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TOPIC | Tales from the Mystic Plateau
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Garden of the damned
General mood: Loss

"I'm back, my darling songbird!" Rohan shut the door behind him, his tension melting away as soon as he was in close quarters with his mate. It had been a long day, and the fact that he had gone out to find his beloved garden swarming with an infestation of beetles hadn't improved his mood. He was delighted to finally be home and to have a chance to continue his research. However, from the moment his eyes rested on Larkin, he knew something was wrong.
He had been ill for a while. A parasitic plant had attached itself to him almost a year ago, and he had fighting it ever since, but they both knew it was a losing battle. Rohan studied daily to try and learn what he could do to stop it before it was too late, but even with his numerous experiments he had made little progress as Larkin grew steadily worse.
His mate was hunched, immobile, in the corner of their den. His wolf cape was sagging over his face, but Rohan could see that beneath it bloomed new growth - fungi and flowers, closer than ever before to his eyes and mouth. Rohan rushed to his side, dropping the new specimens he had brought home to pull the cape from his face.
For a moment, his dull eyes showed no recognition. Around them more scales had peeled off, crumbling like dry petals when Rohan tried to touch them. His arcane eyes were more grey than pink, and his breathing was hardly visible, his form as frail and trembling as a green shoot after the first frost. He had had episodes caused by the parasite before, but none had ever been this severe.
After several long moments, his gaze lifted to his mate, and a pained smile spread across his face. "My flower." He wheezed. He tried to stand and greet him, but his legs gave out and he crashed to the ground, a small sigh the only indication that he had felt it. Rohan tried to help him up, but his mate was almost thirty times his weight, and all he succeeded in doing was causing more scales to flake away from his failing body and onto the dirt floor of their den.
"It's too late." Larkin murmured, as his sides heaved from the effort of his own breathing. "You knew it would come to this. It's drained me completely - and I fear now it will move on to a new host." Each word was a whisper, spoken through lungs that struggled to function. "It's never too late. I'm not giving up on you!" Rohan rushed to his desk, flipping through a spellbook. He cursed under his breath about the shortcomings of his own magical abilities, but soon settled on a spell and leaned over his mate. "This may hurt." He warned.
Larkin tilted his head towards him. "Healing magic? Flower, it's far gone for..." he paused to take a breath, and as he did so, Rohan cast the spell. The ice magic struck the fungus on his back, encrusting it with frost that spread with fingers of ice across the plant life.
Larkin jerked away, a snarl escaping his lips as he stumbled back from Rohan. He let out a roar, wavering but defiant. "Don't touch me!" He snarled. His rage-filled eyes were a pale green now, and as he spoke, spores spilled from his jaws. He jerkily lashed out at Rohan, but the smaller dragon jumped to the side. "Larkin!" He cried, and his mate faltered. For a moment they both stood locked in indecision, until Larkin's legs gave out once again. As Rohan rushed to his side, Larkin reached a claw up to touch his beloved's cheek, but his arm was too weak to reach him. "Rohan..." he breathed, as his shuddering body fell still.

Garden of the damned
General mood: Loss

"I'm back, my darling songbird!" Rohan shut the door behind him, his tension melting away as soon as he was in close quarters with his mate. It had been a long day, and the fact that he had gone out to find his beloved garden swarming with an infestation of beetles hadn't improved his mood. He was delighted to finally be home and to have a chance to continue his research. However, from the moment his eyes rested on Larkin, he knew something was wrong.
He had been ill for a while. A parasitic plant had attached itself to him almost a year ago, and he had fighting it ever since, but they both knew it was a losing battle. Rohan studied daily to try and learn what he could do to stop it before it was too late, but even with his numerous experiments he had made little progress as Larkin grew steadily worse.
His mate was hunched, immobile, in the corner of their den. His wolf cape was sagging over his face, but Rohan could see that beneath it bloomed new growth - fungi and flowers, closer than ever before to his eyes and mouth. Rohan rushed to his side, dropping the new specimens he had brought home to pull the cape from his face.
For a moment, his dull eyes showed no recognition. Around them more scales had peeled off, crumbling like dry petals when Rohan tried to touch them. His arcane eyes were more grey than pink, and his breathing was hardly visible, his form as frail and trembling as a green shoot after the first frost. He had had episodes caused by the parasite before, but none had ever been this severe.
After several long moments, his gaze lifted to his mate, and a pained smile spread across his face. "My flower." He wheezed. He tried to stand and greet him, but his legs gave out and he crashed to the ground, a small sigh the only indication that he had felt it. Rohan tried to help him up, but his mate was almost thirty times his weight, and all he succeeded in doing was causing more scales to flake away from his failing body and onto the dirt floor of their den.
"It's too late." Larkin murmured, as his sides heaved from the effort of his own breathing. "You knew it would come to this. It's drained me completely - and I fear now it will move on to a new host." Each word was a whisper, spoken through lungs that struggled to function. "It's never too late. I'm not giving up on you!" Rohan rushed to his desk, flipping through a spellbook. He cursed under his breath about the shortcomings of his own magical abilities, but soon settled on a spell and leaned over his mate. "This may hurt." He warned.
Larkin tilted his head towards him. "Healing magic? Flower, it's far gone for..." he paused to take a breath, and as he did so, Rohan cast the spell. The ice magic struck the fungus on his back, encrusting it with frost that spread with fingers of ice across the plant life.
Larkin jerked away, a snarl escaping his lips as he stumbled back from Rohan. He let out a roar, wavering but defiant. "Don't touch me!" He snarled. His rage-filled eyes were a pale green now, and as he spoke, spores spilled from his jaws. He jerkily lashed out at Rohan, but the smaller dragon jumped to the side. "Larkin!" He cried, and his mate faltered. For a moment they both stood locked in indecision, until Larkin's legs gave out once again. As Rohan rushed to his side, Larkin reached a claw up to touch his beloved's cheek, but his arm was too weak to reach him. "Rohan..." he breathed, as his shuddering body fell still.

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Garden of the Damned - Part 2
Please read Garden of the Damned first!
General mood: Somber but hopeful

The bells tolled mournfully on the morning Larkin was buried. Styx stood silently beside the grave as Charon dug the massive hole they would need to bury the guardian. Rigor, his familiar, worked with him, using her own bones to dislodge the dirt and help move it aside. Rohan was nowhere to be seen, though most assumed he was too stricken with grief to attend the funeral of his beloved. He had refused to allow Styx to embalm Larkin's body, and so he was being buried only a day after his death. He had also requested that the hole was only just deep enough to cover his body. Charon had objected, but Rohan became enraged when he tried to argue, and so he had decided to let him mourn in the way he needed to, and that he would get Rigor to dig the hole deeper once Rohan had had a few days to come to terms with things.
The entire clan gathered as the hole grew larger, and while few of them stayed long, all paid their respects to the massive guardian who had struggled for so long. Even the gentle Moth braved the crowd and spoke a few words, before waiting to the side to watch the rest of the funeral. Only she and a handful of others actually stayed - very few had come to know the guardian during his stay at the clan, and most felt as if their presence would only harm Rohan if he ended up coming to see the burial.
The grief-stricken pearlcatcher arrived not long before they were about to inter his body into the ground. He watched on in silence, his face void of emotion. He cast a weary nod at Moth when the dragon politely smiled at him, but didn't notice when she left. All he could see was the mound of his love's body, now buried beneath the ground.
He didn't leave the site of the grave for the rest of the day, nor did he move when night struck. When he finally stood and stretched his stiffened limbs he moved like a robot back to his den, relieved when he encountered nobody except Malachi on his way back. The dragon was guarding Atarah's den, and simply nodded at the pearlcatcher as he made his way past.
Rohan spent the rest of the night in his study. He read through every tome he owned, and then, when he had exhausted his own resources and the sun had broken the horizon long before, he knocked quietly on Ametrine's door and borrowed some more from Wisteria, who simply let him take what he needed. He felt as though his mind was in a fog, but he plowed on, ignoring the faint grumblings of hunger or the numbness of exhaustion.
He read until his eyes blurred over, and then finally when night had begun to fall again, he found what he had been looking for.
His love would come home again.

Garden of the Damned - Part 2
Please read Garden of the Damned first!
General mood: Somber but hopeful

The bells tolled mournfully on the morning Larkin was buried. Styx stood silently beside the grave as Charon dug the massive hole they would need to bury the guardian. Rigor, his familiar, worked with him, using her own bones to dislodge the dirt and help move it aside. Rohan was nowhere to be seen, though most assumed he was too stricken with grief to attend the funeral of his beloved. He had refused to allow Styx to embalm Larkin's body, and so he was being buried only a day after his death. He had also requested that the hole was only just deep enough to cover his body. Charon had objected, but Rohan became enraged when he tried to argue, and so he had decided to let him mourn in the way he needed to, and that he would get Rigor to dig the hole deeper once Rohan had had a few days to come to terms with things.
The entire clan gathered as the hole grew larger, and while few of them stayed long, all paid their respects to the massive guardian who had struggled for so long. Even the gentle Moth braved the crowd and spoke a few words, before waiting to the side to watch the rest of the funeral. Only she and a handful of others actually stayed - very few had come to know the guardian during his stay at the clan, and most felt as if their presence would only harm Rohan if he ended up coming to see the burial.
The grief-stricken pearlcatcher arrived not long before they were about to inter his body into the ground. He watched on in silence, his face void of emotion. He cast a weary nod at Moth when the dragon politely smiled at him, but didn't notice when she left. All he could see was the mound of his love's body, now buried beneath the ground.
He didn't leave the site of the grave for the rest of the day, nor did he move when night struck. When he finally stood and stretched his stiffened limbs he moved like a robot back to his den, relieved when he encountered nobody except Malachi on his way back. The dragon was guarding Atarah's den, and simply nodded at the pearlcatcher as he made his way past.
Rohan spent the rest of the night in his study. He read through every tome he owned, and then, when he had exhausted his own resources and the sun had broken the horizon long before, he knocked quietly on Ametrine's door and borrowed some more from Wisteria, who simply let him take what he needed. He felt as though his mind was in a fog, but he plowed on, ignoring the faint grumblings of hunger or the numbness of exhaustion.
He read until his eyes blurred over, and then finally when night had begun to fall again, he found what he had been looking for.
His love would come home again.

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Garden of the Damned - The final chapter
Please read Garden of the Damned first!
General mood: Happy ending

Rohan emerged from his den, a shambling mess of unkempt hair and eyes rimmed with shadow. He clutched in one hand an ancient tome and in the other a mixed bag of items, but despite his appearance, he seemed happier than usual. He scurried through the halls of carved marble and up into the fresh midnight air, ignoring the last few dragons who wandered the darkened halls of the lair. The magically lit lanterns that illuminated their inner territory seemed to flare as he passed by them, crackling with the energy that permeated the air.
As Rohan arrived at the freshly dug mound, he threw the tome and bag down. A vial of water, dried leaves, and several scales scattered across the soil, and as they fell, the ground seemed to take a deep breath in preperation. Rohan flipped though the tome, eerily silent as he set to work on preparing the ground and setting out materials. As he worked, the forest waited, even the crickets listening with bated breath to see what would come of the ancient ritual.
"Vial of sorrow... cause of death... remnant of flesh..." he hissed to himself as he read the tome, his claws clinking against the bottle as he poured the liquid within onto a pile of leaves and scales. The mixture was the easy part, but if you read the binding words in the wrong state of mind things could go horribly wrong. He took a deep breath. "Home you shall be, come to me, come be free." He began to chant, repeating the phrase and grinding the now wet leaves and scales into the ground as they crumbled into powder from the pressure. He breathed a puff of ice onto the ground, freezing them in place and cementing the objects together.
"Home you shall be. Come to me, please be free." Nothing happened as he repeated the words, his voice blending with that of the wind as it picked up and carried away his words. His claws dug into his hands as he thought of life alone once again, and tears began to drip from his eyes, falling onto the ground as his chanting grew louder. The earth shivered, but nothing happened as he waited impatiently. Finally, he turned his face to the sky and shouted, "Home you will be! Come to me! Be free!"
As the last word left his mouth the ground rumbled beneath him. A fine crack appeared in the ice encased mixture before it spread and shattered, melting midair to pelt him with the salty spray of his own collected tears. He stared at the spot where it had been, silence once again descending upon him. The book sat open on the dirt, fluttering gently in the wind, the leaves and scales around it slowly being carried off by the breeze. The ground was silent, though he could hear what sounded like footsteps from somewhere nearby. Had someone discovered him? He couldn't bring himself to care. "My love. My songbird." He breathed. "I can't live this life without you, my Larkin."
The last word had hardly left his mouth when the ground exploded before him. The tome began to hover above the burial mound, seemingly unharmed by the blast and its pages rapidly turning. The footsteps grew louder until they were pounding in his ears. Not footsteps. A heartbeat. A clawed hand burst from the soil, the world shuddering as its owner groaned from beneath. Vines sprung out of the ground, dragging whatever they were attached to somewhat unwillingly from his shallow resting place. Before Rohan could fully process what was happening, the fungus-encrusted head of Larkin broke free, shaking off clots of dirt as his cloudy eyes focused on the small pearlcatcher. As he arose from the ground he towered over Rohan, his gaze scanning the surroundings with an unreadable expression before coming to rest on Rohan.
The pearlcatcher remained frozen for only a moment. "Larkin!" He exclaimed, and flung himself at the statuesque guardian. "I know things are strange right now. They can't hurt you anymore." He looked up into his mate's eyes tenderly. "They are you now." He paused, giving him a moment to understand, before stepping back and bowing his head. "I'm sorry it had to be this way. Above all I wanted them gone, perhaps even more than you, but I had no choice. In death, you don't have many options."
Larkin finally stirred, his head lifting slightly to focus on Rohan. "...death?" His voice was soft and weak, but it was a voice, and Rohan struggled to hold back his joy at hearing it. "Yes, death. You..." He began to explain, but Larkin shook his head. "I... remember." His breath smelled less of fungus spores and more of soil now, but at least his vision was beginning to clear. He hung his head. "I remember."
Silence seemed to last forever on this oddly quiet night. Rohan's heart panged with guilt, knowing he had doomed his mate to a cursed existence. He was no longer a dragon, but at least he was alive. The plants growing on his body had turned him into a walking forest floor, and he would never be able to live a normal life now. It was his own selfishness that had brought him back to this, and he held no blame against him if Larkin despised him for it. Finally the guardian lifted his head, his wings slowly unfurling in the same way an old automaton might flex their rusted iron fingers. His head bowed to nuzzle his mate. "Thank you, my flower."

The next few days were unusual, but with the amount of spells and rituals that went on in the clan the fact that a dead dragon had come back to life was hardly the strangest of occurrences. Larkin integrated well back into daily life, and actually found his new state to be helpful - he fought off a group of young serthis with his enhanced abilities and terrifying appearance, and began to work as a guard, fighting off threats and defending the territory. Rohan was able to get back to how his studies used to be before Larkin became his obsession, making him and his research a valuable asset to the clan. Larkin even began to sing once again, his voice a welcome addition to the monthly clan celebrations. He was happier than before his death because his affliction no longer held him back, and Rohan was simply happy to have his mate back with him again. The rest of the clan still isn't sure about him, but they've realized there's more to him than meets the eye - and often, that's the first step to change.
Garden of the Damned - The final chapter
Please read Garden of the Damned first!
General mood: Happy ending

Rohan emerged from his den, a shambling mess of unkempt hair and eyes rimmed with shadow. He clutched in one hand an ancient tome and in the other a mixed bag of items, but despite his appearance, he seemed happier than usual. He scurried through the halls of carved marble and up into the fresh midnight air, ignoring the last few dragons who wandered the darkened halls of the lair. The magically lit lanterns that illuminated their inner territory seemed to flare as he passed by them, crackling with the energy that permeated the air.
As Rohan arrived at the freshly dug mound, he threw the tome and bag down. A vial of water, dried leaves, and several scales scattered across the soil, and as they fell, the ground seemed to take a deep breath in preperation. Rohan flipped though the tome, eerily silent as he set to work on preparing the ground and setting out materials. As he worked, the forest waited, even the crickets listening with bated breath to see what would come of the ancient ritual.
"Vial of sorrow... cause of death... remnant of flesh..." he hissed to himself as he read the tome, his claws clinking against the bottle as he poured the liquid within onto a pile of leaves and scales. The mixture was the easy part, but if you read the binding words in the wrong state of mind things could go horribly wrong. He took a deep breath. "Home you shall be, come to me, come be free." He began to chant, repeating the phrase and grinding the now wet leaves and scales into the ground as they crumbled into powder from the pressure. He breathed a puff of ice onto the ground, freezing them in place and cementing the objects together.
"Home you shall be. Come to me, please be free." Nothing happened as he repeated the words, his voice blending with that of the wind as it picked up and carried away his words. His claws dug into his hands as he thought of life alone once again, and tears began to drip from his eyes, falling onto the ground as his chanting grew louder. The earth shivered, but nothing happened as he waited impatiently. Finally, he turned his face to the sky and shouted, "Home you will be! Come to me! Be free!"
As the last word left his mouth the ground rumbled beneath him. A fine crack appeared in the ice encased mixture before it spread and shattered, melting midair to pelt him with the salty spray of his own collected tears. He stared at the spot where it had been, silence once again descending upon him. The book sat open on the dirt, fluttering gently in the wind, the leaves and scales around it slowly being carried off by the breeze. The ground was silent, though he could hear what sounded like footsteps from somewhere nearby. Had someone discovered him? He couldn't bring himself to care. "My love. My songbird." He breathed. "I can't live this life without you, my Larkin."
The last word had hardly left his mouth when the ground exploded before him. The tome began to hover above the burial mound, seemingly unharmed by the blast and its pages rapidly turning. The footsteps grew louder until they were pounding in his ears. Not footsteps. A heartbeat. A clawed hand burst from the soil, the world shuddering as its owner groaned from beneath. Vines sprung out of the ground, dragging whatever they were attached to somewhat unwillingly from his shallow resting place. Before Rohan could fully process what was happening, the fungus-encrusted head of Larkin broke free, shaking off clots of dirt as his cloudy eyes focused on the small pearlcatcher. As he arose from the ground he towered over Rohan, his gaze scanning the surroundings with an unreadable expression before coming to rest on Rohan.
The pearlcatcher remained frozen for only a moment. "Larkin!" He exclaimed, and flung himself at the statuesque guardian. "I know things are strange right now. They can't hurt you anymore." He looked up into his mate's eyes tenderly. "They are you now." He paused, giving him a moment to understand, before stepping back and bowing his head. "I'm sorry it had to be this way. Above all I wanted them gone, perhaps even more than you, but I had no choice. In death, you don't have many options."
Larkin finally stirred, his head lifting slightly to focus on Rohan. "...death?" His voice was soft and weak, but it was a voice, and Rohan struggled to hold back his joy at hearing it. "Yes, death. You..." He began to explain, but Larkin shook his head. "I... remember." His breath smelled less of fungus spores and more of soil now, but at least his vision was beginning to clear. He hung his head. "I remember."
Silence seemed to last forever on this oddly quiet night. Rohan's heart panged with guilt, knowing he had doomed his mate to a cursed existence. He was no longer a dragon, but at least he was alive. The plants growing on his body had turned him into a walking forest floor, and he would never be able to live a normal life now. It was his own selfishness that had brought him back to this, and he held no blame against him if Larkin despised him for it. Finally the guardian lifted his head, his wings slowly unfurling in the same way an old automaton might flex their rusted iron fingers. His head bowed to nuzzle his mate. "Thank you, my flower."

The next few days were unusual, but with the amount of spells and rituals that went on in the clan the fact that a dead dragon had come back to life was hardly the strangest of occurrences. Larkin integrated well back into daily life, and actually found his new state to be helpful - he fought off a group of young serthis with his enhanced abilities and terrifying appearance, and began to work as a guard, fighting off threats and defending the territory. Rohan was able to get back to how his studies used to be before Larkin became his obsession, making him and his research a valuable asset to the clan. Larkin even began to sing once again, his voice a welcome addition to the monthly clan celebrations. He was happier than before his death because his affliction no longer held him back, and Rohan was simply happy to have his mate back with him again. The rest of the clan still isn't sure about him, but they've realized there's more to him than meets the eye - and often, that's the first step to change.
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Branded
General mood: Adversaries, tension
Part 1 - The trial
"Sanguinox." The booming voice was almost enough to startle the bogsneak out of staring at a passing insect, though he still managed to resist the urge to face the furious mirror who stared down at him. "You are here today to be punished for your crimes, and face the justice you have been running from." The murmurs of angry dragons along with their furious stares caused him to shift uncomfortably in his chains as he glared down at the ground, and he resisted the urge to spit at the dragons perched nearby who looked imperiously down at him from their marble seats. "Do you have anything to say in your defence?"
He allowed the gathered dragons to become quiet once again before he lifted his head, his gaze as piercing as a freshly whetted blade. "My defence?" He growled, raising himself up before the chains binding every limb forced him down again. "Why don't you release me, and I'll show you my defence?"
He could hear Marshall sobbing pitifully nearby, and he felt a pang of some unknown emotion before he turned his attention back to the dragon who faced him. "I have done nothing but attempt to regain what was stolen from me." Even as he said it, he knew it was a lie, and the fact that it was no longer truth to him made him shake his head with frustration. What was happening to him? His tribe was all that mattered, and yet here he was, unsure of even that anymore. The sound of Marshall's weeping was putting him on edge, he decided, and he turned to snarl at her before facing his captor once again.
"Tell me, Solstice," he began, attempting to intimidate the smaller mirror, "what exactly have I done? I have succeeded with nothing. I have merely been persecuted, cornered, and trapped like a beast, all so that your 'justice' could unfairly brand me a criminal and leave me to rot."
Solstice flared his wings and hissed, though the less than four meter wingspan did little to deter the hulking bogsneak. "You attempted to kill a member of our clan. When you inevitably failed, you skulked in the shadows like a pitiful dog, unable to strike again but desperately trying. We have tolerated you until now, but we know of your past and who you are, and you must be punished for your actions." The mention of his past rattled Sanguinox. She had actually told them. If he didn't hate her as much as he did, he would have been proud of Mollistris' brazenness.
He sat down once again when he saw Jade behind Solstice, her eerie red-green eyes glimmering like those of a feral beast. Twice the size of her mate and ten times as ruthless, even he wasn't bold enough to challenge her. He was certain that in a different situation she wouldn't hesitate to deal with him in her own way, away from the prying eyes of all these witnesses.
"Fine, fine. So someone let slip a little something about the dragon I used to be. So what?" He was stalling. His gaze raked the crowd of assembled dragons, searching for the telltale golden glow that would betray where his quarry was hidden. He cursed light clans for their love of shiny things, the light glinting off of far too many dragons adorned in bangles and trinkets. Finally, however, he found her. She was staring at the ground, mostly hidden beneath the protective wing of her golden mate. Her runes glowed as faintly as usual, but he found himself unable to conjure the vile hatred he usually could when he thought of his traitorous sister. Now he knew something was wrong with him. He felt a hint of pity worm its way into his gut, and he couldn't quash it. He had done this to her. He shook his head, realizing that Solstice had been speaking to him and the assembled crowd while he was distracted.
"...judge you guilty. Your punishment is to be reformed."
Something about the way he said that indicated that it was to be much worse than he had anticipated. His mate had begun to cry again as she was dragged away, and for the first time he felt like lashing out at someone other than her, perhaps the skydancer whose claws were currently dragging her to some unknown place, far away from him. "Where are you taking her?" He snarled, as a massive guardian began to drag him in the opposite direction. She looked sadly down at him, but didn't say a word. He felt true dread begin to form within him for the first time since he had been banished from the Caedis tribe. Something told him he truly had no idea what was in store for him as punishment for what he had done, and he wondered if this clan of light had darkness at its heart that he was about to experience first hand.
Branded
General mood: Adversaries, tension
Part 1 - The trial
"Sanguinox." The booming voice was almost enough to startle the bogsneak out of staring at a passing insect, though he still managed to resist the urge to face the furious mirror who stared down at him. "You are here today to be punished for your crimes, and face the justice you have been running from." The murmurs of angry dragons along with their furious stares caused him to shift uncomfortably in his chains as he glared down at the ground, and he resisted the urge to spit at the dragons perched nearby who looked imperiously down at him from their marble seats. "Do you have anything to say in your defence?"
He allowed the gathered dragons to become quiet once again before he lifted his head, his gaze as piercing as a freshly whetted blade. "My defence?" He growled, raising himself up before the chains binding every limb forced him down again. "Why don't you release me, and I'll show you my defence?"
He could hear Marshall sobbing pitifully nearby, and he felt a pang of some unknown emotion before he turned his attention back to the dragon who faced him. "I have done nothing but attempt to regain what was stolen from me." Even as he said it, he knew it was a lie, and the fact that it was no longer truth to him made him shake his head with frustration. What was happening to him? His tribe was all that mattered, and yet here he was, unsure of even that anymore. The sound of Marshall's weeping was putting him on edge, he decided, and he turned to snarl at her before facing his captor once again.
"Tell me, Solstice," he began, attempting to intimidate the smaller mirror, "what exactly have I done? I have succeeded with nothing. I have merely been persecuted, cornered, and trapped like a beast, all so that your 'justice' could unfairly brand me a criminal and leave me to rot."
Solstice flared his wings and hissed, though the less than four meter wingspan did little to deter the hulking bogsneak. "You attempted to kill a member of our clan. When you inevitably failed, you skulked in the shadows like a pitiful dog, unable to strike again but desperately trying. We have tolerated you until now, but we know of your past and who you are, and you must be punished for your actions." The mention of his past rattled Sanguinox. She had actually told them. If he didn't hate her as much as he did, he would have been proud of Mollistris' brazenness.
He sat down once again when he saw Jade behind Solstice, her eerie red-green eyes glimmering like those of a feral beast. Twice the size of her mate and ten times as ruthless, even he wasn't bold enough to challenge her. He was certain that in a different situation she wouldn't hesitate to deal with him in her own way, away from the prying eyes of all these witnesses.
"Fine, fine. So someone let slip a little something about the dragon I used to be. So what?" He was stalling. His gaze raked the crowd of assembled dragons, searching for the telltale golden glow that would betray where his quarry was hidden. He cursed light clans for their love of shiny things, the light glinting off of far too many dragons adorned in bangles and trinkets. Finally, however, he found her. She was staring at the ground, mostly hidden beneath the protective wing of her golden mate. Her runes glowed as faintly as usual, but he found himself unable to conjure the vile hatred he usually could when he thought of his traitorous sister. Now he knew something was wrong with him. He felt a hint of pity worm its way into his gut, and he couldn't quash it. He had done this to her. He shook his head, realizing that Solstice had been speaking to him and the assembled crowd while he was distracted.
"...judge you guilty. Your punishment is to be reformed."
Something about the way he said that indicated that it was to be much worse than he had anticipated. His mate had begun to cry again as she was dragged away, and for the first time he felt like lashing out at someone other than her, perhaps the skydancer whose claws were currently dragging her to some unknown place, far away from him. "Where are you taking her?" He snarled, as a massive guardian began to drag him in the opposite direction. She looked sadly down at him, but didn't say a word. He felt true dread begin to form within him for the first time since he had been banished from the Caedis tribe. Something told him he truly had no idea what was in store for him as punishment for what he had done, and he wondered if this clan of light had darkness at its heart that he was about to experience first hand.
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Branded - Part 2
Please read Branded!
General mood: Tension, reform
Part 2 - Preparations

It had been days of silence. Silence, and waiting. Nobody would tell him what his punishment was to be - he was simply left in the dark, awaiting a fate he had no indication of. The tension gnawed at his insides alongside other tedious emotions and he found himself pacing back and forth, both dreading and longing for the moment he was to begin his punishment. Anything, he felt, would be better than this endless wait. Kokakku, as he learned the large guardian who had first taken him here was called, was the only one to visit, leaving food and ensuring he was still safely within the prison. She needn't have worried. The walls may have been ancient but the stone was more than sturdy, enough to bar in an imperial if needs be. He had tried scratching at the loose dirt in between the large stone slabs but all he had succeeded in doing was releasing a shower of dust that left him coughing and miserable.
Almost as if his wish for release had been heard, the quiet clicking on claws on cold stone came towards his cell, and he tensed as someone unknown slowly slid the heavy bolt out of place. However, it was not Solstice who faced him - the shimmering eyes of the wolf queen Jade met his own, and he involuntarily shuddered as he met her gaze. His solitude now seemed like a paradise compared to whatever she might have planned.
Her gaze was inscrutable aside from the vague contempt and distaste she clearly had for him. "Sanguinox." The word hissed from her teeth. He was startled to hear her voice for the first time. It reminded him of the bite of winter, smooth as ice and twice as dangerous. She drew out every letter, hissing like a snake. She raised a hand and he bristled, but she merely waved for him to follow. "It's time."

He followed her, unwilling to face whatever might happen if he refused. As they ascended from the bowels of the damp and stale-smelling prison, he winced at the blinding light outside, pausing for a moment so that his eye could adjust. He was thankful, in a small way, that Jade remained silent and still as he gazed around him.
It seemed like the clan was preparing for something. Banners were being hung from every column, and a large stage was garishly decorated, covered in flowers that filled the air with their sweet and heady scent. Dragons moved excitedly about, and hardly any of them paused to glance at him, the bedraggled prisoner who was being led away by their lithe green matriarch.
"What's going on?" He asked her, and she turned to gaze at him with her piercing, cold eyes. "Something special." She responded. "In fact, I think you might be invited." Her smile, revealing rows of needle-sharp teeth, made him shudder. The laughter in the air felt more threatening now, and he wondered once again what they had planned for him. In the Caedis tribe he had participated in the brutal slaughter of enemy dragons, or even passing traders whose wares had caught the eye of one of the many bogsneaks in the group. Ritual sacrifice and offerings to the shade were just part of everyday life there. He felt, for a small moment, a stir of pity for the dragons he had helped kill. Had they felt the same as him during their last days, when they heard the screams of their companions? Small, insignificant, and utterly hopeless?
He broke out of his thoughts when he realized Jade was staring at him. He quickly caught up to her, his mind a tumultuous mess of emotion. He was breaking. Pity, fear, they were feelings for lesser dragons. He belonged to the Caedis tribe, but in this state, he was no different then the dragons they called their prey. Was he even deserving of the title of a child of Caedis? He had been baptized into the tribe only to have his pride stripped from him. Had his time away from them changed him so much? He hung his head and followed her into the forest, numb to the joy of the dragons behind them. All he could do was wait and see.

They went deeper and deeper into the dark woods, until the arching trees overhead obscured the sun, and tangled thorns began to block their path, reaching for them like blackened claws. Jade walked silently, and Sanguinox almost longed for her to speak just so that something would break the eerie silence. Finally they arrived at a bramble wall and Jade turned to him, looking almost at peace in the forest's silence. "Wait here. I have something to attend to." Before he could protest, or even ask her what she needed to do this far out into the forest, she had slipped through a small gap in the thorns and was gone, leaving him alone in the silence of the forest.
~*~
Branded - Part 2
Please read Branded!
General mood: Tension, reform
Part 2 - Preparations

It had been days of silence. Silence, and waiting. Nobody would tell him what his punishment was to be - he was simply left in the dark, awaiting a fate he had no indication of. The tension gnawed at his insides alongside other tedious emotions and he found himself pacing back and forth, both dreading and longing for the moment he was to begin his punishment. Anything, he felt, would be better than this endless wait. Kokakku, as he learned the large guardian who had first taken him here was called, was the only one to visit, leaving food and ensuring he was still safely within the prison. She needn't have worried. The walls may have been ancient but the stone was more than sturdy, enough to bar in an imperial if needs be. He had tried scratching at the loose dirt in between the large stone slabs but all he had succeeded in doing was releasing a shower of dust that left him coughing and miserable.
Almost as if his wish for release had been heard, the quiet clicking on claws on cold stone came towards his cell, and he tensed as someone unknown slowly slid the heavy bolt out of place. However, it was not Solstice who faced him - the shimmering eyes of the wolf queen Jade met his own, and he involuntarily shuddered as he met her gaze. His solitude now seemed like a paradise compared to whatever she might have planned.
Her gaze was inscrutable aside from the vague contempt and distaste she clearly had for him. "Sanguinox." The word hissed from her teeth. He was startled to hear her voice for the first time. It reminded him of the bite of winter, smooth as ice and twice as dangerous. She drew out every letter, hissing like a snake. She raised a hand and he bristled, but she merely waved for him to follow. "It's time."

He followed her, unwilling to face whatever might happen if he refused. As they ascended from the bowels of the damp and stale-smelling prison, he winced at the blinding light outside, pausing for a moment so that his eye could adjust. He was thankful, in a small way, that Jade remained silent and still as he gazed around him.
It seemed like the clan was preparing for something. Banners were being hung from every column, and a large stage was garishly decorated, covered in flowers that filled the air with their sweet and heady scent. Dragons moved excitedly about, and hardly any of them paused to glance at him, the bedraggled prisoner who was being led away by their lithe green matriarch.
"What's going on?" He asked her, and she turned to gaze at him with her piercing, cold eyes. "Something special." She responded. "In fact, I think you might be invited." Her smile, revealing rows of needle-sharp teeth, made him shudder. The laughter in the air felt more threatening now, and he wondered once again what they had planned for him. In the Caedis tribe he had participated in the brutal slaughter of enemy dragons, or even passing traders whose wares had caught the eye of one of the many bogsneaks in the group. Ritual sacrifice and offerings to the shade were just part of everyday life there. He felt, for a small moment, a stir of pity for the dragons he had helped kill. Had they felt the same as him during their last days, when they heard the screams of their companions? Small, insignificant, and utterly hopeless?
He broke out of his thoughts when he realized Jade was staring at him. He quickly caught up to her, his mind a tumultuous mess of emotion. He was breaking. Pity, fear, they were feelings for lesser dragons. He belonged to the Caedis tribe, but in this state, he was no different then the dragons they called their prey. Was he even deserving of the title of a child of Caedis? He had been baptized into the tribe only to have his pride stripped from him. Had his time away from them changed him so much? He hung his head and followed her into the forest, numb to the joy of the dragons behind them. All he could do was wait and see.

They went deeper and deeper into the dark woods, until the arching trees overhead obscured the sun, and tangled thorns began to block their path, reaching for them like blackened claws. Jade walked silently, and Sanguinox almost longed for her to speak just so that something would break the eerie silence. Finally they arrived at a bramble wall and Jade turned to him, looking almost at peace in the forest's silence. "Wait here. I have something to attend to." Before he could protest, or even ask her what she needed to do this far out into the forest, she had slipped through a small gap in the thorns and was gone, leaving him alone in the silence of the forest.
~*~
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[center][size=6]Phoenix of wind[/size] [size=4]General mood: Escape, fear, loss, sacrifice Part 1 - Death's angels[/center] [size=4]An explosion rocked the ground beneath [url=http://flightrising.com/main.php?p=lair&id=62348&tab=dragon&did=2868732]Malachi[/url]. Dazed, he attempted to stand, momentarily unsure of where he was. Another shockwave shook the ground and he struggled to keep his footing, reaching for his sword as he pulled his cloak over his head. It took him a moment to remember where he was, but then he turned his gaze to the nest of bedding beside him. Empty. "[url=http://flightrising.com/main.php?p=lair&tab=dragon&id=62348&did=29643269]Atarah[/url]!" His voice was heavy with sleep, and he gazed blearily around, desperately trying to think of where she would have gone. Had she been kidnapped, or something far worse? He had worried about this. She'd insisted on going herself rather than just sending an emissary to this small kingdom in the reedcleft ascent, and now he cursed himself for not stopping her despite her insistence that things would be fine. He had never left her side, and yet even though he had been sleeping right beside her she was gone. Without giving himself time to dwell on it and blame himself further he bolted out the door. The hallways of the castle were partially collapsed, rubble blocking the path to his left. Right it was, then. He ran without a thought for his own safety, his heart fluttering like a panicked bird in his chest. She couldn't die on his watch. He had guarded her since she was an egg, raised her as his own, and he loved her more than even ancient draconian had a word for. As he approached a corner he heard another explosion and ducked to avoid a falling stone that nearly crushed him. Atarah. She was all he could think about. As if his thoughts had summoned her, when he turned the corner he almost ran straight into her, crumpled in a pile on the floor and surrounded by rubble. He felt dizzy with relief that quickly turned to fear as he saw blood pooling around her wing, which was crumpled at a terrible angle and partially covered by rubble. She lifted her head at the sound of his trembling voice. The joy he felt at seeing her alive filled him with new strength, and he quickly began to move away the stones from where they pinned her. The sight of the small fae beside her, motionless, dampened his happiness when he noticed them. "What happened?" He gasped, as he helped her to her feet. She reached around for her sword until she saw it shattered beneath the rubble. "Assassins." She breathed. "The same ones who..." she fell silent, and Malachi nodded. Her parents had suffered the same fate, but he didn't have time to reflect on it. Her sword, commissioned by a now deceased blacksmith by them both as a hatchday gift, was almost all she had left to remember them by, and to see it broken beyond repair had certainly crushed her. "You're injured. Let me carry you." Before she could object he lifted her onto his back and took off at a sprint, holding her the way he did when she was just a hatchling. She rested her head on his back, and he felt her tremble as another shudder shook the building. "They set off explosions when the fae warned them I had gotten away from him. I don't know how he told them - he had a small device, something I've never seen before." Her voice wavered and she stopped speaking. "It's okay. You're safe with me now." There would be time for tears later. Right now, he needed to carry her, keep her away from further harm. They turned another corner and he caught a whiff of fresh air. The explosions seemed to have stopped - their attempts to block off all escape had failed, though he hoped desperately that they weren't aware of it. The fear only gave him motivation to run faster, and he was thankful Atarah was watching his back so that he wouldn't be surprised if any had decided to stay behind or hide in the many corridors leading deeper into the collapsing castle. He burst into the fresh air - and stopped short. In front of him, barring escape on foot, were a small group of dragons. A single guardian was poised to fly, his frills flared with aggression as a ridgeback shouted commands to the three mirrors prowling and scenting the air. They all turned to face Malachi as he burst through the door, and he felt a cold chill run through him as he realized what they had done. It had all been a ploy meant to draw them out - the real danger had always been outside, and he considered how well he could fly with her on his back. Their chances were slim. She was larger than him, and even despite all his training he couldn't carry them both. He drew his sword and Atarah slid off his back, thankfully able to stand despite her drooping and mangled right wing. She flared her one good wing and hissed, menacing the mirrors, though the ridgeback seemed unfazed. His one eye was clouded but the other focused on Malachi with deadly precision, his mouth pulled back in a sneer. His voice was higher than expected when he finally spoke, dripping with contempt. "Rago, Flago, Plago. Don't fail like Eon did." The mirrors needed no more convincing. They lunged forward, but they were inexperienced. The ridgeback watched with disgust as Malachi fought them off, driving them back until they retreated, licking their wounds and scurrying off into the shadows. The sharp smell of their blood permeated the air. "They'll survive." The ridgeback remarked, in a tone that strongly resembled disappointment. "It's too bad the same can't be said about you." Malachi readied himself yet again, but the ridgeback simply turned away, climbing laboriously onto the back of the guardian. He realized with a start that the ridgeback's left wing which was previously tucked behind him was mutilated, either from fire or one of plague's worse diseases, making it difficult for him to move. As he watched, confused, as the dragon prepared to take off, he heard Atarah gasp behind him. He spun to see another dragon in the door of the castle, a spell readied in his claws. He didn't have time to think. He lunged in front of her as the spell exploded from the dragon's outstretched hand, and the world around him went silent and dark like a curtain falling over a stage. [center][img]http://flightrising.com/images/cms/familiar/art/26205-6.png[/img][/center]
Phoenix of wind
General mood: Escape, fear, loss, sacrifice
Part 1 - Death's angels
An explosion rocked the ground beneath Malachi. Dazed, he attempted to stand, momentarily unsure of where he was. Another shockwave shook the ground and he struggled to keep his footing, reaching for his sword as he pulled his cloak over his head. It took him a moment to remember where he was, but then he turned his gaze to the nest of bedding beside him. Empty.
"Atarah!" His voice was heavy with sleep, and he gazed blearily around, desperately trying to think of where she would have gone. Had she been kidnapped, or something far worse? He had worried about this. She'd insisted on going herself rather than just sending an emissary to this small kingdom in the reedcleft ascent, and now he cursed himself for not stopping her despite her insistence that things would be fine. He had never left her side, and yet even though he had been sleeping right beside her she was gone. Without giving himself time to dwell on it and blame himself further he bolted out the door.
The hallways of the castle were partially collapsed, rubble blocking the path to his left. Right it was, then. He ran without a thought for his own safety, his heart fluttering like a panicked bird in his chest. She couldn't die on his watch. He had guarded her since she was an egg, raised her as his own, and he loved her more than even ancient draconian had a word for. As he approached a corner he heard another explosion and ducked to avoid a falling stone that nearly crushed him. Atarah. She was all he could think about.
As if his thoughts had summoned her, when he turned the corner he almost ran straight into her, crumpled in a pile on the floor and surrounded by rubble. He felt dizzy with relief that quickly turned to fear as he saw blood pooling around her wing, which was crumpled at a terrible angle and partially covered by rubble. She lifted her head at the sound of his trembling voice. The joy he felt at seeing her alive filled him with new strength, and he quickly began to move away the stones from where they pinned her.
The sight of the small fae beside her, motionless, dampened his happiness when he noticed them. "What happened?" He gasped, as he helped her to her feet. She reached around for her sword until she saw it shattered beneath the rubble. "Assassins." She breathed. "The same ones who..." she fell silent, and Malachi nodded. Her parents had suffered the same fate, but he didn't have time to reflect on it. Her sword, commissioned by a now deceased blacksmith by them both as a hatchday gift, was almost all she had left to remember them by, and to see it broken beyond repair had certainly crushed her.
"You're injured. Let me carry you." Before she could object he lifted her onto his back and took off at a sprint, holding her the way he did when she was just a hatchling. She rested her head on his back, and he felt her tremble as another shudder shook the building. "They set off explosions when the fae warned them I had gotten away from him. I don't know how he told them - he had a small device, something I've never seen before." Her voice wavered and she stopped speaking. "It's okay. You're safe with me now." There would be time for tears later. Right now, he needed to carry her, keep her away from further harm.
They turned another corner and he caught a whiff of fresh air. The explosions seemed to have stopped - their attempts to block off all escape had failed, though he hoped desperately that they weren't aware of it. The fear only gave him motivation to run faster, and he was thankful Atarah was watching his back so that he wouldn't be surprised if any had decided to stay behind or hide in the many corridors leading deeper into the collapsing castle.

He burst into the fresh air - and stopped short. In front of him, barring escape on foot, were a small group of dragons. A single guardian was poised to fly, his frills flared with aggression as a ridgeback shouted commands to the three mirrors prowling and scenting the air. They all turned to face Malachi as he burst through the door, and he felt a cold chill run through him as he realized what they had done. It had all been a ploy meant to draw them out - the real danger had always been outside, and he considered how well he could fly with her on his back. Their chances were slim. She was larger than him, and even despite all his training he couldn't carry them both.
He drew his sword and Atarah slid off his back, thankfully able to stand despite her drooping and mangled right wing. She flared her one good wing and hissed, menacing the mirrors, though the ridgeback seemed unfazed. His one eye was clouded but the other focused on Malachi with deadly precision, his mouth pulled back in a sneer. His voice was higher than expected when he finally spoke, dripping with contempt. "Rago, Flago, Plago. Don't fail like Eon did."
The mirrors needed no more convincing. They lunged forward, but they were inexperienced. The ridgeback watched with disgust as Malachi fought them off, driving them back until they retreated, licking their wounds and scurrying off into the shadows. The sharp smell of their blood permeated the air. "They'll survive." The ridgeback remarked, in a tone that strongly resembled disappointment. "It's too bad the same can't be said about you."
Malachi readied himself yet again, but the ridgeback simply turned away, climbing laboriously onto the back of the guardian. He realized with a start that the ridgeback's left wing which was previously tucked behind him was mutilated, either from fire or one of plague's worse diseases, making it difficult for him to move. As he watched, confused, as the dragon prepared to take off, he heard Atarah gasp behind him. He spun to see another dragon in the door of the castle, a spell readied in his claws. He didn't have time to think. He lunged in front of her as the spell exploded from the dragon's outstretched hand, and the world around him went silent and dark like a curtain falling over a stage.
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Phoenix of wind General mood: Mystery, the unknown
Part 2 - The in between
The silence was deafening.
In the in between, many things waited in limbo. Perhaps they were hatchlings, still lost from their early ends, or animals taken while they still had families or lives left unlived. Some of them he believed to be something else, ethereal emissaries from the beyond who would come to take those who had been lost to the place past the void. Many of them would eventually find their way, but he had heard no call from either side, no pull to bring him to a place outside of the darkness. He waited for a breath of wind or some sign from the outside or perhaps a bony claw to lure him into the beyond, but neither came, and he realized after some time that perhaps they never would. If he were to escape it would be of his own strength.
He drifted, shapeless, transient, and silent, in a world that was void and foreign. The expanse around him was neither black nor colourful - there was simply emotion, longing and loss, bundled together into an empty expanse full of silent voices that made you ache with feelings you no longer understood. He often found himself growing tired but what remained of his base instincts screamed against sleep, and so he resisted despite the lagging exhaustion.

He eventually came to a place where the in between felt different. In the back of his consciousness a memory surfaced, a flash of a green slope and something familiar climbing it, and he winced at the brightness of colour in this empty place. Though the exhaustion mounted he continued his journey, climbing upwards in a place where painful memories would seize his mind frequently and remind him of a life he had once lived. He would sometimes think of travelling to the beyond instead, a downhill trek where he could sleep all he needed, but something within forced him onwards, though his weary spirit protested every moment of it.
Above all others, it was the memory of a certain creature that stirred his motivation to continue, red eyes that practically glowed with life and a smile as beautiful as the world he was taunted with brief glimpses of. Why had he left that world? Every moment on his journey back was a millennia, and every millennia a moment. The memories were a sweet torture, and he embraced the bitter taste of every blinding colour he was able to experience before they were torn from his mind once again.

The exhaustion was overwhelming. He felt himself fading but refused to let it take him even when floating through the sea of memory and emptiness become almost too much to handle. He knew he was close. He could almost feel the wind on his skin, his claws flexing to touch the ground. The wind... it tickled his feathers, gently, teasingly, and he realized with a start that his eyes were shut. Had he fallen asleep, after everything he had done to avoid it? He rapidly opened his eyes and the memory that hit him was the most painful of all, blinding light from all angles and a green expanse that seemed to go on forever. He scanned his surroundings for those eyes, the ones that had lured him all the way here, but he saw nothing but colourful kites in the far distance and swaying green grass all around. He was tired, so tired, and the grass below him seemed so inviting. Would she come to him if he slept? What if he had been wrong all along? He needed to see her again, to find her, but his muscles ached and his eyes burned from the light, and he could hardly remember how he had gotten here in the first place, to this strangely bright land where the grass spread out in all directions as far as the eye could see. A small rest was all he needed, and after that... his thoughts faded away as sleep gripped him at last, plunging him into a fitful rest filled with dreams of red eyes and flame.

Phoenix of wind General mood: Mystery, the unknown
Part 2 - The in between
The silence was deafening.
In the in between, many things waited in limbo. Perhaps they were hatchlings, still lost from their early ends, or animals taken while they still had families or lives left unlived. Some of them he believed to be something else, ethereal emissaries from the beyond who would come to take those who had been lost to the place past the void. Many of them would eventually find their way, but he had heard no call from either side, no pull to bring him to a place outside of the darkness. He waited for a breath of wind or some sign from the outside or perhaps a bony claw to lure him into the beyond, but neither came, and he realized after some time that perhaps they never would. If he were to escape it would be of his own strength.
He drifted, shapeless, transient, and silent, in a world that was void and foreign. The expanse around him was neither black nor colourful - there was simply emotion, longing and loss, bundled together into an empty expanse full of silent voices that made you ache with feelings you no longer understood. He often found himself growing tired but what remained of his base instincts screamed against sleep, and so he resisted despite the lagging exhaustion.

He eventually came to a place where the in between felt different. In the back of his consciousness a memory surfaced, a flash of a green slope and something familiar climbing it, and he winced at the brightness of colour in this empty place. Though the exhaustion mounted he continued his journey, climbing upwards in a place where painful memories would seize his mind frequently and remind him of a life he had once lived. He would sometimes think of travelling to the beyond instead, a downhill trek where he could sleep all he needed, but something within forced him onwards, though his weary spirit protested every moment of it.
Above all others, it was the memory of a certain creature that stirred his motivation to continue, red eyes that practically glowed with life and a smile as beautiful as the world he was taunted with brief glimpses of. Why had he left that world? Every moment on his journey back was a millennia, and every millennia a moment. The memories were a sweet torture, and he embraced the bitter taste of every blinding colour he was able to experience before they were torn from his mind once again.

The exhaustion was overwhelming. He felt himself fading but refused to let it take him even when floating through the sea of memory and emptiness become almost too much to handle. He knew he was close. He could almost feel the wind on his skin, his claws flexing to touch the ground. The wind... it tickled his feathers, gently, teasingly, and he realized with a start that his eyes were shut. Had he fallen asleep, after everything he had done to avoid it? He rapidly opened his eyes and the memory that hit him was the most painful of all, blinding light from all angles and a green expanse that seemed to go on forever. He scanned his surroundings for those eyes, the ones that had lured him all the way here, but he saw nothing but colourful kites in the far distance and swaying green grass all around. He was tired, so tired, and the grass below him seemed so inviting. Would she come to him if he slept? What if he had been wrong all along? He needed to see her again, to find her, but his muscles ached and his eyes burned from the light, and he could hardly remember how he had gotten here in the first place, to this strangely bright land where the grass spread out in all directions as far as the eye could see. A small rest was all he needed, and after that... his thoughts faded away as sleep gripped him at last, plunging him into a fitful rest filled with dreams of red eyes and flame.

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Phoenix of wind General mood: Confusion/being lost, mystery
Part 3 - The herbalist


He woke up finally in an unfamiliar nest surrounded by strange-smelling plants and orange fireflies that fluttered about him, singing whatever they landed on. He groaned and lifted his head, his mind in a haze, and blinked at the hut he was in. The walls were constructed of closely-grown bamboo and a leafy roof of palm fronds above, with a door of hanging vines that sheltered the hut from most light.
He shook himself, carefully unfurling his wings and then curling his claws, examining his digits as if he wasn't quite sure they were actually there. He felt groggy, but at least he was alive - though he couldn't remember how he had gotten here, or much of anything before this point. He felt like he should be doing something important, but his thoughts were confused and slow, and he instead struggled to his feet, bumping into a few shelves on his way over to the door.

When he exited into the light he was greeted with what looked like a small clan. Hatchlings tumbled in the grass and elders chatted while lounging in the sun, watching a nearby young drake fly a kite through the air. An elderly tundra who was tending a nearby garden looked startled when he noticed he was awake, and quickly dropped the plants he was holding before rushing over. "Oh! We were getting worried ya weren't going to wake up!"
He sounded so cheery despite the subject matter that Malachi couldn't help but smile, despite his groggy state and utter confusion as to where he was. Thankfully, the elder didn't keep him wondering long. "We found ya in the middle of nowhere, with nothing around for miles exceptin' for a single eggshell right beside ya. I patched ya up as best I could, but ya seemed almost dead for a bit there. If it weren't for young Bloodmaw o'er there, who stumbled upon where you were sleepin' when he was hunting, who knows what would've happened?"
He gestured to the drake with the kite before his expression turned serious. "Now, I don't mean to offend you 'ere, but seeing as we've got young'uns around and some of the dragons were right worried about it seein' the circumstances, I need to ask..." He paused, looked around conspiratorially, and then whispered; "You aren't a.... egg eater, are ya? I mean, that can do terrible things to a dragon, and we've got little ones of our own we need to..." Malachi cut him off with a quick shake of his head. "No, no, I wouldn't... that's not me."
He couldn't remember much of anything, but he was certain he wasn't the type to eat eggs at the very least. The elder nodded, relieved, though he still looked a bit hesitant, as if he wasn't quite sure whether to believe him or not. "Well, that's settled then. Do ya mind telling me where you're from? We don't see a lot of outsiders 'ere, especially not ones with fireflies like yours, if you don't mind me sayin' so."
Malachi blinked and looked at where the elder had gestured, and to his annoyance realized the little bugs had followed him outside. Several of them clung to his scales and a few others flew in little loops nearby to him, as if waiting to take flight with him. Their fiery little feet didn't seem to harm his scales at all, despite the way they had singed the plants in the hut earlier. "Truthfully," he responded, blowing one of the bugs away from his muzzle, "I thought these were yours. I haven't seen them before... at least as far as I can remember." His brow furrowed. "To tell you the truth, I don't know where I came from. All I can remember is that I'm looking for someone."
The elder looked puzzled momentarily, and he stared at Malachi as if he had a bounty of questions he wanted to ask, but then his cheery smile returned. "Why don't ya check out the dormouse tavern? It's about 500 wings north, and often has plenty o' gossip and dragons about. You might be able to find out some information there. From the look of your eyes ya seem to be a wind dragon, so maybe it will spark something for you?" Malachi flinched a bit at the word spark, though he couldn't remember why. Even so, it was a promising sign.
"Thank you." He bowed slightly to the elder, a movement that felt natural to him. "I'll head out now. I need to find them quickly." The sense of urgency had returned to him again, and he once again flared his wings, stretching every limb to ensure nothing was broken or injured. The old tundra put a hand on his shoulder, concerned. "Are you sure you should be leaving so early? It's gettin' on past tea time, and we could easily spare a bit o' meat for ya. It wouldn't be a bother." Malachi shook his head. "Thank you for your kindness, but I must leave. If ever I am given the chance, I will repay your generosity."
Before the old dragon could argue Malachi turned and took off, his wingbeats hesitant and sloppy at first until he finally fell into a familiar rhythm. He felt as though at any moment disaster could strike within the verdant and peaceful fields, and his heart pounded within his chest. Who was he looking for? How had he ended up here? He felt as if he needed to repay a tremendous debt, and at the same time, his heart felt heavy with longing. He was lost in a sea of green, with no hint of hope in sight. He just hoped the tavern would hold what he was looking for.

Phoenix of wind General mood: Confusion/being lost, mystery
Part 3 - The herbalist


He woke up finally in an unfamiliar nest surrounded by strange-smelling plants and orange fireflies that fluttered about him, singing whatever they landed on. He groaned and lifted his head, his mind in a haze, and blinked at the hut he was in. The walls were constructed of closely-grown bamboo and a leafy roof of palm fronds above, with a door of hanging vines that sheltered the hut from most light.
He shook himself, carefully unfurling his wings and then curling his claws, examining his digits as if he wasn't quite sure they were actually there. He felt groggy, but at least he was alive - though he couldn't remember how he had gotten here, or much of anything before this point. He felt like he should be doing something important, but his thoughts were confused and slow, and he instead struggled to his feet, bumping into a few shelves on his way over to the door.

When he exited into the light he was greeted with what looked like a small clan. Hatchlings tumbled in the grass and elders chatted while lounging in the sun, watching a nearby young drake fly a kite through the air. An elderly tundra who was tending a nearby garden looked startled when he noticed he was awake, and quickly dropped the plants he was holding before rushing over. "Oh! We were getting worried ya weren't going to wake up!"
He sounded so cheery despite the subject matter that Malachi couldn't help but smile, despite his groggy state and utter confusion as to where he was. Thankfully, the elder didn't keep him wondering long. "We found ya in the middle of nowhere, with nothing around for miles exceptin' for a single eggshell right beside ya. I patched ya up as best I could, but ya seemed almost dead for a bit there. If it weren't for young Bloodmaw o'er there, who stumbled upon where you were sleepin' when he was hunting, who knows what would've happened?"
He gestured to the drake with the kite before his expression turned serious. "Now, I don't mean to offend you 'ere, but seeing as we've got young'uns around and some of the dragons were right worried about it seein' the circumstances, I need to ask..." He paused, looked around conspiratorially, and then whispered; "You aren't a.... egg eater, are ya? I mean, that can do terrible things to a dragon, and we've got little ones of our own we need to..." Malachi cut him off with a quick shake of his head. "No, no, I wouldn't... that's not me."
He couldn't remember much of anything, but he was certain he wasn't the type to eat eggs at the very least. The elder nodded, relieved, though he still looked a bit hesitant, as if he wasn't quite sure whether to believe him or not. "Well, that's settled then. Do ya mind telling me where you're from? We don't see a lot of outsiders 'ere, especially not ones with fireflies like yours, if you don't mind me sayin' so."
Malachi blinked and looked at where the elder had gestured, and to his annoyance realized the little bugs had followed him outside. Several of them clung to his scales and a few others flew in little loops nearby to him, as if waiting to take flight with him. Their fiery little feet didn't seem to harm his scales at all, despite the way they had singed the plants in the hut earlier. "Truthfully," he responded, blowing one of the bugs away from his muzzle, "I thought these were yours. I haven't seen them before... at least as far as I can remember." His brow furrowed. "To tell you the truth, I don't know where I came from. All I can remember is that I'm looking for someone."
The elder looked puzzled momentarily, and he stared at Malachi as if he had a bounty of questions he wanted to ask, but then his cheery smile returned. "Why don't ya check out the dormouse tavern? It's about 500 wings north, and often has plenty o' gossip and dragons about. You might be able to find out some information there. From the look of your eyes ya seem to be a wind dragon, so maybe it will spark something for you?" Malachi flinched a bit at the word spark, though he couldn't remember why. Even so, it was a promising sign.
"Thank you." He bowed slightly to the elder, a movement that felt natural to him. "I'll head out now. I need to find them quickly." The sense of urgency had returned to him again, and he once again flared his wings, stretching every limb to ensure nothing was broken or injured. The old tundra put a hand on his shoulder, concerned. "Are you sure you should be leaving so early? It's gettin' on past tea time, and we could easily spare a bit o' meat for ya. It wouldn't be a bother." Malachi shook his head. "Thank you for your kindness, but I must leave. If ever I am given the chance, I will repay your generosity."
Before the old dragon could argue Malachi turned and took off, his wingbeats hesitant and sloppy at first until he finally fell into a familiar rhythm. He felt as though at any moment disaster could strike within the verdant and peaceful fields, and his heart pounded within his chest. Who was he looking for? How had he ended up here? He felt as if he needed to repay a tremendous debt, and at the same time, his heart felt heavy with longing. He was lost in a sea of green, with no hint of hope in sight. He just hoped the tavern would hold what he was looking for.

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