by tooth & claw dragons

where darkness and chaos reign...
Welcome to the land of dragons and elves; demons and death. Here, you may weave tales of all creatures, great and small - magic is found in everything, and many worlds one can explore are open for discovery. By Tooth And Claw Dragons, often shortened to BTACD, is an original high fantasy role-play site with over eighty species and ten solid worlds, fifteen years strong. Freedom of creativity is boundless within the established lore, and member suggestions are not only accepted, but encouraged. We release new content monthly, and are always expanding our wondrous Realms. Come and play with magic, honor the great gods, and beware the balance that governs all...
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 the QUEEN and the MESSENGER, Sherni, Luch, Nix, and Concinnity
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PLAYERS INVOLVED: @SherniKaur @Luchisto, @Nix, and @Concinnity

SETTING: The city of Vanim, in Queen Maeve's palace.

WEATHER: Cloudy (with a chance of meatballs :p). Frequent earthquakes and random energy waves.

TIME: A little behind! Ten days before current, at noon.

CHARACTERS INVOLVED: Maeve and Lyria Van'aarden (Sherni); Jhin Reyin (Luchisto); Alucius (Concinnity); and Khrisstopher (Nix)

This post has been edited by SherniKaur: Apr 15 2018, 05:21 PM
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As Maeve paced the bedroom of her palace, wearing a hole into the velvet rug beneath her bare feet, she snarled in frustration as she ran a pale hand through her long hair, which was pulled up out of her face in an elegant - yet efficient - coiffure that shifted, in both color as much as movement, like freshly spilled blood. Despite the angered set of her red lips, Maeve’s emerald eyes glittered calculatingly as she focused on the one fact she knew.

Her people were under siege.

Even though Maeve would like nothing more than to make Nina’s hands wrap around her own throat for daring to attack her country, she couldn’t help but admire how intelligent she was - and how ruthless. Nina had known how much the shattering of the royal bond would affect the rest of the realms, and her plans had worked.

Maeve’s lands were dying; she felt it in her very bones. Throughout Vanim, plants withered into nothing, energy dispelled in short bursts, and earthquakes shattered the white constructions that spiraled up, scraping the skies. She could do nothing about it; a newly-crowned queen, she was, without allies and significant coffers to spend on an army. It killed her to see how the light in her subjects' eyes were dimmed from how the war dragged on and on; some Snakekind had even invaded their homes, tearing Elven children out of their parents’ arms. The Faction had even killed some of the Elves they had deemed “out of line.”

Maeve’d had enough - enough of the bloodshed; enough of the war; enough of wailing in the streets, when before they had echoed with laughter and song and love. She would sell her soul to the Dark Five to see the Vystrian Elves prosper again.

But she knew that the Dark Five would not heed her prayers. Maeve needed allies, and for that, she needed someone to deliver her call to arms. But who would be up for such a task? Maeve thought in despair, her thin shoulders slumping. Who would so willingly risk their life for a kingdom that has so little to give in return?

Ah, but she did have something to offer:

Information, Maeve mused. I have information, and in a world at war . . . it is worth much more than Jaden is.

The Queen of the Vystrian Elves straightened. She was strong, she would survive this, and she would find allies; she would fight and cheat and win for her people.

But first, Maeve would find her messenger.
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Jhin was running.

Her wild heart was shaking her ribcage, pounding against the bones as if they were mallets against a xylophone. Her blood was loud in her ears, rushing in and out with every rushed pump of her heart.

Claws dug into the soil behind her, spraying dirt behind their frame, teeth white and gleaming in the sunlight. She could feel the breath hot on her scales, filled with the want of death, the spill of blood on the green leaves, to water the earth with war.

Jhin glanced up, fear dark in her pupilless eyes. She had hoped that the canopy of trees had disappeared by now, but she was mistaken. The sky above her was still covered thickly with branches, even more so than before. Only speckles of light reached down to her scales, and even those were slowly waning.

Without flight, she was doomed.

The dragoness sucked in a breath of the forest air and took a sharp left, gasping as she slammed into a tree, pain sparking up her side.
She pressed on, adrenaline fueling her movements, pushing herself to go faster to save her life.

Whatever was behind her roared in frustration somewhere to her diagonal right. It seemed her diversion tactic worked, but apparently not for long. She whipped her head around and saw what was coming. It was a black blur of webbed wings and wicked claws and gleaming teeth bounding toward her.

It was a Western Dragon, the same as her, with four legs and two wings. Her brain was muddled in confusion laced with fear and adrenaline. She had to go, she had to go now.

She flapped her wings as she pushed her body forward, the membrane spooning the air and thrusting her forward a couple of feet, though it wasn't enough.
The ebony dragon behind her screamed a loud, piercing scream that made her falter just enough to feel her feet go under her body and tumble through the dead leaves.

Jhin clawed at the ground, scrambling for purchase as she rolled, slamming hard into a tree back-first, causing her to arch her spine toward the tree in sudden pain, eyes wide and mouth open, moaning at the leaves.

The sudden feeling left her paralyzed for just a second before she heaved herself up, wings hanging heavily against her sides as her chest rose and fell rapidly.
She shook her head as if to clear the pain away until she suddenly snapped to attention.

Jhin strained her ears, turning around sharply in every direction, looking for what had been ruthlessly chasing her.
But it was like the dragon had simply vanished. Melted into the shadows and stalked her from the dark.

She lifted her wings, golden eyes wide as she scanned the trees, looking for any movement, searching for any sound.

She got one.

The sound of her scales ripping across her face.

She cried out in surprise and pain, staggering on her feet. Her head hung from her neck as she blinked, blood dripping in dark splatters.
Jhin's lips drew up to bear her teeth, her eyes shifting to a milky white, fangs filling with the poison hidden beneath her skin. The enamel adopted a frosty blue, a warning of what was going to come.

She roared at her assailant, loud and clear as the day as she bounded forward, claws digging into the ground as she launched herself into the air.
She was quick, but her target seemed to have anticipated her movement, for he had already moved.

Jhin snarled in frustration as she skidded across the forest floor, leaves scattering as they went airborne.
Her muscles bunched up, rippling through her scales as her tail thrashed back and forth, head low and teeth bared.

The dragon laughed at her, simply sauntering around her as if he had all the time in the world.

Jhin had had enough. She had earned bitemarks and claws tearing through her soft scales from him long before she had entered this forest. This was the end of it, the end of him.

The dragoness spread her wings, veins easily seen in her almost-transparent membranes as she tensed, preparing herself.
The tension kept building, and building, winding up like a tight spring until it suddenly..released!

Jhin had quickly flapped her wings, sending her bursting up into the air, leaves flying and twirling by the ground. She beat her avian appendages once more as she dove down, front legs first, claws spread and fangs unsheathed.

Her talons sunk into his back, through the armoured plates, and to the spine. Her back legs slamming into him, causing him to fall from the shear amount of force that had been applied to his frame.

Jhin wasted no time.

She pulled her claws from his flesh and turned him over with her mouth, teeth sinking into his scales and releasing poison into the body. It acted almost immediately, and the victim had almost no time to scream. frost spread across his forelimb, his scales losing all pigment and turning into a white-blue.

She quickly sunk her talons back into his skin, piercing his chest and pinning him down to the ground, making her his agony-twisted face would see hers.
Jhin eyed him, odd eyes looking at him intently before her mouth spread open and her fangs sunk into his throat.

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Alucius was half dozing in the afternoon light when he heard a scream from the edge of the heart of the forest.

The sound echoed through the forest, raising a chorus of objection from the Vystrian Ravens at the alien sound. Alucius turned to slip unnoticed into the entrance of his Libraries not wanting to get involved in another's messy affairs but something stopped him. A warning that rumbled along his spin. Maybe this time he needed to go see what was happening, worry about possible damage to his books caused his scales to rise.

With a muttered word and a flick of his tail Alucius turned and ran towards the origin of the sound, nimbly dodging trees.

Far too soon, he disliked conflict, Alucius arrived at the scene to find a dragoness standing over the body of a once ebony dragon. Before she could see him he slipped into a deep gully carved by a winter river, thick bushes lined its side hiding the curve of his folded wings from the cautious dragon that stood peering into the trees.

Staying as still as the rock of the river bed, Alucius settled in to watch and see what was going to happen next.

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CHARACTERS =Cyra, Alucius, Myth, Titius, Garvan, Thia, Aeliana, Terva, Bruttia, Helena (Pair-Bonded)Rochlan, Reunan, (Bonded) Valerian, Tovran, Lithan.

(Red is for characters in Current Threads! ALL are still open for Lore or Historical threads)
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The Western asshole hung limply from her fangs, head angled downward as his neck was in her mouth. She was vaguely aware of his twitching.

Her chest was heaving, taking in gasping breaths as her pupiless gaze flitted around the forest.
The lack of much-needed oxygen was making her vision swim. She had already worked her body to its limit, and it begged for her to close her eyes and pass out on the warm earth.

That did sound quite refreshing.

She gently set the neck of her attacker down on the ground, empathy always winning over.
Jhin let herself fall unceremoniously to the ground, chest still heaving.

The frost gradually left her fangs as her eyelids drooped, head hanging as her mouth opened in pants.
She reminded herself never to do this again.
^
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"ANGY! DON'T RUN OFF!" A woman's voice in the song forest, followed by a child's laughter. Golden eyes met dark green, both smiling. Jhessikha held her son's hand, and with her free hand brushed a lock of pale blue hair from her face. "Xavier, stay close, ok buddy?" She turned her head down to look at her son, who nodded patiently. So far, he was being the good child.

Meanwhile, Khristopher was chasing his daughter, delight in his eyes. He extended his four pairs of wings, and flew to catch up with Angicilia, who screeched in joy when her father scooped her up. "And where, pray-tell, are you going?" He laughed, bringing her back to the others.

The family were looking for herbs, mostly for Jhess's garden back in Albronel, so the two pair-bonded decided to make this a family affair. Now that they were here, though, Jhess was on full alert, and so was Khriss. They had heard rumors of the song forest under order to be burnt down, so they had to be very careful.

"Ok, Kids. Find some plants, ok?" The pair nodded, and ran off into the vicinity to find those herbs that their mother wanted. Khriss smiled, pulling his pairbond to his side gently, wrapping his wings around her. Then the dragon's screams lit their ears, and the kids looked up.

"Mommy? What's that?" The ever inquisitive Angy, at only five, was fairly intelligent. and from working near her father, knew pain when she heard it.

"I don't know, baby girl. C'mon, let's go look." Xavier wandered over, and Jhess picked up her son, moving toward the sound. Khrisstopher held out his hand, and his daughter took it, as they walked over to see the horrific sight of a dead dragon, and another sleeping besides it. The light hit the group as they stepped out of the treeline.

Jhessica was taller than Khriss, two dark blue rams horns extending from her head, the marker of her demonic heritage. In her arms, her son's dark green hair shimmered like the trees themselves, but his gold eyes looked on the dragon corpse with little fear.

Khristopher had eight wings, all folded at his back, and with his free hand, he pulled Angy closer, her blue hair getting into her face. A quick brush with his hand left her similarly blue eyes open, and though her's showed fear, they also showed compassion.

The family didn't know what to do. Or at least, the kids didn't. Jhess drew a small dagger from her hip, while Khriss drew a sword of gleaming Divine metal. "What happened here?" He called, pushing his daughter behind him.

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Aiahnaiah(Healer's Attempt)
Aurum(Thundering hooves)
Ashanta/Ishizu(Forgotten together)
Lusin/Diell(Silver wings)
Khrisstopher/Jhessikha/Angilicia/Xavier(Queen & Messenger)
Umbrun/Glacias(Facing Fears)
Perilia/Zinnos(Reserved)
One/Two/Three(Old friends and new places)
Iruk(Reserved)
Layla(Reserved)
Cadell(Mix Tape)
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Song Forest was calm today.

Although some crops withered and died because the Royal Bond had been broken, the beauty of the plants and trees in Linath's Greenwood remained the same - eternally luscious and practically sparkling. It was so peaceful here, and Lyria felt safer here than she did anywhere else; she was relaxed as she walked through the forest, searching for new plants to put in her garden. While she walked past familiar plantlife, her green robes billowing with the slight wind that rustled the leaves of the towering trees of Song Forest, Lyria silently named them: Dreamsage, Catnip, Roman Chamomile, Rosemary, Clary, Laurel . . . She knew that despite the clouds hanging over her head, it was the perfect day.

Or so she thought, for that was when the roaring began.

In front of Lyria, there were suddenly two Western Dragons clashing with each other, rolling around as they fought. Panicking at the frightening sight, Lyria cried out and backed away, scrambling for the knife at her side. But she didn’t need it; the Dragoness clamped her jaws down on the other’s neck, and instantly he slumped over, dead.

Hearing a whoosh behind her, she turned her head and noticed yet another Western fly into the brush behind her. It seemed like he was only watching, so Lyria didn’t bother to call out. When Lyria turned back to the Dragoness, wanting to ask if she was alright, the Western had already rolled to the side and fallen asleep.

She took a step toward the Dragoness - and almost jumped out of her skin when a woman yelled, “ANGY! DON'T RUN OFF!”

Lyria’s eyes widened. There was a family here. Oh, the children . . . what would happen to them when they saw this sight? She had to lead them away, take them to Maeve, do something. Queen Maeve would know what to do. Lyria took off at a sprint, her eyes searching for the woman who had

But it was too late; she found the four staring at the two dragons - one dead and one snoring. Oh no, thought Lyria. I was too late. Almost instantly, though, she noticed that something was . . . off about this family. Despite the horror that they had witnessed, they all were calm. She realized why upon closely inspecting them. A sword, glowing with the magic of the divine, hung at the man’s hip, and four pairs of wings flared out at his back. A little girl with a full head of blue hair peeked out behind his legs.

“Gods above,” Lyria whispered. “A Seraph.”

And the woman at his side . . . She held a boy, most probably her son, who’s jade hair shimmered in the watery sunlight, in one arm - and a dagger in her other. “And a demoness!” the Vystrian Elf exclaimed. “How . . .?” Her eyes darted between the two. “What?”

There would be no time to reply, for she heard the sound of flames, and then she saw them. Swathes of crimson fire swept toward them, burning a path of destruction everywhere it went. Lyria gasped, clutching a hand to her heart. “No.” Her eyes were filled with horror. “No, no, no.”

She couldn’t do anything about this right now. . . but she could alert Queen Maeve. Maeve would know what to do; Maeve would send aid and prevent this from happening.

Lyria gently touched the Demoness’s arm. “We have to run - now. Take your family to the gates of Vanim and tell them that Lyria sent you. They will grant you refuge.” She pushed her forward. “Go! I’ll buy you time.”

Then, without hesitation, she sprang into action, darting to the brush where the Western dragon hid. “Do you want to be useful? Take that Dragoness,” Lyria pointed a slender finger at where the Dragoness still slumbered, “and fly to Vanim. Go to Queen Maeve’s palace and tell her ‘Linath’s Greenwood is burning.’ She’ll know what to do. Go quickly; I’ll buy you time.”

And with that, Lyria Van’aarden, with all of her strength, ordered the plants around her to grow.

All around her, plants sprang to life. They erupted from the ground in showers of dirt: Vines, flowers, shrubs . . . they all sprouted up, up, up.

She was creating a wall to stop the fire from reaching them.
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Was Jhin pretty much sailing down the river of unconsciousness? Yep.

Did she like it that way?

Yes..and no. But yes won out as much as her body had a vote in it. The Western male had been maiming her for miles, clawing at her limbs in hope of severing a tendon, scraping his wicked claws across her soft scales to bleed her out, and all of the running, flying, fighting and loss of blood had taken a toll.

Did she expect an Elf, a family of four, and another Western Dragon to come by her path? No. Did she very much care at the moment?
Not much.

If they planned to kill her, she wouldn't feel it. Oblivion had filled her sails as soon as her eyes shut. It would be a quiet death to the realm of her ancestors.

She heard nothing of the exchange as blood welled up and dripped from her wounds. Her scales had been split at her face into three long, jagged lines, bite marks marred her limbs in red ugly patches.
Hidden wounds came rising up in the form of purple bruises hiding beneath the scales, waiting to cause trouble in the early hours of the morn.

Jhin was on her side, one wing folded and pressed between her and the ground, the other looked as if it was in the midst of being folded before her body decided no more and let her collapse to the ground.

The only thing moving in rapid succession was her chest, still heaving breaths full of oxygen to her blood. Her body craved it as much as it craved rest. Every inch of her was positively screaming, and the only thing good about the situation was that she wasn't awake for it.
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Alucius had not expected to come across a clearing quite as full as the one before him, but what truly filled him with horror were the flames that roared towards him. His forest, his home, the place were few tread and he had known peace from the bitter battles of his Realm was burning. With a sickening twist in his gut, he knew that if they were not stopped that his books would burn with the trees.

With wings mantled Alucius stepped out from the bushes, ignoring the wounded dragoness and the elf as she brought forth plants to dye and breathed in. Letting the feel of the flames fill his soul as he reached out to the flames with his inner self. A deep rouble, not unlike the roar of the flames before them came from his chest.

Then like drunk soldiers falling into line at the sight of their captain the flames halted their advance, the roar and crackle turning into a murmur. Alucius could feel that the fire was under his control, the ripple of the flames shifted under his scales as they became one with his will and with a single thought extinguished the flames.

Loss and a bone-deep chill followed; the exhaustion he knew would only come later. For now, all he had to deal with was the weight of the flames death.

As he turned to the elf women Alucius pulled himself up to his full height and looked down upon her, and in a voice that still held the faintest crackle of the fire said, 'Now you can tell your queen that ‘Linath’s Greenwood was burning.'

With that, he turned to leave... a worry worming its way through his heart. No normal fire would have spread so fast.

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CHARACTERS =Cyra, Alucius, Myth, Titius, Garvan, Thia, Aeliana, Terva, Bruttia, Helena (Pair-Bonded)Rochlan, Reunan, (Bonded) Valerian, Tovran, Lithan.

(Red is for characters in Current Threads! ALL are still open for Lore or Historical threads)
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The two parents didn't know how they had missed the fire at their backs. Khriss drew his daughter to the front, picking her up, ready to fly away, while Jhess was sheathing her dagger... Until the fire died out a moment. The four turned, and blinked at the dragon.

Without missing a beat, Khriss went to the dragoness, kneeling down, a light green glow covering his hands. He ran it over her body, swiftly, and wounds began to heal, with Angy wiggling out of her father's grasp to help, a lighter blue glow taking her hands, though she quickly became tired and sat, white wings flaring outward in frustration as she yawned.

Jhess relaxed slightly, putting her son down to explore with a firm telling off to not wander away, turning to the woman she assumed was Lyria. "Thank you for trying to help our family. My name is Jhessikha, over there is my pairbonded, Khrisstopher, and these are our kids, Angilicia and Xavier." She motioned to each in turn, running a hand between her horns, through her blue hair. Xavier had wandered over to Angy, and was hitting her with his leather wings playfully, to which she began chasing him around the clearing until Jhess turned her head and growled, actually growled.

Both children promptly apologized and went to sit by their father, while Jhess turned back to the elf. "I'm sorry for my children, they normally aren't this ill behaved." She nodded in respect.

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Aiahnaiah(Healer's Attempt)
Aurum(Thundering hooves)
Ashanta/Ishizu(Forgotten together)
Lusin/Diell(Silver wings)
Khrisstopher/Jhessikha/Angilicia/Xavier(Queen & Messenger)
Umbrun/Glacias(Facing Fears)
Perilia/Zinnos(Reserved)
One/Two/Three(Old friends and new places)
Iruk(Reserved)
Layla(Reserved)
Cadell(Mix Tape)
^
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Lyria smiled nervously; she was still shell-shocked from what had happened. When she turned to the Demoness—Jhessikha, she called herself—Lyria was trembling slightly. “Y-you’re.” She swallowed, steeling herself. “You’re welcome, ma’am. I’m Lyria, by the way.” She turned her head to look at the slumbering Dragoness and at the Seraph healing her. Questions burned in her mind: Who were these people? Why were they here? And how, in all that was holy, did a Demoness and a Seraph end up together and have children? Holy gods . . . children. Of a Seraph and a Demoness.

Lyria mentally shook herself. There were more pressing matters at hand. “We should get to Queen Maeve—she’ll know what to do with the fire-mages. A-and with the Dragoness,” she said.

In the corner of her eye, Lyria noticed that the Western who had put the fires out was leaving. Before she could think, Lyria called, “Please! Wait! You—you have to help put the rest of the fires out . . . There will be more, sir. Don’t leave just yet.”

—————

Fire

Maeve heard the whisper of the word in Lyria’s thoughts, and she went utterly still. Instantly, she knew what it meant; it had been whispered in her ear by informant after informant: Song Forest was burning.

She fell to her knees, trembling.

Act, a voice whispered in her ear—an ancient voice, deep and melodious. Ensure that it does not spread . . .”

With the ancient woman’s words, she rose to her feet and did just that. Like hell she would let her people suffer; like hell she would back down.

For she was Maeve, Queen of the Vystrian Elves.

And she would not be afraid to defend her people.


This post has been edited by SherniKaur: Apr 12 2018, 05:07 PM
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Her wounds mended effortlessly, but her body paid no mind, as if she wanted to face the greatest fear of her life.
Sure, fire was just fire. Dragons breathed it for the gods sakes, but there was a difference about this one, the orange flames trapping everyone in as it burned through the wood.

The ash was thick from the burning leaves, shreds of what they once were floating to the ground in black specks.
The smell of burning white oak punctured the air like a sword through soft dragon hide.
She was very happy not to be aware at this time, otherwise, she would most likely be screaming inside her mind and frozen externally.
^
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“Please! Wait! You—you have to help put the rest of the fires out . . . There will be more, sir. Don’t leave just yet.”

Alucius paused and turned just as the first wave of pain hit him, his bones burst into pain as though set on fire causing him to tremble. Although he was loth to admit it before the strangers, that fire had been bigger and far more effort to put out than he had expected it to be and as always the toll was far steeper than seemed fair.

As the pain settled into his bones, so did the lead weight of the women's words... if there were more fires... Pulling himself up against the pain and the growing urge to sleep he faced the group of strangers and sighed,

"More?"

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CHARACTERS =Cyra, Alucius, Myth, Titius, Garvan, Thia, Aeliana, Terva, Bruttia, Helena (Pair-Bonded)Rochlan, Reunan, (Bonded) Valerian, Tovran, Lithan.

(Red is for characters in Current Threads! ALL are still open for Lore or Historical threads)
^
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Jhess turned to her pair-bond, who stood from healing, picking his daughter up and walking over. "I must also thank you for helping, Madam." He bowed slightly, and Xavier went to go hug the woman as well. He didn't get far, though, because his mother picked him up, a frown on her face.

"Her name is Lyria, love." She muttered, more of a whisper, to inform him. He nodded, but not before glancing to the nearly leaving dragon.

"Fire-mages, from the Faction of hope. Speaking of, we should get you and this Dragoness out of view, if they should see you..." Khriss said, turning to the dragoness. "Lyria, where should we bring her? Here just isn't safe anymore, not with the fires, and definitely not with the faction." He asked, green eyes searching.

Jhess sighed, hugging her son close, who seemed upset at not being able to hug the woman. He huffed, and grabbed at a tree-branch, which his mother let him do, but when he had removed a dead twig, it dissapeared, and he almost started crying. "Oh, no, baby. not again. It's ok, Xavier, It's ok buddy." She muttered, bouncing him slightly.

"Khriss, you don't listen. She said to Maeve, in the city." Jhess said absently, while her pairbond facepalmed slightly, his daughter giggling slightly.

This post has been edited by Nix: Apr 13 2018, 04:18 PM

--------------------
Aiahnaiah(Healer's Attempt)
Aurum(Thundering hooves)
Ashanta/Ishizu(Forgotten together)
Lusin/Diell(Silver wings)
Khrisstopher/Jhessikha/Angilicia/Xavier(Queen & Messenger)
Umbrun/Glacias(Facing Fears)
Perilia/Zinnos(Reserved)
One/Two/Three(Old friends and new places)
Iruk(Reserved)
Layla(Reserved)
Cadell(Mix Tape)
^
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Lyria nodded at the Western Dragon, her eyes pleading. “Yes, there will be more. If you could just fly back to the palace . . . It would help, erm . . .” Realizing that she did not yet know the Dragon’s name, she asked, “W-what’s your name, sir?”

Her attention was drawn to blue-haired boy, who caused a dead twig to disappear. Lyria flinched, her eyes widening. She’d never seen magic such as that before! Nevertheless, she replied to Khriss: “Maeve is the Queen of the Vystrian Elves. We must go to her palace in Vanim and alert her majesty of the attack—and fast.

“We also must get the Dragoness out of here. You wouldn’t happen to have enough strength to carry her a short distance, would you?” Lyria spoke hurriedly, for she did not want to waste time; they had to get there quickly to warn the people of Vanim.

“That won’t be necessary, dear,” replied a calm voice.

Lyria whipped her head around to find Maeve standing before her. “M-my queen.” She curtsied before the woman.

The Queen of the Vystrian Elves surveyed the concourse of various species. “Lyria, you know there is no need for that,” she said kindly. She finally spotted the rest of the group. “And who might you be?” she mused, her emerald eyes glittering with cold, hard calculation.

Maeve was not alone; with her was a band of ragtag archers, all fiddling with their bows. One woman, seemingly the leader of the group, was but a step behind the Queen. She was silent, but there was strength in her slender form, and she held her bow with calloused hands.
^
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