Meiron flared his wings, the navy feathers easily catching the currents, well, what little currents there were at this altitude and the region they were in; beside him the falcon shifted course, likely having spotted prey. A laugh returned the shifts attention to the dragons below, Ruin easily flying around Ray frolicking in the snow touched air, and below them, both Teo ambled through the snow touched rocks and boulders; making his way through them with ease. The young male suddenly shot upwards, to soar beside his rider. “I can see Strawberry.” He reported, ears twitching as the gryphon too caught sight of the waiting dragon, perched atop a pile of rocks, their brown tones hidden by the blanket of white that covered the entire area. “Go on then.” Meiron said, Ruin grinned, descending fast to greet the other dragon… he wasn’t quite as awkward as his sire was in these circumstances. Ray and Teo also turned off, the two older dragons were hunting, Meiron angled his own descent to a nearby rock pile, talons easily gripping the rocks. Folding his wings tight, he turned his attention to Ruin and his companion.
Ruin waited until Strawberry nodded at him in acknowledgement before pulling on his storm magic, ice shards forming in the air around him, but before he could launch them at the older female something came his way, and his grip on the magic faltered. Dropping fast he managed to catch sight of the star pearl as it flew by where he had been, and behind it, the female flew towards him; hissing, he tucked his wings tight and descended fast, the terrain blurring around him, flaring them at the last possible moment he pulled on his magic again, massive ice shards erupting from the rock features to hinder Strawberry as she flew towards him, it bought him time to get back into the open air, powerful wings pulling his body high again.
Ray caught sight of the massive herd of hooved creatures only once she and Teo were on the open plains of the savannah; the vast space empty except for the tall grasses and the occasional baobab tree; unusually though, a faint layer of white covered vast areas, the winter storms having swept through only days before. Teo slowed down coming to a halt near one of the trees, far enough away that the herd paid him no attention. Ray landed next to him. “Any ideas?” Teoxihuitl asked, his whiskers twitching as he looked over the herd. “Hmmm, maybe I fly above them and spook them your way.” Reirsyphys suggested, her front talons gripping the bark. “We could also ‘funnel’ them?” Teo continued, a glint in his eyes that Ray mimicked, both having recently unlocked their earth magic. “Get ready then. “ Ray said, her tone eager as she took off, large wings spread as she flew high.
Panting Ruin turned to see where Strawberry was, eyes narrowing as he realised she was not in sight, whether in the air or on the ground, the older female had gone, vanished, still… surely he hadn’t proven himself yet. He glanced at where Meiron was, the gryphon sprawled out on a rock as the sun shone on him as his rider watched the trial; he pulled on his magic, freezing the minute particles of water that was in the air from the melting snow…. and then he listened… A faint jingle of sound had him turning, once more seeing nothing, his ears twitched as the frozen particles moved, instinct kicked in and he pulled all the ice towards that point, Strawberry’s illusion fading fast as she collided with him, unhindered by the ice that clung to her body. Ruin kicked out with his back legs, separating them, before lashing out with the ice that still lingered, this was far from over.
The herd shifted slightly as a shadow passed over them, but they weren’t panicking yet; Ray grinned, catching a glint of light in the distance where Ruin proved himself; but her attention was on the herd below; she looked at where Teo waited, powerful legs planted in the earth as he waited for her to make her move. Roaring she dove, the herd spooked and headed towards the waiting dragon, not that they’d spotted him yet; Ray urged them onwards, a green glow around her as she spotted the front veering off, the earth shifted beneath them, walls of brown stopping that exit. Spotting an older bull struggling behind she dove, her talons outstretched to grab her prey.
Teo watched it all unfold, his partners stoop, the panicking herd, the shift of the earth as she blocked their exit; still he waited, wings spread as far as they would. A bellow of warning as the herd spotted the second hunter, but before they could swerve the earth moved again, the metal hybrid using his own magic to box the herd in, which meant their only exit was either into the swooping talons of the winged predator or the waiting talons of the grounded hunter. The individuals at the front, pressed as close to the earth summoned walls as possible, Teo lunged, his head sliding under one to knock it off balance, before killing it swiftly, his focus on taking down another one as the herd continued to stampede through the hunters trap; after all, they only needed a few animals, both to feed themselves, and for Ruin after he completed this trial.
Strawberry as Ruin’s companion
Meanwhile, Ray and Teo are off on an adventure (hunting), while Meiron is there for moral support
Meiron easily made his way through the cave, it wasn’t the first time he’d been down this way, though, it was the first time he’d been heading towards the immense underground lake that was to be the setting for Ruin’s flexibility trial; his ears pricked as the sound of water grew ever more noticeable. even over the footfalls of the three dragons Ray and Teo were accompanying Ruin, though, unlike the youngster, they had plans to go explore the cave system itself. Ruin was confused, he couldn’t see how an underground cave was a trial at all, especially for an earth hybrid like himself.
All at once, the tunnel opened fully, revealing an immense cavern, a light glow coming from the ceiling, either from a glowing insect or a moss, none of the three awestruck dragons knew; what it did was light the area, revealing the inky black waters of the massive underground lake; the calm surface rippled as a head appeared, the small white dragon eagerly waving a bluefin at them all before paddling towards the shore as Meiron reached it, her star pearl just above her. “Well…good luck.” Ray said, brushing against Ruin and padding around the lake edge, Teo too nodded, sympathy in his eye. This trial was challenging. “Hah, don’t get lost now.” The storm hybrid responded watching the other two fade out of sight.
Ruin’s approach to the lake was slow, one, the closer to the water he got the larger and more imposing it seemed, and two…. he couldn’t tell how deep it was either, the light barely touching the surface. “Hello there, I’m Popple. Don’t worry, you won’t be going too deep, the area where you’re at is shallow, so just inch in and get used to the feel.” The small dragon chirped at him reassuringly, her confidence a boost, and, Ruin assumed this was not the first time she’d assisted another dragon in a trial. Carefully he placed the tip of his wing finger in the water, it wasn’t cold, in fact, it was quite pleasant. Just at that point, Meiron floated past, the navy cat seemingly unfazed by the waters… in fact, he seemed to be enjoying it. Snorting at the sight, Ruin waded into the water, carefully feeling the fine water bed below him. It didn’t take long for the waters to cover him, sinking into the thick fur around his neck, his head and shoulders still above the waters. “You okay?” Popple asked, Ruin nodded, it felt odd. “Okay, I’m going to swim out a bit, and I want you to swim to the star pearl and then back to the ‘shore’.” The cheerful dragon said, easily wading through the waters a fair distance away. She waved a fin at him, and the dark form of Meiron floated past. Ruin took a deep breath and pushed off, the waters flowing around him as he did so.
Popple watched the larger male, just in case he truly started to struggle, at the moment he wasn’t making any progress, still splashing about in the shallows, but she didn’t pressure him to head out, just waited. Meiron opened his eyes when he got splashed. “Just imagine you’re flying.” he offered mentally paddling away a bit, before relaxing again, effortlessly floating along the dark waters. Ruin panted, back legs kicking as he tried to keep his head above the water; but he didn’t hesitate in trying, his wings flaring as he ‘flapped’, he didn’t get anywhere, but no longer was he struggling to keep his head above the water. He watched as Popple paddled further out, noting how she moved her fins… in some aspects his wings were fin-like. Determined now, he moved them, not up and down, but forward and back, rotating them. It wasn’t easy, and already he could feel the muscles burning from the unusual motions, but he was making progress, and he did everything to not think about the fact he could no longer feel the lake bed beneath his hind feet. Finally, he reached Popple and she grinned at him. “Want to try further out?” She asked, at his nod she slipped into deeper waters, watching the youngster proudly as his motions became smoother, bit by bit she led him around the lake, until judging he’d done enough, and finally led him back towards shore. Ruin hobbled out, panting from the excursion, but shook himself, water flying everywhere, including over the still floating cat, and earning a glare from his rider. Popple inched up next to him as he rested, waiting for the adventuring pair to return.
While both Ray and Teo were tempted to look around the lake area, they didn’t want to disturb Ruin, so by the time the youngster had inched into the water, they were off down a connecting tunnel, the earth pressing close to them both, but in a familiar and comfortable way. “Doesn’t seem to be a mining tunnel at all.” Teo commented whiskers twitching as he led the way. “Who knows then, maybe there are some gemstones lying around.” Ray responded, shifting her wings along her back slightly. It would be great if there were some precious stones around, who knows they may even bring back some for Meiron… after a snack or two should they find them. Teo snorted in amusement. After a few dead ends, the pair eventually came to another cavern, this one far smaller than the other one, but still large enough that Ray could unfurl her wings. “Look” She said, catching the others attention, here and there a gentle glimmer from stones of some sort caught what little light there was. “Ladies first.” Teo said, bowing much to the amusement of his partner; there certainly seemed to be enough to go round.
Stuffed with gemstones (both literally from all the snacking and from as many as they could carry), Ray and Teo made their way back to the large underground cavern, grinning at the sight of the puffed-up Ruin, his fur having fluffed out as he dried; beside him, Popple snoozed, and Meiron, well the cat was busy stretching. “You two look as puffed up as Ruin does, and he has fur.” Ruin snorted in amusement at the comment, while Teo and Ray just looked smug. “Did you bring some for me?” the hybrid asked, grinning as they nodded. Well, he wasn’t going to turn down a snack or two.
Popple as Ruin’s Companion
Meanwhile, Ray and Teo are off caving, and Meiron is here for support again… and a nice swim.
The sun had longs since started to fade by the time Meiron, Ray, Teo and Ruin surfaced from the underground area they had been in; Popple having returned to her own home before the party had set off. “Just one more to do.” Ruin said, leaning back on his hind legs and stretching his wings muscles; besides him, Ray was doing the same; above gentle snow fell, coating the area in a white blanket. “Gather a feast.” Meiron responded, the cat form shifting into that of a gryphon. “You two gluttons can help gather some plants and berries for Midnight since you’ve already stuffed yourselves.” The shift said, a talon pointing at the two, who ignored him, it had been well worth it, gemstones were rare in a cenote full of earth dragons. Snorting at the response, the gryphon pushed off from the snow-covered ground, Ray and Ruin following shortly after as Teo plodded along below them, easily keeping up with the airborne dragons and their rider.
It was full dark by the time Ruin spotted something in the distance, the moon glinting off something even with the snow covering most of the area. As they neared, the ruined shell of a town stood, the windows long since gone, as the greenery reclaimed it, well… green and white given the decent layer of snow on it all. Meiron landed in an open space in front of one such building, Ruin meanwhile back winged, clinging onto a vine with his wings, claws unsheathed as he peered into the maw curiously; his ears twitching at the silence. Ray landed next to the gryphon, a doubtful look on her face, despite the amount of greenery, there seemed to be very little berries or plants for that matter. Teo finally appeared. “I saw something to the wast, a large mound, though I couldn’t see what it was. Shall we?” He asked Ray, who nodded, after a quick glance at their rider, who inclined his head.
“There’s not much here?” Ruin commented, dropping off from the side of the building to land next to Meiron. “Sure there is… if you look.” Meiron responded, sitting fully back on his haunches, arms crossed as his crest raised. It was a trial after all. Ruin glared at the smug rider, but began nosing around the snow on the ground; of course, he knew that food wasn’t always plentiful… still… His searches around the snow-covered outer building brought up nothing, it was all cobbles and shattered stone. Even the vines that clung to the buildings was inedible; muttering under his breath he slipped inside one of the ruined buildings, the roof still intact for the most part, providing some shelter from the elements. He wondered if Ray and Teo were having more luck.
The trek to the unusual mound didn’t take long; it was just on the outskirts of the town; curious, the pair began gently scraping away at the snow that covered it. “It’s a fabric of some sort.” Ray said, running a talon down it, and while she was loath to damage it… but she was more curious about what was under it. “It’s not as if the town needs it.” Teo replied, nodding Reya used more pressure, eventually it tore, and the sweet scent of flowers hit them both, as well as the sound of something activation, magical energy surging slightly as a small construct came to life; parts of its body rusted but it able to move still, a series of clicks and whistles as it approached the pair of dragons, almost as if it was asking a question. “Any idea?” Ray asked, looking at her partner. Teo lowered his head, not that he any idea either, but he figured it was a worker of some sort. “We’re looking for some flowers, umm… quite like the dark.” He asked, ignoring the snicker from Ray. The construct went still, sparks of electricity surging, before it ‘beckoned’ them, wheeling d
own through the ‘tent’ and as they followed, though overgrown now, it was apparent that it had once been well ordered and maintained. The construct halted, whistling as it pointed at an array of flowers. “Maybe we should look around some more?” Ray asked, carefully picking up a clump. “To make it look like this took us a while.” Teo asked. “Sure, I think it’ll take Ruin a while to find enough food for it to be a ‘feast’. The construct clinked and whistled, wheeling off as the two dragons explored the tent.
An odd echo had Ruin halting, peering down at the cracked floor below him, or more accurately, the tattered remnants of a rug. Moving it to one side, he grinned as he caught sight of a handle, a trap door. Well, it was worth a shot. After a few moments he had it open, and wriggled his way into the cellar; wrinkling his nose at the smell, but…. below the smell of stale air, was another one… “Mushrooms.” Not that he was knowledgeable about them, but he was almost sure these were safe to eat, but… he’d gather them first, and double-check, if all else failed, he was sure Meiron would be able to sell them. Grinning, he began the slow task of gathering them, one wing holding a selection as he returned to Meiron.
By the time Teo and Ray returned with their flowers, Ruin had a decent collection of mushrooms, it was more than enough to count as a ‘feast’. Meiron blinked at the flowers but said nothing, Night would find a home for them. Ready?” He asked, all three dragons nodded, more than ready to return to the comfort of the Cenote.
Ray and Teo are gathering, and Meiron is once more here for moral support.