The following takes place shortly before Part 2.8: New Adventures in New Orleans
Stephy glances back at the portal as it closes behind them, he and his brother stepping out into the main hall of Sera's castle. "I hope they're going to be okay without us..." he mutters, the fae boy adjusting his glasses a bit, "I mean, seriously, a manticore? I didn't even know there were any left." he frowns. The fae boy was, as always, dressed like a girl, wearing an icy blue silk blouse, a knee-length white satin skirt, white nylons, and shiny powder blue leather shoes with a one inch heel on them. He had his nails painted to match the blouse and his long blonde hair tied back into a loose braid. "Still, we should probably check on Alyzya's people just to make sure they aren't still considering some form of revenge... I mean, they don't know that Simoni wasn't in control of herself." he sighs.
Sammi nods as he follows Stephy along through the portal, looking around faintly, "Yeah, might as well, though to be fair with dragons if they're mad we'll know it…" he replies, checking for any signs of smoke on the horizon. Sammi was dressed more 'masculine', in theory only really, a snug pair of black pants and a white long sleeved shirt that hung a bit loose over his androgynous figure, soft blonde hair held back with a silver hairclip. "Well, let's go make sure our house isn't about to be burned down." he nods as he walks to the docks where a number of boats waited, recently revitalized with the dragon's new appearance, both Sera and the neighboring domains eager to try to make contact with the wealthy and reclusive creatures.
Stephy had insisted on being the first to contact them since, after all, it was rather their group's fault that the situation happened in the first place. A while back the freehold of the Iron Spike in England fell under the control of the dragon Alyzya and her brood who, up until a few months before that, had been trapped within Franklin Fullmoon's Mundane Blade. When the sword was destroyed by Simoni and Arja countless magical beings were freed from within it, along with enough magical energy to do gods only know what (and even then they were probably still just guessing).
Simoni, acting rather out of her usual character, had gotten furious with Alyzya when she saw what she'd done to the Iron Spike's freehold and challenged the dragon, only to find out later that her actions were being influenced by the goddess Morrigan who had left a sort of magical 'back door' into her consciousness after the events at Castle Fullmoon. With the help of Sammi, Sera, and Stephy she had managed to drive the war goddess out of her, but by then the damage had been done. Alyzya's brood had been driven out of the freehold and the dragon had very good reason to be very angry with the group.
Later, during a visit to France, Stephy had won an island in Arcadia in a contest between fae and other changelings. Rather than keep it for himself he opted instead to have the fae owners of it pass it along to the dragons to give them somewhere without any other fae to live in the hopes that they wouldn't attack Sera's kingdom or, worse, come through to India and retaliate directly against Simoni and Arja's families (the monkeys and garuda had enough grief already in the war with Clan Fullmoon).
The fae boy steps carefully onto the deck of one of the boats, glancing out over the water towards the island. Even at this distance he thinks he can see large shapes darting through the clouds... but it's hard to tell yet. "Well, here's hoping they don't decide to eat one of us." he giggles nervously.
Sammi grins, "Yeah, we are technically surplus aren't we?” he teases, the more 'proper' members of the line all had a very grim sense of humor at times. "House only needs one heir really... course I'm the big brother, I'm probably safe... my cute little redundancy." he winks to Stephy as the small boat pushes off, really just a slightly oversized rowboat, helmed by a tall young man wearing the colors of Sera's holding, not wanting to look like some kind of invasion force or anything.
After a bit of rowing, as the large island grows closer, a massive shadow is cast over the group, the gargantuan reptilian form of Alyzya's brother, somehow the smaller of the pair, mostly hidden by the fact that he was flying directly over the sun, circling around over them as if assessing the visiting boat. After a moment, with one powerful flap of his wings that, despite his height, sends slight ripples along the water surface as he returns to the island.
Stephy flicks Sammi’s pointy ear as he glances up at the intimidating form of Kyrzar, Alyzya's brother. It was hard to tell that it was him as they hadn't seen him outside of his more humanoid form, but the male dragon was the cooler headed of the two and he hoped that he'd be willing to let bygones be bygones... or at the very least keep his sister from incinerating them before he had a chance to explain what had happened that day. "Forgot how big they are..." he mutters to his brother as he watches the huge reptile swoop over them.
Sammi nods, "And that's the little brother." he mutters, watching birds quickly flee their trees as the dragon must have landed nearby. Soon the boat lands at a small dock, not even built to take on bigger ships, a clear message from the siblings. Visitors were fine, business and military keep on sailing. "Here we go…" he says with a smile, climbing off and offering Stephy his hand before looking to the boat's pilot, "We shouldn't need it but... ya know... in case, be ready to go fast?"
Stephy nods to his sibling, taking his hand and stepping up onto the path. "Yeah, worst comes to worse I transform, you get on my back, and we see if I can't out-fly a dragon." he replies, giggling nervously in a 'I really really hope that it doesn't go down that way' sense. "Seriously though... I gave them an entire island to call their own, that's got to count for something, right?" he asks.
It wouldn't necessarily though. Dragons were powerful magical creatures, practically godlike in some ways, but what they were really known for was their pride... and being driven out of a freehold by a possessed Garuda (even if they didn't know she was possessed, infact ESPECIALLY because of that) would definitely injure Alyzya's pride.
Sammi nods, "Counts for something. Like I said if they were REALLY mad we'd probably, ya know, be burned to death already." he chuckles nervously as he leads Stephy to the connected road. There's a bit of rustling in the nearby trees before a figure steps out, the more familiar tall and lean redheaded human form of Kyrzar, still grinning like he was before. It was the kind of smile that did seem friendly, but had a very clear extra tone of superiority to it, like he was amused at something a cute animal did. "Well ifn ain't th’ winter brothers…" he grins, talking in his thick Scottish accent as he walks up to the pair, one hand resting on the large sword that he carried on his hip, a golden hilt with a ruby the size of a fist forming the pommel, the blade itself hidden in a sheath of what looked like naturally white leather with a golden rune carved in the front that must mean something in Draconic, "Oi was just telling dear Aly Oi was opin’ ya'd stop by. Yer mother... grandmother... whatever... did send an envoy o’ course, standard nonsense, we won't hurt each other, we dunna have ta be best friends but this be a peace offer, alla that, but so impersonal. Oi was hoping fer a more proper visit."
Stephy nods politely to him, trying to hide how much the dragon worried him just by being, well, a dragon. "Hello again Kyrzar. I apologize for how awkward things got when we last met." he replies, "We actually wanted to explain my cousin Simoni's actions that day... she wasn't quite herself, in a very literal sense." he nods, "We would have arrived sooner, but I'm afraid we had a situation arise when we returned to our home in the mundane world. Apparently manticores aren't extinct yet." he adds, hoping this might at the very least interest the dragon to change the subject. After all, manticores were dangerous even to them... at least younger dragons anyways.
That seemed to work well, the dragon raising his brow at the mention of the creature. "Really? That's interestin…" he muses, motioning the pair to follow him along the path into the woods. "Last Oi ‘eard they ‘ad been hit fairly hard by th’ beast ‘unters in Persia." he adds as he leads them along. The road slowly becomes less rough and unworked, breaking into a clean white cobblestone path that meets multiple similar branches. "All roads lead’ ta Alyzya, after all…" he chuckles as Sammi looks curiously at the union of paths.
"Not one for sight seers?" he asks as the dragon laughs loudly, "For yer safety! This island is rich with game, dunna want some envoy wandering off the road and stumbling inta a huntin’ dragonkin's path, do we?" he smiles, showing his sharp fangs, "We'll expand more when we've established, things ‘re slow with us, when ya have ages ta live it's hard ta work on a fast timetable."
In the distance the dragon's hold loomed, massive walls of shining white stone like the pathway had, but rather than common mortar holding it together, it seemed to be glued together by shining silver metal, making the walls almost painful to look at in the sun. Dragonkin patrolled the tops of the walls, armed with wings and wicked sharp blades or powerful looking bows. It seemed the dragons had become more security conscious since the last meeting.
Stephy actually shields his eyes a bit at it. Sera's castle of snow and ice was rather hard to look directly at on a bright sunny day, but this was even moreso. "Yeah, I don't know if this was one that was hiding out in the supernatural world, or if it was trapped in the mundane blade like your sister and yourself were, or what... but it showed up right after we got back, even managed to eat a few mundanes before some of our group were able to drive it off." he replies. He leaves out the fact that something seems to be controlling the manticore, no reason to get him too interested in India just yet... "So, is the island meeting your needs? I had hoped that it would give your people a suitable place to live after that unplesentness in England..."
He nods, "Aye, its quite good. Aly still nurses a bruised ego, and, in ‘er defense, rightly so, but even she must admit this island has enough food and resources for us to live on for a long time before worryin’. We've even been able ta make some new dragonkin thanks ta Sera allowing a few human toys ta 'escape' to our island…" he grins wickedly, patting Stephy's head with a surprisingly strong hand as they approach the large gates made of shining gold. "Ya did good, loath as she may be ta admit it, but this was a kind gift."
Stephy blushes a bit, "Well, I felt that your people would have greater need of the island than we would." he nods, though he does wonder about the human toys who had 'escaped' to the island. Most of their servants back at the castle were relatively happy there... even if they couldn't leave. Still, he hoped that this wouldn't cause issues if they saw any other familiar faces beyond the dragonic siblings... even if those other faces had scales now. He does find himself idly wondering where they got the precious metals to make this building, but then it is Arcadia, such things aren't quite as rare here as they are on earth.
Sammi nods, "Yes, winter may be cold, but we understand the needs of others. When we have things to give we give them to those that need." he smirks just a bit, throwing a glance to Stephy, "A bounty from winter, in most cultures, is considered a thing to celebrate…" he chuckles as the gate opens. The holding itself, despite its rather martial nature, did seem to be in good spirits. A good deal more dragonkin mingling around in what seemed like a fairly normal Arcadian city beyond those imposing walls. People were chatting, enjoying the occasional cafe or shop, city guard patrolled to keep order, but at the very least the 'children' seemed pleased with their new home even if their mother likely still had words for the fae boys within the massive tower of stark black stone that grew in the middle of the city. “Obsidian." Kyrzar explains, chuckling, "In th’ ancient days the morals called this th’ blood o’ dragons, it often littered fields where our kind clashed. Ever study it's magical uses?"
Stephy shakes his head, "Never got much of a chance to, though my cousin Nelen might know a thing or two about it. He's good at making enchanted tools and such." he replies, remembering Nelen's charm bracelets with quartz and other precious stones used for the charms themselves. "Most mundanes think of it as nothing more than volcanic glass, I know that." he replies, "Guess it stands to reason, dragon fire isn't too different from molten lava in terms of outright heat." he replies, feeling a bit nervous as he does. Ice wouldn't stand a chance against that kind of flame.
He nods, chuckling, "Aye, more or less. It's a potent tool, weapons forged from it, properly treated, can cut through armor like a hot knife despite being cold ta th’ touch. More importantly, though, in large amounts it blocks scryin’. Ya can see why that was ah major boon ta building our citadel." he smiles, nodding to the large front doors where a pair of dragonkin, a man and a young woman stood holding spears. The man didn't ring any bells, but the woman was familiar, someone the family had grabbed during one of their 'hunts'. Apparently part of the 'gifts' given over to the dragons as she now bears shiny black scales along her cheeks and wicked looking claws on her hands.
Stephy tilts his head a bit at her, then recognition sets in. "Oh yeah, I remember her. She didn't have the scales and claws last time." he replies. He's drawing a blank on the name, but he remembers the face. She hadn't really taken to life among Sera's court though. "She doing well here?" he asks Kyrzar.
He nods, the woman just nodding to the pair as they walk in, giving them a fangy smile as the dragon chuckles, "We dunna go abductin’ folk, she fits in just fine here." he replies as the doors open, revealing the large, very warm, receiving room.
Stephy rolls his eyes, "Its not like we do it all the time... most of the time... um... well we at least try to find people who'd be happier in Arcadia." he blushes, heading into the room with the dragon and his brother as he looks up towards the other end of it, his shoes clicking faintly with each step on the shiny metallic floor.
He chuckles, "Not judgin’, just sayin’." he adds, the room getting hotter as they're lead to a smaller set of doors. " ‘ere she is, luckily she's in ah good mood today." he says as he opens the door up, revealing a large throne room. The pale skinned human form of the dragoness queen was sitting on the throne, the seat carved from what looks like a solid block of shiny black obsidian. Her long black hair hangs freely behind her head as her bright green eyes remain locked on the figure in front of her, a young looking human boy. "Oi, wait a tick." he says, blocking the boys' entrance as Alyzya grins softly at the boy in front of her.
"Are you ready to accept my gifts then, child?" she asks as the boy nods quickly, looking nervous as his eyes remain on her, neither noticing the boys yet.
Stephy blinks, then pauses. He knows what this is, he remembers when Sera did this with him. The boy was human, but in a few minutes he wouldn't be anymore. "Huh... I wonder if this is different for dragons. I've never actually seen anyone besides us doing this." he whispers to Sammi, watching Alyzya and the boy curiously.
Sammi nods, also watching closely, "Me neither, usually kinda a private thing…" he says as Alyzya rears her head back, seeming to focus on something. Then, without warning, she surges forward, a gout of shining golden flame with silver accents spewing from her lips, enveloping the boy in a ball of the bright and shining fire!
Stephy almost yelps at it, but clamps his hands over his mouth quickly enough to keep quiet. He figured it was different for dragons and he could tell, hell he could feel that it wasn't normal dragonfire... but it still was a shock to see her do something like that.
He and Sammi watch as the fire burns around the boy for a good bit before slowly fading away, revealing the same boy standing up a bit straighter, his body covered in patches of black scales like the others, taking in a few breaths as the dragoness nods approvingly "Rise in pride, Zyural of the inferno, you are now a member of my brood." she declares with a little smile.
Stephy tilts his head, "Huh... still less chaotic then when I became a fae." he giggles softly, "Remember that Sammi? Almost caused a windstorm when Sera's blood reacted to mine." he adds, grinning just a bit at the memory. It had been one heck of a rush, even with his own bloodline, touched by the goddess Morrigan, combatting the fae blood until they wound up merging rather than giving up to one or the other.
Sammi giggles, "Well the process does go easier on basic humans." he winks, hip bumping his brother lightly before Alyzya looks up to them, "Oh, I wasn't aware you were here already." she says calmly, nodding to the boy, "Go join your family, they will be happy to welcome you." she instructs as he nods, quickly moving away, giving a polite nod to the other fae as he does so.
Stephy nods back to Alyzya, still feeling a bit intimidated by the dragon... and by a bit I mean a lot. Truth was if she wanted to retaliate for the mess at the Iron Spike's freehold then he and Sammi would be smears on the floor before he'd even be able to begin transforming. Once the boy is gone he moves in closer with the other two, "So, it seems your people are settling in well here Alyzya." he says, not sure how else to start. He hadn't had many chances to play the diplomat after all.
She nods, face not shifting from it's cool expression as she watches the boys enter her chamber, the heat seeming to get more intense around her, making Sammi sweat a bit. "Yes…" she finally says, "This home does a good job replacing the one taken from me by the violence of your sister..."
Stephy winces at that, "Cousin actually... and, well..." he sighs, "That is one of the reasons why we came today. We wanted to explain Simoni's actions. You see..." he begins, "It starts with how she was able to destroy the Mundane Blade in the first place. You see, it's last bearer was a man named Franklin Fullmoon..." he explains, going into the events at Castle Fullmoon, Simoni and Arja's literal case of divine intervention, and the shattering of the blade, "... and, well, it seems that while King Hanuman was content to let matters lie, Lady Morrigan wasn't. She kept a fragment of herself inside Simoni and, well, being a war goddess the chance to fight a dragon was too tempting for her. She influenced Simoni's actions enough to make her transform, then tried to completely take control of her. That wasn't really Simoni who attacked you, it was Morrigan, using her body."
She raises a brow at that, not changing expression, but listening to the story without interruption. "Hm…" she muses when it ends, slowly standing, "You aren't lying to me, are you, princeling?" she asks as she slowly walks to Stephy, long black dress dragging behind her just a bit as she moves, eyes locked on him even as Sammi puts a defensive hand on front of his brother. "You wouldn't be arrogant enough to make up a story to try to absolve your cousin of any guilt for her actions, would you? Not even a fae prince could be that full of his own glory."
Stephy shakes his head, "Its all true. After the incident Simoni came to us seeking help. She had no idea that Lady Morrigan had been manipulating her and asked our assistance in removing the goddess from her psyche. Thankfully, we were able to do so and Morrigan has no more hold over her." he smirks a bit, "Morrigan may be the patron of Clan Fullmoon, but it seems she forgot how much of that is tied to the Fullmoon name. Simoni is a Barjar now, and thus Morrigan couldn't maintain her hold on her anymore, so she was forced out." he nods, "If it helps I'd imagine she's quite livid about it still."
Her face remains calm, leaning forward over Sammi's protective arm, nostrils flaring as if trying to smell a lie on him as her eyes lock on his. "Hrm…" she muses again, pausing for a moment, "Nothing you said is untrue with how magics like that work... and such things are often beyond the lesser race's study, it'd be very odd of you to research so deeply just to deceive me after already granting us this island..." she speaks, mainly to herself, as her eyes stay on Stephy. "Hrm," she repeats as she straightens. "I suppose you aren't lying, then, and then it would be unfair to blame your cousin for deeds done by another using her." There's a pause again, she looks over to her brother, who just nods in some unspoken conversation.
"This island is a good home. We have room to grow, to thrive. That is a blessing we have yet to have in many ages. You shamed me in front of my brood, nearly took my life, but this was not your cousin, and you have granted my brood and I this home in recompense." she nods, "I consider our debts to each other even. Your patron Sera has proven to be an ally willing to support us, and protect us. Regardless of the actions of your cousin or her rider, your line has shown itself to be a noble one. I believe this relationship will work..."
Stephy is relieved, but he tries to maintain his composure despite this. "I am pleased to hear it. Simoni was quite distraught over what had happened and when I obtained the rights to this land I saw a way to help both your brood and my family. I look forward to our future dealings together." he replies to her, giving Sammi a thumbs up behind his back. It seemed they wouldn't be incinerated with dragon fire after all, yay!
Sammi smirks just a bit as she nods, "Yes, well, as long as you do no harm to my brood, I'll do none to yours. Hopefully this will lead to building bridges between the two of us that can last for many generations."
Stephy nods, smiling, "I see no reason why it wouldn't. So... the island is satisfactory then? No issues thus far? I must admit we didn't have a chance to inspect it before I decided to give it to your brood so we didn't know if there was anything hidden here that might cause problems..." he replies, wanting to seem helpful. He had asked for a general idea of what the island was like, but in Arcadia there's always something extra somewhere... perhaps hidden deep below or just out of sight.
She nods "There's plenty of things to hunt. I'll admit if we were lesser beings we would likely have problems with some but…" she chuckles lightly, a smirk finally breaking on her lips, just enough to show a bit of her fangs, "We have had no problems."
Stephy nods, "Good good. I did ask for an overview of the island, but I felt that it would be best to offer your brood a new home swiftly rather than delay to perform a full inspection first. After all, you are dragons. It takes something unique to trouble you." he giggles, "I felt that you could handle most things that might arise. Of course, if this does turn out to have something dangerous, a long forgotten tomb or the lair of some ancient beast or something, our people will be happy to help your brood deal with those as they arise." he replies.
She nods "I would hope so." she says, chuckling again, "You're a good boy, Stephy…" she adds after a moment, "I suppose I can't be upset at you, you seem to want nothing but to make amends."
Stephy smiles back at her, "I know what its like to not have a place to call your own. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, or anything." he nods, remembering how it felt to be dragged out of Alice's house by his late father some years ago. Not the same as what Alyzya went through, but close enough. "So... I believe that's everything. We should probably head back and inform our mother of the situation here." he replies, "I'm glad we were able to work this out without further violence." he nods, "Oh... and before I forget... My cousin, Simoni, did wish to offer her apologies for what had happened. Again, she had no idea that she'd been manipulated at all until..." he giggles, "This may sound silly, but a cheshire cat was the one who revealed it. He saw her in her dreams talking to a woman who was unmistakably Morrigan. She just made sure Simoni forgot the dreams when she woke up."
She nods, "Well, you may pass on to her that she is forgiven, then. We understand the pains that can be caused when one's mind is not their own. Tell her if she wishes to come here herself she will find no harm coming to her."
Stephy nods, "She might be interested in that, once this new business back in India is over. I mentioned it to Kyrzar, but apparently there's a manticore back at our home in the Mundane World. I wasn't there to see it myself, but..." he winces. Nelen had described the carnage it caused in great detail, "Yes... no mistake. It’s definitely a manticore." he adds, nodding firmly. He hesitates for a moment, then decides to ask. "... actually, do you two remember anything about being trapped in the Mundane Blade? We met a few of the creatures who were and they seemed to have no memory at all of what it was like... but..." he frowns, "From what my cousin Nelen told me, the Manticore appeared to have a master."
Alyzya raises her brow at the question, thinking. "All I can remember is a great black void...and being alone. If others were in there I was never aware."
Stephy nods, "Oh yes, we've encountered quite a few actually. A promethian, another litter of Cheshires... actually the siblings of the one who was travelling with us before... but..." he frowns, "I mean, this is a manticore we're talking about. They don't answer to anything, they're known for being some of the most deadly beings in creation. So if it's something that can control it... well..." he pauses, "Nelen told us that before the Manticore left they heard a voice commanding it from the trees. Feminine, had a hissing quality to it like a snake, and that it 'thanked them for their help'. The only thing we can think of that it might be is something extremely powerful that was trapped in the sword with you." he nods.
She nods "There are more...serpent like dragons in the world but I feel I would have felt others released, I don't think any of my kin had a hand in this I'm afraid."
Stephy nods, "Yeah, it sounded like a naga apparently... but it'd have to be incredibly powerful to command obedience from something like that." he sighs, "Well, shoot. I was hoping that a more powerful magical being might remember something from in there, but I guess the sword affects all magical creatures like that. I just wish we had an idea of what we'll be up against before it decides to come after us in person. Apparently that manticore was just a test of their abilities."
She nods, "I do wish I could be more helpful to further cement our union, but I genuinely know little of your part of the world. My territory ended in middle China." she pauses, "I, in fact, don't know of any dragon who claimed the Indian lands... there was one, long ago, but he claimed to have been bested in his attempt, some creature he called 'the mother of serpents' I believe... It sounded like one of us, but apparently was nothing like anything he's faced..."
Stephy blinks, then winces at that, "I don't know much about India's lore, but I know that one doesn't sound good. I'll mention it to Arja when we get back, maybe it'll spark some memory in her." he nods, "Well, I suppose we should be heading home now. It was a pleasure seeing you Alyzya." he replies, putting on a smile and curtsying the dragoness.
Sammi nods, bowing as well, "Thank you for your understanding, as you can tell my grandmother wants nothing more than a close relationship with you and your brood." he says as he does, the woman nodding in response to both of them, "Yes, I'm sorry again I could not be of better help. Still, you and yours are welcome in my holding when you like, as long as you are respectful. As said, consider this matter settled, and your cousin forgiven."
He nods, "I am grateful for both. Good day to you Alyzya, Kyrzar." he nods to both dragons, then heads back out of the building with his brother, heading towards the docks again. "Well..." he whispers as they get out of the city, "That went better than I expected." he nods, still seeming like he's waiting for the other shoe to drop, "Still... the mother of serpenets... I'm pretty sure I heard Arja mention that before..." he frowns.
Sammi nods, "Whatever it is sounds pretty bad. India doesn't give names like that to every naga with a war band. We should get some information as soon as possible... maybe don't tell Simoni quite yet..."
Stephy nods, "Arja yes, but the last thing we want is to tell Simoni we could be up against some sort of naga goddess." he sighs, "That'd really scare the hell out of her." he adds, climbing back into the boat with his brother. "Hm... so, should we head back to India or spend some time with Mom?" he asks him, glancing at the dragon's island, then back over his shoulder towards the snowy white spires of Sera's castle.
Sammi chuckles, "Up to you there, I suppose I'm fine with either" he teases, leaning back comfortably on the boat.
He thinks, "Well... no point in worrying them unless we have something more concrete, and it has been a while since we went home." he giggles, "I think we're due for a visit." he nods, "Don't want mom sending out the hobgoblins to round us up after all." he winks at his brother. “Right then, back to the castle!” he giggles, the boat’s captain aiming towards the glittering white spires of Sera’s home.