Private Tales Of Sand & Dragonfire

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Chaceledon

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“Can earth mages not call water from the very stones?” Chaceledon chuckled, winding his fingers in her hair. Ah good, he’d gotten his bedding. Now just to make sure he could keep the cosmetics. He kissed her collarbone, nuzzling into her breasts. “Besides, Rheinhard would never let us run out of water and Pedeo is only a few day’s travel north through the sands.”
He kissed her belly, his eyes flicking up to her.

“This all won’t take much room when I get it packed properly...and it is so comfortable...” his head ducked lower.

_______________________

Rheinhard looked at the fully packed wagon. Sacks of rice to serve as Chaceledon’s seat, jars carefully wrapped with the sponges from the baths, two large clay pots of sour meat that would last months with careful preparation, sacks of pepper and salt, preserved and pickled vegetables, a sack of dried fruit. Thank the gods the pets had ample food stores. It left precious little room for clothing. Their tent was transformed into a top for the cart, to protect their food and supplies from the rain and sands. The bedrolls lined the cart seat. The rest of the real estate was taken up by two huge water butts, filled to the brim, and water skins stashed under the seat.

They’d be wearing the clothing on their backs but they were stocked for two full weeks.

Volker glanced upstairs. She had better have whittled him down to what he could take in his pockets...

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta pulled back, a horrified and offended look on her face. "Maybe a water mage can. An earth mage can only push water out of a stone if there's water already in it to start with."

Chaceledon made up for it, though, continuing to work his mouth down her body.

“Besides, Rheinhard would never let us run out of water and Pedeo is only a few day’s travel north through the sands.”

"Just because we have enough water to drink doesn't mean we have enough water for bathing. But if you're desperate, I'll teach you the art of a sponge bath," she smirked, her eyes wandering over his exposed skin. "I'm sure I can make it quite pleasant for you."

“This all won’t take much room when I get it packed properly...and it is so comfortable...”

"Comfort is for the weak," Seteta scolded teasingly, draping her trouser-clad legs over his shoulders and squeezing his head between her knees for just a moment. "Are you, or are you not, a fierce dragon? Show me."



Seteta freed herself from Chaceledon's grasp and the tangle of blankets in the middle of the night, wandering back to the room where they'd... discussed Oor the day before. She'd left the enchanted necklace there, and while she was still loathe to handle it, it was a piece that was sentimental to Chaceledon... and it didn't seem like something that should be left lying around.

With a sigh, she picked it back up--once more using the hand towel to avoid physical contact with it--and carried it back to their room, quietly rousing Chaceledon as she returned to bed.

"I don't know what to do with this, but I don't think we should leave it here," she whispered, motioning to the necklace. "Do you think the spell on it can be broken? Would Oor know? It would be a nice surprise if you wore it into Pedeo and we made him think that you were... incapacitated. But you really weren't.

"You don't have to answer now, though," she finished, snuggling back into his embrace and laying a trail of kisses across his shoulder. "It's just something to think about."


Seteta woke early the next morning, but she didn't wander away from Chaceledon. If her plan was going to work, she had to keep him distracted until right before they left, so she quietly laid kisses across his face and down his chest, waiting for him to wake.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon looked at the necklace, frowning. He loved that piece, and it hurt him to see the gemstones marred so. But as long as they risked carrying it, they risked having a shackle with them. Even if Seteta didn’t want to put it on him, Klaus might. His son was loyal to him, but braced against his loyalty to Oor? Chaceledon didn’t like his chances. He sighed and threw a duvet around them, rolling the last of Seteta’s taste in his mouth like a fine aperitif.

“Sweet one, karami eh, the only one I know who could break the magic of a wraith that old is my father.” he muttered uneasily. Hokkaido, the leader of his dahn. Just the thought put an uneasy urge in him to straighten up, even after all these years.

He laid awake for a while and listened to Volker cooking, packing, and scouring the pet house. The man would sleep in the wee hours of the morning. Chaceledon snuggled down and closed his eyes with a sigh.

The dragon was roused in a most fantastic fashion. He woke sleepily, looking down at Seteta and smiling. Karami eh..” he purred, running his fingers through her hair. “I cannot wait to show you Pedeo. Ah, to design collars for Auction...I put in my bid a hundred times, you know. He’s denied me every time. What a picky old thing that fae is.”

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta smiled at the feel of Chaceledon's fingers in her hair, the sensation sending a light thrill down her spine. Her kisses slowly crept lower and lower down his torso, over his ribs and stomach before she paused to nibble on his hip.

"Maybe the hundred-and-first time will be the winning bid," she murmured against his skin before sending every thought of his fleeing that wasn't about her touch.


It was with a self-satisfied, cat-that-got-the-cream smirk that she shooed Chaceledon down the stairs a while later. Rheinhard had hollered up at them a while ago and Seteta had barely eaten the day before and she desperately wanted at least a few bites of something before they were on the road again.

Chaceledon, though, hadn't seemed to catch on to her tactics quite yet, though she doubted it would last much longer. Her ploy seemed to have worked, though. If he was too distracted to pack all night long, then it limited the amount of things he could take by default.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon was happy enough to dress and head downstairs to see how much room he had. He found that Rheinhard had made coffee, a rarity outside the sands. Coffee plants were temperamental, and in cooler coastal weather Chaceledon didn’t think he’d see a good cup until Pedeo. He settled at one of the tables, letting the steam from the hot, dark coffee warm his face. He sipped it; smooth and bitter like he’d wanted.

Was it too much to hope for that Volker had a lie-in...for once? He wandered out to the stables in a pair of pet house slippers, holding the coffee cup. He stopped when he saw Volker tying down the wagon.

“You’re already packed? You do know you can have a bit of a sleep in. We’re not on Oor’s schedule anymore.” Chaceledon looked in concern at the back of the wagon. “...Where’s the room for my things? Seteta’s things?”

Volker tied off a rope and leapt down from the wagon wheel, patting two small areas to either side of the front of the wagon. “You.” He patted the left. “Seteta.” He patted the right, and inspected the rest of the food. Chaceledon stared at his ‘cubby’. It was barely big enough for a housecat!

“Pet, you can’t be serious. Where are we to sit?”

“Rations is healed enough to ride but not to pull. You are sitting up front with me.” Volker told him in that clipped, short tone that said that was the way things were going to be.

The dragon hated that tone.


“Don’t be ridiculous, you sound like your father. We don’t need these two huge barrels do we? And...what in the blazes did you pack four sacks of rice for?”

“Oor isn’t any more a father than he is a husband. Those huge barrels are water. We’re going to the desert. I assumed we had not transformed into camels.”

Chaceledon huffed.
“I can’t bring anything?”

“You can bring what can fit in the hole.” Volker growled at him.

“Well we could-“

“Listen to me.” Volker approached him. “You have contributed precious little other than complaints. You need to accept the fact that we are on the run, and supplies take priority. No one gives half a damn what you look like. Looks won’t get you anything but raped out here. Tears may have swayed Oor and Seteta but they do nothing when you’re dead. Do you understand me? Finish your coffee, get some boots on, and sit in the seat or jog beside it. Stop acting like a child.”

Chaceledon slapped him.
“Don’t you dare talk to me like that, not after where we’ve been.” he bit his lip. Volker was right. He knew he was right. It didn’t make it sting any less. Looking at Rheinhard touching a cut from one of his glass nails, he knew he’d gone a touch far. “Hardy dear...I didn’t mean that..”

“What’s another scar?” Volker growled back darkly, and headed into the stable. He didn’t have any patience for the horses; he threw a rag around May’s eyes and forced her into the traces. Chaceledon watched him for a moment, and awkwardly headed back into the pet house. He kicked off the slippers quietly.
Seteta
 

Seteta

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While Chaceledon was wandering around with coffee, Seteta was repacking her satchel--thoroughly cleaned now after the swamp adventures--for... well, she wasn't sure how many times. Buried deep in the bottom of it, wrapped in that same hand towel, was the agate necklace from Oor. She didn't trust that leaving it behind, just sitting in a room, would truly keep it out of Klaus' hands. The robes Chaceledon had altered for her in Fal'Addas were next, and they honestly took up the most space. She refolded and squished them multiple times before being satisfied that they were as small as she could get them.

The rest of the satchel was filled out with clean stockings, the chopsticks and hair pins, and a lighter-weight set of clothing for when they actually reached the desert, as her linen leggings and abaya had been ruined beyond repair in the swamp. For travel now, she wore some woolen garments she'd scavenged as well in the pet house, and a new-to-her pair of leather boots.

When she'd finished with the satchel, Seteta picked out one of the smaller duvets and carefully folded it up as small as she could manage, as well as two of the pillows, and stuffed and squished them into a fabric sack that looked far too small to hold them.

It was with that in her arms and her satchel slung over her shoulder that she entered the stables just in time to... see the worst of it.

She ducked into a stall after she saw Chaceledon slap Rheinhard and waited a few minutes until Chaceledon had gone back to the pet house before she emerged. Rheinhard was finishing hitching a very nervous Mau to the wagon, and Seteta quietly dropped her bags into one of the empty spots in the wagon bed, and stepped up to hold Mau's head, whispering soothing words to the mare.

Seteta said nothing to Rheinhard, especially about what she'd seen between him and Chaceledon. It wasn't her place to apologize for Chaceledon's actions and even if she did, it would mean little. When Rheinhard was finished and had stepped away from Mau, Seteta untied the blindfold and gently scratched the mare's chin.

"We'll be ready to go soon," Seteta said. "Make sure to tend to that scratch. I'll saddle Rations right before we leave."

She was quiet when made her way back to the pet house and found Chaceledon. She didn't say anything about what happened in the stable, just motioned to the gathered cosmetics and bath supplies. "Which things are you taking?"

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon looked at the pile of things. It seemed so silly now. He grabbed a few bars of soap and one jar of face cream. Just survival essentials. Even those two things seemed immature compared to what Rheinhard had packed, and he sheepishly put them into his pockets. “He’s right. I don’t need all of this.” Chaceledon said, a bit mournfully. Volker was right but that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to be sad about leaving it all behind.

Cracked skin, fried hair, broken nails and filthy skin. That was what he had to sacrifice to get to Pedeo. Gods, would Persian recognize him as a wrinkled and leathery husk of a man? Smelling of sweat and reptile? He couldn’t remember ever arriving in Pedeo with anything less than full face makeup. Even when they were only there to breed replacements for one of the Volkers. He prided himself in his appearance, but he felt so embarrassed being cut down by Rheinhard. He was used to living with everything, and Rheinhard living with nothing.

“I’m ready to go.” he said, wandering outside and getting into the wagon. Volker climbed up next to him and took the reins without a word.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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"It's not forever," Seteta said quietly as Chaceledon picked out a few things to take. "It's just long enough to get free."

As Chaceledon returned the wagon, Seteta plucked out just a couple more bottles of things--what looked like a thick, heavy lotion, because the desert sands could be drying if you weren't used to them and even without considering vanity, cracked skin was a risk for infection, and a bottle of hair oil. Then she retrieved the bundle of pet tags and personal effects that they'd collected, and joined the men at the stable.

She tucked the last few items into the wagon, saddled Rations, then gave Chaceledon and Rheinhard a fond smile, though her eyes were a little sad.

"Let's go."

The hardest parts were still ahead, and there was no avoiding them if they wanted to have even the slimmest shot at success.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon settled in for the journey, anxiously running a bone comb through his hair. He had little else to do. Volker was occupied running the cart, Seteta with traveling along beside them. Volker occasionally watched Rations for signs of hitches in movement. He seemed alright, but he kept the pace slow so the animal could keep up.

“Make yourself useful.” Volker leaned back and plunked a small satchel of herbs into Chaceledon’s lap. “Shred those. We put them into the horses’ feed in the desert, to give them strength and keep the saliva flowing.”

The dragon didn’t complain, and silently shredded the bag in his hands. At least his hands would smell pleasantly. There was mint, and parsnip heads, that would encourage the horses to keep eating even in poor foliage. He kept his eyes on his hands.

When they made camp that evening, Chaceledon tried to be less useless. He lit their fire and helped gather moss for Rheinhard’s bed. He listened to the man when he put up the tent, and watched him cook. If he could at least take over the cooking...maybe that would free up his son to rest a bit. That left Seteta to care for the horses. Chaceledon was making an effort, even if he did burn the rice and make a bit of a shambles out of dinner.

He sat down shamefully with his bowl, picking at it. “I’m sorry for burning dinner dear.” he apologized to Volker.

“It does not need to taste good.” Volker said, shoveling the contents of his own bowl into his mouth without much preamble. Chaceledon looked to Seteta for help. He was trying.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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The awkward tension between Chaceledon and Rheinhard was obvious for the rest of the day, especially since Seteta had to pace Rations to not strain his still-healing wounds. When Rheinhard told Chaceledon to work at shredding herbs, she eyed them curiously. She didn't have much experience caring for horses, mostly camels, though there had been enough horses owned by others of her tribe that she'd learned how to ride one.

Chaceledon hardly interacted with much around him, though, let alone her or Rheinhard, and Seteta found herself watching the pair worriedly off and on throughout the day.

She couldn't hold back a quiet sigh of relief when they finally stopped for the night, and she fled the awkwardness to feed and groom the horses, then ran through her knife drills.

When she returned, dinner was a... strange affair. It seemed that Chaceledon had tried to help cook. She dished up her own food, trying not to make her amusement too obvious, and sat down next to Chaceledon.

He sat down shamefully with his bowl, picking at it. “I’m sorry for burning dinner dear.” he apologized to Volker.

“It does not need to taste good.” Volker said, shoveling the contents of his own bowl into his mouth without much preamble. Chaceledon looked to Seteta for help. He was trying.

"We all have to start somewhere when we're trying to learn something new," she smiled gently, ignoring the crunch of burned and yet somehow not quite cooked rice between her teeth.

The wind picked up gently from the west, then, and Seteta was distracted by everything else as she took a deep breath. "Can you smell it?" she asked, turning her face into the breeze. "It's faint, but it's there. The scent of the desert on the wind."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon smelled it. The scent of home. Dryness and heat, roiling sands stretching to the sea. He could smell little tendrils on the air that made him set his food aside and stand next to Seteta. That was home. That was where they were going. That was sunlight and warmth and flight. He closed his eyes and lifted his chin, breathing deeply.

“Home..” he said softly. “This is the closest I’ve been to the sands in so long.”

Volker silently rose. “We are not there yet. I will feel better when you are able to bask properly and change. Once you become a dragon again, there is little that will challenge us.” He pointed out. He set his finished bowl aside, and got up to go to bed.
Chaceledon watched him go curl up in his nest, sighing. He had to make it up to Volker somehow. Striking him hadn’t been fair, or right.


“Do you think he fears I’ll forget him after we reach the sands? The sands mean freedom for me...even Oor would struggle to contain a dragon in the desert. But...Rheinhard is bound by a warlock bond, and that is stronger. At the moment, if Oor dies, so does he.” Chaceledon shook his head. He wasn’t forgetting Rheinhard. His son deserved freedom. They all did. “You should get some rest. I’m going to clean my cooking mess and spare Rheinhard the morning chores.”

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta turned to look at Chaceledon as he came up beside her.

The scent of home. Dryness and heat, roiling sands stretching to the sea. He could smell little tendrils on the air that made him set his food aside and stand next to Seteta. That was home. That was where they were going. That was sunlight and warmth and flight. He closed his eyes and lifted his chin, breathing deeply.

“Home..” he said softly. “This is the closest I’ve been to the sands in so long.”

His voice was wistful, and she could see the longing on his face. She slipped her hand into his and gave it a gentle, reassuring squeeze.

“We are not there yet. I will feel better when you are able to bask properly and change. Once you become a dragon again, there is little that will challenge us.” He pointed out.

"We may not be there yet," Seteta murmured as Rheinhard prepared to sleep, "but the scent of home can be almost as powerful as actually being there, at times."

“Do you think he fears I’ll forget him after we reach the sands? The sands mean freedom for me...even Oor would struggle to contain a dragon in the desert. But...Rheinhard is bound by a warlock bond, and that is stronger. At the moment, if Oor dies, so does he.” Chaceledon shook his head. He wasn’t forgetting Rheinhard. His son deserved freedom. They all did. “You should get some rest. I’m going to clean my cooking mess and spare Rheinhard the morning chores.”

"I think he fears the unknown, more than you forgetting him," Seteta answered, turning to slip her arms around Chaceledon's waist and resting her head against his chest. "He was raised to be Oor's guard dog. That has been his purpose, and he probably has no idea what to do with himself if this gamble actually pays off.

"A warlock bond, you say?" Seteta murmured thoughtfully. "I met a warlock, not long before I came to Fal'Addas. But his arrangement seemed to be a willing one."

Seteta pulled back, smiling fondly up at Chaceledon before reaching to tug him down for a soft kiss. "Are you sure you don't want my help cleaning up? It'll go faster, and we can... rest sooner."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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“I know what he wants to do. He wants to get married. Have a family. The same as I, though I don’t think I’ll hang up my designing scissors quite so eagerly.” Chaceledon kissed the top of her head and held her, breathing in the last tendrils of the sand before it shifted again, and brought back wet and cold. He kissed her cheek, and held her for a moment. Karami eh, I would be terrified if not for you.”

He appreciated she was flirting with him, but he wasn’t quite in the mood. He smiled and touched her cheek. “Get some rest. I’ll be in soon.” he told her affectionately, and moved away to gather the dishes.

When Seteta entered the tent, it was black. Black as pitch, as though she’d opened the door to a very old and well sealed cellar. If she tried to move and back out, she would back into nothing but blackness. Everywhere she turned, black, and her voice was swallowed up as though she screamed at naught but a wall.

Little girl, I warned you. Oor growled at her. Did you think I left so soon? I can see I’ll have to beat some sense into you. With you gone...Chaceledon and Volker will return to the fold.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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"Even good things can be unknown things," Seteta murmured as Chaceledon released her from his embrace.

He smiled and touched her cheek. “Get some rest. I’ll be in soon.” he told her affectionately, and moved away to gather the dishes.

She lingered for just a moment, watching to make sure that Chaceledon wouldn't accidentally set something on fire... though really, she just wanted to watch him. There was a warmth slowly etching its into her soul, and she wanted to know every moment of it. Savor it.

With those thoughts distracting her, Seteta didn't notice if there was anything unusual about the tent before she ducked inside.

But then everything--the sounds of Chaceledon at the campfire, the horses quietly snuffling, even the breeze against the side of the tent--vanished as the flap fell closed behind her.

And there was only darkness, and... otherness.

"Chaceledon! Rheinhard!" she called out desperately at the top of her lungs, though she doubted they were able to hear her. But she still had to try.

Little girl, I warned you. Oor growled at her. Did you think I left so soon? I can see I’ll have to beat some sense into you. With you gone...Chaceledon and Volker will return to the fold.

At the wraith's voice, Seteta straightened. "Will they?" she asked. "I wouldn't be so sure."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Her voice was swallowed up by the black. It was featureless and flat, and the feeling of emptiness. It was the desert at night, devoid of feeling and sound. Oor walked to her in the darkness, arms crossed over his chest, his expression dark. I know they will. At the very least, Volker will. Chaceledon isn’t strong enough to persist, and neither are you. Let’s see how they do without you.

The tent collapsed, folding in to the ground. Volker’s head shot up, and he hurried to the tent. He lifted the cloth, frowning as Chaceledon hurried over. “...Oor.” Volker said, lifting the tent.

Chaceledon felt a cold rock sink into his stomach. SETETA!” he screamed desperately to the woods.

__________________________

Seteta woke in a large bed. It was plush, a nest of pillows in various patterns of black silk. The duvet alone was a king’s ransom, cushioned around her body. The room was small and dark, and rounded. There was a fireplace to the left of the huge bed, crackling away. The stone was streaked black granite, carved in the symbol of the Volker house: twin pit dogs snarling to either side of the fire.

The rug was a taxidermied bear. The floor underneath was the same black granite as the fireplace, making the entire room look like the featureless void that had brought here there. A few bookshelves lined the walls, there was a generous closet to the left that was strangely bare, and a large steam trunk at the end of the bed. To the right was a closed and locked mahogany door.

Beyond the rug, there was a pair of large glass paned doors leading to what appeared to be a bioluminescent jungle. Thick fungi, some as large as a man, pulsed with soft blue light. The garden itself was dark, obscuring the view of the main house. She was alone, and it was deathly silent but for the fireplace. Beyond the garden was the main house...but fifteen foot high walls tipped in iron spines lined the entirety of the property. There were no gates Seteta could find, and the granite was too smooth to climb.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta did not have the chance to respond again, as Oor did or said something that made the blackness overtake her and her awareness vanished.

There was blackness again when she woke, but of a different kind, and she immediately noticed the heat of the fire. She laid there quietly for a moment, listening for anything else around her. When there was only silence beyond the crackling of the fire, she sat up.

Her stomach twisted at the sight of the bed, Chaceledon's words from days ago echoing through her mind. When I think of biting you, I’m back there again on black sheets with his teeth around my throat.

Ignoring her horror, she looked around the room.

Everything was granite, and a sly smile crossed her lips, though she quickly wiped it away in case Oor had a way of observing her.

Not every earth mage could manipulate stone, but she could. Provided that magic itself would cooperate with her when she needed it to. It was not as easy as manipulating earth, but stone and earth were made of the same things, ultimately.

For a few moments, she thought she might be in Oor's own chambers, and a shudder ran through her. But then she caught sight of the empty closet, and the size of it.

He put me in Chaceledon's room, she realized. Either to taunt me, or to torment him later with my scent. Perhaps both.

She glanced at the mahogany door, but didn't even consider trying to open it. She was sure it was locked, and she wasn't going to break her wrists trying to force it open. The garden was what truly caught her eye, though. The fungi, mesmerizing as the sight of them was, had to be growing in some kind of medium. With any luck, Klaus hadn't mentioned much about her earth mage abilities to Oor. While she could work with the granite, if necessary, actual earth would be much better.

Cautiously, she left the bed and went to see if the glass-paned doors would open for her.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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The glass paned doors were locked, and it was a good thing too. One of the pit bulls on the fireplace growled, laying its short, triangular ears back. The other had its head turned toward her, mouth slowly closed and ears back. They didn’t like her getting anywhere near those doors, and seemed prepared to step down off their stone platforms and stop her, if necessary.

Outside in the garden, she was being watched. A tall fae, in a stained canvas duster with glasses on his nose, watched her from a sweeping stone couch. He had a leather bound sketchbook on his lap, drawing her as though she were an interesting bird in a cage. He was middle aged as far as fae went, and fairly handsome in the androgynous way they bent toward. His short black hair was graying, long streaks of silver threatening the dark. He had several instruments in holsters across his chest; sextants, drawing materials, measuring tape. For the moment, he was unarmed.

Oor set a tea pot down on a nearby table, and poured him a cup. The fae took his and hovered it under his lips, eyes on Seteta.

Well? I’m sorry she’s interrupted your visit. My spouse is becoming increasingly hard to control. Oor mentioned, taking his own seat. He eyed Seteta as well. She is a problem.

Abtati. A fairly young one, as well.” Persian muttered. “Pretty thing. You’re thinking of pairing her with Rheinhard? Has this latest indiscretion become a bit too much for you?”

I was thinking so, yes. I wanted your opinion. You trade in enough Abtati elves.

“My opinion? I think you want to break your dragon. Wouldn’t a dream constructed from her be sufficient enough to cow Chaceledon? I’d hesitate to shatter that talent with gemstone.” Persian said. “Unlock the door, you know even if she escapes she can’t go anywhere.”

Oor sighed and waved a hand. The glass doors unlocked with a click.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta didn't react to the growling dog, but made sure not to make any sudden moves that might set them off. A glance down at her thigh revealed that her knife had been removed and she scowled. Regardless of potential canine maulings, she would really like to have that back. It had not been cheap.

Her hands fell away from the door, and she crossed her arms with a sigh, examining what she could see of the garden from within the room, and through the reflections of the glass and the glowing fungi, she realized that Oor and another were watching her.

Between the crackling fire, the growling dogs, and the granite walls and glass doors, though, she couldn't hear what they were saying. But they were, clearly, talking about her, and a moment later the wraith waved a hand and she heard the doors unlock.

Hesitantly, she reached out to try and open them again, listening for the dogs to react. When the knob twisted, she turned it all the way till it unlatched, then glanced back at the dogs. The one still growled lowly, but she was confident enough in her speed and their distance that she quickly opened the door and slipped out of it, latching it behind her before the dogs could do anything.

She'd outwitted and outpaced a Zephyr wolf. Two guard dogs were nothing.

Seteta didn't rush to join Oor and his guest, but she didn't linger in the garden either, walking at a relaxed pace as she looked around. She couldn't tell right away what the fungi was growing on or in, but most importantly, she could sense earth nearby. And as long as she could sense it, she could use it. But not yet.

She didn't bother to greet either... man when she approached them. She simply looked between the two of them, arched a brow, and seated herself on the ground, cross-legged.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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They watched her explore the garden, with the interest of men at a cattle drive looking at a cow. Oor’s feelings on the matter were clear; he was looking at her like the nail a hammer was set to drive into wood. He was looking at her as some weak creature he could use to cow Chaceledon into subservience for the next fifteen thousand years. It was another shift of the pieces to continue a dance. For Seteta herself, he had nothing but contempt and hatred. Giving Chaceledon a little hope had been reasonable. Giving him too much? Dangerous.

Persian was of a different mind. He and Oor had a mutually beneficial relationship; Persian used Oor to promote the successes of a slave breeding program (best exemplified with men like Ferenzi), and enjoyed quite high fees for such a service. Oor using Seteta wasn’t at all to his advantage; he could get nothing out of this deal. That, and he objected to breeding slaves that weren’t created and trained for the purpose.

Seteta sat in front of them, and Persian leaned down to extend a hand to her. “Persian de Soto. I believe I’ve owned a few of your tribesmen; that build of yours is quite distinctive.” He greeted her in Abtati.

You do not have to afford her respect. She is a prisoner here. Not a guest. Oor said coldly.

“So you’ve said. I believe she’d be a poor pairing for Rheinhard. As much as you want to push that dragon of yours closer and closer to breaking...you wouldn’t breed a prize pit dog to a lap dog. Like to like.” Persian winked at Seteta as he sat back.

Oor studied her a moment. Perhaps. Perhaps I’ll give her to Gaal. Unless, Seteta, you can be dissuaded from this ridiculous idea of bringing Chaceledon back to the sands. You know nothing about him, or his culture, or what it would mean.

Seteta
 

Seteta

The Dragon's Beloved
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Seteta eyed the proffered hand dubiously and didn't move to take it, though her gaze flickered up at his introduction.

Persian de Soto. I believe I’ve owned a few of your tribesmen; that build of yours is quite distinctive.”

So this was Persian.

"It's possible," she answered quietly in Abtat. Almost every tribe of Abtati had those who'd been enslaved by some master or another.

You do not have to afford her respect. She is a prisoner here. Not a guest. Oor said coldly.

"Prisoner or hostage?" she said with a saccharine smile, switching back to Common. "There is a minor difference between the two, but still a difference."

“So you’ve said. I believe she’d be a poor pairing for Rheinhard. As much as you want to push that dragon of yours closer and closer to breaking...you wouldn’t breed a prize pit dog to a lap dog. Like to like.” Persian winked at Seteta as he sat back.

"Even lap dogs have teeth and claws," she smirked at Persian, but resisted a shudder. Paired with Rheinhard? Even if it were possible--and that was not a secret she was about to divulge to either of these men--the thought was reprehensible. Not because of Rheinhard as a person but... at best, even if they all survived this, he would be... sort of a son. Maybe more like a brother or cousin.

Not a potential mate. Ever.

Oor studied her a moment. Perhaps. Perhaps I’ll give her to Gaal. Unless, Seteta, you can be dissuaded from this ridiculous idea of bringing Chaceledon back to the sands. You know nothing about him, or his culture, or what it would mean.

A rage as cold as ice washed through her veins, and Seteta turned a scathing look toward Oor.

"I know nothing about him?" Her voice was low and frigid. "You are the one who has to keep him frozen and threatened to even have the mere illusion of him willingly at your side."

She wanted to say more, so so much more, but she bit her tongue and looked away, jaw tensing as she tried to quell her rage. She did not want to get herself killed.

You are the one who cannot even see how close Chaceledon is to simply giving up, and not in a way that you will be able to keep him, she thought to herself. You didn't bother to court him. You are too weak to even dare allow him to stand at your side in his full glory.

He is mine, and not because of threats.


When she looked back at the men, her eyes were dark with intense determination. "Besides, would you even believe me? It's not like you actually gave me a chance to do anything you said at the pet house.

"Does Persian know about that, by the way?" Her flickered to the fae curiously. "That Chaceledon discovered one of his pet houses destroyed?"

She wasn't sure if the information would be useful at all, but anything she might use to throw a wrench into this discussion and draw the focus completely off herself would be helpful.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Dead body is a third option. Dinner course a fourth. Oor replied coldly. I don’t tolerate mouthiness in my captives.

“Oh come off it, it’s entertaining.” Persian chuckled, and eyed her as they mentioned Rheinhard. “I wouldn’t worry. Rheinhard’s breeding is a matter of careful importance and not something rushed into. After all, Oor will be wasting considerable time raising another useless generation if he makes the wrong step.”

Oor made a dismissive noise. Persian was, of course, correct. Useless generations of Volkers were hundreds of years of waste. Not only that, but bare bones bank accounts. Perhaps using Seteta in that manner wouldn’t be the most beneficial, even if it was the most damaging to Chaceledon. He glared at her. It isn’t as though he was making the most out of life. He was, and remains to be, a spoiled, arrogant, loud, brat. If anything I’ve improved him and taught him a modicum of humility? Besides, you didn’t do a damned thing with that necklace. You probably ran straight to him like the love struck fool you are.

Persian sat up a bit when she mentioned the pet house. “Destroyed..?” He asked. “Seteta, it’s very important you’re correct. It was a pet house and not an inn...? One of my pet houses..? And if you were there...” he glanced at Oor. “...you neglected to mention it.”

Dead slaves are of no interest to anyone. Oor sneered.

Persian frowned. “I wonder if you wouldn’t be able to give me more details, Seteta. This is quite upsetting.” He glanced at Oor. “If your new owner wouldn’t mind.”

Seteta
 

Seteta

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It was all Seteta could do to keep from rolling her eyes.

[Oor] glared at her. It isn’t as though he was making the most out of life. He was, and remains to be, a spoiled, arrogant, loud, brat. If anything I’ve improved him and taught him a modicum of humility? Besides, you didn’t do a damned thing with that necklace. You probably ran straight to him like the love struck fool you are.

"You didn't change him," Seteta replied. "He chose to change. Certainly, you may have forced him into some situations that he otherwise may have encountered at far later times in his life, and some that he may not have encountered at all. Someone who does not know humility cannot teach humility. The Volkers have taught him far more than you ever did or could."

She snorted softly. "As for the necklace... you made no stipulations about when I was to put it on him. You just told me to have him in the Lion House by the end of the year. If anything, all you are proving to me now is that even were I inclined to give up on this 'ridiculous idea' you wouldn't keep your end of the bargain. It's been two days since you first approached me.

"You are impatient, which explains your need to force yourself on Chaceledon in the first place, rather than properly wooing and courting him according to his customs. Like I have."

Her eyes glinted. The gauntlet was laid, and she didn't care. Oor was proving to be an incompetent antagonist, and while she would not underestimate his cruelty, it was time he knew that she was not to be trifled with either.

Seteta turned her attention back to Persian, but kept an eye on Oor. She fully expected some sort of retaliation--likely physical--and she didn't want to be caught off guard.

Persian sat up a bit when she mentioned the pet house. “Destroyed..?” He asked. “Seteta, it’s very important you’re correct. It was a pet house and not an inn...? One of my pet houses..? And if you were there...” he glanced at Oor. “...you neglected to mention it.”

Dead slaves are of no interest to anyone. Oor sneered.

"It was a pet house," Seteta confirmed. "Chaceledon found a collar, one he recognized. Said he knew the one who made it. We collected all the pet tags we found, and other personal effects."

Persian frowned. “I wonder if you wouldn’t be able to give me more details, Seteta. This is quite upsetting.” He glanced at Oor. “If your new owner wouldn’t mind.”

Seteta sneered. "Unlike Chaceledon, I think Oor will find that with me, a single kidnapping does not a possession make. I am owned by no one."

Fixing her gaze on Persian, she made a proposition. "I suppose the real question is, what are you willing to do for me in exchange for the information about the pet house?"

She doubted it would get her freedom. But it might earn her some small modicum of protection, at least for a while, and right now she would take whatever advantage she could get.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Persian laughed. She wheeled and dealed exactly as so many Abtati that came before her. “Please, I have to defer to my host.” He gestured to Oor.

We have business to discuss. Surely Kennedi can get the details from her and relay them to you later? After all, this sounds as though the slaves are already dead. No real emergency. Oor said. Persian nodded, and put a pair of fingers to his mouth. He whistled sharply.

A middle aged man dressed sharply in a suit came down from the main house. His clothing was well made but not expensive, obviously donned with care. His skin was the color of black coffee, with intelligent hazel eyes. His frizzy black hair was cropped close to his skull, and the wrinkles around his eyes put him in his early forties. A thick brass collar encircled his throat, padded in leather for comfort. He approached them, standing next to Persian.

He bowed to his master at the waist, and regarded Seteta curiously. “You whistled?” The man inquired in a smooth baritone.

“Yes. This young woman has stumbled upon a ruined pet house. If you would; I have business to attend to here with Oor.” Persian reached up and touched the man’s cheek affectionately. “I thought you could show her around Witherhold. Gods know you’ve been here enough with me and Oor’s staffing is part of our discussion.”

“Of course. Miss, my name is Kennedi; I am Persian’s personal pet.” Kennedi nodded, and turned to Seteta. He offered her the crook of his arm, and walked down the lane with her. The garden had a bit of a circuitous route around the main house, and Kennedi led her toward a secluded area full of softly glowing ferns.

“You really ought not to provoke Oor.” Kennedi told her as they walked, though his eyes were shining in amusement. “I hear you’ve got the entire estate in a tizzy stealing the two most expensive slaves this side of the mountains.”

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta sighed and scrunched her nose. Well, it had been worth a try, and she was unsure whether this development was a success or not.

We have business to discuss. Surely Kennedi can get the details from her and relay them to you later? After all, this sounds as though the slaves are already dead. No real emergency. Oor said.

"I said we found tags and collars," Seteta smiled softly, teasingly. "Not corpses or a mass grave."

When the dark-skinned man appeared, though, she rose to her feet. Clearly, she was being dismissed, and while the thought of making someone forcibly haul her away was tempting, she wanted to maintain a little more control than that would allow.

She nodded when Kennedi introduced himself, but didn't take his elbow when it was offered, opting instead to walk beside him. She wouldn't turn down a tour of the place, even if it was incomplete, and even if it ended... poorly. If she were to have any chance of escape, she needed to know what resources she might be able to use.

The ferns were a promising sight. Nearly all plant life required soil, after all.

“You really ought not to provoke Oor.” Kennedi told her as they walked, though his eyes were shining in amusement. “I hear you’ve got the entire estate in a tizzy stealing the two most expensive slaves this side of the mountains.”

"Oh, I think that ship has sailed," she laughed softly. "If what you say is true, then the initial act itself was the main provocation. The only thing left now is to actually finish the job."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Kennedi kept them walking through the ferns, putting his hands behind his back when it was clear she didn’t want to take the offered elbow. He smiled at her, shaking his head. “I can agree. Oor is quite easy to provoke when he can’t openly beat you in front of my master. I would watch yourself, lest you escape with less skin than you started out with.” He mentioned. “I heard you stumbled across a pet house with the pets missing. You took the collars; that was good of you to do. We can identify who has passed by the collars. I’m afraid our collars are what defines us as pets, and what marks us for Persian’s protection. Without knowing them personally...it becomes a matter of someone proving they were once a pet rather than a desperate slave. I have a feeling, based on what little you’ve said, that they’re likely dead or wishing they were.”

Kennedi shook his head. “Was it the pet house near Vel Anir? I’d hoped the Anirans would start to view pets a little more favorably if they had a house nearby. Or perhaps the one north of Falwood? Bandits are always a concern but if they’re familiar with pets they usually go for hostage compensation versus outright murder.” He steered her toward an open side door, across a little sitting patio.

The door led into yet another granite hallway, black as midnight, and dimly lit by small magelights along the walls and floor. “Wraiths prefer darkness.” Kennedi explained with a mirthless, tight-lipped smile.

Seteta