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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Country of Vystriana

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 Stars Crossing, Verridith, JPG
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PLAYERS INVOLVED: @Verridith, @JPG

SETTING: Southern Darklights, near Time's Temple

WEATHER: Misty, Foggy, Ass-Icicles Cold

TIME: Current - 3 days after "Unto Victory"

CHARACTERS INVOLVED: Arnus (Verridith), Kari (JPG)

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By the dawn of the third day after the battle of D'issan, the Winged Knight had left the drow city, having properly healed her wounds. There had been no attacks on D'issan, and the fortification of the drow city had gone well. And Kari was not one to sit in one place for too long.

On one hand, she simply could not sit and rest when the nation of Vystriana was in such chaos and turmoil. As absurd as she realized it sounded, she wanted to 'save' this wartorn nation. The people were suffering, and they cried for salvation. She would at least attempt to assist in being that light.

But on the other hand, she was completely lost; in her spirit, she felt a great void. Was she doing the right thing? Where was she heading with this crusade? Was it all in Daaama's will? The Will of the Ten? She had to connect with Daama. Settle her spirit by conversing with her goddess and the Ten. The Light, the Ten, would guide her, as they always had. The nearest place where she could find sanctuary - a place where she could connect with the divine - would be Time's Temple.

So she had started her long trek to Time's Temple - beset by blustering freezing winds and blizzards that threatened to freeze off her wings, the miserable cloaked figure trudged her way through the snow, attempting to keep warm however she could. The Temple was in sight - her legs and eyes were so tired. But it was so close.

She ducked into a small alcove formed from the rocky terrain of the Darklights, attempting to catch her breath, stolen away by the freezing winds. The Vystrian army had graciously granted her a thick, warm, woolen coat and cloak for her journey, but the winter this year was extremely harsh, and her wings shivered in the icy climate - tiny icicles forming on them even when snuggled in the woolen warmth.

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And suddenly, she was beset by a tiny, curious, loud creature.

A feylizard had been flying past at some speed, a trinket clasped in its claws, when it spotted movement; the tiny thing abandoned whatever goal it had in mind and winged over to perch on one of the angel's wings, bright little eyes wide as it sniffed and whined at her in the woolen confines of her cloak.

It was a dainty thing - it had bright white scales marked with shades of green, with expressive frills and wide, decorative wings. Its blue eyes shimmered as it gave a particularly plaintive raak, then froze for a second and looked up and around, frills spread to catch whatever noise it'd heard.

"Razgriz! Raz, dammit, get back here!" Footsteps crunching through the snow could be heard as the voice carried in the cold. The tiny feylizard gave a chitter and flew off, just as a young man emerged from the fog, reaching to catch the creature as it flew past - and he was successful, snatching it from the air while ignoring its angry squeals and cries. "I told you not to fly off like that," the young man - an elf judging by the pointed ears and long blond hair - scolded, grey-blue eyes narrowed. "What if the Faction sees you? You're target practice to them!"

Then, the feylizard wriggled free of his grasp and flew over to perch on Kari again - this time, on her head. "Dammit," the elf cried, taking a step forward; but he stopped mid-step, surprised at what he saw.

The elf was young, about the equivalent of nineteen or twenty, with blond hair and eyes like the ocean on a stormy day. He wore a thick whitefur cloak over a warm leather coat. A small golden scale glimmered around his neck, and he wore a single earring; but no other sign of wealth could be seen - not even a coinpurse at his belt. The sword at his side looked somewhat old, the naked blade scarred from reforging, though the hilt was well made and decorative.

"Oh no," he said, surprised, "are you okay? I didn't see you there - are you hurt? Do you need help?"

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user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
^
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Poor thing. Poor frail little dragon. It must've been freezing to death, she thought to herself. Her hand reached out, glowing with a soft glow of a faint amount of light reiatsu - attempting to provide warmth to the creature. As she did, she admired its scales and wonderful wings - it was a creature of great beauty. She closed her eyes as she prayed under her breath.

"Lady of Light, please guide me through the darkness - allow me to be your servant, your messenger - to bring your salvation and warmth to those you so love. Amen."

It was then the cry pierced the howling winds. At first, her hand reflexively went to her weapon - but no, it was clearly calling for this creature - which had fled as the call came through. She quickly drew her hood to make sure to hide her features a little better.

This elf apparently was not fond nor trusting of the Faction. That comforted her a little. But he could still recognize her as of Halgia nationality - and she trusted few not to run their mouths.
heard.

It was harder to change her voice without her helmet, but much of the inflection dropped from her tone. "Please. Do not worry. I am not of the Faction. Just a traveler - a pilgrim if you would." Her own voice spoke with a sharp, chilling coldness - nearly like that of a construct, devoid of pitch and tonal variance.

She gestured to her mount carrying plate mail - of Halgian make. Really needed to get a replacement for those, but funds were hard. "I merely wish to pray to the Ten for guidance. I stopped to rest before the last leg."

"Are you fleeing the Faction? Are you in need of protection, an escort?" On her back was her usual naginata and short bow - she was definitely no stranger to combat. In spite of this, the biting cold was taking its toll, and her posture was hunched over slightly - the long, quick-paced journey had worn on her and her thinner avian bones.

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The Faction hadn't even crossed his mind when he first saw her; his instinct was always to help people, damn the danger. Having stopped abruptly after only a step when she spoke, he cursed himself for his lack of caution, but was rather relieved to hear she wasn't Faction after all.

It didn't mean it wasn't a trap; but... well, Razgriz seemed to trust her. The feylizard's intuition was rarely wrong.

"Ah," he said, reaching up to grab the fey again as he playfully tried to dart past. "No. I'm actually just heading to the temple myself for a while." Not entirely true, but not a lie either - he needed to resupply before heading out again. "The Faction hasn't been seen around it... but we still have to be careful."

Arnus hesitated, then let Razgriz climb from his hands to his shoulders. The feylizard curled around his neck and hid in the warmth of his fur-lined cloak and beneath his hair, grumbling as it glared about being caught. Snow settled in his hair, but he didn't seem to notice - or care much - about it or the cold. "I wouldn't mind the company... are you sure you're alright?"

His storm-colored eyes held concern; he picked up on her weariness, and took another hesitant step forward. He noticed her wings, and though he couldn't see her face, figured she was some kind of avian or xeriin. "I can go back and get a horse for you to ride, if you'd like; it's freezing out here. If I can help get you to shelter any faster, please, let me help you."

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user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
^
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Her own cloak, while thick, was worn and not nearly as insulated as the elf’s own. While she had two more layers underneath that, she was starting to realize how fierce the winds could be in the Darklights.

The angel merely nodded at the elf’s returned warning as well as his explanation of where he was headed. “Then it seems we are headed the same way.” Her face seemed to be nigh forcing the facade of stoic strength - her lips were turning a little deathly pale blue from the biting winds and chill.

As she turned to head towards the temple, thinking she would be escorting him, she heard him question her condition. “I’m quite alright.” She forced the snappy response through her frozen lips. “I-I don’t need help - I'm alright,” she added for emphasis. She was supposed to help others, not the other way around. Silly elf.

“Do you need an escort or not? As you said, prudent precaution is wise.” She shot a glance at the elf, sharpening her gaze in order to hide what weariness was in her gaze, attempting to straighten herself to match her claim - her feathers shaking in an attempt to warm themselves up in the fierce storm - the layer of frost still clinging to the tips of her feathers.

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Arnus didn't immediately respond. He was somewhat taken aback by her response; but he didn't believe a word of it, and instead glanced around and waved a hand. Light blossomed from his fingertips; a solid sheet formed, shimmering almost invisibly, until it was nearly six feet wide and tall. It blocked the wind well, and gave off a gentle warmth - the feylizard rasped something and flew away from his master to perch at its foot.

He looked back and gave her a nod. "Sure," he replied. "Verri'd probably want me to have an escort anyways. She'd eat me if she knew I was out here alone."

The young elf still couldn't discern who or really what she was; but she couldn't be too much of a threat, not like this. He pushed away the concern and mentally strengthened the light barrier, as more warmth bled from its shimmering surface. With a slight half-smile, messing with the golden scale around his neck, he offered his other hand. "I'm sorry - I didn't introduce myself. Guess I got carried away. My name is Arnus; who are you?"

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user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
^
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The unhelmeted winged knight stepped back at the light magic prowess the elf displayed. She took a deep breath, and closed her eyes, basking in the warmth for a moment - feeling life’s warmth reinvigorate her weary form. The winged knight stretched her wings out again as she felt sensation return to every single feather.

She wasn’t an idiot. She knew he didn’t buy her feeble posturing. She looked up at the young elf for a moment in silence, before uttering a timid “Thank you.”

The angel looked to Arnus as he introduced himself, allowing her gray-blue eyes to be seen from underneath the hood - stray strands of snow-white hair hanging in front of her face. “...Arnus...they call me the Winged Knight. I have been lending my services to Vystriana for a few months now.” She paused. The elf had been so kind in spite of her rudeness. Surely it wouldn’t hurt to trust him - just a little. “...but my name is Kari.” She still would make no mention of her origins or why she was so far from home. But a name was common courtesy at least.

She bowed her head in reverence to the elf, guiding the packhorse carrying her armor along with a tug of its reins.

Then it hit her. “. . . wait - your name is Arnus and you have an acquaintance named Verri . . . then you are the Queen’s rider?”

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"You guessed," the prince said with a grin. "My friend Caele and I used to bet on how long it'd take people to figure out who I was."

He held the light shield for a while longer, glancing momentarily down at the feylizard; the little creature thrummed happily in the light, wings folded and tail curled around him on a stone raised out of the patchy snow. "It's nice to meet you, Kari," he said, looking back. "The Winged Knight... I'm afraid I've been a bit out of the loop lately. I haven't been out of my training in Heartwood long, and the first thing I did here was get attacked by snakes."

His expression turned somewhat sheepish. "I also seemed to have misplaced my teacher and an old friend; they absconded while I was recovering. How rude, huh? Anyways, let's get going - there's a storm coming soon, and I don't think any of us want to be caught out in it."

Banishing the shield, he picked up a disgruntled-looking Razgriz and nodded to his right, ignoring the pang of pain in one shoulder with the movement. A cold wind sheared through the area now that the shield was gone. "The Temple is that way. Let's hurry."

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user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
^
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“Please forgive my obtuseness, Prince Arnus. I will be happy to escort you to the Temple.” The angel bowed lowly in reverence to the dragonrider elf, her cheeks flushing with embarassment and frustration at her near blunder of being so rude to royalty of the nation she was a guest in.

Kari removed her hood for a moment - allowing her white locks to flow freely while they were in the embrace of the warming shield of light. “And it is quite alright to not be familiar with the name. I have only been in Vystriana for a few months now. I have my reasons for going by a pseudonym. But I want to help your people against the Faction. I’ve seen the results of their campaign.” Her hand slowly reached out to the feylizard, attempting to pet and caress it - so long as she was making friends with the prince, she may as well befriend his friend as well.

“...how do you misplace a teacher and a friend?” She shook her head. “But right, let us rush to the Temple before the storm hits us.” She redonned her hood as he banished the shield, pulling at her packhorse’s reins and following him quickly to the Temple, pushing against the biting cold winds that blew against them.

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Arnus was a bit surprised when he saw she was an angel; they were rare enough where he came from, let alone here. "Are you from Halgia?" he asked, Razgriz curled once more around his throat. He pushed aside some branches that had fallen in the path, boots crunching in the snow, and broke off one to twirl in his hand. "I've not been there since I was little. The Empire has an outpost in my country; the city of Glory. Even then, I've never met an angel before."

A thousand questions swirled in his mind, but he stopped as the great Temple appeared. Covered in fresh snowfall, the rectangular bismuth of its tiers shimmering just beneath. At the very top stood a large statue of Time himself, eyes aglow with enchanted gemstones, iridescent and untouched by any of the inclement weather.

He sighed, seeing none but the priest-guard at the large double doors. He'd expected at least Xikhara waiting for him; but she was nowhere to be seen. He supposed the rumors of her heading for the Temple were as reliable as their source. Damn.

Well, he could still travel north. He could continue on. Perhaps she'd just gone on without him - after all, he was tied up in the Fortress for longer than both his mentor and his cerberus-toting friend. Ah well.

"Let's get inside and get warmed up," he said, reaching to rub one shoulder - the left that had been bugging him before. "They should have some supplies for travelers, they almost always do. After that, I'm off; hopefully before Verri finds out I'm here, haha. She'd skin me alive if she knew!"

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user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
^
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Kari entire form stiffened at Arnus’s seemingly oh-so-simple question - her eyes dilated for a moment as she seemed to stare off into the distance. Even her cheekbones drew taut, as if her entire body attempted to pucker and shy away from the offending inquiry. She hesitated, choosing her words carefully. “...yes. I was of Halgian nationality,” she responded, her tone flat, professional. A nerve?

She smiled as he mentioned that she was the first angel, happy to distance herself from the topic of her homeland. “Really now? Well...there isn’t much to us. I admit, a lot here is foreign to me. I hadn’t met a drow until the other week in D’issan.” The battle wasn’t too long ago - she frowned as she remembered the giant tarbeast monstrosity as well as that...awful drow woman who seemed to mock her with just her gaze. Given the choice of meeting one of them again, she hesitated in choosing either drow or tarbeast over the other.

As they approached the Temple, her eyes flitted to the elf as they reached the double doors. He seemed distracted, pensive. “I need to convene with Lady Daama in prayer. However, should it be in her will, I would like to accompany you.” She paused. “As an escort of course. Where will you be heading exactly? Back to the Queen?”

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"Oh," he said as they approached the priest-guard, nodding a greeting at the man who nodded back. "No. I... think she's too angry for anyone to be with her right now. The last time I saw her... ah, well..." He looked down, opening the door for her to go through. There was pain in his voice - no small amount. "I was on the ground being healed by a bunch of healers, and Verri just got word that her mate - the King - was slain. It was... not a good time. She ordered the deaths of every Faction soldier anyone could find, and left."

Arnus fell silent, and waved at a young boy - who came to care for Kari's horse - before they entered. "We'll keep yer pony safe for ya! Well fed too!" the young lad, a feline xeriin of some sort, said cheerily. "Just let us know when you want 'er back!" Then, they were inside, and the hushed silence of the eerie halls seemed to surround them like a fog.

They were approached by a bald human wearing robes of many iridescent colors. Some sort of monk or priest. "Hello, and welcome to the Temple of Time," he whispered. "Take care to be quiet; the study of time is a delicate thing. Please, we have rooms on the other side of the Great Alcove where travelers may find respite, water, and food. Come this way."

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user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
^
  Quote

Kari lowered to one knee briefly in a sign of respect to the priest-guard. She blinked as the door was opened for her, but nodded at the prince as she passed through, listening to his tale. As he told of the Gold Queen’s anger, she took a deep breath.

“I didn’t realize the war had gotten quite this bad. The battle in D’issan was quite horrid as well. But it’s different to talk with someone personally about it who I’m not focused on patching up...”

Her gaze turned to where Arnus was waving, and smiled warmly to the cat-like boy. “Many thanks, sir. Please take good care of her.”

Now that the two were not blinded by biting winds, the horse’s form was more clearly noted - a young adult white mare with black splotches on the shoulders. At first it resisted being taken by the boy - but after a calming caress by the avian, it soon reluctantly went along with the xeriin.

Soon after, she knelt to the clergyman. “Thank you, Father. Your hospitality is much appreciated. We will take care to keep the silence of this sanctuary.”

As she followed Arnus, she stepped past him and turned slightly, whispering to him in a hushed tone. “The Faction are hunting for you, no doubt. What are you going to do?”

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The elf pushed away the dark thoughts of his partner's distress and looked back at Kari; his expression shifted into a smirk. "Time to put all that training to the test," he whispered back. "I didn't spend years training to sit down and be protected. And I'm not gonna let what happened last time happen again."

The Great Alcove was filled with stars; beautiful things that sparkled and hung above globes of spinning magic in the shape of Realms, their planets, suns, and moons, all spinning in time with their different time fluxes. Arnus spared Evylon - spinning much faster than the others - a glance, and the smirk faded from his face.

Sometimes he missed home. Like now, of all times.

"Anyways," he murmured. "Yeah... it's bad. But we're pushing back. Soon, the tide will turn... and all will be right again."

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user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
^
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