collab with @kytazy
Part One: Treasure from the Deep
The area was vast, sandy, and most importantly dark everywhere except for a small glowing dot walking along the floor. Not just any floor, the ocean floor. Something that was perhaps good to mention as the Knight was traveling between islands. It wasn’t able to swim, being far too heavy even if it followed the proper butterfly step strokes. “I’m getting cramped! I wanna fly! Are we there yet?” Still putting one foot in front of the other, the suit of metal shook its head before realizing the dragon that was suppose to be sleeping inside its sealed chest plate couldn’t see such an action. ‘Not yet, there are still two days left before we shall arrive at the next island.’
Its greaves were stuffed with food, the insides lined with fur and blankets, and small toys even made little jingly noises under the water. Not that anyone was around to hear them. Magnificence couldn’t be entertained for long with such tiny trinkets though! Or so she claimed as it heard her playing with one of the tiny chimes set up inside like a xylophone. Currently she was learning ‘under the sea’.
As The Knight went, however, it came across something rather odd. There was more metal in the ocean than just itself. Never seeing such a contraption before, it was a strangely shaped piece of metal attached to a chain that disappeared high up into the darkness it wasn’t able to see past. A spark of curiosity triggered in it, wondering what the use of such a thing were, and if it could replicate it once they reached land. Perhaps if it could bring the creation with it, someone else would be able to provide information on it. With of course the purest of intents, it grabbed hold of the metal chain and started trying to pry it from the rock it was embedded in.
Lloredo had sailed plenty of times; he knew the ins and outs of the sea like the back of his hand. The sea was calm enough, the wind steady enough, and the stars bright enough to bode well for this night of waiting. He expected a ship in no less than an hour to deliver “trading goods” for him to pass on. He could see for so far that he was surprised the light of the ship wasn’t on the horizon. Despite all the fortuitous circumstances, he had a premonition that something strange would happen. His suspicions were confirmed when he felt the ship lightly push up from the sea, as if the anchor had been loosened. Something was happening underwater.
The man looked up towards the crow’s nest, where one of his dragons curiously peered at the water’s surface. Of course, the jungle dragon’s eyes couldn’t pierce through the water. None of his dragons had that capability, nor did he want them swimming in the sea. Pepper flew over to his shoulder and nuzzled his cheeks. “Let’s just pull up the anchor,” she suggested, looking over towards the hanging and oddly mobile anchor chain.
“Easy for you to say.” Pulling up the anchor took strength, and none of the dragons had that. He had instructed the crew to sleep until his dragons fetched them, so they would be equally useless. At least it was partially automated. He wandered towards the bow and gave his own look into the sea. Lloredo thought he saw the faintest glint of metal; Would it be some sort of treasure? Or some sort of shimmering beast tangled in the chains? He started twirling the bars and lifting up the anchor. It was certainly heavier than usual. Pepper perched at the end of the bow and watched the chain draw up with curiosity.
Finally getting the strange chain to the surface unhinged from its rocky prison, The Knight didn’t have endless strength, but it did have tenacity and endless stamina to back it up with. A machine was only as strong as you made it after all. Unfortunately it hadn’t considered what the chain was used for. At first assuming it was magicked to simply float upwards for whatever purpose the larger piece served. Oh was the Knight wrong.
“What’s going on??” The little thunder dragon screed from inside, scratching on the lined fur on the inside. ‘Don’t do that, you’ll rip the fur off.’ Huffing at the mild scolding, Maleficence rubbed her body against the inside instead, knocking on it, banging the little chimes and bells, until she tuckered herself out. Which was exactly what the Knight was waiting on as the chain slowly started to straighten out from its free floating appearance. ‘This one is unsure. It seems the metal is some sort of floating device?’ Its tone questioning even through their bond. Clinging to the chain, the strange device did make for a sturdy foothold.
After a short time it even noticed something come in to view above it, the purple gem in its chest flickering slightly as a shadow formed in the brightening surface they were being drawn to. An elevator perhaps! How magnificent. Though it brought on the question of how functional an underwater elevator for a ship was. Most creatures preferred to stay in the water rather than come up to the deck. Completely convinced it was an invitation to board from whoever was pulling it up, the Knight waited without moving an inch until he could grab hold of something to pull himself up into the vessel.
“It’s treasur–” Pepper’s delight was interrupted by the quick movement of the Knight as it brough itself aboard. “Hmm…enchanted treasure?” The little parrot dragon’s excitement might have dulled, but it was still there. She approached it eagerly, but Lloredo quickly sent her a message–don’t. Lloredo furrowed his eyebrows and wondered why an animated piece of armor would be stuck at the bottom of the sea. Was it guarding something? Was it some ancient construction forgotten by time? Either way, it seemed like it could be dangerous. The strange glitter of the crystal on its chest, combined with the strange skittering noises coming from within the armor, made him wary of the suit of armor.
From the crow’s nest, a dragon with the markings of a seagull fluttered down, circling just out of reach of the Knight. Her ankles were ringed in stripes, as if she was wearing socks, and her back was a sky blue color. She was the lookout of the ship, but she had a tendency of abandoning her post whenever something interesting happened on board. “What are you?” she cried out in a shrill, bird-like voice.
Lloredo let her dart around, since she was making a point to stay a safe distance. “Do you understand me?” he spoke in Shéar, hoping it at least came from this planet if it was walking around at the bottom of its ocean.
There was quite the welcome waiting for The Knight once it hauled itself up. Water slid off of it easily, though the cloth was made for fire resistance and soaked the ship’s floorboards as it pooled water. A colorful pair of dragons, the likes of which reminded him of his origin’s exotic birds. It was endearing as its easily distracted nature started following them with the single eye crystal darting around. “Let me out! FREEEEE I can smell something other than saltwater!” His dragon started up again. Picking up one of the bells, she started banging on the inside of the shell, but to no avail. ‘Apologies, not yet. You might startle the birds,’ It tried to sooth Magnificence. Granted to little avail.
Her tiny metal claws scritch scratched at the lining inside until she hit the metal underneath, sudden growing quiet at the sound of metal scraping against metal. Thankfully the suit of armor was tough both on the in and outside, made of expensive materials that kept it from suffering as much damage as possible. Specifically against dragons. “Yes, this one understands. This one is a Knight,” It explained in a simple, to the point response. Able to understand and speak much more fluently after spending so much time in the Rebellion, it didn’t need the translation of its dragons anymore. “It is a pleasure to be brought…” Although it still fished for some words, mixing them up at the best of time, “abroad?” The helmet tilted to the side slightly, a gesture it had picked up from others that was meant to show a sign of confusion.
“ABOARD!” Magnificence hissed out, very much not pleased to be stuck still. Though the Knight merely responded to her trying to soothe again, ‘This one apologies, it is boring, but please wait a little longer until the birds settle.’ Huffing as it misunderstood her, she curled up on one of the blankets inside. Sooooon. “Are they easily .. afraid?” he fished, getting the word write, but not the grammar, meaning frightened. The Knight protected its dragons first and foremost, and was feeling that pang strange tightness it couldn’t describe at not being able to let Magnificence do as she wanted.
Perry landed nearby—still a bit out of reach, but close enough to get a good look at the Knight with her pinned yellow eyes. “I’m not afraid of anything!” the dragon chirped, though she was unsure of whether she should talk towards the Knight’s head or the Knight’s stomach. Sounds seemed to echo from all around the piece of armor. “Except maybe storms…but not storm dragons! But, well, you don’t look like a storm dragon to me. Although…” she squinted her eyes. “Who knows, with breeders and their dragons going wild these days.”
Pepper landed close to her, the two looking like birds in a tiny flock. “They’re not a dragon! You can tell by looking.”
He puffed up his chest and clicked his beak with pride. “Because dragons made entirely of metal are a myth.”
“That’s not true, and you know it,” Lloredo silenced him. Granted, those sorts of dragons were rare, but they had both seen one before. He approached the Knight carefully. He didn’t have any weapon on hand—he hadn’t exactly expected a guest to come up with the anchor—but the dragons could probably distract it if it was hostile. “Anyways, yes, welcome aboard. I don’t normally welcome visitors on my ship, but it seems you have special…circumstances. What were you doing at the bottom of the sea? And if you don’t mind me asking, why is your stomach rattling?”
Holding its hands out as the other approached, the Knight was use to inspections and came to think it as some sort of greeting between strangers. Sometimes it would get poked, prodded, and even knocked on, actions varied from place to place. It did pick up on the fact that it was currently conversing with the ship’s owner. When it came to leaders, kings, chief, boss, and captains too now, wherever it went, the Knight was a follower at its core and knelt down in front of the person in charge here.
“This one didn’t mean to intrude. The strange metal contraption caught interest. Being pulled towards the up was very unexpected, we were simply trying to get to the next island.” The next part being easier to show rather the explain, The Knight reached up to place both hands on its head. Giving a quick twist to the side, it tugged off the helmet to hold against its side instead.
Which freed the little thunder dragon that saw light and poked her head out from the empty neck. “FINALLY!” She shouted, pushing at the dripping scarf so that it wouldn’t pour salty water on the inside as well. Looking around, everywhere was still water, water water, but there were people too! And other dragons! Or birds? She swore she had heard multiple voices chatting before her sweet freedom. “Who are you?” She demanded, the picture of a tiny dragon head sticking out of the large suit of armor not quite matching with her high pitched voice. “Don’t you get close to my rider! I’ll bite you!” Reaching up, the Knight stroked the back of her head where her scales showed behind her artificial crest. “She does not mean that. This is Magnificence, she’s very sweet.” The dragon looked pleased at least with the praise, even as she was being contradicted.
As the knight swiveled its head off, the two avian dragons squawked in surprise and alit. They zoomed in circles around the knight, calling out warning signals to the other inhabitants of the ship. Perry in particular darted in and out, unsure if she should attack the knight or fly away. She certainly couldn’t leave her Rider there alone. Her conclusion was that she would shriek at the top of her lungs until things were okay again. Pepper was a little calmer but still joined in the flying frenzy, keeping an eye on things from all angles.
Magnificence’s arrival did nothing to calm the dragons. Perry managed to land and flapped her wings defensively at what seemed to be the true form of this knight—the heart at the center of things. At least she was small, like them. Maybe they stood a chance when the strange falling-apart-creature inevitably became hostile. Her whole body was poised to fly again at any second.
Pepper calmed down when the dragon spoke her first words, realizing the she simply had an unconventional Rider. She also perched, though closer to Magnificence to better hear her. “Don’t worry, we’ll stay very far away.” Perry bobbed her head quickly in affirmation. A regular nod wouldn’t do.
A few of Lloredo’s other dragons popped their heads out from all the screeching, but after he saw the dragon burst out of the armor peacefully, he sent them away to calm any of the crew that might have heard the commotion. “Anyways, a metal contraption? You mean the anchor?” Sometimes he couldn’t be bothered by the spectacles he saw. A hollow knight, containing dragons, beheading itself and still managing to talk? He just added it to his mental list and sent a soothing emotion towards the jittery Perry.
Spitting small sparks like fireworks at the dragons, Magnificence didn’t appreciate the flying ball of feathers shrieking at her. How daaaaare! Not about to leave the living armor in the clutches of these clearly suspicious individuates though, she merely flailed her supported wings back at them. Much like a sissy fight between the little creatures. Words failing her as well, she merely screeched back at the birds as well. It got so much more than a simple ‘go away!’ across.
In comparison the pair of riders were so much calmer given the situation. If anything, The Knight actually enjoyed seeing the small movement of heads popping out to see what all the ruckus was about. How many were there? Did they live in the ship? Was it a big hollow creation filled with dragons as well? Surely it wasn’t strange to feel more kinship towards an inanimate object than the humanoid in front of it. “Yeah that!” Its dragon chimed up for it instead, noticing her rider had become distracted again. Really, it would lose its head constantly if she weren’t around to tell it to put it on every morning! She was such a good girl. “The sea elevator! You’re the one that brought us up, why are you drilling in with the questions? You haven’t even said who YOU are! How dare you not give your name after taking my own!”
Running a bit of interference, the Knight was more interested in keeping the peace as it slid its head back on before its dragon decided she wanted to escape. It sent up a whole new symphony of screeching and chime flailing inside of it again, but that was preferable to her getting into a fight with the colorful birds. “Please do not feel obligated.” It also wanted to bring the conversation back around, “It is an anchor? What is it made from? Why is there a chain? Why was it so far in the water?” It clearly didn’t know a single thing about ships except what they looked like.
“Yes, an anchor.” He wondered if the memories of the suit of armor were wiped clean. It seemed completely new to everything, as if it hadn’t seen an anchor or a ship before. He didn’t quite feel like dealing with a child, but he had nothing better to do for the next hour. He released the hatch and allowed the anchor to slowly fall down again before they drifted off course. “I have no idea what it’s made of. It’s heavy and keeps the ship from wandering away in the currents. The chain is there to connect them. And…it’s so far in the water because that’s where heavy things tend to sink. Did that cover everything? Ah, right. My name’s Lloredo; I’m the captain of the ship. And you?”
He crossed his arms and reinspected the knight. Now that he thought of it, who knew what was hidden inside it? The raging dragon seemed like it would destroy anything of import, but some sort of monitoring device or weapon would make things inconvenient during the exchange. And…how exactly did you frisk the inside of someone? Pepper inched closer until he was beside the knight. He nudged at the outside of its armor—carefully, of course, so as to not disturb the thunder inside. “I want to go inside, too!” he cooed. He fluttered his eyes in an attempt to woo the knight. Hopefully the head was the correct location to woo, even if it did happen to be empty.
Keeping down on one knee, the Knight wasn’t likely to rise unless permitted to do so. It was extremely appreciated to have its questions answered. Some people merely ignored the armor and all its curious questions. Considering it never took offense to such things, only feeling that strange twinge in its chest area, such behaviors weren’t condemned. More than happy to repeat itself however, it didn’t quite realize that they were asking for its name specifically. “This one is a Knight,” It said again.
Unfortunately, the sword it tended to carry was lodged inside its body. Customized to fold by a different blacksmith with tattered wings for the odd travels such as walking underwater. Brandishing it would surely convince them of its title. “-And rider.” At times it did forget to tack that on as well.
Adjusting its own design for the care and comfort of the dragons it learned to care for, it wasn’t difficult to convince the Knight for lodgings inside. “Alright.” It replied simply, going to take the helmet off once again. An odd creation that would have to be completely covered so that it wouldn’t be able to ‘see,’ those big eyes at it were perfectly able to make it give in to the little parrot’s desire to go inside.
Magnificence.. was far less pleased about this. Her pupiless eyes squinting immediately out of the hole in the neck when the Knight took off its helmet again. “As if I’d let you in that easy! You’re gonna eat all my food! And take -my- toys! And mess up MY blankets!” She was certainly a thunder dragon with how possessive she was of the things that she had claimed to be so bored of just a few minutes ago. ‘Magnificence..’ Huffing, she refused to give in to the rider this time. This was for their own good too! What if they poked a hole from the inside out?? As much as she hated to admit it, her Thunder magic wasn’t nearly as good as Roose’s yet! She could only cause sparks and simple runes that would quickly fade in the air. How was she suppose to repair it in her father’s stead?? “You’re just a .. a.. a feather brain!”
“Don’t call names.” Raising up and waving a very disappointed finger, the Knight tried his best to teach his dragons good behavior, but he didn’t have the heart to properly chide them.
“Oh…that was your name.” Lloredo scratched under the rim of his hat. Whatever created this construct hadn’t properly filled in its brain. He wasn’t adept at magic, nor were his dragons, so he had no means to assist–not that he would. Who knew what sort of machine the Knight would be when all of its lights were powered on? He would have all of his dragons keep a close eye on it and keep it away from the trade off. After that, what was the plan…? Pepper hopped on his shoulder as Lloredo motioned him to get up. “So, you and your…sweet dragon, where are you heading? I can’t guarantee it’s on my route, but it would be bad luck to leave you adrift.”
From its shoulder, Pepper grinned smugly at Magnificence. “I won’t hurt anything in there.” The jungle dragon flicked his tail and flattened his ears. “Take your things? Touch your toys? Maybe, but only because you called me feather brain….” In truth, the dragon had no feathers outside of his tail; it was a sore spot for his ego, and he was too young to learn how to hide it. He jumped into the suit of armor with a huff.
Though it was impossible to tell, the Knight attempted to nod. With nothing serving as its detached head, it simply knelt there still as a statue, unable to move pieces that weren’t attached to it. Hearing the other call Magnificence a sweet dragon gave it such a strage feeling. Not exactly happiness, though that was there too, pleasantry? Yes, that was it, it was quite pleased they thought his dragon was sweet as well. Taking the words at face value without aaaany possibility of sarcasm or that they thought otherwise.
Checking the pull that it could feel coming from the other island, it turned back towards the direction it had been walking. “To that island.” pointing at the endless sea, there was no island or mass of land in sight, but the it knew there would be. They simply needed to get closer. “This one does not drift only sink, but faster passage would be appreciated if the Llorendo will be going in that direction.”
While the clearly more civilized pair were having a normal conversation, Magnificence was busy trying to keep an intruder from coming inside and taking her things! So what if she called them a feather brain! It was the first insult that came to mind when their tail caught her eye searching for something to throw at them verbally. Her tiny arm flails weren’t enough to keep the other dragon out of her space though as they darted in. Having to at least go after them, she started quickly gathering up all the bells, chimes, whistles, and pillows into a corner. It was surprisingly spacious in the chestplate, as if metal magic were cast so that it were bigger on the inside. Currently the capacity was made for four small dragons despite Magnificence being the only one traveling with the Knight at the moment. “I’ll call you a raccoon then! Raccoon bird!” That wasn’t technically calling them a name her rider had ever scolded her for before so it should be fiiine. “Why do you even wanna see the inside! There’s nothing in here for you to play with!” Except the shiny jingly toys she was trying to hoard away from them.
Pepper plopped into the Knight’s armor as if it were a perfectly normal thing to do. At first glance, it appeared to have no sort of weapons or traps at the ready. Rather, it looked almost like a playpen. Magnificence certainly added to the playpen appearance as she started hoarding her toys and soft things in a corner. With the immediate inspection over, Pepper started messing around, testing the plush walls of the armor with a dainty touch of his toes. Metal magic could hide things, sure, but this seemed perfectly safe, if not strange. No danger meant it was safe to play. He twirled around and started dancing around Magnificence, darting and feinting as if he would snatch her prized possessions away. “Raccoon bird? Fine. I’ll steal some of your stuff, then.”
Even if Lloredo couldn’t see what was happening through Pepper, the echoes from inside the armor gave a clear indication of mischief. So, if this Rider was safe, then it would be fine to keep him aboard during the transfer. He glanced at the stars to read the general direction the Knight was heading; He knew the island, though it had little of import. It was littered with a few small family settlements that kept to themselves and their livestock. He wasn’t one to keep a strange animated chunk of metal from going where it wanted, though. “Laureano? I can take you there; for a price, of course. You’d need to help maintain the ship on the way and help us with unloading things once we’re there. Not too much trouble. How does that sound?” He wouldn’t mind some new clothes, and it was as good of a place as any to hide former slaves until their hunters got bored. “If you don’t feel like it, another ship is due at any minute. You are free to go with them, but they’ll be going to the mainland. Or…uh…” He scratched at his neck and inspected the Knight. “…I guess you could continue on your way? If you prefer walking at the bottom of the sea…”
Screeing, Magnificence shot of sparks as if she were a tiny sparkler firework one would flail around in summer. Puffing up as big as she could, she still wasn’t very impressive with her noodly body wrapped around her favorite toy in particular. A small geko filled with beans that squeaked when she hugged it tight enough. “Nooo! What are you called then?? Who are you?!” she demanded in that rather undignified way again, having not paid much attention if there were introductions before. Other riders and dragons didn’t matter after all, as long as they didn’t take her things!
“This one will help.” Suddenly standing up at attention, the inside of the Knight wouldn’t jostle even if it were to engage in combat that very second. It seemed unusually excited to be of assistance though considering its wandering focus snapped to the captain in an instant. Taking orders and being assigned tasks was its purpose of creation, despite apparent malfunctions when it deviated to protect Krivisk. “Magnificence seems to prefer traveling above water, so that will be the preferred method of travel henceforth. What sort of tasks are included in ship maintenance?” More than willing to start right away, it set its head back on. For now the dragons inside seemed to be.. having fun? Or at least one of them was while Magnificence was safe despite her normal hissing.
“Right now, we just wait. Keep an eye out for something on the horizon. They should be coming from the west. Once we have our cargo, we’ll unfurl the sails and then maintain course until we reach the island. Although–hmm. You probably haven’t sailed before. I’ll find something for you to clean, or you can help look over the bow and spot debris or beasts in the waters. Perry normally takes care of that, but I have a feeling she’ll be keeping a close eye on you.” Lloredo nodded over to the seagull dragon, who nodded her head in affirmation. “I’m not ordering her, of course. It’s just her nature to be wary. I hope you don’t mind.”
“My name’s Pepper,” he introduced himself proudly, still making a point to keep her on her toes. “Sometimes people call me peeper, too. Since I like to be loud.” He demonstrated with a serenade of chirps and whistles–which were very beautiful to him, certainly, but not necessarily to those around him. He felt a little weird being unable to fly out of the armor, but it seemed this thunder dragon was no match for him. All she did was hiss sparks and rage while she coiled around that cute toy. Perhaps he could mess with her some more and snatch that toy away…it did sort of resemble a jungle dragon, so why wasn’t he allowed to touch it? Maybe he should even keep it with him. The Seasonal Wind was always lacking entertainment–everyone was boring and business-like. But how would he trick his new sworn enemy? “How smart are you? You look sort of dumb for a thunder dragon. Would you even be able to solve a basic riddle?”
“Not at all.” A light clang sounded as The Knight put its hand over a nonexistent heart. “There is little need to worry however, this one will do its best not to fall overboard.” Thinking that the others merely had the most innocent and thoughtful intentions about watching over it, hopefully it could put those worries at ease with a little time. “This one does have experience with cleaning, watching, cooking, patrolling, and combat. Tasks involving those would be most effective.” It made for a strange but efficient sort of butler that guarded the castle it and its dragons called home.
Squinting at this so called pepper, Magnificent wanted to ask if the other was named salt, but was learning better. The Knight was right and name calling just made other dragons even more annoying than usual. She did like the chirps and whistles at least, they reminded her of the slide whistle she liked to fly around with. The accusation made her gasp though. “So rude! I’ll have you know I’m the smartest, most beautiful thunder dragon I’ve ever met.” Raising her snoot high in the air, she posed rather Magnificent-ly. “I could solve your ‘basic’ riddles with the utmost ease!” Or so the proud young one claimed.
“Ah, so what if you fail then?” the dragon chirped at her. “Of course, you’d never fail to solve a riddle. But let’s say you did–and you really are the dunce you look like–then how about…you give me that beanie you seem so fond of?” He meant the non-proprietary bean-filled baby gecko, of course. Teasing aside, he thought it was adorable.
“Cooking?” Lloredo cocked an eyebrow. “What sort of things can you cook? What materials can you use?” He couldn’t remember the last time he had good food. No one on the ship knew how to cook. To that end, no one on the ship cared very much. The jungles made do with what they could, but he himself only ate fish, fish, and more fish. Sometimes he spiced it up with lemon pepper fish to keep scurvy away–not that he was at sea long enough for that to actually threaten him. It was filling, but something tasty would be a delightful change of pace. “I can show you to the kitchen. Down there, Pepper can–” he took a look at Pepper, who was still messing with Magnificence, “–actually, Perry can keep an eye on you. Help you find everything, you know.” He looked over to the door down. “Also, how good are you at seeing in the dark?” He certainly had a lot of questions for the Knight to sort through, but he was the captain of a ship interrogating a foreign visitor.
Blinking, Magnificence had never made a deal with anyone before in her young life. Looking down at her favorite toy, she hissed at the dragon challenger, “NO! It’s mine!” Just bringing up the prospect that she would fail was utterly ridiculous, but her things were hers and she’d never give anyone the chance to take them. “It wouldn’t even be worth asking that your invading little bird hands be allowed to touch my things! How DARE you think you can keep them!” What did he think she was? Some sort of riddle obsessed sphynx? A troll under a bridge? A witch in a dark forest? She was the Magnificent Magnificence! What a terribly rude dragon, but what was one to expect from a bird. “Are you still here? Just get out already!”
The Knight had an infinite line of patience as it listened to Llorendo’s questions. It didn’t have a way to convey that it was listening as it stood there, however, as soon as the other seemed to be finished, it started going through the list in order. “The one cooks mostly meats, rice, and vegetables. As for materials, gold, silver, iron, copper, any basic and several uncommon materials have been used and crafted before. Perry would be quite appreciated as this one is not familiar with the… era..? Area. Darkness is not an issue. Light may be preserved by keeping such things unlit.” It was surprisingly well focused when there was a task at hand for it. It didn’t often counter with whys or what fors either, simply offering information without a second thought. Though the Knight wasn’t sure what materials it was able to use, perhaps there was a forge on the ship?
“What a shame…” Pepper sighed, looking away from her as if disappointed. “I thought better of you. They told me thunders were smart, yet here you are, too scared of showing your dumbness and losing your cute gecko toy. I bet it doesn’t even have a name. I would give it a name and take way better care of it than you.” At this point he had forgotten it was to taunt her and actually wanted that cute toy. He would name it…Beanie. Or something way better than what she had named it. “I guess if you are so dumb you’re scared to even hear the riddle, I could go on my way. If I tell my Rider that there’s a dumb dragon in here that could use her sparks to break things on accident, he might even send you back to where you came from.” The little dragon turned up its beak and sneered. “This looks like a cozy place to spend time underwater.” Was he being too evil? Probably. But he would have that toy.
Meanwhile, Lloredo had filtered out the shenanigans. It seemed they were having a lovely time and he would leave them to it. He held up his hand and Perry hopped onto it instinctively. The dragon kept at least one eye pointed towards the Knight at all times. He shuffled over to the hatch and motioned for the armor to follow. The interior of the ship was very dark, with the only hint of sunlight coming from the light of the hatch. He led them down to the second deck, then opened up a room that actually had a window. The window was a small bubble, sure, but it did offer a good view of the horizon when waves weren’t pushing up against it.
“This is the galley, where we’re supposed to have a chef on staff that does all the cooking. We never managed to hire one, so we just kind of…throw things together in here.” There was a small ice box for the fish they caught, a basket full of citrus fruits, a rack of mysterious dried meat on the wall. Lloredo assumed it was some sort of beef jerky but it had been there since before he owned the ship. It was more of an art piece than potential food at this point. Everyone else must have felt the same, because no one so much as nibbled at it. There were also more conventional ingredients–flour, vegetable oil, eggs gathered from the swallows that liked to roost in the mast, that sort of thing. Professional cooking ingredients. They had an oven and stove to cook things on as well as a microwave, though that latter one tended to spark and set fire. Wiring on the ancient ship was also an occupation no one really understood. “Do you see anything you can use?”
Following after the other, The Knight had no sense of stealth as its heavy footsteps sounded on the floorboards. The helmet turning this way and that as it adjusted its focus, looking around the ship. It didn’t know a single thing about such a structure, but found it absolutely marvelous, wondering how long it took to create such a vessel. The kitchen was.. surprisingly lacking. “It’s… nice,” the armor fished for a proper word to describe the dim area but was coming up short. It was use to a castle after all, the kitchen it normally worked in was easily three times such a size. “There are ample supplies here for breakfast, would The Lloredo happen to have any stored ri-? Ah, one moment please.”
Clinging tighter to her toy, Magnificence hissed at the obvious lie. “You have yet to say I’m smart! I’m the smartest thunder dragon that ever was! You’re the dumb one for not being able to realize that without some stupid riddle! You should be singing my praise, telling me how very wise and beautiful I am! You. Are. A. Lying, filthy peasant and I REFUSE to go back underwater!!” The runemarks along her wings starting to glow. Arcs of lightning peeled off her scales, tendrils reaching out like fingers to touch the blankets beneath her before retreating back to the metal plates. “Its name is Squire, and not even my sire would be able to take care of it better than I!” There was that hint of how much jealousy she held towards her father for being stronger than her, but she would fix that. Her magic would be the greatest! Great enough to show a disdainful feather brain that she didn’t need to prove herself with riddles as her sparks tried to reach for Pepper.
Taking off its helmet, there was more light coming from inside the Knight than there was in the kitchen. Reaching in, its gauntlet wrapped around the dragon, dragging a still hissing Magnificence out, the toy too heavy for her tiny arms to keep hold of by themselves. “Noooo! Let me go! He’s gonna take it! Put me down!” She raged, but the Knight could feel her intent to harm. It was willing to go against a dragon’s wishes if it meant protecting them both from a fight.
Pepper stuck out his tongue completely–which was quite a ways indeed, since he still had his froggy heritage–just to tease the thunder dragon. He waddled over to the so-called Squire and snuggled up next to it. “Your name is now Deckswabber,” he explained to the beanie. It looked forward blankly with its button eyes. Clearly, it was pleased with its new identity. He plucked it up with his beak, though the beans kept it weighed down. If Magnificence couldn’t lift it, then he definitely couldn’t. He would need to devise a way out. He looked around for some sort of rope he could use as a pulley, but nothing popped out as useful. If he couldn’t construct a way to take out his new friend, then he would just have to make do with the knight himself. If the knight bent over with his helmet off, he could zip out with his new friend. Now how to make that happen…
Outside, Lloredo sighed. “It’s okay to call it a dingy place. I didn’t make it or anything.” He wasn’t surprised when the thunder dragon was pulled out hissing and puffing–Pepper had that affect sometimes. He looked in and saw him snuggling up with the beanie. What a weird thing to fight over, though he could sort of see why the cute beanie was desirable. He had a few dragons that looked like that. “Were you going to say rice? Because…probably.” He looked through the drawers and started pulling out all sorts of odds and ends. A few of it was expired beyond salvation, but thankfully, rice didn’t have that issue. “Will this do?”
Coiling around the gauntlet, Magnificence slapped and hissed, but knew she couldn’t actually hurt her metal rider. The Knight simply kept her in the palm of his hand and stroked the electric noodle with its thumb. It wasn’t able to coo at her quite yet, but sent those unusual feelings it was starting to understanding across their bond. She still wasn’t happy, but she calmed down enough to simply glare daggers at the helmet opening, then turning to glare at Pepper’s rider.
The Knight was doing its best to keep the peace. It wasn’t good with children, much less ones that didn’t get along. For now, separation seemed to be working. “It is small.” It did end up admitting. The Lloredo was quite a kind individual to be so understanding. “Yes, that will do, thank you.” Everything it needed for rice omelets was available now. “When would the Lloredo like food to be prepared?” It didn’t feel hunger itself, and fed the dragons whenever they asked, so there was no set meal time as far as the knight was aware.
“Hmm…well…” he wondered if the visitors would appreciate whatever meal the knight would pull out of this. “You could start now, since there will be a lot of mouths to feed. Make as much as you can.” He saw the glare from Magnificence and knew Pepper had probably done something to deserve it. Perry was on the alert again now that Magnificence was showing off her feral side. She kept flapping her wings and hissing at the wyrm whenever she so much as wiggled. Pepper was content to wait for his opportunity. Deckswabber needed to be saved.
Lloredo ignored them and focused on the knight. “Depending on how much you make, we might even be able to pay you. I’m getting a little stipend for transporting a few other people. Do your part and I’ll give you a portion.” He wasn’t usually one to pay for a free service, but he had a feeling the knight would go above and beyond. He set Perry down on what might have been a spice rack at one point. “Are you good to go?”
Turning her hissing on the other bird now, Magnificence couldn’t believe there were so many horribly horrible dragons on this ship! The next time they boarded anything, she was going to make extra sure that any and all other passengers knew of her greatness. “Bullies! Scoundrels! Thieves!” She spat, earning a stare down from the purple crystal embedded in the Knight’s chest. Despite knowing it was displeased with her outburst, she felt she was in the right to be mad.
Setting his dragon down on the counter, Magnificence curled up into a displeased spiral that was still making sparks every now and then. “Money is not required, this one has no use for it.” Either the dragons or the villagers tended to keep the castle stocked with food. Everything was properly maintained by the creation that had far too much time on its hands as well. The treasure trove was taken over and slowly being filled by a wild dragon so it wasn’t sure where it would keep any payments anyway…
It sounded like the Lloredo wanted it to make as much food as possible though. “Yes, this one is ready and shall begin the food immediately.” True to its word, the Knight dawned its helmet once more, forgetting the second dragon inside as it locked it into place to gather the ingredients.
Perry scratched her beak on the spice rack to show just how dangerous she was. “We’re not thieves, we’re pirat–” Lloredo hushed her with a finger. Not that it mattered if these two knew they were pirates–he just didn’t feel like going into all the detail of what did and didn’t make a crew pirates rather than sailors. It was a surprisingly common question.
“Well, I’ll be going top deck to see if the visitors arrive. You all behave down here, especially you little ones.” The dragons both insisted they were being good; Perry even insisted she was the best. They would have to prove it by not being loud, destructive assholes to the poor wyrmling while he was gone. He slipped out the door and left the knight to its fate.
Part Two: Fairer Lands Ahead
“The Nadie! Welcome, this one is pleased to see you. Why are you here?” The Knight came forward at a quick stride, just fast enough so that it didn’t risk dropping the plate of eggs and rice. It sported a heart in ketchup with Nadie’s name so that they knew it was theirs, much like how Lloredo’s had. It had started cooking and didn’t stop until someone had come back below deck to tell it the visitors from another ship had finally arrived. Without a guide to tell it when enough was enough, there was certainly a sudden shortage of eggs, rice, and condiments for the crew. They didn’t seem terribly displeased by this though, as if they had only been eating fish instead of using the other ingredients available. Surely not though.
Right on top of her rider’s helmet, Magnificence posed as if she were meant to be the center of attention for this crowd. Which she was! They needed to know who the most beautiful dragon currently on board was. “Nadie!” She screed in a whining voice, taking off into the air to fly over the other. Flying around their head, she started in on her tale of woes, “It’s been horrible! I was trapped at the bottom of the sea! There are rude birds everywhere! One of them won’t leave Squire alone and keeps calling them Deckswabber! It’s been so hard!” Pretending to feint on their shoulder, she could always count on Nadie to side with her with words along the lines of ‘you poor thing’.
Strutting his way along the boards in a line with numours others, Risk looked around the ship and let out a sigh. He was sick and tired of this sea life. All because he happened to snort at the wrong person. It wasn’t his fault the slavers didn’t understand advanced mathematics. Maybe if he could pick out the man in charge, he could finally get an answer on when and where they would finally be let off at. There was someone that strutted up in a hurry layered in… full plate.. of all things… on a ship with an equally metal noodle with wings……. But he doubted someone like that was the captain. Who in their right mind wore heavy armor on sea? One accident away from drowning.
Within the Knight, Pepper was still biding his time. Nadie rarely came around, but maybe he would prove to be an ally, if he could just get the message out to him. Deckswabber was in danger! The danger of not being his.
Nadie was completely oblivious to that need, instead cooing at the poor wyrm who had gone through such torture. She was still young, so she probably didn’t realize it was inappropriate to whine about toys in front of people who suffered just a bit more than having their doll held hostage. Probably. As a thunder, perhaps she did think it was the end of the world, and the greatest injustice she had ever heard of. “Whatever did you do to deserve this, Magnificence? Truly a shame.” He wondered how the Knight managed to raise dragons at all with its kind-hearted nature. He doubted Magnificence would have its humility rub off on her–but, hey, he had no experience with thunders himself. Maybe it would work out.
Having the title ‘The Nadie,’ still delighted him when he heard it. Yes, him, the single Nadie in the world. It was charming how the Knight assumed everyone was a creation with a designated title. Was this its first time on a ship? Did he know they had names yet? He smiled at the Knight and gratefully accepted the egg omelette. “I could ask the same of you.” He called Sirroco down to greet their old friend.
The wyvern dove towards the ship and opened her wings at the last second to slow her descent. Her flaps created a gust of wind that blew through the crowd that had gathered on the decks. Among them stood a Bestia girl who had taken on hermostly human form. She still didn’t know how to hide her ears and tail completely–she never did learn proper transformation magic. She didn’t feel well at all, and she barely knew what was going on. They had said something about being free. Was that really true? It just looked like they were being shuffled to a new place. The lack of restraints was odd, but where exactly would they run in the middle of the ocean?
She sighed and looked at the dragons and their Riders cajoling between the ships. They had some delicious-looking food–would she get some too? This wasn’t her first dragon sighting, but it was the first time they were close enough to hear. Listening to the laments of the little metal snake made her smile. It was nice hearing about little problems for a change. The other dragon looked a bit more intimidating; It had been with them throughout the trip and guarded the ship from attackers. She could still see a bit of blood on its talons. She shiverred, quite glad that they weren’t close enough to touch. Looking around, she spotted someone from a strange species that was surely from the Chronoscape. She didn’t know how old he was, but he looked to be in his 20s, by humanoid standards. He looked quite miserable, but somehow that made him more approachable than anyone else on the ship.
Ah yes! Finally! Someone that understood her! Purring pleasantly, Magnificence adored her rider, but it was difficult to get empathy out of them, only pats and reassurances that she was a good girl for putting up with so much. She never picked up on the other’s sarcastic words or tones, all that mattered was woe is her indeed! Hearing what she wanted to. “It is! I didn’t do a single thing! Only you and my rider are allowed to play with Squire!” And maybe the large bird that soon flew down as well. They at least didn’t pick on her like certain less feathered dragons.
Nodding, the Knight was being completely serious as it replied, “Indeed, this one would be glad to recount the tale. Feel free to inquire at the Nadie’s leisure.” Taking everything exactly as it was said made life a little frustrating at times for people, but the construct meant well. It didn’t want to start off on a long story about rising through the ocean on something called an anchor if Nadie didn’t have the time at the moment to hear it.
Sighing once again, Risk could feel himself building up an itch to pace. It had been absolute torture being tied up, gagged, untied, tossed onto a new ship, having to sit still, suddenly pushed onto another ship, and ultimately having absolutely nothing to do the entire time. Was even casual chatter with the slaves or rescued slaves out of style now? What happened to spilling dastardly plans to the ones suffering? At least give him a paddle ball. The demon was just starting to tap his foot when he noticed someone approaching. “Ah you’re-” .. actually he hadn’t considered talking to the other slaves before, most of them were more traumatized than the newly captured demon. Pushing back the current mess of black hair, he half heartedly apologized, “Sorry, it’s been hard catching names today. Go figure.”
“Bella,” she said in almost a whisper. It was difficult for her to understand anything other than Erré, but his words sounded very close. Even though he spoke them fluently, they were heavy with an accent she couldn’t place. Well, she didn’t care about that at all, so long as she understood him! It was a relief to finally find someone to talk to. Hopefully he wasn’t volatile like a few of the other people aboard seemed to be. She brushed her hair out of her face and attempted her first smile in a long time. “And what should I call you?”
Meanwhile, Nadie was smiling at the Knight. “Hmm…that’s alright. I have a feeling it’s a long story. I can guess you’re here to help with the Rebellion, though.” He was more interested in eating right now–he could hear the full story later. After finishing his omellete, he licked his lips and wiped his mouth. “Your cooking is quite good! I’m glad to taste it.” Sirroco made a short chirp and the Rider offered her his empty plate. She tentatively took it in her talons and started licking it clean. “Are your other dragons doing better than your poor, suffering Magnificence here? And uh…is one of Lloredo’s dragons still uh…in there?” Perhaps Pepper would have his moment soon.
Blinking a light blue pair of eyes set in a dark blue counterpart, he hadn’t actually expected to get an answer out of the other one. For a moment, struck into silence before actually grinning at the cat eared girl. It was nice finally having someone he could understand around, even if she had an odd way of pronouncing some things. “Oh, Risk. Sorry, it’s been a long week and I’ve yet to be offered a cup of coffee. You wouldn’t happen to understand what the others are saying would you?” It was still hard not to add snips in here and there, but the teal skinned demon was looking a little better with someone to speak to.
While the Knight wasn’t able to use facial expressions, Magnificence did a fine enough job for them, harmless amounts of pleased static jumping from her to Nadie. Maybe not completely harmless as she reached up to play with the hair her own rider very much did not have. Some of it flying up to escape from her electrically charged metal fingers.
Tilting its head slightly, the Nadie was very perceptive, it was indeed a long story.
“No, this one simply needs to arrive over there.” Pointing off into the distance again, its destination remained the same. The question about his other dragons were easy enough to answer, the Knight starting to nod. And then there was the one about Pepper…The dragon had completely slipped its mind, though it had yet to hear any tantrums or demands for freedom. Maybe they had gotten out all on their own somehow? “Per.. haps.. would the Nadie mind checking for this one?” Removing its helmet, it leaned down for him to look inside.
The Knight had finally reached the perfect angle. It was time for Pepper to strike–! He nabbed the gecko in his beak and dragged it out to sweet, sweet freedom. Unable to carry the critter in flight, the two plopped right out onto the boards. He dragged it onto the Seasonal Wind, with Deckswabber scootling along the filthy floor and truly living up to its new name. He just had to hide it before that pesky wyrm could catch up to him.
Nadie blinked, not quite accustomed to jungle dragon antics. But, well, what was he to do? Perhaps it was some important mission from Lloredo. Probably not, but he didn’t care enough to bother with them. He let the dragon be. “You probably feel a bit better without something poisonous in your stomach,” he stated to the Knight, smiling. “Why are you heading over there? Is Lloredo taking you? Oddly generous of him.” He nibbled on his omelette absent-mindedly–starting with the heart, of course.
Bella was relieved to find someone to talk to finally. “I can understand a few people, yeah, but…they’re not the talkative types.” A simple glance towards the rest of the crowd was enough to prove that. Very few people were murmuring, though some seemed to be using sign language. That would be convenient to learn, she thought to herself. But at least someone here could speak Erré. She wagged her tail, happy to finally have someone to talk to. “Where are you from? I don’t recognize your accent.”
Worn out from screeching and sparking since they had reached the surface, Magnificence was enjoying a relaxing time playing with the flying strands. Her tail wiggled lazily from side to side until she started staring at the omelet long enough. Under the sudden realization that she was hungry now as well, she reached up to tug on Nadie’s ear with her tiny mechanical limbs. She at least knew better than to interrupt people with her words, but she most certainly needed to let them know when she wanted something. Mostly forgetting the annoying bird dragon in her excitement, she didn’t notice them tumble out while trying to demand a bite of rice.
“There is no poison in this one’s stomach?” Sounding mildly panicked about the suggestion that there might be, the Knight was quick with its reflexes, but merely started following after the dragon, Pepper as it scooted along. Magnificence’s toy was of course recognizable to it considering it had been the one to give it to her as a companion for long trips, or when she needed to stay home. Each of its dragons had similar small creatures, one of the villagers saying it was a must for any growing youngling. Pepper seemed quite busy at the moment however, so for now the Knight simply walked behind them at a distance, still talking to Nadie with expectations he would follow. “This one feels the strange pull to head in that direction. Much like with Mino’s shell.” Meaning egg, but it was close enough as it went on to answer the rest in order. “The Lloredo is indeed offering to take this one. That one is very generous, even providing this one with small tasks.” Most might groan, but the Knight enjoyed any quest it was given.
True, though Risk couldn’t blame them much. He was very much use to pretty much his entire world being raveled in debauchery and sin, so a little kidnapping now and then wasn’t such a big deal. There were always moments to escape eventually, so he tended to bide his time until those arose rather than sulk around. “The second circle,” he replied, it being a common question that he still responded right away to, but realized that might be confusing to those on the surface. “It’s a small town… in the desert.” It was the first place he had fallen into. Hooopefully that counted. “How about you?” Such a basic question. He still had that lingering annoyance at being locked on at sea though without much to do. A notebook or something to jot notes down about the local area wasn’t too much to ask for was it?
“Ah…the Second Circle? I can’t say I’ve heard of it…” The concept of hell and demons wasn’t foreign to Bella, but…she hadn’t quite connected circles with it. Sheol and Hades were much more familiar. She instead imagined a country that divided itself into circles, with each one bearing its own identity despite being part of one entity. “That must be a nice place–deserts tend to be secluded from all the troubles of the world.” She looked over to the bird-like dragon; It looked quite strong and friendly, even if the talons looked scary. She quietly thought that something protecting her like that beast had protected the ship for the past week would be nice to have.
Part Three: Lost Toys
Some crew members from the Seasonal Wind had emerged to help deliver food. They also had a few pieces of essentials; a small care package of short. A journal and ink pen, some basic rations of tinned food, a bottle for water, small blades, a bowl…the sort of things you would expect a traveller to have. The man insisted that they weren’t about to make a journey, but they would be let loose as soon as they reached land, and this would definitely help them if they decided to jet. His Erré had a heavy accent, quite different to Risk’s, but still understandable at least. Bella looked through the materials and found nothing that stuck out. She wasn’t much of a journalist, but maybe she could draw to communicate with strangers…if Risk wasn’t there to help. She looked away from the materials to see how he found them. “Risk, what about you? Can you understand any of them? Do you know anyone?” She didn’t want to admit she had been alone for a long time.
“Oh, don’t mind me,” Nadie started to explain, though the Knight clearly had a dragon on the mind as he rushed away. He said a silent thank you to God that he didn’t have to deal with jungles on a daily basis. He wondered if Magnificence would allow a small pat on her head and tried to scritch her snout with a finger.
Pepper still had his own problems. Rats, the Knight was onto him. Oh well, it seemed the Knight only had one eye–or at least, one sense of vision. Could it…see around corners? Could it see into things? Could it see…inside itself? He had to account for all these things. Surely its vision couldn’t pierce through thick hardwood, which the ship had in abundance. Lead would be a better option, but he had no access to that. Unless he wanted to hide poor Deckswabber in a cannon. He ducked underneath a table, friend in tow, working as quickly as he could. He used his jungle magic to peel open the old planks; While the wood was dead, he could still breath a bit of life into them. He melded the wood around Deckswabber, making sure to place a wooden ball in the hollow to keep it enriched, and then sealed it shut. All that was left was a strange, unnatural curve in the wood that definitely wasn’t his doing. He waddled out triumphantly, unafraid to face the Knight, who clearly imagined things when he zoomed off with the toy. Maybe he could pretend it was a Companion? There were all kinds of excuses he could make up. His little beak curved up as he looked forward to the challenge.
What a trusting woman. At least she didn’t ask too many questions he’d have trouble answer. “Mm, yes. This is true, though I find myself preferring company the older I get.”
Raising an eyebrow at the supplies and retreating figure, there was plenty Risk still wanted to ask, but he was perfectly content with suddenly having one answer in particular. Land! They would be released, free to go out into the world again. Aaand, right back to the desert where he had come from. It was absurdly cold out on the ocean for someone who was use to blistering heat. “Here? No, it’s been troublesome since arrival just trying to have a conversation that didn’t end it ‘Sit back down!’ from someone,” He put quotes around a phrase he had heard most often.
Feeling that of course there was no way the horrible jungle dragon could possibly get her Squire out of her rider if they hadn’t already. Overconfident as usual, she was enjoying her time with Nadie and their dragon. The chin scratches were welcome too, a well deserved pampering for her magnificent self. “A little to the left,” she cooed, her demands forgotten in favor of being paid some attention to. Rolling her long noodle body over to expose her belly for rubs as well.
The Knight off on its own mission now, it followed and waited by the table for Pepper. There were strange noises coming from under the furniture, but it wasn’t familiar with such things. When the other did finally emerge once again, it tilted its head at the small dragon that looked up at it so proudly. “Is the business finished?” It questioned simply, wondering if whatever it was off doing was over now or not so that the Knight could request Squire be returned.
Bella almost giggled at his complaint; She completely understood and had learned the phrase in all kinds of languages. Swears, too, of course–but mainly annoying phrases like that. The snarkiest replies had simmered in her for a while; With freedom, she’d finally be able to say them, but didn’t expect the opportunity to come up soon. Hopefully it would be alright to assume the best for the immediate future. “Where do you think we’re going? I don’t know anything about Shérok. Maybe we should ask around?” She sighed and worriedly kneaded at the edge of her shirt. “To be honest, I don’t know if I can go back to Eredia. I barely even remember my family.”
Meanwhile, the rolling noodle made Nadie smile and think of the snakes that played dead in the desert. Yes, if they saw this dragon now, they would say she was an excellent actor. She only needed to stick out her tongue to complete the illusion. “You’re such an amazing dragon, Magnificence. Am I worthy of calling you by a nickname?” He scooted his finger a little to the left, per her instruction.
And, at last, Pepper wiggled his tail and squawked at the Knight. “Yes, of course, my business is finished! You don’t have to follow me when I go to the bathroom, I’m not a hatchling anymore.” In the end, he decided that was the best excuse. The Knight surely wouldn’t look below the table now.
Long pointed ears wiggling slightly under his mass of dark hair- that very much needed a good washing -Risk wasn’t against the idea. To him, it didn’t actually matter where they were going right now, he simply needed to reach land so that he could start heading back to where he came from. That could be done from any backwater island if he put enough work in to trying; and he was a demon that prefered being layered with work. Watching the small movements of Bella fiddling with her clothing, the first thing to come to mind was that she was quite the nervous feline. “There’s no reason to return if you don’t wish to. This is a new start after all, you could be a heinous criminal for all anyone knows, blending it with the slaves at the right time.” Shrugging, he didn’t really think so, but there were smaller chances that happened in the world.
“Suure, we can split up to cover more ground,” or at least it would give him a chance to find out more specifically which way led back to his desert lands.
Her foot starting to shake lightly on its own as Nadie scratched that peeeerfect itch she had so much trouble getting to normally, Magnificence hummed. They were nice to her rider now, unlike that constantly sneering rebel leader! They gave the Knight compliments to both its food and Magnificence herself. Plus these were some very nice pets. “I suppose so! But it must be a very good one, fitting of my glorious self~” She’d probably answer positively to just about any request though as long as Nadie complimented her beforehand.
Tilting its head to the side slightly, the Knight was quite confused with the dragon’s thought process. It wasn’t sure what going to the bathroom had to do with being under the table, very aware that that was not where such things were done. Was this another one of those metaphores it was always told about? Perhaps it would be told how rapidly it was picking things up if it shared the seen-through ‘word fun(play)’ with the Nadie. “This one apologizes, it did not mean to annoy by following footsteps. It simply requires the small toy that was dragged underneath.” Not budging, it assumed Pepper had merely forgotten Squire underneath the table after finishing whatever it was doing under there. The Knight wasn’t one to question thoroughly.
Her ears twitched at the thought of being called a criminal. It wouldn’t be the worst name she had taken; Maybe she’d give it a try. Nothing stood out to her particularly, though. She was just released–or, at least, would be released soon–and thoughts about the future were making her nervous. She would focus on the present. “Split up? I guess we could cover more ground…but I have the feeling we wouldn’t meet again if we split up.”
Island it may be, who knew what exits there were? She was nervous about losing the only person she could communicate with. At the same time, that island felt a bit strange. Like something was waiting there for them and lightly pulling. Maybe she was worrying over nothing. She wouldn’t be the only one in the crowd to do that. “If we stick together, we can pool together our resources instead.”
Pepper waddled away, pretending not to know what the Knight meant. “I never had a toy,” he insisted. It wasn’t a toy, it was a friend. Not a lie. “You can even check underneath.” He hurried up to the deck to gloat in front of Magnificence at the first opportunity. Nadie was itching her in what he assumed would be just the right spot. “Your Majesty,” he replied. “Fit for royalty, and a queen such as yourself. Will you be enjoying the luxuries of a tropical getaway soon?”
Blinking at Bella, Risk took a quick look around the ship, a very obvious one, first left, then right, with minor pauses in between, before looking back at her. “Do you think I’m going to jump overboard?” He questioned with a grin. How hard could it be to find one person in the middle of the ocean? Besides, if he did jump, someone would probably hear and start yelling at him or something. “I suppose if you just can’t do without my stellar personality, let’s ask together.
Tilting its head to the side, the light in the soul stone flickered slightly as The Knight turned o watch Pepper go. What Pepper said, and what it knew it saw clashed, leaving the animate object highly confused. Should it follow them? No, they didn’t like that. Perhaps it should try and explain what Squire looked like, they might not know that was the toy it was talking about. No.. that would require following again. Standing there for a good minute, it decided that the best course was to indeed check underneath. Looking under the table of course proving fruitless.
It would expand its check.
As the Knight started pulling everything out and pushing aside anything movable to look behind things in its search on the ship for the lost Squire. At least it made very organized piles in the corner of the room. It’s logic was that once the toy was found, it would put everything back, even if it had to expand the search.
“That’s quite acceptable!” Magnificence purred, pleased with the name. She would never, ever, never let anyone like that feather butt give her a nickname. They’d just pick something as rude and mean as they were! “I am! We’re going off to a brand new island! I was so excited to get there, but I’ll never let my rider travel by foot underwater again! It was so horribly boring. I’m so glad we found the anchor and got pulled on board. The fresh air is so much better,” Swooning dramatically, her little body rolled a little, just enough so that she was being scratched on a new perfect spot. “I want to drink a coconut from a fancy straw as soon as we get there!”
Bella internally cringed. She thought he was talking about after they got off the boat. But, well, what was done was done. She would accept her life as the puppy that couldn’t be apart from someone for more than two minutes. She looked around for a quick escape and saw the Knight, Nadie, and Magnificence right away. The sooner they could get into a conversation, the sooner she could pretend her misconception never happened.
A little dragon waddled into her path before she could reach them, looking quite the part of an innocent creature that did not hide a toy. Perhaps Pepper could blame her and that person beside her if the Knight insisted on finding it. He could already hear the scuffle as the Knight turned over furniture. He was way too determined…Lloredo might get upset at this point. But, well, he was below deck discussing trade dealings! It would be fine for a few minutes. Maybe the Knight would get bored. “Did you see a toy in your bags?” the parrot-like dragon inquired. “I’m missing my toy and I think they put it in a bag.” Nadie cocked his eyebrow at the little dragon, tilting his head to watch and eavesdrop. Her Majesty, Magnificence, could probably hear Pepper from where they were, and he was internally looking forward to whatever little fight the dragons were gearing up towards.
She looked from the dragon, to Nadie, to Magnificence, and back. “I’m not sure, but…we can help you find it.” She hoped Risk didn’t mind getting dragged along for the ride. “We just need to check and see where we’re going. Do you know?” She had no idea if this dragon was a hatchling or not. Compared to the feathery wyvern over there, it was seriously lacking feathers. Perhaps they still needed to grow in.
Not thinking much of it, internally Risk had no idea about the miscommunication, and couldn’t be bothered to look to far into it either. He figured at least a few of the crew on this new ship should be able to understand them. There was at least one! It was just a matter of finding them once again. Hoping Bella had picked them out first as she hurried off, he was actually surprised at her for being the first to dart away so suddenly. Not very tall himself at only three inches under six foot, he hurried to catch up when a… pigeon? Stopped them?
At least he thought it was a pigeon, he had heard they were often called rats with wings, though this one had a surprising lack of fur as well. Crossing his arms, the demon squinted at the pigeon. He didn’t looking around the ship, but questioned why they would put a toy in their bags. He wouldn’t question it for now though, instead waiting until it answered Bella question first.
Raising her neck at the sound of that horrible, recognizable, squawky voice, the Magnificent Magistry, Magnificence craned back to narrow her eyes at the dragon that had finally left her rider’s innards. “I’ll be going now Nadie!” She declared, rubbing up against them like a cat before zooming off into the air towards the small ground. “Ooohohoho! Karma decided to take your toy instead? How unfortunately!” she laughed, intrusively landing on the cat-eared girl’s shoulder now. “I’m such a wonderful royal though, that of course I’ll help you find it! And NOT steal it since I’m not a dirty thief!” She did want to casually dunk whatever their toy was in the ocean waters before returning it though if she found it first.
Pepper gave Risk a look. “Maybe in a kid’s bag. Have you seen any of those?” The plan was to convince other people that the toy was in the bag. When the knight asked them, they would repeat that it was in a bag somewhere. Even Magnificence would fall for the trap. “We’re going to an island called…Laurasia? Something like that that starts with an L.” He took a moment to look through Lloredo’s memories. “Laureano. I want to find the toy before we get there. Can you help me? Pretty please.”
The dragon saw Magnificence move into action and escape Nadie’s sarcastic fun. Hopefully the ruse worked. Wait…she thought it was actually his toy missing? He grinned smugly, knowing Magnificence could never find it. “Woe unto me, for karma struck me in the heart!” Nadie got away with over-embellishment, so why couldn’t he? “It’s somewhere in the bags. You’re a royal now? A princess? You act spoiled enough.” He stuck out his frog tongue again. Bella looked perplexed as the little nobility landed on her shoulder. Was she that trustworthy? She blushed at the honor, not realizing Magnificence just did as she pleased.
“Indeed!” Magnificence gestured to herself as if she had just been complimented. “I’m so beloved that both my knight and steward spoil me to the ends of the earth and back!” Suddenly drafting Nadie in to the royal set up he had unknowingly established. Being in a fantastic mood all of a sudden, she still didn’t understand the sarcastic nature of humans and dragons alike it seemed. She -was- quite good when it came to knowing when people were paying her mind though. Posing a little more proudly at the blushing erre that had yet to brush her off. “I’ll go gather up aaaall the kids then!” she decided, pointing off to a few children that were huddling together, likely for small company. “Go forth, my new lady in waiting! Let us help this poor peasant quickly!” She was clearly talking to her new steed.
Humming with that look of slight disbelief, Risk didn’t know squat about the world. A simple name didn’t do him any good. “Sorry, I’m no good with children. Or rats. You’re on your own.” He had more useful information to find, and, forgetting about his companion that had wanted to stick together, was very keen on leaving the suspicious dragons. He preferred it when birds didn’t speak.
Nadie’s eyebrows raised even more. Was he supposed to be the steward in that setup? Well, he did set himself up for that mess. Bella would have shrugged her shoulders, but she worried that the dragon would fall off. As for Risk? Well, it seemed like she was on her own now–just this little dragon on her shoulders to help and that odd Rider to help her through whatever this ordeal would end up as. She also got the feeling she was this dragon’s new steed. She frowned and twitched her ears, but said nothing. She had seen this dragon spitting sparks and didn’t want to test what the voltage was with her fur. She shuffled on over to the children she could see, wondering if she could actually help them.
Part Four: Evil Dragons
Happily flapping her wings, Magnificence was pleasantly purring away again. She had absolutely no idea who this person was that was going along so well, but they were spoiling the thunder dragon as well, so they must be good company. Which normally spelled someones own downfall.
The children didn’t have anything in their bags though other than the normal supplies. She had checked twice! Or at least made Bella check again while she played with the children. They tended to like her sparks that were too weak to cause any real damage.
Meanwhile. In a room not so far away. The Knight was making slow, steady progress with its search for the toy as well. It had managed to clear almost all of the ship by now, setting furniture, bags, hammocks, bedding, food, absolutely anything and everything was thoroughly looked through then organized to the left. Everything. To the point that the boat was slowly starting to tilt.
Pepper was pleased that Magnificence had fallen for the ruse, but at the same time, it was getting rather boring. What was the point of stealing a toy if no one noticed? Especially when it was stolen from that snooty dragon? How dare she call him a peasant! Even if pirates weren’t particularly rich, this ship was very cozy when it needed to be, and it had everything a Jungle dragon could want. Given his small size, it was practically a mansion on the water. He lived in a mansion with an excellent ocean view, and that coil of metal had the audacity to call him a peasant! He would have to point her in the right direction. He spoke loudly so that Magnificence could hear. “Perhaps I left it inside that metal Rider…”
The very same Rider that was causing trouble. At this point Lloredo had noticed the list in the ship’s posture; He reached out to all his dragons and they reported nothing out of the ordinary–except, of course, Perry, who was freaking out about how the crow’s nest was a few feet closer to the water than it should be. There didn’t appear to be a hole in the ship, so there might be something unbalanced. He checked the bottom of the ship quickly, knowing he was working against time. All of the cargo was fastened in place, just as it should be. He rushed top deck to inspect the visitors. Even if they were heavy enough to affect the tilt of the ship, they were all evenly spaced out. It couldn’t be that. One of his dragons reported something strange–the strange relocation of furniture taking place on the first deck. Lloredo rushed down to spot the Knight moving a bed, complete with a random sleeping sailor, onto the port side. “What are you doing?!” he hissed.
Tilting her head slightly at the rather loud hint, Magnificence turned her noodle body around so that she could face Pepper. “You were playing with your toys in my knight?? Don’t you dare think that you can move in there, it’s mine!” All thoughts that the feather butt could have possibly taken Squire were gone, that very clearly wasn’t the case. There was no way for them to get away with them! So Magnificence was more than willing to huff at the other for something else entirely. “Whatever, let us go check my rider then!” Pausing for a moment, she pinpointed them, pointing towards the first deck portside. “That way- um.. What was your name again? I am her great Majesty Magnificence!”
Continuing its business, The Knight was more than a little confused when the Lloredo came bursting in. Lifting its greaves, it made the “Ssshhh-“ing sound that meant to be quiet because someone was sleeping. It was something often done to it because the Knight wasn’t capable of silent movements with its completely metal body. Leaving the bed with the sailor inside, it moved away to calmly face the captain, able to voice itself quietly at least. “Hello. This one is searching for something the dragon Pepper seems to have misplaced. A small gekko like creature about this big,” It held its hands up to demenstrate, “Blue in color, small black spots, black eyes, filled with beans. It is not alive, it is merely Magnificence’s toy, its name is Squire.” The eleborate explaination was due to the fact that it hadn’t been clear enough with the small jungle dragon. “Is everything alright with The Lloredo?”
Lloredo took it all in slowly; The contruct was just doing what any construct would do. Fulfilling a purpose. He couldn’t be angry at it. Rather, he would be angry at the source, which was clearly a certain jungle dragon. He didn’t filter his anger with the dragon, who would have sensed it anyways. Pepper, where is the stupid toy? Pepper would never lose such a worthless object. Important things? Gone in a second. Not something of sentimental value.
I put him inside the deck. I made him a little wooden ball so he can play in there until the Knight and its snooty dragon disembark. The dragon sent an annoyed expression over–as if it was all obvious.
You get down here, get that thing out of the floorboards, and give it back to the Knight this instant. Or I won’t get you the fancy crickets, the honey sundaes, the nectar bouquets, or the cat toys. None of it. Deckswabbing for you. Lloredo sighed and hoped the Knight was okay with interrupted operations. “Please put the furniture back where it was or the ship will sink. We’re already tilting. I’m sure Pepper knows where the toy is–or, er, he’s looking in the last place he saw it. He’ll have it back in no time.” He couldn’t believe a stupid toy was jeopardizing his ship.
Pepper was not pleased with the threat of all the nice things disappearing. At least Magnificence had fallen for the bait and would finally spot that her precious toy was gone. Bella was just along for the ride at this point. How could she help her new…baroness? Princess? and the strange parrot dragon find the toy? She at least narrowed it down to the odd Rider dressed in armor and shuffled in the direction she saw him go. “My name is Bella. Pleased to meet you, Miss Magnificence.”
Letting the sudden silence stretch out, The Knight didn’t mind when others took long moments to think, or made it wait. Time was of no concept to it, even if the ship were burning, sinking, or being raided, its only matter of importance was to make sure Magnificence was safe and sound. She was happy on the ship, currently a bit annoyed, but even that soon dissolved into blissful glee again after a moment. When the Lloredo spoke to it again, the Knight tuned back in from checking on its dragon. “Oh. This one offers its apologies, that was not the intention. Things will be replaced in haste and wait for Pepper to return with the Squire.” Which technically, it would wait as long as that took too. But for now, The Knight had a very important task to accomplish; or rather, undo, as it hurried to push the bed back in to place.
Miss! She called her miss~ little lightning bolts lighting up her scales for a moment, Magnificence’s moods could easily go from zero to a hundred with just a single sentence. “It’s a pleasure to meet you as well Bella! Your name is very pretty,” though the dragon had no actual idea that it meant beautiful, she liked the way it rolled off the tongue. “Oh, turn that way, my rider is right over there,” More to the point, the Knight was rapidly everywhere. Lightly jogging from one side of the ship to the other, it was in a clear rush this time as it replaced all the objects it had organized on one side of the ship. “Knight! What in the world are you doing?” Hm, well, that was the second time in a short space that someone had asked, was it strange to move things? Continuing its task, it talked to the pair inbetween moving across the halls. “Greeting Magnificence and Magnificence’s companion. This one is putting things back where they originated. One moment please, this one is almost done.”
Bella winced as the sparks shot out from Magnificence, then breathed a sigh of relief when they turned out to be harmless. She did as her conductor insisted. Was the dragon the Rider in this situation? Pepper was waddling along, partly upset that it would be in trouble for this, but the other part excited to see what Magnificence said about the whole thing. He would not be doing anything with Deckswabber until Magnificence threw a fit. One that he could watch. And delight in. If his beak didn’t already look like it was smiling, it certainly did now. He watched with curiosity as the Knight went to and fro, continuing to carry furniture from one side to the other. He had seen where he was walking. Why was he searching the entire ship like that? At least the starboard side of the ship was settling down. The random sailor was none the wiser, getting placed right back in their normal spot with nary a rousing.
Bella noticed a lump in the wood but said nothing. It was little more than an odd aesthetic choice to her, though something seemed off about it. She could swear that the one time she walked through the area, she had seen no such lump. She wondered aloud, “Um…I believe they originated in…a workshop somewhere else?” Lloredo shot a death glare towards Pepper–which was much more effective now that the little lizard could see it–and the dragon nearly waddled over to the hiding spot. Nearly. The plan had to come to fruition first.
Pausing for a moment at the companion’s interjection, The Knight had at least moved enough things that the ship was no longer tilting more towards one side than the other. “This one apologizes, it does not have a complete understanding on all the languages yet.” There were numerous amounts of people that came and went in the shear rebellion, including the Naki at times who had a whole system of hand movements it had yet to get a handle on. Instead it went with explainations rather than trying to use shortcut words. “Moving items from one location, back to another, that it had been in before being moved once already.”
Giggling at her metal rider that was so lost without her, Magnificence looked towards Bella. “Returning.” Yes, she was so smart~
Waiting until the Knight was finished with returning the items back where they belonged, it came up to the pair as soon as it was done. An impressive size, about six and a half feet tall with a red cloth scarf and drape around its waist. Placing her own metal hand on Bella’s cheek, the cheeky Magnificence poised proudly. “Knight, this is Bella, my new Lady in waiting, she’ll be taking care of me from now on.” The helmet tilting to the side slightly, it stayed quiet, apparently perfectly willing to go along with whatever its dragon decided. “Bella, this is the Knight, it protects and cares for us both!” It seems the little nickname Nadie so careless and sarcastically gave was getting out of hand quite quickly. She was even forgetting the true reason they went off to find the Knight.
“Yes, well, um…shall we check for the toy? The Rider might have it?” She didn’t know what she was doing after this whole ordeal, but it was probably not being a lady-in-waiting. Nonetheless, she didn’t dissent–sparkler-tier or not, this was a dragon she was dealing with. She hadn’t ever done that before, and she didn’t want to make mistakes. She looked at Pepper as if the dragon could help her out, but he offered no assistance.
Blinking, Magnificence laughed in that nervous fake way, “Ohoho, of course! I was getting to that~ Knight, do you have the toy that the dragon Pepper lost?” She learned to phrase things a little oddly when it came to her rider since they didn’t understand sometimes.
Shaking its head, the Knight turned towards the jungle dragon. Normally it would lean down to let Magnificence check for the toy, but this time, it was thinking it knew exactly what Magnificence was talking about. “No, this one is waiting for Pepper to bring it out. The Lloredo has informed this one that they will have it back in no time.” Though it wasn’t sure how long no time was. A conundrum in and of itself, but more likely another one of those metaphors.
Confused, the Knight didn’t have it, she thought Pepper was already looking for it, Lloredo had apparently sent Pepper out to look for his own toy? It was all a bit confusing, but it seemed everyone was still looking for the toy? “I see.. Well, we’re helping Pepper to find his toy too! Now that you’re done putting things away, why don’t you help us look now!” Computing its options for a moment, The Knight looked back at the Lloredo for either permission or assurance that it should still wait for Pepper.
Pepper glanced at Lloredo. Could he get away with it…? If everyone thought it was officially his toy–including the knight who watched him drag it away–then perhaps he could. But that wasn’t fun. He needed Magnificent to look. He was tired of having a ‘lost’ toy. He wanted her to have the lost toy. Lloredo saw the Knight–looking? could it be called looking?–for a cue, but it wasn’t the one who needed an order. Instead, Lloredo sent another scowl towards Pepper. The dragon sighed; He might as well push this along a little bit for the clueless nobility. “It wasn’t really my toy, Bella, Magnificence.” He let a smirk flow across his face. “It’s not lost either! It’s mine now!” He clicked his beak and wiggled his tail. “My Deckswabber.”
He used a bit of magic to make a platform for himself–not too big, of course–only a few inches off the ground. Enough for the Jungle dragon to feel like he was on a throne. Bella noticed the wood alteration looked strikingly like the bulge over by the table. Or, well, where the table was now. Before sparks started flying again, she pointed over to the lump. “Could that be it?”
Those tiny eyes blinking behind a metal mask, it took a minute for Magnificence to catch up and remember what that familiar name meant. Ah of course! It was the big dumb name featherbutt thought her most important Squire would prefer! As if ever enjoy something so demeaning! “How dare you think you still have any sort of claim over MY Squire!” Charging up as her runemarks started to glow again, the young thunder dragon started spitting sparks that looked like shooting stars from Bella’s shoulder. Complete with fizzling out before they were able to reach the jungle.
Which was likely for the best, as The Knight turned back towards the small group with rising tensions. Both it and its dragon followed the finger to the pointed lump. As much as Magnificence wanted to lunge at Pepper with all of her tiny might, she was plenty aware of the Knight. It didn’t look like it was preparing anything as it stood at attention, but she could feel it, that anticipation, the way it was calculating the situation. It wasn’t the smartest hunk of metal, but it could jolt into action in a moments notice; it’d grab her before she ever reach the other dragon. “YES! Surely that must be it, of course he’d mistreat Squire! Locking him away in the floor! KNIGHT! Quickly, the Squire has been captured by an evil dragon, he’s locked in the floor and can’t get out,” She pointed an accusing metal finger at the small lump Bella suggested. Whether that was an actual spot or warped wood, it didn’t matter, Magnificence was angry and wanted her toy back.
Taking a moment before it moved, the Knight wordlessly followed the finger to the odd floor pattern. It had noticed it before, but didn’t think anything of it. Patting the wood, there was no seal, no way to open or close it. Not sure how Squire could be locked underfoot, it didn’t want to carelessly destroy anything in its search. “Will Pepper please assist in this endevor?” While it was a question, if told no, The Knight would smash its hand through the floor to check for Squire at the demand of its dragon.
Bella shut her eyes tightly as Magnificence threw the hissy fit. Pepper looked at Lloredo, wondering if he had done enough, but the Rider was still upset. The dragon sighed and unwove the planks, making sure to shoot the ball in Magnificence’s direction while he was at it. She wanted to play so much, she could use the toy specially fastened for Deckswabber! With the gecko beanie revealed, Bella plucked it up off the ground and offered it to the angry wyrm. “Here you are…your Majesty?” she couldn’t remember if Majesty was the dragon’s name, or something else. It was something that started with ‘ma.’
Pepper huffed and sealed the hole back up. “I didn’t want your stupid toy, anyways. It smells like you, stinky.” In truth, the gecko had no scent at all. But that didn’t keep her from being a stinky, greedy party-pooper.
Yelping at the flying ball, Magnificence ducked closer against Bella’s neck, pressing her warm metal plates close then hissing at the assailant. “Barbaric, violent, naked bird!” she spit back, grabbing at the toy as soon as her lady in waiting retrieved it for her. “Thank you Bella!” Rubbing aaaaaall over it, she squeezed the little toy, it making a squeaky noise. Finally, returned at last to its queen! Bella using her new royal nickname did help to curve some of her anger as well. She was impressive in her own right to know what she wanted before Magnificence even asked.
As her own rage diminished slightly, she felt a darker feeling that wasn’t from her. It was completely foreign to her that was only use to either content or happiness from her rider. Clinging to her Squire so it wouldn’t fall since she couldn’t save them with those heavy beans, she glanced over to the Knight.
Who was perfectly still on the outside. Once the board was opened, it was fully expecting another dragon to have the Squire in its clutches. That there was something dangerous and horrible that would wreck more havoc if it didn’t deal with it.
There was no such thing however. Instead there was Pepper, who had attacked his dragon, but was also a dragon. They were the dragon of a good person in fact, The Lloredo was taking them to shore, gave it tasks, was even the captain of the ship, the one in charge. But.. was their dragon an evil dragon? Something full of greed, malice, and danger? A threat? Growing more confused the more it tried to think about it, the Knight decided of course the best course of action was to question the creature itself with a simple, yet ominous question. “Are you the evil dragon?”
Bella glanced at the beanie on her shoulder. All of that trouble for a doll? Well, she supposed she was dealing with royalty.
Pepper’s eyes widened as he heard the squeak. He had no idea Deckswabber was a man of such talent! He would have the beautiful singer back in his grasp as soon as everyone else was looking away. Especially the Knight. Pepper gave no thought to the Knight’s question–it had no idea what actual trouble it was about to cause–and replied with a smug squawk, “The moment you take something it’s ‘give it back this’ or ‘good dragons don’t do that, that.’ Of course I’m an evil dragon then. Proudly!” Lloredo watched the scene unfold wordlessly, but was acutely aware of the gun at his hip now. If Pepper just triggered the automaton, would it suffice?
“This one sees, then this one shall challenge the evil dragon Pepper.” Designed to rid its world of the dragon killing townsfolk and merchants. Being a menace, eating livestock, ruining lives – or so it was told, The Knight had possibly made the mistake of killing one of many dragons that might be good. If the dragon itself claimed to be evil, then that possible mistake wasn’t an issue any more. Starting into motion, it reached for the proudly evil one. It’d be rid of it before it could cause more harm, apparently having a record of unsavory deeds stacked up already.
Magnificence was not a fighter by any means. She could feel her rider’s sense of purpose kicking in, there was nothing malicious coming from them, if anything, there was an underlying sadness. What was she to do though? Hide of course! No wait, she needed to hide Squire someplace safe first! “Bella! Bella! Quick, put Squire inside of you!” Because all creatures were hollow like her Knight right?
“Inside of–?!” She didn’t bother finishing her sentence and just plopped the beanie into her bag. She looked at the Knight and had a feeling that the ‘challenge’ would not end up well for Pepper. Lloredo also got that feeling, and knew well that an automaton would never disobey its orders, and that one’s orders appeared to be plain old dragon slaying. Some sort of glitch kept it from attacking before, but now it had honed in to the troublesome lizard. He rested his hand on the gun holster, ready to draw at a moment’s notice. He was concerned for the dragon, yes, but he was more concerned for the ship. He would let his dragon learn a bit of a lesson from the metal construct.
Pepper might have been in danger, but the Knight had made one grave mistake. Pepper hated hands, and the Knight launched its attack with big grabby hands. He hadn’t sensed the animosity behind the Knight’s actions yet, but he knew very well that grabby hands were the enemy. He flapped into the air with his colorful wings and flew in circles around the confines of the ship. “Don’t grab me! I am a free dragon!” He would sit on nice hands, per his own terms. The Knight of grippy grabs had not earned his trust yet.
Wrapping her tail around Bella, Magnificence clung to the other female. It was a little confusing on why she put Squire in their bag, but supposed that was an extra special storage space that would keep them safe. She didn’t like the way her rider was acting, she didn’t really wanna hurt Pepper. She wasn’t the one that went on mission with the Knight, she stayed in the village or went on adventures to see what the world had to pamper her with.
Following the evil dragon’s movements, the Knight took up a fighting pose as if it still had its sword in hand. It didn’t have the means to retrieve it itself at the moment, but there were other means of attack it had learned for flying enemies. Holding out its hand, birght yellow runemarks started etching themselves in the air. “Unacceptable. Evil dragons are a danger to others.” Still having trouble aiming the thunder magic it had picked up from Roose, it unleashed a scatter of lightning in its foe’s direction. The ship being made of wood, it figured it wouldn’t have to worry about it bouncing to those it was trying to protect, not paying mind to Lloredo who fell under this too.
Pepper blinked, not used to direct retaliation from his antics. A bit of a spark grazed him, but not enough for it to pass through. Jungles were compatible with thunders, after all–electricity had a difficult time conducting through wood. He squinted warily at the knight. That didn’t mean it was impossible, and he didn’t want to know what a tree struck by lightning felt like. He zipped downwards into the ship, using the floorboards to separate himself from the electrically charged knight.
“See? This is what happens when you get up to mischief. Not everyone is as patient as the crew members.” Lloredo decided that was lesson enough. Any more and the automaton would start to permanently damage the ship. Burned wood was difficult to replace.
Before he could say anything, Bella chirped up. “I don’t think he’s an evil dragon. He was just being sarcastic and playing with Bella. He couldn’t have hurt her with the ball–it’s basically a toy.” She scooped up the ball to demonstrate, tossing it over to the knight. “See? Just wood. It’s even lighter than the stuff it was made from.” Pepper had been kind enough to decrease the density of the wood, making it closer to styrofoam in consistency, rather than hardwood. After all, Deckswabber didn’t have much muscle mass; he needed a toy to match.
Kneeling down, The Knight patted the floorboards where the dragon had disappeared into. Lloredo wasn’t wrong, light damage to the ship was acceptable, but smashing his way through was not. It didn’t know how much the creation was able to take before it would become unusable. It instead would have chased, constantly, up and down the ship as long as it took, until they reached the shore. Then it could take the creation apart. That is, if it weren’t for Bella piping up about that sarcasm thing again.
Oh no, and here it thought it was finally gathering a good understanding of this feature! It wouldn’t be able to tell the Nadie about its improvements after all..
Magnificence could have sworn she heard something like wind blowing through her bond with the Knight. That was impossible though.
Now that things were calming down however, she patted Bel’s cheek, moving from the young woman’s neck to drift back over to her rider. Thinking they just needed a bit of attention and their own pats to calm down, she started rubbing on the scarf that was finally dry around the Knight’s neck. It had caught the ball and was examining it for a moment, then handed it up to her. She certainly didn’t want the thing that had been thrown at her though. “He wasn’t playing, he just wanted to steal my things! You better not let him inside anymore! And YOU, they’re your dragons teach them some manners!” Pointing an accusing finger at Lloredo, her rider reached up to push it back down.It was rude to point after all as well. Speaking of which, she turned back to the cat. “Bella! Will you come put Squire back in his home? He’s probably so tired after dealing with that horrible dragon.” She did avoid using the word evil dragon this time.
Pushing at the Knight’s head, she knocked on it before it got the message to take it off.
Lloredo furrowed his eyebrows. At least the automaton was easy enough to stop, but they would have to watch it carefully going forward. Something about the word evil triggered its destructive nature. He had no doubt it would destroy the ship, given the opportunity, since it lifted furniture like nothing. But, well, at least it seemed to be polite. What have we learned? he sent over to Pepper. The dragon sent over a grumpy emotion, refusing to admit doing anything wrong. Well, maybe admit wasn’t the right word. Refusing to regret doing anything wrong. The Rider shrugged his shoulders at Magnificence and simply said, “I think he’s learned his manners well enough.” And very, very recently.
Bella breathed a sigh of relief as everyone calmed down–even if Magnificence didn’t quite help with her insistence. She watched the Knight pop its head off and let a little squeak of fear pop out. There was nothing in there?! It explained…a small amount about her Majesty’s behavior. But it also opened up so many more questions. Bella carefully dropped the beanie into the mysterious cavity, doing her best not to look inside. What if it was one of those spirits that took your soul when you looked into the void? “Will this do for you, your Majesty?”
As the group finally calmed down, Perry made a bunch of squawks from the crow’s nest. “Land ho! Land ho!” On the horizon, the shimmering silhouette of the island stood out against the red skies of morning.
Part Five: Nothing Sweeter
Arriving on special request, a rather tall individual with white hair lazed on the beachy sands. White ends tinted with natural black edges in the back, he had his hair tied back for once. It was far too hot otherwise and like hell he’d let anyone cut his fur off. “I can see them coming in,” Making herself comfortable on her rider’s shoulder, Luuvra was fanning the human wolf with her raptor tail feathers to help keep them cool during their wait. “About time,” he huffed, hopping up with a honeycomb in his hand. Not about to complain about the sticky fingers it gave him, the wolf got up from his crowched position licking his fingers. He didn’t dare wipe them on the ragged short sleeved shirt. The efforts were in vain however as he kept licking and switching which hand he held the honeycomb in.
The main reason he had accepted this job was the promise of these deliciously sweet treats made by the locals from a giant bee population. Not in the number of bees, but their actual size. The beastly bugs were huge, fuzzy, and made the best dang honey he had ever tasted. It was worth the trip to Fletcher even if he needed his human form to keep from panting constantly.
“Over here!” He called out as he started on towards the docks. There was supposedly someone that looked like a familiar individual he was suppose to find to confirm everyone was dropped off safely.
Nadie and his ship of barbarians were off in the distance at this point. Lloredo had successfully docked the Seasonal Wind, laying down the anchor that hopefully wouldnot come back up with a feisty automaton attached. The Knight had disappeared off to who-knows-where, and with it, the wyrm that had caused so much trouble. Though, that was unfair to the wyrm. Pepper had done quite a lot of the trouble, and he was still moping in the lower decks. With the boarding planks keeping the ship mostly in place, Lloredo was free to wander for a time. His dragons would keep watch of the ship, with most of them prefering the rocking of the boat over the boring, unmoving land.
Perry was the only one energetic enough to follow Lloredo off the ship. She fluttered up and down the coast, looking at all the people disembarking and feeling a bit of pride that she had helped them arrive safely. Lloredo held up his arm so the dragon could perch and watched the people shuffle onto shore. The first few ‘free’ days were always ones of confusion. There were no rules, but also no roles to step into. These people would need to find something to do to earn a living. It was still difficult, even if it wasn’t as bad as what they faced before. He wasn’t an expert in helping them, either–he just hoped the locals would help out with what they could. They seemed kind enough and most of them were old Shéar families. If anything, they would be hospitable to their new guests and then send them somewhere more helpful.
The seagull dragon looked straight at the ground, extending her crest in a clear ‘I need scritches’ posture. Lloredo oblidged her and let his eyes idly move across the shore. Something white popped out, though he couldn’t see it in its entirety. Some kind of creature from the Chronoscape? He felt a headache coming on and tightened the rim of his hat. Just a quick jaunt on land, some decent food, maybe a lady, and then back to the ship. If he involved himself anymore with the locals, he had the feeling things would get complicated. And he already dealt with something complicated that morning.
Bella was among the drifters, moving with the crowd and watching the ‘livestock’ and their ‘ranchers’ go about their business. The insects were huge, with stingers almost as big as her arm, but there was something cute about them. She almost wanted to pet them, but some very dull primal instinct told her not to. She felt something strange pulsing along the island–something other than the hum of bee wings. Perhaps the Knight and his little wyrm had felt it as well; Maybe Risk had gone to investigate it. Or maybe it was just for her. The last thought seemed to resonate best with her, but at the same time, it felt a bit selfish. She looked around to see if anyone else in the crowd could feel it, too. No one seemed different than they were on the ship.
Her eyes stopped on a lazy-looking person relaxing on the shore. He looked human, but something about him seemed wolfish. Perhaps he was a creature from the Chronoscape in disguise? He wasn’t on the ship and didn’t seem like a local, at least. She wandered close to him, wondering if he could give her some sort of insight on the place. Who better to say it like it was, than someone who saw with eyes of a stranger? Was that even a phrase? She didn’t know. She just went with it and hoped the strange person wouldn’t feel threatened when a random person walked up to them.
Rider and dragon both looking around at the same time, Fletcher was using Luuvra’s growing magic and true sight to help him see around the docks. It was an interesting sight if anyone paid the pair much attention, their heads moving in perfect sync while glancing around. At one point, he thought his ruby gaze caught the sight of Liam wandering off into town, but his favorite human was a bit too frail for the sweltering conditions of a tropical island. Maybe one day he’d be able to convince them. That’d likely be after so many other researching adventures in less wild areas however.
Roaming closer to the boat, he was about to ask around to see who knew where the captain of the ship was when someone else approached him first. Taking a step back, the wolf and dragon both looked down at what looked like one of the newly released passengers. Well, he supposed she would do as well as anyone else. “You seen the captain around?” came the gruff voice, straight to the point like usual. Though Luuvra was a bit more sociable as she pushed at Fletcher’s face. “What he means is hello! Is there something we can help you with?” She was a bit of an odd mix of dark and jungle with her small snakeish body and leafy wings, the one ruby eye matching her rider’s staring down from his shoulder at the other.
Bella smiled as Fletcher approached and was glad she could actually answer a question, for once. “Don’t worry,” she said calmly to Luuvra. “I know where they are quite well!” She pointed over to Lloredo, who was still on the pier pretending he didn’t notice the girl pointing towards him.
Perry ruffled her feathers and was quite aware, though. She was very good at her job and her vision permitted her a better glance. “It’s the girl who saved the ship,” she chirped. “Shall we see what she wants?”
“Trouble,” Lloredo replied. He walked off the pier and inspected the shore. A few stalls had sprung up in the area, intent on taking advantage of the new ‘tourists.’ It would be a short-lived venture once they realized the Silvence provisions were quite low. He grabbed some honeyed fruit kabobs and enjoyed a sweet, fresh meal. Combined with the omelette from before, he was stuffed.
Bella nodded towards the dragon and Rider. “I think he’s…kind? He didn’t get mad when his jungle dragon caused trouble.”
Scratching at that perfect spot he could never quite get at in his human form, Fletcher didn’t seem to be paying much mind to the female other than staring her down. He wasn’t technically looking through his own vision, so his blind eyes went right through people as if he weren’t listening. That was what he did best however, turning his attention towards the one with the guy with the funny hat. “Thanks.” Someone of very few words, Luuvra was simply pleased he was learning some sort of goodbye rather than simply walking off when the wolf had the information he wanted.
Likely an influence of that Liam fellow. “Do be safe!” She called back to cat like woman, waving a small striped arm behind them. “I can’t see him Luv,” Ah right. With so many people about, Fletcher did need her to be looking the right way. Turning back, she eyed the one with a dragon on their shoulder as well. “Captain Lloredo?” she called out first when they approached. Her rider was more than happy to let her do most of the talking.
Bella blinked and wondered why the wolfish man was so quick to leave. Was there something about her that repelled others? She sighed and looked out at the stalls. Maybe there would be something there for her; She certainly felt some kind of draw from that market, getting closer all the time. Her path coincidentally took her behind Fletcher, though she did her best not to look as if she was following him. There was something sweeter than the sweet honeycomb that littered the area–she just had to find it.
Perry had her sharp eyes tracking the two suspicious beach creatures. Or, at least, his Rider thought they were weird–and that meant they were suspicious enough for Perry. They’re getting closer, she whispered to Lloredo. The pirate languidly nibbled at his kabob. He didn’t really want trouble, but at least that fellow didn’t seem hostile. Living things were a bit more predictable than glitchy automatons as well. He decided not to make a break for it.
“Yes, I would be Captain Lloredo,” he answered the dragon in a gruff voice. Perry’s feathers ruffled and she did her best to look intimidating. Her little clawed gecko feet latched onto Lloredo’s shoulders and she puffed up. “Don’t mind Perry, here–she gets nervous around new people.”
Rightfully so, the dragon insisted. They could be enemies.
Wrapping her long feathered tail around her own rider’s neck, Luvra recoiled slightly from the less than pleasant dragon. She didn’t come out into the sun often, preferring the dark damp part of the caves where mushrooms grew. Being one of the few small dragons Fletcher could carry around, as well as well spoken when it came to people, she volunteered to help with this check in. “Mhmm, nervous. Well, as long as she stays over there that’s all well and good. We’re just here to check that nothing went wrong. Did everyone arrive safely? Is there anything immediate you require?” As a hunter, Fletcher could fill in any holes in supplies if something needed repairs or people needed fed. He was no master chef, but he knew how to cook meat over a fire.
If it had been the human looking fellow getting puffy at his dragon, the wolf would have been growling at them. Instead, he was casting his gaze this way and that, not actually seeing anything, but unlike his half form, he couldn’t tilt his ears around to listen to everything around him. It was irritating to say the least, why didn’t human’s have radar ears??
Perry recognized the dragon was just as inclined to meet her as she was of they. She slimmed down her feathers, keeping a wary eye, but content that it would not cause trouble. “Of course nothing went wrong. We were in charge of the ship, after all.”
Lloredo followed up, “We did have a strange visitor, though. An animated piece of armor we scraped up from the bottom of the sea. It contained a dragon, somehow, and the fellow went off somewhere on the island. He didn’t damage the ship, but it was certainly something.” He narrowed his eyes, inspecting the stranger. “But who’s asking? It’s no one’s business what goes on on my ship. What sort of trade are you after here?” Offering services meant asking for payment, and he had requested no services from anyone. The Rider seemed nonchalant about the whole affair, eyes not focused on anything–were they a storm or something? Or maybe a light.
Nodding, Luvra took in the information, glad everything had turned out well. She did wish she could have seen such a spectacle herself. Was it a ghostly set of armor? Or a dragon controlling the armor? She heard metal dragons were strong, but wondered if they could control the alloys that made up a whole suit of armor.
Mostly, the wolf liked to keep to himself, but apparently gathered up some sort of reputation somewhere along the line as a capable rider at least willing to help out strugglers. He didn’t want anyone suspicious or dangerous suddenly being released near one of his favorite places to get honey now. Especially now that he knew it was here.
Not interested enough to be bothered by the human, Fletcher was starting to fidget being around so many of them. He didn’t like crowds, especially loud, noisy markets where he didn’t have his fangs. Finishing off his own honeycomb, he offered the last bit to his dragon before licking his fingers clean permanently this time. “Me,” he commented with a snort, earning a single raised eyebrow from Luvra. Her wings shifting slightly as the eyes that blended in with her rosettes blinked a couple times. Fletcher suddenly looked towards the guy, finally paying them mind, though his blind eyes still didn’t focus on them or their dragon. “Don’t really care what went on on your ship, just that everythings fine now. Who cares what sort of trade I’m after anyway? If you don’t need supplies just say so and we’ll go check on the others.” He didn’t mind getting snarky with other humans, racist? Yeah, a little.
He supposed the information he gave the Rider wouldn’t help any kind of enemies. The ship was a rickety old thing, anyways–you could tell from just looking at it. No intel was needed to know the keel was plastered with a hundred years of salt. He would drop suspicions and let this person go without pressing them. Something about them seemed unpredictable, anyways. “Everything is indeed fine. Perhaps you can peddle your services to another sailor?” He was both courteous and dismissive in his tone.
Grunting at the other, Fletcher was more than happy to take his leave of the fellow. Turning away, he had met up with the captain, so that should hopefully be enough for the Phinae. That’s what they were called right?
“Fletcheeeeer,” Luvra huffed after waving goodbye to the other two. “That’s definitely not going to be enough,” Touching his cheek with her own slightly sticky fingers, she kept poking at him until he waved a hand at her. “Awe common Luv, I was kidding,” somehow she doubted that. “Really, I do wanna move somewhere less crowded though. Captain’s fine, ships fine, we move on to the passengers now. Not all of them are human clearly, like that cat girl.” Shaking her head at the wolf, she stopped poking at his face, “You know Liam’s human too right?” Rolling his eyes, he reached up to pet the dam, “Yeah, yeah, he’s a good one though. I doubt that guy would share his chocolate with me.” Ah well, she’d get through to him one day.
Featuring characters from @kytazy and @cosmonstars.