as I watched Tiros and Kanibl overtake the guardian, I found myself pausing to watch, vaguely fascinated as the hulking giants battled. My heart pounded and I knew if I let my guard down I would be attacked. Shadows licked at the edges of my vision and a voice was echoing somewhere in the distance, unfamiliar but very audible.
I struggled to stay and watch as the guardian sank to the ground, the injuries he had sustained too dire to continue on. I glanced around, excitement encouraging me to keep fighting even as the clearing started to move away from me and darkness continued to shroud my vision. I started to run back to the fight, trying to call to my fellow mates but my voice had been taken from me. The only thing I keep see in the distance was the captain calling to the crew followed by a very distant cheer.
"Wake up, wake up, wake
up!" a voice whined.
I felt my head leave whatever comfortable rest it had found and bang against the deck. I jumped to my claws glancing around in alarm.
Someone cackled in laughter but before I could even make a sharp remark I found myself watched the wildclaw hatchling rolling to its feet, still very amused. "You sleep like a rock," she noted.
I narrowed my eyes, glancing around. Nobody else was on deck. "Yeah, well, I was...dreaming," I stated, recollecting the battle. I felt a shiver run down my spine as I thought about what had happened.
"Must'a been a fun dream! You were snoring or something and kept kicked the ground," the hatchling laughed.
"It was...exciting," I said after a moment's thought before my attention turned to the hatchling. "What are you doing here anyhow? Shouldn't you be sleeping below deck or hiding in a barrel or something?"
"I was but then I had a scary dream," she said glancing down.
My gaze softened as I laid on the ground, face to face with the hatchling. "Oh, aye?"
"Yeah, but, please, please, don't tell Cap'n that I did! She said that I have to be tough if I want to be a pirate but I don't want to have that dream again!" the hatchling admitted, her fur starting to bristle.
"I won't," I promised, shooting a glance towards her cabin. "Did she tell you to call her 'cap'n'?" I asked after a heartbeat's silence.
"She said I had to only call her 'cap'n' and nothin' else otherwise she'd get angry."
"Well, you can call her captain or cap'n but her real name's Firefeather. And I bet even the captain isn't tough at times, especially if she has scary dreams," I said. What did make the captain weak? Every dragon had a weakness, after all.
"What about you?" the hatchling piped up, standing on her hindlegs.
"Aye, I've had scary dreams," I admitted though the none of my dreams as of recent had been frightening. It was what happened after I woke up that tended to be more frightening.
"What was yours about?" she pried.
"Ah, well..." I started, trying to recollect one of the more memorable nightmares I'd had. "Before I was a pirate, I was a landlubber," I began, which didn't surprise the hatchling much. She may not have known what a landlubber was. "I liked to go on adventures and never stayed in a clan longer than two moons. When I got bored of the clan, I sold myself at the auction house and kept the treasure or gems a clan bought me with. I went all over the place with this idea and made some enemies doing it. Well, after a bad run in with an old clan, I started having nightmares about running into other clans I'd once lived with. Every time they tried to kill me or forced me to go back with them. It started to get worse with each new nightmare until this crew bought me. My very last nightmare was one where one of my former clans took my wings!" I explained once I'd had the hatchling's undivided attention.
She gasped before rocking backwards in a fit of laughter. "That's not possible!" she said.
"Shows what you know," I grinned. "So, are you too scared to tell me what your dream was about?" I asked after she'd recovered from her laughing.
"I dreamed I was still lost in the wilds and got eaten by a janustrap."
"Still lost?" I echoed.
"I got lost from my clan and then Ezier, the guardian found me. He said I could stay if I wanted to but then you pirates showed up!" she explained, growing more excited with each word.
So, we didn't steal her from her blood clan. While it still seemed wrong I couldn't help but feel slightly relieved. I shot a glance at her as a thought came to me. "Do you know what pirates are?" I asked.
"You're like a clan but with no rules. My ma and da used to tell me about pirates, my da especially. He'd talk about how you come in and do what you want and take what you want because you didn't care about anything but yourselves! He says that pirates are mean but we don't have to worry because there's not a whole lot and that because we lived near the big tree, we'd never get attacked," she said, growing more and more excited until she was pacing back and forth. "But I always wanted to be a pirate! I wouldn't have to listen to anyone and I don't have to be a mate or go hunting. I could do whatever I want!"
I laughed partly because of her enthusiasm and partly because pirates were a glorified tale to some dragons, as it was. She had no idea how true her father had been nor how much he'd left out. I was still learning what it was to be a pirate and slowly learning to enjoy every bit of it. I'd tucked the hat away, hoping to sell it off rather than use it but it could prove useful when working under the brilliant light the sun tended to cast.
"Well, we'd best be getting below deck. We wouldn't want to be too tired if we have to wake up in the morning," I explained getting to my feet.
"Yeah, okay," the hatchling admitted making no attempt to hide her disappointment.
"Who knows, maybe I can convince the captain to let you come on deck and start learning how to steer the ship or tie knots," I said.
"Really?" she asked prancing to my side.
"Maybe."

End.
We left through the clearing, collecting the remaining crew. The fire still raged, now spreading outward and away from the clearing leaving only blackened remains in its wake.
"Belay yer waitin', me hearties," the captain ordered.
I fell in behind her and the larger dragons shooting one last glance over my shoulder. The wildclaw I'd fought had died and as we left, the clan broke its invisible chains and rushed to aid the dragon.
Meanwhile, all I had to show for our ruthless pillaging was a hat and some food. We'd left the clan in ruin, their home destroyed, and their hatchlings were taken. I felt the vague echo of horror as the image of the fallen dragon burned in my mind but mostly, I felt numb. I was beginning to grow confident that I wasn't cut out to be a pirate.

We had left the greens of Nature in our destructive wake and all signs of land had vacated the horizon as we set sail. Wherever we were going, the captain didn't want them to see us first.
My side was starting to heal but I found myself unable to catch a full night's sleep. The deck was vacated and the only dragon that wasn't tucked away sleeping was the one in the crow's nest.
I peered over the railing, down at the black waters that slapped against the hull. Even if I jumped, I had no where to go. As I closed my eyes, my mind raced towards the battle. Smoke filled my nostrils and the cries of battle rang in my eyes. Through the smoke and embers, the wildclaw leaped at me, ready to cut me open with its sharp hind claws but I found my cutlass once again and quickly removed the other dragon from this world.
I took a step back, staring down at my enemy where it lay. What did I feel?
Anger was the first thing to leap at me, my heart was still pounding, and I was angry that that this dragon had attacked me. Inwardly, I felt victorious that I was going to live another day, to see the light of the morning to come.
Around me, the war still waged on and as I watched Tiros and Kanibl overtake the guardian, I found myself pausing to watch, vaguely fascinated as the hulking giants battled. My heart pounded and I knew if I let my guard down I would be attacked. Shadows licked at the edges of my vision and a voice was echoing somewhere in the distance, unfamiliar but very audible.
I struggled to stay and watch as the guardian sank to the ground, the injuries he had sustained too dire to continue on. I glanced around, excitement encouraging me to keep fighting even as the clearing started to move away from me and darkness continued to shroud my vision. I started to run back to the fight, trying to call to my fellow mates but my voice had been taken from me. The only thing I keep see in the distance was the captain calling to the crew followed by a very distant cheer.
"Wake up, wake up, wake
up!" a voice whined.
I felt my head leave whatever comfortable rest it had found and bang against the deck. I jumped to my claws glancing around in alarm.
Someone cackled in laughter but before I could even make a sharp remark I found myself watched the wildclaw hatchling rolling to its feet, still very amused. "You sleep like a rock," she noted.
I narrowed my eyes, glancing around. Nobody else was on deck. "Yeah, well, I was...dreaming," I stated, recollecting the battle. I felt a shiver run down my spine as I thought about what had happened.
"Must'a been a fun dream! You were snoring or something and kept kicked the ground," the hatchling laughed.
"It was...exciting," I said after a moment's thought before my attention turned to the hatchling. "What are you doing here anyhow? Shouldn't you be sleeping below deck or hiding in a barrel or something?"
"I was but then I had a scary dream," she said glancing down.
My gaze softened as I laid on the ground, face to face with the hatchling. "Oh, aye?"
"Yeah, but, please, please, don't tell Cap'n that I did! She said that I have to be tough if I want to be a pirate but I don't want to have that dream again!" the hatchling admitted, her fur starting to bristle.
"I won't," I promised, shooting a glance towards her cabin. "Did she tell you to call her 'cap'n'?" I asked after a heartbeat's silence.
"She said I had to only call her 'cap'n' and nothin' else otherwise she'd get angry."
"Well, you can call her captain or cap'n but her real name's Firefeather. And I bet even the captain isn't tough at times, especially if she has scary dreams," I said. What did make the captain weak? Every dragon had a weakness, after all.
"What about you?" the hatchling piped up, standing on her hindlegs.
"Aye, I've had scary dreams," I admitted though the none of my dreams as of recent had been frightening. It was what happened after I woke up that tended to be more frightening.
"What was yours about?" she pried.
"Ah, well..." I started, trying to recollect one of the more memorable nightmares I'd had. "Before I was a pirate, I was a landlubber," I began, which didn't surprise the hatchling much. She may not have known what a landlubber was. "I liked to go on adventures and never stayed in a clan longer than two moons. When I got bored of the clan, I sold myself at the auction house and kept the treasure or gems a clan bought me with. I went all over the place with this idea and made some enemies doing it. Well, after a bad run in with an old clan, I started having nightmares about running into other clans I'd once lived with. Every time they tried to kill me or forced me to go back with them. It started to get worse with each new nightmare until this crew bought me. My very last nightmare was one where one of my former clans took my wings!" I explained once I'd had the hatchling's undivided attention.
She gasped before rocking backwards in a fit of laughter. "That's not possible!" she said.
"Shows what you know," I grinned. "So, are you too scared to tell me what your dream was about?" I asked after she'd recovered from her laughing.
"I dreamed I was still lost in the wilds and got eaten by a janustrap."
"Still lost?" I echoed.
"I got lost from my clan and then Ezier, the guardian found me. He said I could stay if I wanted to but then you pirates showed up!" she explained, growing more excited with each word.
So, we didn't steal her from her blood clan. While it still seemed wrong I couldn't help but feel slightly relieved. I shot a glance at her as a thought came to me. "Do you know what pirates are?" I asked.
"You're like a clan but with no rules. My ma and da used to tell me about pirates, my da especially. He'd talk about how you come in and do what you want and take what you want because you didn't care about anything but yourselves! He says that pirates are mean but we don't have to worry because there's not a whole lot and that because we lived near the big tree, we'd never get attacked," she said, growing more and more excited until she was pacing back and forth. "But I always wanted to be a pirate! I wouldn't have to listen to anyone and I don't have to be a mate or go hunting. I could do whatever I want!"
I laughed partly because of her enthusiasm and partly because pirates were a glorified tale to some dragons, as it was. She had no idea how true her father had been nor how much he'd left out. I was still learning what it was to be a pirate and slowly learning to enjoy every bit of it. I'd tucked the hat away, hoping to sell it off rather than use it but it could prove useful when working under the brilliant light the sun tended to cast.
"Well, we'd best be getting below deck. We wouldn't want to be too tired if we have to wake up in the morning," I explained getting to my feet.
"Yeah, okay," the hatchling admitted making no attempt to hide her disappointment.
"Who knows, maybe I can convince the captain to let you come on deck and start learning how to steer the ship or tie knots," I said.
"Really?" she asked prancing to my side.
"Maybe."

End.
Cap'n o' th' Crowned Thresher
Pirates Risin'
(Public lore regardin' pirates o' Sornieth)
Below Deck! (Personal Lore Thread)
[center][b]In th' Hollows o' Land[/b] [img]http://flightrising.com/rendern/350/104314/10431320_350.png[/img][/center] Thunder crackled overhead and lightning cut a jagged line across the sky as a storm raged sending waves crashing on to the sand. Dragons yelled over the harsh weather, some talking as if the fierce winds were mild breezes, ignoring the clothing plastered to their hides from the rain. The ship had been grounded intentionally and the anchor dropped for safe measures. No sun pierced the dark skies but the crew carried on as if it were another day, taking care to tend to the tasks given to them. Inside the captain's cabin, Firefeather munched on a leech and studied the map that stretched across one of the four walls. Unlike her previous one, it was being redrawn with only a few islands added to Sornieth's main map. She recalled only a few from the voyages of the Deadlight but the rest had been lost when that very same ship sank off the coast of the Ashfall Waste. The flap that separated her cabin from the main deck was a thick sheet of hide that could be secured with sinewy loops, preventing dragons from coming in and it strained against the strong winds, threatening to break away from the loops at any moment. Bilge whimpered across from the flap in a corner of the cabin, ducking his head under one of his gem-like wings. "Fazzt arnzz bzz no light," he whined, shooting a frantic glance towards the captain. "Shut it. It's just a wee storm ye cowerin' rat," she snapped, her gaze fixed on the map. They'd landed somewhere far north of Sornieth, she knew that. It didn't look like any of the islands she'd seen previously but the storm distorted any proper view of the island. "Little glass needles fffsht kshzn," he continued dancing around the cage he was in like a terrified animal. It danced and swayed on the chain that suspended while the nocturne continued to whine and moan. "Yer more useful dead," she growled, rolling her eyes. "No, no, no, dark bads," he pleaded, dancing to the back of his cage as a sharp crack of thunder shook the ship. "Captain! Sails are secured and I have Silael and Dreyon repairing the damage to the rails on the quarterdeck," Alibi's voice sounded behind the flap. She nodded though he couldn't see her, walking towards the entrance and undoing two of the loops to let the Shadow mirror into her cabin. He, like the rest of the crew, was soaked to the bone as if he'd just come out of the sea. "We'll 'ave two lookouts this evenin' while th' rest o' th' crew sleeps. This storm makes anythin' difficult t' see an' I've nary an idea as t' what island we be on," she admitted heading to the small crate of food she had stashed away. She offered him a leech from a jar in the crate which he accepted. "Bladebeak's confirmed it's a new island. We're not anywhere near the other islands you've plotted on this map," he said popping the leech into his mouth. "Unless your memory is failing," he added with a smirk as she shot a glare towards him. The cage hit the wall with a loud thud and Bilge let loose a series of low-pitched screeches followed by a metal-sounding groan. Firefeather curled her eyes, a low growl escaping her. "Yer more likely t' break yer neck'n do anythin'!" she snarled towards the nocturne. "Why do you still have him? He'd make better thresher bait than a [i]pet[/i]," Alibi sneered, irritated with the gibbering dragon. "Normally 'e be quieter than this. Th' storm must o' stirred 'im up," she acknowledged, avoiding his question. "He's a waste of a good cage," Alibi muttered, rolling his eyes. "Not to mention the crew thinks he's bad luck." "I thought we were done with that?" Firefeather snapped glancing at him as she shut the crate with the food. "They hear his cries as plainly as a gull sees a fish in shallow waters. They've started to blame bad things on him like when a dragon gets sick, they blame it on Plague," he explained, attempting to add the last bit as a jest. Firefeather snorted, shaking her head. "Bad luck? 'e be an answer!" she countered. "Answer?" Alibi echoed. The cage crashed against the wall again as another crack of thunder sounded outside the cabin and the nocturne jumped. "Aye, lad," Firefeather responded but her words were lost as the cage fell to the ground and the hinged door opened letting Bilge jump out. "No, stop!" she gasped as the nocturne scrambled under the hide and out into the storm. Firefeather raced towards the doorway, undoing the loops as fast as possible before running on deck with Alibi behind her. "Captain, it's no use! He's not going to benefit the ship," he protested as she chased the nocturne over the railing. Despite the months of being pent up, Bilge was still capable of flight though the wind tormented him and dragged him away from the ship and on to the island like a leaf. "Nay! 'e 'll do more'n benefit th' ship!" she snarled over her shoulder jumping over the rail after the nocturne. Alibi paced along the rail, watching them before he shot a glance towards Bladebeak who was double-checking the ropes that secured the sails. "Make sure this ship doesn't go anywhere and keep the crew in line. I'll be back!" he yelled to the wildclaw's surprise. "Where are you--I'm following the captain," he interrupted before she had a chance to finish her question. Without waiting, he leaped over the railing and took flight, pursuing the dark figure that was the captain in the distance. He couldn't even see the nocturne amid the wind and the rain. The wind strained at his wings, trying to tug him in a different direction with each flap but he refused to give in. Suddenly, the captain vanished from his sight and for a heartbeat, he panicked. Had the wind overtaken her? No, he spotted her warm temperature below in the shadows of trees. As soon as he dived past the trees, it felt as if he was in a different world. The elements were dulled because of the trees and he had more control of his flight. Yet, Firefeather hadn't stopped. She was running at top speed, chasing the nocturne like it was prey. [i]Shadowbinder, keep my course steady,[/i], he prayed as he tried to land on the ground in a run. His step faltered and he stumbled before catching his balance and chasing after them, weaving around trees and through thorny undergrowth. "No!" Firefeather yelled ahead of him and for a heartbeat, he thought she was in danger but he caught up to her as she circled around a hole panting. Alibi slowed as he came up to her, breathing heavily. "What's wrong?" he asked, studying her to see if she was injured but there was no sign of injury as she started to dig at the hole. It was too small for either of them to fit through. "Th' mangy bilge rat flew down this hole like a mouse!" she snarled, clods of rain-soaked dirt flew behind her as she dug. Alibi narrowed his eyes anger beating in his heart. "He's useless to us and you've just put yourself in danger flying on to an unknown island after him!" he snapped. "Ye don' understand," she began as lightning flashed across the sky lighting up the area around them. "I don't understand because you haven't said anything that's made sense about him! He's a pet!" Firefeather paused glancing at him. "Help me get th' lad an' I'll explain then an' only then. This hole canna be deep any'ow, it 'as t' be a rabbit hole 'r somethin'," she bargined going back to digging. "Fine," he stated, sparing a glance around them. He couldn't see much in the darkness of the trees and nothing aside from them was alive that he could see. He started to dig, helping her widen the hole and deepen it. The rain made the mud slick and after several heartbeats, Alibi found it caked to his claws. It didn't look like they'd gotten any further down the hole and he couldn't see any living thing. To him, it looked like this entire effort was for nothing. Suddenly, the mud that'd he'd been digging disappeared beneath his claws followed by the ground beneath his feet. "What-- before he could say anything else he tumbled into darkness with no control as he rolled down a steep incline. A steady drip greeted his hearing and a very dull roar of thunder sounded overhead. Alibi raised his throbbing head and glanced around. His eyes were accustomed to darkness and it slowly dawned on him that they'd landed in a cave of some sort. He gritted his teeth as he rolled on to his feet and stood up. His body ached and he had minor cuts on his flanks but nothing serious. The only real pain he felt was from the pain in his head which intensified as he raised himself off the cave floor. He spared a glance around, his gaze going to Firefeather who lay motionless a short distance away. "Captain?" he murmured heading towards her. She still radiated an average temperature and her flank rose slowly up and down which meant she wasn't dead, only unconscious. Another dulled roar of thunder sounded overhead but when Alibi glanced up, he couldn't see where they'd fallen through. He walked a short circle around the cave, looking for where they'd fallen from but couldn't see any incline and there were none around him either. "Captain," he repeated approaching the limp mirror and shaking her gently. "Wake up." Firefeather moaned, rolling over. She had mud splattered across her hide and a new split in the membrane of her left wing which was crusted with blood. "We fell," he stated when she opened her eyes and met his gaze. "I can see that!" she snarled wincing as she started to get up. "Cursed [i]bat[/i]!" she spat. Alibi snorted but didn't say anything. It wasn't the nocturne's fault they ended up in the cave. "We have to find a way out of here," he explained glancing at her. "Unless ye brought a torch 'r a lamp, I don' believe [i]we[/i]'ll be findin' a way out. I canna see anythin' in this darkness," she snapped checking herself for broken bones. She winced as she started to turn around. No doubt that she'd cracked a rib or two during the fall. Alibi rolled his eyes reaching into his satchel. What he pulled out wasn't a torch or lantern but a corked jar of dimly glowing slime. He shook it and within heartbeats, the glow intensified until it illuminated the area around them, if only for a short distance. The green hue gave everything an eerie appearance. Firefeather smirked when Alibi handed her the jar. "Not bad, lad. Where'd ye learn t' do that?" she asked. "I saw Ecthelion do it before he jumped overboard to fish one evening," Alibi stated as he turned in a circle once more looking for their way out. "'e shouldna been fishin' at night," Firefeather pointed out, her gaze landing on a gleam in the light of the slime. "Stop turnin'," she ordered. "What?" he asked as she approached him. "Yer bleedin' from yer 'ead," she growled. "Where's yer bandages?" "How do you know I have any?" he teased reaching into his satchel. He didn't think his head hurt from the cut but if it was still bleeding then it might be a cause for concern. Firefeather snorted, inspecting the wound as blood oozed from the cut just below his right fin. "I know ye well enough t' know ye restock on yer personal supplies every time we make port 'r get back on th' ship," she observed as he handed her a roll of white bandages. Alibi smirked at the observation. He couldn't help but wonder how much she actually knew about her first mate. "Are you alright?" he asked when she'd finished wrapping the wound. "I don't see any injuries but--I be fine, lad," she interrupted waving him away. "Let's jus' get out o' 'ere." "What about your pet?" Alibi asked though he was more than relieved that she wasn't chasing the stupid nocturne anymore. Firefeather snorted, shaking the jar. "'e 'll be marooned if 'e so chooses. Prolly fer th' best any'ow," she said more to herself than to Alibi. She glanced at the Shadow dragon as he looked around. "D'ye see a way out?" He shook his head. "I don't even see a way in," he admitted. No matter how hard he looked, he didn't see any way they'd come through. "It must've caved in or something." "Cave-ins usually end up with dirt on th' ground, lad," she noted glancing towards the rocky ground. Alibi narrowed his eyes shooting a glance at her. She was right and there wasn't a single pile of dirt where they were. He ignored the tingle of dread that started to creep into the back of his mind. "Well...it's no use staying here if there's no way out," he admitted breaking the silence that had spread between them. She must have come to the same conclusion as he did. "Aye. 'ave ye ever navigated a cave system 'fore?" she asked as he glanced down one tunnel and then the other. "No," he said nor did he smell rain. The cave smelled musty and damp but that was it. "Plaguebringer curse it all," she muttered as the glow intensified from the jar. "We need t' get movin', pick a tunnel," she ordered glancing at Alibi. Alibi glanced down both tunnels. One went straight for a little bit before suddenly dropping away while the other tunnel veered in a sharp turn. He chose the latter, heading down the tunnel with the turn with Firefeather walking beside him. The green glow revealed the rock walls that rose up on either side of them with water trickling down crevices in the rocks. "Keep yer ears open an' a lookout fer anythin'," she muttered a dull rumble of thunder sounded distantly overhead. The cave was silent save fer the steady dripping of water around them and the crunch of rock and gravel beneath their claws. Even their breathing had quieted in respect for the heavy silence. The tunnel continued down flat rocks to a shallow stream of water. They paused at the edge as Alibi stared into the stream. It looked fathomless with blackness coating the stream's sides and bottom but the smallest amount of rock was visible at the bottom revealing that it was coated in some sort of black moss. "How deep d'ye think it be?" Firefeather asked holding the jar over the water. Alibi shrugged glancing around. He found a loose pebble and dropped it into the stream. To them, it looked to be a short distance to the ground but as the pebble continued to sink and be move with the current, it revealed that the stream was more likely several tail-lengths deep. "Don't want to get caught in that," Alibi observed leaping across. The tunnel wasn't wide enough to spread their wings in which meant they'd have to rely on the strength of their legs. He landed on the other side of the stream and turned around to face his captain. "You'll be fine. It's not too far of a jump. Just put some muscle into it," he explained. Firefeather rolled her eyes, backing up before running forward. She leaped across the stream with ease, her hind claw dipping briefly into the icy cold water before she yanked it out. "Feels like water from th' Ice flight," she observed but Alibi's eyes widened as he stared past her. "What?" she asked turning around. The stream had come alive rippling like the sheet of a thin fabric but they could no longer see to the bottom as blackness overcame the surface. "What..." Alibi began as he approached the edge, staring at the blackness with shock. Firefeather moved the jar closer to the water and as she did something jumped out hitting the bottom of the glass before falling back into the void. As they watched, tiny slender snake-like things leaped out of the water smacking the bottom of the jar before falling into the water again. One landed on the edge of the stream writhing only for moments before going limp. Alibi picked it up holding it near the light of the jar to see the thing's mouth was lined with needle-like teeth but he could see no eyes. "Captain," he said glancing at her but she shook her head. "I can see 'em 's plainly as ye can, lad," she murmured, her crimson eyes flashing with the faintest glimmer of horror. The mass of blackness wasn't moss at all but millions of those tiny black creatures. They turned away from the stream as Alibi tucked the dead creature into a smaller pocket of his satchel before they continued down a narrowing tunnel as it rose away from the water. The tunnel continued to narrow both in height and width until they were barely squeezing between rocks and away from sharp points. Alibi was ahead of Firefeather, his gaze fixed on what was in front of them with the dulling glow of the slime dancing behind. Ahead, it looked as though the tunnel climbed higher up. Suddenly, the ground disappeared beneath him and he was falling forward, his heart jumping into his throat at the motion. Something grabbed his hind leg pain lancing through his skin like needles as his fall was interrupted and he hit the side of a cliff. Something dug into his tail refusing to let go before he started to move up, his body scraping against the sharp edge of the cliff. Firefeather moved backwards slowly on three legs while the fourth maintained a sharp grip on Alibi's leg and she bit his tail keeping him from plunging forward. Her muscles strained with the effort, threatening to give way as she continued to pull the Shadow dragon up until he found purchase with his foreclaws. She let go when Alibi backed up away from the edge his heart still pounding in his ears. "Are ye alright?" she panted straightening as he stood up. Alibi didn't respond for a heartbeat, peering over the edge of the cliff. At the bottom was running water. If the fall hadn't killed him, he assumed the creatures waiting at the bottom would. "Alibi?" "Yes, I'm fine," he breathed his heart calming. He glanced up to see how far the other side was but the other side was a wall leading to the narrow opening above them. "We have to go back," he said glancing over his shoulder. Firefeather nodded not liking what it meant but not having any other choice. Without any room to turn around, the dragons had to move backwards blindly without any way of seeing where they were going. Slowly, she started to back up, making sure one claw found purchase before she applied any weight to it. Cave systems were known to dragons who lived in them as a lair and she did not. The only thing that truly aggravated the mirror, though, was having to rely on her first mate to see when the jar would not come in handy. Bilge didn't move, enveloped tightly by his wings as if they would protect him. Instead of hanging upside down, he lay tucked behind a boulder listening to the screams and howls. Where were they coming from? He heard them everywhere and nowhere, some echoed laughter and others sounded like sheets of metal ripping apart. Something dripped on to his wings, burning them like fire and causing him to unfold himself from his own protection. What was that? Was it for the screaming? When he glanced up he saw through the web-like darkness catching glimpses of moving things and light. The shadows writhed and tangled up in each other before passing through like wisps of smoke reaching out to him [i]wanting[/i] him. "No, no, no, no," he whimpered as the smoke-like darkness danced towards him. The boulder did not save him. He let out an ear-piercing scream, mimicking the metal screech he'd heard moments ago and suddenly the shadows cringed, becoming taut webs again. "What was that?" Alibi asked, shocked as a sound reached their ears, a scream that dulled as it caught up to them. Firefeather narrowed her eyes. They'd had to jump back across the stream, carefully avoiding the water that had stilled before heading down the opposite tunnel which had them climbing down a steep drop. The scream sent a chill down her spine as she followed Alibi down the cliff. It didn't sound close but the possibility that something else was wandering the cave with them wasn't something she wanted to think about. "Keep all four eyes open, lad," she warned though it wasn't necessary. The scream had made them both more tense than they already were. They followed the tunnel to a split. One path was instantly ignored because of the hole being far too narrow for either of them to fit through. The other tunnel widened like a gaping mouth with stalactites and stalagmites jutting from both the roof of the tunnel and the bottom giving it a menacing look. The tunnel beside it dropped down, another steep incline that ended in water. Pale blue moss grew on the roof of the tunnel. "We could go down," Alibi began, glancing at Firefeather. "I don't think it's that deep." "Th' entire point o' this be gettin' [i]out[/i] alive, not goin' deeper inna th' cave," she argued. "An' if that water 'as those things in there than we can count ourselves injured 'r dead by th' time we start climbin' out o' it again." He shot a glance at the wide tunnel. It looked worn and tired, like a gigantic beast having seen too many battles. "What of the scream?" he asked. "We need t' get out regardless o' what be down 'ere. Th' sooner we get out, th' sooner we get back t' th' ship an' off this blasted island even if it means riskin' our lives," she explained giving the jar a good shake before heading towards the wide tunnel. Alibi followed beside her, studying the path they had ahead of them. The rocky ground they walked on had sand swirled into it along with dirt and moss and water dripped constantly here. Further ahead of them the cave widened still as it turned left opening into a cavern. Firefeather's green jar could only cast a light so far before it disappeared into the darkness but Alibi saw everything. Stalactites dripped from the ceiling, some having reached their goal of meeting their counter-parts on the bottom. Boulders lay against the wall, one forming a tunnel beneath it near them. Here, smells permeated the air that were stale behind them. The scents were bitter, salty almost and sharp but neither of them could identify the smells. "We 'ave t' keep movin'," Firefeather muttered as if she feared disturbing the silence. Alibi nodded, taking the lead, his eyes flicking back and forth. Moss dangling from the ceiling and clung to the walls. Something broke the silence nearby, a soft scratch and a whisper that echoed about the cavern and was lost to the walls. Firefeather glanced towards where she thought the sound was coming from, looking for any elevated temperatures and cursing the jar for having taken the only claw she could spare to fight with. "Stay behind me," Alibi murmured to her, passing the aggravated mirror with his own sword ready. There was another scratch and as Alibi slowly crawled over a large boulder he caught sight of heat and ducked down, gripping his sword as though his life depended on it. Firefeather watched at the base of the boulder, both irritated and tense as Alibi disappeared over the top, his tail dangling. She glanced at movement above the boulder but saw nothing. The nocturne curled into a tighter ball, his wings near suffocating him as he tried to ignore the screams and echos around him. Suddenly, something was louder than them and above him. He slowly unwrapped himself, his wing scraping against the wall before he caught sight of the shadows, wisps of smoke that reached towards him again with sharp claws at the end. He whimpered, fighting to ignore the one sound that stamped out the others in his head, the whirring of wind but the shadows grew closer reaching out to...Not him? Bilge felt his heart racing, practically beating out of his chest as he moved only slightly to see the shadows reaching for something on the boulder that hid him from everything else. When he saw the familiar face he let loose the scream that sounded in his head sending the shadows cringing away and causing the familiar face to back off the boulder. Bilge scrambled up and over the boulder, darting under the safety of the dragon's wing whimpering and shivering with fear. The scream echoed in Alibi's head but when he glanced at Firefeather and saw her moving, he realized something. He couldn't hear! His heart jumped at the realization and he tried sounding out the statement to his captain, not sure if she heard it or not. Firefeather glanced at Alibi as he raised his voice. "I can't hear!" he exclaimed to her. She nodded lifting her wing to show Bilge had tucked himself under it like a hungering tick, clinging for dear life. When she raised it, his crimson gaze flicked towards the wall above the boulder and he whimpered, his claws digging into her skin. She grit her teeth, her gaze following his to the wall above the rock. Her heart had already started pounding at the scream until she realized it was Bilge when he came out from behind the rock. She shook the jar, increasing the glow but no matter how much she did, the shadows claimed the wall. [i]That be impossible[/i], she thought, her eyes narrowing as she stared at the shadows, raising the jar up. The harder she stared, the more she thought she saw them moving. Alibi tried to figure out what she was looking at, his eyes telling him to see something but all he saw was the wall. "What do you see?" he asked, his voice still raised as he glanced at her. Firefeather frowned, watching as the movement became more prominent. Shadows rose and fell, danced and twirled like rings of smoke in a fire before looking as thin and draped as spiderwebs. "That be impossible," she murmured, echoing her thoughts. Shadows didn't move! Not unless they belonged to a figure and she didn't see any. "D'ye see anythin'?" she asked Alibi not breaking her gaze from the odd darkness. When she received no response, she glanced at him and repeated the question but he shrugged. "I can't hear you," he said, shaking his head. Suddenly, the shadow was over Alibi, illuminated by the green glow. It showed only as wisps of smoke that reached for the dragon, descending closer and closer. "Alibi, watch yerself!" Firefeather snarled darting forward to shove the dragon out of the way but he jumped away with a gasp, his eyes widened with pain. Firefeather glanced at him, her gaze going up towards the reaching shadow. She moved away from it, glancing at Alibi. "Run!" she snapped but the dragon only cocked his head sideways in confusion. "Run!" she repeated feeling a sharp pain on the back of her head. She darted forward as Alibi started to run, following him. Alibi felt himself breathing heavily, still unable to hear. His back throbbed with pain and his head was beginning to hurt again as he ran around the stalagmites reaching for the ceiling. He spared a glance over his shoulder to see Firefeather behind him and only the faintest glimpse of something very cold following them. [i]What was[/i] that? he thought facing forward and leading them down a tunnel, climbing over loose rocks. "Keep runnin', ye fool!" Firefeather snarled as Alibi climbed up a short hill in the tunnel, sending rocks and pebbles spraying behind him. She glanced behind her, clutching the dying light of the glow jar to see the temperature had dropped behind them and even now, she could see her breath in the light of the jar. Alibi reached the top of the hill and turned around to see Firefeather was still hard on his tail. Something cold landed on his shoulder and when he glanced up, he saw a hole where water fell from. Without realizing it, they had crawled over the very rubble that came from the fall that landed them in the cave in the first place. "We need to go up!" he yelled glanced at Firefeather. His heart pounded in his chest and his lungs struggled to keep up. "You go first!" he ordered seeing the shocked look in the captain's eyes. She started to shake her head, mouthing something but he curled his lips back in a snarl. "[i]I[/i] can still see," he snapped shoving her forward. Firefeather tried stamping out the horror and surprise as she jumped up, flapping her wings to reach the wide hole that led up. It was slick with mud. She climbed, sparing a glance back when she'd found enough balance. Alibi watched as something came around the corner, moving at a fast pace. Without waiting to comprehend what his mind saw, he jumped up, following Firefeather, flapping his wings until he reached the hole and started to run up kicking mud behind him. He ran for all he was worth catching a glimpse of Firefeather pausing before she started to run again sending mud raining down on his head. Firefeather was the first to reach the surfance, leaping out of the hole into the midst of the raging storm. She whipped around to see Alibi climbing up beside but before they had a chance to run or fly, something started to come up after them. It scrambled up behind them, a pale monstrosity with unblinking eyes and teeth that had no lips to be hidden by. Firefeather curled her lips back as she drew her sword having dropped the jar to climb. "Yer not comin' up 'ere," she hissed and swung the sword at the creature, cutting a gouge in its snout. The thing snarled, a gurgling sound rising from its throat as it approached on deformed claws. "Captain, move out of the way!" Alibi yelped as she took a step back, sword at the ready. Firefeather swung again but it ducked down in the hole avoiding the sword before approaching once more. Lightning flashed across the darkened skies illuminating its ghastly features as it shriveled back with an ear-splitting screech before disappearing down into the darkness as the lightning subsided to shadows. "We 'ave t' fly," Firefeather ordered glanced at Alibi but the dragon only cocked his head sideways, confused. "Up!" she snarled shooting a glance over her shoulder towards the darkened hole. He nodded jumping up into the storm, his body braced for the gusts of wind that were buffeting him. Firefeather followed sparing a glance below her just before the treetops swallowed her view of the black hole. The creature screeched in a fury that rivaled the storm, rearing up before dropping back into the hole. They returned to the ship breathing heavily with Bilge clinging to the captain's flank. "'ow long 'as it been?" Firefeather demanded as shocked eyes landed on her and Alibi. "Captain, you're..." Payton began to say but was interrupted. "I know! Fetch Lana, 'r better yet, tell me where th' lass be hidin'. I want three dragons posted on watch t'night, one in th' crow's nest, an' two on deck stern'n bow. 'ow long's th' storm been goin' on? We'll be settin' sail's soon's it lightens up," she explained, pausing to catch her breath in between sentences. When she received confused glances, she glanced towards Payton. "I gave ye an order, lad! Yer not a barnacle, don' act like one!" she snarled. "Captain..." Payton began, taking a step towards the hole in the deck but the iridescent imperial didn't have to finish. "You've been gone for a few minutes, that's it," Adinae answered. "We need to talk," Alibi murmured, slipping into the dimly lit cabin as the ship rocked soundly against the waves. A dragon stood in the crow's nest but most of the crew had gone below deck as the ship sailed with the winds to the west. Two days had slipped by with the storm raging before they were out to sea again. Questions had risen but none of them could or would be answered. He glanced towards Bilge who watched him quietly in the hardened metal cage with a lock on it. Firefeather glanced through one of the two windows the cabin had, peering out of the starboard side and into the darkness, sipping the bitter green juice she'd once offered him. A few of her ribs had cracked during the fall and a bandage wrapped around her neck. Both she and he had suffered from severe burns. She had them on the back of her neck and his was on his back, blotchy like a glob of lava had splattered across his back. "Aye," she began, swirling the liquid in the glass, her gaze flicking to him. Her eyes were dull and tired against the flicker of the candle on her desk. Alibi secured the hide so they didn't have to worry about intrusions before he approached the other mirror. She must have been unable to sleep like he couldn't. Normally, not a rarity but they shared something in common more than just a restless sleep this evening. "I'll answer one o' yer questions 'fore ye start," she said, taking another drink of the green liquid before setting it down. "Bilge...?" "Yer goin' t' 'ave t' trust me on this answer, lad. I believe 'e can see things we canna. Things that 'ave no words t' explain. I've lost crew 'fore, but sometimes there be explanation as t' where they might o' gone," she started, her eyes flicking towards the nocturne. Alibi didn't say anything, only waiting for her to continue. He was more than grateful his hearing returned and he intended to use it. "I think 'e be insane, aye, that be true. Yet, if ye've done yer learnin', ye'll know that nocturnes imitate sounds they've 'eard an' even go so far's t' follow after dragons' actions. Ye've heard th' lad before. All 'e does 's make whirrin' sounds'n screams. I've nary a clue as t' where 'e be from but may'aps 'e can answer questions no dragon can figure out without bringin' new ones t' light, savvy?" she asked, meeting Alibi's hard gaze. It made some sort of sense to him but he felt as though she was endangering the crew with her want for answers, something he wasn't ready to do. He just had to figure out how to answer her. "Some questions are not meant to be answered at the risk of your crew," he said slowly, regarding her with concern. Firefeather snorted, shaking her head. "An' when 'ave I risked me crew gettin' answers? If yer implyin' 'bout yerself, [i]yer[/i] th' one who followed me," she challenged. "I wouldna risk inury t' me crew fer this. Yer still a young sailor, th' only thing ye've seen is a giant octoflyer. 'ow d'ye think me previous ship got its name? Aye, deadlights mean eyes but there be things swimmin' in th' waters an' if this lad clears 'is 'head, maybe 'e can give us answers!" "Why not just ask a Lightning dragon then?" Alibi joked before he grew serious once more. She was right, he had followed her. Yet, the short journey raised questions but didn't answer them. "What answers does he have for what happened on the island?" he pondered, glancing at the nocturne that still watched them, listening to everything. Firefeather opened her mouth, prepared to answer before she shook her head. "I've been over that many times since we left. Caves arna somethin' I understand but [i]that[/i]..." she trailed off, reflecting on what had happened. "Captain, we were [i]moved[/i]! We were chased by something that looked like some sort of deformed dragon and nearly eaten by tadpoles, not to mention that the air burned us," he snapped, irritated. "And then, when we got out of that gods-forsaken hole, there was no loss of time! What answers do you have for that?" he challenged, glaring at her. Firefether shook her head again, still reeling over it. That had never happened before. "Th' air didna burn us, ye twit! I told ye, whether ye believe it 'r not. Th' shadows [i]moved[/i]. If Bilge 'ad a brain, 'e 'd tell ye th' same thing!" she snarled. She calmed after a moment, still sizzling over his ignorance. "Remember what I told ye once? No god truly watches o'er these waters," she recalled. Alibi nodded. "Aye." "Well, would'n ye think anythin' could 'appen? I'll bet ye that creature moved us, but those shadows...I don' know. I don' understand it either. Bilge [i]knows[/i] when somethin' odd be 'bout t' 'appen. I fancy that may'aps 'e can explain odd sounds at night 'r give a name t' th' Deadlights that swim these waters. I believe it be possible 'e can save th' crew from unexplained deaths 'r disappearance." He nodded, unable to think of any dragon that could give a reasonable answer for what had happened. "Maybe," he sympathized. "I'll not lie though, captain. I would rather not have these questions answered. Time isn't meant to stand still or be lost and darkness isn't meant to be alive either," he explained. She shrugged. "Ye be right, aye. Which's why, should anythin' 'appen t'me, ye'll be captainin' this ship." "You don't have to pursue these answers, though," Alibi continued, watching her. She wasn't a Water dragon or an Arcane dragon, she didn't need to have these things answered. Firefeather snorted, taking a swig of the green liquid. "Aye, I didna 'ave t' fish th' scallywag up either but I did. If 'e can save th' crew 'r find hidden treasures, then there be answer worth lookin' fer," she encouraged, a grin slipping on to her face at the thought of gleaming gems and shining coins. Alibi rolled his eyes. "A pirate to the end. I suppose unexplored answers are nearly the same as unexplored lands," he pondered with a shrug. Bilge watched the scene unfold before him, quiet as a mouse in a grassy field. She [i]knew[/i] what she was getting into and yet, she would not be prepared at all. None of them were. A wave of darkness washed over the small dragon's mind, a shrill screech as metal tore away from metal and black water gushed in. The once active cogs that whirred and creaked away blew apart with him stuck under one. They sank deep beneath the depths and he should have drowned along with the rest. He would have gladly done so to avoid being alive when indescribable [i]things[/i] lifted the cog like it was paper and whisked him away feeding him darkness to breathe off of. These dragons had no idea what they thought they wanted to see and were not grateful for what they didn't have to see. [center][b]End.[/b][/center]
In th' Hollows o' Land

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Thunder crackled overhead and lightning cut a jagged line across the sky as a storm raged sending waves crashing on to the sand. Dragons yelled over the harsh weather, some talking as if the fierce winds were mild breezes, ignoring the clothing plastered to their hides from the rain. The ship had been grounded intentionally and the anchor dropped for safe measures. No sun pierced the dark skies but the crew carried on as if it were another day, taking care to tend to the tasks given to them.
Inside the captain's cabin, Firefeather munched on a leech and studied the map that stretched across one of the four walls. Unlike her previous one, it was being redrawn with only a few islands added to Sornieth's main map. She recalled only a few from the voyages of the Deadlight but the rest had been lost when that very same ship sank off the coast of the Ashfall Waste. The flap that separated her cabin from the main deck was a thick sheet of hide that could be secured with sinewy loops, preventing dragons from coming in and it strained against the strong winds, threatening to break away from the loops at any moment.
Bilge whimpered across from the flap in a corner of the cabin, ducking his head under one of his gem-like wings. "Fazzt arnzz bzz no light," he whined, shooting a frantic glance towards the captain.
"Shut it. It's just a wee storm ye cowerin' rat," she snapped, her gaze fixed on the map. They'd landed somewhere far north of Sornieth, she knew that. It didn't look like any of the islands she'd seen previously but the storm distorted any proper view of the island.
"Little glass needles fffsht kshzn," he continued dancing around the cage he was in like a terrified animal. It danced and swayed on the chain that suspended while the nocturne continued to whine and moan.
"Yer more useful dead," she growled, rolling her eyes.
"No, no, no, dark bads," he pleaded, dancing to the back of his cage as a sharp crack of thunder shook the ship.
"Captain! Sails are secured and I have Silael and Dreyon repairing the damage to the rails on the quarterdeck," Alibi's voice sounded behind the flap.
She nodded though he couldn't see her, walking towards the entrance and undoing two of the loops to let the Shadow mirror into her cabin. He, like the rest of the crew, was soaked to the bone as if he'd just come out of the sea.
"We'll 'ave two lookouts this evenin' while th' rest o' th' crew sleeps. This storm makes anythin' difficult t' see an' I've nary an idea as t' what island we be on," she admitted heading to the small crate of food she had stashed away. She offered him a leech from a jar in the crate which he accepted.
"Bladebeak's confirmed it's a new island. We're not anywhere near the other islands you've plotted on this map," he said popping the leech into his mouth. "Unless your memory is failing," he added with a smirk as she shot a glare towards him.
The cage hit the wall with a loud thud and Bilge let loose a series of low-pitched screeches followed by a metal-sounding groan.
Firefeather curled her eyes, a low growl escaping her. "Yer more likely t' break yer neck'n do anythin'!" she snarled towards the nocturne.
"Why do you still have him? He'd make better thresher bait than a pet," Alibi sneered, irritated with the gibbering dragon.
"Normally 'e be quieter than this. Th' storm must o' stirred 'im up," she acknowledged, avoiding his question.
"He's a waste of a good cage," Alibi muttered, rolling his eyes. "Not to mention the crew thinks he's bad luck."
"I thought we were done with that?" Firefeather snapped glancing at him as she shut the crate with the food.
"They hear his cries as plainly as a gull sees a fish in shallow waters. They've started to blame bad things on him like when a dragon gets sick, they blame it on Plague," he explained, attempting to add the last bit as a jest.
Firefeather snorted, shaking her head. "Bad luck? 'e be an answer!" she countered.
"Answer?" Alibi echoed.
The cage crashed against the wall again as another crack of thunder sounded outside the cabin and the nocturne jumped.
"Aye, lad," Firefeather responded but her words were lost as the cage fell to the ground and the hinged door opened letting Bilge jump out. "No, stop!" she gasped as the nocturne scrambled under the hide and out into the storm.
Firefeather raced towards the doorway, undoing the loops as fast as possible before running on deck with Alibi behind her.
"Captain, it's no use! He's not going to benefit the ship," he protested as she chased the nocturne over the railing.
Despite the months of being pent up, Bilge was still capable of flight though the wind tormented him and dragged him away from the ship and on to the island like a leaf.
"Nay! 'e 'll do more'n benefit th' ship!" she snarled over her shoulder jumping over the rail after the nocturne.
Alibi paced along the rail, watching them before he shot a glance towards Bladebeak who was double-checking the ropes that secured the sails. "Make sure this ship doesn't go anywhere and keep the crew in line. I'll be back!" he yelled to the wildclaw's surprise.
"Where are you--I'm following the captain," he interrupted before she had a chance to finish her question. Without waiting, he leaped over the railing and took flight, pursuing the dark figure that was the captain in the distance. He couldn't even see the nocturne amid the wind and the rain.
The wind strained at his wings, trying to tug him in a different direction with each flap but he refused to give in. Suddenly, the captain vanished from his sight and for a heartbeat, he panicked. Had the wind overtaken her? No, he spotted her warm temperature below in the shadows of trees. As soon as he dived past the trees, it felt as if he was in a different world. The elements were dulled because of the trees and he had more control of his flight. Yet, Firefeather hadn't stopped. She was running at top speed, chasing the nocturne like it was prey.
Shadowbinder, keep my course steady,, he prayed as he tried to land on the ground in a run. His step faltered and he stumbled before catching his balance and chasing after them, weaving around trees and through thorny undergrowth.
"No!" Firefeather yelled ahead of him and for a heartbeat, he thought she was in danger but he caught up to her as she circled around a hole panting.
Alibi slowed as he came up to her, breathing heavily. "What's wrong?" he asked, studying her to see if she was injured but there was no sign of injury as she started to dig at the hole. It was too small for either of them to fit through.
"Th' mangy bilge rat flew down this hole like a mouse!" she snarled, clods of rain-soaked dirt flew behind her as she dug.
Alibi narrowed his eyes anger beating in his heart. "He's useless to us and you've just put yourself in danger flying on to an unknown island after him!" he snapped.
"Ye don' understand," she began as lightning flashed across the sky lighting up the area around them.
"I don't understand because you haven't said anything that's made sense about him! He's a pet!"
Firefeather paused glancing at him. "Help me get th' lad an' I'll explain then an' only then. This hole canna be deep any'ow, it 'as t' be a rabbit hole 'r somethin'," she bargined going back to digging.
"Fine," he stated, sparing a glance around them. He couldn't see much in the darkness of the trees and nothing aside from them was alive that he could see. He started to dig, helping her widen the hole and deepen it.
The rain made the mud slick and after several heartbeats, Alibi found it caked to his claws. It didn't look like they'd gotten any further down the hole and he couldn't see any living thing. To him, it looked like this entire effort was for nothing.
Suddenly, the mud that'd he'd been digging disappeared beneath his claws followed by the ground beneath his feet. "What-- before he could say anything else he tumbled into darkness with no control as he rolled down a steep incline.

A steady drip greeted his hearing and a very dull roar of thunder sounded overhead. Alibi raised his throbbing head and glanced around. His eyes were accustomed to darkness and it slowly dawned on him that they'd landed in a cave of some sort. He gritted his teeth as he rolled on to his feet and stood up. His body ached and he had minor cuts on his flanks but nothing serious. The only real pain he felt was from the pain in his head which intensified as he raised himself off the cave floor. He spared a glance around, his gaze going to Firefeather who lay motionless a short distance away.
"Captain?" he murmured heading towards her. She still radiated an average temperature and her flank rose slowly up and down which meant she wasn't dead, only unconscious. Another dulled roar of thunder sounded overhead but when Alibi glanced up, he couldn't see where they'd fallen through. He walked a short circle around the cave, looking for where they'd fallen from but couldn't see any incline and there were none around him either.
"Captain," he repeated approaching the limp mirror and shaking her gently. "Wake up."
Firefeather moaned, rolling over. She had mud splattered across her hide and a new split in the membrane of her left wing which was crusted with blood.
"We fell," he stated when she opened her eyes and met his gaze.
"I can see that!" she snarled wincing as she started to get up. "Cursed bat!" she spat.
Alibi snorted but didn't say anything. It wasn't the nocturne's fault they ended up in the cave. "We have to find a way out of here," he explained glancing at her.
"Unless ye brought a torch 'r a lamp, I don' believe we'll be findin' a way out. I canna see anythin' in this darkness," she snapped checking herself for broken bones. She winced as she started to turn around. No doubt that she'd cracked a rib or two during the fall.
Alibi rolled his eyes reaching into his satchel. What he pulled out wasn't a torch or lantern but a corked jar of dimly glowing slime. He shook it and within heartbeats, the glow intensified until it illuminated the area around them, if only for a short distance. The green hue gave everything an eerie appearance.
Firefeather smirked when Alibi handed her the jar. "Not bad, lad. Where'd ye learn t' do that?" she asked.
"I saw Ecthelion do it before he jumped overboard to fish one evening," Alibi stated as he turned in a circle once more looking for their way out.
"'e shouldna been fishin' at night," Firefeather pointed out, her gaze landing on a gleam in the light of the slime. "Stop turnin'," she ordered.
"What?" he asked as she approached him.
"Yer bleedin' from yer 'ead," she growled. "Where's yer bandages?"
"How do you know I have any?" he teased reaching into his satchel. He didn't think his head hurt from the cut but if it was still bleeding then it might be a cause for concern.
Firefeather snorted, inspecting the wound as blood oozed from the cut just below his right fin. "I know ye well enough t' know ye restock on yer personal supplies every time we make port 'r get back on th' ship," she observed as he handed her a roll of white bandages.
Alibi smirked at the observation. He couldn't help but wonder how much she actually knew about her first mate. "Are you alright?" he asked when she'd finished wrapping the wound. "I don't see any injuries but--I be fine, lad," she interrupted waving him away.
"Let's jus' get out o' 'ere."
"What about your pet?" Alibi asked though he was more than relieved that she wasn't chasing the stupid nocturne anymore.
Firefeather snorted, shaking the jar. "'e 'll be marooned if 'e so chooses. Prolly fer th' best any'ow," she said more to herself than to Alibi. She glanced at the Shadow dragon as he looked around. "D'ye see a way out?"
He shook his head. "I don't even see a way in," he admitted. No matter how hard he looked, he didn't see any way they'd come through. "It must've caved in or something."
"Cave-ins usually end up with dirt on th' ground, lad," she noted glancing towards the rocky ground.
Alibi narrowed his eyes shooting a glance at her. She was right and there wasn't a single pile of dirt where they were. He ignored the tingle of dread that started to creep into the back of his mind. "Well...it's no use staying here if there's no way out," he admitted breaking the silence that had spread between them. She must have come to the same conclusion as he did.
"Aye. 'ave ye ever navigated a cave system 'fore?" she asked as he glanced down one tunnel and then the other.
"No," he said nor did he smell rain. The cave smelled musty and damp but that was it.
"Plaguebringer curse it all," she muttered as the glow intensified from the jar. "We need t' get movin', pick a tunnel," she ordered glancing at Alibi.
Alibi glanced down both tunnels. One went straight for a little bit before suddenly dropping away while the other tunnel veered in a sharp turn. He chose the latter, heading down the tunnel with the turn with Firefeather walking beside him.
The green glow revealed the rock walls that rose up on either side of them with water trickling down crevices in the rocks. "Keep yer ears open an' a lookout fer anythin'," she muttered a dull rumble of thunder sounded distantly overhead. The cave was silent save fer the steady dripping of water around them and the crunch of rock and gravel beneath their claws. Even their breathing had quieted in respect for the heavy silence.
The tunnel continued down flat rocks to a shallow stream of water. They paused at the edge as Alibi stared into the stream. It looked fathomless with blackness coating the stream's sides and bottom but the smallest amount of rock was visible at the bottom revealing that it was coated in some sort of black moss.
"How deep d'ye think it be?" Firefeather asked holding the jar over the water.
Alibi shrugged glancing around. He found a loose pebble and dropped it into the stream. To them, it looked to be a short distance to the ground but as the pebble continued to sink and be move with the current, it revealed that the stream was more likely several tail-lengths deep. "Don't want to get caught in that," Alibi observed leaping across. The tunnel wasn't wide enough to spread their wings in which meant they'd have to rely on the strength of their legs. He landed on the other side of the stream and turned around to face his captain. "You'll be fine. It's not too far of a jump. Just put some muscle into it," he explained.
Firefeather rolled her eyes, backing up before running forward. She leaped across the stream with ease, her hind claw dipping briefly into the icy cold water before she yanked it out. "Feels like water from th' Ice flight," she observed but Alibi's eyes widened as he stared past her. "What?" she asked turning around.
The stream had come alive rippling like the sheet of a thin fabric but they could no longer see to the bottom as blackness overcame the surface.
"What..." Alibi began as he approached the edge, staring at the blackness with shock. Firefeather moved the jar closer to the water and as she did something jumped out hitting the bottom of the glass before falling back into the void.
As they watched, tiny slender snake-like things leaped out of the water smacking the bottom of the jar before falling into the water again. One landed on the edge of the stream writhing only for moments before going limp. Alibi picked it up holding it near the light of the jar to see the thing's mouth was lined with needle-like teeth but he could see no eyes.
"Captain," he said glancing at her but she shook her head.
"I can see 'em 's plainly as ye can, lad," she murmured, her crimson eyes flashing with the faintest glimmer of horror. The mass of blackness wasn't moss at all but millions of those tiny black creatures.
They turned away from the stream as Alibi tucked the dead creature into a smaller pocket of his satchel before they continued down a narrowing tunnel as it rose away from the water.
The tunnel continued to narrow both in height and width until they were barely squeezing between rocks and away from sharp points. Alibi was ahead of Firefeather, his gaze fixed on what was in front of them with the dulling glow of the slime dancing behind. Ahead, it looked as though the tunnel climbed higher up.
Suddenly, the ground disappeared beneath him and he was falling forward, his heart jumping into his throat at the motion.
Something grabbed his hind leg pain lancing through his skin like needles as his fall was interrupted and he hit the side of a cliff. Something dug into his tail refusing to let go before he started to move up, his body scraping against the sharp edge of the cliff.
Firefeather moved backwards slowly on three legs while the fourth maintained a sharp grip on Alibi's leg and she bit his tail keeping him from plunging forward. Her muscles strained with the effort, threatening to give way as she continued to pull the Shadow dragon up until he found purchase with his foreclaws.
She let go when Alibi backed up away from the edge his heart still pounding in his ears. "Are ye alright?" she panted straightening as he stood up.
Alibi didn't respond for a heartbeat, peering over the edge of the cliff. At the bottom was running water. If the fall hadn't killed him, he assumed the creatures waiting at the bottom would.
"Alibi?"
"Yes, I'm fine," he breathed his heart calming. He glanced up to see how far the other side was but the other side was a wall leading to the narrow opening above them. "We have to go back," he said glancing over his shoulder.
Firefeather nodded not liking what it meant but not having any other choice. Without any room to turn around, the dragons had to move backwards blindly without any way of seeing where they were going. Slowly, she started to back up, making sure one claw found purchase before she applied any weight to it. Cave systems were known to dragons who lived in them as a lair and she did not. The only thing that truly aggravated the mirror, though, was having to rely on her first mate to see when the jar would not come in handy.

Bilge didn't move, enveloped tightly by his wings as if they would protect him. Instead of hanging upside down, he lay tucked behind a boulder listening to the screams and howls. Where were they coming from? He heard them everywhere and nowhere, some echoed laughter and others sounded like sheets of metal ripping apart. Something dripped on to his wings, burning them like fire and causing him to unfold himself from his own protection. What was that? Was it for the screaming? When he glanced up he saw through the web-like darkness catching glimpses of moving things and light. The shadows writhed and tangled up in each other before passing through like wisps of smoke reaching out to him wanting him.
"No, no, no, no," he whimpered as the smoke-like darkness danced towards him. The boulder did not save him. He let out an ear-piercing scream, mimicking the metal screech he'd heard moments ago and suddenly the shadows cringed, becoming taut webs again.

"What was that?" Alibi asked, shocked as a sound reached their ears, a scream that dulled as it caught up to them.
Firefeather narrowed her eyes. They'd had to jump back across the stream, carefully avoiding the water that had stilled before heading down the opposite tunnel which had them climbing down a steep drop. The scream sent a chill down her spine as she followed Alibi down the cliff. It didn't sound close but the possibility that something else was wandering the cave with them wasn't something she wanted to think about. "Keep all four eyes open, lad," she warned though it wasn't necessary. The scream had made them both more tense than they already were.
They followed the tunnel to a split. One path was instantly ignored because of the hole being far too narrow for either of them to fit through. The other tunnel widened like a gaping mouth with stalactites and stalagmites jutting from both the roof of the tunnel and the bottom giving it a menacing look. The tunnel beside it dropped down, another steep incline that ended in water. Pale blue moss grew on the roof of the tunnel.
"We could go down," Alibi began, glancing at Firefeather. "I don't think it's that deep."
"Th' entire point o' this be gettin' out alive, not goin' deeper inna th' cave," she argued. "An' if that water 'as those things in there than we can count ourselves injured 'r dead by th' time we start climbin' out o' it again."
He shot a glance at the wide tunnel. It looked worn and tired, like a gigantic beast having seen too many battles. "What of the scream?" he asked.
"We need t' get out regardless o' what be down 'ere. Th' sooner we get out, th' sooner we get back t' th' ship an' off this blasted island even if it means riskin' our lives," she explained giving the jar a good shake before heading towards the wide tunnel.
Alibi followed beside her, studying the path they had ahead of them. The rocky ground they walked on had sand swirled into it along with dirt and moss and water dripped constantly here. Further ahead of them the cave widened still as it turned left opening into a cavern.
Firefeather's green jar could only cast a light so far before it disappeared into the darkness but Alibi saw everything. Stalactites dripped from the ceiling, some having reached their goal of meeting their counter-parts on the bottom. Boulders lay against the wall, one forming a tunnel beneath it near them.
Here, smells permeated the air that were stale behind them. The scents were bitter, salty almost and sharp but neither of them could identify the smells.
"We 'ave t' keep movin'," Firefeather muttered as if she feared disturbing the silence.
Alibi nodded, taking the lead, his eyes flicking back and forth. Moss dangling from the ceiling and clung to the walls.
Something broke the silence nearby, a soft scratch and a whisper that echoed about the cavern and was lost to the walls. Firefeather glanced towards where she thought the sound was coming from, looking for any elevated temperatures and cursing the jar for having taken the only claw she could spare to fight with.
"Stay behind me," Alibi murmured to her, passing the aggravated mirror with his own sword ready. There was another scratch and as Alibi slowly crawled over a large boulder he caught sight of heat and ducked down, gripping his sword as though his life depended on it.
Firefeather watched at the base of the boulder, both irritated and tense as Alibi disappeared over the top, his tail dangling. She glanced at movement above the boulder but saw nothing.

The nocturne curled into a tighter ball, his wings near suffocating him as he tried to ignore the screams and echos around him. Suddenly, something was louder than them and above him. He slowly unwrapped himself, his wing scraping against the wall before he caught sight of the shadows, wisps of smoke that reached towards him again with sharp claws at the end. He whimpered, fighting to ignore the one sound that stamped out the others in his head, the whirring of wind but the shadows grew closer reaching out to...Not him? Bilge felt his heart racing, practically beating out of his chest as he moved only slightly to see the shadows reaching for something on the boulder that hid him from everything else. When he saw the familiar face he let loose the scream that sounded in his head sending the shadows cringing away and causing the familiar face to back off the boulder.
Bilge scrambled up and over the boulder, darting under the safety of the dragon's wing whimpering and shivering with fear.

The scream echoed in Alibi's head but when he glanced at Firefeather and saw her moving, he realized something. He couldn't hear! His heart jumped at the realization and he tried sounding out the statement to his captain, not sure if she heard it or not.
Firefeather glanced at Alibi as he raised his voice. "I can't hear!" he exclaimed to her.
She nodded lifting her wing to show Bilge had tucked himself under it like a hungering tick, clinging for dear life. When she raised it, his crimson gaze flicked towards the wall above the boulder and he whimpered, his claws digging into her skin. She grit her teeth, her gaze following his to the wall above the rock. Her heart had already started pounding at the scream until she realized it was Bilge when he came out from behind the rock.
She shook the jar, increasing the glow but no matter how much she did, the shadows claimed the wall. That be impossible, she thought, her eyes narrowing as she stared at the shadows, raising the jar up. The harder she stared, the more she thought she saw them moving.
Alibi tried to figure out what she was looking at, his eyes telling him to see something but all he saw was the wall. "What do you see?" he asked, his voice still raised as he glanced at her.
Firefeather frowned, watching as the movement became more prominent. Shadows rose and fell, danced and twirled like rings of smoke in a fire before looking as thin and draped as spiderwebs. "That be impossible," she murmured, echoing her thoughts. Shadows didn't move! Not unless they belonged to a figure and she didn't see any.
"D'ye see anythin'?" she asked Alibi not breaking her gaze from the odd darkness. When she received no response, she glanced at him and repeated the question but he shrugged.
"I can't hear you," he said, shaking his head.
Suddenly, the shadow was over Alibi, illuminated by the green glow. It showed only as wisps of smoke that reached for the dragon, descending closer and closer.
"Alibi, watch yerself!" Firefeather snarled darting forward to shove the dragon out of the way but he jumped away with a gasp, his eyes widened with pain.
Firefeather glanced at him, her gaze going up towards the reaching shadow. She moved away from it, glancing at Alibi. "Run!" she snapped but the dragon only cocked his head sideways in confusion.
"Run!" she repeated feeling a sharp pain on the back of her head. She darted forward as Alibi started to run, following him.
Alibi felt himself breathing heavily, still unable to hear. His back throbbed with pain and his head was beginning to hurt again as he ran around the stalagmites reaching for the ceiling. He spared a glance over his shoulder to see Firefeather behind him and only the faintest glimpse of something very cold following them. What was that? he thought facing forward and leading them down a tunnel, climbing over loose rocks.
"Keep runnin', ye fool!" Firefeather snarled as Alibi climbed up a short hill in the tunnel, sending rocks and pebbles spraying behind him. She glanced behind her, clutching the dying light of the glow jar to see the temperature had dropped behind them and even now, she could see her breath in the light of the jar.
Alibi reached the top of the hill and turned around to see Firefeather was still hard on his tail. Something cold landed on his shoulder and when he glanced up, he saw a hole where water fell from. Without realizing it, they had crawled over the very rubble that came from the fall that landed them in the cave in the first place.
"We need to go up!" he yelled glanced at Firefeather. His heart pounded in his chest and his lungs struggled to keep up. "You go first!" he ordered seeing the shocked look in the captain's eyes. She started to shake her head, mouthing something but he curled his lips back in a snarl. "I can still see," he snapped shoving her forward.
Firefeather tried stamping out the horror and surprise as she jumped up, flapping her wings to reach the wide hole that led up. It was slick with mud. She climbed, sparing a glance back when she'd found enough balance.
Alibi watched as something came around the corner, moving at a fast pace. Without waiting to comprehend what his mind saw, he jumped up, following Firefeather, flapping his wings until he reached the hole and started to run up kicking mud behind him. He ran for all he was worth catching a glimpse of Firefeather pausing before she started to run again sending mud raining down on his head.
Firefeather was the first to reach the surfance, leaping out of the hole into the midst of the raging storm. She whipped around to see Alibi climbing up beside but before they had a chance to run or fly, something started to come up after them.
It scrambled up behind them, a pale monstrosity with unblinking eyes and teeth that had no lips to be hidden by.
Firefeather curled her lips back as she drew her sword having dropped the jar to climb. "Yer not comin' up 'ere," she hissed and swung the sword at the creature, cutting a gouge in its snout.
The thing snarled, a gurgling sound rising from its throat as it approached on deformed claws.
"Captain, move out of the way!" Alibi yelped as she took a step back, sword at the ready.
Firefeather swung again but it ducked down in the hole avoiding the sword before approaching once more.
Lightning flashed across the darkened skies illuminating its ghastly features as it shriveled back with an ear-splitting screech before disappearing down into the darkness as the lightning subsided to shadows.
"We 'ave t' fly," Firefeather ordered glanced at Alibi but the dragon only cocked his head sideways, confused. "Up!" she snarled shooting a glance over her shoulder towards the darkened hole.
He nodded jumping up into the storm, his body braced for the gusts of wind that were buffeting him.
Firefeather followed sparing a glance below her just before the treetops swallowed her view of the black hole. The creature screeched in a fury that rivaled the storm, rearing up before dropping back into the hole.
They returned to the ship breathing heavily with Bilge clinging to the captain's flank. "'ow long 'as it been?" Firefeather demanded as shocked eyes landed on her and Alibi.
"Captain, you're..." Payton began to say but was interrupted.
"I know! Fetch Lana, 'r better yet, tell me where th' lass be hidin'. I want three dragons posted on watch t'night, one in th' crow's nest, an' two on deck stern'n bow. 'ow long's th' storm been goin' on? We'll be settin' sail's soon's it lightens up," she explained, pausing to catch her breath in between sentences.
When she received confused glances, she glanced towards Payton. "I gave ye an order, lad! Yer not a barnacle, don' act like one!" she snarled.
"Captain..." Payton began, taking a step towards the hole in the deck but the iridescent imperial didn't have to finish.
"You've been gone for a few minutes, that's it," Adinae answered.

"We need to talk," Alibi murmured, slipping into the dimly lit cabin as the ship rocked soundly against the waves. A dragon stood in the crow's nest but most of the crew had gone below deck as the ship sailed with the winds to the west. Two days had slipped by with the storm raging before they were out to sea again. Questions had risen but none of them could or would be answered.
He glanced towards Bilge who watched him quietly in the hardened metal cage with a lock on it.
Firefeather glanced through one of the two windows the cabin had, peering out of the starboard side and into the darkness, sipping the bitter green juice she'd once offered him. A few of her ribs had cracked during the fall and a bandage wrapped around her neck. Both she and he had suffered from severe burns. She had them on the back of her neck and his was on his back, blotchy like a glob of lava had splattered across his back.
"Aye," she began, swirling the liquid in the glass, her gaze flicking to him. Her eyes were dull and tired against the flicker of the candle on her desk.
Alibi secured the hide so they didn't have to worry about intrusions before he approached the other mirror. She must have been unable to sleep like he couldn't. Normally, not a rarity but they shared something in common more than just a restless sleep this evening.
"I'll answer one o' yer questions 'fore ye start," she said, taking another drink of the green liquid before setting it down.
"Bilge...?"
"Yer goin' t' 'ave t' trust me on this answer, lad. I believe 'e can see things we canna. Things that 'ave no words t' explain. I've lost crew 'fore, but sometimes there be explanation as t' where they might o' gone," she started, her eyes flicking towards the nocturne.
Alibi didn't say anything, only waiting for her to continue. He was more than grateful his hearing returned and he intended to use it.
"I think 'e be insane, aye, that be true. Yet, if ye've done yer learnin', ye'll know that nocturnes imitate sounds they've 'eard an' even go so far's t' follow after dragons' actions. Ye've heard th' lad before. All 'e does 's make whirrin' sounds'n screams. I've nary a clue as t' where 'e be from but may'aps 'e can answer questions no dragon can figure out without bringin' new ones t' light, savvy?" she asked, meeting Alibi's hard gaze.
It made some sort of sense to him but he felt as though she was endangering the crew with her want for answers, something he wasn't ready to do. He just had to figure out how to answer her. "Some questions are not meant to be answered at the risk of your crew," he said slowly, regarding her with concern.
Firefeather snorted, shaking her head. "An' when 'ave I risked me crew gettin' answers? If yer implyin' 'bout yerself, yer th' one who followed me," she challenged. "I wouldna risk inury t' me crew fer this. Yer still a young sailor, th' only thing ye've seen is a giant octoflyer. 'ow d'ye think me previous ship got its name? Aye, deadlights mean eyes but there be things swimmin' in th' waters an' if this lad clears 'is 'head, maybe 'e can give us answers!"
"Why not just ask a Lightning dragon then?" Alibi joked before he grew serious once more. She was right, he had followed her. Yet, the short journey raised questions but didn't answer them. "What answers does he have for what happened on the island?" he pondered, glancing at the nocturne that still watched them, listening to everything.
Firefeather opened her mouth, prepared to answer before she shook her head. "I've been over that many times since we left. Caves arna somethin' I understand but that..." she trailed off, reflecting on what had happened.
"Captain, we were moved! We were chased by something that looked like some sort of deformed dragon and nearly eaten by tadpoles, not to mention that the air burned us," he snapped, irritated. "And then, when we got out of that gods-forsaken hole, there was no loss of time! What answers do you have for that?" he challenged, glaring at her.
Firefether shook her head again, still reeling over it. That had never happened before. "Th' air didna burn us, ye twit! I told ye, whether ye believe it 'r not. Th' shadows moved. If Bilge 'ad a brain, 'e 'd tell ye th' same thing!" she snarled. She calmed after a moment, still sizzling over his ignorance. "Remember what I told ye once? No god truly watches o'er these waters," she recalled.
Alibi nodded. "Aye."
"Well, would'n ye think anythin' could 'appen? I'll bet ye that creature moved us, but those shadows...I don' know. I don' understand it either. Bilge knows when somethin' odd be 'bout t' 'appen. I fancy that may'aps 'e can explain odd sounds at night 'r give a name t' th' Deadlights that swim these waters. I believe it be possible 'e can save th' crew from unexplained deaths 'r disappearance."
He nodded, unable to think of any dragon that could give a reasonable answer for what had happened. "Maybe," he sympathized. "I'll not lie though, captain. I would rather not have these questions answered. Time isn't meant to stand still or be lost and darkness isn't meant to be alive either," he explained.
She shrugged. "Ye be right, aye. Which's why, should anythin' 'appen t'me, ye'll be captainin' this ship."
"You don't have to pursue these answers, though," Alibi continued, watching her. She wasn't a Water dragon or an Arcane dragon, she didn't need to have these things answered.
Firefeather snorted, taking a swig of the green liquid. "Aye, I didna 'ave t' fish th' scallywag up either but I did. If 'e can save th' crew 'r find hidden treasures, then there be answer worth lookin' fer," she encouraged, a grin slipping on to her face at the thought of gleaming gems and shining coins.
Alibi rolled his eyes. "A pirate to the end. I suppose unexplored answers are nearly the same as unexplored lands," he pondered with a shrug.
Bilge watched the scene unfold before him, quiet as a mouse in a grassy field. She knew what she was getting into and yet, she would not be prepared at all. None of them were.
A wave of darkness washed over the small dragon's mind, a shrill screech as metal tore away from metal and black water gushed in. The once active cogs that whirred and creaked away blew apart with him stuck under one. They sank deep beneath the depths and he should have drowned along with the rest. He would have gladly done so to avoid being alive when indescribable things lifted the cog like it was paper and whisked him away feeding him darkness to breathe off of.
These dragons had no idea what they thought they wanted to see and were not grateful for what they didn't have to see.
End.
Cap'n o' th' Crowned Thresher
Pirates Risin'
(Public lore regardin' pirates o' Sornieth)
Below Deck! (Personal Lore Thread)
Captain's Log: Bilge

Discovered in the Sea of Whispers afloat on the piece of some sort of wrecking. Mistook it for a wee pile of gems. When questioned, the lad made no sense. We asked for his name and the lad gave us a series of whoops and a warning about reversible sunlight. We asked him where he came from and the response was a soft whirring.

Initially, I planned on selling him but no dragon would buy insanity so then I considered tossing the lad overboard. He frightened the crew, a feat I hardly thought possible when I let the picaroon stay below deck. He let out a scream so peculiar and sharp I'd of sworn the very hull of me ship was being torn apart! I brought him to my cabin where he muttered and made odd sounds in his sleep in the morning and by night he scampered about the deck making odd noises. He returned to resting in the corner of my cabin, hanging upside down in the shadows.

What stopped me from ridding us of this gem-like nocturne be something I don't divulge with the crew. Twas morning, we be sailing with nary a sight of land anywhere, north-bound by the winds to reach the auction house but we were many days out 'till that occured. The wee scallywag came abound out of me cabin during a sharp gust of wind gibbering like a fool. First, he scampered from aft to bow 'fore port to starbound, peering o'er the edges of the hull, looking fer something. Suddenly, the lad went below deck and I followed him, if only to throttle the useless cargo fer wasting me crew's time'n spirits. He had went down beside the bilge, whimpering like a cur staring inna the darkness. I couldna see what the wee dragon was crying 'bout neither with one set of deadlights nor the other so I pushed him forward causing the hatchling to screech in fear as if he just got burned.

Now, something happened. No words can sufficiently draw to mind what occurred. After a few heartbeats of staring inna this darkness, I felt something. Not a touch of skin but some sort of dread creeping inna me bones and nagging at me stomach. The back of me neck tingled and I felt the urge to run out of fear. The hatchling whimpered and cried at me claws, spewing out useless words like 'freedom' and 'lost' as the very air in the cargo space seemed to change. I swear with me own four deadlights that I shouldna seen what I did, not in that darkness but the shadows
waved . They rippled and rolled like the very ocean we sailed on and something colder'n ice reached through, breaking the surface like water. It kept reaching coming closer, moving at a pace that, had me claws not been immobilized, I'd of jumped out of the way heartbeats ago! The thing touched me hat afore disappearing in the shadows. The shadows stopped moving then, and that feeling of fear dulled smartly.

I dragged the nocturne back on deck and inna me cabin afore going on deck. The crew said I looked pale and sickly and I admit, even then I trembled still tryna make sense of what happened. I fear that had the thing touched me, I might of died or turned inna that nocturne afore it burned a gaping hole in me hat, dealin' a great burn t' th' hatchlin's foreleg's well. I fancy I ought to have tossed the nocturne o'erboard since that and certain other occasions where he runs at night shrieking inna the winds and to the sea. Cept none of these scallywags, not even Alibi have been through and seen some of the things I've seen. The seas carry more secrets than a Water dragon and it be only a matter of time 'till the crew sees one or two slip through the waters. P'raps this nocturne can warn me of such things afore they happen or keep some of me crew from disappearing unexpectedly at the cost of his own life.

I've caged the dragon, though, in a corner of me cabin, to keep him from driving the crew mad. Whatever happens, I'll know about but I canna risk me crew being driven mad by an insane nocturne. P'raps one day I might piece together his ramblings. I've named him Bilge on account of his rambling of nonsense.

Captain's Log: Bilge

Discovered in the Sea of Whispers afloat on the piece of some sort of wrecking. Mistook it for a wee pile of gems. When questioned, the lad made no sense. We asked for his name and the lad gave us a series of whoops and a warning about reversible sunlight. We asked him where he came from and the response was a soft whirring.

Initially, I planned on selling him but no dragon would buy insanity so then I considered tossing the lad overboard. He frightened the crew, a feat I hardly thought possible when I let the picaroon stay below deck. He let out a scream so peculiar and sharp I'd of sworn the very hull of me ship was being torn apart! I brought him to my cabin where he muttered and made odd sounds in his sleep in the morning and by night he scampered about the deck making odd noises. He returned to resting in the corner of my cabin, hanging upside down in the shadows.

What stopped me from ridding us of this gem-like nocturne be something I don't divulge with the crew. Twas morning, we be sailing with nary a sight of land anywhere, north-bound by the winds to reach the auction house but we were many days out 'till that occured. The wee scallywag came abound out of me cabin during a sharp gust of wind gibbering like a fool. First, he scampered from aft to bow 'fore port to starbound, peering o'er the edges of the hull, looking fer something. Suddenly, the lad went below deck and I followed him, if only to throttle the useless cargo fer wasting me crew's time'n spirits. He had went down beside the bilge, whimpering like a cur staring inna the darkness. I couldna see what the wee dragon was crying 'bout neither with one set of deadlights nor the other so I pushed him forward causing the hatchling to screech in fear as if he just got burned.

Now, something happened. No words can sufficiently draw to mind what occurred. After a few heartbeats of staring inna this darkness, I felt something. Not a touch of skin but some sort of dread creeping inna me bones and nagging at me stomach. The back of me neck tingled and I felt the urge to run out of fear. The hatchling whimpered and cried at me claws, spewing out useless words like 'freedom' and 'lost' as the very air in the cargo space seemed to change. I swear with me own four deadlights that I shouldna seen what I did, not in that darkness but the shadows
waved . They rippled and rolled like the very ocean we sailed on and something colder'n ice reached through, breaking the surface like water. It kept reaching coming closer, moving at a pace that, had me claws not been immobilized, I'd of jumped out of the way heartbeats ago! The thing touched me hat afore disappearing in the shadows. The shadows stopped moving then, and that feeling of fear dulled smartly.

I dragged the nocturne back on deck and inna me cabin afore going on deck. The crew said I looked pale and sickly and I admit, even then I trembled still tryna make sense of what happened. I fear that had the thing touched me, I might of died or turned inna that nocturne afore it burned a gaping hole in me hat, dealin' a great burn t' th' hatchlin's foreleg's well. I fancy I ought to have tossed the nocturne o'erboard since that and certain other occasions where he runs at night shrieking inna the winds and to the sea. Cept none of these scallywags, not even Alibi have been through and seen some of the things I've seen. The seas carry more secrets than a Water dragon and it be only a matter of time 'till the crew sees one or two slip through the waters. P'raps this nocturne can warn me of such things afore they happen or keep some of me crew from disappearing unexpectedly at the cost of his own life.

I've caged the dragon, though, in a corner of me cabin, to keep him from driving the crew mad. Whatever happens, I'll know about but I canna risk me crew being driven mad by an insane nocturne. P'raps one day I might piece together his ramblings. I've named him Bilge on account of his rambling of nonsense.

Cap'n o' th' Crowned Thresher
Pirates Risin'
(Public lore regardin' pirates o' Sornieth)
Below Deck! (Personal Lore Thread)