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Literature
The Half Dragon - 6: The Fall
Weightlessness was an odd sensation. Mylra had fallen through the sky before, but she'd never been in some sort of structure while it was happening. As interesting as the experience was however, it was the last thing on her mind at the moment. The detonation from the force crystals and been incomprehensibly loud, her ears were ringing to the point that she didn't even hear herself bump into the far wall, only felt it.
But Myrla wasn't one to panic under pressure. Within moments of the ship coming apart around her, she kicked off the back wall of her little room and grabbed onto the door handle to wrench the door open. In a stroke of luck the room had warped enough in the blast that it had actually torn the hinges from the wood, and it popped out of the frame with little effort.
She was out into the hall instantly, pressing her hands against both walls to keep herself in somewhat stable in the falling hull, then started working her way to the door. If there was one thing Myrla knew for
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Literature
The Hydra's Curse - Arc 2 - Part 3
Sasha slid out of her little hole sleeping hole a couple hours later when she heard her name being called. It was one of the shadowcat children, chirping her name and telling her that she was wanted down with the elders. The truth was none of them were actually old—it was just tradition to called the people who ran the community by that title. Somehow, Sasha herself had become a del-facto leader herself, although how that had happened she wasn’t entirely sure. The truth was, lots of people living in Salutem simply weren’t motivated. All it took was a little bit of willingness on her part to help out, and the responsibility had basically fallen on her shoulders. But with responsibility came influence, so she didn’t mind.
The cave that they used as a meeting was deep within the mountain, taking her nearly ten minutes to make her way through the paths and tunnels she’d grown to know over the years. Another of the reasons the curse had set up in the cave netwo
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Myrla aboard The Hosta by SilentSheppard Myrla aboard The Hosta :iconsilentsheppard:SilentSheppard 21 10
Mature content
The Hydra's Curse - Arc 2 - Part 2 :iconsilentsheppard:SilentSheppard 7 6
Literature
The Hydra's Curse - Arc 2 - Part 1
The town of Salutem wasn’t really a town per say, more of a community. A town implied that there were buildings, roads, and all the other things that would tell a traveler this would be a hospitable place to stay for the night. Salutem had none of those things. It was a cave in the mountainside, obscured by jungle and completely uninviting. Some who ventured too near even said it was haunted, with malevolent spirits and demons hiding within.
Those people weren’t entirely wrong. Salutem’s location had been chosen based on the fact that no human in any reasonable state of mind would even go there. It was a foul place, and it took a special type of person to live there.
A cursed person.
Salutem was a community of the curse. Innocent people caught at the wrong time, burned by the fires of hell in one shape or another. It tainted them and filled their bodies with unholy magic, but it also gave them power. So it made sense to establish a community by the firegate, the curse
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Literature
The Half Dragon - 5: Backroom Plotting
The following morning Myrla was woken by a light tapping on her door by who she assumed were guards sent by Lord Laurier. The muffled voice through the door told her she wouldn't be allowed to leave until the shackle was locked around her wrist, and once it was she was to tend to Lord Laurier who was aboard The Hosta for his morning routine.
For obvious reasons, Myrla hadn't slept very much for the rest of the night. After that odd encounter, and being locked in her room after he left, all she could do is lay awake in an odd mixture of fear and curiosity. It eventually subsided to fatigue, but not long fast enough that she got a full night's sleep. But it was early in the morning and the fatigue she felt was more a product of just waking up rather than a lack of sleep—which would come later in the day.
As she stepped aboard The Hosta, she could hear the sound of heavy industrial chains moving below deck, and all too familiar sound to her over many years tendi
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Literature
The Half Dragon - 4: The Burned Man
Several hours had passed since Laurier and his crew had hijacked the ship that had shot down the luxury vessel earlier that morning. In that time, many small-time lords had gathered around the airship, standing around seriously and pretending they were relevant to the situation. As far as Laurier was concerned, they were little more than peasants who had figured out how to hire a couple mercenaries and tax their neighbors. He had allowed a few of the more competent people inside the ship however, Lord Jerison and his cohorts in particular due to their skill in the business of airship construction.
Lord Jerison was an older man on the brink of sixty, and certainly looked his age. He had made a living building and selling airships to more powerful aristocrats, with his specialty being his flight control mechanisms. If anyone were to understand how this bizarre machine worked, it would be him.
“Well, we have seen the majority of this before,” he said, finally stepping away fro
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Literature
The Half Dragon - 3: Boarding Action
Myrla was still fascinated at how easily Lord Laurier could command a room. He walked up to the guards at Lord Julien's room and didn't even slow pace, like he expected them to move. The guards were large, young men but they didn't know how to treat Laurier. Were they to make him wait? Or would stopping an important man like him get them disciplined? It wasn't like Lord Laurier was a small man either. Into his fifties, his powerful frame and close-cut grey beard made him an intimidating figure—and he was accompanied by a Drakaina.
They were hesitant to stop him, and he exploited that, brushing past them and knocking the door open, revealing a Lord Julien that wasn't in a suit like the world typically saw him, but in a night robe and standing beside a tub full of water, ready to get in. It made it slightly difficult for Myrla to take him seriously.
Lord Laurier did however, and stared him down like they were in a business meeting, completely disregarding Julien's situation.
"You n
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Literature
The Half Dragon - 2: Dagger in the Sky
“Up, now!”
Myrla jolted awake from an already troubled sleep, panicking that she’d slept in. A glance at the porthole told her she hadn’t, but that didn’t change the issue that she was being woken in the middle of the night. Doing her best to shake off her drowsiness, she was confronted by Lord Laurier, who wasn’t looking particularly pleased with the hour either.
“We’re arriving at Genesis Island in under an hour,” he grumbled, hanging the light crystal lamp on a hook on her ceiling. “Five hours early.”
That certainly explained waking up at the odd hour. Laurier wasn’t the type to sleep on his ship the rest of the night. When he arrived there, he would be active and starting his day, no matter how early it was.
“You’ll be shadowing me all day, standard stuff with one exception.” He unslung the bag from his back and unzipped it, pulling out two silver armbands, encrusted with jewels and ornate des
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Literature
The Half Dragon - 1: Of Sky and Sea
The ship sailed twelve thousand feet above the ocean, the clouds below rising up to meet the vessel at an alarming rate. The crew had hoped they would be able make it over the thunderheads in time, but this storm was forming particularly fast and by the looks of things, it would engulf them before they made it through.
“We’ll make it,” Davin said easily, trying to show confidence after seeing the anxiety in the eyes of the crew. It was a lie of course, but he didn’t want them panicking the entire time that they raced to beat the storm. He had no idea if they’d make it or not, and if they didn’t, odds are they’d be fine. Smaller airships had a lot of fear from thunderstorms but vessels this size were usually fine.
“Have you been paying attention for the last couple hours?”
Davin shot an angry look at his father, the older man was deliberately trying to set him off balance, putting on even more pressure so he’d screw s
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Literature
The Hydra's Curse - Chapter 7 : Hydra
Tracking the hydra wasn't a hard thing to do, even if Calvin hadn't been helping her. For about two days, neither of them got a good clue as to its whereabouts, but late into the third, Sasha came across a trail. Nothing extremely obvious, but it was made up of slightly crushed shrubberies, broken branches and other things her untrained eyes could still notice.
Calvin, get down here, I've got something. She pushed the mental image of the trail down the connection. The intent of acknowledgement echoed back to her as he came down for a landing, dropping in front of her a half a minute later.
"Definitely the hydra." He muttered, looking at the ground past some of the broken brush. "Even the grass is still slightly crushed, this is fresh." He looked to the trail Sasha was leaving in the grass too. "Pity it's three times your size otherwise we could sort of compare the damage to the ground."
Sasha looked at the trail as well. Sure enough, her weight flattened the grass to a degr
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Literature
The Hydra's Curse - Chapter 6 : Recovery
It took about four hours to find the lost elk. It was hiding pretty damn far away, scared out of its wits. After some planning, Alva set chase to it, swiping at its hindquarters to get the thing moving. It ran and called like they always did when Calvin dropped at it from the sky. Little jets of flame, just enough to discourage it from going in the wrong direction. It took about an hour of chasing, Calvin up high and Alva on the ground, forcing the animal to go the way they wanted. Eventually when they were about a quarter mile from the cave Calvin dropped from the sky and landed on its neck, driving the beast into the ground. There was a satisfying crack when his foot connected that told him he'd aimed well, killing it in one blow.
Alva gave him a look of satisfaction at the kill. "Not as good as hypnosis for getting it here but still works."
Calvin nodded. "That drop is fun. Animals never see it coming."
The shadowcat gave him a wry look. "I wouldn't either. Let's go check on Sasha."
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Literature
The Hydra's Curse - Chapter 5: Dragon


The biggest issue Calvin had with the majority of the world he'd seen was its two dimensional nature. It was boring, nothing but field or forest punctuated by the occasional river or lake. He'd seen the whole continent by now, it was just one huge island after all with ocean surrounding it as far as the eye could see. He never took a ship to the neighbouring continent, the journey was over and month and perilous. Plus it was probably the same over there and there was no way people would let him on a ship. Not in his state.
But there was the mountains, which cut the continent in half, a chain that stretched from one end to the other. Flying through the valleys and riding the hot air currents up the mountainside was so much more fun than drifting over some farmers field. Most importantly though, the cursed people seemed to gravitate toward the mountains. It was safe from civilization, a place where people wouldn't hunt you for being tainted by the devil.
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Literature
The Hydra's Curse - Chapter 4 : Shadowcats


One advantage of sleeping in the cave was the sun didn't wake her up to early. The past couple days she had stayed up a bit into the night and having woke at sunrise had left Sasha tired. It was only midday when the sun shone from the south and into her new den that she was awoken.
Yawning and rubbing her eyes a bit, she pulled her serpent half off from on top of her and stretched. The cave ceiling was nearly 20 feet high too, posing no problems when she stretched out, rearing up high in the process. She smacked her lips a few times, still not hungry and looked down at the exit far below her. It felt strange, situating herself this high, strange and great- she loved the height. Why couldn't a dragon have burned her? Flying would have been awesome.
She flicked her tongue out for the first time that morning, taking in the scents of the cave. Nothing strong, there was still a hint of that strange presence but the air itself was different today as well. Lo
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Literature
The Hydra's Curse - Chapter 3 : Outcast


The deer was just over a hundred feet away and for the third time that day, Sasha was looking at it from behind a bow. She was a terrible shot and the fact that her eating well hinged on her archery skills wasn't really helping things. Still, she steadied her breathing and drew the bowstring back, taking aim once more. There had been a few nice pluses that had come with the change, her eyesight being one of them and strength being another.
Things further away were so much clearer than they had used to be. Even at this distance she could see the individual hairs on the animal moving in the wind. It was actually quite the blessing and made foraging for berries and fruit so much easier. It also gave her a reason to use her own eyes rather than let the snakes atop her head do all the work. And of course being stronger made archery so much easier now. She had struggled with a bow string before, now it just came back smoothly when she pulled.
Those two facto
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Literature
The Hydra's Curse - Chapter 2 : Hydramorph


Sasha came to in bed, but not hers. Mind still fuzzy it took a moment to piece together what happened. She remembered the glow in the snake's mouth, and then the fire. Nothing but pain followed that. And now thirst was overpowering any other thought.
Someone was moving in just out the door. She opened her mouth to call but just a croak came out. That was enough to get the persons attention though. An elderly woman came bustling in, saw Sasha tapping her throat and promptly fetched her a waterskin.
"Drink." She ordered redundantly, pressing the tip to Sasha's lips.
Sasha sucked it dry in seconds, parched beyond belief. She did that three times over before she felt like throwing up. Her eyes may have bulged a bit but she managed to keep it down thankfully. The woman looked down at her with pity and placed a hand on her forehead, feeling her temperature.
"You poor thing." She murmured, withdrawing her touch. "These next few days are going to be rough."
"W
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Weightlessness was an odd sensation. Mylra had fallen through the sky before, but she'd never been in some sort of structure while it was happening. As interesting as the experience was however, it was the last thing on her mind at the moment. The detonation from the force crystals and been incomprehensibly loud, her ears were ringing to the point that she didn't even hear herself bump into the far wall, only felt it.

But Myrla wasn't one to panic under pressure. Within moments of the ship coming apart around her, she kicked off the back wall of her little room and grabbed onto the door handle to wrench the door open. In a stroke of luck the room had warped enough in the blast that it had actually torn the hinges from the wood, and it popped out of the frame with little effort.

She was out into the hall instantly, pressing her hands against both walls to keep herself in somewhat stable in the falling hull, then started working her way to the door. If there was one thing Myrla knew for certain, it was how fast objects fell in the sky, and there wasn't much time until this one dashed into the ground and killed anyone who'd survived the blast. Her guess was around fifteen seconds, and five had already passed. The fact that she was going to be the only survivor hadn't yet passed her mind, she was still very much caught up in the moment. It only occurred to her when Davin managed to kick his door open as well, it popping off the hinges like hers had.

From the far side of the room, he kicked off against the wall and barreled out the doorway, clumsily crashing into the wall. But neither of them slowed down, the huge door they'd entered the airship through had fallen open and revealed just how close to the ground they actually were. Without anything to kick off of, there was no way Myrla would make it to the exit before they were dashed into the ground. Fortunately for them both, Davin—like his father—had some TK training. He latched onto the edge of the doorway at the other end of the hall and jerked on the air like a rope, tugging himself towards the exit with one arm and grabbing Myrla's tail with the other. She yelped at the sudden motion, but was grateful when they both flew out the doorway moments later after a couple fast and powerful pulls on Davin’s part.

Once they were in the out of the airship and into sky, it was Myrla's turn to save them. There was so little time, the treetops nearly upon them. In one smooth motion, Myrla used Davin’s grip on her tail as an anchor point and managed to flip herself behind him and wrap her arms around his midsection in a bear hug. The moment Myrla had a grip, she snapped her wings open and caught the both of them in the air, the sudden jerk feeling like it nearly ripped her wings from their sockets. Almost instantly the destroyed airship seemed to shoot past them as their fall slowed and turned into a downward glide. It took all her strength to keep her wings fixed with Davin's extra weight, there was no way she could beat them and continue flying.

A few moments after their fall had slowed, the two of them passed through the treetops and into the mess sapala tree branches. Myrla barely managed to maneuver the two of them through an opening as to not crash into any branches. When they finally managed to make it to the ground, she dropped Davin from about ten feet up and then unceremoniously crashed into the underbrush herself.

Whatever happened next was just a blur for her. She dimly registered Davin yelling in the background, but she couldn't force herself to focus on what he was saying. Her head was spinning from the shock of what had just happened, and her ears were still ringing from the noise of the blast. She just laid on her side, wings spread out behind her utterly exhausted emotionally and physically from the descent.

"What the- I just! What do we even..." Davin's broken ramblings finally made it to her ears.

Groaning and rolling onto her belly, she managed to force herself onto all fours and fold her wings up behind her, then continued kneeling while she tried to catch her breath. It was while she looked down at her hands that she realized her predicament.

"I'm dead," she whispered softly, gazing at the shackle on her wrist in an almost trance like state. "Lord Laurier was the only one who could take this off..." She looked to Davin who had rambled himself out then back to the shackle. "This thing is going to kill me..."

Davin didn't seem to notice. He was in his own state of panic, looking around from the wreckage to the sky then back to the remains of the airship around him. "Where's dad?" He started to walk towards a larger piece of the broken airship. "Where is he?!"

Mylra managed to pull herself to her feet, walking towards him in a tired, subdued way.

"Don't waste your energy," she sighed, as he started to try and move a chunk of wood. "That was a fifteen second fall. If you find him, you won't like what you see."

Myrla felt numb inside. The sudden realization had cast a blanket of hopelessness over her, and combined with the exhaustion and the shock made her slow and lethargic.

"What do you mean?!" Davin shouted, turning towards her. There was anger, sadness and fear in his eyes. "What right do you have to say that? You of all people want him dead!" He took a step towards Myrla and she knew what was coming.

But I'm already dead, she thought. Do I want to spend my last hours with this child? Or I could...

Mylra wasn't going to have any of it. Immediately she snapped her wings open and jumped, beating them once, twice then three times and carrying her towards the canopy. Below Davin watched her ascend in a state of shock, his figure rapidly shrinking in her eyes as she moved towards the treetops. The wrecked airships fall and punched a hole clean through the canopy, making it was easy for her to get to the sky. Once she was there, the true weight of what had just happened seemed to crash down upon her.

It was over. All of it. The servitude, the tied wings, the beatings... With Laurier dead, her life was coming to a close, and Myrla was not okay with that.  Her early years had been horrible, but these more recent ones seemed to be picking up... It was cruel that she wasn't killed in an instant, but rather sentenced to another twelve hours of life before the noose drew tight around her neck. Before the shackle stopped her heart. Tears welled up in her eyes. Tears of despair, tears of rage, tears of fear. Fear of the end.

Myrla closed her eyes and glided, feeling the wind beneath her wings and crying softly. She'd worn this shackle before, it wasn't going to fail like the other ones had, and she'd seen this very design kill slaves before. It was a brutal scene—lightning arced around their body with a fearsome crack before they fell to the ground, dead.

That was going to happen to her, and there was nothing she could do about it.

The world was cruel, so cruel it didn't even give her time to grieve. Not even five minutes had passed when the whine of force crystals pressed to their limit filled the sky. Angry at fate, she looked around furiously for the disturbance. She just wanted to be left alone. Far off in the distance was some kind of vessel, headed straight towards her.

"Just leave me alone!" She screamed into the sky at nothing in particular, and went into a steep dive that an airship wouldn't be able to follow.

Except it did. Whatever it was, it was closer than she had realized, and far more agile that any airship she'd ever seen. The small craft fell from the sky like a stone to match pace with her descent, and when she caught herself, it did too.

Just make sure you can fly.

The words echoed through her mind, suddenly filled with meaning. The burned man had wanted her to survive; he had wanted her to be able to get off the falling airship. Filled with sudden hope, Myrla began to beat her wings again and flew towards the odd aircraft.

It was oddly shaped, and even smaller than the one she'd seen just a couple days before. It was a small box just large enough to sit in, with four beams coming out of each corner to form an X. As she drew closer, it became apparent that each of the beams had a downward pointing force crystal on it. It was the very same ship Lord Rastikov was talking about just the day before.

To fly such a thing—to manually control each force crystal to maintain stability would be borderline impossible—yet somehow, this pilot could manage. The pilot waved an arm at her, signaling to follow, then shot away off to her left, the whine of the craft fading.

Myrla had no choice but to follow. This could be her lifeline, her once chance for survival. Her tired wings struggled to keep up with the strange little airship. It was incredibly fast for its size and she had the feeling despite its artificial nature, it could easily outmaneuver her as well. Fortunately the flight wasn't long, and Highland was just on the edge of the horizon when the mysterious vessel disappeared into the canopy. Following it through the treetops, Myrla was greeted with what looked like a military camp with people crawling all over it. She slowed to a hover because the craft had as well, and for the first time Myrla got a good look at the pilot.

It was another drakaina, Myrla realized. A male, probably the son of a fire breather judging by the red scales on his forearms and the claws on his hands. But he didn't seem to have wings—or they were hidden under his coat. But why would he be flying the odd craft if he could fly on its own? The pilot pointed to the ground and then started to lower his craft, so Myrla flew tight circles around him while he descended, trying to get a better look at his physical appearance.

He had horns poking through his hair, but they were small, and his face wasn't entirely covered in the red scales like it should be, nor was the upper portion of his arms.

He's probably a second generation drakaina, she realized, only quarter dragon.

Myrla landed heavily at the same time as the other drakaina landed his craft, and looked around at the growing crowd of people, staring at both her and the pilot. He was quick to jump out once he'd landed, a long red spiked tail coming out of the seat with him. Apparently he hadn't been robbed of all the extra limbs, but her focus wasn't on him for long. Heavy footsteps from behind her drew her attention, and when she turned, she was face to face with the burned man.

He was even more intimidating in the daylight. While the suit was clearly built for function, it had been designed with intimidation in mind.  From the heavy armor plating and interlocking joints, to the helmet and mask combination that obscured his face, it was like talking to something entirely alien.

"In the airship. Now. We need to get that off before it triggers." As he spoke he gestured to the shackle on her arm, but she was more taken aback by his voice. It was the first time she'd heard him speak and not in a whisper, but she was surprised by how heavily accented his voice was.

Regardless, she followed him into one of the many airships landed on the forest floor and into a room filled with tools of the likes she'd never seen. Several others followed the two of them into the room, one of which was the drakaina, and obediently sat down on the chair in the center of the room.

"What is...this?" she asked quietly, looking to the quarter dragon and making a gesture as if to imply their entire operation.

"We can't tell you," the burned man replied without looking back from his workbench. "Not until we're out of here."

The drakaina she'd directed the question at glanced at the burned man and back to her. It was pretty clear the burned man intimidated him to some degree as well. "If you knew and something happened, it could put a lot of people at risk."

"You don't trust me," Myrla said sharply.

"Obviously," was his curt response. "It would be foolish to."

Realizing the stupidity in her statement, Myrla wasn't sure what to say, so she kept quiet. The burned man didn't seem to care, and turned toward her holding a clamp-like tool.

"That's a damn sturdy shackle, I doubt we can get it off without triggering it, so here's what we're doing. A few minutes before it times out, it begins charging the parts that shock you, but if it detects someone meddling with it, it doesn't have the time to fully prepare. We're going to make it discharge without that extra time, and since you're a drakaina, you'll survive."

He bent down slightly and fastened the clamp around the shackle before Myrla could process what he said.

"Wait, this is going to trigger it?!"

"With reduced charge, yes. Either it tries to kill you and fails, or we break it off before it does so successfully." He pointed to the little cranking mechanism. "Turn that as fast as you can."

Myrla looked at the shackle fearfully. "Is this going to hurt?"

"It's going to try and kill you," the other drakaina responded.

This is what you wanted, Myrla thought as she stared at the crank on the shackle breaking tool.

"It's either going to crack the crystalline structure inside before it discharges and release the energy harmlessly, or it will discharge about two thirds of its power into you," he added helpfully, stepping away from her. "And everybody else back away, or it may arc to you. You don't want that."

That final statement really solidified the lump forming in Myrla's gut. This wasn't going to be a pleasant experience. It's best not to think about it, just do it, she told herself. Grabbing hold of the small crank on the device fastened around the shackle, she started twisting it as fast as she could. If the shackle could tell it was being meddled with, she wanted it to have as little time to react as possible.

The tool was obviously effective, because the shackle reacted quickly. After a couple rotations, the steel cord pulling tight around the shackle made it shift and crack, then the world turned into a blur for Myrla. From what she did remember, there was a violent and fearsome crack accompanied by a bright flash of light.

Although she couldn't see it as she was blinded by the light, and electric bolt flashed over her skin on the outside of her arm, exiting at the back of her shoulder and striking the metal shelf behind her. The crack sounded like something a gunpowder cannon would make, deafening and primal, leaving all the occupants of the room with ringing ears.

The moment the shackle discharged, it broke into three pieces and fell to the floor harmlessly. Myrla however was on the brink of consciousness and didn't notice. It felt like her arm was both numb and on fire, and her whole body was shaking from the trauma. She didn’t know how much time had passed between the shock and when she was coherent again, but at that point the ship was in the air and she'd been brought above deck into the sun.

They had laid her down on a thick blanket on the deck and let her rest. Eventually after the pain and shock started to wear off, she managed to sit up and take in her surroundings. The ship was over the ocean with no landmasses in sight, and if she read the sun correctly it was headed south. It was also moving abnormally fast, probably at the same speed The Hosta had been capable of, or even more. It was hard to tell, sometimes a wind could skew one's sense of speed through the sky.

The burned man was standing at the bow of the airship, and the other drakaina was leaning on the railing to her left, while a couple other men mulled about as they traveled. It was a smaller vessel, but enough to house perhaps ten or twenty people for a somewhat lengthy journey. When she tried to prop herself up on her right arm, the pain flared up at her and she realized just how weak it was. She yelped and fell down on her side, drawing the attention of those around her, then sighed and looked to see what damage had been done.

For the first time in her life, Myrla had been burned. The skin on her arm was blistered and white in a Lichtenberg figure, as though the pattern of a lightning bolt had been imprinted on her skin. It wrapped all the way around her forearm and the outside of her upper arm as well, crawling up and over her shoulder and finishing on her shoulder blade where the bolt had exited her body. And it hurt like hell.

"Hurts, doesn't it?"

Myrla looked up through watery eyes to see the other drakaina standing over her.

"Alric," he said, holding out her left hand so she could grab it without using her right arm.

Myrla just shook her head. "I don't think I can stand yet." Instead she forced herself to sit up again and unfolded her wings slightly, propping herself up into a sitting position with them and leaning back into a relaxed position.

"You're making me jealous," he said with a hint of humor, and sat down beside her cross legged.

"I'm not really capable of feeling sympathy at the moment," she groaned, looking down at her arm again.

Alric nodded gravely. "That's going to take a while to recover, and leave a wicked scar once it's healed. I don't think the burned man expected the shackle to be that strong."

Myrla just shook her head, then immediately regretted it. It was pounding.

"Why didn't it kill me? I've seen it kill other people when they try to break it."

"Your bones," was his simple answer, prompting a curious look from her.

"Can you breathe steam for me right now?" he asked, obviously going somewhere with this.

Myrla gave him a skeptical look then angled her head away from him slightly and tried. The amount of effort she put in would have normally given off so little steam it would have been akin to a person breathing out on a winter day. Instead, the jet of steam that shot from her mouth was nearly four feet long and significantly hotter than anything she'd ever breathed before. It was so abnormally powerful that she actually jumped backwards a little bit from where she was sitting, prompting a small laugh from Alric.

"The energy you use to heat the steam is stored in your bones," he chuckled. "That's why so many people hunt us, our bones can store much more energy than charge crystals. Your bones absorbed quite a bit of the power when you got shocked. That's what saved you."

Myrla sat in place for a moment mulling over that statement, a bunch of things starting to make sense to her. That's why the bracelets fell off, she realized, thinking back to the day before when they'd fallen to the ground, seemingly drained of energy. The crystals were touching my skin so my body leached the power from them. It also explained why Lord Laurier kept her so close all the time. She was his little trophy, but also valuable to other people. The idea of something killing her and making off with her skeleton to sell sent shivers down her tail.

"I wish they could have absorbed a little more," she finally said, looking at the burn marks again. Myrla couldn't get over how much they hurt.

"You'll learn to absorb more effectively in the future," he said, "if you stay with us anyways."

The statement hit her like a ton of bricks. There were no straps around her wings, nor was there a shackle on her arm that threatened to kill her on a daily basis. She was free. But now that it was right there, she had no idea what to do with it. Fly away and survive on her own? Or accompany these new people? Clearly they were on some sort of crusade. If they intended to capture her, she would already be tied down with straps or another shackle. At the very least they wouldn't have her above deck on an airship that she could simply fly away from if they weren't willing to let her go free.

"You can be free and still have a home," he said quietly, correctly guessing her train of thought. "We all need one."

"Where are we going?" she finally asked after a moments silence.

"A small island cluster far to the south," he replied in a low voice so the burned man couldn't hear him. "It's, well..." he paused on that statement for a moment. "It's better if you see it."

A lifetime of not asking questions had conditioned Myrla to do just that, even if perhaps it wasn't in her best interest. Instead she just sat there, the throbbing in her arm and head making it difficult to focus on anything. The wind was loud in her ears, the sun too bright for her eyes...she just wanted to sleep, but the pain wouldn't let her do that.

So instead she sat there, wings propped behind her to keep her upright and stared at the deck, the minutes blurring into hours. Alric evidently saw that she was recovering from the shock, and gave her the space she needed. The sun was lower in the sky when she finally recovered enough to stand, and walked over slowly to where the burned man had resumed his post. Over the past couple hours her head had cleared up enough for her to realize that something didn't add up. If they weren't going to force her to stay, then what was the point of hunting her down and saving her?

"You want something from me," she said quietly, standing slightly behind him.

"Something I need you to do willingly," was his response, right to the point.

"And if I leave?" Deep down Myrla knew that wasn't an option. She was very quickly getting the impression that this was a man that had every angle covered. There was a reason he didn't have her chained down, and she needed to know why.

"You're not going to." All he gave her was a simple answer that didn't answer the implied question.

"Well, perhaps I'm a little naïve." There was an edge in Myrla's voice she didn't typically have. "So enlighten me why."

He slowly turned his head towards her, the lifeless lens that covered his eyes staring right through her. It was unsettling enough she had to do everything to not take a step back.

"You have nowhere to go." His voice was calm and dangerous. "Nobody to turn to and no means of survival for when the headhunters come. Why would you turn down a safe place to live?"

"Because what you're offering may be worse."

The snort was audible even through his helmet. "Nothing horrible, but the stakes will be high. For you"

She looked at him flatly. "What do you want."

He turned away from her back to the front of the ship. "I need you to be my thief."

 

 

                                                                                         

 

The Half Dragon - 6: The Fall
Yikes, a bit overdue, but I ran into some problems in life, had to postpone writing for a few weeks. But I'm back at it... if things stay calm. Well in this chapter we actually move the story along, and will be exploring a good chunk of the world in the coming pages. 


Story Start
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
This is part 6
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Sasha slid out of her little hole sleeping hole a couple hours later when she heard her name being called. It was one of the shadowcat children, chirping her name and telling her that she was wanted down with the elders. The truth was none of them were actually old—it was just tradition to called the people who ran the community by that title. Somehow, Sasha herself had become a del-facto leader herself, although how that had happened she wasn’t entirely sure. The truth was, lots of people living in Salutem simply weren’t motivated. All it took was a little bit of willingness on her part to help out, and the responsibility had basically fallen on her shoulders. But with responsibility came influence, so she didn’t mind.

The cave that they used as a meeting was deep within the mountain, taking her nearly ten minutes to make her way through the paths and tunnels she’d grown to know over the years. Another of the reasons the curse had set up in the cave network was the bioluminescent moss on the tunnel walls. Even is her vision didn’t bleed into the infrared spectrum she still would have been able to navigate by the faint green light the moss filled the caves with. It gave a mythical feeling to the caverns, like stepping into another world.

When the tunnel she was crawling through finally gave way to a larger room, the rest of the so-called elders were waiting for her. The only one who was actually of notable age was Ivara, a severe looking woman in her fifties whose left arm was completely covered in fur where the hellcat had burned her. She was one of the few who actually intimated Sasha.

“I see you two are finally done with your boytoy,” Ivara said in a dismissive tone, her voice full of gravel from a lifetime of smoking.

“I’m only human,” Sasha responded, aware of the irony in the statement. It was a running joke among the community.

“Well we have a problem to discuss,” Cain’s central head said before their banter could continue. “A problem in the form of food.”

“There’s an abnormally large hellcat running around, killing farmers and tearing up fields,” Ivara continued for him. “And choking off our food supply. Two of the four farmers who are actually willing to sell vegetables to us were killed.”

Sasha whistled in tune with herself, a pleasant sound. “That’s actually…” she paused on the word for a moment.

“Disastrous,” Cain finished for her, while everyone else in the room nodded. “We have plenty of reserves for now, but the cold season…”

“People will have to leave,” Jenson said quietly. The shadowcat didn’t speak very often, but was their main ambassador to the people that they did buy things from on the outside world. He always wore a small bracelet around his wrist that absorbed the tainted magic bleeding off his body. Nobody knew where he’d gotten the angelic blessing, but it was invaluable. It actually let him talk to regular people without giving them night terrors.

“But that isn’t the biggest problem that blasted monster is caused,” Ivara said darkly. “It hit Relario a couple nights ago. Over a hundred victims.” She let the statement hang in the air for a moment. “The city’s pissed.”

“Well we just saw the first of them today,” Sasha said quietly. “Gave the poor kid a shakedown but I imagine they will be more of them.”

“But it won’t be a problem if they come one at a time,” she added, switching heads she was speaking with, “but there isn’t much we can do if an actually militia comes knocking.”

“That’s why I’m concerned,” Ivara said. “There is going to be a lot of angry people wanting to do something? And who do they blame? They aren’t rational, or they won’t be for a while.”

“People are here because they don’t want to continuously fight for their life,” Cain said. “And if we force them to, all that’ll do is prove the humans right, then the next time a force comes we won’t stand a chance.”

Everybody else in the room nodded. The cerberusmorph was right, it was the problem they’d faced for the past couple years now. If the community made itself known as a threat even when defending itself, that would summon the ire of the humans from all over. They were a target for lazy thinking.

“Then what do we do?” Sasha asked quietly. “Other than run?”

“We can’t hide forever,” Ivara said slowly, “especially since it’s pretty well known that there is a community in this area. At best we can make them not want to come here, although how we’d manage that is beyond me. Any action at all…”

“…just draws more attention to us,” Sasha finished for her with a sigh.

Silence hung in the room for a moment, but it was pretty obvious that Cain wanted to say something, although was hesitant to. Eventually Sasha gave him a prompting stare he spoke up.

“This is going to sound really silly,” he said.

“Well spit it out,” Ivara retorted, “we’re at a loss for idea’s here.”

Cain shrugged as though it were obvious. “Give them what they want. Give them some kind of challenge. Some monster to slay.”

“That brings them directly to our doorstep,” Ivara said in a flat tone like a teacher telling a student they’d failed a test.

This was the first time Sasha saw Cain roll his eyes. “No, like short ways from here. Ravage the forest a bit, make a spooky cave, and put Sasha or me, or somebody who can defend themselves in it. Or even a couple of us. Give them a villain that isn’t this community, and not one that attacks them. One they need to challenge.”

“That way whenever they want to attack us, they go for that instead of this place,” Sasha said slowly, ignoring the fact that she’d just been volunteered as bait.

“And what if things go bad? What happens to whoever’s on the post?” Ivara demanded.

Cain held his hands up in surrender. “The idea just came to me, okay? Details can be ironed out later, but what about the concept? Does that at least work?”

The older woman looked at him grudgingly. “There’s lots of ways this could go wrong, but yes. I do think that it’s the best idea we have right now.” Then she looked to Sasha. “Aside from you and Cain, who else do you think could work something like this?”

Sasha had to think about that for a moment. “Most of the cerberi here because of their howls obviously, and there’s a couple shadowcats who are trained fighters that could keep themselves safe, but I don’t really know who else. Pretty much everybody except me would have to skirt around them and play the elusive game.”

“Let’s find a location first,” Jenson said quietly, turning heads towards him once again. “Then we can sort out who can work it.”

Myrla aboard The Hosta
Big thanks to kiabugboy for this commission! It's a sort of rendition of Myrla standing atop The Hosta in chapter one of my series The Half Dragon. I felt people could use a little visualization of the world, and I'm quite happy with it. And no she's not a giant, it's just a quirk of the image.
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Living in the caves certainly played havoc with Calvin’s sleep cycle. The lack of sunlight, and the fact that so many of the people living within the cave network were actually nocturnal beings made it incredibly easy to become one as well. But the fact remained that his night vision was unfortunately quite awful. He needed to get out of the cave for a month, fly around the continent for a while and get a sense of what was happening in the larger world.

But at the moment he was fast asleep, only gently pulled from his slumber when Sasha slid into their little nest beside him. She was the reason he stayed—and their bed of course. Just a little less than two years ago, the entire town of Salutem had robbed a cargo ship. It had been wrong, but their little community needed some essentials, and thanks to Sasha’s hypnosis they had done it with minimal injury and no casualties on either side.

The floor was layered with bags of feathers and topped off with a luxury carpet, making for a wonderfully comfortable sleeping hole. He hadn’t slept so comfortably since he’d been burned and forced to flee his home. As the hydramorph slid into their makeshift bed beside him, he cracked his eyes open and smiled faintly.

“Back already?”

Sasha yawned with both heads as she pulled herself in closer to him, wrapping her arms around him and snuggling in. The initially eerie feeling of her hairsnakes playing over his back and shoulders had become a sensation of comfort, something familiar he’d grown to love about her.

“Just a kid seeking vengeance in the wrong place,” she sighed. “Bit off more than he could chew, ran the moment I let him. The usual.”

“Night terrors will do that to you,” Calvin said lazily, yawning himself.

He felt Sasha nod faintly. “I think that’s the best part about what happened, not living in fear anymore.”

Calvin suddenly felt the urge to play devil’s advocate just to annoy her. “Well, it’s a different thing that we need to be afraid-”

“Oh shut up,” she pulled back slightly so he could see her faces grinning at him in the low light. “Fine then. Not living in magically induced terror.”

Calvin grinned back and pulled her in tight again, shifting so he could unfold his wings and wrapping them around her. “It’s definitely a plus,” he finally agreed. “It’s no wonder those poor buggers go insane. What happened?”

Sasha stopped to think about it briefly. “His sister,” she said after a moments pause. “Probably burned by a shadowcat.”

“Visiting him at night without him knowing, inflicting night terrors?” It was a situation they knew all too well, particularly with shadowcats. Their ability to blink between shadows in the night made it incredibly easy for them to enter homes—something the burn victims did to visit their old family while they slept.

“That’s usually what it is.” Sasha just sounded resigned to the situation. Someone would have to go and find the poor girl before she inflicted to much damage on her former community. “But on the plus side, we know where to look. He was carrying a sword made in Yowlen.”

Calvin grunted. “That is pretty close by air. I’m surprised he made it this far on foot.”

“Probably had a horse, but you know how they get once they’re close to here.” One of her hairsnakes nipped his ear affectionately.

“Oh, so you’re going to sic the job on me now are ya?”

Sasha giggled. “What? It’ll only take out a half a day to get there.”

“And a bloody month to catch that shadowcat,” he muttered. “Do you know how big of a pain that is?”

“You should be good at it by now! Plus you’re going stir crazy in this cave, you need to get out into the day again for a while.”

“But I don’t wanna,” he mock pouted. “It’s comfy here.”

“I know! Why do you think I’m staying? Besides, who else we keep the stream of terrible heroes from slaying the residents of this little place?” she asked in a teasing tone.

“Cain? He’s a big guy.” Calvin wasn’t serious, he knew fully well that it was best if Sasha stayed. She was by far the best equipped to keep people away in a non-lethal manner.

“Pfft.  Cain’s just a big fluffy dope. I don’t care how many heads he has.” Her hairsnakes nipped at both his ears again while her lower hands started playing down his abs. “And we don’t want you getting fat now do we?”

Calvin snorted. “Careful now, you might offend me.” One of the benefits about his form was he didn’t seem to story energy as fat, and was quite proud of his figure for it, even if it came with very little work. He leaned back from their embrace and kissed her, drawing it out passionately.

“Ohh, the right head this time,” her left whispered into his ear while her right reciprocated his advance. Her forked tongue, much longer than his, slipped into his mouth playfully while her lower hands each reached down and grabbed one of his members.

“And you want to send those away?” he asked in mock sadness, breaking the kiss off.

The tips of her tongue poked from her mouth as she smiled at him. “That’s why we’re having a little sendoff party,” she said, adding a bit of hiss to her voice like she usually did when they had sex.

“You’re as bad as I am,” Calvin grinned as her left head, unfazed by their conversation continued to suck seductively on his neck. “And you didn’t even have a run in with a succubi for an excuse.”

There was something thrilling about only talking to one of her heads while the other acted as an auxiliary, trying to steal his attention from the other. It was the only time she ever behaved that way around him—pretending like she was two separate people in one body. It was bizarre, having his girlfriend suddenly become two distinct personalities clambering for his attention. Normally her dual personality act freaked him out, but during sex Calvin thought it was hot. It made him feel wanted, desired, something to be fought over.

Finally he rolled on top of her, going in for a kiss on her left head this time while her right nibbled and sucked on his ear. “Come on,” she whispered faintly, her voice a primal serpentine hiss, “get them in there already, don’t keep a girl waiting…”

He could play that game too, and dropped his voice into a guttural, draconic growl.

“Gladly.” 

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:iconmanymasksmanyfaces:
manymasksmanyfaces Featured By Owner May 27, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
thanks for da llama! :)
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:iconagent505:
Agent505 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2017  Professional Writer
Thanks for the fave :)
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