Cut and Run Chapter 10
When I was a kid my Old-Man decided I needed some ‘toughening up’ when it came to my dealing with the neighborhood bullies. He felt it would be best if picked a Martial Art to study. I did some research and settled on Aikido.
Dad, being a Veteran Marine, wasn’t happy with my choice at first. When my stick-thin Sensei managed to drop my heavily muscled Dad to the mat using his hands, not his fists mind you, just his hands, Dad changed his tune.
What I learned during those years in my Aikido-Dojo, stood me in good stead when I went through the Dragon’s Seventh Path of Adulthood. Doubly so, when I dealt with those four Wurm bullies nigh on immediately afterwards.
For one moment, the four Bailiffs stood peering balefully down at me. In that moment, I could see each and every one of them and their inherent beauty as they stood in a line facing me.
The Scarlet one rumbled at me with a voice like gravel. “Submit.” She demanded. I looked back up at her/them.
“Male Dragons, never submit.” I replied as I bared my teeth.
As one, they moved quickly to attack.
I moved quicker.
The first thing I did as they collectively tried to grab me, was a fast forward roll to my right: Ukemi Migi, with me ending up crouched on my feet at the far end of the line of those Wurms. My doing this, caused them to collide together as they all tried to grab me first.
Their colliding, both surprised and pissed them off. The Black one, nearest me, was the first to recover. She hissed fiercely as she twisted about sinuously, and somehow managed to grab my right arm with her left paw.
‘Damn she’s fast!’ I thought, as I saw her satisfied smile.
But I didn’t stay still. Instead, I reacted instinctively and slid my paw underneath her wrist and twisted it so that I almost broke her hold. This meant that I reversed the situation, and now I had hold of her arm instead. Her eyes widened in surprise when she realized what happened.
After that, I turned my body around by the hips. This forced her to keep up as I turned, allowing me to use her momentum against her, by my passing her arm over my head.
Then. I completed my turn so that I had the top of her head underneath my left paw. I then forcefully pushed her head down and forward. This should have resulted in her inertia forcing her into a forward somersault and letting go of my arm.
With a sharp growl, she fought against it and maintained her grip. Her growl turned to a yelp, as she scraped that lovely face of hers along the cold stone floor of the cafeteria. Even then, she refused to let go of my arm.
So, I allowed her momentum to continue carrying forward until she let go when I dislocated her arm at the shoulder with an loud‘pop’.
She screamed, as she curled up and started lashing her tail about in agony. Every nearby Dragon scrambled to get out of her way as that tail of hers whipped about madly. She managed to smash into and destroy several nearby tables, sending up pieces of stone flying everywhere.
Standing up, I became more aware of my surroundings, and spied the other three Bailiffs slithering to encircle me.
‘Not gonna happen!’ I decided, so I opted for the avenue of escape they hadn’t expected. With a couple of quick flaps of my wings, I passed up and over their wounded comrade. While I did that, I felt the breeze of her tail as it passed underneath me, missing me by a fraction of an inch.
Unfortunately, I managed to land onto a small band of Wyverns that were pressed together. They had grouped together to avoid being hit by the lashing Wurm-tail. I lost precious seconds, as I was forced to avoid the sudden group-grope that band of Wyverns spontaneously indulged in with me.
The seconds I lost allowed the remaining Bailiffs to wend their way around their injured fellow. Luckily, instead of pursuing me the Green-Wurm opted to render aid to her fallen partner. This left the two Wurms remaining, to pursue me, which they did with a fierce enthusiasm.
As I had planned, I was then situated close to the kitchen area opening. So, I made a dash for that access point, hoping that the remaining two Wurm’s pride would override their better sense.
My luck continued, when I Sensed them about to spring forward to catch me, I did a half-jump/half-flap straight up. Time seemed to slow in that moment then.
Like a piece of paper picked up by a passing vehicle’s wind, my leaping turned into a tumble as the pair of irate Bailiffs passed underneath me by a razor thin margin. Claws, scales, and tails both white and red, flowed past in a flash.
‘Candy cane?’ I thought mirthfully then. My amusement rapidly ceased when one of the Bailiff’s tail-tip impacted me sharply enough to send my tumble into a spin.
Even with my experience in Ukemi falling technique, I landed half on my feet, half on my tail. This resulted in me yelping painfully, as a good portion of my weight ended up on my tail bending it unnaturally
No one heard that cry, as the pair of Bailiff’s rocket-like inertia punched them through the relatively thin stone wall of the kitchen, creating a deafening roar as that stone was reduced to a pair of billowing plumes of aggregate and dust.
I had to extend a wing to block several sharp rocks that were thrown my way. I waited a second or three for the dust to settle down enough to witness the aftermath.
Once it had, I immediately scurried into the kitchen through one of the holes that had been thoughtfully provided by my pursuers. Or, what was left of the kitchen that is.
As I expected, both Bailiffs had managed to punch their way through the kitchen and out its other side to the outside air. As near as I could tell, all of the kitchen staff had exited the room prior to witness the fight between the Wurms and I.
I then passed through to the outside, via a conveniently made Wurm-hole. (HAR!)
There, I saw that both of the Wurms seemed to be in a bit of a daze as they were both shaking their heads.
‘Thick skulls indeed.’ I thought.
When I stepped out, they caught sight of my motion, then they both growled loudly in unison as they started to advance in my direction.
I noticed that the Red one seemed to be having a slight problem with her navigation, as she kept overcompensating every time she slithered in a curve, delaying her advance somewhat. Backing away from them both, I had to raise my arms to avoid overbalancing on the rubble strewn about on the floor.
Before I could turn to see where I was going, I was surprised to feel a pair of paws grab me by my wrists. Those paws then pushed my wrists together in a lock, up against the small of my back near where my wing membranes attached.
“Got You!” a deep voice yelled triumphantly. Turning, I saw the Green Bailiff. Apparently, she had decided to wait until my back was turned to come after me.
‘Sneaky!’ I grumbled to myself. But I wasn’t done not by a long shot. I first growled at her in annoyance, which had the intended effect of making her smile triumphantly. Then I knew I had her.
I then bent over and forced my hands/paws down and out, to take advantage of the sudden slack. Forcing myself up and my arms out, I was then able to step to the side, and behind Big Green. This had the effect of making her loosen her grip on me as I rapidly backpedaled, and forced her paws off of me.
“HEY!” Big Green snarled indignantly at me then, turning. “No fair!”
I replied in a mature manner, by sticking my tongue out at her over my shoulder as I turned to run.
I ran as fast as I could then, and ducked back into the cafeteria proper. If anything else, it had seemingly gotten even more crowded in the few seconds I’d been gone.
“What the fuck?” I exclaimed in confusion as I saw the crowds of Dragons in front of me. Without a second thought, I bounded forward, and leaped into the air, flapping furiously.
Plan A: My getting away from the Bailiffs through the kitchen, hadn’t worked out as well I’d hoped.
So, Plan B- exiting through the cafeteria itself. I had wanted to avoid that, but those damnable Bailiffs were making my life rather hard then!
It was tight quarters over that crowd of hooting and hollering Dragons, but somehow I managed to get to one of the entrances without too much hassle. Luckily a group of Dragons that were crowded near the main entrance noticed my approach. As one, they all moved out of the way as my intended destination had become obvious.
Just before the doorway, I dropped my flight, tucked in my wings, and rolled into a run. I was barely a hundred feet into the hallway, before I heard the entranceway behind me break apart in a thunderous crash!
‘I think I can guess!’ I thought needlessly to myself, as I felt several rocks impacting me from behind. The thick plume of dust behind me gave evidence to another annoyed Wurm.
Luckily, I made it outside the building, and started to make my way over to the Egress grand plaza. I momentarily took to the air and circled about. This gave me the opportunity to take stock of the situation.
‘Damn this feels good!’ It was wonderful to feel the wind beneath my wings again. ‘Better than sex,..! Uhhhm, nope!’ I changed my mind mid-flight.
Looking down and around, I saw that there still was no evidence of anyone making it inside the Dragon Realm, as every Egress Gate was closed and the areas around them were near deserted.
A glance back at the cafeteria entrance showed me that the Bailiffs, including the Black one, had exited out in pursuit of me. Looking down, I saw that that they were pointing up at me in consternation.
‘I’d better land’, I thought to myself, ‘otherwise they’ll go after Frazziss!’ So, I banked and landed in front of the First Path Gate, the one furthest from them.
I had something in mind. Looking back at the rapidly approaching Wurms, I raised my arms, seemingly in surrender. This made their leader, the Red one, stop momentarily in surprise. I extended out my Ki, and did a check.
‘Good!’ I thought, ‘I can Sense them now!’ With just a bit of effort, I could also sense their emotions. Mostly, they were suspicious as they halted. All four were annoyed, but the Black was especially angry with me then. Even from that distance away, I could Sense the pain her shoulder caused her. Someone, probably the Green, must have hurriedly popped her shoulder back into place.
All four of them slowly came up to stand in a line facing me. At that moment, I chose to summon up my New breath weapon, and held it in readiness.
I noticed also, that the Red and the White Wurms had to physically restrain the Black from launching herself at me. While the Green seemed to take over as group Leader. Why? I had no idea.
I remained largely still, until the time they all began to advance warily towards me. I waited a few seconds more, then the Green spoke.
“Are you prepared to Surrender?!” She shouted at me. I nodded.
‘Kinda sorta.’ I thought to myself, while crossing my tail.
“Do you have a Breath Weapon ready?!” She demanded. I nodded again.
“Expel it away, NOW!” she ordered.
I then tilted my head back as far as it would go, and with only the slightest of sounds, I Spit out my New breath weapon projectile.
‘Photon Torpedo Away!’ I smiled with satisfaction. With an innocent hissing, it flew backwards up and over the First Gate’s approximate position. I saw the Green visibly flinch from she was standing a hundred feet away from me. But, upon seeing that nothing untoward occurred, she then motioned for her compatriots to flank me.
They did so, carefully this time.
“Turn around and keep your paws above your head!” The Green shouted again, this time much closer. I did as she ordered. When I did, I took a quick gander overhead, and noted with glee that my New breath weapon’s projectile was now arcing overhead, just as I had planned.
Within a few seconds, I could hear the sound of Wurm scales slithering on the gradated stone behind me, approaching.
‘..ten…nine…eight…’ I counted to myself, as they continued to slither closer.
“Allen-Belushi, you are under arrest!” Shouted one of them, the Green I suppose.
‘…six…’ I continued, as I Sensed my projectile rapidly begin its descent.
“Will you submit now, or shall we have to resort to extreme methods?” I turned quickly back around, and sure enough there was the Black. That feral grin of hers, told me that she was hoping I’d resist.
‘…three…two…’ I caught the Black’s eye with mine. Then, I grinned back, as I spread my wings in preparation. I could Sense her alarm then.
‘…one…’ They were all in position.
I then reached out with my Ki, and opened the Gate to the First Path.
Oh yeah, that’s one of my new abilities that my daughter’s Spirit taught me. I could open ALL eight of the Paths of Ascension, at will.
And now all five of us, were standing in front of an open gate.
They were taken by surprise by its opening. I would imagine they were even more surprised, when my New breath weapon projectile: Plasma Sphere, detonated behind them.
As I had hoped, the resulting shockwave from that deafening explosion propelled them, and me, into the First Path.
‘Not bad for a first attempt.’ I thought to myself with satisfaction, as I back sailed into the topsy-turvy world of the Dragon’s Teeth.
It was a weird scene I had to admit. From a viewpoint that was rock solid steady in the Dragon Realm proper, morphed into one in which the land acted like the waves of an ocean: endlessly churning. Everywhere I looked, boulders both large and small, were constantly being thrown up into the air. All of this was creating a sound akin to an ocean storm.
“Holy Shit!” I cried out loud then. ‘Qirri wasn’t kidding calling this a Rock Tumbler!’ I thought in surprise, as I dodged an airborne boulder the size of a city block.
But, it was far greater in intensity than what I had expected. It was then that I remembered the info that Herrassiss had copped to. That most of the Path Guardians had turned the Path ‘settings’ up to Eleven.
It was also then that I also realized my error in judgment. I had thought that by tricking the Bailiffs into the First Path, I could delay them just long enough for me to fly back out, and deal with Herrassiss alone.
‘BUT THIS!’ I was horrified by what I’d done.‘This is a Death Trap!’ I then turned and began to search for the Bailiffs. I noted that the Green, White, and the Red were barely holding their own by ‘swimming’ through the land-waves. But it took me a few seconds longer to find the Black.
She was in a bad position when I finally noticed her. Her arm that I had injured, had slowed her down significantly. As I watched, I noticed her try to dodge a house sized boulder, only to just have it graze her and knock her down.
Near as I could tell it knocked her unconscious, as she started rolling around like a log on the ground-waves.
As I watched from up in the air, I saw another, much-larger boulder begin an arcing trajectory that I reckoned would come down upon her. It was then in that instant, that I knew that I had fucked up big time.
At first I wanted to flee from the situation I’d created, like a coward.
‘NO!’ I said firmly to myself.
Instead, I forced myself down towards her. I decided that I wasn’t going to leave her to die, I couldn’t. I was done with running away.
I landed alongside her. I knew that there was no way I could just try and snatch her up, for she outweighed me by at least one-half more in mass.
Instead, I grabbed her as best I could, and managed to half-drag/half-carry her away from that rapidly approaching boulder.
“GRAAAHHH!” I shouted out loud, carrying and dragging her limp form with all of my strength. That boulder did come down where I had expected it to, barely missing us.
It was then that one of her arms went into spasm, then it reached out and grabbed me by the shoulder.
Turning my head, I could see that she was awake, and was clutching my shoulder fiercely with her good arm as she tried to stand up. It was the first time I’d ever seen a Wurm looking scared.
“COME ON!” I shouted at her, as I tried to turn back towards the Path Gate. Glancing up, I could see that it was only a short distance away, but to me then, it may as well have been miles.
“HELP ME!” she shouted back. “It hurts,…!” she screamed, but was interrupted as a good sized rock smacked her alongside her head, knocking it over. She then let go of me with her good arm, as I noticed her eyes roll back into unconsciousness.
“NO!” I shouted desperately. Immediately, I grabbed her again and threw her arm over my shoulder. I then started dragging her again as best I could. Which wasn’t all that much, under the circumstances. I pointed us both towards the Egress as best I could then, and I just kept going.
I pushed out my Ki-Sense as best I could. Which allowed me to avoid several more boulders. But I don’t know how many times we were both knocked to the ground by the ground quakes.
Somehow, I don’t know how, I got us to the Egress point. Summoning up my ability, I managed to reopen the Gate. Then I started working to push her up and over the rim of the Gate, out into the Dragon Realm proper.
It was then that I noticed a house size boulder twisting and turning as it tumbled straight for us both. In that instant, I knew that I had a choice to make. I could save myself, or I could save the Wurm.
I chose the Wurm.
With a final strained heave, I pushed her out into the plaza. In my last second I noted that she would soon be in helping paws. I then closed the gate, and waited for my doom.
I felt my head horns scrape alongside that boulder as it came down over me, but it didn’t impact! It didn’t, because someone had grabbed me and jerked me out of the way, barely in time!
As soon as I could, I looked down and saw a pair of heavily scraped White scaled paws latched onto my wing claws. Looking up, I saw a badly bruised White Wurm looking back at me, frowning.
“Can you open the Gate?!” she demanded over the noise. I nodded. “Then do so!” she ordered.
“Where are the othe…!” I began, then stopped once I caught sight of the Green and the Red Wurms over her shoulder. They were battered and bruised as well. I then concentrated for a second, it was a bit harder to do then, but then the Gate opened for us. We all went through.
“OOOF!” I let out, as I hit the noticeably stiff stones of the Plaza. I ended up lying on my side, and almost totally out of breath. Raising my head, I could see that the Wurms weren’t doing much better. The Red Wurm let out a yell then. I turned my head to see what she was looking at, and I saw that the Gate was still open. There was another massive boulder headed our way. It took a bit of effort, but I closed the Gate just in time.
The silence at that moment, was disturbed only by the panting of the Wurms I’d just helped to bring out of the Gateway, and my own.
After a minute or two, I managed to wobble myself back to my feet. I then heard a grunt nearby. Turning, I saw that it was the White Wurm. She was slowly bringing herself up to a standing position. She was definitely not looking too good though. I could’ve tried fleeing, but I probably wouldn’t have gotten far.
We just stood and faced each other for a second.
“Why?” I asked, after a couple more pants. She looked perplexedly at me then, breathing hard.
“Why,” I asked again. “Did you save me?” She panted a couple times more herself, and smiled.
“I saw what you did.” She replied hoarsely, pointing. I turned to see what she was pointing at. It was the Black Wurm. She had a couple of what I assumed to be medical attendants, taking care of her. I felt myself smiling in relief when I saw, then Sensed, that she was going to be all right. If not quite rather sore.
“So, what now?” I asked, after returning my attention to her. When I did, I saw that the Green and Red Wurms, were advancing towards me on either side of the White. I felt my heart sink, when I saw a determined look on both their faces. But then the White did something strange.
For some reason, the White Wurm spread her arms out into the paths of her partners. They both stopped and looked at her questioningly.
“He nearly died saving Clarissa.” The other two Wurms looked at me for a second, then over to the Black Wurm, then back to the White. I noticed that they both bowed their heads and nodded once, each.
The White lowered her arms, and the other two didn’t advance. I relaxed for a moment.
“Can you open Gates?” The White asked me suddenly.
“Yes.” I replied, wondering what her drift was.
“Come with me.” She ordered, and started to slither off. She stopped after a second and looked back at me expectantly.
‘Willingly or by force.’ I thought to myself. ‘I choose option one.’ I followed and stayed alongside her. After a few seconds, I noticed that we were making a bee-line straight towards the Egress Point for the Eighth Gate.
“Oh!” I said in surprise. “I think I can guess what you want me to do!”
“Yes.” She said simply. “Open the Council Gate, and let the Full Council in!” she rumbled. “It’s been too long. Suspiciously too long.” Our eyes met then in a moment of camaraderie. It didn’t take us long to get there.
Herrassiss must’ve been observing the proceedings. Because, just before we arrived, she popped out of seemingly nowhere with a conniption fit.
“BAILIFFS!” She screamed, her wings flexing furiously. “You’re supposed to be arresting HIM!”
The White Wurm stopped and looked perplexed, then turned and looked at me for a second. After that, she raised a paw to point at me and then looked back at Herrassiss with a questioning look.
“YES, HIM!” Herrassiss screamed, seemingly louder and shaking with indignation. Looking over my shoulder, I saw the Green and the Red give each other a momentary smirk.
With that, the White shifted herself and then gave Herrassiss another questioning look, this time pointing at me with both paws. Turning my head, I caught the eyes of the White, she looked at me for a second, then jerked her head over to the Gate, then she looked back to me and narrowed her eyes.
‘Oh right.’ I realized with embarrassment.
As Herrassiss drew in a deep breath in preparation for a thunderous roar of outrage, I was able to open the Eighth Gate with surprising ease. I have to confess that I rather enjoyed the sight of Herrassiss’ face freezing, as she heard the sound of the Eighth Gate opening behind her.
Like opening an overly warm can of shaken beer, a massive wave of Dragons came gushing forth from that Gate. The Wurms, Herrassiss, and I, were nearly bowled over as a significant portion of the Full Council flew, slithered, or stomped their way out of the Gate in a massive rush. No few of them smelled like they were in dire need of a bath.
It was almost comical the Chaos that followed, as every single one of them came out in a foul mood. Of which they demonstrated upon their exit, what with their roars of rage, breath weapon expulsions, and the number of fights that immediately broke out. When it came to being cantankerous, crowded cats had nothing on Crowded Dragons.
As I later learned, every Council member was able to get into the Eighth Gate fairly easily, but their getting out proved to be problematic. Some had gotten into the Gate only recently, while many others had been in there just after I had arrived, over a week ago.
I had one overly tall beauty, nearly knock me over when I didn’t get out of her way fast enough to suit her. She, turned out to be a Platinum haired/scaled Dragon with her eyes flaming red in anger, and a fierce snarl coming from behind her fangs.
Peering behind those fangs, I was amply aware that she was getting her breath weapon all set to fire. Then, she did a double take and stopped moving,…well,…everything. She looked me over, from my foot paws to my horns and all parts in between. Then she smiled, tilted her head, and started walking towards me.
“Why Hello-There.” She spoke then in the sweetest of voices, apparently having forgotten whatever it was she’d been angry about. For some reason, this made me more uncomfortable than the way she’d been a second ago.
Nervously, I tried to side step her advance, but she was having none of it. Swiftly, she shot out a wing to interpose it between me and my escape. I realized then, that she was at least between eight and nine feet tall.
“You must be that Male Dragon Impersonator I’ve been getting reports on!” she stated eagerly. “I shall inspect you, PERSONALLY!” she growled/purred, as she quickly reached out and grabbed one of my arms with her massive paw.
“BACK OFF!” I shouted, as I twisted my paw underneath her grasp and shoved her arm away, easily. This left her momentarily shocked as she stopped and gaped at me. Then she smiled.
“OOOooooh!” she cooed. “FEISTY! I look forward to this!” It was then I noticed that her eyes were rapidly shifting to a pronounced pink color.
‘Ut-oh!’ was all I could think then. Things were about to come to a head, as I prepared to do battle with her, despite my weariness.
“First Minister!” someone nearby cried out then. The Platinum Dragon stopped her advance towards me, as I noted the color of her eyes shifted to a distinct red tone.
“WHAT!?” she snarled, turning her head to take in whoever it was that addressed her. It turned out to be Qirri, accompanied by a pair of Bailiffs I’d not seen before, Yellow and Brown. For some reason, there was no sign of either Frazziss, nor Pirin. The sight of them both missing, worried me.
“First Minister,” Qirri started up again. “I have firm reason to believe that the Second Minister may have been planning a coup!” The First Minister, even as angry as she was, somehow managed to calm herself at those words. She rapidly took on a business-like mien and started shouting orders to all and sundry within earshot.
Unfortunately, one of those orders included that I be detained. Even as tired as I was, I was all set to fight when I saw the Yellow Wurm approach me with a set of Dragon Manacles ready in her paws. Luckily, Qirri managed to catch my eye then.
“Allen-Belushi, please!” she pleaded, shaking her head with her braids shaking back and forth in response. Reluctantly, oh so reluctantly, I allowed myself to be manacled. Man, that was one of the hardest things for me to do right then. When Qirri saw me comply, she sent me a look of relief that mollified me a bit.
But I was all shits and giggles when I observed Herrassiss’ reaction to her getting her own set of Dragon Manacles.
“YOU CAN’T DO THIS!” Herrassiss screamed, “I AM THE LEADER OF THE HIGH COUNCIL!” she declared as it took two Wurms to overcome her struggles and pin her down. What can I say? I just about laughed my tail off at the sight of it.
Later, I was cooling my heels in another ‘cell’. Not the original one that Frazziss and I shared I’m afraid. It was about the same size, and it had one of those warm and cozy sandstone slab-beds. Of which I tried to relax and catch a few ‘ZZZ’s.
Unfortunately, despite my fatigue and having had the Manacles removed, I was still too worked up to get any shut-eye.
It also didn’t help that this time, I had a pair of Guards watching. They were keeping an eye on me from their position in the cell’s entrance-way. One was an older Zipangu Ryu with deep brunette hair set in a Darth Vader-helmet haircut. The other, was a young-ish Wyvern with Suicide Blonde hair trimmed in a crew-cut.
Every time I looked over at them, they were watching me with their stone-cold faces, completely immobile and silent. With not even the usual banter between guard-pairs going on, it was like they were a set of Stone Golems.
“Hello!” I said, waving cheerily to them for the umpteenth time since they came on shift. Yet again, they stayed silent and kept their impassive stares trained on me. I sighed. I was getting bored out of my gourd with all this silent treatment shit.
‘Tough crowd.’ I thought unhappily to myself. ‘What the fuck is up with the silence? I’ve tried being nice, I’ve tried being foul,…’ I growled softly to myself then. ‘Nothing seems to make them lose their cool.’
Suddenly, I had an impish thought occur to me. Thinking it over, I decided upon what I was going to do to liven up the situation.
I lay back on the sandstone slab and grinned as I placed a paw on one thigh, and slowly drew it up my leg and let it linger for a moment near my loincloth.
‘Oh wait! Did someone just jerk her head and widen her eyes?’ I thought to myself happily. Even though I could Sense them, and perhaps even influence them from my distance, I decided that my doing so would be cheating.
I slowly continued my paw’s journey up to my ripped abs. It was joined soon after with my other paw, as I leaned forward and ‘nonchalantly’ thrust out my chest to expose my pecs. I decided that they needed a good scratch then, so I did just that and scratched lightly around my pec-nips and breathed in deeply for effect.
‘Hmmm, did someone just shift uncomfortably?’ I mused to myself, not looking directly at either of my guards. So I decided it was time to stretch out my sore muscles. So, I got up off of the slab and turned away from the pair, then I started doing some Aikido stretching techniques to emphasize my muscle definition.
As I did, I started thinking about some of my fun times with Frazziss. So, by the time I decided to turn around and face my guards, I had a significant pair of bulges in my loincloth.
I couldn’t help but notice their surprised reactions then. I just stood for a second or three, facing them with a growing smile on my face. I then placed my paws on the outside of my ribcage and slowly drew them down my torso.
When I got my paws down to my loincloth region, I deftly slipped my thumbs underneath the straps on my hips, and pulled them out slightly. It was then I heard one of the guards give out an audible ‘gulp’. A quick shift of my eyes told me that I had their undivided attention. No, scratch that! My Loincloth, had their undivided attention.
Naturally, that was the moment when Qirri waltzed in on us all. My guards went back to the professional stance when she did.
She saw me, did a double take, saw what I’d been doing and then rolled her eyes, before she face-pawed.
“Allen-Belushi” she sighed from behind her face-paw. “I can’t leave you alone for a minute can I?” she stated, shaking her head.
I could tell that she was fighting a grin from behind that paw of hers, as I shifted position and tried to look innocent. Well, as innocent as a six-and-a-half-foot tall Male Dragon can manage that is. After she composed herself, Qirri continued.
“The First Minister demands to see you now, Allen-Belushi. Do you think you could comport yourself like an adult in her presence?” she demanded in a tone that suggested that she expected only one answer.
“Yes.” I said sweetly, readily. She glared at me for a second then turned on her heel and started stomping off. As she went, she motioned for my guards to follow. They trailed behind us both.
It took a short while for us to get to the First Minister’s chambers through the multi-stone halls. Qirri was fuming silently almost the entire way. Well, silently, if you didn’t count the number of times she glared at me and muttered under her breath. Considering the intensity of those glares, I wisely chose to keep silent.
But I was amused when I Sensed the two guards behind us, keeping both sets of their eyes fixed on my ass.
Eventually, we all came to a rather ornate entranceway that was guarded by a pair of Mist Continent Lung decked out in full ceremonial armor. I felt that they looked incredibly hot in that armor.
Both ways hot. They looked incredibly sexy, and they also looked like they were in the first stages of hyperthermia. But, it wasn’t my place to say anything about that.
Qirri went to one side of the entranceway and scratched her claws on the ‘Dragon door-knocker’ post three times.
“ENTER!” shouted a rumbly, yet sultry, familiar voice from within. Qirri and I entered then, my guards remained outside.
Inside was a small crowd who collectively turned their heads to look at us when we entered. I noticed that all four of the Bailiffs from my kerfluffle earlier were there. I noticed that the Black one had her arm in a sling. When our eyes met, she gave me a brief smile, which made me feel better.
There was also the entirety of the High Council, each of whom looked rather unhappy as if they’d just been given a dressing down. I also noticed Herrassiss with her perpetual frown.
Near to one side, nearly hiding, was my Frazziss. When we made eye contact, I immediately wanted to go and stand next to her and see how she was doing. Noticing my look, she silently shook her head at me. I took the cue and remained patient. There was much Dragon Etiquette I needed to learn, after all.
In the center of the room, was that Platinum Dragon I’d seen earlier, the ‘First Minister’. She was sitting on what appeared to be a tall golden stool, flanked by two of the most massive Ryu Dragons I’d ever seen. They appeared tense enough to snap anyone in two at the slightest of provocations.
I also noticed then, standing along the walls, were a number of other Dragons and Dragon kin. I wasn’t sure what they were there for, but they seemed important in some way. There were also a number of Dragonewts in attendance, all but three of them were wearing Kitchen togs, and they were carrying trays of food that they served to most of the Dragons in the place.
With a growl of satisfaction, the First Minster took a bite from what looked like an oversized Turkey Drum she was holding in one paw. Chewing thoughtfully, she regarded everyone around her with an unamused look.
Finally, her eyes settled upon Qirri and I. When she looked at Qirri, I saw a smile flit across her mouth. She then looked at me and stopped chewing. Then for the first time, she smiled fully.
“Well, look what we have here.” She spoke after swallowing. “The Imposter.” That riled me.
“I am not an IMPOSTER!” I growled. Everyone in that room tensed up. I saw the two guards stiffen themselves in preparation. The First Minister frowned at my impertinence, then waved at them to stand down, they did.
“Well, you certainly have the proverbial Male Dragon attitude. I’ll give that to you.” She replied, waving around that drumstick. I couldn’t help it then, I followed that drumstick with my eyes as my mouth began to water with the smell of it. It had been some time since I had a decent meal.
The First Minister noticed my attention and stopped waving it. She looked at it for a second, then she reached out and proffered it to me. I looked at Qirri to see if this was proper, she nodded. So I grabbed the offered drum and made to pull it in.
But I couldn’t. The First Minister wouldn’t let go. Confused, I tugged at it again. Still, she wouldn’t let go of it. Instead, she smiled.
“Hungry?” she asked smoothly.
I nodded, still holding on.
“Then ask for it. Politely, if you can.” She spoke quietly. I stared at her for a second. I did a quick search of the etiquette that Lessa had given me, nothing covered this or was like it. I realized then in that instant, that this was some sort of test.
“Beg for it?” I demanded. The First Minister’s smile got wider.
“Piss off!” I snarled, letting go. The First Minister got to her feet with her eyes flaring red, and stomped angrily over to me.
We met eye to eye, almost touching. She, growled deeply down at me. I, growled fiercely up at her. I didn’t notice anything else in those few moments that we faced. It was just her and me. She growled again, louder. I matched her.
Then, her eyes returned to her normal electric blue color, and she stepped back with a smile. Turning she snatched up another, uneaten drumstick from a tray held by a Dragonewt.
Silently, she handed it to me and let go of it as soon as I took ahold. I held it aloft in front of me.
‘Oh Maou, that smells SO GOOD!’ I thought to myself hungrily. My stomach rumbled then. But something, I don’t know what, kept me from tearing into that drum. Looking up, I noticed then that everyone in that room had their attention focused on me.
‘Definitely a test, but what?’ I looked over at Frazziss, but I noticed that she had her gaze fixed on the pile of Drumsticks the Dragonewt held. But she wasn’t looking hungrily at them. Odd.
I then made a decision. I calmed myself and allowed myself to Sense. Reaching out with it, I could Sense everyone in that room and nearby. I noticed then in that instant, the First Minster gave a twitch of her head as she stared at me expectantly.
Then, after that moment, I Sensed someone in need. Two of them in fact. I immediately knew what I had to do, and set out on my task. Ignoring the First Minister, I stepped over to the tray with the Drums and picked up another. I turned around and noticed that not one person thought to stop or hinder me.
I exited the chamber and faced the two entrance guards. They eyed me warily. Looking back at them I could Sense their heat-fatigue, and their hunger.
“You two, Stand down. You are both tired and hungry. I dare say that you’re also overheating in that stuffy armor. I will take over your guard duty for you both.” They looked silently at each other for a second, but they refused to give in. I sighed.
“I will guard the First Minister with my life. I give you my word.” That did the trick. Rapidly, they doffed most of their armor and then each snatched a proffered Drumstick from me. I turned and took their place for a moment. I was still hungry, yet I was strangely satisfied.
I felt a paw on my shoulder. Turning, I saw the Black Wurm, Clarissa.
“Stand down. I and my sisters will stand guard for you. You are hungry and tired.” She rumbled. I hesitated. “You have my word.” She added with a smile.
‘Shortest guard duty I ever had.’ I thought to myself happily.
“Thanks.” I replied. She smiled. “Oh and uhhh, sorry about the shoulder.” She looked back at me and grinned.
“You give good foreplay.” She purred.
‘Wait, what?’ I thought to myself as I reentered the room full of Dragons. The First Minister had another drum in her paw which she extended to me.
“Take. Eat. No tricks or requirements this time.” She spoke almost humbly. I took it, and after looking at her I saw that she nodded. I then went to town on that Drum.
‘Damn this is fucking good!’ I thought to myself, “What the fuck is this meat?’ Everyone there waited until I had my fill, after I’d done so, the First began to speak.
“Well,’ she began with a sigh, “I cannot argue with what evidence I’ve been presented with here today.” She gestured to me.
“Anyone with a pair of eyes can see that this, Allen-Belushi, is it?” she looked at me, I nodded. “Is indeed a male Dragon!” she exclaimed, looking around the room. Then, she turned her attention back to me.
“Then, you could Sense that my two Guards were both hungry and overheated. This ability of yours: to ‘Sense’, is something that is gained only by someone who has successfully walked the Seventh Path.” She stated with authority.
Judging by the looks of surprise by all of the Dragons there in that room, that tidbit wasn’t common knowledge.
“And.” She continued, “The fact that you’ve been through the Seventh Path tells me that you can fly.” She folded her arms together and stood tall.
“Therefore, Allen-Belushi, I hereby officially declare you to be an Adult, Male, Dragon.” She smiled humorlessly. “This however, still leaves the matter of Herrassiss’ claim upon you.” I heard Herassiss give a triumphant snort then, as she strode towards me and laid a paw on me as if she owned me. I felt my rage growing at this injustice.
“Stand Down, Herrassiss D’Aragon!” The First Minister stated coldly then. Herrassiss turned to her in astonishment.
“But, what…?” she began.
“He is not yours to take.”
“But! The High Council declared him to be mine, over seven days ago!” she yelled indignantly. “The time limit has been exceeded! He and his,…!”
“SILENCE!” the First Minister interrupted her with a shout. With a surge of effort, Herrassiss calmed herself. The Platinum Dragon continued, smiling.
“A Quorum of the Full Council met in Absentia during those seven days, Second Minister Herrassiss. We decided that any findings of the High Council would be considered null, until such time as the Full Council, or myself, had time to conduct a full investigation.”
“Impossible! Council meetings can only be legally held in the Dragon Realm!” Herrassiss cried. The First Minister smiled, and gestured to Qirri. “You have this one, Advocate-Qirri.” Qirri stepped forward and spoke in a voice loud enough for all in the room to hear clearly.
“The Eight Paths of Ascension were declared to be Dragon Realm Territory, over ten thousand years ago.” She turned to Herrassiss. “Apparently you’re not the first to have made this kind of coup attempt.” Qirri then moved so that all could hear her.
“Thus, the actions of the Full Council meeting that took place in the Eighth Path six days ago, is legally binding. Including the part where the Full Council voted the First Minister complete authority for three full days after exiting the Eighth Path.” Qirri finished with a nod towards the First Minister, who smiled.
I noticed then that Herrassiss wasn’t smiling then. I was though.
“So what of my claim towards him.” Herrassis spoke humbly. I had to admit that the sound of anything resembling humility from her, was a refreshing change of pace.
‘First time for everything.’ I snarked silently.
“Considering your past history with your Daughter,” The First Minister looked disgustedly at Herrassiss then, “in which you disowned her several years ago. Coupled with the fact that you apparently tried to have her poisoned recently, and including the fact that you manipulated the Path Guardians into backing your little coup-de-tat. Leads me to state that you’re unfit to serve as a proper Minder of the Dragon Realm’s latest National Treasure.” She paused to let that sink in.
Herrassiss frowned as she clutched her paws angrily. First continued, “Let alone continue on as Second Minister.” Herrassiss’ eyes widened in outrage then.
“You put the lives of your fellow Dragons in an extreme danger when you manipulated the settings of the Seven Paths, Herrassiss. I cannot and will not let that slide. I hereby declare that you be stripped of your Council seat, along with your position as Second Minister. Guards!” The two Lungs from outside arrived, looking better fed and eager to take on their duties.
The First looked to them and ordered: “Detain former Council member Herrassiss, and keep her under a double posting of guards until such time as I find it convenient to have her properly expelled from this Realm.” The two roughly took hold of Herrassis, and they literally had to drag her away, kicking and screaming.
‘Sheesh! Drama-Bat indeed!’ I thought happily to myself. I noticed the First Minister looking at me coldly then.
“EVERYONE!” she spoke commandingly then. “With the exception of Advocate-Qirri, Allen-Belushi, and his mate; Leave this room!” After a moment’s hesitation everyone else in there did, including the remaining two Ryu-Guards at the Minister’s insistence. After they had done so, she waved a hand and spoke an incantation. I recognized it as a Silence Spell. A powerful one. Once it was set in place to her satisfaction, the First Minister nodded her head and spoke.
“All right Allen-Belush, I am cognizant of the Prophecies concerning the D’Aragon family Nostrum, including those Prophecies that the D’Aragons were never aware of.” She began, folding her arms and giving me an annoyed glance.
“I’ve also taken the liberty to have your mate, Frazziss, magically scanned.” She nodded towards my woman. “My Medical-Mage has informed me that she is indeed gravid, with twins no less.”
The First Minister then turned her head, and looked at me directly in the eyes. “Do you have the ability to impregnate Dragons, At Will?” She demanded. I spared a glance at Qirri for a second, then looked over at Frazziss who wouldn’t meet my gaze, then back to the First Minister, and replied.
“Yes.” I said simply. Qirri gasped then. I looked back at her and saw that her mouth was open, giving both me and Frazziss an incredulous look in sequence. The First Minister looked at us all with a smile quirking on her face. I turned back.
“Can you pick the gender of the children you sire?” The First asked me then.
“No, I cannot.” I replied, shaking my head. She seemed satisfied with that. But I couldn’t let it go. ‘Or, at least not yet, I can’t.” The First, shifted her head and shoulder’s upright with her own mouth dropping in surprise. As did Frazziss and Qirri. Seeing everyone’s response, I explained.
“From what I learned in the Seventh Path, I very well may have that ability. But, it may take me awhile to figure out how to do it.” The First looked thoughtful for a second, then turned and looked at me with a frown.
“Well, if you do learn, I would imagine that such would give you a boost in political power.” I looked back up at her, and saw that calculating look on her face.
‘I think I can guess.’ I thought to myself.
“If it’s all the same to you, First Minister.” I replied, trying to choose my words with care. “I have no desire to gain power, political or otherwise.” She gave me a look that combined surprise and suspicion when I said that, and looked ready to speak. I interrupted her.
“When I drank the D’Aragon family Nostrum, my ambition then was to become Frazziss’ mate, nothing more.” I began, with a shake of my head. “I did that, because it’s what Frazziss wanted me to do. She wanted me to prove to her that I was worthy enough to continue in our relationship. Please believe me when I tell you, that neither of us had any idea that I’d become a Dragon, let alone a Dragon with all of these abilities I now have.” I sighed, and let my wings droop in exasperation.
Looking up, I noticed that the First was looking at me as if she were scrutinizing the difference between my words and my body language. After a while, she spoke.
“So what do you want, Allen-Belushi?” She asked me, simply. I stood and thought about it for a second, my lips scrunched together in thought.
“If I had my druthers…” I began, and then noticed that the First looked confused by my choice of words. I started again.
“If I had my choice,” I began again, “considering all that has gone on, I’d stick around in the Dragon Realm long enough to learn how to start molding stone properly.” The First looked surprised by my response.
“Well, how else can I learn how to make Frazziss the kind of home she deserves to have? Brooding cave, and everything else?” The First laughed then.
“Very well then Allen-Belushi! I hereby authorize you and your mate to remain in the Dragon Realm, until such time as you feel capable of molding stone!” she smiled. Then she frowned and looked at me sternly. “I understand that you have declared the intention to start your own House?”
“Yes, First Minister.”
“Have you chosen a House Name yet?”
“No, I haven’t.”
“Well, try to choose one within the next three days. The reason being, if you do, then I have the authority to grant you your request without your having to go through the Full Council.”
“Wouldn’t you doing that, be considered as abusing your power?” I asked.
“Yes, it would indeed. But since lives aren’t going to be lost if I do, even the Council won’t object, much.”
“Thank You First Minister.”
“Don’t thank me yet! I do have a requirement.” She looked at me expectantly. I looked at her with surprise, then nodded.
“Pick a proper Dragon name, both for your Adult name and for your House!” she began with exasperation in her voice. “Allen-Belushi is just so…well,…Human!” she finished with palpable distaste.
“You have my word that I will do so, First Minister.” I promised, not once crossing my finger claws, foot claws, or tail.
“Additionally” she began by holding up a claw. I gave her my firm full attention. “I feel that you are not completely free of the debt you owe towards the house D’Aragon.” The First then folded her arms, and continued speaking.
“So, you will have to work out an appropriate compensation with whomever their new Matriarch will be.” I thought about that for a second, and I could see the wisdom of it.
“I promise that I will do so.” I replied with gravity.
Afterwards, Frazziss, Qirri, and I discussed many things as we wended our way back to Frazziss and I’s cell.
It, the cell, apparently also doubled as a traveler’s quarters. Which was just as well, since we didn’t need much in the way of extravagances anyway.
Frazziss and I walked Hand-in-Hand. Ok, Paw-in-Paw. While Qirri walked on the other side of Frazziss.
“Qirri, I assume that the Dragon-Realm Library has lists of ‘proper Dragon-Names’?” I asked her suddenly.
“Yes, it does indeed. Though I would imagine you may have some difficulty in consulting them.” Qirri replied with a smile.
“Why is that?” I inquired, wondering what she found so amusing.
“You still have a small matter of the sex-debts you owe to Lessa-Book-Bender.” She smiled. That brought me up short.
“Oh Damn! I’d forgotten about that!”, I groused.
“So, she’ll probably be wanting you to pay those off before you depart for home.”
“I suppose, yeah.”, I whined.
“And, there is still the matter of some other debts you’ll need to pay off before you go, as well.”
“Wait, what other debts?” I asked, all confused. At that, Qirri came around Frazziss and latched onto my other paw with hers. Looking at her, I noticed that her eyes had taken on a pinkish tinge.
“Four nights, minimum!” she purred softly.
“Minimum?” I half whined.
“Yes Minimum, Allen!” Frazziss injected then with an amused snort. “After all, Qirri’s gone above and beyond the call of duty in helping us.” I hemmed and hawed, but in the end I had to admit…
“Ok…” I replied sheepishly. They both laughed. We continued walking for several hundred feet in silence. Frazziss on one side, Qirri on my other, both of them holding paws with me.
I started to realize the situation was then, and started to feel good about it all. But, knowing me, I had to throw a wet blanket over it.
“Qirri, Frazziss?” I asked out of the blue. They both looked over at me with a smile.
“What’s all this about an Adult Name?” I asked. Taking turns, they told me much about that tradition. What it boils down to is this: the name a Dragon has when she is hatched, isn’t the necessarily same name she’d keep after reaching Adult-status. If she wanted, she could take on a different name, or add it to the first.
“Oh, that’s cool. I think I’ve already got an idea for an Adult-name that sounds good to me.” They both stopped and let go of my paws. They then put their own paws on their hips, and both gave me a suspicious look.
“This name,” Frazziss frowned at me, “is it an actual Dragon name?”
“I believe so, yes.” I replied as sweetly as I could.
“Is it an obscure one?” Qirri asked, focusing on me with one eye.
“No, in fact I’d say it is fairly common knowledge, now.” They looked at each other for a second, then turned back to me.
“Alright, Allen.” Frazziss started.
“What is it?” Qirri finished for her.
I took a slight breath, and then I said it.
Immediately, they both growled fiercely, baring their teeth.
“NO!” Frazziss snarled, with her wings flaring out behind her.
“Hey, hey, hey!” I began, raising my paws.
“THAT IS NOT A PROPER DRAGON NAME!” Qirri yelled thunderously, spreading her own wings out.
“But!” I tried again.
“NO!” They shouted in unison.
“C’mon…!” I tried again.
“I FORBID YOU THAT NAME!” Frazziss yelled, her fists clenched hard, with a look that promised me Hell if I didn’t obey. I looked over at Qirri, but she looked like she was ready to yell like Frazziss.
‘Ah Crap!’ I closed my eyes in resignation, and took a deep breath.
“All right, all right!” I began, and opened my eyes. “Forget I even said it. But frankly, I don’t see what the big deal is, concerning the name Smaug.”