Corli looked beautiful in the daytime. The light rippled off windows and reflected onto the streets below. People were busy hustling and bustling under the skyscraper’s stoic guard, with a few dragons zipping between them on business matters. Or, at least, they were supposed to be on business matters. Rory and Cloud were taking a bit of a ‘detour’ during a standard flight. His brother had a birthday soon, and he wanted to get him something special. The man still had no dragon to speak of, so something magical might help distract him from the thought. Cloud sent a giggle and suggested, Something beautiful and pink, just like him.
He is neither beautiful nor pink, Rory retorted. He was pretty effiminate, though. And he took very good care of his appearance. But that was neither here nor there. Cloud swooped through the city, taking wide turns and zooming through the city haze. They had a particular spot in mind. Rumor had it a small tailor shop sold enchanted items, clothing, jewelry, and so on. His brother had even dropped the title a few times–Seven Sisters something something–as if to give him a hint. Rory had enough money on him to buy something nice from the store and then he could confidently say that he did not forget his brother’s birthday this year.
Cloud saw the feathered logo sign and made his trademark crash landing. Disappointingly, the cement did not form a crater. At least the people walking around on the sidewalk skittered away from the wyvern. Rory peered in to see what the shop looked like.
“Darling, could you please be careful.” The long haired female asked, looking tired but still rather pretty. Her usually loose haired was tied back, and even her longer dress was clear of anything that could catch on the machinery.
She paused what she was doing, arm hovering with the long wooden shape while she stared at the cool colored dragon who was staring at her with his big eyes as he carefully untangled himself from the strings. She had been at work for hours already on this roll of fabric, and many hours even before that to even make the threads that were tied and threaded through the machine. Her foot looked about ready to push one of the many fabrics, but waited until Astra was clear before she did, the arm moving down and then up again as she set things down with a sigh.
“Did you want to take a break….?” Astra offered, knowing his rider was tired and she stared at him for a moment but nodded, getting up to stretch out her stiff limbs.
“Yeah, let’s get something to drink and see if we have any guests.” It was a rather idle day, many people only peering into the shop to watch the tailor at work while the dragon laid in the window sill being the pretty boy he was.
Usually Stela worked on a smaller loom, but this was a time where she pulled out the big boy to work on. 75 pounds of unprocessed obsidian wool had been her current project. After long hours of washing and brushing, processing the black wool from the wild creatures that many times could only be sheared once, spinning it until string and threads were produced, the painstaking process all led up to the end of threads into fabric. Very soft fabric, but Maristela was surprised she could still feel her fingers after all of this.
Rory saw the sparkling rainbow of a fox sitting at the sill. It certainly looked as charming as the store was supposed to be. Was it an enchanted creature from the Chronoscape? A rare, carefully bred dragon? Both he and Cloud were eager to see what was inside the store. He swung open the glass door and hit the chimes on the way in. The scent of fresh linens and dyes flooded his senses. The fabrics around him shimmered as if the stars themselves were woven within. Cloud stuck his head through the door, interrupting the bells as he lifted them with his snout. He pushed Rory forward as he wiggled into the shop. Cloud, stop it. This isn’t a store for dragons.
But that dragon is there, he whined, indicating the fox-like creature sitting nearby.
That dragon is much smaller than you. Cloud was undeterred, managing to fit his whole body through the door. Nothing fragile appeared to be close to the front door, at least. Stay there, don’t move, don’t touch anything. Understood?
Cloud nodded swiftly. Of course. No mischief tonight.
He looked through the store for the owner and caught sight of the lady in her glittering dress. He approached the counter, unsure if he should directly approach her, and asked her sheepishly from the side, “Do you have anything enchanted, or a shiny trinket to wear at an event, or something like that? I’m buying a gift for someone.”
Hearing the door chime go off, the female stopped sipping from her lavishing glass to look over the pair that… pressed forward into her store full of all sorts of luxurious and classy apparel and accessories that could put many other products to shame. The pride she put into crafting and making sure each one of her pieces sold were perfect for whomever wanted them would make some people wonder how she managed, but that was always her little secret for only her to keep to herself. Not that there was any secret aside from a lot of hard work and time on her hands.
“Welcome in, Darling. What does a pretty face like yours desire?” Her tone was quite flirty, a smile on her plump lips as she approached him at the counter while Astra trotted out to go see what the other rather pretty dragon was up to. Always the curious sort, Astra could help but investigate everyone that entered to see if they’d give him a good pet or at least tell him how lovely looking he was.
“Oh my, what sort of someone?” It seemed as if just small talk, as she leaned into her sore hand on the counter, her low cut top keeping everything contained but always left her more womanly shape for many to see and only desire as though she was flirty she was only interested in one time of gender. “A dear lover? A very close friend maybe?”
With Astra, he was sniffing at Cloud, head tilting as he stared up at the bigger dragon, tail swishing as he stared at them with his multiple eyes. He wasn’t discouraged by the size, finding the storm dragon quite cute in it’s own way but the way they looked around at all the dresses and left the mannequins feeling nervous and walking away from the dragon did leave him wondering.
“Hello there! Who are you?” Astra asked Cloud, sniffling as his wings now while still wagging his tail.
Rory was tone deaf to any sort of flirting and blind to any kind of body language leaning in that direction. Rather, he was quite happy to receive the compliment about his face out of the blue. “Thanks for the nice words.” Obviously, it was for someone else–she guessed as much, fast. But he stopped her short before things got out of hand and she thought there was something sensual going on. “My brother. He likes trinkets like these and has been dropping hints about it.” He inspected the dresses, trinkets, baubles, and everything else decorating the shop. Nothing looked particularly magical to his eyes, though lots of things looked like they were dipped in glitter. Hopefully this store wasn’t a scam.
As Astra walked up to Cloud, Cloud sniffed the fox-like creature. “My name is Cloud,” he cheerfully replied. With just half a moment of thinking, he decided that the best course of action was licking the top of its head, like a mother cat would its cub. This one is small and cute and colorful. I will keep him.
You can’t just steal someone’s animal. Leave it alone. Not without the depth of their wallet and family prestige more obvious, anyways. He didn’t want to give either of those away, lest the trinkets suddenly jump up in price. He turned back towards Maristella. “I don’t know what you sell here, but apparently nice things. Magical things, and…pretty things?”
Watching as the male looked at the walls of jewelry, potions, and dresses of all things for this brother that was just mentioned. She couldn’t help but chuckle as the oblivious male, but that was fine as she had no actual interest in seducing him. He was just a customer that deserved the nice words like everyone else. He seemed to be a sweetheart as well, so she started coming from behind the counter to show him around.
“Well your brother has a fine taste, I must say. Does he happen to like dresses? Or is he more of a jewelry man?” This wasn’t the strangest thing by far that she had encountered, but still amusing as she started leading Rory through the clothes and jewelry section. Some outfits displayed on the moving mannequins who were more than happy to pose as directed by Stela with a few words. It was always nice having someone shopping for someone else, as they always debated long and hard about it, but always went home with something.
“Can you keep an eye on the pretty dragon dear?” She eventually called to Astra who was way ahead of her, always quite a pleasant boy who listened so well and knew Stela liked all the guests in her shop to feel welcomed in their abode.
Staring at Cloud with his big pretty eyes, he closed the one on his forehead as he was given a lick. It felt odd, not really used to being licked by anyone as Maristela was who raised him and not his dragon parents of… whoever that was. He only knew of lavishing life with his rider, and not the more animal-like life even if he just looked like a pretty fox.
“It’s nice to meet you Cloud! I’m Astra, and my rider is Stela. You’re pretty big.” Looking over the dragon against, he circled the larger dragon to paw gently at his fur. So careful but giving nice pets with his soft paw pads like he would with the cat and peacock that also lived there but were currently hidden.
Rory shrugged. “I see him wearing all kinds of things. He just wears whatever people give him, and whatever catches his eye, and whatever sparkles, and…yes. Just about anything. Our father prefers the jewelry to dresses, though.” He could imagine the stern man getting upset that his son had yet another dress to strut around in, and this one provided by his other son. No, that wouldn’t be ideal. “So, jewelry might be good. Something with a noticeable magical effect–some kind of glow or glitter. A pretty-looking effect, like light magic.” His eyes still wandered to the posing mannequins. Maybe he could get a dress as well, and just…place it somewhere his brother would find it. Like a double birthday present, except like that, he would bear no responsibility for whatever fashion walk was put on in the estate after that.
Cloud nodded at Astra when he was called big. Unlike his Rider, he knew a flirtatious remark when he heard one! He puffed out his chest and spread his wings to show just how big of a wyvern he was. “Of course I’m big! I’m the perfect size for my Rory.” As he spread his wings, several stands of clothing and jewelry toppled over with jingles and chimes. The shelves fell like dominos, with the two Riders quickly getting out of the way. It ended at a beautiful loom, clearly a hand-crafted antique, with black silk threaded delicately among the pins and ropes. The strings pulled tight and then snapped with a twing, dyes and bleaches from around the area scattering on top of it and coating it with paint, glitter, and discoloration. The dust settled and Cloud shut his wings. “See? Very big.” He knew he had exaggerated a little bit, but the dramatic effect seemed to be in his best interest. Rory was dumbfounded and could only stare at the destruction.
Nodding she was told about this brother with interesting tastes, she was a big sad they chose to go with jewelry, but maybe by the time they were done he’d take home a dress as well for that extra gift even if the father would not appreciate it. The destruction that would soon happen was not even a thought in the tailor’s mind, only enjoying walking the male around the shop with her as she showed off all her fancy items for sale.
“Oh I may have just the perfect–” Hearing a loud yelp as Astra scattered from the dragon, the rider at first worried for her darling. Astra rushed right over to her though, climbing right into her arms to be held as the shop around them crashed on just the one side. As the dust of glitter and other supplies settled, Maristela was finally able to look at the mishap and only stand quietly as she walked around stroking her distressed dragon.
Many of the dresses were fine, the mannequins wanting nothing to do with the dragon and had scattered the moment he started puffing himself up. Jewelry could be salvaged, and with a little work and magic would be an easy enough fix. But, oh her months of hard work. Staring at her beautiful loom that was destroyed beyond recognition. Even the parts that could be saved were now covered in many dyes and supplies that ruined the fabric to unusable. Just staring at the mess, she was just quiet, rage bubbling up in her but she remained calm.
Taking a deep breath, exhaling, finding that center of peace that had fled from this situation and only lingered on the edge of her mind. Astra watched his rider with his big eyes as he whimpered. She also had to set a good example for her dragon, who else would be his role model if not her.
“I hope you have the funds to pay for this.” She said in the end, though not staring at Rory.
Funds. Of course he had the funds to pay for it. There was just a bit of a predicament…funds could be tracked. A few thousand silvence here and there would go unnoticed–it was well within his allowance–but replacing an entire magical trinket store…he gulped. If it was too expensive, he couldn’t dip into the family fund without being noticed. And, if his brother noticed, that would be the end of it. Every moment it became slightly relevent, his brother would bring it up. He could imagine it now–‘Remember that time your stupid dragon actually cost you more than you had in your wallet?’ Or maybe something like, ‘Wow, I never knew you liked crafts that much. Funding an entire store!’ He’d do anything to stop that from happening.
I’m sorry, Rory, Cloud murmured through their bond. The sorry was genuine, and Rory couldn’t help but sympathize with his dragon. He just wanted to show off a little. Albeit, in a way that completely destroyed someone’s livelihood, and worse, his Rider’s reputation.
Rory mustered up the courage to ask the shopkeeper. “How much will it be?”
Carefully putting Astra down on the floor so he could go investigate the mess that was made, Stela was thankful that her familiars stayed upstairs in the sleep area. If they just so happened to wander downstairs to see what she was up to, there would have been more lost that money wasn’t ever going to replace.
“Quite a bit, just… take your dragon outside for a moment so he doesn’t make any more mess. Go with him, Astra…” Nodding, the cool colored pretty fox led the way outside, herd outside and through the door until it was closed, the female rider just rubbing her face and she started moving around some of the rubble to see what was actually broken and what was not.
“You were very bad, you know.” Astra told Cloud as he sat outside on the sidewalk, ears twitching as he watched his rider walk around in a far less happy way and pick things up, directing the other rider on what to do as well while the mannequins all stripped of their lavishing clothes and joined in the clean up. The upside of having enchanted items were they always wanted to assist you in whatever it was you needed help in. Astra also wanted to help but he knew he was babysitting the other.
“Oh dear, well that’s going to be a big chunk of money right there, at least 175,000 silvence.” She told the rider, her heart so heavy as she looked over what was one wonderful black cloth that had taken up so much of her time and the loom that had served her so well. There was nothing special about the loom but it was so lovely and worked so well.
Do as you’re told, Rory hissed to Cloud. The dragon would hang his tail between his legs if it wasn’t already permanently webbed there. He followed Astra out, touching the floor delicately and maneuvering his tail so that it didn’t graze a single trinket on the way. The door might have been closed, and the glass might have blocked his echolocation, but Cloud could still send a distraught look into the store. Puppy dog eyes, pure as could be. Rory was immune to those. He twitched his ears and looked to Astra. “Bad? But I just…I wanted to look my best…” the dragon whined. “Because I’m Rory’s dragon, I need to be the best dragon.” He would have insisted on having the greatest size even now, but perhaps there was something secret and invisible he could break out here. The sign, maybe? The cute fox? Everything was so fragile compared to the great dragon.
175,000 Silvence? That would be enough to dent even the coffers of his own family. There was no way he could sneak that amount out of the treasury without being caught. He felt bad as he watched Maristella glance over her old wares. He wanted to pay the full amount as soon as possible, but…his pride was a bit more important than the recovery of the shop. “Perhaps we could strike a deal. I can give you 25,000 Silvence up front–after that, is there any other way to repay you? Goods of some sort?” He hesitated, knowing the first thing a normal person would pitch–menial labor. But was lowering himself to do manual work less embarassing than drawing from the family fortune? Yes. Yes, it was better than having his family find out. “I could also…dosomeworkforyou,” he said it as quickly as he could, before he changed his mind. “I can also offer incremental payments of 14,000 silvence per month.” Of course, he would have to leave the remaining 1,000 silvence of his allowance for essentials, such as steaks for Cloud and draconian riding with the feral dragons that he rented.
“You can do that without being so destructive you know, like me! Look how pretty I am!” Fluffing himself up and wiggling his busy tail, he stared at Cloud with his multicolored eyes before rubbing against Cloud as an act of forgiveness. Maristela wasn’t as forgiving as her sweet dragon BUT Astra just wanted to make friends and teach them how to be the best and prettiest dragons on their own. “Well, maybe we can give you a bath and you can get brushed out and look so nice!” Trying to be optimistic for the other, he figured Stela wouldn’t make Cloud stay outside as long as he behaved.
Running her fingers through the black threads that broke her heart so much now, she knew it would be easy enough to obtain some more as the moths were running rampant closer to people for now. She didn’t like the idea of another dead beauty for her sake, but she supposed if they would die anyways then what was the harm? Someone would enjoy their lovely fluff that felt wonderful between her fingers even if covered in sparkles and other forgein decorations not meant to be there.
“That could work, though it won’t cover everything…” Picking up things that could be saved and letting her darling mannequins assist as well in the clean up, she rested her hands on her sparkling dress as she sighed deeply. Her dragon’s pleasant feelings of having another friend and realization she could use Rory as menial labor also had her smiling. Not pleased but with enough hard work maybe the rider would learn how to train his own dragons as well to be a beautiful flighted wonder who could charm everyone while just standing there. Help for the both of them in theory.
“Though having you work could get the process going. What would that be?” Humming as her fingers scribbled in the air and casted faint gold numbers that floated around, her fingers caressing he own face as she watched the numbers float by. “A year, with labor included. I’ll of course let you return home every so often so your dear family doesn’t worry about you. Does that sound like a fair enough deal to you?”
Cloud squinted as Astra wiggled his tail and puffed up. “I tried to wiggle and puff up, too. It…” he looked to the shop sadly, “Didn’t work like it does for you.” He nuzzled Astra back at least, knowing he was trying to console him. “Maybe a bath would be nice. I like fluffy bubble baths.”
“Fair…very fair. It’s a deal,” Rory replied. He would take that deal before she found out just how useless he was at menial labor. Wait…there were other options. “My specialties would be…accounting and such. Taking inventory. Organizing things.” He was wracking his brain for easy work. “I could buy little things for you, too, with the money coming out of my debt, of course. Shopping in person is such a hassle these days.” If he had bothered doing the math, he would have realized that he was paying all of the interest through labor, and she would receive every penny of silvence by the end of the year. That wasn’t like him, though. He wanted to get these formalities out of the way as quickly as possible so he could figure out how to fix them.
Cloud sent him a note of happiness at the promise of a bath. This one is my new best friend, he said with a cheerful tone, doing his best to lift his Rider’s spirits up. At least he was happy about the whole thing.
“Yes! A big bubble bath with those bath bombs that Stela keeps in her cupboard! Maybe we can even use the hot tub!” Wiggling in excitement at the idea of being clean and playing in the water, it was clean that Astra was somehow a water hybrid on top of a light dragon who adored all that was pretty in life. Wiggling his tail that eventually wiggled his entire body, he leaned up to paw at the bigger Cloud as he barked, his body still shaking in excitement as he continued his big eyes at Cloud. “Maybe even with candles!”
“Well my dear, you’ll be learning more important skills. Like how to hem clothes and make thread, and then cloth from that thread. It’ll be a good learning process for you, as you will be working for me for a year and all. I can’t have my apprentice not up to my standards, now can I?” Hearing a yipping from outside, Steal stood to watch Astra rub against the Cloud, sighing deeply as she wondered where she would be putting him in the day when important things are out. “I suppose we should bring the dragon’s back inside. I’ll go get a bath ready for them and start teaching you basics, I hope you’re in comfortable clothes~” Cooing at the male, she headed upstairs, wiggling her finger for Astra to bring the other inside and follow. It was going to be a wonderful time, for her anyway.
The bubble bath was quite a bit smaller than Cloud expected. Sure, it was big enough to fit Stela and Astra, but it wasn’t big enough for cloud. It had three feet of water, and most of that was displaced by the fuzzy wyvern. It had a rose-scented bath bomb and bubbles galore. As he moved around, the water sloshed and spilled on the tile flooring. Hopefully that floor was sealed, or had a grate, or something so that Rory didn’t need to pay for mold removal or leak repairs. Because, of course, Rory was keeping a very close eye on the bat now that he was inside again.
Rory insisted that the candles stay out, because there was no way that a fire would stay contained in a bath with Cloud, but he couldn’t convince the dragon that a bath bomb was a bad idea. Every time they used one at home…well, they would see. Right now Cloud was just focused on playing with his new fox-dragon friend. He tried to keep his body submerged beneath the bubbles and built a mountain of them on top. He placed some on top of Astra’s head, too–like a very puffy cloud crown. Clouds were cute, and lovely, and flexible, and great. That’s what Rory always said. Wearing and swimming through all those bath bubbles was almost as nice as soaring through real clouds. And he had a friend now that wouldn’t complain about water droplets!
Keeping his attention split wasn’t the best thing, but it’s what Rory had to do. The other part of him was focused on Stela’s instructions. He had purchased a new loom in quick order–not magnificent, but something to replace her old loom until she could purchase another. Unfortunately for him, it did not come out of the debt. Apparently it was an investment and he wouldn’t regret it in the future. You know, for all those dresses and carpets and scarves he planned on making. He tied the string from one side of the loom to the other and looked at Stela to see if he was doing it right.
Puffing at some of the bubbles as Astra and Cloud played, the short furred fox looked about the same aside from his long tail that’s balls of puff had become weighted down and looked more a borzoi with it’s long tail and hair just drooping down until his tail was dried and brushed back out. It was nice having company in the bath as well, left to their own devices as Stela was downstairs teaching Rory the ways of a tailor, if he liked it or not it seemed. He looked so distressed when they were taken off to go shopping for a new loom, but was compliant when his rider took his hand and was off with him.
“Hopefully the riders are having just as much fun as we are, these bubbles are so nice! And the pretty bath bomb! I think these are the ones with snacks inside the ball on the inside.” Watching the bubbling water, Stela did love to treat her dragon and often made him special bath bombs with treats inside. This was very much one of them as the small sparkles fluttered out of the bubbles.
“Very good, Rory, just like that. Be careful not to tangle the threads. You will regret your life and so will your fingers if you do that~” Though mostly watching as the other learned his way around the smaller loom, she did step in to help as he’d pause at times to stare at her. That all too familiar look she’d get from Astra when he was in need of assistance.
It was then Cloud noticed the forbidden–or, at least, what was normally forbidden. On the side of the bath, something dazzling glittered. It was a bath bomb, yes, but a special bath bomb. A glitter bath bomb. Cloud, don’t you dare, but it was far too late. The dragon nudged it into the water and just like that, everything was bedazzled. He didn’t care for the tiny treats that popped out of the bombs since they were fox-sized, but he loved the beautiful glitter that now seeped into his fur. He would be just as shiny as Astra! This was the best bath ever.
Rory groaned instinctively, then cut it short. “Sorry, it’s not that I hate the work, it’s that Cloud–you know what, nevermind.” He tried to tidy up his knotting technique, but he didn’t really see the difference when she herself worked. She was just faster, and the ties came out prettier. And her fingers hurt less. But hey, muscle memory or something. He had a year to get it down. “What are you using the fabric for? The method seems a little…bland for a magical item shop.”
Tying a few knots and making sure the seat was at a decent height for the both of them to use, looking over at his deep sigh before she took the glimmering head band from her wrist to tie her hair back up. The long curly hair tamed to some extent, but not fully as it still swayed and looked as if it would break the band any moment. Not that it would, Stela had a love to enchant things for fun with even slightly useful spells.
“Did he get into the bath bomb? Astra used to as well, light dragons want to look so pretty for their riders.” Smiling at him as she left a few more for Rory to do, she could hear the splashes upstairs from the pair and was glad they were having fun and not making a complete mess of the places that counted. Nothing a nice mopping couldn’t fix as the floor was tiled and had a drain for the more messy bath times.
“This fabric is going to become a dress shirt, when it’s completed anyways. Not everything that ends up magical starts as such. Enchantments and that added dash of magic make life so much easier, but my mannequins have better things to do. Admittedly, I usually have them thread the loom but it’s good practice for you instead.”
Upstairs, Astra watched Cloud become slimmery, laughing at him while emerging from the bubbles with a tower of his own on his head, his puffy fur flat against his head but still looked so lovely. Astra did know they were up there to get clean though, and wanted to get out to eventually be brushed and dried to lay on the bed and be the pretty boy he was.
“Let’s finish getting clean, the blow drier will feel so nice and then we can get brushed so nicely! That and we don’t want the water to get too cold now.” Astra didn’t care if it was cold, but a warm bath always felt better after a long day. Clicking his claws on the tubs edge, the dragon realized he may need to get them trimmed as well, all a part of the after bath time. Just peeking out the door he could see the brushes, towels, and other supplies just floating and waiting for them. His wet tail wagging in the water at the thought alone.
“He did,” Rory replied with a tone of despondence. “He loves bubbles, and that’s fine and well, but…glitter. He’s going to shimmer for a month, and then I’ll get some on me too. Have you ever had glitter stuck in your eye? It leaves cuts.” He shiverred, remembering too many occassions than he preferred where that happened. “I’m sure he’ll look very pretty but…” he held in a sigh. He didn’t want to seem completely disappointed in his day…even though he very much was. He tried to focus on his work now that he knew the worst had happened. That would be the worst that could happen, right? He didn’t want to speculate, lest Cloud tune in and find some ‘good ideas.’
He was quite ‘honored’ that he had taken the free labor of the mannequins to help his payment. Surely there was a better job to do? But that wasn’t his choice, and if he complained aloud, he imagined the replacement task would be worse. “So, how do you enchant things after? I’ve never seen Shéar magic up close…or any magic, really. Not counting Cloud’s little illusions.” And probably Cloud’s little luck manipulation schemes. Things always seemed to go bad for Rory–but good for Cloud–wherever they went.
Cloud felt Rory take his attention away and grinned. Now he could really have fun! “Get out so soon? But the glitter just fell in. We have to get it all the way into our fur. If you don’t see glitter close to your skin, then you’re not clean!” the wyvern insisted. He sloshed the water around. “We could make a whirlpool! Pretend the bath bomb is a boat, and let’s sink it.” He would love a good brushing, hopefully from Rory so he could make the Rider look just as beautiful and shimmery as they were now. But first, playtime wasn’t over!
“Why don’t you use the pet and skin safe glitter as I go? It is meant to be on skin and doesn’t hurt any more than getting water in your eye…” Maristela was left confused on why this wasn’t an option he thought of, or if just mass produced glitter and sparkles didn’t… work the same as her produced ones. “Why not teach him to use his illusion magic so he can always sparkle? Astra does that to charm passing people into coming into the shop, no glitter or sparkles involved.” Only trying to offer help to the poor other doing busy work she’d usually leave to her enchanted mannequins, she was just a bit better at controlling her dragon as well. “He does seem like a little terror so maybe that wouldn’t satisfy his need…”
All the same, she was pleased to feel the nice feeling of the pair above. Astra was full of excitement and happiness as he played with Cloud, loving to take baths and get his guests clean before flopping onto the soft bed to get dried off by the enchanted materials above. He was a very good host, feeling that slight feeling of concern but was called back by Rory’s questions in the end.
“It depends what it is, I must admit. How deeply i want it weaved into the clothes as well and what the enchantment is. The one I will be putting on this is going to just be a charm, so whomever is wearing this shirt seems more attractive. Which you usually want as a weaker charm, anything else may upset the balance between natural desire and the effect. For say, a luck one I’d weave it into the fabric as it’s made.” With everything set up though, they were ready to start weaving, so patting the seat he waited for Rory to sit before moving on.
“That sounds a little messy, fun, but if we make too much of a mess then Stela will be mad. You might even be made to stay outside, and that’s no fun at all! Not as nice as the soft bed and blankets.” He did think about it though, sinking into the water as he thought. “We can stay in until the water gets cold, but if you get sick then I waaaaaarned you~” Though Astra had doubts that Stela would let them stay in that much.
Rory wondered why Maristela was better acquainted with a luxury product than him. He would need to alert his servants to this new product, although… “That doesn’t solve the problem of it being everywhere. Everywhere. My bed would look like I invited a guest unbefitting of the home.”
I bet they would be nice though.
Please don’t get ideas about that sort of thing. I have to look at them. Rory felt bad about anyone who needed a charm to look attractive, but now he knew he was doing a public service. Was this the sort of thing his brother was after…? No, it wouldn’t suit him, either. Rory sat when prompted, hoping he would have the skills to make this at least look like a shirt.
“It’s okay, I’m a Storm dragon,” Cloud insisted. “See? Look what I can do.” He demonstrated a bit of magic and froze the top of the water…the the bottom…then the whole thing. The edge of the bathtub started cracking a bit. It was fine, since Astra had already moved out of the bathtub and was sitting around being soggy and drying. “Now we can skate.” Except, there was one issue. He had forgotten to get out of the tub. It wasn’t fine at all. He tried to wiggle his toes, to no avail. He whined and his ears drooped. He looked at Astra with huge puppy dog eyes, as if the little fox dragon could help.
“That is true, but everyone needs just a little sparkle in their life.” More amused then anything Stela herself also didn’t need that sort of thing her life, but Astra adored it so and would often find nice glittery things to bathe, loving ot make the bedding and cloth ‘pretty’ as he’d say while rubbing all over it with his nice smelling fur scales. It left the fabrics smelling lovely, with that glitter adding a small sparkle of life to the more bland fabrics. No one was none the wiser as to why her lovely clothes just seemed that little bit more lovely.
“All the same, let’s work on this, I’m sure even if this is your first time you’ll do fine…” Or she hoped so. It wasn’t expensive materials they were working with, but she did hate it to go to waste.
Watching as the water started freezing, the drastic temperature change had the fox dragon fleeing. Still covered in some soap but he was fine with that as he watched the other dragon become just frozen in the tub and then realize his mistake as soon as it was done. It was cold outside the tub, but not as cold as sitting in the block of ice.
“Well, that is cool! But now you’re stuck…” Hopping up to paw at the nice, he licked Cloud’s face with small kisses as he let the enchanted items come finish off the bath requirements. RInsing him off, before moving onto drying him as Cloud could only watch the dragon look so comfy as his fur puffed up and then was brushed so gently. “Should I go get Rory? Stela may be mad and make you stand outside though…” He wasn’t sure if that was a good option even if he suggested it.
Rory did his best to pass the stick with the string through again and again, making some semblance of a cloth. It was a little loose on the edges, and now that he looked at it, had a bit more shine than he would normally expect from a cloth. Was it already enchanted with something? Perhaps the string was magical. The thought that the entire shop was infested with tiny glitter fragments never crossed his mind. A feeling of distress interrupted his finishing touches. He tentatively peered through Cloud’s eyes again to see the icy predicament he landed himself in. If that ice cracked the base of the tub…well, he would owe a bit more. Can you move ice?
I don’t know.
It’s not working.
There were two options: add to his debt, or pretend he knew nothing. He went with the latter and stroked the fabric in front of him. “Is it time to start sewing yet?”
The dragon was left wiggling in the ice until he remembered that cold stuff was actually quite comfortable, and he now had a nice ice bath to chill in for a while. He wagged the small bit of tail that was left stuck out of the tub. “Stela can’t make me stand outside if she can’t get me out of the ice. And I can’t get me out of the ice. We’ll be fine. Think you can slide a bar of soap past me? I bet not!” Cloud made a toothy grin and assumed the goalie role. He would snap up anything that tried to go past him.
“Not perfect…” Stela mused, watching as Rory passed the stick back and forth, her golden eyes watching as his feet moved in a simple manner to just make the very basic cloth. For a beginner though, he was doing well and she would praise him for that. “But still decent. I just need to show you the professional but delicate touch of a lady~” She teased, leaning over to press herself closer to him as she took over for a moment. Her movements faster but the same if more tight. That came from practice, but she handed the reins back to Rory as she looked around.
“Once there is enough cloth, or we use all the string, we cut or tie it off and go from there. Today is just a more tedious job. Can’t have you go and stab your fingers on the first day with a needle. Soon though, if you get tired i can take over as you make a cup of tea or something.”
Her dragon’s only nervous feelings left her looking up at the ceiling, wondering what had the two of them gotten into that left Astra feeling nervous. He was a sweet boy who did try to behave and grew antsy if someone was going wrong, and that alone left all sorts of questions in her mind.
“Do you think the two dragons are doing well upstairs?”
Humming as he thought over the options, Astra did suppose that Stela couldn’t move the bigger dragon if he was frozen. But he knew Cloud would still get in trouble. Maybe something for another time though, as Astra grabbed one of the plastic bath bombs and tried to roll it past Cloud, getting it knocked back and he hopped around with his calendar quadruped body and gently tapped it back for a simple game for the two of them. What would became of Cloud could wait, and Astra figured it wasn’t something he could help or control as the block of ice seemed solid.
After lots of brainstorming–hairdryers, fires, towels, and ice picks were just a few of the ideas thrown into the ring–it was decided that the best way to free cloud was time. Anything else and the bathroom or Cloud himself would end up damaged. The dragon managed to wiggle himself out after five hours, with the rest of the ice block remaining overnight as a testament to his poor foresight. Maristela politely told the dragon to explore for something amazing outside. The dragon sat sighing loudly as the night hours set in. He was let in–very tentatively–and now snored loudly next to his Rider with the coffee table and other decorations pushed out of the way to accommodate him. Rory had used spare thread to make a trinket for Cloud to make him feel better–just a little flower-shaped charm. It had already fallen off somewhere on the floor.
Rory tossed and turned in his sleep, dreaming of going home and having his brother freeze him in a tub of glitter wine, only to wake in a cold sweat in a stranger’s home. Not on a bed, oh no, but on a couch. A couch. He had truly been reduced to poverty. He sat up and felt every muscle in his back ache. This couch was supposed to be more comfortable than the guest room’s bed, but it was still nothing compared to even the dog beds at the estate. Perhaps Maristela had lied; she didn’t seem like the type to lie, though.
Needless to say, he was up the moment a morsel of sunlight made its way into the room. He drowsily wandered into the poor excuse for dining room and seated himself. He waited. And waited. And waited. He heard noises coming from the direction of Maristela’s room, so it was surely the right time to get up. Where were the chefs? He needed to get to work on tailoring as soon as he could, but that was hard to do on an empty stomach. He didn’t have all day. Cloud peeked his head in and licked his lips. He was just as ready for breakfast.
“Stela it’s up time! The sun is awake!” Astra quietly told the female rolling in her bed of soft and comfort. The most lavishing and most used room of the house, it was obvious that Stela adored her sleeping space and put much money and thought into her wants and desires. Fluttering open her smoky eyes that faded completely as the sun hit her face, she sat up and stretched out her naked form as her dragon zipped off like an excited creature ready for zoom, running over to the door to waiting for the darker skinned rider to open the door as she stretched. Her hair was currently a beautiful sunset color, dancing in the morning rays as her form shivered from the chilly air around her.
Being led into the kitchen where she completely forgot about her guests at the moment, it wasn’t often she had people over that she didn’t see when she headed out and was reminded that clothes were needed in the early hours while upstairs in her own private area. Heading straight for the kettle to start up some hot water, her soft golden eyes blinked as she stared at the large storm dragon left laying on the floor that she somehow missed when entering. A slight surprised expression on her face as she realized the other male as well.
“Oh, good morning you too. My apologies, I forgot I had guests over for the long term.” So used to her love for the free skin when allowed, she didn’t seem bothered as she continued filling a cup with tea leaves before walking around and wondering where she kept her robe to cover herself. Rory looked… interesting to say the least with the sight he just saw. She was far too tired to figure out it was an interested or horrified look, but either were understandable to her as it wasn’t every day a voluptuous and curvy madam meant to be your master decided to stroll in al natural without a care in the world.
“We are hungry!” Astra called after, sitting on the floor swishing his tail back and forth as he waited for his rider to stop pacing in her tired confusion.
Rory blinked, took a moment to register it, and then averted his eyes and used his hand to block the sight. “Excuse me…it looks like you forgot some things, Miss Stela.” He tried to word himself politely and keep his gaze away, so she might better keep her maidenhood intact.
“Such a pretty lady!” Cloud squealed aloud, quite pleased to see a naked lady for once. Much prettier than I thought they would be!
Cloud…please. Don’t. He sighed, thought about peeking back, then asked Cloud politely.
Use your magic, okay? Put some clothes on her.
Cloud sighed, but obliged his Rider by conjuring some beautiful linens overtop the lady. Rory looked back again to see the rainbow-adorned Rider, then tried not to focus on her body. He could sort of see through the illusion if he focused on it.
Do it! She’s pretty!
“Well…we cast a glamour so you don’t have to worry about it. I didn’t see anything.”
You saw how prettyyy she was, Rory!
“Oh Cloud, those are the sweetest words you’ve said to me so far.” Pausing, early morning Stela was a bit scatterbrained as the fuzz faded from her. Completely forgetting the idea of getting clothes as she leaned over to give Cloud’s face a nice rub and smooch for complimenting her beauty. Thankfully for Rory, he had a plan of his own to smother his blushing face, the power of dragon magic was always a wonderful thing.
Tilting his head as his rider shimmered and sparkled for a moment, Astra was intrigued by this magic casting as he circled his once nude rider, reaching up to touch but only felt bare skin even if it looked like a light layer of clothing was put over her. Pretty indeed, but not physical to the touch.
“You’re not naked anymore, Stela. Is it still chilly?” He cooed, stretching up to paw at her as she looked down at her rider and then down to herself.
“Oh, why thank you Rory. I suppose I can put off the inevitable for a bit longer in that case. What did you feel like for breakfast? I was going to send Asta and maybe Cloud off to gather something from the nearby stalls or eateries.” Running her hand over the conjured clothes, they did indeed look pretty, though she knew there were not to be there forever as clothes could be.
Thank goodness! Now that that little affair was over, Stela finally moved the conversation to a direction Rory was invested in. He felt Cloud’s glamour, sent a little thank you, and then did his best to proceed as normal with the morning. Hopefully the other mornings would go smoother than this. “I was wondering where you kept your chefs! So you just eat out. It makes sense, since you sell luxury products.” He pondered a bit. “I haven’t seen too many of the restaurants around here, but I heard there’s a place that sells excellent caviar, salmon, and crème fraiche—I think with a little brioche on the side. It shouldn’t run over 125 Silvence.” His mouth started salivating. It had been a while since he had caviar. Cloud caught on and licked his lips. It had been a while since he messed up a seafood restaurant.
“Ah yes, the more modest lifestyle doesn’t leave much room for others to stay around here. In the heart of town though, it’s not a pressing matter when anything you could desire is in walking distance.” It also gave her and Astra time to get out and take in fresh air, soak up the fun, and stretch their legs after being inside so often to run the shop. Welcomes breaks in their busy lives that Steal could easily wrap herself up in between flirting with customers.
Putting a finger to her lip, Maristela thought it over as she knew many places around here. She honestly indulged in the more homely foods, soul foods that left more than just a full stomach but a full heart of pleasure with such welcoming employees and cooks. She indulged in finer things in life as well though, sometimes wishing to spoil herself and her dragon with a grand outing that wouldn’t put a dent in her bank account.
“I think that’s Ocean’s Edge, with the big tank of fish, right?” Astra pipped up, looking up at Stela before stretching out like a waking canine before wagging his bushy tail.
“Oh! Yes! Indeed a nice restaurant, though I don’t know if they can accommodate Cloud. He’s… quite a large one…” And a devious one, though she adored him at the moment due to his sweet words, she didn’t want to have her name sullied but misbehaving dragons.
Cloud’s ears and wings drooped as she said he was too big for the restaurant. Part of Rory wanted some peace and quiet, but the other part knew that Cloud needed breakfast just as much as he did. “We’ll need to find somewhere Cloud can eat, too. As long as it’s fairly high-class, I think our stomachs will agree with it. As long as the right ingredients are used, I’m not too picky about what I eat.”
But Rory, that is being picky.
It’s fine. You don’t want to end up eating dog food again, do you?
The dragon’s ears twitched and his eyes glazed over as his mind blocked out the memory. “I want to eat together with everyone!” he finally said with a giddy tone.
Thinking it over as the female tried to think of places that would understand an untrained dragon, the glittery and lovely illusion of clothes shimmered for a moment in the morning light as her mind waded through the more fancy life restaurants. All maintained a standard, and even if it was common knowledge that dragons weren’t always the most well behaved, they still looked down upon it. Similarly they also did that with children, which was what dragons were to many riders regardless of social status.
Leaning up to paw at Maristela’s leg, she looked down to her lovely colored dragon, stroking his long snout, getting those gentle eyes closing as he leaned into the lovely touch that he always wanted and adored. A light dragon through and through, desiring all the attention and praise when it could be had. “We could try Grandma’s Kitchen? The food there is nice.” Giving Astra the blankest look, her mind completely left out their usually eateries, not considering them fancy in the slightest.
“I don’t think it’s fancy enough for Rory, he’s a picky boy now.”
“It has seafood? Maybe the cook can make something fancy too. They’d love having Cloud there though, he’s a big fluffy and pretty dragon that looks so peatable.” Thinking it over, her dragon wasn’t wrong… but she wasn’t sure if Rory would share in her love for that atmosphere and taste.
Rory squinted at the title of the restaurant. Having your own family cook for you? That certainly seemed like a place for peasants. At the same time, Cloud licked his lips. I wonder if they have good food, he mused. I want to try your old stuff.
The thought of the food he grew up with almost made him throw up. Cloud had never experienced it, though. All he had to go on were Rory’s memories. At the same time, maybe it would be better for Cloud to experience it himself, and finally stop pestering him about it. It would take a single sacrifice on his part, but…it would be worth it. “If it has seafood, it should be fine. Seafood is all the same; How many ways can there be to cook it?” As far as culinary endeavors went, they were both completely clueless. “Let’s go!”
Dressed and out in the world of sun and warmth, it was a pleasant morning with only a slight chill. Stela had finally given into clothes, adorn in a more simple just lavishing looking dress that almost swept the floor as she walked down the sidewalk. To her left was Astra, happy to be out on a walk, while on the right were the other pair of boys that had little clue of what they were getting into. Part of her was already making plans to get something else on the way home, for the very picky male who desired very specific food that had to be utterly delicious as well.
“We aren’t much farther now! I can smell the food!” Wagging his bushy tail as he stepped ahead, Maristela minded not as he went ahead to say hello, waving as he dashed off as she followed behind him. Inhaling the fresh air and faint smells that he recalled from her childhood to this day.
“Hopefully it’s to your taste, but we can pick up something after if it is not.” He told Rory as she came to the open door with a few people inside. Astra already running around to get pets before back to the other trio to try and bring Cloud in to also get pets.
After Astra’s initial romp, Cloud was more than happy to follow him in. He giggled and enjoyed some pets of his own, with Rory nervously watching to make sure he didn’t turn over tables or steal food or some other thing an undisciplined dragon might do. The last thing he needed was to be in debt to yet another business. Rory watched as Maristela waved a waiter over and said they needed a table for two people and two dragons. He was more used to sitting and having the waiters automatically serve; But he was quick to follow their lead and sit at the small table when Maristela did.
It looks like a date! Cloud was quick to point out. A date with an old lady.
Okay, you just got in her good graces, so do me a favor and keep that sentence inside. She’s not that old. Probably. Rory picked up the menu and glanced through it. All the dishes had strange names and looked completely foreign to him. None of them had descriptions–how did this place expect people to know what these things were?
Cloud looked at the menu through his eyes. Chicken and…waffles? I like one of those things. Get those things for me!
We’re here for seafood.
The dragon started to whine in a low pitch. If he didn’t get what he wanted, he would continue into a higher pitch until the whole restaurant was subjected to that sonic torture.
Fine, fine. We’ll get those. Chicken and…waffles? Hopefully neither of them got sick from this waffle thing. He looked at Maristela. “Okay, I’m ready. Why…why aren’t the waiters waiting here?”
Coming into view of the restaurant, as the finely dressed female came into view a small group of workers opened their arms to welcome the small group of two familiar faces and two unfamiliar. But of course, a friend of Stela was to be welcomed by the small restaurant that was as close as a ‘family’ as Stela would dare to have so close to her.
After some small greetings as they were led to a table, all was as normal as far as Stela was concerned. Eyes gazing over the plastic covered menus and debating over what was she in the mod for as Astra leaned up to poke his head in between to also look at the choices.
“Can I get some sweet potato waffle fries and chicken strips?” The smaller dragon asked, looking straight up at his rider as she hummed while looking over the menu still.
“Of course, go have a seat with Cloud as you wait now.” Looking up to Rory as he spoke, she raised an eyebrow at the other but also knew he wouldn’t be knowledgeable to such ‘commoner’ eateries and expected this all the same. “They have other people to wait for you know, with so many choices they always come back with water and ask if we need more time.”
As the rider finished, their waiter, a younger darker skinned female brought over a small tray with two glasses of water and two bowls of water that were set down in front of each. The dragons of course got the bowls and were set on the floor.
“What can i help you today with darlings? Do you need more time to decide?” Humming, Stela looked over the menu one last time before shaking her head.
“No, I think we are ready.” Allowing Rory to go first, she assumes he knew at least how to order what he wanted to.
Cloud hadn’t given him time to pick his own order before the waitress came to help. He glanced through the menu and saw something with oysters. It couldn’t be that bad, could it? “Tchoupitoulas Oyster Breakfast and Chicken and Waffles, please. Your choice of wine as well.” He didn’t know how to pronounce it, but said it confidently; He would play it as a regional dialect if he was wrong.
Yay, hummed Cloud, Me and Astra are getting the same thing! When I’m done, we can share! Since Astra was fine eating from a bowl on the ground, Cloud would try it out, too. And maybe share some wine?
Rory did not say no, but he definitely didn’t say yes.
Listening and nodding at Rory’s request, the little pencil stopped writing as her darker skinned younger female stopped writing. “Oh honey, we ain’t got no wine here. We got some whiskey though, darling.” She repeated the rest of the order back, nodding even as he agreed to the new drink suggestion and moved to Maristela who was stacking the menus nicely to be taken.
“Chicken strips with sweet potato waffle fries, and also shrimp scampi if I may. A glass of southern lemonade also.” Peeking up over the table at the request of one of Astra’s favorite drinks, lemonade, Stela stroked his soft head and pushed him back down to the ground where he laid and waged his tail.
“Alright darling, I’ll be right back with those drinks.” Taking the menus and off to deliver the order to the back, Stela was enjoying the early morning breeze seeping in as she lowered her hand down to pet the mostly well behaved Cloud as well. He was doing his best, and hadn’t flipped any tables so far, not that she thought that they’d be banned even if he did. It was nice to be in a more chill atmosphere that didn’t call for classiness and perfect etiquettes the entire meal. “Astra recently brought home an egg to me, one of my regulars said it seems to be a storm egg so Cloud may have a friend soon. Though I don’t know much else about the egg.”
“Ah, a…storm.” His tone was steady; Clearly it wasn’t his favorite, but he had come to accept Cloud’s alignment as reality at this point. “I think it would be better to match Cloud with a light, though. Or maybe not at all. Storms are…a bit much, you know?”
“Matching? Friend matching?” Cloud blinked at him curiously, unsure of what they were talking about, or just purposely oblivious. “I like new friends, just like I like Astra!” he hummed. He flapped his wings, bumping the table and making the glasses and silverware jolt a few inches. Thankfully, that was the only damage, but Rory pointed at it as if to say, ‘See?’
As the time seemed to whittle by slowly, he remembered a small event taking place in the mansion. As a social family, they were expected to show how well they had been networking; He hadn’t done anything of the sort. He squinted at Stella. She was a merchant of sorts; Maybe it would be alright to bring her? Just one person would be strange, and a lady at that, but something told him it would be fine. “Would you be interested in attending an event later this week?”
“Cloud is just a special case is all, some are quite a pleasant experience though are much smaller in size.” She wondered if hers would be one of these smaller bats, though a rideable dragon would be nice for travel as Astra was far too small to sit on, let alone travel on for long distances. He was after all only fox sized, which wasn’t all that big at all.
“Careful Cloud! If you break the table Stela will use her bad voice.” Ears laying back at such a tone, though well behaved it seemed evern her own dragon had done some wrong before and learned easily enough.
The small talk and conversation went by easily enough, mostly about the dragons and work that needs to be done when they got back, but it was pleasant enough conversation as drinks were brought to them and them starting to be sipped. After a good 20 minutes, conversations drifting off to quiet coos at the dragons who were both being so well behaved and at least got a small sip from Stela’s glass, the new topic was one of interest to the light rider.
“Oh Rory, moving so fast! First we live together, now breakfast together, now inviting me to an event.” Though it was all in good fun as a smle came to her lips, she nodded. “It does sound lovely though, what sort of event would be?”
Before the other rider could answer though, the plates were brought out on a rolling cart. Four plates stacked high with food. Some looked more ‘exotic’ than others, but all very much tasty to Astra and Maristela as Astra was too his feet, looking at his waffle fries of deliciousness juuuuust out of his reach still.
ory looked at all the food, grabbing the only one that looked vaguely like oysters. He felt Cloud’s slobbering gaze and set both plates of chicken waffles down for the dragons. Cloud immediately stuffed his face as if he had never known food. Rory was much more reserved, though his confusion helped a bit. Did he eat this out of the shell with a spoon, or pick up the shell and slurp it? He opted for the first as he mused over how to answer Stella. “Well, something like a business meeting? There will be real food there and lots of opportunity to network. You have a successful business, so you should blend right in.” He didn’t want to say that Stella was the only professional he was acquainted with so far. “You could be a business partner to our family. We could offer you ample funding that way.” And it wouldn’t be suspicious circumstances if money were transferred at the event; though he kept that to himself as well, just as he emphasized the business aspect of the event. It was not a date. Definitely not a date.
Taking her plate as it was set down and taking her glass of alcohol to tip in a small amount into Astra’s bowl, she hummed as she thought it over. She didn’t have much planned aside from the training of Rory and the usual clothes making that she did every day. It would be a nice addition to her usual samey life, which was enough of a reason to tempt her into Rory’s favor.
“It sounds fun enough, I’m sure Astra would love to wander around and show off all his pretty clothes. Maybe even Cloud could join in as a walking mannequin, though I have some doubts.” Maybe a simple collar of accessory could be made for him, nothing too extravagant that could be ruined with ease. “For now, let us enjoy our meal. A small walk into town for a few supplies then we can head back to the apartment for more training for you as the dragons play, quietly and calmly.”
Her gaze went to Cloud as she said this, but she was sure he would do only his best to behave. That’s what Astra would say, but part of Stela had her doubts.
They were situated in a large ball room located on the central floors of a modest skyscraper. The floor was just one part of the building that belonged to the St. James family; Rory’s particular branch preferred this sort of city life over the more rural luxuries that their relatives enjoyed. Being able to easily access the thriving economy around them made the family prosperous in that regard. This meeting was just one of many that cemented the connections between families and businesses of the region. Rory hadn’t really attended one of these before, but Stella didn’t need to know that. As requested, he had dressed up Cloud in one of Maristela’s designs–a light, thin fabric with beautiful patterns and glitter. The spectrum of colors stood out well on Cloud’s lighter velvet scales. Cloud was immensely pleased by his newfound beauty and had already tested the endurance of the outfit. Thankfully, it endured well.
Rory was also dressed quite finely, his silver clothing light enough to let in air but not so baggy his form was obscured. If it didn’t have extraordinary stitching, intricate embroidery, and a menagerie of different materials, it may have passed as simple. He had designed the basics, but Maristella went through and fixed it so it looked like professional clothing. His original templates were not a quality that could pass for high-class by any stretch of the imagination. Everything was assigned seating, with a generous amount of space given to those with dragons to sit next to their tables. The coordinators had allotted some extra space for Cloud and Astra, likely assuming the worst. Rory sat in his seat and fumbled with his clothing, a little self-conscious that they were technically home-made. Hopefully no one noticed. He looked at the menu briefly–everything was as fancy as he expected, but somehow didn’t make him hungry like the thought of those oysters–then set it down. He knew Maristela would share a table with him, but there was space for one more person. He quietly looked at the tag and then hid it under the tablecloth. Perhaps he wouldn’t show up. At least, he hoped not.
Taking her time chatting with the others as her long fitted dress clung to each curve and trailed a bit on the ground, Stela was having a great time already at this gathering. Laughing as one of the others finely dressed individuals made a joke, she did excuse herself off as Astra started pulling at her to come take a seat so food could be ordered.
‘Rory looks nervous, should i do anything?’ he also asked as Maristela excused herself, wiggling her gloved fingers as she started off towards where she could feel Astra and assumed that was where Cloud and Rory would be too in the large and open area. People bustling around every which way, with and against the flow of the crowd as she thanked a server offering her an appetizer but declined as sweetly as she could. SHe did however grab a glass of wine to take back to Rory, assuming maybe some classy booze would ease his worries.
‘Just make sure Cloud is behaving and it should be fine, I’ll be over in a moment.’ Getting side tracked by a display someone brought as a show of their skill, but after a quick glance saw the dark skinned male and waved as he looked up to her.
“Sorry darling, I have brought you some chardonnay. One of the servers was just so kind to offer me a drink while I already held my own.” Looking down to her own dragon who was nosing gently at the table cloth, she waited for Rory to take the glass before waving her hand gently at the sir to stop doing whatever he was doing, not knowing he was nosing at something hidden. “Astra, please stop that. You don’t belong under the cloth.”
A few weeks ago, he would have blushed at the word ‘darling,’ but now he knew it was just Stela’s way of teasing him. Nonetheless, he hoped no one else heard that. He stood until Stela took her own seat, then sat back down. “Thanks, Stela.” He had already had a glass, but could certainly use more–the last one hadn’t even warmed him up. If that name tag was anything to go by, he would need a few more glasses after this, too. He swished the glass around and took a sip. As Astra pawed at the table, he quietly pushed the fox-dragon away. “You can sit here with Cloud; they will get a table and dishes just for you. You can leave everything under the table where it is.” He stared at Astra and hoped the dragon would get the hint.
The lights dimmed and a few spotlights focused on the stage across the room. They were situated far away from the center stage by his request, though apparently that hadn’t deterred his brother from adjusting his own seating. A pudgy black man walked onto the stage–the owner of the building, no doubt excited to attend a prestigious event of people even wealthier than he. He was dressed from head to toe in a dazzling suit, glittering in the light as he walked. There was a small kirin next to the stage that was undoubtedly aiding in the flashy display. When the man spoke, everyone could clearly hear his voice–hinting at yet more magic behind the unassuming man. “Thank you everyone for coming. Many of you feel like family–” a few people waved at him, “While others are brand new faces from around the world. Wherever you’re from, I’m glad to have you here, and honored to host our Spring networking event.” Rory politely listened for a few minutes before he started looking around for the servers.
For a brief moment, he thought his brother wouldn’t attend, and he would be free to relax. That moment was shattered when he heard the quiet opening and closing of the doors behind them and saw his light-haired brother slip into the room. The man met his eyes, smiled and waved, and approached them quickly. He was taller and more muscular than Rory, sporting much lighter skin and blue eyes. He wore a teal dress covered in glittering sequins, with a cut that showed off his well-toned body and a bit of chest hair. No one else seemed surprised to see him come in late. Rory suddenly leaned forward and focused on the presentation as if it was an award-winning play. The man pat him on the back as he stared forward silently. “Well if it isn’t Rory!” When he didn’t respond, his brother looked confused, then looked around. “Ah, looks like they forgot my name tag. Not to worry.” He took his seat and crossed his legs. “I memorized the layout and made sure they put me right next to you.” He looked at Stela with a beaming smile. “Rory seems more interested in the presentation than socializing, but that’s not too surprising. He’s very shy. Why don’t we get to know each other before the food gets here?” He saw Rory’s half-filled glass of Chardonnay and took a sip for himself. “My name is Elliot StJames. If I’m correct, you are Maristela of the Seven Sisters? I’ve heard good things about your store. I’m hoping to visit sometime soon.”
Sipping on her glass as the lights dimmed, Stela took her sweet time looking at the menu before she turned her gaze to the front with the rather dazzling manager who had a small dragon as his accompaniment. The voice was pleasing enough, even if his words were short and already lost her interest. She had been to many events already in her life, far too many to remember and those she did were all blended together with the others there were thought to be important enough to imprint upon her mind. Assuming it would be one of those moments where she just looked to be paying attention, it seemed it was not the case and some hushed ‘shhhhhh’ came from the area near them followed by a very clearly male body in a gorgeous dress coming towards them.
Oh if they were female, they would have won part of her heart. She was far too picky in her male hook ups, and even if this one had a dress that could take away her breath he was not her taste overall in that department. Watching as he a little too loudly still tried to say hello to the male with similar features to Rory, he was ignored as if just a figment of her imagination that had come in to distract her.
“Rory put a paper under the table cloth, maybe that is it?” Astra said in a more hushed tone, nosing at the cloth once more as Stela could only sigh but knew Astra only wished to be helpful.
“It’s very nice to meet you Sir StJames. Maristela Starrlight, the owner and operator of the seven sister’s finery. With that sort of fashion sense you can stop by anytime to keep Rory and I company. More so myself, I’m sure we can entertain each other with ease.” Leaning into a hand to eye over those sequins, smaller beads mixed in that caught the light in just the right way, she wanted that dress off of the other to examine a little bit more. Getting hushed once more by the closest table, Maristela apologized but merely lowered her voice to more of a hush. “What’s your relationship to my darling, Rory.”
Rory looked at Astra blank-faced, then turned to Elliot and looked a little ashamed. He wanted to explain to Elliot, but had no way how to do that without revealing his mistakes. Oh, his mistakes. Elliot smiled and shrugged it off. “Oh, you’re so shy, you don’t need to be embarrassed to introduce your lady to me!”
“I think both of you are making a mistake here!” he hissed a little too loudly. The other tables looked their way and he sighed. “This is Stela, my mentor, and this is Elliot, my brother.”
“They’re calling them mentors now? Mentor as in an that Eredi–?”
Elliot chuckled and held out a hand. “Well, thank you for taking care of Rory. I’m sure to check out your store, if you’re good enough to dress a dragon like Cloud in something that lovely.” They shook hands and Elliot ruffled Rory’s hair. “You need to show me what you’ve been working on.” He looked down at Astra and pet the fox-like dragon in the same manner. “And you get a treat.” He pulled out some jerky for him. Cloud huffed, knowing that was a treat for him, but wouldn’t ever complain to Rory’s nice brother. He just wanted that treat.
Smiling as she shook hands with the other, it was always nice to make new acquaintances while also riling up the poor Rory who was just so fun to see get flustered and explain himself. “Now, now, Astra. Maybe he was just playing a fun game with his brother. Just like how you and Cloud like to play hide and seek.” Offering Rori some form of out, it wasn’t much of one and just served to quiet her dragon down.
She was highly amused by Rory’s rather out of character shut down. Not even letting the other finish before giving a flat out no. Oh if only he hadn’t, she’d run off with it as it bothered her not. Rory was a fine looking gentleman, but very much still not of her picky taste as well. A shame, as his more nervous ways were adorable all on their own.
“It’s no trouble at all, it’s the least he can after–” Blinking as Rory suddenly seemed to gain some nerves and went on about what he had learned and how he had even made his own clothes today. They weren’t fantastic, but very much passable and easily could be fixed for another event if he so wanted to wear them.
Off to the side, Astra took the treat gently, rubbing his soft face against the hand before heading over to sit near Cloud and tore off a piece for him before back closer to Stela. Always a good boy, he’d even share his treat even if not told to do so. He after all would be getting dinner as well! SO he had to save room for the fancy food that would be given to him.
Cloud smiled and took the treat carefully, then swallowed it in one go. “Thank you, Astra!” He happily wagged his tail, the webbing catching on someone else’s tablecloth and dragging it off quickly. Candles and menus and purses and all. The racket made just about everyone look over, but Cloud was oblivious to the whole thing. Elliot just laughed and motioned for the dragon to come over. He gave him lots of pets–especially behind the ears–and simply said, “You’re such a good boy!”
As the presentation finally drew to a close, and dimming light came back on to shine a light on some minor destruction that was cleaned up with Cloud moved to the other side where Maristela was sitting as she was the one to the wall and away from other tables. She did softly tell Cloud he needed to be a good boy, but as he laid back down and just peered over the table she gave him a few pets and some ‘treats’ in the form of their before meal appetizers that were making their final rounds as people were ordering. Only if Cloud would wait gently for Stela to put it in his mouth would he get it, otherwise it was yanked away and finger waggles happened.
On the other side of the table where Astra was sitting, the more well behaved dragon was getting a good pet as he sat in front of the teal dressed male and had his fuzzy cheeks rubbed. Extra menus were brought out for all the various forms of courses, but Stela had a quick look through with Astra and already had a guess as to what they would order so she entertained the more wiley of the group while everyone tried to find peace once more.
“Has your family always lived in this area? So far it seems to be quite new, or kept it in very good condition.” She offered as small talk, rubbing Cloud’s face and telling him he was such a good boy as he waited for his ‘treat’ and then didn’t then proceed to knock the table over. It was a start as far as Stela cared.
“We purchased a few floors when the building opened up; We got them at a discount, since the building owners were quite happy to have the St. James family within the premises. We paid for a few upgrades to the area, including the lights you see above you and the kitchen behind that curtain.” He waved a glass of his new Pinot Noir towards a large red curtain on the side of the room. There was very faint noises which they now realized were muffled cooking clangs and bangs. “We had to make it livable, after all. I have my own floor, and Rory gets the top floor, although I notice he’s been gone lately at night…” he winked at Rory and sipped some more wine.
“He’s sleeping with Stela,” chimed in Cloud. Rory sighed and had a bit of his oysters; he focused on how bland they tasted compared to the restaurant before, and not how Cloud had just dropped that sentence casually in between two people who could run with it.
Elliot squinted at Stela, contemplating it, then decided Cloud just didn’t understand what he said. They were probably sleeping in the same house, not in the same bed–Rory had said as much, and he was generally truthful. That wasn’t going to stop him, though. He politely nodded at Stela, hoping she would permit a few jokes at Rory’s expense. “Moving so fast? Introduce her to the family sooner, Rory.” He already had a feeling the lady beside him was much more interested in ladies. “And have a few dates one-on-one. Take her somewhere nice. I only saw a few restaurant charges on your bank account lately, and barely enough for appetizers.” He chuckled, his cheeks starting to flush from the wine. “I’m sorry that my brother isn’t very graceful, lady Maristela.”
“That is fairly interesting, I did plan to do such things for my own arrangements but my shop is in such a high traffic area as it is and it was only Astra and myself. That was until Cloud and Rory joined but they seem to still have enough space to be comfortable.” Her gaze set on Rory, who was quick to look away from her as she returned her smiling face to his delightful brother.
‘He’s gone in the day too! Stela keeps him very busy as I play with Cloud, so very busy.” Wagging his bushy tail until it brushed against a chair leg, stopping as he didn’t want to knock anything over that could be broken so easily.
“That’s exactly what I said when he offered an invite to this occasion. First we started living together and I assumed he just didn’t have money to support himself, but it seems he just really likes to spend time with dear Astra and I.” Taking a sip from her own glass, she knew her wording was purposely open ended, reaching out a hand to stroke Cloud as he sniffed as her hand for food was was cooed at to lay back down for now as they waited. “He tries his best, maybe next time we go out we shall try and find a more fancy place to enjoy ourselves at. We often stay inside with each other though, oh so busy.”
Getting confirmation from bother dragons that this was indeed the case as she sweet talked them so nicely, she did look over to Rory again. This time his face buried in the menus that were brought over. “Unless you want to add a different reason you’ve come to live with us, Rory darling. I do love your input.”
Before Rory could say anything, Elliot quickly cut in. “Oh? He’s been relying on you that much, has he?” He put his hand to his chin and appeared deep in thought. “I’ll have to send some money your way as a thank you for all you’ve done for him. Spending all that time together day and night must take its toll on the body.” By now, many of the other guests had started conversing with one another, but both brothers were ignoring them in their own unique ways. The servers dispersed through the tables with the next course, placing a lobster-like meal in front of Rory and Elliot. Elliot had, of course, ordered the same thing as Rory–in case Rory was still hungry when he was done. Rory had, of course, ordered the same thing as Cloud–because Cloud would be hungry when he was ‘done.’ “If anything, he can take you somewhere deserving of a lady of your name.”
“It isn’t like that,” Rory said softly, peering over the menu as he selected his next course. He could never snap at his brother, but he was definitely getting annoyed right now. “I just need to hone my skills as much as I can.”
“What sort of skills do you learn at night?”
“I just get tired, and it’s annoying going all the way home, so I sleep there.”
Elliot giggled and nodded towards Cloud. “I guess it would be tiring to ride Cloud home after all your exhausting services.” He held up his glass towards Maristela for them to toast. “Here’s to a long relationship between our families. Business, of course.” He winked at the lady.
“He is a bit helpless and I’m sure the money would help, but it is always a pleasure to work with him as well. It’s oh so nice to have some personal company that chooses to be there.” Digging into her veal as it was set down and waving the ‘spare’ lobster to Astra who ate hungrily but daintily, it was nice to see one of the two dragons was well behaved. As Cloud ate all of the dish and looked about ready to bite into the plate as he made big eyes at the males as they started.
It was a more peaceful time discussing small mishaps Rory and Cloud made in their many years with Elliot and their single month with Stela, it was mostly quiet as their other two courses came and went without fault and was left to their final biggest course.
A large cart was wheeled out, desserts stacked on it as Stela thought it best to spoil everyone but mostly Cloud and his endless apatite that called for much more to eat then any human could bear. Any extra could be given to the storm dragon with little precaution and they’d still have much for themselves even if gluttony took a hold of them and they indulged.
As it came to a full stop and a few desserts were taken from the top, handed out to the males and a few set on the floor for Astra as Cloud lost his patience and soon enough his good boy title that was given to hum by Maristela. As he stuck his head in and moved all the rest of the desserts resting on top suddenly forward, Stela was only able to grab a few more before they met their ground home where they were at least eaten by Cloud but the deep sigh still came. Setting down the few dishes and the bottle of wine that was ordered, she just sat for a moment rubbing her face. It was almost perfect, but this large dragon seemed to lack quite a few common sense brain cells, one that Stela so dearly wished he had.
“Well, let’s leave Cloud to his clean up as we eat. Shall we?” She offered, ignoring the horrified looks around them and just started eating. Home would be soon after this, but her gaze set on Rory with her less amused squints. Silent reminders to traits Cloud were sent even if not specifically heard, as she forced that smile once more to continue their small talk. It may have ended in disaster, but maybe if she ignored it it’d turn out fine. Astra was at least well behaved, resting his head on Elliot’s and Rory’s lap with concern, but no words spoken from him as well.
Cloud, Maristela, Araceli, and Astra
Diary, ???? | 1295 words
As a ray of sunlight managed to find its way through a crack in the blinds, the darker skinned female slowly started to stretch. The fur of her galaxy colored dragons was warm and plush against her bare skin, a slender hand stroking what looked to be sparkles but were just beautiful marking on Astra’s fur that always had Stela telling him how pretty he was even if dirty from some outside play he didn’t often get. He was a ocean hybrid, so he minded not the baths that would follow and she didn’t care if he wanted to have a little more fun with one of their stayers who was becoming their housemates if they liked it overall or not.
Unrolling from the just as soft blankets that had cocooned them together, Stela blinked her fading smokey eyes as she looked over to the wrapped egg that was dark in color and looked like the night sky. At first just expecting to see a whole egg but adjusting in the dim lighting it instead was cracked and pieces were scattered everywhere. Egg shell was kept to the side of the bed they weren’t on, but that sudden jump in her heart had Astra up as well in confusion as he wondered what caused it. Just as tired, he sat there with eyes slowly blinking, desiring more sleep.
Looking under the covers, there it was. A small bat that was curled up to her bare breasts, gently clinging to her as if she was their mother. Still with a few egg shell pieces on them, they were puffy and soft and slowly looked up at her with a small yawn.
“Oh Astra! The egg hatched!” Scooping up the baby, she took no time to head out to the living room where Rory was still sleeping as the ‘guest’ bedroom was being set with more comfort in mind. Not dressed as she didn’t think of this step, she stepped right out to either great a tired Rory or one who was in the kitchen reading over some material that was left on the dining table. “Rory, Cloud!”
At this point, Rory instinctively used magic whenever Maristela entered the room. More often than not, the glamour was needed, just as it was today. At this point, it was almost like using her as a model for whatever design he planned on making at the time. Cloud huffed when the pretty lady was covered up, then squeaked excitedly and forgot about it when he heard the news. He leapt up from his spot at Rory’s feet and stuck his nose right up next to the little bat. “So small!” he said happily. “So cute!” He made tiny chirp noises in his excitement, unable to contain his joy.
Rory looked at it and smiled. It reminded him of a smaller Cloud, when he was just a little wispy bat, and so much easier to spoil and cuddle and clean up after. He tried to contain his excitement a little better than his dragon, but couldn’t help but smile, even as he tried to be serious. “Be careful that you train that dragon well. If you let it get away with things when it’s cute and little, it will grow up to be a terror.”
“I’m glad I’m not a terror,” Cloud squeaked happily. He nuzzled the little baby. “I’ll teach you all about being a good boy.”
“It sounds like you’re speaking from experience there, Rory.” Not lingering long on it though, Stela held the small black bat down to Cloud for him to have a sniff at the new dragon who squeaked in it’s small ways. Earning some awwwwwws as the dam was snuggled back into her bare skin and smooches placed on the soft face and belly as the small furry limbs were flailed with softer squeaks. “She’ll be the most behaved of baby girls, though I’m curious how big she will get. I suppose a dragon big enough to ride would be nice…”
“What’s her name, does she come with a name? I heard sometimes dragons come with names in mind.” Leaning up to paw at Maristela’s leg and illusion, used to the light magic that was placed on his rider often.
Humming as she went to sit on the couch and was at least followed by her own dragon, the rider wondered if she should start expanding her shop as she planned to do so before the entire disaster happened. Everything was fixed now, but as she cradled the dragon sho was nibbling on her fingers she had a feeling this wasn’t going to be a small bat forever.
“I’ll name her Araceli, how do you like that you little cutie.” Smiling so sweetly as she leaned in and got the smallest of bites on her nose and wiggles, it seemed to be accepted as she looked over to Cloud and Rory and then around to the current room.
The debates still rolling around in her head, though part of her wondered if it was just one of her passing morning thoughts.
“Her? She. Oh, it’s a girl!” Cloud realized happily. “A good girl! I hope she gets as big as me so we can play together–or at least as big as Astra. She will be my favorite dragon called Araceli forever.” The dragon imagined the other scaled up to his size; He didn’t remember that adult proportions were a thing, so she was just a giant hatchling in his head. “And we can fly together!”
Rory didn’t comment on who or what was a terror, nor why that would be. He simply looked at the rest of the room and echoed Maristela’s thoughts. “This place is not going to fit two storm dragons.” We might have to leave, he whispered to Cloud.
The dragon whined right away and howled out loud, “No, I don’t want to leave my friends Astra and Maristela and Araceli!” He stretched out his wings, knocking over some furnishings in the process. “I will make it bigger! Fewer walls!” He readied himself to destroy the walls, and possibly the support beams with them.
“Settle down, Cloud. Or you’ll have to stay outside until nightfall again.” Still tired, Stela didn’t want to deal with this being destroyed this early in the morning. The new hatching had her bright eyed and bushy tailed but that ache for more sleep tugged at her, and would most likely linger until she gave into fully waking.
“We could make the shop bigger, you’ve been wanting to for a while…” Astra offered with a yawn, resting his snout near the baby who squeaked away and clung to him. Not that Astra cared, even with a displeased Cloud threatening destruction.
“Who knows if pretty Aracelia will even get that big.” She cooed, but a part of her knew she would, even if a lot of smaller storm dragons were just as common from what she knew. “Don’t worry your pretty face, Cloud. Rory and you will come back as soon as it’s done, you’ll even have more space to stretch.” and destroy she thought to herself, leaning back into the couch. It would be a good chance to set up the room to be more fitting for Rory as well, as fun as his gentle torture was. “We’ll chat about the alterations to our deal over breakfast today, for now, let us relax.” Grabbing one of the plush blankets, it was a thought to start considering. Oh the idea of closing the shop down to rebuilding wasn’t a fun one, but thinking of all that space they could have was tempting enough. It’d be worth it in the end, or that’s what Maristela was telling herself anyways.