Episode 23: Difficult Decisions

General Summary


What are they?

Over the next week, the dragons continue to grow. Magnus dotes on his, while Vulcan and his begin to a form a bond through play. Unnias is asleep on Otlyn's lap.   In the meantime, Cille's been attempting to research the dragons with no success. Her dragon seems to be judging her failures. After nearly a week (10th day of 3rd month), Despione sits down next to Cille and asks "So have you figured it out yet?"   Cille gives an enormous pout. "No."   "You missed this one." says Despione, and hands over a leather bound book entitled Tome of Dragons.   Cille opens the book carefully and begins to read. The book is very old, with the dialect of Drákonic making it difficult to read. The book is the product of a self-centered self-righteous scholar of dragons and its introduction purports it to be a compendium of dragon all knowledge.   The group gathers around and Otlyn climbs into Cille's lap. As she pages through she sees Chromatic dragons -- Black, Blue, Green, Red, and a picture with a striking resemblance to the White Dragons they've faced as part of the battle in the Maelstrom and again in Froúrio. Continuing on, she turns to the information about the metallic dragons. She sees the Brass, Bronze, Copper, Gold and Silver dragons. The gold dragon pictured looks very like the image on Cille's shield. The third passage the group reads describes the lost dragons, such as the gemstone dragons, and ferrous dragons. These include the Chromium, Cobalt , Iron, Nickel, Steel, and Tungsten dragons. These look remarkably like their own little ones. The book elaborates that these dragons haven't been seen in tens of millenia and are thought to be lost.   Finally the group pages through the section on the gods of the dragons, and the various conflicts and how the categories of the dragons is based on the relationship with their gods.   Magnus turns to Despione and asks about the passages of the gods.   Despione responds. "This is a very old book. And it was written by a pompus ass." With a giggle she says, "I had the pleasure of meeting this gentleman once, and I'm surprised I didn't eat... smack him on the spot."   She looks at the group gathered. "The elements of the gods may have been true several millenia and they may still exist. But on this world, we're cut off from all that. Unless The Morningstar is ever successful in his goals, we won't have to worry about it.   Despione looks at the wyrmlings. Vulcan's dragon attempts to trip him as he leans over reading the book.   "They have no idea about any of that, nor do they need to."   Magnus considers. "A fresh start can be had here."   Despione continues, "These little ones haven't been seen on any world for tens of millenia. They've been waiting the right time to re-emerge, and apparently it's the right time."   She smiles and regards Otlyn, whose dragon is climbing into her lap. Cille groans under the weat.   Magnus chuckles. "That's a lap dragon. And your lap isn't big enough."  

They are so damned cute

A couple of days later (13th of third month), each of you are exhausted from training. You have just finished lunch in a clearing in the gardens behind the palace. Ianthe, Irtokax, Yas and Despione have joined you and marvel over the newly hatched wyrmlings. Otlyn recounts for Ianthe the story of searching for a griffin eggs to serve as mounts. She recounts climbing the mountain and finding the first next occupied and Vulcan nearly being eaten by a Roc. She talks about finding the next nest with a griffin sitting on it who didn't look pleased at their presence, and then a third that also looked like it was tended. Finally they find a nest empty and abandoned. These eggs were larger than the last, but were thicker and leathery with a spider pattern on them. For a short time, Ianthe seems engaged focused on the cute little Unnias crawling all over her. But after a time she seems to withdraw again and says she's going to lie down.   As she leaves, Irtokax looks askance at each of you. "She does not seem to be recovering well?"   Cille asks "Is she healing ok?"   Irtokax shrugs. "You are a healer."   Cille sighs. "She seems to be physically well."   Otlyn, stroking Unnias, wonders out loud whether she's experiencing something similar to what Ianessa went through. She recalls for the group the long pronounced decline of Ianessa Meletitís that Asími Kallitéchnis described from happy, healthy, and engaged to the point where she was going to take her own life. She wonders whether the poison could have caused something similar for Ianthe.   Ajax asks whether we have any of the poison or dagger that she was stabbed with.   Vulcan reaches into his bag and produces the dagger, unwrapping it carefully.   Ajax considers. "I've dabbled in such compounds as part of my academic career. I haven't seen this one before."   Cille, recalling that this was a hobgoblin assassin, recounts rumors she had heard amongst her tribe of the hobgoblin's secret weapon, a "Mindkilling" poison. "Ajax, can I see that for a second?"   Looking at the dagger, she continues. "This sounds like a mindkiller. In the past, we've heard of Hobgoblins in the mountains trained assassins, that would go after our tribes. Even if they didn't kill the target outright, that person would then fall ill like this, and would ultimately massacre their entire tribe if they don't destroy themselves first. They've lost tribes to this. "   Ajax thinks. "It's certainly possible. The compounds we work with are functions of our understanding of anatomy. How to seize a muscle, stop the heart. The mind is something that we don't understand. If they have developed this, it's beyond our ability to synthesize or craft an antidote. We'd need to get someone who knew how to do this."   Magnus, remembering the stories of Asimis over a decade of research yielded nothing. "So. Must save Ianthe."   Cille "Well, that means we need a hobgoblin assassin."   Irtokax interrupts. "Where are these tribes located?"   Before anyone can answer, he sighs. "Nevermind. It would be meaningless. I haven't heard anything of the world above in ages, what is the situation?"   The group describes the current state of the world, giving him a crash course in modern history. Cille explains the situation with the church, and the Northmen tribes, and the return of necromancy.  

The World Before

Irtokax shakes his head. "Our people did not always dwell in the world below the surface." he says quietly. "We were many tribes, all along the islands."   Looking at Magnus, "When the younger races came, at first we tried to co-exist. When they were few, it worked. But as you grew in number so did they begin to suspect and ultimately fear us and those that were not like themselves. Small conflicts grew between our peoples and ultimately moved towards war. Our many tribes had long warred amongst themselves in a controlled way, but this was different. This would end up being genocide for one side or the other." He pauses for a moment and looks at the wyrmlings playing peacefully in your laps.   "Chryseis and the others counciled that we should choose a path where both could live, rather than drive one or another to extinction. It seemed sound advice to our ancestors, after all your people were already exiles," gesturing to Magnus. "And the home she offered our people is as close to the surface as we could ask for. But, after all these centuries, it's not the same." He takes a deep breath. Then he looks at Magnus and Cille. "And after all these years, it sounds as if our absence didn't change anything. Perhaps choosing peace by avoidance was the wrong decision after all." He looks meaningfully at Despione who places a hand on his arm sympathetically. She quietly answers "Things can change. Look at these little ones." The group settles down and plays with them for the next few hours until each of them falls asleep peacefully in their laps.  

Companions or Slaves?

Irtokax looks at Despione and then the little dragons. "Despione has told me you intend to use the whistles. Can you tell me about these whistles?" ROLEPLAY: Group tells her about the whistle. Irtokax considers. "These little ones are not simple beasts. Is it right to enslave a sentient being to such servitude?"   Magnus shakes his head vigorously. "I have no intention to bind the dragon to the whistle. No."   Otlyn also chimes up that she wouldn't force Unnias to do anything.   Despione looks at Irtokax with a sly smile on her face and Irtokax nods.

A Different Way

As the group sits in the clearing, a small rustling of fabric can be heard along the path. Silently, and with grace, Chryseis approaches with Ianthe and an attendant carrying trays of food. "Yas, Irtokax. Can you please give us a moment?" With that Irtokax stands and takes his leave along with Yas. Ianthe settles down next to Otlyn. Chryseis stops looks curiously at the five newly hatched wyrmlings. Time seems to stop for a moment as Despione and Chryseis regard each other. The silence is deafening. Only after one the wyrmlings makes a cute hungry noise, does Chryseis speak. "Was this your doing?" she asks Despione? "I don't know what you mean." responds Despione in a measured and a-bit-too-innocent voice. Chryseis sighs. "You always were the impetuous one, so much like your father." "I don't know what you mean." says Despione again, even less convincingly. Chryseis gestures and asks if she can sit. After sitting down, she considers the six of you and watches how you interact with the five wyrmlings. Her expression is thoughtful, with a slight smile playing across her lips. She looks at the books open on Cille's lap. "It is good to see their kind again." she muses. Time passes in silence watching the wyrmlings play and beg for food, scritching, and attention. "Do you think your people are ready for them?" she asks. Otlyn answers quickly. "No."   Magnus more measured, "Given my conversation with my friend last week? Even someone like him, who has been exposed to stories of dragons with the awe and wonder... even he isn't ready."   He thinks. "But at the same time, I think the world needs them."   "Why?" she asks.   Magnus continues. "There was talk of these dragons or their kind being tied to gods in the past. But their kind hasn't been seen in Millenia. It's time for a new start, a new beginning. On many levels, we are.... new ideas have been broached. We look to create a new civilization in the city of Froúrio. Ways that people are unfamiliar with. New ways, cahnged ways. Better ways."   "This is my opinion.... The world is better with the majesty of the dragons in it." He turns and looks at Unnias, asleep on his back, leg twitching aimlessly in the air.   "I think the world needs the dragons. I think we new path forward, for mankind and dragonkind."   Despione mutters, "We're all trapped here together, eh?" Chryseis watches Otlyn gently stroking Unnias. "Are you ready to be that change? You talk about the world not being ready for them, are you able to lead that change?"   Magnus shrugs. "The world is never going to be completely ready for them."   Chryseis looks at the others.   Otlyn says fiercely "My baby here can do whatever he wants."   Chryseis gives a short laugh and turns to Vulcan.   "While I agree the world isn't ready, it won't be." He shrugs with sly smile. "Shock and awe."   Despione chuckles. "So very much your kind."   The group sits in silence for several minutes.  


Chryseis straightens. "The bond between a dragon and a humanoid is... complicated. In ages long past, the relationship was known as 'oathsworn'." She pauses and lets the word linger. "You effectively bind each other to service." Looking at Ianthe, she continues. "Though different than the forbidden relationship between Asimi and your mother, the relationship of the oathsworn is just as sacred." She goes on to describe the pair-bonded warriors of ages past who fought in the great war, and in many smaller conflicts. How they fought together and, sometimes, died together. She looks on the five wyrmlings with a considering expression and then a less charitable expression at Despoine.   After a moment the expression passes and that of a doting grandmother replaces it. As if struck by an epiphany, Chryseis says "Ahh, this is about your children." She lets that hang in the air for a moment, then when Despione doesn't respond, continues. "I suppose this is your way of telling me that you think our withdrawl from the world is nearing its end?" Her daughter simply smiles enigmatically and looks at the six of others. "I think we need them as much as they need us." Chryseis gives a short laugh. "Perhaps. And perhaps you're going to tell me I've been too hard on Asimi as well." Despione looks at her mother sharply. "You know my feelings on that." Chryseis nods and looks at the six of you, her eyes lingering on Ianthe for a moment longer than the rest. "For our kind to return to the surface world, they will need guides and protectors. Is that your wish?" The group looks confused for a moment at the "our kind" and then, Vulcan, CIlle and Magnus, in a flash of insight uses the powers of the armor to scan for dragons. The brightness of the two staggeringly clear golden auras causes them them to blink. Putting together the threads of the previous few days conversations, suddenly they realize that the two humanoid looking dragons in front of them are ancient beyond their concept of time, and likely fought from the beginning of The Great War.   Otlyn says, "Protecting him? Of course. Duh."   Ajax, who has sat silently through the conversation looks up. He answers "Absolutely" without hestiation.   Cille smirks. "I don't think she'd let me do otherwise."   Magnus and Vulcan also agree.   Chryseis stands, and says to Despione "I'll leave it up to you."  


  Before Chryseis can leave, Otlyn stands and interrupts. She rapidly describes what the group just discussed regarding the possibilty that the poison could cause the condition for Ianessa and that she fears Ianthe could be affected.   Ianthe looks shocked, and quickly denies she's feeling ill.   She shakes her head dismissively at Ianthe and gestures for Otlyn to sit. "That's one of Asimi's theories as well. There are those not of my kind, but also with the wisdom of the ages you may need."   She looks at Ianthe. "If this is like Ianessa, it'll take months to years to work its way through your system. I think you have time."   Looking at Otlyn, she asks "Can I see your cube?"   Otlyn pulls out the cube, and with a mischevious grin holds it close to Chryseis. The symbol of Chryseis glows.   Chryseis pats Otlyn on the head and takes the cube. "This was given to the leaders of the various forces during the great war. Each symbol corresponds to the home of one of those leaders."   She gestures at the cloud symbol. "One of our members still dwells in the far northern reaches of the Northern continent. He was a consumer of all things natural, and he would be the most likely option."   Otlyn asks whether it can be used go to directly.   Chryseis responds. "Unfortunately no, each one must be 'unlocked' by its target. I've unlocked this one, but he has not done his. I can provide a starting point on seeking him out, but it's been thousands of years since I've last spoken."   Otlyn thanks her.   Chryseis smiles with a motherly look. "No, thank you. You've reminded me of something I've long forgot. The fear or pain of losing someone you love."  

Next Steps

  Despione stands and asks your leave for a short moment.   The group sits quietly, Ianthe playing with Unnias.   Ajax speaks. "Clearly we have to complete this bond or ritual that Despione described. We also need to let those back home know that we're going to be delayed further. And perhaps to prepare them."   Everyone looks meaningfully at Magnus.   Cille speaks. "There's also the ritual of protecting the island."   Magnus looks over at Ianthe. "And there's also protecting our friend."   "What do you mean?" asks Ianthe.   "We think that the poison has not completely left you. It's why you've been so tired of late."   "I am not!" she snaps.   Magnus says "And not necessarily your reasonable self. As Otlyn said, this may also be the same poison affecting your mother."   Otlyn tries to calm down her friend, as Ianthe becomes more agitated and continues to pet Unnias. Unnias begins to look uncomfortable.  

Ianthe's Decision

  At that, Despione returns with a single, large, leathery egg which she places in Ianthe's hands. "I hope that together the all of you can right so many wrongs." The egg is warm to the touch and Ianthe can feel the movement within the shell. Based on your recent experience you know the egg is nearly ready to hatch. Despione sits and looks lovingly on Ianthe and the small egg while Ianthe simply marvels at it.   Ianthe looks up at her and in a slightly strangled voice whispers, "But... I can barely take care of myself."   Cille looks at Ianthe as if to say, "and...". Cille's dragon nudges Ianthe's hand slightly.   Despione answers "Then perhaps you can take care of each other."   With that, the egg gives a shake.   Ianthe looks panicked.   Magnus stands and places a hand on her shoulder. "You are not alone."   Otlyn also places a hand on Ianthe's forearm.   Cille's dragon sniffs forward and nudges the egg. With that, the first crack forms.   Chryseis watches in silence.   Ianthe yelps as a small yellowish gold beak emerges from the egg. Beautiful and awkward at the same time, Ianthe holds it in trembling hands.   The group gives a collective "Aawwww..."   The gold wyrmling continues to work its way out. Cille pulls hard on her dragon's tail, as she continues to nudge the edge encouragingly.   Otlyn scolds as Unnias starts to eat the broken peices of egg shell off the ground.   After a few more moments, the hatchling is out of the egg and making hungry sounds in Ianthe's lap.   Ianthe looks on with a soft expression. She still has a slight edge of terror, but it's giving way to something new.   Magnus's dragon brings over a small chunk of meat and drops it in front of the little one. The new hatchling takes small bites, while Otlyn shares  

The Oath

Chryseis describes the ritual of the Oath of the Dragonlord. The ritual will create a bond between the wyrmling and its oathsworn. It will also accelerate the first several years growth significantly. Because of the accelerated growth the wyrmlings will require training for the next until they can ride. Your lives will be in each others hands, she describes the bond and what happens if one dies.   "How long would we need to remain here for training?" asks Magnus.   "It varies," answers Chryseis. "Anywhere from a month to a year."   Despione chuckles, "Yes, but he was an idiot."   Chryseis gives her a look.   Magnus considers. "We'll need to contact our companions then."   After a few moments of consideration, the group recommits to taking the Oath.   Chryseis spends the time walking the six gathered through the conduct the ritual. Mediated by Chryseis, each of the six will complete the oath while she casts the spell to create the bond.  

Completing the Ritual

  Taking turns, each steps forward and places their hand on the dragon's side. As soon Chryseis completes the ritual spell, the participant recites the oath.  
I CANNOT POSSESS YOU, for you belong to yourself.
I CANNOT COMMAND YOU, for you are a free creature.
WE SHALL SERVE EACH OTHER in the ways we both require.
WE WILL INCREASE OUR WEALTH by righteous means.
WE WILL ACHIEVE HAPPINESS and harmony through knowledge.
WE WILL AID THOSE OF OUR BLOOD to achieve their great destinies.
WE WILL AVENGE THOSE OF OUR BLOOD who have been done harm.
WE WILL RESTORE YOUR KIND who have been driven from this world.
I AM BLOOD OF YOUR BLOOD, and bone of your bone—forever.
  As soon as the ritual is completed, they feel the telepathic bond forms with each of their dragons. They can sense the emotions, sensations (hunger!) and beginnings of language.   Chryseis wraps up and says "Please take your time. I'll prepare the communication. Join me when they settle down for sleep."   Exhausted and elated, the group settles in for the evening with their new partners for the next several hours. Slowly each of the wyrmlings and the new hatchling fall asleep.   Irtokax then joins them and offers to watch over the dragons. Reluctantly, the group follows Despione up to the main building.  

Informing Frourio

Complications and Delays

When the group arrives, the connection is already established. The group in Froúrio is seated around the table. Kyros Megalos, Kallisto Megalos, Hestia Pétropoulos, Eunice Aérasopoulos, Rizon Thálassopoulos, and several others are present. Hermione and Astor are absent.   Kyros gestures expectantly towards Magnus.   "Yes. Uhhh." Magnus pauses. "Our return is somewhat delayed."   Magnus stops, as if wondering how to proceed.   Hestia leans forward as if to speak. Kyros nods.   "That's ok, we've had some challenges on our end as well. Remember that ship Hermione told us was coming from Fengáriopolis?"   Cille interjects, "Rizon! Did you sink it?"   Rizon pleads his innocence. "Nope, No sis. Wasn't me."   Hestia smiles. "Well, they landed. They had at least one military officer, mage knight and several supporting soldiers. We attempted to keep them out of the main city and down at the docks, but without resorting to force they weren't going to listen."   Kallisto mutters "Disrespectful pricks."   Hestia shrugs. "They laid claim to the island."   Magnus raises an eyebrow. "I hope you disagreed with them forcefully."   The group looks at each other as if wondering who's going to be the first one to say it.   Cille asks, "Who killed 'em?"   Eunice answers flatly. "Sis."   Kyros, head in hands, says "Yeah.... By the time we tried to warn them off the two of them had eliminated the landing party..."   Cille interrupts "Two of them?"   "...and destroyed the ship." finishes Kyros.   Magnus sighs. "Well, we're off to a fantastic start with our new ideals and diplomacy."   Cille asks again, "So who were the 'two of them'?"   Vulcan asks, "Astor?"   The group looks at each other again, and then Kyros nods.   Magnus looks down, and a long silence settles over the group.   Kallisto finally speaks, an odd slightly satisfied expression on her face. "So it doesn't look like hiding is an option any more."   "If there were no witnesses..." offers Cille.   "The ship would be expected to return." she says.   "Maybe they were lost at sea?" asks Cille a bit less optomistically.   "They'd send others to search for them." she finishes authoritatively.   Kallisto turns to Magnus. "So that's our news, what about you?"   The entire group in Eleusis turns to look at Magnus, letting him take the lead.   Flustered, he gathers his composure. "I need to have a private conversation with you and Kyros."   Kallisto raises an eyebrow. "Ok, let's talk after we finish this discussion."   Kyros nods. "Other than that, what news?"   Magnus, not reading the room, says again. "That's why there's a private conversation."   Hestia sighs at the former Empire Knight.   Rizon, ignoring the mood in the room, takes Magnus to task. "We're all citizens. A private conversation is fine for personal issues. This is about our city."   Cille smiles and takes over. "I agree Rizon."   She looks crossly at Magnus. "You may not be ready for this, but it's happened. Dragons have returned."   The group nods with a collective shrug. "Yeah, we've seen them."   Cille continues, "And we've bonded with them."   Eunice asks, "What do you mean bonded? Are you adhered with some substance to them?"   Cille smiles, "No. I have a connection now with my wonderful... well, kinda bossy..." She looks at Rizon and recovers. "They uh... we're... oathsworn now."   Magnus gathers his wits and continues. "We are their protectors, and they ours."   The group breaks out into quick side conversations and Kyros leans forward silencing them. "What does that mean?"   "It means that we need time," answers Magnus. "They're small, but growing quickly. And they need training."   Side conversations start again and Magnus shakes his head.   "Apparently, we are not the only ones who are seeking a changed world. The ancient races may be joining us in our efforts." He stops and struggles with how to continue.   Starting again, Magnus begins "We did not set out to find these eggs, we set out looking for mounts."   "Griffins!" chimes in Cille with a gleeful tone.   Magnus frowns. "We found eggs... but they weren't Griffins. From what we've been told, it wasn't by chance. It was by design."   Cille elaborates. "It was by design, they chose us. Soon we'll have six dragons to help defend Froúrio and the world against The Morningstar!"   Kyros slowly looks at all of the group in Eleusis, as if counting one, two, three... When he reaches Ajax at the end of the table he simply frowns. He looks at Ajax in the way a close couple would say "You and I are going to have a conversation about this later, after the kids go to bed." Ajax shrugs with a childlike grin.   The rest of the group looks at her in confusion.   Cille asks, "So it'll take time before they're ready to help. How long do we have?"   Kyros pulls his attention back to the room and looks at Rizon considering the trip. "Two, maybe three weeks?"   Kallisto adds "And when they do, they'll land in force. And from what Hermione told us before she left, they won't be alone."  

A New Plan

Magnus looks at her. "So hiding is no longer an option?"   Ajax looks at Magnus. "I think it's time we invited the expert in. We're in the land of making assumptions now."   Magnus agrees.   He steps out of the room for a moment while the group discusses in small pairs the likely forces the city-states would bring to bear.   When he returns, Chryseis introduces herself, followed by a sudden gasp from Hestia and Eunice.   Magnus smiles at their reaction. "Remember those ancients I spoke of?" He jerks a thumb at Chryseis.   Chryseis eyes him with thinly veiled displeasure. "It is never polite to call a lady old, let alone ancient."   Cille smacks Magnus on the back of the head and Kallisto nods approvingly at Cille.   Hestia continues to stare, unable to speak. Eunice isn't even looking at Chryseis, simply repeating a mantra of calm over and over.   Magnus recounts the events in Froúrio to Chryseis.   Chryseis listens attentively. At the mention of the killing of the troops and the destruction of the vessel, she rewards the group in Eleusis with a judging look that clearly conveys her opinion of their use of violence. Otlyn looks at her as if to say, "it wasn't us!"   Chryseis considers, then begins. "No, you're right. Our original intent assumed we were merely hiding the rebuilding of the city from only mildly interested parties. It won't protect you against those who know you are there and are set on vengence or destruction."   Cille and Otlyn trade ideas, while Chryseis thinks.   Chryseis looks at the group in Eleusis. "I'm not familiar with the landscape following the recent eruption."   Several of the group exchange confused looks, as the last Eruption on Froúrio occurred millennia before the city of Froúrio was built.   Chryseis continues, "Are there locations in the southern portions of the Froúrio Range that can be used as shelters?"   Kyros thinks a moment. With a moment of insight, he indicates to the group that she's speaking of the area around the Iófus Caldera. "The area around the Lake used to be use by local citizens and sponsors from other areas as a place of recreation. There are small areas, ancient lava tubes I suspect, that can be used for such."   Hestia recovers somewhat and nods. "I know Dorothea Logopolous would send students to these caverns for storm drills, in case of a storm that can't be blunted or deflected by the teachers."   Chryseis nods. "You believe that they'll return?"   Kyros responds with a simple, authoritative voice. "WIth certainty. They won't let this go without a response. They behaved as if they knew the residents of the islands are alive after the Norjord attacks. The group that landed was not in the least surprised by what they found, and acted as if they had been given clear instructions on how to proceed. They also acted as if they had additional support available or already on route."   Kallisto agrees. "They'll be coming. In force."   Rizon interjects, "I agree. And it's almost like someone was keeping them informed."   Chryseis nods. "It appears the only way to break the cycle of attack and retribution is to ensure the object of their desire is no longer on the island. To do that, we would need to wipe the slate clean. How attached are you to the city?"   Magnus gives an inappropriate chuckles. Hestia looks on the border of panic, and Eunice has crossed into outright terror.   Kyros, looking concerned but holding it together, sighs. "The city are its people. It's citizens, residents and servants. If we need to, we can build a new settlement here or somewhere else. If the people are killed or captured and enslaved to others? Then it's irrelevant."   Kallisto's look hardens. "What do we need to do?"   Chryseis asks, "It is storm season?"   Hestia blurts out, "You don't mean..."   Cille exclaims a more personal concern. "Fuck. My ship."   Rizon quickly waves his hands to his sister as if to indicate "don't worry, I've got this."   Chryseis looks with amusement at Hestia. "I like you. It would solve your problem without a violence."   She explains that while most magic won't create a localized storm sufficient to inflict that type of damage, she can create the right conditions in the far eastern Middle Sea. Given the season the storm will build of it's own volition. With a bit of nudging, she can ensure that it passes through the passage between Vóreio nisí and Megálo nisí, and hits the island with its full fury.   "Without the teachers here to divert or diffuse the storm's energy, it wouldn't be a surprise if it sufficiently destroyed the city, forced your group to flee. Done well, the time and energy to replant and rebuild would mean it no longer worth their effort. There'd be nothing left for your antagonists to seek."   Kyros considers. "It could work. We could get the residents into the caverns to ride out the storm. If we spread rumors that we fled somewhere that they can't follow, they might give up."   Kallisto also nods. "If... and that's a big if... we can evacuate and get the storm here in time. If they land troops before we're done, they could kill or capture us.   Eunice, who has recovered somewhat, adds, "Or bring weather mages to prevent the type of damage we're talking about."   Cille points out that the flocks and seed crops would need to be gathered and preserved as well. "This sounds like an apocalypse."   Chryseis smiles at the use of the word Apocalypse. "Indeed. However, the Island has been here for thousands of years before your kind came. It has recovered from storms like this in the past and will do so again in the future. And with some of your talented group, that could be accelerated."   Hestia considers. "True."   Ajax, thinking about the style of construction of the city, speaks. "Given how the city is built? The winds of a winter storm and sizeable storm surge could destroy it beyond repair. You'd have to clear the rubble and start from scratch."   At the mention of winter storm the group quiets. The Middle Seas Storms are things of legend, and the idea that they'd be creating one intentionally starts to settle in.   After several moments of silence, Kyros stands. With a hint of sarcasm, he calls for a vote. "All in favor of razing our fine city to the ground and possibly wiping the island off the surface of Zihæt, raise your hand."   Chryseis shakes her head at his hyperbole. Magnus, looking down raises his hand. Slowly around the room all of the others vote in favor as well.   Kyros nods at the unanimous vote. Kallisto smiles. "Then let's get to the destruction."  


  Chryseis summons Yas. She describes the ritual to Yas and inquires whether her people will help.   "Of course." she responds.   The group begins to discuss what will need to be done. Choosing caverns are high enough to withstand a storm surge. Moving the people and livestock as well as the recently completed harvest to the safety of the caves, ensuring that there is sufficient supplies of for the entire population of Froúrio to weather the storm and potentially the winter. Vessels which can be moved to safety will need to be ported inland, while others scuttled. Spreading the rumors that the citizens are fleeing, so that the Drákon League will plausibly believe that the storm wiped away any who remained. And finally, they'll need to use magic to seal the cave entrances for the dual purpose of protection and disguise.   The group discusses whether that assumption is reasonable, and reaches the conclusion that the current beliefs of the islands are such that it's entirely possible the Slaves of the island would be abandoned if it were too costly or difficult to take them. A small few share the beliefs of this group, and few would assume that leaders would behave otherwise.   Rizon again raises the concern of a mole within the group. No answer is given, but the group agrees it's a complication that bears further investigation.  


Chryseis, after preparations have been set in motion, looks at the group in the room in Eleusis. "Your training will not be completed in time to help with the preparations. You have the choice of remaining here to complete your preparations, and entrusting the rest to your companions on the surface. Or you can stay here just long enough for the basics, and head to the surface. If you do so, you must agree to work with us to complete that training at a later time."   The group looks at each other and collectively responds, "We want to return."   Chryseis nods. "It'll take about 10 days to complete the basics. I'll make arrangements. When you're ready to return, I'll arrange for transportation to the surface."  

That Private Conversation

Kyros begins organizing those in the room on their tasks. After a few moments, the group stands and everyone but Kyros and Kallisto depart, looking pointedly at Magnus.   The group in the room in Eleusis looks at each other.   Kyros waits, then asks "You wanted to have a conversation?"   Magnus shakes his head. "No, that's ok. We'll be back in a week and half... ouch!"   Cille has elbowed him in the ribs. "Wait a minute, wait a minute." In a sweet voice, she continues, "Kyros, why don't you and the rest of us be about our business and give Magnus and Kallisto a few minutes to themselves."   Kyros nods and looks at Ajax with a firm look. "Be well, we'll talk when you get back."   The group files out and Cille thumps Magnus on the back of the head.   Magnus looks sheepishly at Kallisto. "The dragon chose me. I must do what I need to do to raise it, protect it, and bring it to the world."   Kallisto raises an eyebrow. "You have a child. Didn't you get a bit ahead of yourself?"   Magnus sighs. "I'd like you to meet her, she's very special."   "I have always wanted to fly."   Magnus's smile returns. "It'll take a while. I'm glad that we're going to be coming back sooner than I expected when we started this conversation. You'll be able to meet her."   He pauses. "Sorry I was not able to consult you before hand on this..."   With that she softens. "I always knew I'd have to worry about your harem." She coughs and stands. "I'll see you soon, just remember who is first." Before Magnus can respond, she turns and walks out of the room.   Magnus walks out of the room, and finds Cille and Chryseis waiting. Chryseis enters the room to shut down the connection.   "That could have gone worse." says Magnus.   "Dummy. You were going to just leave it there without talking to her?!"   Magnus starts to object, and Cille raises a hand. "Talk to the hand."   "I called her to tell her about the dragon and that we were going to be late!"   Cille crossly interrupts, "But you can't just..."   "I apologized!" Magnus shouts.   Ianthe has returned to collect Cille. "You expected anything more?" WIth that the two women turn and leave Magnus standing alone.  


  That night Magnus's dreams are troubled by faceless women shouting, "but you said!". Cille's are also restless, with her beloved ship wrecked on rocky shores. All of them feel ravenously hungry.   As the group awakens slightly bleary eyed the next day, they are met by a younger looking adolescent. "I am going to take you through the basics."   WIth that, he transforms. The slow process begins with him expanding and then changing until ultimately he is a golden young dragon.   The group jumps back surprised.   With that their instruction begins.   Over the course of the next few days, he demonstrates the basics of flight and how to equip a harness. He allows each of them to take turns in the saddle learning how to balance and reduce the pressure on the dragon's neck. He goes on to take the group through the basics of aerial combat, mounted combat and how to protect both the airborn dragon as well as the rider from ranged attacks, or melee attacks when sweeping ground forces.   After several days he demonstrates the use of the Dragon's breath while they are in the saddle. He explains that the dragons will learn to use this naturally, it's instinctive. He uses a small demonstration with Ianthe to show how form though, is critically important while riding a dragon using his breath weapon. "While they will be perfectly safe, you may not be. You will need to teach them when to breath and how to protect you as you do. Each dragon's breath is different and carries differing challenges. He turns to Ajax in particular and says "Your dragon's breath has a tendency to linger. You must ensure that she does not fly through it and put you at risk."   As the week progresses, each of the dragons has been able to launch themselves off of a high rock and glide to the ground. Vulcans is the first to be able to achieve flight from the ground. By the end of the week all of the dragons are capable of short flight distances, with Ianthe's younger dragon being the last to succeed.   By the 10th day, the group has the basics of maintaining the dragon's hides, monitoring their diet, and other critical elements of caring for their partner. The group has become comfortable in the saddle and all have a varying degree of comfort with mounted and aerial combat. Cille continues to struggle with the strategies, while Magnus occasionally has issues with the tactics. Only Vulcan and Ianthe seem to be natural flyers. Otlyn, though proficient, continues to get distracted with conversation with her dragon and has to frequently be called back to task.   As he wraps up the instruction, "I'll teach you more advanced topics when you return. But for now you are unlikely to hurt yourselves or each other. As you can see, your bond they are growing significantly faster than normal. You should be able fly together in the next week or two."  


While the group has been tied up with training, Phlios Meletitís has returned and with Kyros, has focused on completing the final draft of the constitution for ratification before departing the city. The two have a new sense of urgency, as they believe the new principles and laws will be key to ensuring the cooperation of the resident and slave populations.   Eunice has continued to leave messages for Hermione in the usual locations, but has had no contact from her or Astor.   Preparations to relocate to the caverns continues, but progress has been slow. Several of the participants have gone missing during the trips, and suspicions are that the wights have been raiding the supply lines.   Rizon has taken the Røyskatt up the river and has it anchored safely in the lake.   Hestia has detected several uses of scrying magic, but cannot determine who or how it has been used.   Several ships have been seen on the distant horizon, scouting the city. Contingents from the three major cities have been amongst the sightings, though it's unclear which are working together and which are simply observing. None of the shipos have attempted to land.   The group from Eleusis finishes their preparation. As they prepare to depart, Chryseis asks where they would like to be sent.   Otlyn and Cille once again asserts that they need to fulfill their committment to deal with the Rock Monster.   Magnus advocates for a swift return, until Ajax interjects "We did promise."   "Very well."   Ianthe, looking tired but firmly focused adds, "And frankly I need to have a conversation with my father."   The group looks a bit surprised at the use of the title, being the first time she's used it.   Ajax smiles and pats her on the back.   Chryseis nods and asks the group to join her in a half an hour with their belongings and partners. In the meantime she will prepare the gate. (28th day of the third month)


Author's Notes

Trigger Warning: This article discusses depression and mental illness.

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