Private Tales Of Sand & Dragonfire

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Ten minutes. Chaceledon took a deep breath, and walked around the arena to the back half. Away from the docks, near cheap apartments where folk had to deal with the constant noise and stink of the arena. No one would question him here, as people this poor tended to be blind to it. He bit his lip, and listened.

Rheinhard had broken the other man’s orbital bone in his teeth, and was making short work of his cheek with wrenching motions. He was forced to release him when a hammer swung low for his ribs. He felt several of them crack, and he released his quarry to roll and put some distance between his opponents. Dark spots clustered in his vision as he rolled once, twice over his cracked ribs. He scrambled up, stumbling and almost going down again. He faced his opponents, teeth bared and mind abuzz like a nest of kicked wasps.

Three of them made for him at once. One received a clumsy stab to the gut that ended up at the groin, and the other punched him in the face. Down again on his knees. He drove his head into the stomach of the third man, carrying them to the ground. His teeth scrambled for the other man’s throat and caught around his eyes. His eyes rolled back, and he yanked the other into the Well.

“Like we’d ever fucking touch you.” Aluid snarled, and the remnants lunged from the darkness. When Volker dropped his victim, his head looked like it had caved from the inside, crushed by the hand of an angry giant. He had to get up. Get up.

The sand exploded around him. Tendrils shot up and seized them, throwing the rest of his opponents. Rheinhard felt a tug. A hard tug. His eyes went up to Oor, and the man slowly tightening one hand into a fist. The command was clear. Kill her. Turn, and kill her. Blood poured from Rheinhard’s mouth as he fought the command, his breathing rising to a fever pitch. Blood blew wildly from his nostrils with each breath. Capillaries popped in his eyes.

Kill her. Now. Oor’s order vibrated through his very bones. Rheinhard whipped around violently, spittle and blood flowing from his mouth, and lunged for her face. He bit her a bit harder than he meant to, and this time when she was pulled down, it was a nightmarish view.

The floor was crumbling under them. The arena was cracked in half, bleeding sand and blood. Mirrors began to spin off into oblivion. The library sank with a powerful groan, like a dying animal. Nestor came sprinting out of the baths, narrowly avoiding having the door close on him. “Seteta! Make the decision! Now!” He called to her. Aluid pulled Yarel from a rapidly collapsing craft room. Klaus circled in the black, losing pieces of himself as mirrors that crashed to the floor. Nestor reached Seteta and grabbed her shoulders. “Yes or no, girl, the time has come.” His voice was sober, but there was fear behind his eyes.

Seteta do something!” Aluid cried out in sheer panic.

____________________

Chaceledon couldn’t wait. He plunged down from the sky and released a gout of flame over the men lunging for Seteta and Rheinhard. They didn’t have time to look up or scream. They just died. He landed, and saw Oor staring at him. Hatred lit up his purple eyes, and he fired another blast at Oor. The wraith didn’t flinch. Chaceledon’s flames hit a wall of shadows, and blackness consumed the purple. The wraith’s magic stained the flames black, the color crawling up toward Chaceledon’s mouth. Turning the inside of it black. Turning his skin black.

Chaceledon landed roughly, in a tumble of limbs and scales. He didn’t know what had struck him but his mouth burned. Like acid.

Persian swore under his breath, and buried a blade in Oor’s back. It missed the seal, but broke the wraith’s concentration. Oor grabbed the railing of the flaming arena, and Persian fled down the stairs to the sand. He grabbed Seteta and Volker, not bothering to notice if they were separated, and hauled them toward Chaceledon. The dragon gathered them in his paws, and launched skyward as fast as he could.

Seteta
 
Steward of the Well

Seteta

The Dragon's Betrothed
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She should have expected it, really. If she'd known everything she needed to know about wraiths and fae and warlocks and the bonds between them. But all she'd known in Witherhold was that Rheinhard resisted Oor's orders to allow her and Chaceledon to escape. She hadn't known the nature of the order.

As Rheinhard's mouth closed over her eyes, with enough forced to cut through her skin and bruise her cheekbones, Seteta realized what a fatal error she'd made.

She was the one who had insisted, after all, that anything they said or did around Rheinhard would make its way back to Oor.

She'd grown complacent.

The Well was... worse, in many ways, than it had been when she'd been pulled into it with Chaceledon in Vel Anir.

Then, it was more like the Well was crooked, and the inhabitants within it were taking advantage of it all. Now, the Well itself was threatening to come apart at the seams, and she knew if she were in here when it did--if she were anywhere near Rheinhard when it happened, even outside the Well--she would die.

Seteta! Make the decision! Now!” He called to her. Aluid pulled Yarel from a rapidly collapsing craft room. Klaus circled in the black, losing pieces of himself as mirrors that crashed to the floor. Nestor reached Seteta and grabbed her shoulders. “Yes or no, girl, the time has come.” His voice was sober, but there was fear behind his eyes.

Seteta do something!” Aluid cried out in sheer panic.

"I don't know what to do!" she cried, fists clenching at her sides.

Seteta wrenched herself from Nestor's grip, because if there was one thing she was certain of, it was that this option had not even been broached to Rheinhard yet, and that decisions made under panic were no decisions at all.

"What do you want?" she asked, twisting to face Rheinhard. "Chaceledon asked me to take the Well, and I won't deny that I don't want it, but if you are willing, then I will take it for a while. Until..." her voice wavered, because she knew it might not happen anytime soon, "...we find someone else who will."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Rheinhard looked around them. There was nothing left to do. A loud boom shook the Well above them with the tinkling of glass. Aluid fled behind Nestor in terror. Oor was coming, and he was tearing apart his mind to find Seteta. Even Rheinhard could feel it here, a creeping fog settling over his thoughts. He looked Seteta in the eyes, and couldn’t help but feel a little betrayed by Chaceledon. It wasn’t his place to tell her this. It wasn’t his place to put that burden on her. Not now, not ever. It was manipulative and wrong.

If he didn’t, they were all going to die.

Rheinhard grasped her hand. “Forcing people to be something they’re not is how you get people like me.” He said softly. “It wasn’t right of him to ask you this.”

More men were rushing out of the black like quail flushed out of a blind. All terrified, a few with a strange calm, and fewer still laughing maniacally as their prison tore itself to pieces. Nestor sighed, and took his glasses off his nose to clean them. He’d hoped for a little more time. Perhaps even, to see Oor die.

Rheinhard tightened his jaw and led her through the crowd. The office was open now, the door swinging madly from one hinge. It was the only thing that was horrifyingly, terrifyingly whole. Serene, even. “I will take this burden from you as soon as I can.” Rheinhard said softly, and pushed her in.

Everything stopped. The crashing, the screaming. The laughing. Everything was still. The office’s door slammed shut behind her, and she stood in a decently-made den. There was a large mahogany desk, complete with inkwell and pen. The leather of some exotic creature served as a mat, atop which sat a small assortment of papers. Billets, letters and the like. All of which, upon further inspection, were blank. A plush chair accompanied it, and the walls were plastered in a hundred different framed mirrors of various sizes. The smallest was perhaps the size of her palm. The largest a huge oval affair wrought in gold leaf.

A unicorn skin rug sat next to an ebony fireplace, similar to the one in Witherhold. A little brass clock ticked away the time, and a fire crackled merrily in the hearth. Books on the shelf labeled simply ‘Rheinhard’ were old but unblemished.

Rheinhard’s mouth fell away from her eyes, slack. He slumped over, eyes glassy, and Persian seized him by the collar of his shirt. “Steady on.” The man said shakily.

They were seated in sand somewhere outside of Annuakat. Chaceledon lay nearby, breathing raggedly, muzzle burned with black and his mouth hanging open. Persian guided Rheinhard on his side in the sand. It was late evening now, edging toward night.

Seteta could feel a rope now within her. Not just cords to her own magic, but an iron bond between her and Rheinhard. One she could touch, and talk through, and command. The sheer power there was seductive, a reservoir of energy nestled inside of her.

Seteta
 

Seteta

The Dragon's Betrothed
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Seteta held onto Rheinhard's hand, grateful that even in the Well, everything still seemed real. That she could feel and touch and see. She smoothed a thumb over his bloodied knuckles, sighing as he spoke.

Rheinhard grasped her hand. “Forcing people to be something they’re not is how you get people like me.” He said softly. “It wasn’t right of him to ask you this.”

"It was not," she agreed, letting Rheinhard lead her through the crowd of Volkers. "But he and I have already had this talk, and there are stipulations he must fulfill if I do this, and only with your consent as well. But I am not being forced, even if I do this reluctantly."

They stood before the door, then, and Seteta took a deep breath.

“I will take this burden from you as soon as I can.” Rheinhard said softly, and pushed her in.

She didn't have time to respond before the door slammed shut behind her, and everything stopped.

The cacophonous din ground to a halt, leaving an eerie calm in its wake. Seteta turned, looking around the room, expecting Oor to pop out from somewhere and try to wrest back control... but after several long moments, she realized she was... alone.

She looked around the room once more, and shuddered. It was like an extension of Witherhold, and she had no desire to step foot there ever again.

For a moment, she gnawed at her lip, then she turned and yanked the office door open. There was no sign of Rheinhard.

"Nestor!" she hollered. "I have no idea what to do here. And this office is hideous. How do I fix it?"

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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The Well was…still. Quiet.

Almost as though abandoned.

There was no one rushing up to her, not even Volker. No sounds from the repaired Arena or the craft room with its slightly swinging doors. Nothing. What was there was a blackened hallway next to the library. The Volkers were arranged in that murky and dimly lit place, like statues. They stood with eyes open and unseeing, on slightly raised platforms with their names and any titles they’d earned carved into them. They seemed to be arranged by generation, with Klaus the closest to the exit, Aluid next to him, Huron next to him, and so on.

If she touched one, he would awaken. She had superme and executive control over how many of them were awake at any moment. No memories were forbidden to her now. There were no more secrets here. All she needed to do was ask, and the Well would provide. It was the feeling of complete and total control, to the point that every man and boy there was only seeing and speaking at her whim.

Nestor was a little ways down the hallway, around thirty or so generations in. Even in a state of suspension, he still clutched his notebook tightly.

Seteta
 

Seteta

The Dragon's Betrothed
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There was no sign of anyone, Seteta realized a moment later. It was dark and quiet, and while Seteta felt the Well's power still sinking into her, she shuddered.

Making sure to leave the door cracked behind her, Seteta stepped out of the office and back into the Well, heading toward the hall she remembered Chaceledon directing the Volkers to when they'd all awoken.

She felt a little guilty for all the ones she passed by and left in their unnatural slumber of undeath. Presumably, she could awaken them somehow, but at the moment she needed to speak with Nestor. When she finally found him, Seteta laughed quietly at the sight of the notebook clutched in his hand.

"Nestor?" she said, unsure of how to rouse him, frowning when he didn't move. Hesitantly, she reached up and touched his hand.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Nestor yanked in a sharp breath the moment she touched his hand, and coughed. He blinked, shaking his head. He pulled his glasses out of his shirt and pushed them up his nose, taking a few deep breaths. “I am never going to get used to that.” He muttered, and eyed her. “You took it, didn’t you?”

He stepped down off the platform, and looked left, then right. All asleep. All of them. He wasn’t sure if he should be insulted or flattered she chose him first. He closed his eyes for a moment. Dear gods. The silence. The peace. A man could read a book in peace like this without risk of it being torn apart by rabid heathens bored of ripping each other to shreds. He smiled, an actual smile. “Dear gods it is so nice to have some peace and quiet.” He whispered.

He glanced at the man next to him. “They can hear you like this, you know. If you watch closely, their chests twitch. Still trying to breathe.” He pulled up the other man’s shirt and sure enough, his abdominal muscles spasmed every now and then like a drowning man. Nestor released him and chuckled. “After all this time I can’t hear him scrabbling around in my skull.” He laughed, a surprising and giddy thing.

His mirth faded surprisingly quickly. “Please tell me you thought to open the books in that office and check on Rheinhard..? I can’t go in there, but I can guide you to it. We’re all color coded. Black for sex, white for health, red for kills, green for mental status. I’d be ripping open that white book around now.” Nestor pointed out.

Seteta
 

Seteta

The Dragon's Betrothed
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"I did," Seteta answered, reaching up to remove her headscarf and uncover her face, draping the material over her shoulders.

She shuddered as Nestor showed her how all the Volkers were... well, essentially paralyzed. Conscious, able to hear, but not able to move or live, and her wrath for Oor grew deeper. Her smile was bittersweet as Nestor clearly enjoyed having his thoughts to himself. She had no desire to invade any of the Volkers' privacy.

When Nestor asked about the books, though, she frowned. "I saw the books, but..." she gnawed her lip. "I can't read very well. I didn't bother to open them. But if you can't come into the office... can I bring the books out, then?"

How was she supposed to manage anything like this?

"I probably shouldn't stay too long anyway, though," she said, motioning for Nestor to accompany her. "Who knows if Chaceledon actually managed to get us out of that arena or not."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Nestor stared at her, as though not being able to read was akin to admitting a third leg. Then he sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. “The illiterate leading the illiterate. You do know that’s the entire reason most of us are forbidden to read. Books from the current host only come out if you’re planning on killing him; they stop recording. Come with me; you can open them at the door and I can read aloud. You really need to learn your letters. Come in here nightly and we’ll work on this little problem.” Nestor said archly, and marched down the hallway.

He paused at Klaus, turned, and punched the remnant square in the face. He wrung out his hand a moment, glaring at the frozen creature now sporting a considerable bloody nose. “I waited a decade for that.” He muttered, and swept out of the hallway. He made a beeline for the office, and gestured to it. “White book on the bookshelf. Open to the last page, and hold it up for me. He wasn’t in good shape even before Oor started tearing this place apart looking for you.”

Seteta
 

Seteta

The Dragon's Betrothed
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Seteta sniffed when Nestor called her illiterate. "I didn't say I couldn't read," she clarified as she hurriedly followed behind him. "I said I couldn't read well. And it's only Common tongue. I am quiet proficient at reading an obscure dialect of Abtat, but I doubt any of the records will be in that script."

She scowled when he punched Klaus, though. "While he... almost certainly deserved that," Seteta chided when they reached the office door, "while I'm steward of the Well, there won't be any attacking people when they're unable to defend themselves. Don't do it again."

Seteta stepped through the office door, cringed at the garish decor once more, and grabbed the white book, flipping it open all the way at the end and bringing it back to the doorway. Anxiously, she held it up.

"Well?" she asked Nestor. "Can you see it? Is it working?"

Chaceledon
 
Bruised and Battered

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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“You’re going to have to get proficient in the common tongue, or learn how to command the records in another language.” Nestor told her sternly. “We might as well get you started on draconian while you’re at it.” He stopped at the doorway to the office, leaning against it. He frowned as she held open the book. “Not good. Broken nose, broken ribs, wrenched knee, cracked tooth, minor cuts and bruises all over. Not to mention he hadn’t slept for about two days before this, hasn’t eaten…Oor was not kind to him.”

Nestor sighed. “He’s going to be alright. Frankly, we’ve all been through much worse. I’d let him sleep. Having as little noise as possible in here will help.” He advised. “Prop open the book on the desk and keep the door open. I’ll keep an eye on him.”

He beckoned her out of the office. “As for knowing where we are…you can leave and enter the Well whenever you like. You no longer need an escort. Since you’re the first to ever steal it from Oor…I have a lot of studying to do.”

Nestor made a shooing motion with a hand, clearly eager to settle in.

When she exited, Chaceledon was awake. He looked like a drunk lizard, drooling burning saliva on the ground. His mouth felt like someone had thrown acid on it, but the black was no longer spreading. Persian, surprisingly, was in his mouth, adding a poultice of some sort to his gums.

“I can only do so much.” The slaver muttered. “We need to get you to Pedeo, and to the hospital there. I need enough goldenseal, mugwort and ague root to deforest a small meadow…” he sighed and rested on Chaceledon’s tongue for a moment, brushing away sweat before he clambered back out. “Seteta, I could use your help. Sit here and pet him. We need to dispell the bad luck.”

Seteta
 

Seteta

The Dragon's Betrothed
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"As long as nothing gets infected," Seteta murmured, horrified at the list of injuries and abuses Nestor prattled off.

She did as he instructed with the book, checking to make sure that he could see it clearly when she'd finished, and nodded as he explained that she could come and go as she pleased in the Well now. Gnawing at her lip again as Nestor shooed her off, she hesitated. There were so many questions she had--so many things she had wanted to know before taking the Well--but her desire to know what had happened in the meantime overtook her.

"I'll be back as soon as I can," she told Nestor, and was relieved to find that with barely a thought to it, she was blinking her eyes open.

She was surprised at the sight of stars overhead. But it was quiet, and there was a chill to the air. They were, it seemed, no longer in the arena, or within the city.

Seteta sat up, groaning at the way her face ached. She saw Rheinhard lying on his side, and if it weren't for the strained breaths she heard, he was so still he might have been dead. A little way aside, she saw Chaceledon and... Persian?

She scrambled to her feet as Persian climbed out of Chaceledon's mouth, watching the slaver warily, but kneeling on the sand next to Chaceledon's face where she stroke his brow, pressing a quick kiss to his scales.

"What happened?" she asked, voice trembling as she took in the sight of the dragon's injury.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Persian sighed and batted burning saliva from his coat. “He tried to kill Oor. I believe Oor was able to harness Chaceledon’s fire and turn it against him. Those are scorch marks in his mouth.” He pointed out. “Very painful, but I keep a lot of burn cream. I keep expensive slaves in the desert after all.”

He knelt by Rheinhard and sighed, lifting his head up gently. “Right.” He took the other man’s nose, and straightened it with a loud crack. Chaceledon leaned his head against Seteta’s fingers. She was alive. Rheinhard was alive….barely. They were all alive. He sat up a little more properly, though he still had to keep his burned mouth open.

“Well, I think we ought to get moving at any rate. If I’m right…you’ve taken the Well haven’t you? Otherwise I’d be facing down a very angry wraith about now.” Persian gave her a look.

Persian stabbed Oor so we could escape. He broke his concentration, while you were in the Well. Chaceledon told her.

“Yes well, I knew there would be a line in the proverbial sand eventually. I suppose I’ll have to revoke his citizenship when I get back. I’d wager I’ve already lost my access to the Silent Court.” Persian sighed, and punched the bridge of his nose. “Seteta? Are you alright? I’d rather we get these two to a real doctor as soon as I can.”

Seteta
 

Seteta

The Dragon's Betrothed
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Seteta snarled quietly, hearing how Oor had injured Chaceledon. When Persian knelt next to Rheinhard and set the man's nose, she flinched at the sound, but otherwise just murmured a quiet thank you. She hated that she owed Persian even that platitude, but she was grateful that Chaceledon and Rheinhard had help while she was indisposed.

She just nodded quietly when Persian asked about the Well.

"Pretty sure that I'm the one Oor hates the most right now, regardless," Seteta said with a soft snort when Chaceledon told her about the stabbing. "I've stolen his bride, his most prized weapon, and now apparently his best friend. If he comes after anyone, it will certainly be me."

She shuddered at the thought.

"Rheinhard bit me pretty hard in the arena," she answered Persian's inquiry, "I think he broke skin, but by now it's not anymore urgent than it was before. But yes, these two need a doctor."

Her hand was still softly stroking Chaceledon's brow and mane. "Are you able to fly all three of us, sehejib?" she asked.

Then she remembered all of their supplies back in the inn, and quietly swore. "We've lost everything yet again," she moaned. "This habit is getting rather tiresome."

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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“I’d have to say you’re right. Oor will be after you as soon as he can raise any sort of support from the Silent Court.” Persian squinted at her, and ferreted around in his coat. He pulled out a pair of reading glasses with one cracked lens, glaring a bit at it. Wonderful. He set them on his nose and peered at Seteta’s cheekbones. Indeed, she had deep cuts on her face. “Considering his teeth were shredding men all day and coated in saliva, we will most definitely need to clean those. You’ll have a nasty infection before the sun rises.” Persian clicked his tongue in disappointment. “Such pretty cheekbones as well.”

Chaceledon slid his face between her and Persian, lifting his burned lips to show off a considerable array of teeth. The faerie shook his head. “Calm down, I left my collars in Annuakat…speaking of which…that poor girl is going to have to make her way home on her own.” Persian ran his fingers through his hair.

I can fly. Just not well. The gold is locked up in Annuakat…we might need to send a formal letter for it. But you’re right…this is getting exhausting. Chaceledon slowly got up on his feet, and lowered one shoulder. Persian climbed aboard without preamble, and got himself dumped on the sand. I am not a horse. The dragon sniffed, and scooped up Rheinhard in his teeth. He was surprisingly gentle, depositing his adoptive son across his shoulders. Seteta is the only one I want on my back. You I will carry.

“…Not exactly the time to stand on principle.” Persian shook sand out of his hair with a sigh.

Seteta
 

Seteta

The Dragon's Betrothed
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Seteta was relieved that Persian didn't try to touch her as he examined the bite wounds on her face. She wasn't sure how she would have reacted if he did, and she smirked a little when Chaceledon got between her and the fae with a snarl.

She laughed, though, when Persian tried to climb on Chaceledon's back and ended up in the sand for it. While Chaceledon gathered Rheinhard up, Seteta knelt down and pressed her palm to the sand as she closed her eyes, linking to the magic and sending her senses as far south as she could. Pedeo was farther than her senses could extend, but what she was looking for was an oasis, preferably an isolated one, between here and there. The feel of cool water teased at the edge of her mind, and she redirected until she found it.

"Southwest, near the coast," she said as she broke the connection and pulled her hand away from the earth. "There's an oasis. Maybe nine or ten hours on foot, so hopefully just an hour or two in flight. Chaceledon won't be able to carry all of us through the night before he gets too cold. We can stop and rest there, and clean up."

She climbed on Chaceledon's back then, settling behind Rheinhard so she could help keep him from sliding off mid-flight. Wincing just a little, still a little achy from the night at Indica Magika, and now with a few new strains and bruises from the arena, she made herself as comfortable as possible, reaching over and around Rheinhard to hold onto Chaceledon's mane.

Then she smirked at Persian, just the tiniest gleam of loathing in her eyes. "You're one to comment on principles, whether your own or others," she sniffed.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Chaceledon twisted his head around to make sure Rheinhard was on his back properly, and that Seteta was settled. Persian stood expectantly nearby. The dragon owed him now; without the short interruption to Oor’s magic, he might have suffered far worse than he had. Persian couldn’t count on his distraction helping Seteta take the Well, but damned if he wasn’t going to take credit for it.

Chaceledon slowly ambled forward, lifting off a few inches above the sand. He cupped a paw, and Persian climbed into it. The faerie could wrap his hand around the fur along Chaceledon’s forearm, though his seat wasn’t the most comfortable.

Seteta was very right about the cold. Instead of the warm wind of a desert day, there was a distinct bite to the air. Persian pulled his coat around himself with a spare hand, nestling close to Chaceledon’s warm palm. He was grateful for Seteta; she had turned out to be right about the oasis. They reached it far later than expected, however, and Chaceledon’s landing was so jerky Persian risked the short jump to the ground. The dragon was far more careful with Seteta and Rheinhard, using his tail to scoop them onto the sands near the shore.

Persian immediately headed for Rheinhard. Not just to make himself useful; neither of the other two were doctors in any way, shape or form. Neither was he, but an engineer was a far sight closer. He knelt and looked at Chaceledon. “I don’t suppose you have a spare muzzle?” He asked.

Even if I did, I wouldn’t put one on him. He’s done with that now. Chaceledon said, and began burrowing down in the sand. He craned his neck over to gulp down water.

“I’m going to have to strip him.” Persian frowned. He didn’t like the idea of getting anywhere near Rheinhard without having that mouth contained. He could at least remove the knives. He reached down to Rheinhard’s thigh. The other man’s bloodstained hand flew to his wrist and clenched tightly. Rheinhard stirred, coughing up blood, and squeezed Persian’s wrist. When he opened his eyes one was bloodshot from the beating.

“Not…the knives..” Volker snarled.


Hardy? Chaceledon loomed worriedly. Let him tend to you.

Rheinhard’s response was a pained growl, but he let go of Persian. The engineer wrung out his wrist, and removed the knife roll. One of Rheinhard’s eyes watched him set them down in the sand. Persian undid his shirt, and whistled. There had always been a gap; the Well’s signature was baring the man’s sternum to the world. It was a palm-sized segment of bare bone with burned skin around it, but now? Persian leaned close. It was stone. Polished blue opal. His entire sternum was coated in glittering blues, greens, purples and tiny flecks of red.

“Seteta, I believe this might be your doing.” Persian called to her.

Seteta
 

Seteta

The Dragon's Betrothed
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Seteta was fairly shivering by the time they reached the oasis. She'd been dressed for daytime in the desert when they headed toward the arena, not for traveling through the night. When Chaceledon landed and set her and Rheinhard on the sand, she headed straight for the oasis, kneeling at the water's edge while Persian began tending to Rheinhard.

She took of her scarf and splashed her face. The water was warm, still holding onto the heat of the desert as the night temperatures plummeted. Once she'd cleaned her face--and the cuts--as best as she could, she dried off with her scarf, then draped it back around her neck.

“Seteta, I believe this might be your doing.” Persian called to her.

Seteta sighed and rolled her shoulders, then rose and returned to the men... and dragon. "What is?" she asked wearily, then gaped as she caught sight of Rheinhard's chest.

Chaceledon
 
Reluctant Travel Companions

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Persian saw her shivering. Poor girl was born and bred in the desert. He stripped off his heavy canvas coat and draped it over her shoulders. It was weighted down by an assortment of things in his pockets; a tape measure, a speculum, several bottles of herb clippings, a map, keys, and little toys made of iron and copper that seemed to be puzzles. It was clean…ish, and quite warm, though it smelled of Persian and steel.

He caught her gawping and shook his head. “He’s not in pain. This wound has always been on the Volkers. It’s usually just exposed bone. But this…” he rapped it with his knuckles, causing a ripple to run down the cord between herself and Rheinhard. Unseen and unfelt except by the two of them. Rheinhard winced and gave a half hearted growl. “…is gemstone.”

Chaceledon stared at her. You took the Well..? That means…he’s free then. He leaned over and licked Seteta, tail thumping on the ground in joy.

“She can still command him but it’s a step closer. Here now. This is what worries me.” Persian set Volker’s bloody shirt aside and gently touched his broken ribs. The bruise was massive along his muscular side, and there was a hitch to his breathing. Persian sighed and picked up the shirt. “I can at least wash the blood out and use it as a binding. That tooth you keep baring at me needs an amalgam. Seteta, keep those cuts clean and that scarf off your face. And for gods’ sake that bangle on your wrist is giving me a headache.” He ordered them around like an irritated father, then headed to the oasis to scrub the shirt.

Chaceledon huffed and wound himself in the sand around Rheinhard. He nuzzled Seteta with a smile.
I love you, koiros.

Persian got Rheinhard’s ribs bound, and they settled down. Rheinhard quickly fell back to sleep, and Chaceledon kept Seteta warm between his forepaws. He let Persian settle against his haunches; the man was shivering in just a linen shirt and canvas pants.
Seteta
 

Seteta

The Dragon's Betrothed
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Seteta grimaced as Persian settled his coat over her shoulders, but didn't shrug it off right away. It was heavy, but warm, but she did recoil when the fae rapped on Rheinhard's sternum, the vibration spreading through her senses.

"Don't do that again," she hissed as Rheinhard growled.

Then Chaceledon was licking her, and Seteta rolled her eyes but gave a slight smile. "Yes, I took it," she answered, though her tone was somber. "He's as free as I can make him."

I won't command him, she resolved to herself, shuddering as Persian pointed that out, gut twisting at the taunting power that now resided within her. I won't. No matter what.

She nodded, though, as Persian pointed out the worrisome bruise across Rheinhard's. "I'll check his condition again, when I sleep," she said, then rolled her eyes again as Persian gave her orders for her own, very minor, injuries. "I know basic wound care."

She smirked at his comment about the silver bangle. "I'm pretty sure that's what Chaceledon meant for it to do."

Seteta kissed Chaceledon's muzzle as Persian stalked away to wash Rheinhard's shirt, settling between his paws with a weary sigh. Persian returned shortly and finished tending to Rheinhard, and Seteta tried to rest for a bit, then sat up with a growl, stripping off Persian's coat and tossing it back to the man where he shivered. It was bulky and full of hard lumps, anyway.

She pressed her palm to the sand again, bringing a large dome around them again to block the wind and hold in their body heat, then settled back between Chaceledon's paws.

"I don't know if it will hold while I go into the Well," she murmured, settling against his warm skin and closing her eyes. "But hopefully it will."

It was easier than when Rheinhard had to force her into the Well, at least. Merely a thought, and a little... mental hiccup, and she was back there in the office. The hideous, hideous office, and she shuddered at the sight of the fireplace again, but turned to the door.

"Any changes?" she asked Nestor where he sat observing Rheinhard's health book.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Persian caught his coat with a raised brow and settled under it, sighing and closing his eyes. Of course the dragon had given her something to irritate him. The silver was irritating, like a bad smell in a room. Interestingly, touching the opal had made them both recoil. That supported his theory that the exposed bone had been a door to the spell.

Chaceledon settled his head into the sand, burrowing down like a crocodile with only his nose and eyes above the surface. He closed them, and waited for the heat of the day. Seteta was going into the Well. Gods, it was so strange to watch her sink into it as Oor had.

In the Well, words continued to be scribbled on the pages of the book. Nestor was settled in the doorway making notes. “Seems stable for now. He’s ravenous, but that binding is keeping his ribs from getting worse.” Nestor muttered. “There are a few more interesting changes.” He beckoned her out, getting up so she could see.

Instead of blackness, there was sand. Sand for a floor, sand pouring down making a curtain for the doors to peek through. Infinite, soundless earth. Where Oor’s had been shadow, hers was soft and pure sand. Nestor picked up a handful, letting it run through his fingers. “Glass, all of it. Powdered mirror. Though I’ve noticed the shards still remain.” He gestured up to the slowly spinning myriad of mirror shards. “It seems to be changing to reflect the owner. Even the rest of us now stand on sandstone.”

Seteta
 

Seteta

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"We're all ravenous, most likely," she muttered, nodding at Nestor's update. "I know I am. I'll hunt when it's closer to dawn. I have no idea how far we are from Pedeo, and Chaceledon will need all the energy he can get if he's carrying three of us in flight."

Seteta followed Nestor out into the main part of the Well, eyes widening at the changes taking place. "It makes sense," she murmured. "When Chaceledon tried to take the Well, everything became fire, right?"

She glanced up at the mirror shards. "Those are Rheinhard's," she said. "I won't manipulate memories like Oor did. I won't spy. If he feels it necessary to show me something specific, then I will look. But only then."

She sighed then, and looked around. "There's so much I need to know," she said. "But Chaceledon was injured, and Rheinhard is injured, and I don't trust Persian farther than I can throw him. I can't stay here for very long stretches, not until we're in a safer place."

Seteta looked back at the hall which contained all the souls of the Volkers. "Is there anyone specific you'd like to have awake? Soon, I want to figure out a rotation schedule. It doesn't sit right with me... locking people's souls into a curse, and then not giving them a chance to exist within it. But if you'd rather be alone while everything settles into place, I understand."

Then she waved back at the office. "Do you know what I need to do to make that... less like Oor?"

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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Nestor nodded. Rheinhard needed food. They all needed food. “I think we’re about another day out on foot. If we take another break, we should be able to reach Pedeo. Just expect long hours of flying. Persian is right, however little you may trust him. This body needs a doctor.” Nestor muttered. “And yes. When Chaceledon attempted to take this place…fire rained down on us. Having the Well reflect the person who owns it might have been a contingency plan to keep his captives in line.”

Nestor laughed aloud. Anyone specific? “No one.” He declared with a wry smirk. “I am the most intelligent. That’s not arrogance; it’s fact. Of all of these violent dullards, tortured souls, thugs, thieves, murderers and rapists, I am the only one here who has a spark of intelligence. I don’t need anyone. I won’t sob over lost loves like Kaska, flinch at your every move like Huron, or challenge you like Klaus. I know the game. Keep the others asleep. They’ve earned a time out.” He smirked and shook his head, shutting his book. “Want my advice? Wake the ones you can control. Aluid is stupid, and hyperactive. Huron is submissive. You and Brade would get along.”

He eyed the office. “That’s a reflection of his office in Witherhold. Since you’ve already exerted control here…I’m guessing things will change when you put your will upon them. We will memories to the surface. No reason you can’t get rid of that decor.” Nestor shrugged. “Be wary of making new rooms for a bit, however.”

Seteta
 

Seteta

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"Oor probably never dreamed that someone decent would actually take the Well from him," Seteta snorted softly.

Seteta raised a brow as Nestor began to boast about his intelligence, rolling her eyes and reaching over to gently flick his forehead. "Just because you have the most head-smarts doesn't mean you're the most intelligent," she berated him. "And no, I didn't ask for your advice. I'm not in this for control. I'm steward because we had no other choice to escape Oor, and I still can't guarantee you won't end up back under his control. Not until he's dead. But while I am steward, I will do everything I can to get closure and healing for each soul trapped here, and free as many of them as wish to be free. Somehow."

She eyed the office with a sigh. "Perhaps when I'm less tired, then. It's hard to exert my will over anything right now."

Shaking her head when he mentioned adding new rooms, she continued, "Even if this place takes on an appearance that is a reflection of myself, the Well is the home of the Volkers, even if by force. We will figure out what new rooms are needed together."

A soul-deep weariness began to settle through her, then, and for a moment she wavered on her feet, even though she knew her presence in the Well wasn't... her actual physical form.

"The reading lessons will have to wait a few days to begin, I think," she said, doubtful that Nestor had been planning to start them now anyway. "I know... that I can communicate with Rheinhard through this bond. Am I able to communicate with any of you who are awake, while I'm not in the Well? And if not... is it something that can be made possible?"

She eyed the office anxiously. She wanted to know if any sign of infection began to set in with Rheinhard, or any issues with his breathing besides just the broken ribs. But she doubted that she could slip into the Well and remain secure on Chaceledon's back while they were in flight.

Chaceledon
 

Chaceledon

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“Control is what you signed up for.” Nestor said sharply. “These men…Seteta. These men were raised to be controlled. When they don’t have rules and structure, creatures like Klaus arrive. It doesn’t mean you need to be a cruel owner like Oor. But it does mean you need to stand firm and not let these little shits walk all over you. Learn who you can depend on, and keep the rest asleep.” He rubbed his eyes under his glasses. “There is a way to release them. At least, from what I’ve theorized examining the spell. Blood magic is some of the most powerful there is. It’s got to be something linked in the blood. Mother to son, father to son. The patrilineal link is obvious; it’s a soul. But what does a mother give? Oor butchered most of them like cattle.”

He eyed her. She was tired. He could see the mental exhaustion wash over her. “You’re able to talk to Rheinhard, and us, at a distance of up to a mile. Beyond that you can send emotions for about…another ten miles but we can’t hear you. Beyond that you need the Well.” Nestor softened his voice a bit. “Just reach down into yourself, find that cord, and grasp it. You can even punish and cause pain by twisting or putting pressure. When Rheinhard was bleeding…back there in the arena? That was punishment for not obeying the command.”

Nestor put a hand on her shoulder. “Thank you. You may not get gratitude from all of us. Or even some of us. But thank you. It’s not an easy thing to ask of anyone. You’ll be fine. I can tend to things here; this spell isn’t too hard when there aren’t fifteen people running around insistent on breaking things. You’re allowed to look at any of my memories you like. It’ll help you learn.”

Nestor gave her a soft smile. A genuine one, not tinged with arrogance or derision. “You’ll be fine, asayi.”

Seteta