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[Kalam The world was young and green when you came into it, its land had no name nor title as it shifted and expanded with your arrival. The mountains rose to touch the skies, oceans swelled and bowed before you, your race of elemental dragons were rulers in this unclaimed territory. You named that which was nameless, drank deep of untouched waters and nurtured the early signs of life into a cultivated paradise for your people and those below your watchful gaze worshiped you as Gods.
With might you grew into the protectors of your kind, your magic sustained the balance, and your will governed the ways of the world. Barevor, a land of plenty, thrived under your defenses, its human people prayed to you and gave offerings to altars in your likeness. Time flowed smoothly as you taught the masses, gave them knowledge and flourished their civilizations throughout three Ages. Ages of Iron, Silver and Gold, Barevor's beauty could not be denied, by the Golden Age great, gleaming cities rose and it was a time of intellectual revelation. Yet by this Age the humans rarely prayed to you, hardly left any offerings and your wisdom was forgotten in the winds of time.
The Obsidian Age came, with blackened hearts did your worshipers turn from you, and raised their weapons against your decrees-they had advanced to a point of medieval prowess and grew tired of your 'demands'. The world grew silent as Man readied to slay dragons, killing those that resisted capture, and your kin cried out for your protection and for your retribution. The elements raged behind your wings, your anger burned the cities and villages of those that betrayed your trust.
Those that were captured were forced into servitude as beasts of burden, your kin dwindled rapidly as you were overwhelmed by the masses. Of those that remained it seemed that the age of darkness was complete, for decades the battles raged between dragon and human. There were thousands of bodies upon each battlefield, your kin defended your elemental shrines to the death. A black stain of history came, the two warring factions fell into disarray as the decades stretched into centuries. Barevor had become a world of death and decay, the beauty had dulled beneath years of destruction, it trampled and eroded the paradise that you had shaped with your fellow Deities.
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The world was old and the mountains were gray, wild dragons have been nearly wiped out by the greed and blood-lust of Man. In an effort to save yourselves and preserve the world, you and the other elemental Dragon Gods took the form which you hated most. To be a human ensured you and the others could continue sustaining the world, without your balance and life-giving magic Barevor would cease to live. By ancient spells you bound your wings and became human in appearance, forced to hide your identities as the people forgot your names and the lessons you once taught.
Gods among men.
The years have not been kind, struggling under the weight of human influence your kin have succumbed to the will of men, barely able to remember flying free. You have been working to liberate them and the clutches of new eggs from underneath the overlords' noses, each dragon you release brings more power back to you and your kind. It is dangerous and full of risk, but you had sworn protection to your fellow dragons and intend to honor it. Even now the danger of dying is heightened as your people build armor and siege weapons for another war.
All ES rules and regulations apply.
[b [+blue Please post all required fields and send me a [i sample post of your writing] through PMs.]]
Literacy required: Proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization, minimum of three paragraphs please. Give us something to work with.
Swearing, Violence, and Romance are allowed.
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No over-sized pictures, if you need one re-sized or need a picture found just let me know and I will fix/look for one.
[b [+red Accepting only other elemental Dragon Gods at this time, regular dragon-kin and humans are not applicable.]]
Deity Domain: Humans worshiped Zeothocris as the Dragon God of Fate, Wisdom and Learning, blind from birth the Earth Dragon held no prejudice or bias when passing decrees or judgments. The Triskelion is his sigil, representing learning, reflection, and nature. Zeothocris became a recluse after the Obsidian Age, content to work on healing Nature and tending to the daunting task of caring for numerous unhatched eggs hidden away from humans.
Special Abilities: [b Sensory Scrying], the power to perceive through other beings' senses. [b Telepathy], the ability to communicate and read thoughts of an individual and in some cases, control their bodies. This is used with his raven, Auga, so that he might see the world around him; the raven is mostly associated with Zeothocris as a sacred animal.
Deity Domain: Calida was celebrated as the Dragon of Power, Bravery and Metalwork. From a very young age, she had learned how to fight and how to manipulate metal to her will. Through her teachings, she spread her knowledge of confidence, how to fight and defend. After the obsidian age, she still felt drawn to humans and, as a human, she established a fighting school so she could continue to pass on her teachings. She also held classes for other dragons who wished to stay in their best physique.
Special Abilities: [b Battle Precognition]; Calida has a sixth sense that allows her to predict her opponents next move before it happens. [b Technokinesis]; she has the ability manipulate machines by physically animating them or controlling them like puppets.
Deity Domain: Zeru was worshipped as the God of Harvest, Celebration, Alcohol, Wealth and Crop Fertility. He was a well known and well liked Deity. He taught humans how to use the earth to grow their own food and drink, he had his own farm as well as a tavern, aiding weary travellers using an excuse to throw celebration. He blessed the lands and would loan out money to the poor.
Special Abilities: [b Air manipulation:] Zeru is able to to create gusts of wind and concentrate the air to deliver blows against his foes. [b Chlorokinesis:] Also known as Agrokinesis, Botanokinesis, and Phytokinesis, is the ability to mentally and/or physically summon, control and manipulate plants and vegetation. The person with the ability can control and manipulate wood, rock soil, roots, fruits, and flowers, even moss found in natural field or habitat.
Deity Domain: Once revered as the Dragon God of Time, Honor, and Consequence, Yao's very existence IS the passing of judgments. After the Obsidian Age, he took it upon himself to wander and to collect those lost, worthy souls left in disrepair, both human and dragon alike. In that same vein, those of poor character are divested of their karmic graces and left to reap what they've sown. Yao jointly oversees a monastery of sorts, where a number of those he's recognized are brought for sanctuary and enlightenment. None are forced to stay, though few, if any, have ever chosen to leave.
Special Abilities: [b Selective Deceleration] - the ability to slow time down to varying extents as needed. Yao moves at his normal speeds during these instances and rather enjoys wreaking havoc on any slowed opponents, though also uses this as a rescue mechanism. [b Karmic Intervention] - directly tied to the luck and prosperity of others. Just as he can increase the karmic flow of good fortune for those he deems just and worthy, the opposite is also true.
Deity Domain: Misniq was once revered as the deity of love, medicine, and the tides that brought both life and death to those who entered her watery domains, most of those below her believed that as a dragon she was not capable of violence and many looked to her as the mother of healing; and thus many considered her deceased by the time the Obsidian age came around; she is however currently hiding in and amongst the tides of the ocean on her boat.
Special Abilities: [b Hydrokinesis:] The ability to telepathically influence the height, direction and speed of water. [b Restorative Restoration:] Known simply as the ability to heal most non lethal injuries and better the chances of survival for those with deadly ailments in the presence of water.
Deity Domain: Novax was never worshiped but feared, the goddess of disease, insanity, famine and delusions. Novax has never cared much for anyone but herself and those who fall under her kin. She is considered the only dragon deity that does not have a history of proper reverence instead many prefer she be treated as something of a forbidden cursed figure. Furthermore she is considered the opposite of Misniq and the two do not get along.
Special Abilities: [b Absolute Illusion:] The ability to create for short periods an image or form that does not actually exist, used primarily to terrify; many of those who are put through this ability go either slightly or entirely insane. [b Plague:] The ability to birth a variety of ailments that normally result in excruciating pain or at it's most extreme death.
Deity Domain: He was the Dragon deity of Chaos, poisons, and trickery. He was often worshipped by thieves and liars. Unlike his other brothers and sisters, worship of Chiron was held secret and not opened prayed to. A prisoner would pray to Chiron for a successful hit, or a thief would pray for easy bounty. Chiron's symbol is often seen mimicking Zeothocris's raven, but with small flaws that could be easily missed. His true followers bore markings of a snake disguised as a bird.
Special Abilities: Chiron is smaller in stature and build from his other siblings. He is slender and lithe for a dragon, but his skills in manipulation and trickery make up for his weaker frame.
[b Acid Manipulation-] The creation, control, and otherwise manipulate acids, bases, and other caustic/corrosive substances, controlling the causticity, where and how the acid affects the object, amount of fumes it releases, etc. This skill was known to melt an entire city on his whim. He can conjure as much or as little acid as he wished with the limits of time and energy invested into the breath. The bigger the acid pool, the longer it takes to recharge.
[b Persuasion-] Chiron can compel people by speaking to them, the victims are unable to disobey; the seemingly cogent commandment is far too compelling. With enough energy, Chiron can persuade people into hurting/killing themselves or even flip around a sense of logic, but can never cause victims to achieve what they are not capable of. His natural charm, charisma, beauty, popularity are all enhanced, allowing him to easily influence or persuade others to do anything he wished thanks to his natural charm.
Zeru slowly opened his eyes to find himself in a stranger's room, it was large with a grand, oak wardrobe, a matching set of Chester drawers, a silver mirror that hung from patterned walls and several oil paintings that depicted gorgeous sceneries and cute, little dogs. Despite knowing that this bedroom didn't belong to him, it all seemed familiar. Like he had been there before… Maybe it was his tired brain merging together the memories of past lovers into one… He wasn't sure. He groaned, yawned and then stretched out his arms, trying to wake his tired, sleep induced muscles up. He then ran a hand over his pale face before finally sitting up, his back letting out a satisfying crack.
He sighed in relief and further looked around the room and his brow's forming a slight frown, he couldn't quite remember who he had gone home with. He racked his brain for the memories of last night as his forest green eyes landed on the bedside table. A small smile came to his lips as he saw a white jug that had intricate, pink flowers circling the neck with a cup on it. It seemed that last night's entertainment was a gentleman.
He crawled over to the stand and poured himself some water into the provided cup, and as he took sips of the cold liquid, he clutched the sheets to his naked form, a shiver running down his spine as his warm skin was met with a breeze. Piece by piece, he was slowly remembering the events of last night. He ran a hand through his messy, chocolate brown hair and stretched out once again, staring out at the baby blue sky. Birds would sometimes fly past, racing through the clouds in the early morning sun.
He remembered that he had been closing his tavern as a handsome, young, human, man approached him. He was thanked for the food and drink provided and then received a small pouch of money. The man left with a smirk. Curious to see how much money there was, he opened the brown, leather pouch and inside was a note. In scribbled ink across a small piece of parchment was an address and a time. Zeru didn't even give himself a chance to actually think about this offer and immediately mentally decided that he would go. It had been some time since he had last had fun like this and if things took a turn for the worst, he could always defend himself.
However, he was so very glad that he did go. He found a lavish home in a high end part of town, everyone who lived here had quite the sum of money and Zeru was eager to find out what the night had in-store for him. Once he had entered, his coat being taken by a butler, he was greeted by the wonderful smell of a warm meal. He was directed to a dining room where his date was waiting for him. There seemed to be an instant connection between them, they had not exchanged a single word yet sparks were already flying.
That night, they wined and dined, they laughed and flirted, making teasing, flirty jokes at each other and genuinely getting to know the other, eating the delicious food prepared and drinking very fine alcohol. It was a shame that Zeru didn't date humans, he'd have been rather happy coming back to such an expensive home and being greeted by a handsome man every night. Though, it had been clear from the start how this night was going to end and he knew that they would not be doing this again...
He was snapped from his thoughts as he heard a creak from the floorboards behind him. He turned and saw his lover, standing in the doorway, looking at him as if admiring him. Zeru smiled even more and gently laughed. [#DAA520 "How long have you been standing there?"]
"Long enough to notice the bruises on your hips." The man said tauntingly. Zeru looked down and sure enough, there were light marks in the shape of fingers on his hips. He chuckled, set his cup down and shifted so that he was laid on the bed. He looked up at the man and studied him carefully. "If you keep looking at me like that, we're going to have to have a repeat of last night." The man pushed himself away from the doorframe and began to strip himself of his clothing. [#DAA520 "Oh really? Is that going to be a bad thing?"] Zeru asked cheekily and soon enough, the man was hovering over him, in-between his legs. "Not at all." The man leaned down and locked their lips into a passionate, heated kiss.
However, before things could turn more interesting for them, a woman came bursting through the door. The man practically jumped away from Zeru where as he simply froze "I knew it!" She shrilled, her features scrunched in anger. "I knew you were cheating on me, you son of a bitch!" Up until that the man had remained quiet, but then a rage seemed to build up in him too as she had insulted him and they began to argue.
As they bickered, Zeru, arkwadly got himself dressed in last night's clothes and, somehow, he managed to not interrupt the couple. That was until he reached the doorway and he suddenly remembered why the bedroom looked so familiar. He turned to the woman and said. [#DAA520 "Wait, aren't you the woman I slept with a couple of weeks back?"] His question was innocently asked and he was curious, however he failed to notice how this would further affect the couple.
Immediately, they stopped their shouting and the air was filled with tension. Zeru nervously laughed after a moment and rubbed the back of his neck. [#DAA520 "I've made things worse, haven't I? Well! See you!"] And with that he bolted down the stairs. He sighed in relief once there, glad to be away from the couple whose marriage was clearly failing. Although unlikely, he hoped that they both would return to his tavern. After all, that would be loss of customers and the both of them had been very good lovers. He'd enjoy spending another night with them, maybe even at the same time if they could save their relationship. He quickly stole a round, red apple from their kitchen before leaving the house and returning to his own home.
He walked with a spring in his step and without a care in the world. He said his hellos and waved to familiar, friendly faces, he winked and blew kisses to the attractive ones and gave a brief moment of his time to play with children. It was a rather beautiful day, or at least in this part of town, the smell of flowers and freshly cut grass mixed with the scent of baked bread. He soon wandered into a market and worked his way through the hustling, bustling crowd. The yells and shouts of sellers could be heard over the crowd, trying to lure in potential buyers. Zeru ensured to ignore them all, he had a bad habit of spending his money on nonsense items and if he stopped to take even a small peek at the various trinkets and foods, he would be there for hours.
Half an hour later and he was walking into his humble abode, changing into some clean clothes and mentally preparing himself for his day at the tavern. The place was his pride and joy, it had been for years. Before him, the place had been rundown with shattered windows, broken floorboards and ceiling that threatened to collapse. Now, it was the small town's most popular pub. He had spent months, fixing, redecorating and renovating. It had mostly been done by himself, however he had asked help from his brother Zeothocris in making an outside drinking area that was suitable for children to play in. He had even bought the house next to him to give more space and turn the tavern into a BnB. It had everything and he was proud of his work.
After going into hiding, he found himself going insane with boredom and he wanted to help people. It was what he was known for as a God. He gave blessings for little offerings and provided his services to those less fortunate. On one winter's day, whilst he was wandering the snow covered streets, he came across the tavern. The owner was moving to a village and looking to sell the place. Being the ever opportunist, Zeru took the deal of buying the rundown tavern and he turned it into the haven it was today. He truly loved it and all its flaws.
But, it was tiring running it, especially as day turned into night and the humans drank more. They became reckless, stupidly confident and loud. Most times, it was humorous. Watching them slur over their words, stumble on their feet and say some of the funniest things. However, there always was one who took things to the next level, either by breaking chairs and tables, starting fights with other customers or by emptying their stomachs onto the floor of his tavern. But, they paid good money and were very easily persuaded into buying more.
The rest of his day carried out the way it usually did. He arrived at his beloved Tavern, cleaned the bar and the tables from the drinks of the previous night, he talked with his staff, ensuring that they were all okay before opening up. People seemed to pile in as soon as those doors and Zeru did not get a chance to rest for the entirety of the pub being open.
Running the place and working in it kept his mind busy, it meant that he didn't have to mourn his fallen kin and grieve for those entrapped and forced into labour. However, it also meant that he forgot the outside world existed. He had just been pouring a pint of beer when he suddenly remembered where he was supposed to be. His features widened and then he cringed, he could already see the looks on his family's face. They'd forgive him, he knew they would. Maybe not Yao. He finished off the drink, collected the payment and informed his second in charge of where he was going to be. He instructed them on what to do when it came to closing up and to drop the money off at his home.
Fortunately for Zeru, he didn't live too far from Arctivus, a 15 minute ride at most. However, considering he was already late, he saw no point in rushing. It also meant that he would arrive just as they were about to eat and his stomach groaned at him for the need for food. He picked his horse up from the stables, Rooms, a cream coloured mare with light, brown splotches. He secured a saddle before hopping on and riding to Arctivus.
It didn't take him too long, as he took a shortcut through the woods and there was even a stable close by to the Tavern. He told the password to the guard and he was allowed in. He took a small look around, comparing the place to his own and deciding that his was better. The barkeep, recognising who he was, directed him to where his family was and soon enough, he saw them all sitting around a table. His face broke out into a wide grin.
[#DAA520 "Family! How nice to see you all!"] He greeted them, which gained all of their attention. His green eyes first met a pair of electrifying blue ones. [#DAA520 "Misniq! I haven't seen you in awhile, you need to get yourself out of that sea more often."] Then, he noticed an eye roll from the Goddess of fire. [#DAA520 "Calida, no fun as always."] He said mockingly, moving closer to the table and taking a free seat. [#DAA520 "Chiron, Novax, you two are too much fun."] He stated with a chuckle, his attention quickly moving. [#DAA520 "Yao! How's my favourite old man? And Zeo, the outdoor area to my tavern is a huge hit. I can't thank you enough brother."] His smile was bright and genuine, he was filled with joy to be back with his family again. But, he did pause for a moment to settle in properly. [#DAA520 "Where's Ishan at? No surprise he's not here yet, he has no respect for time."] He eventually stated, as if he hadn't been late at all. [#DAA520 "So, what are we eating and what did I miss?"]
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Auga had few cares about the world, where his next meal was and who would listen to him and give him the attention he so desired; after living with Zeo for so long the joy of recognition made the raven fluff up and make agreeable croaks. He struck poses for the people, holding his beak up, even spreading his wings a few times to show off. The bird flew over to a few people and enjoyed the happy laughs as he took over some attention from the hatchling. This happened every time.
Zeothocris expanded his consciousness from Auga, letting the bird do as he pleased allowed the elder god to focus on more pressing matters. When Zeo was young his powers of scrying had no control, he saw through everyone, every living thing in his vicinity all the time. He could feel their thoughts and see through their eyes as if he was right beside them, it was mentally overwhelming and maddening yet he suffered in silence. How could he explain the helpless emotion? The skill was necessary to keep the blind one alive; it allowed him to hunt, fly and shape the world around him to bring life to Barevor.
It took years; centuries worth to reign in his powers, learning to zone in on one specific thing or person-such as Auga-took a level of concentration he had to master. He had to teach himself and in turn he was taught a patience rivaled only by Yao, the God of Time. He was taught compassion by the constant exposure to the suffering of others, for the first few centuries of untapped power he saw and felt the death of prey and victims of war. He calmed the hysteria of death with soothing thoughts and gave them a peaceful send-off; it was his uncontrolled sensory scrying that influenced humans to believe he could foresee fate itself.
He taught the masses the written word, first spun stories of legends passed down throughout the ages and ruled within his temple a fair and just God. Zeothocris held council with kings and emperors, he championed for kindness, honesty and generosity bred from the constant reminder of what he saw and felt throughout his life. He mediated strife and discord with an unbiased ruling, Zeo knew intimately what suffering was like and tried his best not to let it spread to others.
This did not always blend over well to his family life, he spent most of his life trying to shut people out he could not help but try to become devoid of emotion to save his sanity. He was older now, some would say wiser-Zeo had no trouble in minimizing or maximizing the radius of his senses, or listening to people's thoughts if they let themselves be unguarded.
As he shifted his perspective, opening up his mental scrying to the entire tavern allowed him to navigate the room through a second-person perspective. He turned to the soft voice who called his name, breaking into a happy smile as Misniq came from the crowd, just on time for the hatchling's reveal. Zeo held open his arms and gave the water dragon a big hug, being unbiased also meant that Zeo did not have negative opinions on his siblings. Where some may fight and bicker it was only ever love that Zeothocris shared, embracing each deity in turn when they showed up, as tightly as the last. He even hugged Novax, and yes, Chiron too once Zeo managed to get a hold of him. No one would be forgotten as the elder brother was genuinely excited and ecstatic that they were all in the same place at last.
[#008511 "You are in fact the first, Misniq. It [i has] been too long, yes."] He agreed with a nod, and lifted his head to 'see' Calida come forward, giving her a joyous embrace as he did for the other sister. [#008511 "There is more, yes. Chiron, I am glad to see you in the same city for once, I would enjoy a visit if you ever find your way to the forests."] Although Chiron was of a different mind than most dragons in their predicament Zeo found his joy at life most agreeable. He even envied Chiron sometimes, being able to enjoy all forms of life without any real repercussions.
Zeo waited patiently for a good moment to snatch Chiron in his personal hug, determined to make sure all of his siblings got one. It was a tradition! At Yao's entrance Zeo's smile got bigger with his joy, of all his brothers and sisters, it was the Lightning Dragon that Zeothocris became closest with. Closest in age as well, Yao helped Zeo keep himself sane, he would slow down time for the blind god to process his world. It was a great boon in their youth when Zeo could not control his powers, they would spend hours in stretched out lengths of time contemplating wisdom and teaching many humans great and powerful lessons.
The final sibling that seemed to arrive was Novax, many people came to despise the dragon of darkness from their pestilence and famine, being the wrath of the Gods was never an easy role to play. When Novax greeted both him and Auga, the bird gave an acknowledging croak about halfway through eating another meaty treat from an adoring fan. The blind god's smile never faded, hugging Novax as he had the others, regardless of what she has done or was still doing; he would have held on as long as any would have needed but he had a bit of business to take care of, which required as many of them as he could gather.
[#008511 "Let us find a table, Auga will watch the hatchling-I believe them to be in more-than-capable hands."] Zeothocris maneuvered the room as best as he was able through his powers until he motioned for them all to sit at a long table. He let his other siblings talk freely for a while, catching up with a brief interlude before he explained himself. [#008511 "I have foreseen another large shipment of our kin being brought into the province, at least three clutches of eggs and many more fully grown dragons being taken to the Isurium Victrix Coliseum. The eggs are to be the victor's reward, or at least the sponsor for the gladiators' winnings..."] -A clutch contained approximately twelve eggs, and he had sensed over fifty-five prisoner gladiators heading to the coliseum a couple days' journey from Arctivus.
[#008511 "They are in so much pain..."] The fifty-five gladiators were only the dragon kin, at least a hundred more were regular humans. Isurium was an old king who had a fondness for physical combat, he commissioned the coliseum to be built and held several 'games' of battle that pitted humans against wild animals-especially dragons. Over nine thousand wild animals died and fifteen hundred dragons lost their lives in the inaugural games. Isurium's lavish games lasted for more than a hundred days and still are held to this day, every game is a blood bath for fighters and animals.
[#008511 "I want to free them from that life, they are more than just beasts for entertainment. Yet I cannot do this alone... I am hoping you will help me."] Zeo would discuss at length how they might break into the lower levels of the coliseum, called the hypogeum, a series of tunnels used to house animals, prisoners of war and slaves. Another game's announcement would mean the end of countless lives from both sides, they could not allow that to happen. Isurium's reign happened during the height of the Obsidian Age, and while Zeo would have preferred to counsel the king towards a better project he would have been killed on sight.
Zeothocris asked one of the tavern staff to fire up the kitchens, offering to pay for the table for a decent meal. It wouldn't be as luxurious as the Gods could remember, but it would be warm and filling; let them discuss these matters over some food and drink and bond again. Zeo pulled a pouch from his waist, filled to the brim with coins, and set out enough for the entire table's meals.
[#008511 "I never really have need of money, I wanted to bring some to help the businesses here, and maybe some families while I am in the city... I do not know how much to give most of the time, so I tend to bring more than I'd need."] Zeo shrugged putting the rest of the coin pouch back on his belt. [#008511 "Some humans still visit Aephivana, and the island of Erion, they still leave offerings on my shrines. I try to go to both places once a month if I am able, people risk imprisonment or death so I make it a point to counsel as many souls as I can. Though times are especially hard, they give things I would like to pass on to a more needing individual."]
If his wealth was up for grabs Zeo could probably guess that Chiron would consider himself a [i very] needing individual based on his luxurious life style habits. As drinks and meals were served the siblings talked over many things, mainly the coliseum, Zeothocris wanted to get a layout map but he had been unsuccessful in acquiring one before now. Such information was moderately guarded to someone like him, a hermit had no place delving into building plans.
[#008511 "-Which is where I'd like to employ Chiron and Novax in helping me get the necessary documents; it would make half the endeavor a lot easier yet it also requires influencing some very high members of society... We would also need to have a person or two on the inside of the coliseum, to get the prisoners ready for the right moment. Misniq and Calida, I could make you both a legal documents for entry into the lower levels of the building; as a physician and trainer respectfully."] Zeothocris seemed to look around the table but his white eyes saw nothing but the occasional flicker of firelight. [#008511 "That leaves Yao and I, I figured the two of us would pose as potential sponsors for some of the gladiators, I know every game is funded through the betting and donations for gladiator favorites being sponsored by Barevor's nobility. Many nobles 'collect' champions this way, we could pose as such collectors."]
[#008511 "Gaining the trust of everyone involved means we are getting very close to danger, if we make any mistakes we could jeopardize not only our own lives but the lives of those we'd be trying to save. If we manage to succeed completing the binding ritual for all those dragons will take all of us to keep them safe."] He didn't mention anything about those who would no doubt be driven insane by the years of torment, Zeo didn't want to think about the death. [#008511 "After dinner, would two of you join me so that we may start the ritual for the little one?"]
[center [b ~*~*~]]
How he hated this part. The binding ritual, turning something so wholesome and beautiful into a lie, forcing a child into a form it could not understand. How he [b hated] it, the need to even have a ritual was near barbaric for survival. Yet survive they must. Zeothocris, Misniq and Yao had brought the hatchling to one of the bedrooms above the tavern, needing secrecy and privacy.
[#008511 "Yao, would you set out the crystals?"] They had done this many times, eight crystals of varying color and sizes were passed over to Yao from his travel bag, Zeo always brought the necessary tools, he never left his home without them-they were too important. A thick bound bundle of dried herbs and fragrant flowers was passed to Misniq, once it was lit and made to smolder the smoke would put the inexperienced hatchling to a deep sleep, allowing the binding to take place as painlessly as possible. The smoke also acted as a safeguard against ill tidings, thoroughly cleansing the room as Misniq would wave the pleasant smoke around, reciting ancient warding magic. In a small mortar and pestle he ground up a sweet smelling plant with a variety of herbs, a single [https://hgic.clemson.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/hemerocallis_daylily_bhs_16.jpg red and yellow flower], and he sprinkled a touch of orange colored powder in-between grinding it all down into a paste.
The eight crystals would be positioned around the hatchling on the bed-the bed that they conveniently moved to the center of the room-in an eight-point star formation; the crystals were taken from some of the deepest places on the planet, harnessing the most magic from Barevor's core. It was Yao's position to call upon the magic in the crystals through incantation. As Zeo finished grinding up the concoction, he took simple twine and began to coat it in the paste over the length they would need to wrap the entire hatchling loosely-from nose to tail tip.
It wasn't particularly painful if the person was unconscious, but if they were awake they would be able to feel the shift. Zeo has been told it was an unpleasant sensation, so he made it a habit to put them to sleep. Zeo carefully wrapped the string around the hatchling, hanging it loosely along their entire bodies and their tiny wings, which were pressed to their back and held by the twine.
The three gods would then position themselves in a triangle formation around the bed and begin the invocation of the ancient magic. Almost as old as the gods themselves the binding would take a little bit of time to complete, most dragons could not remove the binding themselves. Though there were some, in instances of danger or rebellion, that would try-managing to splinter half the binds becoming worse than they were to begin with. Rebinding an individual took a lot longer as the body would be resistant to the magic's effects twice or more.
As the ritual came to a close the new infant would be wrapped in a soft blanket and Zeo would place them with their new loving family in the morning, for now the elder god gave them to a caring matron who worked at the inn. One day Zeo hoped this ritual would never need to be used, he had a hope that they would one day return to the skies, the seas and the land in their true forms. Or at least give them the choice whether or not being human was something they wanted. The world as it was right now could not afford them that luxury. [right [pic https://imgur.com/krKdF0H.jpg]]
[Center -Meanwhile in another city-]
The central palace, normally a place filled with the scent of riches and much to her hatred the scent of saffron, spices and other such vices now smelt like something she preferred and considered more tolerable. It was not to say she had accidentally wiped out half of the royal family but more so entirely intended when they had attempted to curse her out and onto the streets. Novax had made a living here pretending to be a renown medic when in reality she was the bane of this family’s existence; all she had done now was rid the city of some snooty idiotic royals who had thought to accuse her of witchcraft - not wrong, not entirely right either. The female dragon was something of a friend and something of an outright nightmare to her own kin as well as those weak little humans who seem to flock to her power to win wars or some such thing.
Yet the female deity could not help but love their little games and vices, oh how they enjoyed destroying each other as well as her kind for less than their own worth; how they enjoyed their little arguments and wars because to them they were the Gods and they had nothing to lose in their silly little mortal lives; so quick to burn out no wonder they tried to do everything even at the cost of their lives and to her bemusement their minds. Oh, how Novax loved the idea of being something of a feared individual but like many of her kind and as the humans assumed she was meant to be dead and anything of her power was just a mere coincidence - another chance to advance in their aptly named ‘sciences’.
She continued up the steps of the main halls of the palace, but kept her pace to a slow almost ancient step it was easier to keep up the appearance of a harmless medic when all she did was talk and occasionally babble nonsense to the humans who resided in such a glorious place with silks, jewels, meat! Why she had not a single reason to leave. Entering the throne room, the King aptly called the brute in Novax’s mind sat up straighter at the sight of her; she bowed her head. [#a225f8 “Majesty you called?”] her eyes turning a dark shade of purple in comparison to their usual ruby sheen.
[i “Why it seems half my family is dead. That fucking whore god of diseases whatever her name is. Paid us a visit. Does she not know the sacrifices we have made to her! To honor her and her powers so that we may continue to dominate.”] she cackled under her breath, but not loud enough for him to hear her as she lifted her head up and offered a soft smile [#a225f8 “I did what I could your majesty if anything it seems like the plague was too advance even for our best. I have done the research and it seems this plague has never been seen before.”] she approached him the guards beside him choosing to walk towards the king and not to her; they were being smart. No point dying when you didn’t need to die.
At the king’s feet was a chained male dragon, the King’s personal ride. She looked down at the adolescence and he gave her the eyes of a someone hopeful that the time had come for him to die, she ignored his silent pleas and instead kept her eyes on the King. [#a225f8 “But not all the troubles are yet gone, the plague still haunts the halls of this place I advise his majesty leave with his blood children and the Queen before it affects you too. Leave us here to die Sire. We are not worthy of much else.”] [i “I cannot leave how dare you make demands of me!”] the old man’s voice filled her ears as her eyes flashed a darker shade of indigo too quick for him to notice but too late for him to do much.
She pulled away from him and screamed the guards alarmed at her reaction before they themselves pissed in their pants the king reached up to his neck where boils were starting to emerge she turned to the guards hastily [#a225f8 “QUICKLY, GET THE OTHERS. THE KING!”] all of this was an act, the other medics would not get here before he succumbed to this particular strain of plague, she allowed her to shake and to trip over the male dragon who was now moving away from the king in fear, as she watched the men panic she broke the chain that held the male dragon and watched as he scurried away - sending the other guards into action trying to tame the beast that had just been released.
Whilst the entire building was a quickly filling up with panic she took the keys off the King and made her way to the royal vaults, she had to be quick any second now and they would all see that the King was fine that she had just spun up an illusion in order to get what she wanted his gold. She had barely made it into the vault when the bells tolled above her; Christ she had been too reckless and let the illusion drop too soon. Deciding that gold was easier to carry than jewels which tended to make noises she grabbed what she could and jumped out of the nearest window she could fit through.
She had been half out the gates when she heard guards approaching her; from what she gathered they were on orders to kill her, she however didn’t let them instead sending out spirals and tendrils of another concoction of some older plague she had made maybe two or so centuries ago; the old ones were always the scariest because humans seemed to forget that diseases and plagues always came back no matter how much preparedness they had. Things had been going oh so swimmingly until....
Stone walls, the smell of urine, sweat, blood and other such things she didn't want to know; she should have seen this coming. Oh, how she wished she was Chiron in that moment, when finally, she had been caught. The chains were nothing to her really but she didn’t want to risk breaking out into her true form in order to escape just a place. The guards as well as part of the army had suffered in their attempts to capture her. She had nearly gotten away when one of her own kind - probably brainwashed or just ballsy had sent her to bed. She had woken up nearly nude, covered in bandages of which the wounds had already healed and chains; the most peculiar one being around her lips; and some kind of bar placed over her eyes. Had they feared that her eyes were the cause of her power?
Novax hated being paraded, she hated having the attention on her. She was the goddess most despised for her power and yet here she was being shown to the court in chains and all as the one who had nearly assassinated the entire royal family of the city, she was a thief to them and a traitor. She had scowled and had secretly as she walked through the courtyard naked as the day she was born cursed each individual in the nearest radius of distance painful deaths with new plagues never seen before; she hated making new ones but sometimes it was necessary to teach humans a lesson.
She nearly yelped when she was pushed down onto the stone called executioner’s block; the King stood over her looking over her body and shaking his head; he was surrounded by his remaining family and all of them looked glad to be sitting high above in their tower over down below where the people watched and talked amongst themselves; the executioner in question was not a man but a half-dragon who had broken half out their binds but not the rest and was now a grotesque thing of both species. Novax attempted to communicate with the executioner but it seemed he was deaf to her speaking to him. As the blade was nestled against her neck she decided to heck with human protocols. She allowed herself to revert into her true form.
The feeling of bones shifting, changing cracking in some places, shortening and elongating, her wings sprouting from her back; the transformation itself was a nightmare to view and many of the crowd who had been watching screamed and ran back into the palace as the guards and soldiers replaced them with weapons drawn. Soon she was human no more but a dragon and she was pissed. She hadn’t even given it another thought she was broken from the chains and lifted herself into the air; some spears and poisoned laced weapons were thrown at her but she gracefully dodged each and instead decided to have some fun. Swooping down and grasping some of the arms of soldiers she threw them up into the air before breathing a toxic blend of pure plague onto each of the humans she threw up.
Novax knew she would never be able to return to this city, so she did what dragons who had been crossed did best. She destroyed the place. Though each of the deities and their breath styles varied differently, for her it was more decimate the people and their sources of food rather than destroy the buildings or infrastructure that already existed. By the time she had finished her path of destruction the crops that were nearly ready for harvest were rotted and gone; the people were fallen on the floor unable to breathe as she decided on her next location. The outpost and hiding place Arctivus.
She had made sure to return to her human state entirely before entering the city, on her way out of the previous city she had stolen some merchant’s clothing and was now dressed as one, as she walked through the hordes of crowds she walked past the markets and bought herself a few apples here and there; something she had noticed on her way to where she needed to be, that there was no fish. Had the humans fished all of the fish out of the sea or had Misniq taken the bounty of the ocean away as punishment? She didn’t want to know. She skimmed past the hospital and breathed a breath of plague into the building… they needed to die anyway. Too many humans and dragons alike. She laughed.
She approached the door to the entrance way, she knocked twice as the small slot opened. She sighed. [#a225f8 “Just let me in before I kill you and everyone else with my breath. Steel, Fire whatever big brother thought of as our catch phrase.”] there was a hasty sound of individuals talking before the door opened. She shimmied herself into the hideout and watched as the door was closed. She gave the dragons hiding as humans a toothy smile and many of them shied away. She clicked her tongue in annoyance; she was one of them and yet they were all still scared of her. Some of them on the other hand seemed to have been filled in on the destruction she had left in her wake in the other city of Natvious.
Novax had wanted to go past the hide out’s hospital in hopes that there were plenty of dying and injured but instead found that the place had been cleared out and emptied with those still inside with many minor ailments, with no point of making it worse; that had to mean one thing big sister Misniq was truly within the city. Oh, she was going to lose her shit when she found out about the city that Novax had just left. [#a225f8 “Where are my family members.”] [i “In the tavern madame.”]
Thanking whoever gave her the information she needed, she stepped towards that direction. The only deity that Novax didn’t immediately hate was her twin her egg mate and her best friend Chiron; oh, she would love telling him about the city - she had failed to steal anything but she had left a whole city in a state of collapse, that was enough to talk about with pride Novax supposed.
She hadn’t bothered to announce herself, instead noticing the back of Chiron’s head as he asked for her, she decided to just stay within the crowds she didn’t care for whatever her siblings were crowded around… Misniq however noticed her immediately and turned to face her; their eyes crossed and in that moment they both growled. [#a225f8 “Hello big sister.”]
[#1407ca “Why is not our most troublesome baby sister.”] the older dragon chided. [#a225f8 “Oh spare me. I’m not here for you.”] [#1407ca “Back in hiding, are we?”] [#a225f8 “What does it matter, you’ve got enough icicles up your ass melting to care for what I do with my powers.”] Novax had no choice but to approach the others and the hatchling they seemed to be obsessing over. [#a225f8 “A hatchling. How quaint.”] the hatchling itself seemed to know immediately what Novax was capable of and scrambled closer to her eldest brother. [#a225f8 “Good to see you; big brother. Auga.”] she greeted the raven.
She had nearly missed introducing herself to Yao altogether in her haste to stand by Chiron that by the time she did it was if she was an and amongst the other deities. She gave him a reverent bowing of her entire form; long ago before she had become somewhat of a foreboding and forbidden character; somewhere in her hearts of hearts she had been so scared of her own powers that she turned to none other than the master of time himself to soothe her of her worries; that all she was destined for was the destruction of everything her big siblings had worked on and towards.
Now that she was older she knew that she was a disappointment to Yao; she had become the exact type of creature that didn’t merit the respect of such an ancient creature; she had become truly the type of creature that she had promised long ago as a youth never to become and now she paid tenfold the consequences; though she had come to understand her place in the world and sometimes relished in the fear she provided to humans and dragons alike; she couldn’t help but wonder what if she hadn’t strayed into darkness?
She moved to stand between Calida and Chiron who she gave a quick smile and nod in respect, pulling Chiron into a hug. [#a225f8 “God you should have seen the chaos I left in my wake in Natvious, I can’t believe I nearly lost my head doing so.”] amongst all the grandest and the most disgusting and vile Novax herself had decided that Chiron had the best scent and that everything and everyone else was second to that. As she placed her head on his shoulder waiting to see what their big brother had to say regarding the hatchling on the table.
[Right [Pic https://imgur.com/6HQBYGn.jpg]]
[font "times new roman"[b "Master Yao? Are you going to play for us again tonight?"]
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/ZcUGWiK.jpg]]She'd set about pouring him a cup of tea, glancing up at him expectantly several times in the silence that followed. He'd never say as much, but he was glad for her progress, as it'd only been just shy of a year since he'd brought the child back to Yonghe Gong. Gaunt, wounded, and scarcely able to speak, Yao had feared the worst; He'd managed to save a few, but there had been far too many instances of his being too late to provide anything but a quiet end. He did his best not to get attached to the ones that lived, especially these fragile, impermanent human children, but there was an ever-softening portion of the dragon that couldn't help but peer back at her, even if only for a moment.
Eunon was one of the only human children who'd come to know what Yao truly was, and it was all he could do not to shrink away from all that [i trust] in her eyes. He was undeserving of it, and he knew it was misplaced.
He said nothing to Eunon, not even after having a swallow of the fresh tea she'd poured. Instead, he watched the sunset, hoping she might hurry along to bed with the other children, but was graced with just one more request as she stood, bowed, and turned to leave the temple steps.
[b "We all sleep better when you play."] she'd remarked, already well aware that he'd yet again keep his responses to himself. As such, she promptly left him to his own devices, and he was still as he waited for the sounds of her small feet to fade away.
Yao Táng knew that every soul residing within his temple 'knew' him to be their savior, but simply standing on the temple grounds left a dark fissure within him in and of itself. All he'd done was renovate the temple they'd made [i for him] oh so long ago, long since abandoned when Man had come to despise dragonkind. Whereas Yao had been beside himself with rage as the faith dwindled and flickered into nothing, his having lived as a man had changed a great many of his worldviews. Yao no longer found fault in any one faction alone, and had long since accepted his portion of the blame. Everyone suffered equally in the realm of mortals, and all he'd managed to do was fill his temple with some of the last few good hearts that Barevor's current state hadn't yet sullied or slaughtered.
With this in mind, Eunon's inquiry had by no means fallen on deaf ears. If that were so, and the disciples slept better when he played... Yao turned to his bag, a strangely spacious pack containing few items at all, save for a bit of food, a spare robe, and a small instrument or two. One such implement, [https://soundcloud.com/jj-wicks/jnjk4jb8bh5b/s-CcMWquMiyBF [font "times new roman" his erhu, was his tool of choice for the night,]] especially with how uncomfortable it made him to play and to hear it. It wailed and waned like a voice, often seemingly lined with the same tears and ache that a person might bear. With it, Yao once again sang wordless songs to those sleeping within the temple, glad to be lost in something- only to come back to his senses some hours later, bathed in moonlight and just as riddled with guilt as when he'd begun.
As always, Yao was too restless to join them in their slumber, and wandered down the mountain to the distant sea of lights and shapes below.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/sKUUvsz.png]]
There was a reason that Yao often found himself in Arctivus, and it was the very same reason that people didn't often find themselves making the journey to his temple on their own.
The dangers of both the city of Arctivus as well as his temple grounds, nestled in the peaks of Suwong Shan and well [i above] the awful city, were [b very] real. He was glad for the border, as well as for the unfortunate rumors surrounding his territory. The list of fears for common men was extensive, including the likelihood of falling to one's death, thick fog, the prevalence of poisonous serpents, large birds of prey, 'unusable' farmland, and the purported frequency of landslides had made it out to be something like badlands to the world around them.
Then again? They were right; All of those things were true of Suwong, save for his temple grounds, which were a veritable wellspring of peace and good fortune handcrafted by his brother. A bit of fertile soil and access to the mountain's thawing icecaps had made it a sort of oasis, from which his disciples knew he'd escort them off the mountain if they should ask to leave. Though, Yao had thus far not been asked to honor any such requests.
Many of his disciples hailed from Arctivus, though, or at least, that's where he'd found them? He'd never asked them about their lives, he'd only passed the appropriate judgments and took in those with nowhere else to go- something he oft appreciated of his brother, Zeothocris. His sightless brother's compassion had rubbed off on him, evident in his frustration with how often he wondered how the children were faring at the monastery, protected but removed of human society.
Had he left them enough food to wake up to?
Were his draconic kinsmen being kind to the children in his absence?
Were the few hatchlings he'd taken in over the years learning to conceal themselves properly?
Yao had been too privileged as a deity to see what a gift human faith and trust truly were, prior to his current circumstances. These people worshipped everything and anything BUT deities, crawling around at his feet as they begged for bread and money. As he wandered the streets of Arctivus, he could already feel eyes. He often forgot himself, or rather, he forgot how [i Men] saw him. An elderly man of unimpressive posture, dressed in modest robes and foolishly carrying a bag over his shoulder as though to further advertise himself. Indeed, Arctivus seemed to hiss at Yao whenever he visited, and he'd never seen it change no matter how much time had come to pass. [left [pic https://i.imgur.com/8PqqoN5.jpg]]
This was especially true at times like these, with a group of three malnourished human boys attempting to clumsily corner him as he passed through an alley.
[b "D-Drop everything you have!"] barked the smallest, and perhaps most emaciated teen in the group. His hand and wrist were shaking, but he brandished a flaming plank of wood nonetheless, holding it threateningly overhead. Yao did hid neither his disappointment nor his shame, and simply held out his hand, passing it in front of all three boys. As the city shuffled on in the near but far distance, time in the alley seemed to be just short of a standstill. They moved minimally, slowed by the dragon's magic as he retrieved the plank of wood from the child's hand and held it nearer to their young faces for a better look.
These were not awful children. Misguided, hungry, and frightened, perhaps, but he could see that they'd not yet actually made a habit of robbing people. He'd give children such as these a bit more time before he would pass his judgments... Yao 'borrowed' a length of shipyard twine one of the boys had slung around his arm and used it to tie their wrists together. Comical as it was, he hadn't the heart to take from them or to hurt them more than they already had been. No, Yao reached into his bag and set his bread and some dried meat carefully on an old crate beside them, and pulled his magic from their bodies.
Confused, they could only watch as Yao dropped their makeshift torch into a puddle of muck before the sudden lack of lighting removed him from their sight.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/sKUUvsz.png]]
His feet had carried him deeper and deeper still into the slums.
There was a quiet little hole in the wall he liked to frequent, though, where you could listen to a poor musician or two sing or strum their sorrows away until the wee morning hours. The tea was terrible, but that hadn't been enough to keep Yao from visiting every now and again. He took a seat and said nothing, not to be disappointed as a young dragoness brought him a small pot of hot water. From within the confines of his hanfu he pulled a small pouch of homegrown jasmine leaves, sprinkling a small bunch of them into the pot and giving it a moment to create the only the [i only] tea he would accept.
Satisfied, he poured himself his first cup, only to be interrupted a second young lady. She was calm, albeit direct with him, setting a single dumpling down in front of him despite his not having ordered anything more.
[b "Uncle. Your brother seems to have need of you."] she murmured, only loud enough for she and Yao to hear. His brows knitted together. [#1C36FF "Which [i one]?"]
Naturally, he was only going to set his precious tea down for [i one] of his brothers.[right [pic https://imgur.com/q9Z0N3h.jpg]]
His only response was to be an amused grin, so it seemed. Without another word, she also lifted her hand and gently tapped the space just beside her eye before leaving to clear away another patron's tableware. Yao felt his eyes roll skyward. Zeothocris was going to owe him an especially fresh pot of tea sometime in the near future. He left an extra silver tael for her payment and troubles, having rather enjoyed the dumpling and having made off with her teacup in the same swift movements.
After a bit more wandering, Yao found himself at the door to the outpost and in QUITE a mood by this time. Eyes peered down at him, unable to find him at first. Whose idea was it to make these doors so massive?! He tried to rein in his agitation, closing his eyes and helping himself to another swallow of his tea. Still, the door remained closed. Oh, oh [i surely] not, with this passcode business. [#1C36FF "[b Open the door] or I'll make certain you come to know the joys of a snail's pace for a week."]
An anxious throat cleared itself from somewhere behind the door, and it opened for Yao without further delay.
Once inside, he'd had no trouble picking out his siblings, especially Zeo with his avian companion and their insufferable brother, Chiron. As much as he cared for Novax and Calida and the rest, his perpetual distaste for the [s capricious, wanton] Chiron directed him to Zeothocris's side, wary but curious. Yao had only noticed the hatchling as he drew nearer, his brows lifting in quiet surprise but keeping well away from the youngling out of habit. [#1C36FF "You've been busy then, I see."] The observation came after he took the last sip of his tea and placed the empty cup in his hanfu so as to free up his hands to give Auga a few scratches. He was eternally grateful to the bird for his unwavering loyalty to his brother, and also quite liked birds to begin with. In his brother's case?
Zeo had never ceased to impress or amaze Yao, as he knew he'd never have been able to hatch eggs himself. Of course he cared for the children but would never have been cut out to tend eggs... He supposed they required someone gentler, someone more patient- someone like his brother. [#1C36FF "Is the child the reason you've gathered us all?"]
[font "Lucida Fax" The Tipsy Lizard was unusually quiet this evening. Only four patrons were sitting and drinking and the evening was still young. The bar’s ambiance was hushed with only softened clicking of gold coins, the roar of the fire, and the insistent ale drinking from the four patrons sitting at a round table. The barkeep could see that an intense poker game was being played and had been for the past hour and a half. Three of the gentlemen were being swindled somehow. Everyone in the bar knew it but weren’t sure how. The gold pile in the middle of the table grew larger each round of cards. The hands were different, but the winner consistently remained the same. The smaller man in blue was either the luckiest man alive, or a damn fine cheat.]
[font "Lucida Fax" [b [#008800 “And that’s straight aces. I believe that was my round, gentlemen,”]] a suave silky-smooth voice flaunted as two dusky-skinned fingers reached out for the pile of gold. The black-gloved hands dragged the pile towards a small lithe framed man clad in a fine blue velvet suit and soft white trousers. The dark brown short locks were neatly combed over to the side, eyebrows immaculate, flawless dark skin, and a smirk that would make most of the maidens’ swoon immediately. This man had never been to this bar before, considering he was dressed like one of the nobles from higher in the city. What someone like him was doing in the slums playing cards with thugs was beyond comprehension.]
[font "Lucida Fax" “‘Old on now,” said a large burly man that just lost his week’s payment, “you must-ve cheated. You’ve had a bad hand this ‘ole time!” The bearded fellow clasped onto the nobleman’s blue sleeve with an iron grip.]
[font "Lucida Fax" Dark eyes that appeared to be pitch black looked down at the strong hand gripped onto his blue sleeve then slowly looked up. [b [#008800 “I assure you, Rodrick, that the game was fair and square.”]] The dusky-skinned man smirked his signature smile as he tried to release his arm. [b [#008800 “Fortune simply wasn’t in the cards for you, my friend.”]]]
[font "Lucida Fax" The big brute named Rodrick was not convinced by clever phrases and soothing tones. The other two large fellows sitting at the round table were as equally miffed at losing to the small fellow in nice clothes as they reached for their weapons on their hips. The dark brown eyes jumped from one scowling face to the next. Things were getting more heated by the second.]
[font "Lucida Fax" “If you claim to play fair and squeh’re, then show us what’s up yer sleeves, mate.” Rodrick tested.]
[font "Lucida Fax" The nice gentleman looked at each of the men before huffing. What uneducated brutes they were. Rodrick released the man’s arm to allow him to prove innocence. The nicely dressed man rolled up his sleeves to show only smooth skin and battle scars underneath. No hidden cards were discovered. The brawny men accepted this as evidence and subsided for a moment.]
[font "Lucida Fax" “You lie!” Rodrick retorted as he stood up. “No one has that good ‘o luck. Not even that Dragon fucker of Time had that good ‘o luck!” Rodrick’s logic was impeccable. How could anyone argue with solid points like that? The other men were in agreement and stood up as well. The barkeep grew more and more nervous at the oncoming brawl about to happen in his bar.]
[font "Lucida Fax" The smaller man held up one hand in surrender to appease the gentlemen. The other hand still clasped onto his ale tankard. [b [#008800 “Ronald Van Braun is not a liar or a cheat, good sire. I would never-”]] as the nicely-dressed man stood, cards scattered to the floor form under his fancy overcoat. The men stared down at the assortment of playing cards displayed on the ground for a good solid five seconds.]
[font "Lucida Fax" [b [#008800 “Well. Shit,”]] muttered Ronald Van Braun, the honest.]
[font "Lucida Fax" The strong men at the table growled at the liar and made movements toward the scrawny man. Hands clasping weapons and cracking knuckles. They would teach this punk a lesson about honesty.]
[font "Lucida Fax" [b [#008800 “Ah, but before you wring my neck, I must confess something else!”]] Ronald blurted as he backed away from the table. The other men stopped momentarily to hear the man’s words. Rodrick growled at the small man as he rubbed his stomach absent-mindedly.]
[font "Lucida Fax" Ronald took a sip from his tankard before continuing. [b [#008800 “I confess that I had not been honest this whole night. The drinks I bought for you all were not simply ales.”]] Ronald explained as he chugged his beverage. The large men followed him with quizzical expressions. [b [#008800 “You see, you weren’t just drinking ale form the Tipsy Lizard tonight. You were all were indeed drinking poison I slipped into your beverages,”]] Ronald confessed as he grabbed one of the forgotten tankards on the round table, one hand still raised in surrender.]
[font "Lucida Fax" The men looked at each other confused and nervous. They didn’t notice until now, but their stomachs were aching and it was getting progressively hard to breathe.]
[font "Lucida Fax" “You lie,” said one of the men, “you’ve had the drinks brought to us! You never touched our mugs! An-and your drinking from [i my] cup!” He sounded so confident in his statement, but he was feeling progressively worse. Their stomachs growled angrily.]
[font "Lucida Fax" [b [#008800 “Mm! Indeed!”]] Ronald spoke as he dabbed his mouth after he took a big swig. [b [#008800 “You are all poisoned nonetheless. I do hope you don’t have any unresolved issues. I would hate to be haunted by thugs.”]] Ronald sighed before chugging down the rest of the ale.]
[font "Lucida Fax" Before anyone could make an aggressive move, all three men began to gasp for air. Their stomachs rumbled uncontrollably as they clutched at their throats. They dropped to their knees desperate to breathe all while their breeches became stained with brown splatters. Ronald simply laughed before he strode forward to grab another mug from the round table for himself. Rodrick reached for Ronald’s fancy blue suit but was met with a boot in the face. Slowly, the men sank to the floor as foam spewed from their mouths and their pants increased in a stench.]
[font "Lucida Fax" Ronald continued to laugh as he drank from the used mug. [b [#008800 “Best part about that toxin is that they shit themselves while choking on their saliva.”]] Ronald mused as he waltzed up to the barkeep. The finished mug was slammed down after the last gulp. Ronald eyed the dying men on the ground, then turned to the terrified human behind the counter. [b [#008800 “Ah yes, I would like to close my tab, please.”]] Ronald grinned a white toothy grin as he tapped on the wooden countertop.]
[font "Lucida Fax" The barkeep hurriedly rang up the account as Ronald gathered the coins from the table. The other gentlemen won’t be needing them anymore.]
[font "Lucida Fax" “H-how did you-” The barkeep barely got the question out before Ronald raised a hand to stop him.]
[font "Lucida Fax" [b [#008800 “Poison is elementary. I’m immune to the effects. I simply poisoned all of the drinks.”]] Ronald winked at the barkeep.]
[font "Lucida Fax" “B-but how?” The human asked.]
[font "Lucida Fax" Ronald leaned on the counter and clasped the man’s shoulder to hold his attention. [b [#008800 “You don’t need to worry about that. These men simply couldn’t hold their liquor.”]] Ronald’s words drifted out of his lips silkier than a comforting melody. His eyes flashed with bright blue light for a split second; it could have been a trick of the light. [b [#008800 “You will tell the guards that the men killed each other for cheating in cards. You never saw me here, understand?”]] Ronald’s words were so soothing, like a siren’s call. The barkeep nodded in his daze and continued wiping the counter as though nothing had happened. Ronald smirked as he left the bar with none the wiser.]
[font "Lucida Fax" The handsome man in fancy clothes walked nonchalantly through the slums of Arctivus, his coin purse heavy and a joyful whistle on his lips. “Ronald” was a useful persona to play among humans. Mortals were so easy to manipulate, especially the dim-witted ones, like Rodrick. He should have never bet against Chiron, the god of thieves and liars.]
[font "Lucida Fax" Chiron reached into his tailored blue overcoat and pulled out a cigar from an inside pocket. He brought it over to a lit torch on a wall and puffed it to life. He absolutely adored the vices that humans indulged in. The other Dragon deities were foolish in not participating. What wonderful things humans made! There was alcohol, special herbs, cigars, whorehouses, so many wonderful things that were absolutely terrible for them! And yet, they indulged anyway, knowing the risks. What a time to be alive as a human, Chiron mused. Of course, he was probably the only former deity to think so. His brothers and sisters had sticks too far up their asses to see the pleasures of men. Bah, no matter. They were intriguing in their own way.]
[font "Lucida Fax" Chiron puffed on his cigar as he moved swiftly through the shadows of the lower town. His footsteps were quiet and his movements were nimble like a serpent. Despite his out-of-place clothes and neat appearance, Chiron would have been hard to notice with passive perceptions. The navy and indigo-dyed fabrics were more than just pretty garments. He wasn’t spotted by any of the nightly wanderers of Arctivus, save for one.]
[font "Lucida Fax" One of the lesser dragons, disguised as a ragged beggar, approached Chiron and whispered a message, “Zeothocris wishes to speak with you.” Chiron frowned and let out an exacerbated sigh before waving off the messenger. What could that blind fool want this time?]
[font "Lucida Fax" Chiron snuck through the alleys and side streets of Arctivus, leaving behind his precious cigar snuffed out in the dirt. It was a good thing the extra coin put him in a good mood. He didn’t like being summoned by big brother Zeothocris. He was such a fuddy-duddy. Always depressed about the dragons and how they needed to return to “the glory days” and such. Most of Chiron’s siblings were like that. They couldn’t see the silver lining in their predicament as Chiron could. Always crying about “the enslavement of the dragons” and other tiresome things. Sure, the dragons were treated as lesser beings despite their old reign of power over man. Chiron did enjoy being a deity for centuries. But deities are boring. Humans were more fun.]
[font "Lucida Fax" Chiron knocked on the door to the secret hideout with annoyance in his tone. The panel in the door slid open as judgemental eyes stared down at the small slender frame of Chiron. Chiron waited for the being behind the door to recognize him and open the door immediately, but he was only met with an expectant clearing of the throat.]
[font "Lucida Fax" [b [#008800 “Oh right, the password,”]] Chiron snapped his fingers as he remembered key to entry, [b [#008800 “um, something something steel and dragon fire, or some nonsense like that. Just let me in.”]] Chiron waved his hand casually as he checked the area behind him. He is reluctantly allowed in.]
[font "Lucida Fax" It wasn’t hard for Chiron to find his annoyingly mournful siblings. It was more amazing to find them all here in one place. They hadn’t had a get-together like this in decades. Or was it centuries? Time was such a silly thing. Only half of the deities of old were present in the Arctivus hide-out. Chiron only counted four including himself.]
[font "Lucida Fax" Calida and Misniq were present, no surprise there. Zeothocris was also here with his squawking pet Auga. Compared to his sibling’s attire, Chiron’s well-groomed appearance stuck out even more of a sore thumb than the rest of the slums. Nevertheless, Chiron greeted his siblings with open arms and exaggerated enthusiasm.]
[font "Lucida Fax" [b [#008800 “How are my dear, sweet, siblings doing? Enjoying the angsty moods? Perfect, so am I!”]] Chiron announced as he draped his arms over Calida and Misniq. [b [#008800 “What is it you need from me at this hour, brother-mine?”]] He directed his question to Zeo in particular, the eldest and indeed the most dreadful one to talk to. It’s always “dragon pride and history” this, and “return to our glory days” that. Utterly atrocious conversationalist.
[right [pic https://imgur.com/ujxUcLF.jpg]]
[font "Lucida Fax" [b [#008800 “I heard your ‘summons’ and here I am. Summoned to your whim. How may I be of service?”]] Chiron bowed his head facetiously, [b [#008800 “Where is that sister-mine, Novax? She always knows how to liven up the dreary faces on you all.”]] Chiron grinned his charming grin, although it wasn’t welcomed among this crowd nearly as much as it was at the whorehouses. But family was family after all. Chiron loved his family, in his special, and certainly unique, way.]
Calida knew that it was her fault, she reminded herself of that every time she looked outside to the bustling streets below. She was one of the very few dragons that dared to live in the humans major cities. The Dragon had tried to live in the peaceful villages or even in the countryside, alone. But, even after all they had done to her kind, she found herself unable to leave. She was just so drawn to them, to be around them and to even help them.
After laying low for awhile, in her human form, Calida moved to a large human city and established a fighting school. Under the guise that she was teaching traditional methods of fighting so that humans could remember their history, she was able to save and train dragons who had managed to escape from their torturous labour. She wasn't a healer, but she provided food, warmth and shelter. Within this school, she found a number of humans who disagreed with how humanity had tarnished the world and they wanted to bring back the glorious and peaceful days when dragons ruled. She worked very closely with these humans, they gave her information, helped to free her kind from their chains and hide them. However, these Humans did not know of their outpost locations. It was too risky to know of information like that. They could potentially be caught and tortured for information.
Despite all of the work she did to help, she still blamed herself for the corruption of mankind. She was the dragon of fire, confidence, courage and metalwork. It was her who gave these gifts and taught them the ways. If she had never trusted them with her teachings, then the humans would never have turned against them. She knew not to dwell on the past, but she was haunted by her mistakes whenever she looked out of the window, whenever she would walk past her kin, slaving away in horrendous conditions, it ached her heart. Occaisionally, one would look at her and knew who she was, they would look at her and their eyes begged her to save them, pleaded her to free them. Sometimes, they just wanted her to end it all.
Calida sighed gently to herself as her last lesson came to a finish, with the sleeve of her top she wiped the sweat from her forehead before setting on putting the equipment away and saying goodbye to her students. She had just finished putting the mats away before one of her students approached her. The rest of the class were gone. He wore a proud, excited smile and in his hand held a bag. He offered it to her and she took it cautiously.
[#B22222 "What's this?"] She asked him, but her student simply gestured for her to open it. She looked to the bag and pulled at the thin string keeping the bag closed. Her red eyes widened slightly as she peered in. Medical supplies. She looked to her student again, returning his smile.
[#B22222 "How did you get these?"]
"I faked an injury and asked around my neighbourhood for spares." The student was very clearly was proud of himself. She reached out and gently squeezed his shoulder.
[#B22222 "Thank you, I really needed these. Now, run along before it gets too dark."] She told him sternly. He nodded his head and swiftly walked away. She watched him go before walking back into the walk-in cupboard, she closed the door and thus was swallowed into darkness. She had made this trip many times and knew exactly when to side step between the shelves and when to squeeze past the hanging swords. She finally made it to what seemed to be a wooden panelled wall. She reached out and let her hand glide across the lines of the wood before she felt a dip. She curled her fingers around it before sliding the door open, revealing a staircase lit by lanterns, casting a warm glow across the wood. She quickly made her way down and walked into another room, her eyes settling on a teenager, reading a book in the corner.
The young girl looked at Calida and then perked up, she made a move as if to stand but then winced. She had come to her house in the dead of night, clutching her side. She had been quickly losing blood and her skin was pale. Calida took her to the school and down to the secret basement, managing to stop the blood. However, she had had no medical supplies and had planned to go after class. But, she didn't need to now thanks to her student.
[#B22222 "No need to stand, you just need to rest."] She had said to the young girl and the other had given a sheepish smile. She didn't know what the teenagers story was, but every time that she would ask, the girl would violently shake her head and not say a word. She had gathered that she must have gone through something terrible. She wondered where the girls parents were, she would have to ask at a later date. Instead, she instructed the girl to lay down so that Calida could disinfect her wound and change her bandages. The two talked, mainly the elder dragon who was trying her best to cheer up the younger. Suddenly, the girl stopped laughing at her joke, her smile dropping and tears welling up in her eyes.
"Calida, do I have to go back out?" The woman shook her head, giving a sympathetic look. She took the others hand in hers and rubbing gentle, soothing circles into her skin.
[#B22222 "Not until you are ready. You are safe here, nobody can hurt you. You can stay as long as you like and if you do leave, then my door is is always open for you."] QShe told her gently. This seemed to ease the teens worries, for now. Calida soon had the wound cleaned and bandaged back up.
[#B22222 "Now, you get some sleep. There's plenty of books and games for you to do, there's some food in the cupboards and someone will be coming down here to keep you company. I need to go, but I will be back tonight before I return home, ok?"] The girl nodded her head and shifted to get under her covers. Calida stood back up and made her way back into her fighting hall, closing and locking the doors behind her. It was a mystery how she had not been caught by the humans so far, at one point she had had ten dragons living down in that basement. It just showed how ignorant they are.
She checked around her school for any stragglers and tidied away some bits and pieces. Once satisfied, she left the school and made way for her home. She let out another sigh and turned her attention to the sky. To feel the rays of a burning sun on her scales as she flew through the air would be a dream come true for her. To fly with her kin again, without fearing or fighting for their lives. Her heart felt heavy with a sad sense of nostalgia. She was pulled from her thoughts as she heard someone say her name. She turned to them and saw a tavern worker from Arctivus running towards her. She stopped in her tracks and waited for them to catch up.
"Zeothocris... Is in... The tavern... Needs to see you." The tavern worker panted out, trying to catch her breath. She frowned slightly, wondering why the blind man was here. Then it clicked in her head. She thanked the tavern worker for informing her before rushing off. She rushed into the tavern to see the Deity of Earth and Deity of Water standing over something. She neared and just managed to hear Misniq's question.
[#B22222 "I am."] She spoke up, pushing through the crowd. She soon came to learn of what everyone was staring at when she looked down upon a hatchling. She almost couldn't believe her eyes. She didn't know what to say. She looked to the other two first, as if checking that this was real before looking back to the baby dragon. She greeted the small dragon in her mother tongue.
[#B22222 "Is this what you wanted us for Zeo? Or is there something more?"]
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/DvK6nZK.png]]
The woman turned almost frantically in her sleep, the electrifying feeling of pain rocketed through her body and she found herself unable to sleep anymore; waking with a start she nearly hit her head upon the wooden structure of the boat she had come to call home; upon the walls of the vessels were the last slivers of her own kin, shoved into bottles of the last remaining drops of pure untainted water. Her eyes scanned the vessel for anything that seemed out of place. Relieved that there was no one but herself and those of her kind she swung her feet off and left her sleeping quarters; hiding it and the rest of her kind behind a false wall. She breathed in the scent of sea water that had been contaminated with man’s wasteful habits and other such substances that Misniq dared not to know of.
Once there had been a time where the waters were fresh and pure, where man and dragon lived in a happy synchronised fashion, where her knowledge of healing was given to man in hopes that they would live to see another day; where water was worshiped and treated as a gift; now water was considered a curse and other means of medicine considered worthier than just water; thus is had been polluted.
There was also once a time when the goddess was called upon to manage and help in the way of all things love, where both man and dragon alike would come to her to bless their relationship and to ensure protection from the forces that might come between two lovers and their heart, oh how she had been worshipped in her temples and shrines. How she had missed the days when she would watch love blossom for the first time; knowing it was her doing that the love would be pure, fruitful and ever precious….
She clicked her tongue as she wrapped her hands around the base of the sails and tugged hard, she had to go on land soon she was running out of supplies and the closest port she could think of was also where she hoped she would find more of her people albeit hidden in a mask of man. A place where she had hoped was still hidden. She held herself firm as the waters below her started to shift and change allowing her the quickest path.
The port itself was a disaster of manmade ships that looked more like wreckage; she wondered how man had managed to make such disasters float or even traverse her home; once all was in order on her ship she handed the port officers her licence; of which they scrutinised until they realised that as much as she was a sole traveller her boat was small and barely took space up; once she had ensured her vessel was locked and as such impossible to rob or break into she murmured in dragon’s tongue to those on board that she would return before the next sun above begun to shine. Before completely disembarking she took with her a small vial of water from a time before.
Misniq walked through the city, holding herself in a frail manner as to not attract attention; there had been a time that her outfit was grand and beautiful where the people would flock to her out of amazement… yet all she wore now were rags that not even the poorest of the poor would dare steal. Misniq remembered a time where she would swim amongst her kin; in the vast oceans - she had never been envious that she could not take to the sky, instead she was proud that she was the only one of the Gods who could comfortably travel into the depths of the deep blue oceans. The Water Goddess could not recall a time in the past period where she had felt more isolated.
As she finally made it to her location, a part of her pondered and calculated the time; how long had it been since she had stepped into the outpost Arctivus, surely it had been before the time of the Obsidian period though she wasn’t sure; she checked her flank before knocking. She hadn’t expected anyone to respond before she spoke. [#1407ca “Let the water’s be cleansed at the dragon’s roar.”] it had taken her some time for her to think up a phrase unique to her; she hadn’t bothered saying what she thought the other’s said - steel and all didn’t belong to someone like Misniq.
She stepped through the entrance thanking whoever had let her in, before lowering her hood and letting herself evaluate the situation; she smelt the air and cringed at the scent of decaying scent deciding it’d be best to stop by the medic area to check on those who needed her help the most; the walk had been gruelling and Misniq hated the fact she was so weak on land. They knew who she was as soon as she stepped into the tent - if that was what anyone could call the structure. [#1407ca “Do not fear, I am here.”] the water in her pockets began to move, as she approached the first of the most injured, sick and dying.
Misniq worked meticulously with the vial of water that she had, once she was sure she could do everything she could she thanked each of those who she had come to see before listening to the commotion that was being caused by the tavern, she was further impressed at the sound of what could have only been the call of a raven. Moving towards the tavern she brushed those who got in her way beside her gently, Misniq had always failed to put on a intimidating face, but it was the fact that her face was so kind and almost naturally motherly that allowed her to pass on without much hassle. [i “Will you go fetch the other Gods? I have need to speak with them.”] [#1407ca “I am here Zeothocris, though it seems only by happy coincidence.”] she then turned her attention to the small flaming hatchling. [#1407ca “By the oceans, it has been too long.”] she greeted the hatchling in dragon tongue; [#1407ca “Have the others arrived yet?”]
[Right [Pic https://i.imgur.com/YYo2yDF.jpg]]
[#008511 "Come now, don't be shy."] A youthful man sat at an old table, in front of him rested a rather large scaled egg in the process of hatching, the egg was placed on a tray surrounded by large heated coals to keep it warm. A black bird impatiently paced along the wooden table, tilting its head several times as its silver eyes flickered in the light. The man was Zeothocris, once revered as a God he now lived as a hermit amidst the thick forests of Barevor, he patiently waited as the egg cracked and pieces fell to the table, he did not help the hatchling except to clear away a few broken shell scales. In a tongue that was not human he spoke encouragement to the young dragon, and it finally broke free of its confines to look up at him.
His face was unmoving and his white eyes stared blankly into the void that he had always known, but Auga, the raven was there to let him see the world. Zeothocris could see some forms of light and shadow but could not distinguish shapes or features of those before him without the help of Auga. The bird evaluated the hatchling for Zeothocris, circling it repeatedly and giving an approving, gurgling croak that all was well. Scooping up the little hatchling in his hands the elder dragon in disguise protectively held it to his chest, reverberating a low rumble in his chest that soothed the drake into an exhausted slumber, breaking out of an egg was tough for them and then the ritual of binding magic would take a lot of energy.
Zeothocris knew the danger of what he and the others were doing, the world had changed into one of hostility and confinement, dragons were enslaved in chains or forced to fight for human amusement. He remembered a time when fledgling humans knelt before him and praised his teachings. The others provided humans with the skills to survive, foolishly believing their alliances were just, and for a long while it was. Three Ages had passed with peace and prosperity, but as the civilizations grew man suddenly had no use for their deities. Instead they became bitter, angry mobs who rebuked their tutelage and spat upon their temples, so many shrines and places of worship were destroyed.
Auga flew and alighted on Zeothocris' shoulder, guiding the blind man around his tiny, inconspicuous hut. The earth dragon had once shaped mountains and dug rivers, splitting great ravines and canyons, now he barely tended anything save for the secret hatchery he held in his cellar. It was a small hatchery, housing maybe twenty eggs at most, he knew to house more would be disastrous if they were discovered. Zeothocris knew humans were selling young drakes to the highest bidder, forcing them into slavery like common beasts of burden to build their cities and monuments. It was not the worst he heard about, some eggs were [b devoured], it made his stomach churn, one could hardly believe how they would boast drake eggs to be delicacies, and those too, would fetch high prices.
It was paramount to restoring the balance that what the elder dragons were doing remained secret, for years they had forsaken their majestic forms and debased themselves into the mortal clutches of Man. Yet in secret Zeothocris and the others have infiltrated the masses, sewing their brethren throughout human society like vengeful seeds. Each new hatchling that he helped would be bound in human form through ancient magic and given to a family to be taken care of. Most would be given to dragons in hiding, but some infants were not so lucky and were forced into human households, or worse, dumped in an orphanage because humans could not handle their volatile natures.
Dragon young were notoriously difficult to manage, not only did they have a bunch of mood swings and temperamental issues, but it was extremely taxing to be confined in a human form. The world held other hatcheries like Zeothocris kept, dotting the world of Barevor, hidden in the shadows to keep their people free. There were those dragons in chains, or fighting pits that the God knew suffered greatly at the sadistic hands of Man. Those that they manage to liberate go through the binding ritual right away to lose trail of the dragon and keep them safe. Not all of them remained sane enough to do so...
Those were the brethren Zeothocris grieved the most, driven insane by decades of torture and neglect, their bodies broken and starved beyond recognition. The most the Elders could do would be to grant them a quick death, that their spirits would return to the cosmos without pain and there the Dragon Gods would honor their souls properly. Zeothocris would often then grow a massive tree from the burial site of their fallen ally, larger than any other in the area to signal that it was here, that a Hero died and they would not be forgotten. He remembered all their names, keeping records of those born and those who have died, helped him in his sorrow.
Gently placing the sleeping hatchling in the bottom of a knapsack, holding a secret compartment hollowed from the bottom of the bag. He placed bits of dried meat and fruits along with the tiny dragon, before covering the secret area with a false bottom covering. More than once human patrols would demand to search him and his items, the secret bag let him sneak by unnoticed with the precious newborns. As powerful as Zeothocris was, he could not perform the binding ritual on his own, it takes three deities to turn a hatchling into a human. It would take even more to turn a fully grown dragon down into mortal form. However, as the eldest of their race all the Dragon Gods could 'unbind' themselves at will and often utilized this power to their advantage.
This was deep magic, as old as he was and he knew it had to be done with the utmost care, that is why he would venture into Arctivus in the dead of night. Yet he'd have to leave now to have enough time, provided there were no stops along the way. Putting the bag upon his back Zeothocris would start the long walk through the woods with Auga by his side, he'd keep off of the roads and travel by forest path to lessen his chances of being attacked or stopped.
Auga flew ahead once they were outside, lending a scouting eye to the Blind God as he carried the precious cargo into the fading light of the woods. The sun was setting, yet still with Auga's help Zeothocris could see the beauty of the world they all had made. Ravens and other birds could see more colors than humans, even those that human life could not. However, once the dark of night fell they'd have to be more careful, Auga could see in the dark as well as any average bird, but he was not an owl.
The sunset through the trees was truly beautiful, the sky was awash with reds, oranges and yellows, deepening through the tree tops as the sun lowered on their journey. Through the woods, thickets and meadows Zeothocris walked, using a spear as his walking stick as Auga kept alighting on canopies or flew above his head. Auga's help was more than just a pet or companion, Zeothocris entwined his conscious thought with Auga's through a magic skill known as [i sensory scrying], he used Auga as his eyes and in exchange Auga grew fat and content with the elder dragon's care. [i 'Much too fat...'] To which the raven gave an irritating noise at the thought, retorting in some small fractured thought that he could still fly so obviously his fatness was not an issue.
[center [b ~*~*~]]
It was the middle of the night by the time Zeothocris made it into Arctivus, one of the major human settlements that hid a dragon outpost within its walls, unknown to mankind. It was highly dangerous to plant an outpost in the slums of the city, but it was also their safest location to hide in plain sight. Dragon hunters scoured the countryside looking for elusive dragons, but not their own cities. As they entered the city Auga came back and rested on the man's shoulder, helping him through the labyrinth.
Auga saw few people going into the poor parts of the city but once in the slums there were throngs of those struck by poverty. Most barely had shelter, clothing was scarce and food was practically non-existent. It broke the old dragon's heart to see his 'children' so desperate, there were other dragons like him with bleeding hearts for 'the enemy' but there were plenty more who would take joy in the humans' discomfort and pain. It was a topic of debate for many. Zeothocris had compassion for those less fortunate, that did not mean he condoned their killing and violence towards his kind. Upon knocking at the hideout door, a sliding little slat opened, there was no voice from the other side as the person patiently waited for the passphrase.
[#008511 "Let steel be consumed in dragon fire."] There was a small pause before the locks were released and the door opened, letting the elder inside, Zeothocris nodded his thanks to the security. They had to be cautious. Their base of operations in Arctivus was actually several large buildings joined together, they had sustained a small civilization within the city. Operating a variety of stores and shops, dragons were colonizing their own inside the enemy's territory, Auga saw the smithy and tavern immediately first. The blacksmith breathed a cone of flame upon a piece of metal and continued shaping it into a weapon for war; the tavern was combined with an inn, many fighters for their cause would stay at the inns free of charge.
Tailor, apothecary, library, the dragon kind tried to preserve as many records as possible during these times, everything that was remotely resembling dragon deity worship was confiscated and the victim would be incarcerated. It was Zeothocris who started the library in this city, he brought down scroll after scroll from his temple, allowing scribes to translate and copy the works for their own libraries. The originals would never leave his possession, he chronicled everything through the ages and would be sad to part with them.
[b "Zeo!"] Auga and Zeothocris turned their heads in correspondence with the voice who called him by name, [b "I haven't seen you in a year, but I recognize Auga anywhere."] The raven fluffed up and chirruped as the bird was given attention and their belly was pet with a finger, how Auga loved being recognized. Yet the other elder's face became concerned, [b "You hardly come to Arctivus, is something wrong?"]
[#008511 "I have a special someone with me-not just Auga."] Zeothocris turned slightly to show the knapsack on his back, the other nodded and ushered him into the tavern. Once inside everyone soon found out about the little hatchling Zeo brought, all clamoring and cooing, gushing over the tiny dragon once he was brought them out of the bag. Other dragon-kin came from the other shops and buildings, it had been years since a hatchling was seen, and not one that went through the binding ritual yet. At first the hatchling was afraid and attempted to burn any fingers that reached forward but soon relaxed when the others talked in dragon tongue, sending them into little fiery hiccups. Turning to a younger dragon-kin, Zeothocris spoke quietly letting the others fawn over the baby. [#008511 "Will you go and fetch the other Gods? I have need to speak with them."] [right [pic https://imgur.com/krKdF0H.jpg]]
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