Private Tales Of Sand & Dragonfire

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Chaceledon

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The pit dogs looked at her a bit eagerly. They waited for her as the meat roasted, getting closer and closer. They took her tidbits, but were slightly more enthusiastic each time. When she offered in her hand, the left hand dog swept it off her skin with a lick of his tongue. The other shoved his head into the fire and grabbed her Gnathi, lifting it aloft.

The other dog snapped to try and get a piece of the food, the first pit bull swinging the roasted Gnathi away. The second growled and barked soundlessly at him, pawing at him with the squeal of stone on stone.

If Seteta wanted any piece of her dinner, she’d have to act quickly.

_________________

Volker’s eyes opened. No Mau. No Chaceledon. One of his knives was missing. He stood up with an angry growl and investigated the hoof prints leading away into the woods. Chaceledon was heading into the black woods in the middle of the night! More than that, if he hit the swamps they could be down two horses. He set off at a trot, stopping occasionally to make sure he didn’t lose the trail. Chaceledon hid himself about as well as a bull troll.

The dragon was blindly directing Mau toward the portal stone. He was sure it was this way...wasn’t it? He had to find Seteta. He couldn’t let that monster touch her. The thought of Oor laying hands on her...what sort of man was he to sit and cry while she suffered?!

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta groaned and stood when the other pit statue sniped her dinner off the hearth. She kept one eye on the dog with the gnathi and where it was being flung around, and kept watch on the other dog. As soon as she saw a moment, she leapt and grabbed the gnathi, and dangled it overhead.

"No!" she barked, voice low and commanding to get their attention on her instead of the food. They seemed to act like real dogs, so hopefully the methods for handling real dogs would work. When the next one lunged for the bird, she reached out and whacked its nose with her palm, drawing on just enough magic to put force behind her blow. Otherwise, flesh against stone would be futile.

"No." Again, firmly, and she looked back and forth between the dogs. "Sit! Do you know sit?"

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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The dogs sat, sharply, eyeing her with the Gnathi. They hadn’t expected her to be able to hurt them. The one she’d struck snorted and shook its head. They were focused on her, and obviously happy to be running about. Animated with similar magic to the walls, the granite pit dogs would be quite responsive to her touch.

Eventually they laid down, still very much interested in her food but no longer willing to challenge her for it. Oor opened the door, and eyed them. The dogs immediately went to their places on either side of the fireplace, and went still.

Well, it seems Chaceledon is on his way back home, as planned. It’ll be a cold day in hell before that man can outsmart me.
Seteta
 

Seteta

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Despite the circumstances, Seteta couldn't help a smile when the dog responded to her touch, and when both of them obeyed her command. "Good dogs," she crooned softly, and resumed roasting the gnathi as they laid down to watch her.

She put the gnathi back over the fire to finish roasting, and sat on the floor with a sigh. "I bet he'd go crazy if he knew I'd butchered a bird in his old room," Seteta chuckled softly, but her amusement faded quickly, and she sighed. How long was I unconscious? she wondered. At least one night. Probably more. Chaceledon never gave an exact location for Witherhold, just that it was underground, and there was an entrance in Falwood.

She sat like that for a while, turning the gnathi every so often as she thought. Strategized. She ran over her options--and what she'd learned here so far--over and over again. She still knew too little, but other than what she might observe or trick out of Oor, she knew it would have to do. At some point, she would have to make a gamble, and hope that the odds went in her favor.

Just as she had deemed the gnathi to be finished cooking and was pulling it off the fire, Oor entered the room.

She barely gave him the courtesy of acknowledging him with a glance as he sent the dogs back to their pedestals with barely even a look. The gnathi she set on the hearth.

Well, it seems Chaceledon is on his way back home, as planned. It’ll be a cold day in hell before that man can outsmart me.

Gods, he's such an idiot! she thought, schooling her face so her frustration didn't show. Hopefully Rheinhard can stop him, because it's going to be infinitely more difficult to break both of us out, rather than just me.

"Outsmart you?" she raised an eyebrow as she turned her gaze on Oor with a wry smile. "I would never expect of Chaceledon."

You're driving him crazy, aren't you? She thought to herself. Sending him images like you did with me in the hall. That's not outsmarting him. That's fear.

"Were you joining me for dinner?" Seteta asked brazenly, on a whim, gesturing toward the roasted gnathi. "I'm sure there's plenty for both of us."

In her experience, nothing threw off a bully faster than being unexpectedly civil.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Oor chuckled. Well, he thinks he can. He said, settling himself on the edge of the bed to watch her cook the Gnathi. Rheinhard will be easy enough to bring to heel. We are bound together. All I need do is tug the leash, and he will come to me like a loyal hound to a whistle. Chaceledon is emotional and doesn’t think. One trait I knew I had to breed out of my Volkers early on.

He smiled. Finally a bit of manners. As you should. Yes, I shall join you. Oor stood and went to Chaceledon’s closet, opening a small cabinet. He returned with one of Chaceledon’s quartz plates, and a bronze cup. He offered them to her, and pulled a bottle of wine from the nightstand. He poured her a drink. I wanted to give you this, as well. I want you to know that your mission is useless, and it‘s only fair I provide proof.

Oor pulled a parchment letter from his robes and offered it to her. A letter from Hokkaido, the leader of Chaceledon’s dahn. Chaceledon is an embarrassment, and has been for a long time. I was told in no small terms to keep him...and that he has been wiped from family memory. Even if you did manage to find them, he is no longer theirs.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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"I knew Chaceledon would never outsmart you the moment he insisted that Rheinhard come with us," Seteta said, fond disappointment coloring her voice. "But breeding all emotion out of something is how you ended up with Klaus."

She took the plate and cup, and didn't refuse the wine that Oor poured, though she wasn't likely to drink it. She tore a leg off the gnathi and set it on the plate, then sat back on the bearskin rug before beginning to eat.

When Oor offered her the folded parchment, she gave it a skeptical glance. Chaceledon had mentioned Hokkaido and his dahn several times. Why does Oor think that Chaceledon's only choices are to be here, or to be with his dahn?

"What reason do I even have to believe that letter is not a forgery?" she asked. "I've never met his dahn. Nor seen Hokkaido's hand. The only thing that will lead me to believe your words are true is if I take Chaceledon to them and hear it from their own mouths.

"Besides," she grinned, ripping meat off the gnathi's bones with her teeth. "If they will not claim him, then I will."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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He never would have left them behind. Rheinhard would need to break his pact with me and find a suitable master for the Well, and we all know no one else can handle them. I am his only option. He knows it, I know it. Oor said lightly. Klaus has emotions. Too many, I should think. But he’s also the only one to inherit the Well as a babe. I did experiments with each man. Evoth I had Gaal lobotomize. Ferenzi I raised in the Court. Nestor I cultured in intelligence. Huron I allowed to get married and fall in love. All aborted before it went too far. Rheinhard is my experiment in utter efficiency. No love. No attachments. Just efficient.

The wraith poured himself a glass of wine. Chaceledon was a part of that. What would happen if I actually gave them a mother? He chuckled to himself and set the letter down. Show that to Chaceledon if ever you see him again. He’ll recognize his own fathers hand. You think it’s all so simple, that dragons are men and he’d be content living in a tent in the desert. All that’s keeping him going is this idea he’s got of introducing you to the parents.
Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta raised a brow when Oor said that Rheinhard was nothing but efficiency. No love or attachments, but she didn't counter his words. The wraith either wouldn't believe her, or he would and that would put Rheinhard in danger. And though, truly, Rheinhard was as an efficient killer as she'd ever encountered, she would not go so far as to call him cruel or unfeeling. Rather, she'd seen a depth of devotion from the man--especially when it came to Chaceledon--that was endearing.

As Oor set the letter down, Seteta watched him closely. It was... interesting. He said Chaceledon was on his way back here, but for him to feel it necessary to give her the letter--and she was certain it was forged, regardless, and if it wasn't, then the dahn could tell them to her face--Oor must feel threatened by her.

"We haven't even talked about me meeting his parents as anything other than a point of contact," she smiled serenely. "And if a tent in the desert couldn't keep me satisfied, I would never expect it of him."

Seteta resisted the urge to look pointedly around this black granite room. Even a tent in the desert would be better than this, because he could be free.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Oor was threatened by her. The only thing that could truly destabilize a reign of terror and abuse was hope. Rheinhard had little hope; he was coming for Chaceledon’s sake. He had precious little to fight for, and what he did want he was too afraid to reach for. That tiny flame could be crushed. Chaceledon’s was growing. Seteta had shown patience and love for his selfishness and high maintenance attitude. It had given him confidence again.

While Chaceledon was rushing toward her, and Rheinhard trailing him, he was scared but not hopeless. If he’d been hopeless he would have just laid down and asked Klaus to take them home. But he hadn’t. He’d stolen a knife and a horse with the express purpose of stabbing him to take Seteta back.

She’d given him that strength again that he hadn’t seen since Lansom...and he despised it.

Chaceledon has never had nothing. With his family, with me. I kept him from becoming a nightmare, but now I can see I may have coddled him too much. With you? He would truly start from nothing. Doubtless I’d enjoy watching his mental collapse doing his own laundry, but then I would have no one to raise Rheinhard’s child. Chaceledon was always more maternal. I had no patience for sobbing toddlers. Oor snorted.

He rested back in the chair. Chaceledon has breached the underground. Horseless. I think he may have accidentally killed that mare of yours.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta continued eating as Oor spoke, though her eyes grew heated with each word. She resisted the urge to grab the glass of wine and down it in a single swallow when the wraith said Chaceledon was underground. She was sad for Mau, if the mare had been killed, but there would be others. She'd been raised in Amol-Kalit, after all. Camels and horses were good for mounts until you needed them for food.

"Having nothing is temporary," Seteta murmured, slipping almost mindlessly into Abtat, after she swallowed and set the remains of the gnathi aside. She'd managed to eat at least a quarter of it, but her appetite was rapidly vanishing. If she had the opportunity after Oor departed for the evening--Abtatu, please, let me have one night, she prayed--she would try to eat more of it. Who knew when she'd get to eat again.

"I've had nothing several times in my life. When I met Chaceledon, I had my knife and the clothes on my back. While you may have provided him with everything, you also deprived him of the single thing that gave him the most worth and joy: his magic.

"If you had wooed him, properly, according to the customs that you earlier claimed I knew nothing about, then perhaps even despite the questionable consent of your... initial encounter, you would have found a mate loyal to you above all else, without having to quench or control his fire."


She sat tall then, and met Oor's gaze without flinching. Her arms rested at her sides, and without glancing down, she subtly extended the fingers on one hand to press against the granite floor. She didn't need to pull on the magic. She just needed to touch it. To sense what the magic sensed, and see if Oor spoke truth.

Her words, hopefully, would provide the distraction so he didn't notice, if he was even capable of doing so.

"By all the customs of the desert, you have tried to lay claim to him and failed. You have not provided for his needs, you have weakened him, you have raped him, and you have tricked him. Even the cruelest slave masters in the desert do not need to resort to all of those things to keep their property in line.

"But worst of all, you do all those things and claim him as husband."


There, the magic of the earth was there, and for once, thank the gods, it was strong. It didn't waver, and in the moment between breaths her awareness stretched and spread. There was Witherhold and its gates, and then... everything beyond. If she focused on her surroundings, it would be simple to see Witherhold's layout. Every room and every nook and cranny. But what she needed now was further out. To see where Chaceledon was and how far away, so she cast her senses wide and rather than looking for escape routes, she looked for a presence.

"Your claim is void," Seteta said, and though her voice was soft, there was a power behind it that seemed to echo through the entire manor. Not a power that came from magic or any institution on earth, but the power of truth spoken into word. "You have had the chance to woo and win him, and you have failed. I claim the right of the dragon's consort and free him from your chains."

Her words would anger the wraith, and Seteta knew that she would not escape unscathed, but words did not have to be a magic spell to have power behind them.

"He is mine," she said. "By his own free will, and no bond you have laid on him is stronger than that."

Chaceledon
 
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Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Oor glared at her. A dragon, loyal to a wraith? Dragons do not know loyalty, girl. They would stab their own mothers in the back for a better reputation and standing. It is not just the cruelty of man that’s made them rare.

Her magic. He felt her touch the unfeeling black granite, and it respond to her touch. She was an earth mage, but he didn’t think she would fight him for control in his own home! He settled a hand on one of the granite bedposts, his own magic calling to the house to bring it to heel. Unlike hers, he wasn’t requesting aid or help. He expected obedience, and he would get it. But his temper was rising in his throat. This woman dared come and question him!

I am his husband. He snarled. We have taken the fae rites, and he remains bound to me by that magic. You think you can claim what I have already stolen? Your marriage will be a mockery from here to the Silent Court!

Anger colored his magic, and the house shrank from him. It showed her a spot in the closet, hidden away from sight. A deep walnut box, containing the robes that Oor had Chaceledon wear for their wedding. Fae weddings were as significant as the robes they wore; the lovers would spend months making robes for each other, sewing meaning and love into every stitch and bead. When the marriage was dissolved, or if, then the robes would have to be burned.

He is mine, and he will be mine until this house crumbles down around me! Oor got up and made to backhand her. Hard. His hand was narrow and bony, and without any flesh to cushion it would hit very hard. I was going to release you, you rotten, brazen cunt of a woman. But now I think I’ll have Klaus eat you alive.

Oor stormed out of the room, slamming the doors so hard behind him the glass shattered and showered her.

_______________________

Chaceledon ran along stone passages he knew better than he knew himself. Over the years he’d harvested quartz veins, gemstones, gold and silver from the patchwork tunnels leading to Witherhold. It was a maze Seteta couldn’t hope to navigate on her own. Chaceledon rushed through the tunnels, his palm resting on pick marks and scorch marks he knew. Volker was rushing behind him, just as skilled at navigating this maze as he was. Volker would try to stop him and he knew it.

He wasn’t stopping. Not for anything. He was colder and colder the further they went. There was no heat down here. It was cold granite and obsidian, dark and damp and miserable.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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"Every creature is loyal to something," Seteta answered. "And every lesson you claim to have taught him through violence could have been taught through love and patience."

When she felt Oor's magic begin to counter hers, laughter bubbled up inside her. More accurately, to try to counter hers. He was the master of the house, yes, but she did not call on the magic of the house. She called on the magic of the earth, and no amount of spells would be able to override the innate magic and nature of the earth from which the very stone had been formed.

Besides, she wasn't trying to gain control of the house. She was just trying to see and in his anger and his rush to make sure he stayed in control, Oor missed the tendrils of magic that delved deep beneath Witherhold and spread out into the earth around it.

There. She had him, but she let none of her triumph show on his face, and she didn't change the way she touched the magic.

I am his husband. He snarled. We have taken the fae rites, and he remains bound to me by that magic. You think you can claim what I have already stolen? Your marriage will be a mockery from here to the Silent Court!

"The fact that you had to steal him in the first place makes the magic binding the two of you weaker!" Seteta did finally laugh. "I do not need vows and bindings to cleave him to me at all. If he were coming here cowed and submissive, you would not be so frightened."

And in that moment, as she kept touching the magic, felt Chaceledon's presence, she knew beyond all else, that her dragon was coming for her. Even if he had no fire, even if he was growing colder and colder with each step, he was willing to face this wraith despite all the magic working against him, to free her. And in that moment, despite her spot on the floor, she sat tall and regal like a queen.

But any further words she might have said were stolen away when the magic was wrenched away from her control, and the image of an ornate wooden box was shoved into her head, and where it sat in the closet. It hit her with such force that her breath caught in her throat, and she remembered what Chaceledon had said the night they met Gaal.

“By fae laws and dragon laws...we’re married until I destroy the robes we wore for the ceremony.” he said carefully. “But you’re right. He doesn’t deserve that title. None of that was voluntary, I can assure you.”

She looked at Oor, at last allowing the triumph she felt to show in her gaze.

He is mine, and he will be mine until this house crumbles down around me! Oor got up and made to backhand her. Hard. His hand was narrow and bony, and without any flesh to cushion it would hit very hard. I was going to release you, you rotten, brazen cunt of a woman. But now I think I’ll have Klaus eat you alive.

Seteta did not cringe when Oor stood. When he raised his hand, her gaze never faltered, and she did not flinch when his hand struck her face, leaving a red, smarting bruise behind and a cut along her cheek.

When Oor slammed the doors, not even the shattered glass and the cuts it left behind on her exposed skin made her cower, though she did squeeze her eyes shut and turn away. When the last of the glass had finished falling, she watched Oor's retreating form in the garden, and if he looked back he would see a strange smile curling at the corners of her mouth.

As soon as he was out of sight, she moved. She retrieved the half-eaten gnathi, and tore chunks of it off, setting a piece before each of the stone dogs and affectionately patting their heads before she set her unfinished plate of food on the table next to the pitcher of water and headed into the closet.

This was too important to wait, and Oor would not expect something like this of her now. She doubted he even realized he'd shown her where the robes were.

She didn't dare use magic yet, since Oor would obviously be able sense it, and so she had to shove shelving around until she found the spot she'd seen in her mind. A large piece of stone had been cut out of the wall and put back in place, and she knew the robes lay behind it. Gently, she laid her hand against it, and she almost sobbed with relief when she realized it was not Oor's magic she felt, but Chaceledon's own wards.

Unlike Oor's... warped spells and magic maintaining the manor, Chaceledon's magic worked with the stone, with its innate magic, and she barely had to do anything to reach out and coax the piece to move. She shattered it with barely a thought, turning the solid block into infinitesimal grains of sand and quickly reached in--though she had to stretch up on her toes--to retrieve the box, then she returned to the bedroom and crouched before the fire.

As she opened the box, she faltered for just a moment. Should she wait? Try to take the robes to Chaceledon and allow him to burn them himself? But she didn't know how she would be able to take them with her, especially without Oor noticing, and with barely another thought she emptied the robes into the fire.

This way, even if she died here, he would be free.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Oor sat in his office, and wrapped fingers of magic around Volker’s leash. You are coming home, and you are bringing Chaceledon to me on his knees. Oor snarled at him, and cut the connection before Volker could reply. He didn’t want an argument. He wanted obedience from his slaves. Things would get back into control. No fucking useless woman would take his slaves from him. Did she know how difficult it had been to get and keep a dragon? He was the only man ever to keep one in bondage.

He felt the dogs move again and pulled them back. She wasn’t here to get pets. They were supposed to be keeping her in line not whimpering for scraps. Gargoyles...he blinked. There was something wrong. He looked at his right hand. The gold and sapphire band Chaceledon had designed had gone cold...and cracked.

I’ll fucking kill her! He roared. She had found the robes! Somehow she had found the robes. He seized an iron fire poker and stormed toward the broken glass doors across the garden, intent on beating the skin off her.

_________________

Chaceledon felt it. He stopped cold, and stared, looking at his hand. Gone. The dead stone crumbled off his finger. They were divorced. He was no longer married to Oor. He flexed his hand, almost unbelieving. She’d done it. How...? He took a deep breath and ran toward Witherhold. Volker was behind him, barely a quarter mile between them. Chaceledon’s inexperience in traveling had been his undoing. It was dangerous for Volker to go into portal stones, but Oor must have given him the strength to go through.

His son grabbed him and shoved him against the wall. “Stop this.” Volker hissed at him. “If you go back there he will kill her in front of you. Think about this!”

“Rheinhard..” Chaceledon held up his hand, and Volker seized it.

“...How?” Volker touched where Chaceledon’s wedding band had been.

“She must have found the robes...and destroyed them. We have to find her, Rheinhard. Please. If she’s cared so much, to go into that man’s home and find them...to endure what she has...I love her. She must love me.” Chaceledon swallowed thickly. “Please.”

Rheinhard sighed and held out a hand. Chaceledon returned his knife to him. “We go through the back. Carefully. We do this quietly.” Rheinhard said. “He’s instructed me to bring you back. He knows we’re coming. This will have to be quick and I may not be able to come with you.”

Chaceledon nodded, and the pair rushed toward Witherhold. Together.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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As soon as the fire caught, Seteta sprung into action again. She didn't know fully how the binding worked, but she would wager that Oor would know right away... and hopefully Chaceledon would as well. But it meant she had little time.

"Come," she called, beckoning for the stone dogs to leave their pedestals again, and pressing her hands to their heads, finally beginning to draw on the magic that surrounded her. She worked a spell, a tiny thing really, that would fade away as soon as she was gone. Her magic slithered beneath the one that Oor used to command them, and put her in their master's stead. "Guard," she commanded, directing them to face the shattered doors, and leaving a tendril of the magic connected to herself.

She felt Oor's rage, heard his cry, as the last of the robes crumbled into ash.

Seteta pressed herself against the granite wall, just inside the door, where Oor would hopefully not see her right away in his rage. She would pay for it later, and the illusion wouldn't last long, but she drew on the pain from when Oor had struck her face, and from every little stinging cut from the glass across her skin, and conjured the image of herself, crouched before the fire, watching the robes burn.

As soon as Oor brought his wrath down to bear upon the illusion, she would rush out the doors and into the garden.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Oor came through the doors, and the dogs flew at him. He sidestepped one and the other crashed down on top of him. He roared angrily, dissolving into shadow. The house requested entry and he gave it. Rheinhard was here, and he stood aside as one loyal hound attacked another. The second hound bounded out of Chaceledon’s old room toward Oor, snarling. Oor smashed its head to powder, and it collapsed on the garden path.

Chaceledon ducked into the garden, against the wall. Rheinhard roared as the dog clamped down onto his shoulder. He didn’t have much time. One of the pit dogs was already dead. Chaceledon slid into the room and grabbed Seteta’s hand. He pulled her against him, and kissed her.

“Please tell me you’re alright..” he whispered, and winced at a defiant roar from Rheinhard. “Ask the back wall to let us out...we have to go; the dogs from the fireplace are attacking Oor but Rheinhard can’t leave.”

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta swore silently. The dogs attacked too quickly, and Oor vanished into smoke before she had a chance to flee. One dog flew out the door, and she felt one of the tendrils of magic she held slip free.

She let the illusion fade away as well. The pain from the strike and the cuts had lessened her toll, but not paid it in full, ans she bit her lip as her hands began to ache like she'd punched the wall.

And then... Then...

She sobbed, not quite sure if she could believe her eyes, and sank into Chaceledon's arms and his kiss.

But she didn't let herself get lost in it.

“Please tell me you’re alright..” he whispered, and winced at a defiant roar from Rheinhard. “Ask the back wall to let us out...we have to go; the dogs from the fireplace are attacking Oor but Rheinhard can’t leave.”

"I'm fine," she said, and broke away from Chaceledon's embrace to crouch on the ground and press her palm to the stone, unable to hide her wince as she forced her hand to move through the pain.

The magic of the earth, at least.

"We shouls be able to leave now," she said. "And what do you mean Rheinhard can't leave?"

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Oor crushed the head of the second pit dog and Rheinhard staggered to his feet. He was bleeding heavily from his right shoulder and one ear had been shredded. He looked at Oor warily, and moved between the wraith and Chaceledon’s room. He kept his knives out, blinking away blood from a cut on his temple. Oor hefted the fire poker. Rheinhard. Move. He growled. Volker felt the command ripple through the tear in his chest. That had been an order, not mere words. Yet still he stood, straining against it.

Chaceledon knew they had to move quickly. Rheinhard couldn’t hold out against a command forever. He pulled Seteta up into his arms and bolted out of the room. He heard Oor howl in rage behind him; Rheinhard must have struck him to keep him from following. Chaceledon hurried for the back wall, and let Seteta open it for them. He didn’t know if she had to touch it to get them through. He stumbled through the moment he could see the underground, and took off running.

He was exhausted, Seteta was heavy, but fear drove him deep into the tunnels. He had her in his arms, but the pained cries behind him told him his son was suffering deeply for the indiscretion. He had to get them deeper. Down into the cold dark earth where Oor would get lost in the tunnels he’d made. He found what he was looking for; a sluice channel. It was so narrow she would barely fit and suffer some bruising, and the water flowing through it was freezing beside.

Chaceledon put her through feet first. Sixty feet of a channel so narrow she’d have to shimmy in spots...then she would drop into a deep subterranean pool. Cold as ice, but filled with a deep vein of quartz Chaceledon had found years ago. He may have been prim, but the dragon clearly didn’t mind filth...as long as no one was around to witness him getting dirty.

Chaceledon followed her once he heard the splash. He hoped she would forgive him. That water was clean but would sap the heat out of a woman’s bones. He hit the water with a shocked gasp, scrambling for the edge. Above them he heard a familiar roar. Klaus. He could just barely see him put an arm down, scrabbling at the rock. Blood trickled down the passage and dripped into the pool.

“Klaus darling go around.” Chaceledon said evenly, and heard him scrabble away from the hole. He steeled himself, wet and shivering. “We’re going to have to knock him out.”
Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta felt the tendril of magic she held on the second stone dog dissipate as Chaceledon swept her up into his arms. When they reached the back wall, she just had to brush her fingers against it and it opened for them.

She wanted to tell Chaceledon to let her down, that she could walk or run on her own, but she was still having a hard time believing that he was actually here. But between her relief, her shock, the pain in her hands, and the heartache she felt when she heard Rheinhard's cries behind them, she was too stunned to speak, let alone convince Chaceledon of anything.

He made no explanations to her, though, when he finally stopped. Just guided her into the small, dark channel and motioned for her to move. So she moved, in the darkness, squeezing herself through the tunnel. At some point, her teeth began to chatter. She wished that the cold water would numb her hands, but she'd never found anything that would relieve the pain of using her illusion magic except for time.

The only point where she hesitated was when the channel opened up, and she couldn't tell where it led. She almost called back up to him, but knew that Oor would likely be able to hear, and so she trusted. She trusted that Chaceledon knew these tunnels, and that he wouldn't send her somewhere that she'd hurt herself. So she took a breath, and pushed herself out.

The shock of frighteningly cold water--water that had never seen the light of day--drove the very air from her lungs and froze her thoughts. When she could think again, and finally convince her body to move, Seteta pushed herself up to the surface of the water. There wasn't really any light to see by, so she just... moved in a direction, and almost sobbed with relief when a rough shore made itself known beneath her hands.

She dragged herself out of the water, and curled into a tight ball, clutching her knees to her chest as her teeth chattered. Chaceledon followed a few moments later, and Volker was quickly behind him. Or trying to be.

“Klaus darling go around.” Chaceledon said evenly, and heard him scrabble away from the hole. He steeled himself, wet and shivering. “We’re going to have to knock him out.”

"How?" Seteta asked, voice trembling as she shivered, but she managed to press a palm to the earth and touch the magic again, trying to detect where Klaus-Rheinhard was.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon was freezing. His body was shaking and he followed the sound of Seteta’s voice. He touched her shoulder and pulled her against him, kissing her forehead. “He’ll have to go down and around, there’s a passage in front of us. Once he does...convince the rocks above him to tap him on the head. Hard but...not hard enough to truly hurt him. We need Klaus knocked out of control. Then we can leave. I need a fire...I won’t...I can’t survive being this cold.”

Oor couldn’t get to them here. But neither could they stay down here. Chaceledon couldn’t warm like she could. Once his temperature dipped, he could become as cold as the rocks around him. Once that happened, it was a cold sleep from which he might never wake.

He could hear Klaus crashing down the tunnels, and the smell of blood. Gods, that shoulder...the dog had injured him quite badly for it to still bleed like that. Of course, running through stone tunnels couldn’t have helped. Chaceledon looked at her grimly.
“If I pass out, go right from this tunnel and follow the channels I’ve carved. Every fifty feet or so should be arrows showing the way out. Hit him.”

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta was not much warmer than Chaceledon, and even if she could warm up, it was unlikely that it would happen here, in the cool underground with wet clothes after being dunked in an icy cold pool. Not even warm blooded creatures could fend off chill forever.

But even so, his lips were cold compared to her when he kissed her forehead, and she wrapped her arms around him, trying to share what little heat she had.

“He’ll have to go down and around, there’s a passage in front of us. Once he does...convince the rocks above him to tap him on the head. Hard but...not hard enough to truly hurt him. We need Klaus knocked out of control. Then we can leave. I need a fire...I won’t...I can’t survive being this cold.”

"I will try," she said, teeth knocking together so hard it hurt her jaw. "Something like that is... more complicated than it sounds. Entirely depends on the hardness of the head, which I have no way to judge."

There was a lull then, and she could hear Klaus crashing and stumbling through the tunnels, but unlike Chaceledon she didn't catch the scent of blood. Not from this distance. She was an elf, and her sense were more heightened than a humans, but she was not attuned to the scent of blood like a predator was.

She crouched down, splaying her fingers with a hiss of pain and pressing her palm to the ground once more. The magic was weaker now than it had been earlier, and she had to fight it a little to get it to let her see everything, but she did.

“If I pass out, go right from this tunnel and follow the channels I’ve carved. Every fifty feet or so should be arrows showing the way out. Hit him.”

Her stomach dropped when he mentioned passing out but she didn't have time to comment on it as Klaus-Rheinhard made his way up the passage Chaceledon spoke of. She pushed out with her magic, attempting to drop the ceiling several inches with the right timing to--hopefully--only knock Volker unconscious without permanently hurting him.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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“Thankfully my boys have always had skulls like coconuts...” Chaceledon shivered, his eyes trained on the passageway. He hoped this would work. He could feel his strength, and Seteta’s, fading. There was simply no way he was leaving Rheinhard behind. Not after how angry theyd made Oor. All of the punishment would land squarely on his son’s shoulders. He waited, and waited, footsteps drawing closer, and shut his eyes when he felt the small surge of magic. Seteta lowered the passage ceiling, and Chaceledon heard the loud smack of stone on skull.

He rushed over to Volker’s prone form, and gently probed his head. Out, but not dead, and she hadn’t broken his skull. Chaceledon threw Volker’s arm around his neck and staggered to his feet. Volker’s warm body was a godsend. “Seteta grab my clothing and follow me!” he called behind him, waiting until he felt the snag of fingers on cloth. They needed to move. It would take a precious while to find their way up. They had to walk down a long passage, find an incline, and wiggle through a narrow bear den to the outside.

Gods, where was this exit?

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta winced as she heard, and felt, Klaus-Rheinhard impact the stone. Chaceledon rushed to his son, and she heard, more than saw, him return. Releasing her magic, she made her way over by the sound of his voice and both men's breathing, catching onto Chaceledon's robes with her fingers.

She lost track of time, and certainly lost track of where they were. She could have used her magic to at least track their steps, but she worried that Oor would be able to trace it, and besides... she had no point of reference as to where they were and where they were heading. Chaceledon likely knew the way well enough to keep them from backtracking.

It was difficult to keep hold of his clothes, though. Her hands hurt, a deep ache that was beyond physical, and so despite the ache they were also numb. She was cold. So cold. Sometimes she had to tug at his clothes, just to feel resistance, to make sure she hadn't lost hold and not realized it.

There was a thought lingering in the back of her mind, though, and through her pain and chill, she finally grasped it.

"Chaceledon," she whispered. "We should blindhold Rheinhard. If Oor is tracking him through the memory shards, then if he doesn't see where we emerge, and where we go, we'll gain some time."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon cursed himself for not thinking of it sooner. He propped Rheinhard up against the wall and took ahold of his sleeve. Gods, it broke the heart. He tore a wide strip of silk off with an audible noise of emotional pain, and wrapped it around Rheinhard’s eyes. He repositioned him, made sure Seteta had hold of him, and staggered along the walls.

They broke out into sunlight. Gods knew how long the trail had been but even the little change of warmth felt like fire. Chaceledon struggled away from the cave’s entrance and settled Volker on the ground. Fire. They needed fire. His shaking hands probed in Rheinhard’s pockets for flint and tinder.

“Sticks...moss anything..” he whispered shakily to Seteta.

Seteta
 

Seteta

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Seteta squinted against the light as they burst out of the tunnels. She heard, more than saw, Chaceledon set Rheinhard down and start rifling through his pockets. Her clothes, at least, were damp now instead of sopping wet, but she was still chilled to the bone.

“Sticks...moss anything..” he whispered shakily to Seteta.

She nodded, clutching her arms to herself as she shivered, and looked around. They had, apparently, emerged from a cave entrance in the side of a hill, and into a clearing. There were trees beyond that, and she began gathering up first dried leaves and grasses, then twigs, then larger branches. She dropped most of it several times, but still managed to haul a sizeable amount over to Chaceledon in a short while.

"Here," she said, beginning to arrange it, though she fumbled. "I don't know if I can light the tinder though. I had to use my illusion magic, and I didn't have a toll built up ahead of time."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Chaceledon looked at the flint and tinder in his hands. He could do this. Rheinhard did this every day, didn’t he? He looked over at his son, biting his lip. He’d be out for a fair few hours. They were on their own. Chaceledon waited, shivering and clinging to consciousness, while Seteta grabbed dead leaves and twigs.

“I think...I can light it.” he whispered, holding Rheinhard’s tools in his shaking fingers. He struck once, twice, but there were no sparks and he was clumsy in his cold. He took a moment to steady himself, and made a single purposeful stroke. A spark, but no flames. He hit it again. More sparks. The third strike he managed to get a few coals. He blew on them gently, and smoke rose, then a tiny plume of flame.

“Quick! Feed it!” Chaceledon fed the little fire as many dry twigs and leaves he could get his fingers on. Warmth. Blessed warmth. He hovered his hands into the flame, and sighed in relief. “Seteta come and sit. Warm up.”

When he no longer felt about ready to pass out, he got up and gathered longer sticks, breaking them up to make a more proper fire pyramid. Then heavier branches. He settled down to the roaring fire, adding stones around the edge to catch the embers.
Seteta