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Insae still did not believe Alloen, especially with his tone indicating praise. She absolutely agreed with his reasons for her not dying at first contact. But here inside she still was a prisoner. While she wore no chains, of the literal variety, different chains restrained her movement and speech; if either one, or even both, became surplus in the wrong direction, then the possibility of dying early would come true.
Insae would rather dueling after provoking than via [i 'didn't like your tone or tail swing] retardaan nonsense.
Alloen's head-shaking chuckle made Insae slightly tip her head right, the left eyebrow raising just above the right one. She sensed unwillingness for such an activity, but she didn't sense any disdain or any other negative reactions. And then came a question. Insae understood that Alloen was not asking but not explaining. Hopefully he delved further into his personal thinking on the matter.
As Alloen led them out of the dungeon, occasionally glancing backwards, continuing on from the rhetorical question. Insae's eyes were not listening, glancing about the hallways they entered and exited, curious whether these passageways contained traps of any sort. The ears, unlike the eyes, paid attention. She could definitely say this: some preferred learning by reading, while others preferred action, and there was even a group in between who enjoyed learning both ways simultaneously; there were advantages and disadvantages to both styles, but how one learned best also factored in. Although, sometimes the possibility of learning something by action did not exist, whether it be off limits or because the technique(s) to do it were lost.
While Insae didn't want Alloen touching her willy-nilly, she didn't exist in a position to stop him. However, in the case of touching her with a weapon she most certainly would defend herself.
Reaching the surface, Insae appreciated the fresh air compared to the dank, smelly stank of the dungeon; she didn't appreciate the sweetness in the air as it tickled and forced an odd number of light coughs. Insae stared off upwards, not answering Alloen's question and pondering a response. This silence ended after two minutes, during which the tip of the tail had made a multitude of abstract fingers, head lowering back down to face Alloen. [+purple "Most of my so called 'reading' came from my dad], withholding for now his race, [+purple "who taught me how he smithed. After leaving,"] another thing Alloen didn't need to know now, [+purple "That's when my broadening happened."] Insae heaved a sigh, making heavy effort in concealing the slight sadness as her eyes drifted leftwards. [+purple "Plenty of reading, and I even managed, extremely grudgingly, to get a dwarf to show me a mountain forge; they literally shit quality ae and various donnar"], using the dwarven words for gold and metal ore. [+purple "But"], an amused expression forming on Insae's face as she gazed at Alloen's face, [+purple "no book I've read taught me elven forge work. Perhaps you could aid me in filling that gap?"]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Soft grunts, huffs and sighs. All sultry in the pointed ear of Alloen. Whilst he understood her taking exception at his grasp of her pointed extremity, he neither cared nor thought to apologise for the action. If anything he was being quite gentle with her. A dragonkin accompanying humans in breaching his borders as if it were any peasants field.
She was lucky he had such an affinity for dragons and the kin.
Her body contorted this way and that. Legs were thrown over legs and those dark eyes oft watched him as he slowly paced back and forth before her. Her tone was deep, agreeable and brought his bright eyes back onto her. She knew the effect she had on him and she was using it well. Her laughter almost set his cheeks to flushing crimson and he already wished to hear it again.
[+firebrick “In truth you live because you knew to surrender.”] With her now stood he faced her and matched her stance, hands clasped behind him.[+firebrick “You showed understanding that you were outnumbered, outmatched, and you made the intelligent choice not to fight in vain.”] Alloen was never shy of praising people where it was warranted, and he did want Insae to understand he thought of her as more than just a curious cross-breed. At the very least he wanted her to understand he appreciated someone with intelligence.
Her comment about grabbing writing tools and the pair settling down to record his many questions and her subsequent answers brought a genuine chuckle from him. He shook his head lightly however.[+firebrick “I am sure I could fill an entire library by questioning you; but why would I do that?”] It sounded like a simple enough question but it was rhetorical, a flick of his head denoting for her to follow him so that they might leave the dungeon. It didn’t matter if the prisoners currently in cells saw her freely moving about – they wouldn’t see morning anyway.
[+firebrick “We read to learn things we did not see with our own eyes, hear with our own ears, experience in the moment. Questions are so straight forward, dull, outright boring!”] For a man who enjoyed reading, it was contrary for him to point this out. He would look back to her numerous times through talking, showing her a modicum of respect rather than forcing her to stare at his back.[+firebrick “I’d rather live out my curiosity, learn by doing than asking. What do dragon scales feel like? I now [i know] they are quite soft yet robust. What does a dragons horn feel like? Well, now I [i know] it is cold like bone, smooth like a gem.”] Two very recent revelations that he was already savouring the knowledge of.
Leading her up the stairs back to the surface, the air returned to a fresh state and she would note a light perfume smell as they stepped out.[+firebrick “Think of it like this; do you only read about new blacksmithing techniques? Or do you read about them and put them into practice and find out for yourself?”]
Those elves were lucky. The acting roles distributed for the elves didn’t force different mentalities and characters upon them, they already hated humans; if not for Insae’s plan, the three humans wouldn’t have lived up until now. Insae could not bring herself in laying all the blame on these three humans. She’d seen the ease which humans were persuaded into acting. A high probability that these three didn’t care for her in any way, someone else most likely paid them and after delivering her the three humans either would merrily go away or be killed to keep the delivering in complete secrecy.
With Alloen approaching, Insae’s head turned and faced back front while also pointing even more downwards. With approaching footsteps came an approaching shadow. She felt the slight drop in temperature as the elven shadow cast itself over her.
Alloen’s word Insae did not mind at all for he spoke them from the depth of his gut; one mentality which never could nor would change. But his next action left her seething, struggling in controlling herself. Every living creature had spots which were considered [i no-touch] zones. Horses had their rear, cats their stomachs, and any horned creature did not enjoy having their horns grabbed without consent. Horns were an effective fighting tool, but they could also be used in submitting the creature as some horns provided convenient hand-holds to use as leverage; Alloen demonstrated this very idea quite well, forcefully moving her head so those dark eyes boiling with fire locked with his. This elf had been lucky one too many times. No doubt Alloen understood his fortune in not losing a hand, [+purple [i Lucky fahliil]].
Insae’s fuming expression subsided quickly after that, the act had not finished yet. Knowing Alloen’s curiosity of the unknown, she would expect a battery of questions on the subject of dragon horns. And why not bring an empty book, a quill, and ink while going at it?
After this act ended, Alloen released his hold upon her horn. Insae’s head stayed awhile before rolling it around, a few cracking sounds as the neck stretched before the head settled in a slightly downward direction. First her left and then her right arm crossed in front of her stomach. After a few blinks the eyes closed while the tail’s tip gently slapped against the stone ground.
A minute, smokey snort made Insae’s reply towards the arts career comment. No doubt elves knew and held their art high above all others, so in a way this was a compliment. While some actions were improvised, the injured shoulder Insae knew how it felt; existing as a fighting loner and wounds went hand-in-hand.
[+purple [i He wants an opinion?]] An off handed, lopsided on the left half of the lips chuckle quietly rumbled. And then a voice overplayed with contempt, but not towards Alloen, musingly and amusingly floated out into the room. [+purple “You have been , to quote you, pretty kind. But,”], hiking her left leg on her right and turning her head upwards, [+purple only towards me, and only because I’m not just another boring creature.”] A deep sigh accompanied the head shaking, the legs spreading downwards with the arms moving behind the head. [+purple “Otherwise I might be in a cell with the possibility of a sword above my neck.”]
Without asking permission Insae heaved herself on her two legs. Even now she didn’t face Alloen, moving her hands behind her back. [+purple “And now, the chase begins.”] A smirk, chuckle, and laugh followed in quick suggestion before turning around and staring at Alloen with an amused expression. [+purple “Lets get a book, quill, and ink, and then you can record the answers you have about me and my race.”]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Whilst the girl acted to the best of her abilities, it was no cover for Alloen or his men to show their open disgust at the man thrown to the ground, prostrating himself before his reptilian saviour. Had the elfin Prince not taken time to learn her motives and what drove her, he might think she held some amount of sympathy for such animals, such was her impressive acting skills. Another trait to her growing repertoire.
As if she had timed it his man came in the vial, giving Alloen a look of understanding as all their eyes turned on him. The pair whispered between one another, the more senior elf looking perturbed as Insae explained what was to become of the human. Again, this was no performance, he truly loathed that this man was to be set free when the rightful punishment was death. With the greater scheme in mind however he moved away from the guard, approaching the table as the man eyed her arm with trepidation and flinched as he looked up to the man who loomed over the duo.
Silent for a time he drank in the fear of the weaker race, content for now to take that as his payment. There would be time in the future to make amends for this moment of uncharacteristic charity as he eyed the feeble man momentarily. Such dark thoughts seemingly danced behind his bright eyes.
[+firebrick “You must be blessed by your barbaric God’s human, that a dragonkin would vouch for your worthless life and simultaneously doom her own.”] Turning on Insae he grasped one of her horned protrusions, using it as a make-shift lever in which to angle her head back and to the side. In that moment he was in a moment of silent euphoria. This was true dragon horn! It was smooth like a polished gem and as cold as worked steel, yet it did not feel brittle by any means. Questions flooded his mind; [i could she skewer a man with them? Were they considered small or large for her race? Was the colour unique to her? Could they be broken?]
Looking down at her, he could look down into those dark brooding eyes that flashed with anger or discomfort for only a moment before she resumed her faux subservience. He felt a tightening in his stomach as again they shared some mental conversation. Likely hers involved murder and the severance of his hand. Instinctively his grip of her eased a touch as he used his free hand to click at the guards without looking to them.
[+firebrick “Have him taken to a mule.”] He kept the gaze of the woman a few seconds longer, his own dancing with the flames of the wall sconces.[+firebrick “Until the border, his hands are to be shackled. I do not want him causing any more problems in my lands, after all.”]
The men came forward to take the prisoner away, muttered blessings to some foreign god given in her name, thanking her for her sacrifice, promising to ensure she was not forgotten and other such nonsense. Only once they had reached the end of the corridor and their footsteps were but a quiet din behind the crackling of flame did Alloen release her, stepping aside and inspecting his hand momentarily as if it had been some mirage.
[+firebrick “You did well Insae. Perhaps a career in the arts awaits you once this is all over.”] Ah, sarcasm. Its familiarity was wonderful, and he settled back into his smug ways once more with ease.[+firebrick “Nice touch with the injured shoulder. And playing into 'all elves are evil'? Cruel but fair. I think I have been quite the gracious host to you.”] The silence only lasted a few seconds before he looked over to her.[+firebrick “Actually, I would like to hear from your own pretty lips; do you agree that I have been kind?”] She had slandered and lied about his character after all, therefore he was due a compliment.
A room filled with contempt. For the elf it was the human, and the entire human race, their ways seeming barbaric for the above-everything cultured elves. For the seething dragonkin the three humans and the elf deserved contempt; the humans for using her, the elf for treating her differently from the humans. Unlike the humans which the elf knew, or thought he knew, everything that was needed to know, the dragonkin came as a mystery. And with the elven habit of dissecting novel things and creatures, the dragonkin sat in the aim of these arrows; she could only receive shot after shot somewhere different.
Disgust washed over the dragonkin’s face. No surprise that the elves treated these humans this way, but the dragonkin has been raised by and around humans. Not all humans deserved such disrespectful treatment, but convincing such stubborn and prideful elves such as the ones living in this forest was an impossibility.
What was not an impossibility was furthering this farce. The dragonkin, gazing upon the fear-filled human with a tired and confident gaze, pointed first at him and then at the table. The human, no doubt awaiting consequences, glanced around; neither the guards nor the finely dressed elf moved. As the human once again looked at the dragonkin, she once again motioned for him. As the human crawled on all fours the dragonkin closed her eyes, fingers locking between both hands as the elbows came to rest on the table. She assumed a tired expression, the entire body and tail completely relaxed while the face took on a sleepless expression.
The human crawled with as much grace as remained within him after seeing a friend pin-cushioned with arrows, blindfolded and dragged, mocked and beaten, and tossed around. This crawling seemed on par with a fast snail but eventually he reached the table, pulling himself up and sitting down.
The dragonkin slowly opened her eyes one at a time, faking that glazed, sleepy expression which occurs after waking up from a nap or deep sleep. Her voice protruded more forced than relaxed and with a tired tone of urgency: [+purple “I don’t have too much time, convincing these elves of even this was a nightmare”], poking her head at the elves, [+purple I don’t even know why they agreed to this.”] The dragonkin yawned, disconnected one hand to rub her face. Lowering the hand back down she grimaced slightly, as if someone had beaten her up in the shoulder area. [+purple “Not, not the most kindest folk, but here’s the deal. Only one of you will be allowed to leave, two more of you will die. The other caveat is I cannot leave, I will have to stay behind; but seeing as I signed a contract...”]
The dragonkin’s voice dried up, another elf entering. With her shift of attention the human’s attention shifted in the same direction; both of them noticed a vial of a mysterious red liquid, but for the dragonkin it wasn’t a mystery. Slowly resuming, [+purple “That is a vial of my blood to represent me. Since I will not be able to finish the contract, my blood should be enough evidence”]; during this sentence the dragonkin raised and pointed at the vial, using the arm which had been knicked and making sure the human noticed the bandaged portion of her arm.
Holding her arm for a few seconds, the dragonkin then lowered it. Swiveling her head and then her eyes at the guard, a meek and defeated voice popped out, [+purple “I, I am done. Do with us what you will.”]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Fiery, that was how he liked this woman. She had momentarily looked weak and in need of help. A lesser or perhaps more empathetic man may have offered her a seat, to delay the executions and allow her a night of rest. Even someone like him, intrigued and lost to allure of the dragonkin’s being, should have used this as a means of pressing his advantage over her. Use it to leverage what he wanted from her without too much complaint.
For now, he stayed his hand, or rather it was pushed aside as she gained back her resolve and stood up to look at him with her more regular glare of contempt. She disliked him, he could tell, but a sly smirk tugged the corner of his lips and he nodded at her request.
[+firebrick “Of course. I don’t like having my time wasted, and by humans no less.”] Her little show with her tail left him a little curious at her dexterity and he gazed around her figure to glance at the appendage. It was all quite blatant, but she knew his interest in her was very [i thorough].
The footfall and light knock at the door heralded the guards return and the Crown Prince briefly turned his head to look over. A nod between the men sent the guard a few feet off, the rustle of metal keys and a heavy lock turning before there was muttered words. Moving to one side the lithe elf would watch with utter contempt as the human peasant was brought it, roughly pushed forward and a kick thrown at his knee, forcing him to buckle with a cry of anguish and be thrust down on all fours.
Alloen said nothing then, only stared in silence at the human who looked about him with bleary eyes and fear. If he was feigning ignorance of what he had planned for Insae and more importantly her blood, then he was making a good show of it, staring up at the horned woman with trepidation as it was left to her to decide what to do with him.
This wicked measure left a taste akin in taste of a bitter wine, followed in turn with a stomachache as the bitter liquid upset the stomach. Insae didn’t care for killing the humans, most likely they were being used as pawns in someone else’s game; this action felt much too forced, but elves had their own ideals and if she wanted her plan put into action then she’d have to give-in to these ideals.
And this was where Alloen easily pierced her weak veil hiding her vulnerability. His mannerisms drove Insae slightly mad, specifically touching one body part or another and manipulating it toy-like. This time he’d grabbed her chin and rudely swiveled her head upwards, dark and bright pairs of eyes staring into each other’s depths. Insae fully knew he could see, and maybe smell, the confusion and weak will coursing in her mind, while she could see a confident curiosity in those annoyingly bright and glinting eyes.
Using the back of her left hand, Insae politely brushed away Alloen’s hand. Instead of roaring, Insae quickly shut her opening and teeth-barring mouth which produced an annoyed, sour grumbling rumble. Both her head and tail swung clockwise in a smooth, precise motion. The darkness of the eyes took over the void of the pupils as they narrowed, constantly jumping around. The last inch of the tail slapped rhythmically and abruptly against the cold, stony floor. Then Insae rotated only her head back to its original position while the tail stopped slapping the floor.
With cold, narrowed eyes filled with anger, resentment, and annoyance Insae glared into Alloen’s eyes. The tone took after the eyes but with less resentment, [+purple “I am strong but not in everything. I have my strengths and my weaknesses, and no doubt someone like you can tell which is which with ease”]. Then barring her teeth, [+purple “Now, let’s get this farce over with”]. This last phrase was ended with a bite, an open hand slap of the table, and a lowering of the head.
In truth Insae could also feel the fear coursing through her body. She had definitely snapped at the elf, while not the worse snap who knew what the elf thought. Maybe after this interrogation he’d lock her up as well.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Her face showed little discomfort from the cut though he hadn’t expected anything significant. She held herself in high regard, like one of the human high-borns, and he had had a lot of interaction with them in his life. Whilst he understood the desire to seem invulnerable, he found it humorous to see it in a girl as young as herself. Often the sense of being infallible came with age, experience, or outright power, not one of which he thought she had. But silent critique of the dragonkin would do for another time.
With the blood drawn and corked in the vial he moved back over to the doorway, nodding for a guard who awaited the call to bring in the prisoner from his cell.
[+firebrick “Take this to Master Aleath and have him nullify it’s magical properties. Tell him I want it [i pure]. Then come back and bring the prisoner in.”] The vial was handed over and with a nod of understanding the guard would turn and leave, footsteps echoing behind him as he left. It would leave him a little more time to talk with his unique guest. That was when Insae spoke, and his lips curled in a wicked smile as she decreed to only let one live.
[+firebrick “How wonderful; it seems one of such honour and grace is learning that there is a time and place for more… wicked measures.”] He turned back to her, stepping over to her once more as she hunched over and stared down at the ground. There was no look of concern about her condition, more so he was curious – as ever – about why she was in such a state.
[+firebrick “Come now, a strong dragonkin like you should be able to take a small cut on the hand.”] A hand brushed her cheek, curling under her chin and lifting her gaze as he stopped before her.[+firebrick “Or is there something more about you I have yet to learn?”] She was unique, that was granted readily, but whilst he had fawned over her more positive and strong features perhaps he had overlooked her flaws.[+firebrick "Perhaps you aren't as strong as I thought."] He added softly.
Insae resumed her stone demeanor once more. If Alloen turned down her plan completely then she wouldn’t be surprised. After all in the elves’ eyes these lowly humans had trespassed, did not matter the accidental nature, and such law breaking required death as the only suitable punishment. But some baseline needed to be established, for without a baseline neither party would understand the other and a compromise wouldn’t be able to reach.
Alloen’s next action only strengthened as to why Insae, instead of sharing the humans’ plight, found herself next to an arrogant, but not always, elf. Just as humans perceived anything rare as exotic, so to did the elven race. Any new item or specimen just needed to be documented extensively and written down for posterity. No doubt after all these interactions, such as touching the cold and scaley arm of a dragonkin, Alloen would hide in whatever quiet place he used and document with great detail.
Insae only made an one confident nod in response to Alloen’s question. For now she couldn’t discern a tone which signified distaste at her idea, which meant either Alloen was still thinking and using this question to stall or his question was meant to be rhetorical.
Alloen’s response confirmed her suspicions. Now while humans would of course question, Insae thought that these farmers would simply thank whatever lucky being they prayed to at being released from an inescapable death sentence. But it would be the elves, Alloen’s own people who’d whisper behind his back. Most of them would know about the events and they’d wonder about possible collusions, something a leader like Alloen would not want.
Insae grinned her teeth, the knife leaving a slowly reddening line in her palm. While having scales did help in preventing painful cuts, those cuts that were just right still felt somewhat painful. Rotating her hand so it was angled downwards into the uncorked vial, Insae watched with fascination. Now she’d seen her blood multiple times before from battle wounds, but today was her first time seeing it with an inkling understanding of its power. She still found difficulty in believing that the red blood flowing inside of her, the same color blood shared by many species, had uses in doing powerful things.
Once the vial filled to three quarters full Insae shut her hand into a tight fist, a tight grip to keep pressure so blood wouldn’t flow. She hunched over, arms on her legs and leaning on the left arm which had the tight fist. Her gaze settled on the floor just left of her fist, a slow and methodical tap emanating from her right foot. She tried keeping a straight face but Insae felt lost, only one side of the lips drooping downwards and eyes glancing around every which way. Shrugging her shoulders, [b [+purple “Maybe just leave one alive...”]], her voice giving out at the end of the sentence. She could feel her state of vulnerability , something which she didn’t want to show Alloen but his eyes probably already noticed all the body signs which showed vulnerability. How was she supposed to make a plan when she couldn’t control herself at the moment, fighting her different halves.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat As mysterious as she was alluring, Insae was driving him quite mad with her mannerisms. At times defiant and aggressive and in an instant she becomes sweeter, almost playful, in the curve of her lip or flash of those bright eyes up in his direction. It spoke of a hidden intelligence he had not at first seen, the task of breaking her down to win her over now morphing into one of showing equivalence between their goals so that he may utilize her.
So far it looked like she was oblivious of his motives, her removal of armour and offering of her limb for blood letting a clear indicator that he was doing exceptionally well in hiding his desires. Looking down on her pale skin he gazed with interest for a time. Her words sparked some interest though he lifts hand and takes a hold of hers. Lightly his fingers glide along the scales and he can't help but turn her hand back over, to watch the action with quite some interest.
[+firebrick “You want to take all the humans, offer them a vial of cleansed dragons blood, and allow them on their way, all so you may track them?”] He spoke calmly and softly due to their closeness as he watched the way her skin and the scales fused, how they reacted to his touch and it all was so fascinating.
Having left the door open purposefully it allowed the clinking footsteps of the approaching guards to flow through to his ears with ease and he glanced up as a single man, the one from earlier, stepped inside. He gave a faint bow, moving forward and offering a small vial to Alloen. Hand leaving her forearm he took the vial and the guard quickly dipped his head and returned to the hallway, the sound of a key turning in lock and door groaning as it opened returning to this little chamber.
[+firebrick “You know I cannot let them all live. That alone would spark rumours and questions, not only by my own people but by the farmers themselves. To let them escape is shameful by itself.”] He would not allow his people to question his leadership or ability to protect them by just letting these men walk free.[+firebrick “So, how do you imagine to let them escape in a manner that they do not see the ruse? And if you only plan on releasing them, why go through with interrogating them?”] He uncorked the vial in his hand, the knife that had sat patiently in his other hand having been brought across subtly and now pressing into her palm. His bright gaze has come to settle on her pretty round face, not concerned that he may cut too deep or hurt her – after all she had been the one to remove the bracer. He removed the knife and allowed the slow trickle of blood to fall into the vial, briefly looking down to ensure it didn't fall entirely on the floor.
Neither the dank smell nor the heat bothered Insae. A lifetime of travelling gave plenty of opportunities for smelling a battlefield of rotting corpses and other nose-turning smells, and the variety of weather from bone-chilling to heat-cooking took care of the temperature adaptability.
No extra words were needed, only a nod of the head required for conveying his understanding of her broken Elvish. Alloen proceeded to summon a guard via a rap of the knuckles, a few words spoken ordering the guard before they disappeared with echoing footsteps.
Whatever had been done had been set in motion and could not be undone.
Insae answered Alloen the same way he'd answered her, with a simple nod of the head before proceeding to follow his lead. Their path took them past the human prisoners, all slumped against the floor and walls as the heads turned to witness their [i 'guardian'] trail freely behind an elf. That would probably get them talking, have them debating all sorts of theories as to why she was free, at least in appearance, and they weren't. That would only make the rest of her plan easier to carry out.
Passing through an entrance, not a problem for the short Insae unlike the tall Alloen who needed stooping, which gave away to a more elegant in appearance room. The only weird thing, aesthetic wise, was a hoop poking through the stone. The glinting shine gave it away as a loop made of metal, but what was its purpose?
Ah yes, the game of building trust. Insae noticed the details with ease, from the question to his grip on the blade instead of the handle. The most ironic part was him offering her own dagger in this bloodletting stage of the plan. Insae let out a chuckle, showing amusement, more friendly than going after, at Alloen's choice of blade, a quick flashing smile before turning to business.
Insae undid all the straps attaching the right lower arm armour, letting it fall with a metal clang while exposing the slightly scaley, pale white skin. Extending her arm, the under part facing upwards, [b [+purple "No doubt you are wondering what plan I've concocted. It will sound disagreeable as it does involve releasing the humans, but I want someone to trail them and listen in on their conversation. No doubt the close call with danger will make them relaxed, especially after managing to escape with a vial of my blood."]]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat It was a little hot in the dungeon of this elven stronghold, the number of prisoners coupled with the heat of the multiple torches was stifling. Not enjoying the unpleasant smell that this room provided, Alloen was eager to get this over with and move on but it seemed the diminutive woman wanted to speak first. She stopped before him and looked up at him almost expectantly. Having little idea what she wanted, and not accustomed to someone being so brazen as to speak to him without outright permission, he lowered his head a little so that she might speak softly into his pointed ear. Her elven was rough, very rough, but he understood the general idea of what she wanted and why she was speaking a foreign tongue with such men around.
Offering her a nod of his head in understanding he moved back to the entrance, rapping his knuckles against it a few times to summon the guard left in the stairwell. Door swinging away the man leaned in close as Alloen spoke in quiet and concise words, hands gesturing behind him down the hallway of prisoners. The man nodded repeatedly before turning and heading up the stairs, his footsteps rebounding behind him as he went. As he did so the young vibrant eyed leader returned to his young dragonkin friend. [i Was she a friend yet?][+firebrick “If you will follow me this way.”] He spoke softly, rather formal as he led her down the row of cells. He did not look aside, to look upon the humans whose lives were forfeit. It was as if they didn’t exist.
Passing by the last cell there was a turn to the left and a smaller door hidden away at the back. A torch that sat on the wall was removed from its holder and brought with him to light the way. Not the largest of entrances, for the tall man, it forced him to stoop just a little to get in, though it opened into a larger room within. Here the floor and walls were lined with smooth stone though channels ran in each direction from a central point where a single metal hoop protruded from the rock, sunk deep into the ground. Moving to each side he lit secondary torches before placing the one in hand into a holder at the far side of the room.
Turning to Insae, he was curious as to her request. What could she want with dragon’s blood that is devoid of magic? It was an unusual request but it was one he was eager to find the answer for.[+firebrick “The prisoner will be brought in shortly. Meanwhile, do you wish to retrieve the blood yourself or shall I do so?”] Here he rather humorously retrieved her own dagger from his belt, holding it by the blade so as not to panic her that this might be the end of her path in life. He was still building his trust with her and would take any chance he might have to do so.[+firebrick “Dragon’s aren’t easy to come by if you did not know. But I am sure dragonkin blood, especially from such a pure source as yourself, will suffice for your needs.”] A soft smile tugged the corners of his lips.
So the conversation had not been about food but about something entirely else, but then what was Alloen attempting to allude to? Whether all dragonkins understood metaphors or not would've been an interesting question to answer, in Insae's case she disliked metaphors. When selling yourself, along with your sword, Insae made business deals in a similar manner to her actions when only using the sword, brute and directly to the point. While using metaphors might've increased her chances of being hired, clients were equally disappointed when the mercenary didn't match up to what they said.
Another low, quiet whistle which summoned another elven servant who quickly disappeared with the empty cup. The servant didn't jog off to far, taking a place near the double doors in whose direction Alloen had turned and began walking to. Dropping her hands back down to their respective sounds, the familiar handgrip of her sword making a dawning smile, Insae's steady steps followed Alloen's.
The servant swung the doors open, a miniscule horde of elves looking their direction. Insae took note of most stares directed at her instead of Alloen, minutely examing each visible nook and cranny which Insae consisted of. For those who never saw an elf they'd be intrigued by those sharp and pointy ears, although Insae didn't have those she did have those obsidian horns protruding straight to the sky. Those horns might not match the size of even small adult dragon, their potential to gore someone to death was equal. And just as non-elven folk were intrigued by elven weaponry so were the elves intrigued by non-elven weaponry, especially when such a petite female like Insae carried a sword as big as her.
She didn't mind the attention, Insae would be stuck here for some time so might as well get used to being stared at by one elf after another.
Another interesting stroll, this time observing the smaller elves, the children no doubt, running or playing accompanied by delightful laughter and smiles unaware of the non-elven creature off to the side. What a time it was to be a child, innocent and unaware of the harsh reality that was this dark and cruel world. Some children unluckily entered this cruel darkness because of fate, either born an orphan, parents and/or family dying, or traumatic event.
Eventually the two of them stood underground in front of the three humans, sitting behind their locked cages with beaten expressions on their faces and bruised bodies. She already knew with whom she wanted to talk tête-à-tête, the leader who sat in the far right cell with a not as beaten expression as his fellow compatriots. But Insae stood there silently, wondering how to turn the recently acquired knowledge of the magic qualities of dragon's blood.
Insae walked up to Alloen, leaning in so she could whisper. Just to be safe she spoke in Elvish, not taking any chances in having her plan revealed. [b [+purple "I er farthest na i foeir. But im will require a vial -o blood an hi interrogation, anui blood will ceri- but if ennas was a waui na get i gúl ed- -o lúg's blood i would n- i best."]][size7 1*]
[size8 1* The one farthest to the right. But I will require a vial of blood for this interrogation, any blood will do but if there was a way to get the magic out of dragon's blood that would be the best.]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Alloen disliked the little tricks and turns and pirouettes she made. It showed she was far more flexible, spry and limber than he originally thought. With such a bulky weapon he had assumed she was a stocky and robust figure. She would plant her feet and use that dragon heritage to be unyielding and hit hard. In a way it was interesting, subverting his expectations and showing she was able to use her tail as an extension of her figure not just as a weapon, but he still eyed her with caution as she rose up to all five or so feet of her height. He did well to hide his wonder and interest behind a impassive eyes, tucking the dagger into his belt on being told he could keep it though he was quite delighted by the gift. It would fit well in his collection.
Seeing her settle into a more relaxed stance he inclined his head toward her.[+firebrick “I think you misunderstand my words; clearly metaphors are not a dragonkin’s strong suit.”] He spoke in a quiet voice as he turned away from her, giving a softer whistle than before and in quick order the servant returned. Alloen gestured to the empty cup for the man to collect before beginning to move toward the entrance at a leisurely pace for the smaller woman to turn and catch up. The elfin man waited at the door until she had stepped up closer to him so that as the door was pushed open those who were waiting outside saw her immediately. They were equally interested in the woman with the horned protrusions and her large sword.
It was uncommon in elven culture to have women fighting, special exceptions made here and there though most were guided towards easier and more forgiving lives in childcare or pursuing interests in the arts and humanities or in religious and historical readings. To have such a clear opposite before them in the shape of Insae was most peculiar, and that was before her heritage was considered. The hushed whispers only grew as the doors were held open by two guards and Alloen nodded for her to follow.
The small elven settlement was quite alive at that time of night, just before the moon reached its zenith and most would head to their early morning slumber. Children were off playing in the distance, their cries of delight and laughter at contrast to the hushed tones of those watching both Alloen and Insae.[+firebrick “I doubt you much care, but their interest in you is not a negative thing. Most elves live lives of seclusion. Your arrival is the first new and non-elven face many will have seen in a few years.”] Though their interest focused on the pairing they were respectful and allowed them to move freely, not following after them as they made their way through the village toward where the humans would be kept. Unlike the stereotypical belief many had of elves living in the tree tops, though several had been built into the trunks of smaller trees. Flowers flourished wherever the path did not follow and in the glow of dozens of torches the place was rather beautiful. That was what Alloen thought of course, no doubt it was the mirror opposite belief of his guests who seemed to prefer simplicity over anything else.
Regardless he led her to one of the corners of the settlement, near to the palisade where a door was set into a tree and two men in emerald cloaks stood guard. Offering informal salutes to them both as he walked forward they opened the door to him, guiding her inside to a spiral staircase. Heading down several meters they came to another door, a single guard here who again opened the door to him. Inside was a long corridor, the breadth of five or six men and two or three high, lined with multiple rooms all bared by metal bars. The air was musty and stale, not able to circulate very well though the high ceilings allowed any smoke from the torches to rise above their heads. The cells were small affairs, enough for a man to sit at best, but of course those inside were not here to be given comfort.
[+firebrick “Go ahead Insae, pick someone to go first.”] He commented to Insae as he stepped aside to allow her into the hall, a hand waving for her to take the lead. She knew these men; she would be better able to select who she thought might offer the best information.[+firebrick “I suggest the more talkative the better.”] It would make this all easier.
Insae kept the chuckle silent, soundlessly propagating inside her head, no need to provoke the poor little elf any further. Who would think a high poshy, arrogant elf lost control of their face, and the first shown, very visibly, would be a flushing of that pale white face? Insae had flustered many a creature, but this one took the number one spot in trolling, amusing fluster.
Oh! And what was that?!!? Insae knew Alloen tried to keep his voice controlled with that tone of authority, but every few words a single syllable popped out betraying the authoritative tone as unnerving. Even his arms, thought not by much, betrayed the outwardly calm appearance. Why else would hide their arms, specifically at and below the wrist, behind the back? No one wanted to look a fool by having the hands do weird things, especially not a personality like the fair elven statue that was Alloen.
What's this, what's this, Insae believed her eyes. What's this, Alleon approached her close. However he still kept the distance, his few glances betraying something, perhaps fear, at the sight of the tail. Insae couldn't make fun of Alloen if he indeed feared the tail for she herself knew the destructive force of such an animated whip. Even with a light flick of just the tippity-toppity of her tail would send Alloen planting his smug fair face into a surface which would make him ugly.
Speaking of fair looking, smug bastards, why wasn't this one sneering? Those orchid orbs with black spheres weren't squinting in combination with a wicked smile, but what else it what even Insae couldn't decipher. Alloen could keep this win, if even this had been a mind battle, Insae was satisfied with her twisty turning victory.
Insae couldn't help but twist her head 45-degrees clockwise, her point-of-view, the tip of her tail giving a few flicks before settling down. The head then twisted 90-degrees counter-clockwise, the entire tail closely sweeping around her body and lay to rest near the right leg. Not only did Alloen offer help in standing up and giving back her dagger, he also offered to eat. Although the way he offered food lost Insae. The conjunction [i or] presented an alternative item or idea, but she failed to see the two different alternatives in Alloen's conjunction phrase. She being a guest, a light way of identifying as a prisoner, meant it would be rude to eat first, especially if starting off with the main meal.
Insae gave up. She decided to give her own little show.
Rotating her head so it made her body more or less symmetrical, Insae brought her hands together and cracked her knuckles. Some preferred a one-by-one crackling while others leaned towards the all-at-once firing, Insae belonged to the latter. Sliding the tail directly behind she coiled it onto a spring while shifting her legs slightly; Using the stored energy Insae used it to help stand up while lightly dusting herself off.
Now the next part of her show. Insae moved her feet apart while placing her, hands holding each other, in the lowest notch of her spinal chord; Her entire body becoming a rigid stone. Sweeping her Prussian blue eyes up and unflinchingly locking with those orchid orbs, she slowly extended her tail out. Once close enough she curled the tip and shook Alloen's free hand that way, instead of a warm semi-scaly hand he'd feel a cold and very scaly tail. After giving one firm hand-tail-shake, Insae unwrapped her tail and relaxed it straight behind her. [b [+purple "You can keep the dagger as a keepsake, especially if some accident happens to me during my stay"]], poking fun at Alloen's earlier phrase about being a co-conspirator without any trace of insinuation. Dipping her head up and down, not a bowing motion, [b [+purple "As to the food"]], a few seconds of pause, [b [+purple "I can't eat first, that would be rude. Especially if you want to start off with the main course. I'd be happy to eat, but I can't breach the morality of the laws of hospitality despite me being a prisoner still."]]
Insae relaxed her shoulders by a fraction, a slight dip being the only thing visible.
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