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Rebirth (Special Plot); Special Isra Plot
Topic Started: Sep 19 2014, 06:57 PM (971 Views)
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NPC Fire Arulia
Tag: Tytus

The tiny human was wrapped inside her tail, and also wrapped in security. One of the only living survivors they'd been able to find in this excursion, Arulia took an immediate liking to the plain man. She gave a toothy grin, chest puffing with pride as she made sure to nestle him between two spines comfortably. His abode was humble enough, although completely damaged. Her eyes softened as she passed a look at the decimated house. At least she'd saved them. A few more hours and he would have been a goner. Still, she took the beating heart against her skin as a job well done, even though he didn't want to go to the medics. Why?

"I'm sorry dear, but we will need to get you checked out soon. As warm as I am, I must share it with others." Even as they spoke, time was ticking. Tytus was lucky, but there could be many a few cases that wouldn't turn out as warm and fuzzy for others. Steadying herself on the ground, she decided to rest a moment, turning her head to watch the medics as she spoke. They were performing CPR on what appeared to be a lifeless corpse. "Such a tragedy is probably reserved for this city." She murmured under her breath, but loud enough for the slave to hear. "Perhaps something is angry with us. Maybe the Celestial above has had enough of Nondir." Her eyes blinked slowly as she turned her head over her shoulder to stare at her human. "Your name?" She asked, slowly moving herself into a walk towards the medics. However, before Tytus could answer, a shout rose through the encampment. One would not dare call it a city anymore.

We've found something! But we need some help!

Faint enough, in the falling snow, that not many heard it. Screeching to a quick halt from her slow pace, Arulia immediately shoved off the ground, leaving mere footprints where she had stood. forgetting she had a human on her back, she apologized as she took to the air. "Forgive me, but this cannot wait! Do hold on, i'll fly low!" She promised, tucking her arms and legs in to let herself fly lower to the ground. She didn't want to save Tytus, only for him to die falling off dragonback. Snow pelted the hide of the Fire as the weather began to worsen once more, but soon they arrived at the outskirts of the city. Some of the larger, more secure buildings were still relatively salvageable. However, one on the edge had collapsed in on itself, and the building beside it decided to fall onto it as well. A few dragons surrounded the building, gingerly taking pieces of rubble one at a time. Someone was in the building, someone large. More than likely, it was a trapped dragon. As Arulia landed, the ground shook and the building gave an unsteady creak of protest. A high-pitched whine could be heard from the inside.

"Hello! You there, on the inside!" Usually calm with strength and dignity, Arulia's voice was troubled. "We're here! My name is Arulia, and we're here to get you out!" Arulia's introduction was only met with another whine. The dragon inside was incapable of speaking, probably due to fear. Gruff, Arulia shook her shoulder, casting her back to the right, making sure to toss Tytus off into her outstretched palm. She didn't want to hurt him, but she did want him off of her quickly. "Stop moving the building! Don't touch it anymore. We're only going to make the situation worse at this point. It's going to collapse at any moment!" Arulia let Tytus down onto the ground and surveyed the building with her eyes. "Dear one, I know we have only just met, but I must as a favor of you. We are too large to get inside, but we need your help to survey the damage inside and to help calm down whatever is in there. It is probably too weak to attack you. You need to look for weak spots inside, and where the rubble isn't supported. But, don't touch anything. Will you do this for us, please?" Another whine came from the inside, weaker this time. The Fire met Tytus's eyes. "We may lose them if not."

Your choices are: Help the Rescue team and continue with special plot

-or-

Refuse and get checked out by medical personnel
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| Justin Pryce and Water/Toxic Nyanabranche 'Annae' (#38C6EC) |
| Nienna Surion |
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Tytus; tag Arulia

Every inch of skin that was in contact with the dragon began to tingle as it warmed from a depth of chill he hadn't even been aware was setting in. It truly was fortuitous that Arulia had heard him and rescued him, because even with a strong will to survive and a meager fire, Tytus knew that the cold would have claimed him before another day went by. He wanted to curl into that warmth, to drown himself within it, but he forced himself to remain upright and act with some sort of dignity--and moreover, to not give the dragon any reason to forcibly hand him over to the medical team. To be sure he was bound to possess some scrapes and bruises, but nothing so serious as to warrant the chance of getting shuffled off back into a life of continued servitude.

"Nondir is a dark place indeed," he answered the fire dragon just as softly as she spoke to him, glad for the change of subject. As to her speculation that the Celestial was somehow striking out at the city in wrath... well, Tytus wasn't sure what to make of that. That the Celestial existed was not something he questioned, but he did wonder if she cared a whit of what happened to those trapped in Nondir. Still, it seemed unwise to question her supposed empathy in front of the dragon whose back he currently rode upon, so he elected to keep his speculation to himself. "Isn't this a bit... harsh for the Celestial to have caused? There is evil in Nondir, yes, but also innocents trapped here not of their own accord. Surely punishing them--"

There was a shout, one that he barely heard over the sound of his own voice, and it immediately made him fall silent. Tytus was spared of any further discussion and the necessity to avoid answering any truly important questions as Arulia hastily took to the air. He did not cry out, but only because he clenched his teeth shut on the potential sound even as he wrapped his arms tightly around the spine in front of him. If there were any other means of travel that compared to the... the rush, the pull, the somehow primal, awesome nature of riding astride a dragon, he was unable to think of it in that moment, too busy clinging to Arulia's back and burying his face in the crook of his arm to shield it from the sharp wind created by her passing.

And then they were on the ground again, Tytus continuing to cling rather numbly to the spike in front of him. She was talking, was Arulia, but there was still a bit of a wind roaring in his ears and he didn't realize what she intended until she shook (like a hound shaking off a pest) and wrenched him free. Again he did not scream but for the shock of his sudden displacement, and then he was cradled in the dragon's massive claws before being set on his own two--shaky and somewhat wobbly--feet. She was speaking to him again, then, and it took a force of will for him to focus on the words she was saying.

Oh. Go down into the dark pit of an unstable building after just having been rescued from a similar hole, all to see if the creature within could be saved? Never mind that it likely had teeth and claws bigger than he was, it was probably too weak to eat or maim him horribly. Oh, was that all?

On the one hand, potential, terrible death. On the other, being sent to the medics--and then back to the family who owned him. Which was worse?

"I--" There was a bit of a squeak in his voice but Tytus cleared his throat harshly, hoping he didn't look as wobbly as he felt. "I'll help, of course. If ever there was a time for us to band together, it is now." And he turned to approach the remains of the building, trying not to think about how he might die and instead wondering if there might be a way for him to escape in there. Perhaps a tunnel leading to a neighboring building, or a hole he could slip through without being noticed. If the building did collapse--and it certainly looked as though it was going to at any moment--they would assume he had died and he might be free for a while longer. But first...

He was provided a headlamp, and he adjusted its straps before turning it on, the bright glare of its beam only moderately reassuring as Tytus approached the gaping hole that led down into the ruins. The beast trapped within was but a large, hulking mass, and not even playing his light across it gave him any indication as to what it was. A dragon, most likely, but what kind? And why had it been here instead of watching the hatching with most of the rest of its brethren? All things that flitted across his mind, and all things that Tytus shoved aside in favor of focusing on the task of climbing down into that deep dark pit without falling and breaking his neck.

It took longer than he liked to reach the bottom of the crater, and a few too many close calls with small avalanches of rubble to boot. Tytus instinctively gave the dragon-creature a wide berth as he cast his light around the ruins, peering through the gloom. He needed to perform this task at least until he found a way out.

"Don't dig from the western side!" he called back up to Arulia, his light playing over the mess where the neighboring building had collapsed into this one. "It's barely holding up over there, and it could collapse if the rubble shifts the wrong way. The eastern side..." He played his light to the opposite end of the building, moving that way carefully while casting nervous gazes toward the hulk of the creature there. "It doesn't look as bad, but... I'm not sure, if you dig from that side it might pull the rest of this building down atop us."

And now... now the beast.

"Hello?" The inquiry was quiet, tentative, and Tytus moved in a careful circuit around the creature as he spoke, trying to find its head. Probably not the best idea, since that's where all the teeth were, but he'd feel better for knowing where it was. "Can you hear me? My name is Tytus, I'm a... a friend. I don't mean you any harm, I've just come to see if--how we can help you. Are you hurt?"
| Clarra and Acid/Toxic Mantella | Seraphic Irasotiel | Tytus and Weather Fire/Lightning Ahtian | Marcus and Hellfire Inferno/Tech Panzerfaust |
| Basajaun Themides | Faerveren and Mirror/Metal Zadasiron | Sonic Proxy | Prince Zemal and Life Talixarra |
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NPC Fire Arulia

Arulia shifted uncomfortably as she watched Tytus disappear into the building. He, a survivor to this terrible moment, was already being pushed to help another. She hoped that his exhaustion didn't get the worst of him at the worst moment. He was able to cling for his life around her spines, so hopefully that was a good indication of what he was capable of. Sighing deeply, Arulia stepped towards the building while Tytus was inside, listening to his instructions. When he cried about about the west side, Arulia took note. "Stay away from the west side! All of you, move away!" She ushered those close to that particular side to get away. Dragons complied. East was a bit better though. "Push come to shove, we'll dig from the east. But only when whatever is inside is in position. We don't want to pull the building on top of them when the eastern support falls."

She hoped her words gave him comfort. She didn't want to poor man to get hurt, especially after she became somewhat attached. Their brief conversation was a break from the chaos, and throwing him into danger like this tore at her stomach. It was the closest thing the unbonded could think about in comparison to having a rider. She worried for everyone though, she couldn't be everyone's partner. "We'll wait for Tytus's okay on the dragon inside. Hopefully this won't be too difficult." Arulia's silent prayer rang out for all of them. One of the helping dragons brought some meat for those taking the break before Tytus's orders. Arulia took a few bites, but nothing else. What was inside?

-----------

?

Cold.

Everything, it was cold.

Urapenda's chest heaved, her nostrils attempting to take something in, anything in, but this damned cold air. Even as a fire, her body shook with her inability to move. She could hear the voices outside, but each time she tried to speak, a terrified wail came out instead. She was weak, and pathetic by Nondir standards, but that's why she didn't want to come here in the first place. She hated the idea, and had almost dodged the need this season. But, here she was. Urapenda had thought about going somewhere else, somewhere more secluded. She just knew something bad would happen. All it took was those smoldering, electric eyes and she was his. But now, where was her partner now?

Pain shot up her body as she attempted to move. The rubble had trapped her feet, practically crushed through her claws, leaving her ankles merely shattered bone. There was no way to fix it; she was going to die. Even as the sound of a louder, more powerful voice outside... What could they do? The beam hanging mere feet above Urapenda's head was threatening to come down any second. When the voice had arrived and the ground had shook, Urapenda thought that it would be the final moment. But, no. Her cursed powers are what kept her alive. Anything other than something affiliated with fire would be dead. She was alive because her blood hadn't frozen, right? Or perhaps it was her iron will. She still had the need to protect every second she was in Nondir.

A smaller, human voice was coming from above. Coming into the building, that is. But, for what? He shouted about some directions, west, east... It didn't matter. Her hand clenched and her wing moved to cover herself from his inevitable attack. Many in Nondir would love to use her hide to keep the chill of winter out. Did they still do such awful things in Nondir? A small pit was dug beside her, and she lowered her clenched hand inside. The only bit of privacy she had was her wings, but one of them was pinned beneath her. She wasn't about to get up to turn Tytus into a tasty morsel, which is what he feared as his voice hit her ears. Wavering, and scared, but confident enough that he could possibly help her. No, he couldn't help.

He traveled close to her head, and she let out a weak moan of pain. "There are no friends in Nondir, human, the sooner you learn that, the better." Her voice surprised her. She had made fun of Tytus being scared, and yet, here she was, voice shaking like a leaf! She almost didn't have to come here... she almost didn't have to come here. "Tytus, my name is Urapenda, although that much doesn't matter now. I will surely perish, for this is Nondir, is it not?" Her voice choked up, and tears rolled down her face, pooling at the floor beneath her head. "Shine your light at my legs. My ankles are crushed. My wing is pinned and ripped from it's socket. My stomach is probably ripped open from the rubble that fell on it. My strength is fading. I cannot feel anything anymore, and the only reason I am alive is because I am made of fire, which nothing can squealch. Is this the information you want?"

Her voice choked, and she began sobbing once more. "I almost didn't have to come, Tyt-... Tyt...." She couldn't finish his name before she made a gagging sound, followed by more tears. Her wing shifted slightly, her eyes attempting to look into the hole she made. "You will not be able to move me. But, perhaps... you can help me." Her voice began to strengthen again, not wavering as much as a leaf would in a storm. "Will you fufill a dying dragon's wish, dear Tytus?" It would be dangerous for him, but hopefully something would come out of Urapenda's death. She almost didn't have to come here, after all. Celestial, give her strength for what she was about to do.
[align=center]
| Rhoan Xavia and Crystal Spirit Rui'shiar (#FFD700) |
| Weather/Lightning Astrapi the Ancient (#111747) |
| Justin Pryce and Water/Toxic Nyanabranche 'Annae' (#38C6EC) |
| Nienna Surion |
| Blood Distress (#600000)|
| Nature Cernunnos(#00F16C) |
| Sivin Tlithar and Air Sound Katzeangst (#FCFF00) |
| slot x4 |
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Tytus; tag Urapenda

So it was a dragon. As if it could be anything else, really, but this was Nondir and quite unwittingly his mind had run away with itself and supplanted logic with old, dark horrors from children's stories. She was a dragon, to be more specific; the voice was weak and quaked like a leaf in the wind but it was undoubtedly feminine. Every word took an immense amount of effort, even he was able to see that, but she was speaking and while bitter, she did not seem to have any energy to direct wrath in his direction.

She spoke truly, this Urapenda, and not just about Nondir. Though reluctant, Tytus did as he was bade and shone his light to where her feet were trapped in the rubble, cringing at the sight of ragged bone peeking out from torn, battered flesh. The stone and debris nearby were stained dark, and not just from water leaking down into the building. Even without looking to her mangled wings (which he did, his stomach lurching uncomfortably) or to her stomach (which he did not; he was not normally the squeamish sort but it was humbling to consider the sort of power it took to fell a beast such as this one), he knew quickly that she was also right about this; there would be no saving Urapenda. Blood loss alone had sealed her fate some hours past. If by some miracle they did manage to lift her from the rubble, she was still going to die, from shock if nothing else.

And she was crying, great heaving sobs that made the air tremble. It worried him briefly that she might cause another avalanche, but the building continued to hold, at least for the moment. Tytus was startled to find that he'd moved closer to her at some point during her speech; there was little room in him for empathy or pity (at least, there was very little of it that he allowed), and he still felt oddly angry with her that she was here at all instead of at the hatching arena, but... she was dying. Perhaps it was because he himself had only just barely escaped a similar fate such a short time ago, but Tytus felt compelled to try and ease her suffering until she finally passed.

"Of course," he agreed immediately, and instantly tripped and nearly fell on his face in the rubble. Dammit, be careful. There were any number of ways yet for him to inadvertently end his own life, not least of all by accidentally falling into a hole much like the one that Urapenda kept looking towards. Was her rider trapped there, maybe? Again without thought, he changed direction to move toward the hole, albeit carefully. There was obviously something within that she valued; perhaps she wanted it near her as she died. "What do you need me to do?"
| Clarra and Acid/Toxic Mantella | Seraphic Irasotiel | Tytus and Weather Fire/Lightning Ahtian | Marcus and Hellfire Inferno/Tech Panzerfaust |
| Basajaun Themides | Faerveren and Mirror/Metal Zadasiron | Sonic Proxy | Prince Zemal and Life Talixarra |
| Moriel and Dark/Bone/Blood Chyropter | [slot] |
| [slot] | [slot] | [slot] |

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Urapenda
Tag: Tytus

Her eyes scanned Tytus up and down as he approached, and her wing tenderly shifted away from him, preparing to unveil the hole dug beside her. Smoke began to pour from her nostrils and she let out a gnarled, ragged cough. She did her best not to slam a body part into the boy, but she couldn't have been sure if her tail had thrashed her not. When Tytus was in the same place though, she let out a sigh of relief. "I've hidden my most prized possessions down in this hole. I... I don't know why there are spaces under these houses, but there are. It's almost like a tunnel system. Maybe if they had slaves way back when... to get from house to house or to change clothing or whatever. But, there's a tunnel system. Everything I own is down there. I want you to-" Another hacking sound.

Urapenda's chest seemed to heave as she struggled for air. "Something is wrong down there, and I don't know what. Something.. I think I heard voices down there a few days ago, and i'm afraid my possessions have been trifled with. I took great... care... hiding and securing them." The wing moved shakily from it's position before slowly curling back, closer to Urapenda's body. It was almost normal-looking. The hole wasn't wide enough for a dragon to fit into, however. As if sensing any possibly questions, Urapenda cleared her throat. "I have a human form. I hid my things from Nondir eyes down below. Please, if you can, please bring them to me, one last time. I want you to keep them safe..." Her tail slammed against the ground as a strange, guttural sound reverberated in her chest, almost as if bouncing off of each rib to get louder.

"I dug... at a slant... so you won't... fall down straight... I'm sorry for sending you down there... I don't believe anyone should have to see that, but... Nondir is a terrible place..." Urapenda had no idea of Tytus's history, but perhaps she had been lucky enough in that aspect to find him and recruit him. "It will be... difficult to move, but you can use a sheet to put the stuff on and drag it over here. I can lift things out with my tail, or you can toss things up one at a time." she suggested, voice starting to quiver. "If you go all the way to the right, and then take a few lefts, it's kind of like a maze in there, but there was a stoney room with nothing in it, maybe a closet... that I put my things in. We dragons can be... attached to our belongings sometimes... I just want to see them.... one last time..." She hissed as a cough rose in her throat, striking more energy from the exhausted and pained dragon. Her head lowered to the ground, but she kept looking at Tytus out of the tops of her eyes. The hole was exposed, and Tytus was free to explore any time.

"I hope you do not judge me, as the skies of Nondir have. I should have never come to this wretched place. Do forgive me, Ty... Ty-" She didn't finish her sentence, and instead, pointed her head towards the hole. She didn't want to expend her energy speaking, when she had to live long enough for Tytus to make it back in time.

NOTE: You have free creativity to whatever is down there, and whatever character development you would like to add in. However, I only ask that you stop your post as you're opening the door to the room, please. <3 I don't want you to get too far ahead of me, since you don't know what's inside anyways :P
[align=center]
| Rhoan Xavia and Crystal Spirit Rui'shiar (#FFD700) |
| Weather/Lightning Astrapi the Ancient (#111747) |
| Justin Pryce and Water/Toxic Nyanabranche 'Annae' (#38C6EC) |
| Nienna Surion |
| Blood Distress (#600000)|
| Nature Cernunnos(#00F16C) |
| Sivin Tlithar and Air Sound Katzeangst (#FCFF00) |
| slot x4 |
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Tytus; tag Urapenda

I'm sorry for sending you down there...

An involuntary shiver ran up his spine at those words, and Tytus felt the hairs on the nape of his neck stand on end. They were as ominous as a threat, and he found himself suddenly reluctant, even though he'd already agreed to help. The hole Urapenda had revealed gaped before him like a maw, cold, dark, and silent... and somehow alive, as if every bitter wind that blew in or out of the passageway was a great beast slowly, eerily drawing breath. As if Nondir itself was breathing, and here he was preparing himself to head down the beast's throat and into its very gullet.

And for what? The dying wish of a dragon he barely knew? And yet, was this not exactly the opportunity he'd been hoping for? Here he was, presented with a tunnel that, according to Urapenda, connected a multitude of buildings throughout the city. All he needed to do was slip away beneath the streets and find a door to a basement far away from here, then abscond to his freedom. There was more to it, of course, matters of necessity such as food, water, clothing, and money to enable his escape, but dear Urapenda seemed to be offering him that as well. Her 'prized possessions', eh? Even with room for error or personal taste (one man's trash was another's treasure, after all), it at least bore looking into just to see if there was something there that might prove useful to him.

Assuming, of course, that he didn't get lost in what sounded like a labyrinth and die horribly from cold, thirst, or starvation. Or perhaps the owner of the voices Urapenda claimed to have heard might sneak up on him and bash his brains in from behind, though it was possible that the dying dragon was simply hearing things. Which meant she might be delusional and imagining this treasure room of hers as well...

Risk. Reward. If he denied her and returned to the surface, it was only a matter of time before he was found out. If he descended into the tunnels below there was a chance, however slim, that he night just gain his own freedom. Tytus mulled this over silently, lifting his gaze to the gaping hole above, able to make out Arulia peering curiously down into the depths of the building. It did not cross his mind to warn her that he was trying to fulfill Urapenda's dying wish; that might only bring them down after him all the faster, and he wanted as much of a head start as he could muster before they realized something was amiss and sent someone down to check on him.

"I shall do my best," he lied smoothly as he neared the mouth of the hole--and almost as an afterthought, Tytus paused to place a hand gently on Urapenda's nose. The dragon was cold to the touch when compared to Arulia's blazing hide, only giving further credence to the fact that she was dying. She'd be lucky to last another ten minutes, never mind how long it might take him to find whatever it was she'd hidden in the tunnels below. Perhaps that was for the best, since he did not plan to return. Pulling away, Tytus paused just long enough to adjust the light on his head before descending.

It somehow managed to be even colder in the tunnel than it was above, the frigid chill so bitter that Tytus immediately turned up the collar of his coat and pulled his gloves more snugly about his fingers. Already he was reconsidering his choice; it wouldn't take long at all for him to freeze to death down here, even with the multiple layers of warm winter clothes he was wearing. As of to add to his trepidation, the tunnel was also pitch black; his headlamp cut a searing swath of light through the darkness, revealing a run down and dilapidated path that led forward several dozen yards before splitting into a sharp junction. There were lights running along the remaning stretches of ceiling, but age or perhaps damage caused by the earthquake had left them non-functional.

Slave tunnels, Tytus mused to himself, more to keep distracted from the growing unease in the pit of his stomach than any real curiosity. He started forward slowly, ever careful of the debris underfoot. Time had not been kind to these tunnels, and the earthquake even less so; stone and dirt cluttered the path forward, and sheets of ice attested to water insidiously working its way between every crack and crevice before freezing into solid, almost invisible hazards. But to what purpose?

His question was answered as he reached the corner. There, where the two walls joined, strange symbols were carved into the stone. He leaned forward to try and make out their meaning with squinting eyes, but either it was a long-dead language or simply one he'd never heard of--

"A code," he breathed, eyes widening as the realization of where he was dawned on him--and he laughed, a quiet sound that seemed somehow louder and slightly manic as it echoed back at him. It was a code devised centuries past to tell those who knew how to read it what way to go, where each tunnel went, and where safety could be found. Only those privy to the meaning of each symbol were capable of finding their way through the maze; anyone else might stumble around blindly for days on end before dying a slow death of hunger or thirst.

These were escape tunnels, constructed back before slavery had become the norm in Nondir, when good people might still stand up and help those less fortunate than they were. Slaves could travel underground, out of sight of the authorities, and take shelter in the myriad rooms that dotted the numerous tunnels when it wasn't safe to ascend to one of the houses above. It was likely one such room where Urapenda had hidden her possessions; the trick would be finding the correct one.

The irony of where he was was not lost on him in the slightest, but his humor was short-lived. You heard the occasional rumor about places such as this, where a slave might be able to sneak away and find his or her freedom, but they were never spoken in anything above a whisper. If the higher ups in Nondir ever found these tunnels, they would be destroyed in an instant. Not that they were in pristine condition at the moment; it was difficult to repair something as surprisingly vast as these tunnels without attracting unwanted attention, and the earthquakes likely only added to the damage.

This was made even more obvious by the fact that Tytus was unable to take more than a few steps forward before having to divert his path, either around or over or harrowingly between dangerously jagged stone. The smell of old, deep earth permeated the air, heavy and thick in spite of the glacial chill that tried to dampen the odor, and Tytus soon gave up on trying not to get dirty. There were simply too many places with a premium of maneuvering room for him to get through this without at least some marring to his admittedly already less than pristine clothing, and it wasn't long before he also stopped caring about cleanliness and became more concerned with the way the heat seemed to leech from his body any time he pressed against a surface for more than a minute or so.

In silence he trekked onward, the only sounds that of his every breath, the echo of his footsteps, and the occasional clatter of shifting debris. It didn't take long for his cheeks to go ruddy and numb, the tips of his fingers tingling no matter how he flexed his hands to try and keep them warm. The tunnel was mostly straight, though it was difficult to tell in truth because of the damage done to it. Tytus saw no sign of any doors, and came across only one other path that branched away from the tunnel he walked down, its entrance long ago collapsed from some other catastrophe that befell it in years past. Or, at least, he assumed it was an old cave-in; it looked like it had been there a while, but then what qualifications did he have to judge such a thing? Lacking any other way to go but back, he simply moved forward again, following the beam of light stretched out in front of him and trying to ignore the unease growing in the pit of his stomach.

And then he saw a door. Not the door, the one Urapenda had spoken of, but a door. This couldn't be the one, because he had yet to make any left turns and this one was partially hidden behind what looked like a stone wall. His curiosity got the better of his trepidation and Tytus approached it slowly, wondering why it had been bricked off, and then why it was partially opened again. A small voice in the back of his mind suggested he was better off not knowing, that he needed to just continue on his way and find a way out, or better yet, just turn around and go back and try to find an escape route that didn't creep him out quite as much as this one did... but still he reached forward, around the crumbling stone facade, and grasped the handle. He met with resistance when he tried to push, but leaned into it, and finally, with the sound of something fragile being pushed out of the way, the door slowly slid inward.

The smell hit him first. It was thick and musty, not wet and cloying with the sickly sweet scent of decay but still a heavy, earthy miasma that screamed death. As his light played into the room through the narrow gap he'd opened, Tytus could see a gleam of ivory on the floor, cluttered together in what appeared to be an untidy mass until he realized they were people. People huddled together, clinging to their loved ones or perhaps simply to each other for comfort in their final hours, trapped in what was supposed to be a safe place because someone had discovered them and walled over the door from the outside. Or perhaps, given the sheer number of bones he saw, they had all been forced inside, forced to sit there and wait, or beg and scream for mercy, as the door was blocked up and they were doomed to die.

He jerked back in such a haste that his foot caught on something, causing Tytus to stumble and fall as he scrambled away from the tomb. He did not stop until his back hit the opposite wall of the tunnel--and then he immediately jerked away from it when a small shower of debris rained threatening down around his shoulders. With a curse he bolted to his feet and jolted to a stop in the middle of the tunnel, bent over with his hands clutching his knees as he struggled to catch his breath. Revulsion crawled over his skin like a living thing, thousands of heated pinpricks that left him feeling sickened, nauseous.

But why? He did not know those people. They were nothing to him, and thus their lives--and deaths--should mean nothing. There was no logical reason for him to (turn around, just turn around and go back, I shouldn't be here) act this way over a bunch of nameless skeletons (I'm only seventeen, what normal seventeen year old wanders around in slave tunnels full of dead people because a dragon asked him to), or for the nature of their death to (what kind of person does that to people, how did they stand it in there knowing that they were all going to die) unnerve him so much. Tytus was better than they were, wasn't so stupid as to get caught here in these tunnels as he struggled for his own freedom, was...

Every bit as desperate as they had been to be free. Every bit as cold as the person who had buried them alive? Was he truly capable of that level of cruelty?

He shoved away those thoughts, burying them down deep along with the urge to turn and flee as he forced his feet into motion once more. Forward, onward he went, trying not to wonder if he was heading to his own death on the promise of a delusional, dying fire dragon. Perhaps it would be better to just find a way out of these tunnels and try his luck without whatever treasures Urapenda had hidden away; they might be helpful, yes, but only if he survived long enough to make use of them. The reward was only worth so much risk...

The tunnel ended (all the way to the right), splitting again into two different pathways. Each was again marked by the strange code he didn't know how to read. The one on the left (then take a few lefts) matched the symbol he'd seen earlier, the one on the right something different.

Hating himself a little, Tytus slipped around the corner to the left and immediately almost died for his troubles. He saw a face, wide-eyed and pale with lips skinned viciously back from yellow teeth, before he noticed the iron rod held over the being's head, and had only just enough time to throw himself out of the way, the metal kicking up sparks when it struck some stones on the floor.

"You won't take me back!" they screeched as they advanced on him, raising the makeshift weapon for another blow. "You won't take me back! I'll never go back!"

Tytus scrambled back on his ass yet again, fighting to regain his feet and wishing for something, anything that might be used as a weapon. He had nothing, as per his usual status as a slave... nothing but his wit and the crazy idea that maybe he could talk this mad(wo?)man into not murdering him horribly. Assuming, of course, that he lived long enough to get a word in edgewise over their banshee shrieking.

"--never go back! Won't go back, no no no no--"

"I don't want to go back either!"

They stopped at that, body heaving, the rod held above their head as they considered the boy in front of them. Cold was seeping through his clothes, but Tytus remained where he was on the ground, not wanting to provoke another attack. The person was a woman, that much he was able to tell, and a slave judging by the collar around her neck. She was not dressed nearly as well as he had been permitted to dress, so perhaps her owner kept her in a position that did not require it--or perhaps they had simply not believed in treating their slaves as actual living beings.

"Why not?" she snarled, advancing a step. "Rich man, nobleman, you have no reason to be here! These tunnels aren't for you!"

"I'm not a nobleman," he insisted, trying to keep his voice calm and reasonable. "I'm a slave--"

"Liar!" she raged at him, raising her weapon menacingly.

"--and I'm trying to escape, I swear it!" Tytus crab-walked hastily backward as she swung at him again, staggering to his feet and holding his hands up in a supplicating gesture. "Please, can you show me the way?"

"Liar!" she spat again, shaking the rod at him. "Dressed too nice, no collar, no brand, no--"

"I am branded!" By all that was holy, he didn't want to do this, but immediately he began unbuttoning his coat and the myriad layers underneath it, the cold already biting more sharply at his skin. His assailant had stopped at least, either waiting to see this brand or else perplexed by his impromptu strip show. Whatever the case, it gave him enough time to loosen his clothing and work his right shoulder free, and though he didn't like the idea of turning his back on her... "See? Here it is."

He had to pull the light from his head and shine it on the marred patch of skin on his back so she could see it properly. She squinted at it, stepping forward to poke and prod the mark with cold, dirty fingers, as if trying to see if it was actually real... but then she grunted and stepped back and, for a wonder, didn't start trying to kill him again.

"You're the brat that Andronicus drags with him everywhere," she said somewhat grudgingly, and it surprised him that she knew him--or knew who his now dead former Master was, at least. "Not so loyal now, are you?"

"There's loyalty," Tytus replied as he hastened to fix his clothes, teeth already chattering faintly. "And there's survival. Andronicus died in the earthquake. I saw my chance and I took it."

"Smarter than you look," she muttered as she moved away to retrieve her own flashlight, one of the hand-held variety. "You don't want to go that way," the woman said, pointing down the right-hand path of the tunnel. "There were more of us. Some of 'em went that way. Heard some screams. Then nothing. No one came back."

He nodded as he slipped the lamp back over his head. Good to know... but now how did he get to Urapenda's room without this old crone following him? "What's that way?" he asked instead, nodding to the left-hand path.

"Don't know. Every time I go that way I always end up here again," she answered, pointing to the spot where they stood.

"Were there..." This wasn't smart, not at all, but maybe the risk was worth it. "Did you see any doors? Find any rooms?"

She shook her head. "All them rooms were sealed up decades ago. Won't find no places to hide anymore. Just wander and wander and wander til you die of hunger or cold or some nasty beastie that made this place its home finds you."

A jolt of fear shot down his spine (beasties?! What beasties, why hadn't Urapenda mentioned--), and it must have shown on his face because the old crone immediately started cackling at him. "Relax, boy, it was a joke." Then, as abruptly as it began, the laughter stopped. "I think."

She was insane. Absolutely insane.

"So you don't know the way out?" Tytus asked, trying to keep the annoyance from her voice. She hadn't seen the room, or if she had, she wasn't mentioning it to him. Best to keep playing his part lest she decide she wanted to continue trying to kill him.

"No one does," she answered before turning to head down the very path she had told Tytus not to take. "Maybe there isn't one anymore."

"I thought you said--"

"I'm old, boy," she said over her shoulder, her voice and her light dwindling. "Better to die quick than to wander around for days dying slowly."

"But there's a--"

"I won't go back!" Then she did stop, turning to glare at him. "I will die down here, but I will die free. On my own terms." And she turned away again, continuing down the rightward path. All too soon the meager light she carried vanished as she scrambled around a collapse from the tunnel's ceiling and was swallowed by the darkness.

Tytus couldn't help but wonder if she'd been real at all, or if he was starting to lose his mind. Shaking his head and muttering under his breath, he turned and started down the leftward tunnel, trying to put all thoughts of potential beasties or wandering until he died out of his head. It took less time for him to reach the end of the path, perhaps because he was moving faster, though this time he was more careful when peering around the corners. When he was not confronted with someone (or something) else trying to kill him, Tytus turned left again, fighting the urge to run. Panic and something very much like claustrophobia tugged at the back of his thoughts; he wanted out of here, and with each passing moment the idea of returning to the hole he'd come down through grew more appealing, even if it meant he might have to return to a life of servitude. Maybe he could talk Arulia into smuggling him out of Nondir...

Another left. He was jogging now, going as fast as he dared with so many potential ways to fall and break his neck littering the ground beneath his feet. Nothing there, no door, just another split in the path, one going left, the other right. They seemed to be growing shorter, these tunnels, or else he was losing some perspective. He turned left again, chasing after the beam of his light as it played across the floor, across a wall, and he turned left--

Dead end. The path terminated with no warning, nothing but a blank wall for his efforts. Tytus gasped out a curse as he spun around (must have missed it, this is foolish why am I here)--

And there it was. He'd run right past it, focusing as he was in front of him and not on the wall opposite the one he was touching. This door was not sealed off, though a pile of fallen stone nearby suggested that it might have been at one point. It also made him shudder and wonder if Urapenda was the sort of dragon who liked collecting human bones, given what he had seen in the last room. Tytus almost didn't want to open it... but this was the entire reason he'd come this far. It would be foolish and cowardly and downright stupid not to check it out just because he was afraid he might see a few more long dead people.

He still hesitated, staring at the door long enough that he caught his breath before stepping toward it. Tytus reached out, placed his hand on the knob... and with a deep breath he slowly pushed it open.
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As the door was pushed open, the human would very quickly realize that something was not quite as he might otherwise have expected. For one, the door was blazing hot, but not so much that it burned his hand or injured him. Within the room, heat and fire seemed to exist at the dragons whim of thought. It is quite likely that at that moment, Tytus might even have thought he was betrayed into a pit of firey hell as a dragons last joke on the world, but no...There did seem to be some reason for the heat and fire, most of which surrounded something as tall or taller than the boy was.

The more the door opened, the heat and fire died down a little, pulling back from the living thing so as to not hurt him, and even stayed out of his way. If he dared approach the inferno, he would find the fire would displace around him without harm, too. Was he brave enough to go into the heart of the fire? Perhaps so. If even out of curiosity to claim whatever treasure it was she'd left and wanted...something he figured would surely be valuable.


The closer he got, the more evident that what lay in the center of the room was too big and just by looking, too heavy to lift for a human. Some magic must have been used to get it down here to begin with, too. The fire in the center of the room seemed white and blue, cooler shades for hotter flames, and closer still....A sound, small at first, quiet and songlike warbled through the central feature in the room, the shell sparkling like a ruby struck through with veins of glowing gold, the sparkling shell cracking, and a glowing light seeping through the cracks, the light pulsing from within. Before Tytus lay a very large egg, which despite the heat, did not seem to be entirely that of a mere Fire dragon...

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Heat boiled out of the room in waves, shimmering in the air, and Tytus instinctively raised a hand to shield his face from the inferno. It warmed him almost immediately, chasing away the bitter cold chill of the tunnels before he even set foot through the door--and set foot he did, in spite of a massive pile of misgivings and doubt. The fire was blazing and warm, but not menacing, not... thoughtless. Even as he stood in the doorway it eased, almost as if it was inviting him inside.

So inside he went.

Just how the fire burned at all he did not know; there was no fuel for it here, no wood or flammable debris to sustain it. There was little more than the same stone used in the rest of the tunnels, albeit in remarkably good shape given how badly the earthquake had damaged the pathways outside of this room. Dragon magic, perhaps? It seemed likely, given how the fire crawled away from his boots as he slowly strode forward, gradually lowering his hand as his eyes adjusted to the sudden, brighter blaze of light. Aside from the strange, somehow living fire that seemed to know exactly where he was stepping and how hot to burn without roasting him alive, the room was utterly, completely empty... save for one thing.

Quite suddenly Urapenda's plaintive wails about not wanting to be in Nondir made sense, and his wonderments as to why she hadn't been at the hatching were cleared away. There was a bloody egg in the center of the room, though how she'd managed to get it all the way down here on her own was beyond him. It was larger than Tytus was tall, and there was no way he'd be able to wrap his arms around the girth of it, never mind move it in some fashion. Urapenda must have used magic to get it down here, but had neglected to mention that Tytus was going to need magic to get it out as well. Not to mention that, in terms of "greatest treasure", a dragon egg was, well... not the worst thing to find, certainly, but how the hell was he supposed to make this work in his favor? He couldn't very well cart it out of here on his back and sell it to the highest bidder.

And... he wasn't sure that he wanted to, in all honesty. The longer he stood in the blazing room, the more comfortable and at ease Tytus felt. It was not a sensation he was accustomed to, and undoubtedly the faint song that seemed to emanate from the egg had something to do with it. Or, at least he thought it was a song; it was a noise that, if he focused on it too intently, seemed to vanish within the crackle of the flames, only to reemerge once his attention drifted. It also drew him closer to the egg, the blue-white fire parting easily around his booted feet as he drew closer to the massive ovoid. It was beautiful, really, glittering scarlet shot through with veins of gold like a precious gemstone wrapped in fine filaments--and then some of those filaments pulsed and Tytus realized that the egg was cracking.

The shell shifted and almost rippled with the bright pulses of light that came from within, and he found himself suddenly frozen by indecision. Had the egg been damaged during the earthquake, or was it actually hatching? Should he flee? The soft siren's song pulled at him, made him long to stay, to reach out and touch, but a small, logical voice in the back of his mind pointed out that a newly hatched dragon was apt to be hungry and there was nothing here for it to eat except for Tytus. But dragons didn't eat humans... mostly. Sometimes. Unless you were in Nondir...

Tytus was frozen by indecision, one arm that he didn't remember lifting partially outstretched toward that ruby shell. He couldn't suppress an urge to touch it, to feel it beneath his fingertips... and he did. It was hot without burning, and even through his glove he felt a shivery tingle shoot up through his arm, a sense of... something. A presence, and was that heartbeat his own or something else's? And then the egg twitched, nothing at all subtle about it, breaking Tytus from his reverie. He staggered backward, the flames parting around him as he backed into a corner, watching with wide eyes as it...
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As soon as the young man's hand touched the great egg, the life within responded with a plaintive, yet soft cry that echoed within the shell. All the sudden, as if awoken from its quiet and slow hatching attempts, as if knowing someone was there, the egg began to rock a bit more earnestly. The occupant within had begun crack its shell at the time the others had, but felt something was wrong- no one was here, and so, the infant had waited. There was enough of a crack for it to breathe, as well as enough energy within to last it a little while. But now, things were getting desperate, and the creature within needed out.

Claws scraped at the broken shell, a twice curled tail and body squirmed, using leverage to part the cracks as best it could. Almost without warning a glistening silver blade broke through the egg, followed by sparks and a glimpse of a sapphire blue hilt of the tail blade, which quickly ducked back within the egg to repeat this process, slicing key areas of the egg precisely, as if the exact means of escape had been planned for days. Once the structure had been broken, it was easy for the sleek, suave, almost dainty creature within to fan its already large wings and split the egg around it in an even, nearly flower-bloom way with a flash of white hot fire that danced into blue and framed the creature in glory.

What stood there, framed in the flames of the room was none other than perhaps the most beautiful dragon to grace the boys eyes. Her frame was sleek, feminine, her eyes gentle as a does, but keen, aware and knowing, intelligent. She looked upon him, already five or so feet at her shoulder alone, at least thirty feet long with her tail included. And oh, how she glistened, her colors flaring from deep burgundy-raspberry purple reds to red oranges, fading from that to golds and bright yellows, she looked lit from within, streaks of dark purple tinted with blue and flickering with electric blue striations, her tail ending in a blade, at its base, on both sides, blue sapphire-like formations that looked hard enough to beat something if cutting it was less valid an option.

But most of all, she was different. Something was off, different even. Across her body, seemingly at random, were streaks and dashes, and large areas of white, which seemed not to interact with her other markings. Piebald, indeed. A splash of the white even covered half of the left side of her face, and the eye on that side shined blue, while the other was almost black with an eery ring of red that stood out, as if looking through the soul. Her horns branched in two sets, the outer set with tines arching up and concave at their bases, the inner set long and gently curved, reminiscent of a Unicorn's horn, only much more curved and facing backwards.

As she stood there, she fanned her wings and flapped them a few times, drying the tender membranes and the scales that adorned her wings like feathers might on a bird, great talons on the wings flexing and testing their freedom. Upon her head, tall, thin spines grew in an array that went down her back all the way across her tail, and upon her legs, great plate like scales flared out, opening and closing before coming to rest in a mostly open orientation. And then she turned again to the human, the only suitor come to try to win her loyalty. She took a few steps, testing her balance, allowing herself time to adjust her pace, learning to walk and at the same time, mastering it. She stopped a ways from the boy and stretched, letting him know she saw him but was not about to make her decision on him just yet.

Something, perhaps a bit of egg shell, tickled at her nostrils and made her intake a great breath- followed by a draconic sneeze that cleared her sinuses of egg liquids, but...also served to ignite the dragon. From the base of each long plate like scale upon her body, fire flared out like a shield, heat, true heat, poured from them like the wings of a legendary phoenix, the fire jetting out at her sides and upwards a short ways above her head and somewhat down her neck. Electricity crackled between her spines and her jaws opened, a burning inferno lit within. She yawned, and shook herself, and turned her fire off, before walking towards Tytus.

In a soft, phoenix-song like voice, quiet yet heard, whispering but not, the feminine voice spoke, “My dear, sweet Tytus. You have finally arrived! I, Ahtian, (Ah-shee-ann) waited for you so long, I feared I might have to come find you. But alas, you have found me at last!” And with that, she strode forward and stretched out her long, swanlike neck and touched her forehead to his. A warm feeling spread between them as the bond was made and their crystals formed, glassy white-clear on the edges, a ring of red surrounding a pure white. The boy was marked, he could not hide what he was without great care, such as a bandanna over his forehead perhaps. Ahtian brought her head back a little and regarded the boy, a little smile on her sloped muzzle. “Well,....I suppose the secret may be out soon...But worry not, mine rider, none shall take you again. I will protect you with my life if I have to!” What was this dragon, anyway? Certainly not fire alone, and not lightning alone either. Both, but something more lingered within that dragon. It was torrential, a power that she could control with her mind, too...Perhaps she was that of Weather, grasping fire and lightning in her wake?



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Name: Ahtian [Ah-shee-ann] Urazala
Element: Weather [Fire/Lightning]
Parents: Fire Urapenda ♀ X Weather [Lightning] Zhabal ♂
Personality: Understanding, Keen, Intelligent, Soft-Spoken
Bonds to: Tytus [Isra]
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Tytus and Ahtian; tag Urapenda, Arulia

It was difficult not to force himself deeper into the corner as the egg began to shudder and rock in earnest, the creature trapped within suddenly eager to be free. He gave in and did press more firmly against the wall when the surprisingly sharp blade pierced the ruby red shell, the edge honed enough to slice through it with ease. Some distant part of his mind was screaming at him to run away and preserve himself, but his body refused to obey the primal command, paralyzed by... not fear, but a sense of expectation. There was a longing, suddenly, a feeling he hadn't ever been aware of possessing, and it was so alien and abrupt that Tytus wondered if it was emanating from him or from the dragon that was even now hatching in front of him.

She unfurled from her shell like a fiery flower, the egg falling effortlessly away to leave her standing in a corona of white-hot fire that blazed and pulsed brightly in the room before dimming. Or perhaps it only seemed dim now that she was standing there, because once his eyes adjusted to the light, Tytus found himself breathless. She was magnificent; vibrant and vivid, moving with an almost bird-like liquid grace as she tested her wings, folding and unfolding them carefully, and then taking her first steps...

Toward him. She did stop, but there was no doubt in his mind that he'd been seen, his heart jumping into his throat as she watched him. Was she contemplating him for a meal, or was she just curious? Or was it something else? Nothing in her posture spoke of violent intent, but quite often the most beautiful things in this world were the most deadly. That and the fact that she spewed fire from her body. Not to mention the crackle of electricity up the needle-like spines on her back, and when she yawned there seemed to be an inferno burning from within her.

“My dear, sweet Tytus."

His heart stopped. All he could do was stare because she knew his name, how did she know--

"You have finally arrived! I, Ahtian, waited for you so long, I feared I might have to come find you. But alas, you have found me at last!”

Tytus tried to scramble back as she advanced, but there was nowhere for him to go. Ahtian cornered him quickly, and instinctively he reached his hands toward the long, narrow head pressing toward him, settling on her muzzle as if he might somehow stop her. This wasn't why he'd come here, he didn't know--what was she, how did she know him, why--

Her forehead pressed against his, and a jolt of heat echoed down his body, warming him down to the very marrow of his bones. Tytus gasped, suddenly acutely aware of Ahtian, of himself, and of the bond they now shared. She had waited for him, had been waiting for him--for him and no other. If he had not come there was no doubt in his mind that she would have come looking for him, as she had promised. But why, why did she want him, had she chosen him, slaves... slaves did not...

“Well,....I suppose the secret may be out soon," Ahtian murmured as she carefully pulled away from fingers that had gone from pushing to grasping the minute their foreheads touched. "But worry not, mine rider, none shall take you again. I will protect you with my life if I have to!”

"But slaves..." he choked out, startled by how ragged his voice sounded. "Slaves do not--"

Ahtian nudged him gently to silence him. "You are not a slave, Tytus," she told him in her fluting voice. "Not anymore, and never again. We are together now, you and I, and always shall be."

His arms wrapped around her neck, and for a long moment Tytus simply held her, face pressed against her warm scales. This was... overwhelming, unbelievable, and he wanted little more than to sit down with Ahtian and contemplate this sudden, unexpected change. It was not to be, however; he felt through their bond how hungry she was, and he had nothing at all to offer her in the way of food. His plan of using the slave tunnels to escape Nondir melted as quickly as snow on a hot summer's day, because there was no way he could bring himself to wander these tunnels for days, trying to find an exit with a starving Ahtian tagging along behind him. It was startling, the sudden urge to keep her safe, to place her well-being above his own. She would not survive down here for long, which meant he had no choice but to take her back out of the tunnels the way that he'd come in.

"Come on," Tytus murmured, pulling away with some reluctance. "We need to get you out of here and back to the surface."

Ahtian followed without complaint as Tytus led her out of the room and into the bleak darkness of the slave tunnels. Almost immediately she began to glow softly from the vents that lined her torso, filling the corridor with a warm light that made it easier to see. That was, unfortunately, the extent of their good luck; fitting a human through some of the narrow gaps left by the cave-ins and collapses caused by the earthquake was difficult enough, but Tytus soon found himself having to dig wider pathways so that Ahtian was able to pass through. Even with her wings tucked tight against her back it was oftentimes hard for her to squeeze into the gaps that her rider was clearing for her, dragging out their trek into a gruelingly slow test of patience. He was no longer concerned about the cold, sweating beneath his clothing from a mixture of exertion and fear that one wrong move, the wrong stone shifted, might bring the tunnel ceiling down on their heads.

Still, they managed to make their way back to the main tunnel Tytus had taken earlier. There was narrow gap he'd needed to slip through on the first trip, just beyond the bone filled room, and he was having little success digging it out from the side they were stuck on. He had little choice but to wriggle through and try to widen the gap from the other side--but before he was more than halfway through something grabbed him and drug him the rest of the way. Ahtian bellowed angrily as her rider was jerked to his feet and shoved up against the wall, hot, reeking breath blowing in his face as his assailant leaned in close.

"It was you," a voice said with a sneer, and Tytus was able to make out wide, wild eyes, lips skinned back over yellowed, rotting teeth. "You was in my room, messin' with my collection..."

His collection? What in seven hells was this--

Oh. Oh.

A fresh wave of fear tied his stomach into knots as Tytus realized just what the man was talking about. He was the one who had put all those people in that room and left them to die... or perhaps he'd used them for a more sinister purpose. Food was scarce in these tunnels, after all.

"And now," the cannibal hissed as he drew a hand back, some sort of weapon clenched in his fist. Tytus struggled to get away, striking out at his assailant, trying to peel the fingers away from his throat, but all that served to do was make the man choke him all the harder. Ahtian was crying out as she attempted to dig her way through to him, and the man was turning his attention to her, a curious sort of expression on his face. "What the--"

The dragon's head finally pushed through the rubble, her eyes blazing, and without a word the killer was suddenly engulfed in flame. He jerked away from Tytus with a shriek, staggering backward and trying to beat out the fire eating away at his body. Without hesitation Tytus darted toward the struggling Ahtian, frantically pulling at the rubble until she was finally able to squeeze through. Once she was free the pair of them bolted, tearing pell-mell down the tunnel, tearing hastily through the rubble until they finally rounded the corner and saw the hole Urapenda had dug.

"Up there!" Tytus gasped, his lungs burning from the harsh, cold air, and on unsteady legs he guided Ahtian over to and then up out of the hole. The sight of Urapenda's great head pointed right at him almost startled a cry out of him until he realized who it was, and only then did he collapse onto his knees, panting for air. Ahtian pushed up against his side, panting as well, but though she was worried for him the young dragon was unable to keep from looking at the great, ruined hulk of the dragon in front of them.

Her mother. Not the most ideal of conditions to meet one's parent... was Urapenda even still alive? Once he managed to quell the burning ache in his lungs Tytus climbed unsteadily to his feet, picking his way over the rubble to the fire dragon's muzzle.

"Urapenda?" he questioned softly, eyes straining in the gloom to see if she was still breathing. "Urapenda, I've brought her. I found Ahtian."
| Clarra and Acid/Toxic Mantella | Seraphic Irasotiel | Tytus and Weather Fire/Lightning Ahtian | Marcus and Hellfire Inferno/Tech Panzerfaust |
| Basajaun Themides | Faerveren and Mirror/Metal Zadasiron | Sonic Proxy | Prince Zemal and Life Talixarra |
| Moriel and Dark/Bone/Blood Chyropter | [slot] |
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No answer, and Tytus did not even need to reach out and place his hand on Urapenda's muzzle to know why. The light had faded from her eyes, and there was no warm breath coming from the great beast in front of him. It was no surprise that she was dead, not with the injuries she'd sustained, but... Tytus realized suddenly that, after bonding to Ahtian, he had hoped that Urapenda might at least live long enough to see that he had succeeded, that he had saved her daughter. That she had saved him, for all that.

"She used the last of her strength to keep me warm," Ahtian murmured sadly, as if reading his thoughts. The young dragon was dwarfed by her mother's head, and she extended her neck to press her nose against the already cooled skin of Urapenda's muzzle. "So that I might live long enough to find you. I knew she was weakening, but... but not this."

He didn't know what to say, a font of shame bubbling in his chest suddenly for the ready way at which he'd been prepared to use Urapenda. To steal her "treasure" and leave her to die without knowing what had become of it or him, to not make even the most vague of attempts to save her life... what would Ahtian think of him if she knew? How did she not already know, bound as they were and he so utterly unused to having to shield his thoughts and feelings from another being? And yet Tytus felt no anger from her, no judgement, no shame at being bound to such a cruel and selfish person. If she knew then she had chosen not to mention it... or perhaps, in her own way, had absolved him of it by creating him anew as her rider.

"I am sorry," Tytus murmured softly, surprising himself again because he meant it. It had been a long time since he'd cared for anyone but himself; the newness of his bond with Ahtian plus the novelty of actually caring for her, strange and uncertain though this sudden affection was, left him feeling more and more off balance as time went on. It was likely for the best that he did not focus on it too much at present, because like it or not, they were bound, and if something happened to Ahtian then he was going to bear the scars of it. Better then to focus on the task at hand, which was...

"We shouldn't linger here," he said gently, and as if to give credence to his words, the damaged building above them shivered and groaned perilously, a fine rain of dust and small debris shaking down as it shifted and settled. "It's not safe."

"I have my doubts that it is much safer above ground either," the young dragon answered, surprising Tytus with her insight. Was the dislike for Nondir he felt from her something she'd picked up from him, or an instinctive wariness passed to her from her mother? "But at least we won't have to worry about a building falling on our heads." Ahtian reached out to press her muzzle against Urapenda's cheek again briefly. "Would that I could give you a proper burial, you who gave so much for me. Know, wherever you are, that I am safe, and that your sacrifice was not in vain."

She stepped back before looking to Tytus expectantly, and he laid a hand on her neck for a brief moment. Then the building above them gave another ominous groan, and the wyrmling pair immediately began to hasten toward the exit. The going was treacherous enough for Tytus, had been during his descent into the building, but now it was worse by far. Constantly he was checking on Ahtian, watching for loose rubble that her greater weight might knock loose, holes she might step in, dangling bits of wire and metal that might entangle her antlers or puncture her wings. Finally, the pair emerged out into the bitingly cold winter day, and they were immediately greeted by startled cries and shouts of surprise. Tytus supposed it was to be expected; he'd gone down alone and returned with a dragon, the mark of their bond prominent upon his forehead.

"She needs food! Bring it," he demanded of a nearby attendant. For a wonder the man obeyed him, though Tytus wasn't sure if it was the command in his voice or the fact that everyone knew wyrmlings needed to eat immediately after their hatching. The meat was quick to arrive, and Ahtian was even quicker to set upon it, though even as hungry as she was there was a neat, dainty precision to the way she devoured it.

"Quite the lovely lady," the man who'd brought the food remarked, and there was something sharp in his keen eyes that immediately put Tytus on edge. "Is that why the other dragon was down there? Funny, that, to have her egg here instead of at the hatchery... and she just happened to bond to you, is that right?"

Tytus leveled a glare at the man, though that did little but make him smirk before he wandered away. He wasn't entirely certain what he'd been implying; that Tytus had somehow arranged for Urapenda to lay her egg here so that only he could get to her egg? That he had somehow been involved in Urapenda's death, or had forced Ahtian to bond with him? Whatever it was, Tytus didn't like it... nor did he like the way that numerous other people were watching him and Ahtian, murmuring under their breath. This was exactly the sort of thing that would spread like wildfire among the gossips of Nondir, especially at a time like this. 'Miracle bonding amidst the chaos!' was an excellent headline, a fantastic way to detract from any attention being paid to just how bad a shape Nondir was in...

"Hey!" There was another man standing near Ahtian, the young dragon giving him a wary look as she chewed even as he was giving her a thorough once over from a few feet away, smart enough at least not to try and touch her. "Leave her be, she's trying to eat."

"Just wanted to make sure she was okay," the man deferred, though he did raise his hands in supplication before backing away. He was a medic, Tytus saw the insignia on his shoulder now, but... "You both did just climb out of a ruined building. I should have a look at her when she's done eating, and you while I'm at it. They've got a full medical facility at the barracks, of course, but it wouldn't do for either of you to succumb to injury before getting there."

A pit of ice formed in his stomach at that, and it was all Tytus could do not to immediately rebuke the man. Instead, he simply smiled as he stepped up beside Ahtian, laying a protective hand on her neck. "You have my thanks, good sir," he lied easily with a slight bow. "I'll be sure to let you know when she's finished eating."

That seemed enough to placate the medic, who returned to his duties while he waited. Tytus' false smile vanished as soon as he did, his eyes turning to those assembled by the ruined building, those who had seen him and Ahtian emerge. Too many for his liking, too many people who might speak of him and his dragon, who would spread the word to those at the hatchery and barracks who might seek to bring them there. He was under no illusion that he and Ahtian were somehow worth the attention of the Emperor; they were not so significant as that. But a dragon of Ahtian's ability, of both fire and lightning with weather binding them together, would be an especially potent soldier.

I almost didn't have to come...

"Arulia!" The great fire drake who had rescued him had been mostly silent since he'd returned with Ahtian, or else busy with others. She was hear now, though, and lowered her head when Tytus spoke so he needn't shout for her to hear him. It was risky, what he was about to do, and not just for himself and Ahtian; Arulia too would face retribution if she was caught aiding them. If she agreed to help them at all.

I should have never come to this wretched place.

Urapenda had not wanted to lay her egg on Nondiran sands. Ahtian did not want to remain in a place as cruel and evil as this, and Tytus... Tytus did not want to continue being judged as a slave. He held no love for Nondir, and certainly no loyalty to it or its current Emperor. Steeling his resolve, he looked Arulia directly in the eye.

"I have a favor I must ask of you."
| Clarra and Acid/Toxic Mantella | Seraphic Irasotiel | Tytus and Weather Fire/Lightning Ahtian | Marcus and Hellfire Inferno/Tech Panzerfaust |
| Basajaun Themides | Faerveren and Mirror/Metal Zadasiron | Sonic Proxy | Prince Zemal and Life Talixarra |
| Moriel and Dark/Bone/Blood Chyropter | [slot] |
| [slot] | [slot] | [slot] |

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