Fable - Ask Sound the Alarm

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Nadya

The Storm Scales
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A cockatrice had thrown the Outer City into utter chaos this afternoon, and the merchants that bred the volatile creature managed to herd it away from the main populace. It was now a task for the Thunder to hunt and kill the cockatrice, equipped with mirrors to deflect any direct eye contact, lest they wished to be turned to stone atop their dragons. Dragons were impervious to the stony stare, and thus was a small blessing for the scouting group mean to scour the farmlands.

"Surely these mirrors are useless if we are up this high in the sky. How can one make eye contact with this distance?" Nadya sighed, but still held onto the thin mirror in the other hand.

Her dragon, Kalyss, rumbled with her thoughts. It was his way of begrudgingly agreeing with her.

"Let's do one more sweep before moving onto the valley below." Hours had passed, the the lone cockatrice could have found a hiding spot for the rest of the growing night above them. They could not let this go on any longer, not when it still posed a risk.

Gods, those merchants are about to get their breeding licenses revoked. She mused to herself.
 
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Sometimes, Danika had to remind thr High Ascendants that not only was she still a Rider, but that she was also more than capable still of these smaller missions. If her reasoned words didn't work, then Sylv's teeth usually did. People often forgot the quiet dragon was far fiercer than her rider was. It had been Vhagor in the end who had convinced the rest of the council that she would be a great addition to the cockatrice hunters.

Danika sighed and eased back in her saddle as they completed another sweep of the higher cragged hills that hugged the outer city. It was not a sigh of frustration like she could see many others puffing out as they returned with no sightings, but rather one of joy to be doing something like this again. She loved her work in the smith but this... this was still her heart. The work of an Ascendant.

She lifted her googles as she drew near to Nadya.

"No need, I saw a trail heading straight down into the ravine. Little fuckers are probably hoping to burrow in somewhere defensive," for though they looked nothing like the majestic beasts they were descended from, they had inherited their intellect.
 
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Nadya grinned as she lifted her gaze to see Danika , and not in her workshop but saddled onto her dragon.

"Fancy a little chase then?" She proposed, a spark of fun to be had. Of course, cockatrices were awful to humans especially with their hoods fallen off that the merchants had found, but Nadya could feel Kalyss wanting to engage in a hunt.

He would have done this without the rider. An impression that Nadya felt but did not comment on for she was used to hearing his reluctance of her, but still, he did not undo their bond like she kept wondering if he would ever do.

"Sylvraxis surely wants to go hunting too. Could be a job so easy, we can keep our eyes closed!" Awful joke, but one she made anyhow.
 
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"Sylvi would hunt all day if I let her," Danika called back once she had finished laughing at the terrible joke. She leaned forward to pat her mounts green scales and the dragon gave a soft snort, as though sensing the conversation were about her. She could feel the dragon desperately wanted to race. Her whole body had tensed, her muscles bunching with anticipation, when Nadya had uttered the word. They had been cooped up in the forge too long, she realised, and gave the dragon another pat this time full of apology. She could get so swept up in her work that she forgot the dragon needed the skies too.

She shifted her weight and adjusted her reins with the small cinch she had created to help with her one hand.

"Alright. A race - but I warn you, you'll just lose again. No moping about at drinks later when you do."
 
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Nadya shot a look of mock hurt to her friend, but the grin and idea of some fun being had during this hunt could not be tamped.

"Oh, please. Kalyss has kept himself alive out in the Wylds for centuries! This will be easy for him!"


The great Storm Dragon did not care for the bragging of his rider, but even he could not resist the idea of tapping into his predatory instincts. A race would be easy, considering he was of a beastly size, but not the largest dragon residing in Thanasis.

Both dragons knew when to begin, and Nadya had to grip to anything she could to keep herself upright in her saddle, her stomach dropping as Kalyss adjusted their altitude. She had to be grateful that the ravine was deep, large enough to allow the size of her dragon to glide into it. "This is all on you, Kalyss. Your eyes won't be affected."

And it would save the medics some time in restoring their bodies if they become petrified.
 
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Sylvraxis shot forward with the speed of an arrow leaving Danika no choice but to hold on.

Before the accident she had loved nothing more than to let the tsonye dragon truly let go like this and reach her full potential. She had been young and arrogant in her abilities. Losing her arm and nearly her life had made her more cautious, but it had also made riding harder. She had to trust in her new body to work harder to compensate. That didn't mean she didn't enjoy it when she took those risks though and in a way that was all the more terrifying.

The blacksmith gave a delighted whoop that echoed through the valley as Sylvi folded her wings in tight and dropped like a stone. The other dragon might have been larger but her size meant she could take quicker paths through tighter gaps which she fully exploited as they descended down the mountainside.
 
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Between rider and bonded, there was a shared sense of glee as Kalyss used his experience and love for flying in tighter spaces, essentially trying to impress his young rider that he was capable of such a feat. She had to hold on tight, centre herself on her saddle and keep herself upright as he began his hunt.

And he was relentless.

He commanded the air, covering much ground that Nadya was sure they would win the race, but as soon as he picked up a scent, she knew he was like a bloodhound. He would not stop until he found the cockatrices, and Nadya frowned.


"We aren't here to start a forest fire." She called out, and through their connection she could feel his frustrations, the limitations his human placed upon him. "Eat them if you must."
 
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Danika's whoops! and laughter echoed through the valley as the tsonye continued her downward flight. There was a sense of playfulness as well as competition with the larger dragon. Every now and then Sylvraxis would swing herself up and around the larger one, turning somersaults to show off her skills and flare for the dramatic. Each one only delighted her rider further, especially when on one pass the dragon passed so low over the other dragons back she was able to actually ruffle Nadya's hair.

The playing stopped, however, when the dragons spotted their first cockatrice. Its mottled scaley hide quickly vanished into the undergrowth but it was too late. With prey now in their sights the dragons arrowed down. There was a squawk from within the denser woodlands as the cockatrice ran, heading for the mountain side and its many caves where it would be safe from the larger dragons.

"Oh no you don't," Danika muttered and leaned low over her bondeds back. Taking the hint Sylvraxis increased her speed, shoot towards the mountain to try and cut it off whilst Nadya herded it on.
 
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Perhaps she should have let Kalyss be a grump after Dani had swooped low enough to mess with her braids, which left Nadya scowling and reaching for the top of her head to inspect the state of her hair.

The large storm dragon wouldn't be able to get into the underbrush, and opted to circle around and lie in wait for it's prey. Of course, it meant that Sylvraxis would win their race, but Kalysss was not one to linger on a loss for long.

The cockatrice was clever, and lucky, to have made it so close to the mountainside, but a crackle and deafening BOOM happened so quickly. A small bolt of lightning came from the sky, trained to steer the useless creature to their left, and into the clear path of the tsonye and smith.

Nadya stilled, eyes staring into the back of Kalyss' head, fighting for surprise and spite. Rarely, ever so rarely did the dragon show his gift, his namesake power that had been fabled to help carve the mountains that backed and protected Thanasis. Here, he had let only a sliver of wielding ability come to be to keep a cockatrice from escaping the clutches of a dragon.

"Get it, Sylvraxis!" Nadya did not comment on the lightning, but chose to now watch her friend and her dragon go for victory.
 
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Danika's head whipped round as lightning boomed in the skies above, her hazel eyes wide. For a moment she thought they were under attack so rare was it that she saw the other dragon use his gift, but as her eyes followed the line of smoke that now wafted into the air she realised the older beast had used his gift for Sylvi. Her panicked expression broke into a grin instead.

"Get it, girl," she echoed Nadya's words and the tsonye hesitated no longer. Danika yanked the mirror-lensed goggles down as Sylvraxis tucked in her wings and dived through a hole within the trees at the precise moment the cockatrice passed beneath them. The cockatrice let out an ear shattering screech as the dragons talons went straight for the creatures face to remove the troublesome eyes.

There was little in this world that could take on a dragon and soon the cockatrice was nothing more than giblets. Danika didn't have the heart to tell her she couldn't help herself to the creatures heart as a small snack before taking to the skies once more to join Kalyss. Sylvi gave a small trumpeting noise of triumph then tossed something fleshy in Kalyss' direction.

"Gross, Sylv. Gross."
 
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Kalyss surprised Nadya and graciously snapped his large maw around the piece shared by the tsonye. She knew him to be picky, but the old brute seemed to not mind the other drake sharing the sky with him. Not saying a word about his budding friendship, Nadya smiled down at Dani. "Well, that's a sure win of favour to you and Sylv. How about a race back to Thanasis and report back, and then maybe it's about time I visit your workshop and get you to repair my shortsword?"

She had been meaning to see her friend and her workshop, to get her weapon repaired to good as new, but with a new Rising set to begin in the near future, Nadya had been busy getting the current recruit class up to speed on quick mounting techniques since they all seemed to fumble in the last couple of weeks. Over and over, she had been running drills, even staying back to work with riders individually.

It had been just the thing she needed when her sword came away with a wobble in her last training session. Probably throwing it to the ground didn't help it much, but her keeping it strapped with her saddle bags wasn't great either. She had been resorting to a crossbow of late, but it didn't give her the same power as she would have liked.

"I'll even buy sweet treats if that's what it takes to get you to agree." Nadya beamed, looking innocent.
 
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"Clearly she brings out his better side," Danika teased, also noting how the usually cold dragon had taken a shine to Sylvraxis despite her playful nature and younger age. Maybe it was the scars that lined her side that could be seen when the sun caught her scales just so that made the larger beast recognise her as a peer and not an annoying hatchling. The pair of dragons seemed quite content to keep flying away from the Capital, enjoying the warm drifts of air that meant they only had to beat their wings once or twice every few minutes to stay afloat. She was loathe to go back. Spending the afternoon out doing what she had once done had cast a darker sheen over her new line of work.

Taking a breath she reluctantly nudged her knee against the dragon to turn her about.

"You know you don't have to bribe me to visit me at work," she shot her friend an accusatory glance. "But I will take one full bag of sugar dragonsnaps from Mael's," the sweet shoppe was a regular haunt of hers. It was the only place who make the dragonsnaps right. In her humble opinion.

"I've been itching to get you a new sword, that one's a lump of shit," she clicked her tongue disapprovingly.
 
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"Sugar dragonsnaps, of course." She grinned, now recalling the favoured treat of her friend. "But you're going to be taxed for knocking off my sword." It was well known that Nadya had flirted with another blacksmith stationed at the Wall, probably fooled around with him a little too, but he had tried his best to reforge an old sword to gift to Nadya. It looked good, but only because the wielder knew how to handle herself in combat, and many began to put their attentions onto the smith and Nadya soon lost interest in the famed male.

"But I suppose it can't hurt for something entirely new." She was unsure, not quite the one to ask of such a favour of a friend. "How much will it cost me?" Nadya hoped not to fall back onto her family fortune, but it bought her the best gear. Danika had made a great armour set for her, one that was befit for a future High Ascendant, and helped rigged up a nicer saddle that would fit her Storm Dragon better.
 
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"You should know you get what you pay for, Nads," she threw her friend a smirk. Still early on in her career as a smith, Danika was nowhere near as expensive as some of the greats. However, over the past few years her name had gained enough traction that her books were filled with commissions near six months into the future and her time cost a pretty penny. "Isn't a sword that doesn't rattle around in its pommel a worthy investment? Besides, your family won't notice the money missing," she sniffed. As a noble herself she understood the eyewatering sums that her family had to fall back on in times of need. She had purchased most of her smithing equipment without her parents even noticing the money was missing.

The two dragons swept up over the valleys walls then plateaued out across the grassy plains full of farmsteads. Below children chased the dragons shadows and shouted, waving up at the pair in excitement. Sylraxis let out a sudden plume of flame in a perfect circle for the two dragons to fly through, earning more ecstatic cheers from their fans below.
 
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Despite her aversion for taking money from her family's funds, she was glad the friends she made understood her in this at least. Her family had fallen out of favour centuries ago when the Storm Dragon's moved on from Thanasis, leaving only the clutch of eggs that were taking their time to hatch. At that time, the Calaerys noble house was dying out, with only the vassal house being the only Calaerys line alive. It was through that bloodline that kept Kalyss nearby the City of Dragons.

A Storm Dragon bonding to a rider was always welcomed in this society. Some days Nadya wondered if Kalyss was the only thing that kept the Caliars in good graces...


"No, the money wouldn't be a problem." It was going to be all her own to manage one day as the title goes to the female heirs. Family curses and whatnot.

Kalyss surprised her when he aimed for the fiery ring before them, tucking his large wings tight and keeping Nadya in place, protected from the flickering flames. The cheers below made her laugh, leaning her head over the side enough to see the children and giving them a large wave.

She had done the same as a young girl. Had carried Leida out once while herself and Stasya could watch the Wyld dragons fly over. They had been unbonded, and she had always daydreamed about bonding one day...

"So, we thinking something flashy? Storm Dragon bonded rider worthy?" She called out to her friend.
 
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Danika's eyes slowly raked over the Storm Dragon and then flicked up to Nadya. A shit-eating grin was her only response before she clicked her tongue and Sylvraxis picked up the speed. It was meant to be a race after all.

Despite her speed there was a reluctance to the way the tsonye flew. She took a longer route and spent time playing over some of the villages they passed. Danika could feel her reluctance to return to the caverns in the mountain where the forge was set and she gave her dragon a reassuring stroke along her scales. A quiet sign that she understood.

"We'll fly more my friend, I have been selfish lately," she murmured low enough the wind would snatch the words away before Nadya could hear. The dragon rumbled something Dani hoped was forgiveness and finally turned her wings to the forge.

The forge was carved into the upper levels of the Ōmeyōcān. There was a large enough platform outside the cave for four dragons to perch comfortably without touching wings so the smiths could fit armour or mounts could wait for their riders to collect an item. Even from outside the heat of the forge could be felt. Its bellows never died and was kept alight by the various smiths and their dragons who worked within. Dragon flame was what made Thanasis armour and weapons as deadly as they were. Landing, Sylvi lowered herself to the ground so Danika would have less of a drop to make.

"Get rid of those scales he's barely hanging onto and bring them in. I have a mock up I've been dying to show you for ages."
 
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Although not nimble and quick on reflexes, Kalyss' wings and experience gave him a practiced edge when taking on the challenge set by Danika and the tsonye. He knew where it was they were to fly to, and despite going easy, had made it before the blacksmith and bonded.

Nadya ignored the stares of fascination Kalyss garnered, his history and name recorded in the books of time passing in Thanasis, and his rarity to these parts made many stare and whisper whenever they see him. On the Wall, they were there nearing a decade but that never discouraged people to sit and stare. Her new transfer to Ōmeyōcān meant she was now trusted to train new recruits, starting with the intake they will receive come after the Rising. Herself and Kalyss were barely here for a month, and again, she had to block out the noise and attention her dragon got.

She was grateful she was not alone here.

Danika's order made Nadya's brow raise, an amused smirk lifting at her lips. "Even I know when to not argue." She leaned back and twisted, rummaging for the scale kit she always kept. Storm Dragons were able to shed their scales, but they had a hard time falling off. In her early days of being an Ascendant, a smithy had designed a specific tool to help extract the scales, to help allow the skin below heal and not catch infection. It happened to only a couple of scales at the time, and Nadya felt a little embarrassed she let a legendary and rare dragon get something so common as scale infection.

Just last week she had taken a few scales after noticing them all wobbly like a child's first teeth, but she did not have time to inspect the rest of him. "I'll start at his tail."

It took over an hour to collect a decent few scales, until Danika had told her that would suffice. Others that were present had offered their help, but Nadya had to sheepishly refuse and use the lie of the Storm Dragon being sensitive to who may approach him to cover up the fact there was a complicated process and tool for such a task.

The hessian bag of scales was now offered to Danika. "Armour?" It was not uncommon, but most seemed to choose against full armour atop their bonded. She knew that some other riders added their dragon's scales to their leather gear for protection, or in the case of Moon Dragons, helped a rider blend seamlessly.
 
"Have you not been caring for the set I made you?" her brow arched in her friends direction with a disapproving scowl. She took pride in her creations and demanded those who wore them did so likewise. With a click of her tongue she unrolled a piece of parchment she had been holding. "No, Nads. A sword."

And indeed it was not just any sword Danika's drawing depicted.

Dragon scales could only be melted by dragon fire at a high intensity, and it was exactly that that Danika proposed in her sketch. The Storm scales would form the strong, unbreakable blade and smaller ones would decorate the hilt and scabbard. Her predictions painted the blade as a dark stormy blue with streaks of white like the lightning Kalyss controlled. The blade itself was curved much like the ground soldiers cavalry units but that would make it easier to use from the back of a dragon and give her an edge fighting those with straight blades.

"What do you think?"
 
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Nadya snorted. "Dani, I do try to take care of it, but it's never been the same since that young tsonye got a good whack into me." The indents she could not work out were still there, reminding her, taunting her that she wasn't fast enough to get out of the way... or was a fool to believe she could believe the rider bonded to the excited green dragon had any control over the drake.

She followed her friend, aware that her family were responsible for the breeding of Tsonyes, but who better to understand the clubbed tail of them than the Araelors?

"But, who's going to look at my armour when this sword demands to be seen?" Nadya gasped, shocked at how exquisite and deadly the design was. A curved blade. She wasn't bad wielding one, but knew she would need to get better at it to show up those arses that constantly called out to her when she trained. There was nothing more that Nadya enjoyed than wiping off the shit eating grins from their faces. "Gods, Dani. You sure you wouldn't want me to pay you?"
 
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Danika nodded as she reverently pinned the piece of parchment to her corkboard where all her current work in progresses sat.

"I've never made a blade from the scales before. I know Abroxes can melt them, but I have no idea how it'll turn out. It could be brittle and useless for all I know. So, a free blade in exchange for being the Guinea pig sounds fair. If you're happy with that, that is," she flashed her friend a grin.
 
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"Oh, so maybe you should also fix up my current sword just in case." The Wing Leader grinned too widely. Of course, she knew Danika would forge a new sword to keep her from using the one rattling around at her waist belt, but it was fun to tease her friends, especially when they were talented.

All her talents went to being a good soldier, worthy enough to be the rider of a Storm Dragon. Thankfully, she was quite nimble on the sparring mat, and a wicked combatant with weapons. Anything and everything taught in flight manoeuvres, Nadya went above and beyond in perfecting and proved to be an excellent instructor in such. The Thunder would trust her with a new squad to teach than a hammer and an anvil.


"Hells, Dani. As long as you make me shit that looks cool so I can show it off to Jens and Cull, it will be worth it."
 
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The smithy shot her friend a dark look, though the effect was ruined by the smile she was fighting that dimpled her cheeks.

"I'll fix that thing by throwing it in the furnace and melting it back down into something useful - like a fork," she sniffed and then turned back to her workbench to get some of the items she would need for the first part of creating the new ore. Her fingers itched to get started.

"Why don't you give me three days, come back and see how far I've gotten?"
 
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A lot happened in three days. Four had passed by the time Nadya made it back to the meet with Danika, looking worse for wear. Two days ago she had been deployed with her Wing to deal with a team of sand wyrms and quickly put them down, but not without her own injuries. One of the cadets had fallen from their seat, their dragon circling above and dangerously close for a sand wyrm to strike, and Nadya had no choice but to retrieve the cadet with the broken leg.
Now, dismounting from Kalyss with a grimace, she exhaled through her nose and made her way inside the smith's workshop in Ōmeyōcān.

"Please tell me you have good news, Danika." Nadya greeted her friend with a tired smile. "I had to use one of the standard issues swords the past few days and it isn't the same." Too broad, too unbalanced, Nadya could not find a weapon that suited her best while she waited for this design of Dani's.
 
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Nadya would find the smith in the middle of wielding her hammer over a red hot blade that was clamped to the anvil. Sweat rolled down her face which was twisted in concentration. There was a frenzied excitement in her hazel eyes as she worked, as though she were on the cusp of something that would be finished with just one more hit of the hammer...

Sylraxis noticed Nadya first. The tsonye was tending to the flames of the forge and raised her head as the other rider approached, casting a glance towards the entrance where Kalyss waited. It was her dragons shift in attention that finally drew Danika from her concentrated state. She stopped her hammering and glanced up with a grin.

"I might!" she waggled her brows and undid the clamp that was holding down the sword in lieu of her other hand. Blade free she plunged the red hot metal into a bucket of water causing steam to rise.

"What happened to you? You look like shit," Danika arched a brow and set her hand on her hip.
 
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"Someone didn't strap in enough, they fell from their dragon." she began, grabbing a wooden stool and setting it down somewhere to watch her friend work at a safe distance. "The dragon was flying low, and you know how high those sand wyrms can reach... I figured it was better to risk saving the fallen rider than losing a dragon. Sand snakes got me too on retrieval, but the poisons are out of my system now."

Nadya had been commended for her quick thinking, but all she could dwell on was the miscalculation of the serpents hidden in the sand.


"So? How is it looking, Sylraxis? Your bonded smith working wonders for me?" She asked, grinning to the gorgeous tonsye.
 
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