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 Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert

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AniRedFox
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:57 am

Cirro swallowed hard after Sigurd's speech. He knew that this man could easy fold him in half several times over and the last thing he wanted was to be on his bad side.

"O-Of course." He said, nodding. Sigurd reminded him of his first trainer at the Cleric school. He didn't seem to have any emotions whatsoever, well, except for perhaps angry. He also knew that he was one of the best trainers and he may not have gotten through the program as fast as he did without that man. So he wanted to believe that Sigurd would be the same. He would push him in a hard and perhaps unpleasant way, but it would be worth it in the end.

---

Ashwyn smiled at Lo. "Let me ask you something. Is it possible that something feels off because of you more than him?" She lowered her voice again. "What I mean is.... could it be your feelings for him are what make you uncomfortable instead of he himself? Because... I can understand that. It might be coloring your opinion of him."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Sat Apr 28, 2018 10:19 am

Blushing at Ashwyn's pointedly accurate questions, Lo stares down at her hands but stops carving in case the knife slips again. "Well...probably...yes...I don't know." Looking back up and trying vainly to quit blushing so much, she glances from Ashwyn to Cirro and back. "Let's just say I'm not familiar with this sort of thing. It probably is just me, actually definitely is just me. He's been nothing but kind, and I have not been making this trip easy on him. I just don't know what to think, and whatever these feelings are...well, it might just be the moon pulling at me. That's why I don't want to do anything about it too soon, things could change in just a few days." Turning to look at Ashwyn more intently, Lo gives the impression of someone seeking advice from an expert. "What do you think it is?"
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Sat Apr 28, 2018 10:43 am

Ashwyn smirked but hid if quickly. She shrugged when asked a question. "I'm not really one that can answer that. Only you can. All I know is what I see. You're both staring at one another. A lot. I noticed it when we first got to Shimmer Hollow before the whole...well, you know. It strikes me as being innocent attraction, especially since both of you seem to be rather inexperienced in that area." She smiled.

"If you want, I'll make sure you don't make a fool of yourself tonight. I understand wanting to wait to see if these feelings of yours are nature induced or something else." She smirked down at the young woman next to her.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Sat Apr 28, 2018 11:14 am

Lopiena winces slightly at Ashwyn's accurate observation. She had been staring at him, and had hoped it wasn't that obvious...well, it was. And she'd felt his eyes on her a lot...it made her nervous, which is why she'd been trying to ignore it. "Do you think it's...innocent or...something else? I think that's what makes me so nervous, I don't know anything about his people except for an extremely unpleasant...experience. But it wasn't him, and he seems almost as nervous as I do...I just don't know..."

Looking up at Ashwyn's generous offer, Lo smiles. "Yes please. I don't know what I'm feeling and I'm afraid of doing something wrong. You're right that the moonlight ceremony will help, and I want to go through with it now...but I'm still nervous, and...well..." Shaking her head at her ramblings, Lo starts peeling bark again with a vengeance. It's something to do with her hands at least, and focusing on not cutting herself helps get her mind off...things. "Thank you, Ashwyn. I...I don't know what to expect, but as long as you're there I think it'll be fine."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Sat Apr 28, 2018 6:41 pm

Sigurd walked silently behind Cirro an with the help of his mage hand he hovered it dangerously around the fairy's neck, he'd feel the gentle sensation of something touching his throat but not choking him. He was going to make the bug earn his place and he'd be damned if he mad it easy.

There was a familiar buzzing feeling in his body and he knew it was only going to get more intense as the afternoon went on. The full moon was tonight and that meant he'd have to spend the nights entirety in hybrid form. Normally this came and went with little care but now they were approaching a settlement and to his knowledge most places weren't well versed in his people and probably didn't look too kindly to lycanthropes of any kind, least of all ones that can hurl fire and lightning from their claws... It was going to be an interesting night.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:39 am

Ashwyn smiled at Lopiena. "Anytime." She winked. She glanced up to take note of where Cirro was and noticed him walking.... strangly.

Cirro could feel the prickling of something near his neck and with Sigurd so close behind him... well, he was afraid to look back. Just keep walking... don't be unproductive... Keep walking.... He repeated to himself over and over again.

Ashwyn sighed and glanced at Lo. "I'm sorry... excuse me for a moment." She lengthened her stride and caught up to Sigurd easily. She nudged him hard enough that he'd take note of her. "Having fun tormenting?" She asked with a smirk, flicking her eyes towards Cirro and back again.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:57 am

Smiling at Ashwyn, Lo watches silently as she approaches Sigurd talking to Cirro...or at least she can see Sigurd. The muscular werewolf completely obscures the smaller man, and while that's no surprise Lo is suddenly reminded of the fact that Cirro had chosen his name based on the clouds. With Sigurd's blonde hair, it's almost like the sun is obscuring a clouds. The comparison makes Lopiena grin, and she idly considers questions of size. Sigurd towers over her by a full foot at least, and while she hadn't really thought about Cirro's height...everyone is taller than she is, except Zane and of course Pip...it's interesting to note. Thinking about height differences unfortunately leads her mind to other places...blushing on her own this time, she refocuses on the branch again. Something to do with her hands at least keeps her mind somewhat on task. Mostly.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:20 pm

Sigurd flashed a knowing grin and relaxed his hand releasing the spell. He put his arm around Ashwyn's shoulder and kissed her cheek sweetly "I needed something to amuse me..." it had felt as though they had been walking for days since this morning...

His thoughts wandered as his eyes scanned the forest around them, his senses picked up.. well forest. He didn't want to relax however, there was no sense in dropping his guard. Especially since it would be night in a few hours.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:39 pm

Ashwyn chuckled and shook her head as a mother would do to their child who was being lovingly troublesome.

They walked on for a while more in a comfortable silence, well, comfortable to everyone but Cirro. He waa still too afraid to look uncertain in front of Sigurd.

After a few hours Cirro spoke up. "The settlement should be just on the otherside of this ridge. We'll want to approach slowly so they aren't threatened."

Ashwyn crouched and touched the ground. She picked up a small amount of dirt, dropped it, and then nodded. "The ground is packed here. Lots of foot traffic. But the overgrown brush is... Unsettling."

Zane shrugged. "Perhaps they simply found a new path to traverse."

"Maybe." she frowned and looked up at Sigurd. "I think we should go first."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:13 pm

Nodding he stepped past Cirro quickly, once at the head of the pack his movements became slower and more methodical "Or a lot of them left in a hurry..." his mind fed off of Ashwyn's concern and he drew his greatsword from behind his back letting it rest beside him, hilt forward as he walked carefully down the path, the buzzing from the coming full moon was getting his heart pounding and a good fight would scratch the itch he was starting to feel.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:27 pm

Ashwyn fell into step beside Sigurd as though they'd done it for years. Zane and Cirro hung back with Lopiena and followed a safe distance.

Coming over the ridge two things were apparent. One: Most of the forest on this side of the ridge had been scorched and cleared. Burn damage was everywhere and the structures that once stood were little more than ash.

And Two: laying in the center of the cleared area, breathing deeply, was a very, VERY large, red scaled, young dragon.

Ashwyn's eyes wided and she immediately grabbed Sigurd and pulled him down to a crouch, signaling to the others behind her to do the same. She motioned to them while mouthing the words, "Back away slowly".
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue May 01, 2018 12:27 am

Having completed her task of removing the bark from her branches a while ago, Lopiena had stashed them away until later...lots more work to be done with them, but she doesn't want to leave a trail of shavings behind. While her hands are still stained blood red, at least there's time to enjoy some dried meat and some of that good Elvish waybread while they traverse the forest. All of her senses come alive in the wood; from the scent of the moist earth and pine sap to the sounds of birdsong and occasional rustles of small animals going about their business, Lo drinks in the life around them with a happy smile.

As the group approaches the ridge near the settlement, though...something feels off. Even the most discreet camp has some impact to the forest, and while the scent of burned wood is definitely in the air there's a distinct difference between cookfires and wildfires. At Ashwyn's caution, Lo slows her steps a bit to fall back along with Zane and Cirro. Pulling out her staff and adjusting her pack for quick motion, Lo focuses all around...the danger appears to be in front of them, but you never know...

At Ashwyn's motions, Lo looks up and gasps in shock. A real live massive fire-breathing deadly dragon! Backing away slowly with or without Ashwyn's signal, Lopiena's mind reels with what to do. While she's never met a dragon before it is highly unlikely that this one would like to chat over tea! It didn't seem to see them yet, so maybe they could go around the clearing and try to find survivors. But if it came to a fight...what then? None of the simple spells she knows would scratch a dragon. Even the Thunderwave probably wouldn't make it so much as blink, and Lo is all but resolute against ever using that particular spell again. Thinking frantically, Lo tries to think of something that might prove useful...perhaps that new one she'd read about and wanted to try...

Taking a slow, silent breath, Lo calms herself to prepare for whatever might happen next. Ashwyn and Sigurd are leading the charge; where they lead she will follow.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue May 01, 2018 9:07 am

Sigurd watched as something big and red comes in to view, Ashwyn had seen it too and he felt her tug him back. Taking a knee he stares the beast down and starts calculating an approach. He didn't know Draconic so speaking in its tongue was out, it could know common so diplomacy was still on the table. Judging by its size it was young, meaning if things got nasty a fight would be.... Survivable.. possibly.

He turned his head to the others and looked to Ashwyn for her thoughts on the matter. It wasn't going to be easy either way but they still had the element of surprise.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue May 01, 2018 9:57 am

Ashwyn met Sigurd's gaze and motioned behind them. She pulled him slowly away and back over the ridge. Once the dragon was out of site she let out the breath she hadn't realized she was holding.

"My gods..." Zane breathed. "A dragon... out here? This far south? Amazing..." He was straining to see over the ridge, which was basically impossible at his height with how far back they walked, but he was already sinking into information overload mode.

Cirro shook his head. "This can't be... I was here only a few days ago. The settlement wasn't huge but there had to be at least a hundred elves here." He was in disbelief.

"Well, now there's not." Ashwyn said darkly. She'd pulled her bow from her shoulder and was looking over her shoulder at her arrows, getting a quick count. Not many to spare and standard arrows wouldn't pierce the scales anyway. And aiming for the eyes or mouth would be... difficult.

She looked up at Sigurd. "What do you think? Diplomacy might get us out of a fight but we'd loose the element of surprise."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue May 01, 2018 10:22 am

Crouching down on the ground, Lopiena's eyes flick from one party member to the next during their brief discussion. Sounds like they're as reluctant to fight that dragon as she is. The mention of a hundred elves...no longer there...if there had been survivors at least a few surely would have come down the same path they were following, but they had met no one. Lowering her eyes in respect for lives lost, Lo quietly contemplates what might have happened here. A dragon this far south is a rarity; the settlement had been there just a few days ago, likely about the time they had been in Eventide; any scouts wouldn’t have reached them before they left, but again they had met no one on the path. It sounds like a stealth attack, as though the dragon knew exactly where to strike. Not very likely that the dragon had just been passing by...this was planned. Looking back up, Lo watches Sigurd consider Ashwyn's question. She'll keep her thoughts to herself for now, but it might be good to discuss an escape strategy before attempting to talk to the dragon. Who knows what kind of mood it's in.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue May 01, 2018 10:59 am

Sigurd was quiet longer than he should have. His mind was trying to decide the best way to go about this. He didn't know much about dragons but he knew himself the dragon was sleeping more than likely because he was either tired or full. And considering Cirro's comment on the lack of abundant elves he had reason to believe it was the latter.

He looked to his mate and smiled, "I'm willing to risk it" shifting into his hybrid form he put his sword on his back and walked over the hill that sheltered them "be ready, I don't expect this to go well but I'm more... Resilient than the rest of you" he stood at the top of the hill "we'll talk it out. Beast to beast"

Sigurd walked slowly but deliberately towards the dragon with his hands up. His face stone calm, his body solid like a fortress, and his tail... Wagging in irritation and uncertainty.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue May 01, 2018 11:19 am

Ashwyn waited for Sigurd's decision while watching the ridge as though expecting the creature to come over it at any moment.  When he shifted and spoke his piece she frowned. "What the hell are you-" but before she could finish he'd started over the ridge. "Sigurd!" She hissed in a sharp whisper as he walked.

"Gods be damned fool." She grumbled angrily at his recklessness. She turned to the others. "Stay down. Stay hidden. Wait for my signal if there's trouble." She said and then darted into the trees and disappeared from sight.  She silently worked her way through the trees until she was parallel with Sigurd but still hidden in the remaining trees. The burned clearing was large. She wouldn't be able to reach him if the dragon attacked, but she'd at least be able to somewhat flank the creature.

Zane watched Ashwyn go and looked from the spot she disappeared to the place Sigurd walked over the ridge and back again. "This... will be interesting..." he muttered.

Cirro was clenching and clenching his fingers. He was trying to decide how he could best help the party other than trying to pick up the pieces afterwards. If the dragon took flight he'd be the only one who could catch it, but changing would take more of his magic. He decided to wait and see what happened. With any luck Sigurd could speak to the dragon and there would be no need to fight.

The dragon didn't move until Sigurd was well away from the ridge  and standing in the clearing of scorched land. At that point, he opened one eye and stared at Sigurd. The rest of his body still lounged lazily but the eye that was staring was pointed and fierce.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue May 01, 2018 11:36 am

Cursing herself silently for not speaking her thoughts earlier, Lopiena watches Sigurd and Ashwyn head over the ridge. At least Ashwyn is flanking him; having two points of atrack or defense is always better. Staying down and away from the ridge, Lo checks the forest where Ashwyn is hidden. They’re too far away for her to heal them if something goes wrong, but she can probably get close enough without being seen fairly quickly if it came to it. Still, stay down, stay hidden...as much as Lo wants to be close to her friends, there is wisdom in staying out of the way for now.

Turning to Zane, Lopiena leans forward to whisper her questions. "Zane, you've seen dragons before. How much do you know about them? Can you speak their language or understand their motives before attack?" Turning back to watch...well nothing now, Ashwyn is obscured by the trees and Sigurd is well beyond the ridge...Lo silently takes off her pack and hides it under a bush. She needs to be able to run fast, and maneuvering through the forest is easier without extra bulk. Hopefully there will be time to retrieve it later...if they survive...
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue May 01, 2018 11:57 am

Zane's eyes finally settled on Lopiena, and they held worry in them. "Oh dear... yes... yes I've seen them. From a distance. Never this close. Close is... is bad...."

He shook his head. "And this is a red dragon. They're by far the worse. The most powerful and the most arrogant." He shuttered. "They... they compete with everyone and everything. They always have to be better. This one looks young. Perhaps just been kicked from his mother's dwelling. If that's the case he'll be seeking his own fortune. To make a name for himself among his kind. They do that by... by destroying as much as they can and gathering riches."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue May 01, 2018 12:46 pm

Sigurd smiled the best he could without seeming aggressive. All of his training never prepared him for dragons he'd read stories of their might and ferocity but now he was going to learn first hand. There weren't many things Sigurd could say he regretted, he was starting to think this would be the first.

Feeling the heat of the dragons gaze he stopped and bowed his head. Fierce as they are they're still proud. "Greetings!" He started "I am traveling through these woods on an errand for a priest of..." What the hells was their pantheon again.... "Zorquan, they've fallen ill and have tasked me to find a relic somewhere in the wasteland" that sounds right... "I'm fortunate to have come across you in my travels and am curious if you could direct me to the quickest and if possible, quietest route into the wastes. Zorquan's priest would be greatly appreciative" Sigurd's knew his hybrid face would be harder to read than his human one, it was a bold strategy... If it payed off he would be sure to give the librarian back home half of whatever he was going to earn on this mission.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue May 01, 2018 1:08 pm

Eyes widening at Zane's description of red dragons destroying all they can, Lopiena looks back at the ridge obscuring her view of Sigurd and Ashwyn. Stay down, stay hidden...but if this goes bad, they're going to need all the help they can get...shifting her weight as though to run to them, Lo stills herself intentionally. Her inexperience will only get in the way, and Ashwyn said to wait for her signal. Wait, what signal?!

Nervously rubbing the silver bits on her staff, Lo tries to listen to whatever Sigurd is saying. The ridge muffles his voice, so even though he's projecting loud and clear she can only catch every third word or so...and what he's saying doesn't make any sense! Well travel through the Wasteland, that makes sense at least. Just keep waiting...
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue May 01, 2018 9:41 pm

The drago remained unmoving during Sigurd's speech. And after he just stared for a long moment. Finally, the large eye blinked and the body began to uncurl. As he stretched out, his full mass was revealed. His body stretched at least 16 feet long. He had deep red scales that had a subtle shine to them. The cuff along his back and on the tip of his tail was a deep purple blue.

He leaned down to look at Sigurd in the eye. "Do you really expect me to believe that load?" he asked, his voice deep and booming as his eye stared into Sigurd's face.

Sigurd Knowledge roll: 19(success)
Sigurd persuasion roll: 17 (fail)

Sigurd would remember from his studies that due to the dulling of the scales that this dragon was not yet an adult but older than a child. Somewhere around the teenage years,so quite hauty and quick to anger.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue May 01, 2018 10:35 pm

Sigurd shrugged "worth a shot, I wasn't lying about needed to get to the wastelands however." He said simply, he wasn't attacking, so there was that at least. "Tell me young one, what brings you this way? And whats the meaning behind the destruction of this settlement. I may be a terrible liar, but I'm a wonderfully stubborn scholar if you don't mind I'd like to pick your brain"

No stranger to having to change gears Sigurd was going to try the friendly approach. Given the dragon's age he knew it wasn't stupid enough to fall for tricks and that was fine. It was a golden opportunity now to learn something more about dragons, from a dragon before possibly having to kill a dragon.

He caught Ashwyn in his periphery and started wagging his tail as a sign that his first plan didn't work. To the dragon hopefully it would read as non threatening and somewhat playful.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Wed May 02, 2018 12:42 am

Still hiding behind the ridge, Lo carefully starts stretching her body in slow, silent movements. Sitting so still waiting for something to happen leads to tension, and tension is very bad when one must move quickly. As she stretches, she listens with everything she has...her human ears can't quite catch all of the dragon's words, but it's clear the dragon is talking, and in Common no less. That's encouraging, as long as it's talking it's not attacking...right?

Still thinking frantically of how she could possibly assist if it came to a fight, Lo contemplates the Hold spell. The chances of it actually working on a dragon is slim to none; even her grandmother had stopped using that spell after a certain point. Besides all that, she'd left all of the iron shards in the dungeon back at Eventide. That was foolish; she won't leave behind any useful materials again. For now, though...the spell requires some sort of straight, flat iron. Her little knife might suffice...it's a shame to lose it, but there's probably something left in the ashes of the settlement. Besides, it might not be necessary. The dragon is talking, and Sigurd has more diplomacy than anyone she's ever met before. Not that she'd had a plethora of good examples to follow, but still...
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Wed May 02, 2018 8:32 am

The dragon leaned in, staring Sigurd down, and then started to chuckle. He pulled back enough to tower over him and grinned, revealing a large row of razor sharp teeth.

"For a scholar you're rather dim." He boomed. "You know, I've never eaten Werewolf before. But I hear they're worth the experience." He chuckled. "Do you think you're elf would enjoy watching me bite through your torso? Or would she rather watch me swallow you whole?" He sneered, flicking a rather large piece of rubble towards the place Ashwyn was crouched.


Ashwyn's eyes widened and she dove out of the way just as it crashed through the trees in the spot she once was.

"As for the rest of your party," the dragon continued. "They'll hardly be worth the trouble, but I am a bit peckish after so many elves. A change of species would be nice." He sneered.

Ashwyn sat for a moment, frozen in shock and even something else she hadn't felt often. Fear. The dragon knew exactly where she was. He knew about their party. They'd never be able to out run a dragon and fighting one..... she let out a steadying breath. No time to panic. If they were to die this day she would die facing her enemy head on. She stood and walked out of the forest and stood near Sigurd.

Meanwhile Zane had tentatively poked his head out from over the ridge when he heard the crash. He watched Ashwyn walk out to meet Sigurd and had a feeling her plan hadn't gone well. He decided that maybe his knowledge could help. "Well... here's hoping..." he muttered before scrambling over the ridge and joining Ashwyn and Sigurd.

"Well clearly your observation skills are ones to behold." He said as he joined them. "Might I ask, noble dragon, what good is it to kill us? We carry nothing that would serve your purpose. No one would see you do it and so it does nothing for your reputation. In fact, why kill anyone here? The Fey Forest is isolated. No one will speak of what happens within the forest so it does nothing for you. Didn't your mother teach you that?"

The dragon sneered down at the gnome. "You will not speak of my mother in that way." He huffed, his breath much hotter than it should be as his anger flared.

"Why not?" Zane asked. "She must be ashamed to have a son such as you. Wasting time on deeds that won't do anything for your reputation while others are razing entire kingdoms to gain their fortune. Why bother coming all the way here for this tiny forest that no one even knows about?"

Ashwyn was gawking at Zane as he outright defied the dragon to its face. She didn't know the little guy had it in him.

Meanwhile, Cirro sat back with Lopiena unsure of what to do. He turned to her. "What do we do now??" He whispered.
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