Cut and Run Ch- 8
“I declare the High Council to now be in session!” Herrassiss D’Aragon crowed excitedly. Then, she held up what appeared to be a ragged looking battle-axe in front of her. After holding it for a second, she impacted it on the floor three times. Every time it hit the stone floor it rang shrilly enough to make me wince. I noticed that it affected everyone else around me the same way.
‘Which is the more obnoxious battle-axe?” I thought shakily to myself.
Since I had a clear view of her then, I decided to try and calm myself by contrasting Herrassis D’Aragon, with her Daughter my woman Frazziss.
As near as I could tell then, Herrassiss shared many traits with Frazziss. They both were two meters tall from claws to horn tips, had purple hair, along with the same kind of wings, paws, and facial structure.
Also, they had the same pattern, and placement, of green scales all over their bodies.
About the only differences I could note between the two was that Frazziss’ boobies were perkier, she had purple colored eyes, and her smile was catchy. While her mother had slightly bigger tits, yellow eyes, and her smile never failed to scare me.
That, and she had no soul. This was the woman who disowned her own daughter for Maou’s sake. Why? Because Frazziss had chosen to be a stripper to support herself and her kid. She had done this after the chum-bucket who knocked her up, abandoned her and his responsibility towards her.
I was shaken from my reverie, when Herrassiss began speaking.
“I, as Leader of the High Council,” she spoke in a clear and commanding tone, “declare that in this special session, we will dispose of the reading of the last session’s minutes, and press on with the reasons the High Council was called into session!” she stopped and looked around.
“ARE THERE ANY OBJECTIONS?!” she shouted fiercely, loud enough for her voice to echo in the council chamber. After the last echo died away, she looked around the chamber in a smooth arc with a satisfied smile.
“The first order of business,” she paused, “Is a supposed Male Dragon Impersonator!” Suddenly, I felt every eye in that joint searing into my back.
Immediately, every Dragon in the place started murmuring and hissing. Herrassiss stopped talking when they did, and after waiting patiently for them to cease, she banged her battle axe on the floor three times.
“SILENCE! We will have Decorum!” she yelled sternly, her voice echoing. A few seconds more the chamber went silent. After an expectant pause, she continued.
“The second order of business, is another example of a Dragon breaking her word!” Herrassiss finished with a hiss and a roll of her eyes. I expected her to make some snide comment, but she didn’t. But what she did have to say, surprised the shit out of me.
“Both of these cases involve someone who is a relative of mine: My Daughter!” She began, closing her eyes and heaving a great sigh.
‘Sheesh! What a Drama-Bat,’ I thought to myself as I snuck a glance at Qirri and Frazziss. They both had a skeptical look on their faces as well. Oh yeah Qirri. She was Frazziss’ and I Advocate/Lawyer.
“Therefore, I will recuse myself from both of these matters,’ she stated, disappointment seeping around every letter. I was close enough to see the corners of her mouth twitching to repress a smile. Her theatrics was almost enough to make me gag.
“Councilor Geround, you have the floor!” Herrassis finished, as she sat down.
Geround, the corn-silk blonde haired Wurm with white scales, uncoiled herself from her chair and slithered herself slightly forward to face the crowd. Erecting herself upwards on her tall with a dignified air, she nodded towards Qirri.
“Envoy Qirri, Report!” she spoke with aplomb. Qirri, the black and gold Dragon with braided brunette hair, raised her head and gave me a glare silently ordering me to stay still. She then stepped forward until she faced Geround, and made a slight bow of her head.
“Reporting as Ordered, Councilor.” She replied respectfully, her wings lowered slightly. All seven council members, and the entirety of the Council Chamber turned to take in her reply as Qirri then stood up and looked Geround in the eye, signaling her readiness.
“Envoy Qirri, did you ascertain if the reports were true, that where was in fact someone impersonating a Male-Dragon?”
“I did indeed Councilor!”
“Were you able to bring this individual into custody?
“I was Councilor.”
“Where is this individual now?”
“He is standing over there.” Qirri answered, looking and pointing her paw at me.
“Step forward, alleged Male-Dragon!” Geround commanded me sternly. I stole a glance at Qirri, who nodded at me.
Instinctively, I stood upright with as much dignity as I could muster, then I stepped forward and faced Geround. In return, she stared balefully down at me in silence.
After a moment’s pause, she lifted up an arm and produced a large crystal in one paw. It looked like the same Deposition Crystal that Frazziss and I recorded our statements into, the day before.
“I place this record of Deposition into the official records.” Geround declared, loudly. “Are there any objections?”, There weren’t.
She then tapped the crystal with one of her claws. It was then, that I discovered that the Deposition crystal included a Visual-recording. It was a lot like watching some science-fiction hologram. But it only went down to waist high. Overhead us all, a massive image of Joaefrydi appeared. She must have been at least fifty feet tall.
“State your name for the record.” The image of Joaefrydi stated.
“Allen Belushi.” Said the image of a dashing and debonair male Dragon.
‘Handsome Devil.’ I snarked to myself. I felt a nudge from Qirri then. Looking over, I could see her glaring at me. ‘Sheesh! Can’t get away with anything!’ I thought to myself. ‘What gave me away?’
“Do you understand the nature of the inquiry against you?”
“Yes, I’m accused of impersonating a Male-Dragon.” My image recording droned.
Looking up at the image, I decided that I didn’t recall seeing Joaefrydi flare her nostrils like that last time, as she breathed in deeply. She then blinked twice and got her composure back with an obvious effort.
“Are you, impersonating a Male-Dragon?” her image asked.
I could see my image get a mischievous look, and I knew what I was doing right then: I was yanking on my loincloth.
Looking over, I noticed that every Council member save Geround, had a confused look on face.
“Well, you tell me Joaefrydi. If I am impersonating a Male Dragon, I’m probably doing a real class act!” My image replied as it grinned wolfishly. Then it leaned over and stared at Joaefrydi right in her eyes.
She locked her eyes with me/it for a second, then glanced down. I saw her eyes flare open for a couple of seconds as she froze. She just stared down at my dicks for several long seconds. Then she swallowed, and slowly turned her head back to face me. And after a couple more seconds, she spoke.
“The…the…the crystal has no way… of recording that (*gulp*) physical response.” I noticed one of the Councilors getting a surprised look on her face.
“Please respond with…verbal answers only…please.”
‘Yep, she’s definitely sweating bullets there!’ I thought with satisfaction.
It was then that I noticed the Council members realize what it was I’d been doing. They all turned their collective attention over to me, each and every one of them gave me a disgusted look.
“No, I am NOT impersonating a Male Dragon.”
“Are you making the claim that you are, in fact, a Male Dragon?” Joaefrydi asked, quivering.
“Thank you for your time, I have no further questions for now.”
I noted that even with the lack of ‘full coverage’, my ‘Dynamic-Duo’ display earned quite a number of snickers that emanated from the chamber behind me. Those snickers were quickly silenced by a glare from one of the Bailiffs.
With a roll of her eyes, Geround then tapped the crystal once more and ended the recorded playback. The image blinked out, leaving Geround with a sour look on her face. That look was matched by the face of every member of the Council.
I noticed Qirri then, she was face-pawing.
Geround then turned to me.
“Is your name Allen-Belushi?” she hissed fiercely.
“Yes.” I replied calmly.
“Do you claim to be an authentic Dragon Male?” she sneered.
“I am!” I replied, just a bit huffily.
‘Jeez-Louise peoples! I groused to myself. What do I need to do to prove it? Bang each and every…oh wait.’ I stopped, as I realized the implication of THAT thought. ‘Yeah, they’d probably be lining up for a chance to make their own ‘inspection’.’
“Let the record show, that the subject of the inquiry has replied to the affirmative to his crime.”
“Now just…” I started then stopped, as Qirri placed a paw on my arm and shook her head. I ended up having to bite my tongue to keep from mouthing off.
“You may stand aside.” Geround addressed me with steel in her voice. After a moment’s hesitation, I did.
Geround then called in a witness, Lessa. When called, she came in from the crowd behind us, and stood at a respectful distance from the Council Line. Apparently, her full name is: “Lessa-Book-Bender”.
‘Why would a Librarian need to bend books?’ I wanted to ask.
Geround then cross examined Lessa concerning her fun-time with me. Lessa then went on to enthusiastically describe both of her sexual experiences with me, in excruciating detail.
‘Braggart! What are you going to do? Write your memoirs…? Hmmm’. I mused.
According to her, she thoroughly enjoyed my double-dick. Along with my wings, tail, claws, and scales. Then, she said something that caught me totally off guard. She said that I smelled ‘correct’.
‘Huh?’ I thought quizzically, as I leaned forward.
I then tried to get Qirri’s attention. When I did, I sniffed quietly a couple of times. She looked puzzled for a second, then figured out what I was asking. She then inhaled for a long second, and gave me a dreamy smile.
‘Aroo?’ I thought. ‘What does a Correct Dragon smell like?’ I pondered.
I then stole a quick glance over my shoulder. and noted that just about every person in the domed chamber, was hanging on Lessa’s every word. I also noticed that no few of those Dragons behind me, had their tongues hanging out.
That three headed Dragon I saw earlier? She managed to catch me looking at her/them, and all three heads licked their lips at me in unison. After she did that, I realized that my loincloth had gotten tight. Looking down, I realized why. I had a pair of raging hard-ons then.
‘Oh Maou! Such possibilities!’ I mused.
After Geround finished with her questions, she then ‘stood’ aside and directed a look towards me.
“Allen-Belushi! Do you have an Advocate?”
“I do.” I replied, nodding towards Qirri. Geround raised an eyebrow at her, but made no comment about my choice.
“Advocate Qirri, do you have any questions for Lessa?”
“Not at this time, no” Qirri replied, shaking her head.
“Very well then.” Geround nodded. “Lessa, you are excused from inquiry at this time. You may go.”
Lessa did as she was bid, her foot claws clacking on the chamber floor. But instead of exiting the chamber, she chose to remain nearby. No one seemed to care that she did.
Geround then called out. “I call upon the next witness: Urmat-which-means-Eternal.”
In preparation for her, a couple of Dragon-attendants drug over a boulder in front of the Council. Surprisingly, I didn’t hear so much as a single scraping sound the entire time.
Though she was bent with age, she hobbled her way forward from her place in the audience with an air of grace and dignity.
I couldn’t help but admire her then, as I watched her approach the boulder. The Council members then all stood up, and waited patiently for her to settle herself.
She settled herself slowly and carefully, then looked over to make sure her tail was on the right side of the boulder. She then sat up straight, with her wings held stiffly against her back.
She nodded at Geround then, signifying her readiness. All of the Council members then chose to bow to her. Even Herrassiss, though I could tell that she didn’t much care for it.
“Urmat-which-means-Eternal,” Geround began, “Have you had a chance to inspect Allen-Belushi?” Urmat looked up at her, and smiled.
“Oh yes I have!” she cackled. “It was quite the pleasure to have a pair of Dragon-Dicks in my paws again! I was a Whelp the last time that happened!” she cackled. Geround seemed to be uncomfortable at her testimony, but pressed on.
“You do remember why I asked you to inspect Allen-Belushi, correct?”
“Yes, I do! It’s because I’m old enough to remember what original Male-Dragons were like!”
“So, Urmat-which-means-Eternal, I ask in view of your wisdom and experience, what is your opinion concerning Allen-Belushi? Is he an authentic male Dragon?”
“Yes, he is indeed, a Male Dragon! Very much so!”
“Thank you, Urmat-which-means-Eternal. I have no further questions. Advocate Qirri, do you have any questions?” Qirri shook her head, but seemed baffled.
“Very well then!” Geround announced. “I move, that Allen-Belushi be declared an authentic Male Dragon!” She stated, looking back and around at the council.
“I second!” stated Longzumu flapping her bat like wings in emphasis. Herrassiss then stood up nodding, and spoke.
“There is a proposal on the floor that Allen-Belushi be recognized as an authentic Male Dragon. All those in favor say Aye!” Herrassiss commanded imperially. The vote for it was unanimous.
“All those opposed!” Dead silence.
“The motion is passed!” Herrrasiss smiled patiently looking at Qirri, Frazziss, and I. “Allen-Belushi, you are hereby found innocent of impersonating a Male Dragon.” She ended her speech smirking at me, almost expectantly. After a couple of seconds, Qirri snapped her tail on me hard enough to sting.
“Say thank you!” she hissed/growled at me.
“Thank you all, Councilors.” I grumbled. Herrassiss’ smirk then turned to a gloat. I felt someone patting me on one of my wings. Turning, I saw that it was Urmat. I motioned her to join me. She did, not saying anything. Which left me wondering why she was there. I raised an eyebrow at her, she just smiled at me in response.
‘Well no one else seems to mind. Besides it’s good to have a friendly face nearby.’
“The next order of business,” Herrassiss carried on then, “Concerns yet another Dragon breaking her word.” Herrassiss frowned and shook her head sadly, as if she were personally shamed at the state of affairs.
“Councilor Kaqqin, this is your purview.” Herrassis stated, handing control over. That bouncy wyvern then jumped to her feet, and approached the front of the council seating area. I noticed that she was carrying the deposition crystal in her wing/arms, that Geround had held previously.
Like my little mini-trial, Council Kaqqin addressed Qirri about who it was that was being charged. Frazziss stood forth when called, and faced the deposition crystal recording playback, standing next to the podium boulder that Urmat had sat upon.
“Frazziss D’Aragon,” Kaqqin asked. “you realize that breaking your word is punishable with extreme sanction?” Frazziss nodded.
“So, Frazziss D’Aragon how do you plead to the crime of breaking your word?” Kaqqin asked Frazziss with a worried look. Looking around, I noticed that as before, just about every set of eyes in that chamber were focused on my woman.
“I plead guilty Councilor.” Frazziss spoke with an air of dignity, her head held high. “With an explanation.” Kaqqin almost smiled then amongst the hissing and growling that rose, then dissipated rapidly.
“What is your explanation, Frazziss D’Aragon?” Kaqqin asked gravely. Frazziss pulled her wings together and then turned to address the entire crowd of Dragons in attendance.
“I broke my word,” she began, then took in a deep breath, “FOR LOVE!” she shouted, her words echoing in the chamber.
Immediately the chamber erupted with shouts and cheers calling for Frazziss to be found innocent and freed. A few counter-protestors, argued that she should instead be punished immediately. I tried to identify who those assholes were, but I couldn’t. Damn it!
Kaqqin looked dumbfounded at her loss of control over the crowd, then she looked over to Herrassiss. Who then stood up to her feet and started pounding the battle-axe upon the floor. It took a while, along with several of the Bailiff Wurms working together, but eventually Parliamentary Decorum was returned. Though not without several of the protestors from both sides, getting roughed up in the process by the Bailiffs.
Once everything was secure, Kaqqin resumed her questioning.
“Frazziss D’Aragon, detail your explanation.” Kaqqin asked, her lips set in a thin hard line.
“When I was but a young girl,” Frazziss began, her wings drooping, “No more than a whelp in the process of becoming a teen. I heard a story that resonated with me.” She lifted her head up and turned to look in my direction.
“It concerned a Silly Dragon and her Hero.” She almost whispered, dropping her eyes. I noticed then, that Urmat jerked in surprise when she said that, I had no idea why.
“When I first set out upon my own, I was determined to make my own way in the human world on my own terms. When I did, I was easily fooled into falling in love with someone I thought was a Hero.” Frazziss closed her eyes and seemed to shrink into herself.
“He wasn’t.” she said bitterly, frowning. She caught her breath.
“When he learned that I was gravid with our child, he betrayed me.” Frazziss spoke, her paws closing into tight fists. When she lifted up her head then, I could see her eyes glowing red.
I felt more than I heard, no few Dragons in that hallway growl in empathy with her. Then I realized that I was growling too.
“But even so, I still held onto my treasure from that union.” She spoke triumphantly, her head held proud. “No matter which obstacle was cast into my path.” She continued after a venom filled glance directed towards her mother.
“If that fool that I had thought to be a Hero, had proven himself to be true, then perhaps I would still have my daughter.” She stated, half to herself.
Kaqqin seemed about to ask Frazziss something. Frazziss caught the look and continued. “She died.” Kaqqin looked shocked as she sucked in her breath. I heard at least a hundred other intakes as well.
“When she died, what was left of my happiness died too.” Frazziss paused, lowering her head and holding herself with her arms. After what seemed like a long time, but was less than half a minute, she released her arms, lifted her head and continued.
“Despite it being as hard as it was without my treasure, I kept going. Often, I found myself cursing the universe for my fate.” She spoke with a quaver in her voice.
“Countless times I demanded a male from the Universe, who could be as devoted to me as…” she stopped, sniffling.
“AS I DESERVED!” she shouted suddenly in heaving anger, her wings flaring out to full extent.
“I wanted my HERO!” she shouted simply, yet compelling enough to echo in the council chamber. After she twitched her wings a couple of times and drew them in; She then composed herself.
“For years I searched, but never found him. So many years that I began to doubt that he even existed.” She stopped, looking forlornly at the ground as she combed her hair with a paw.
“Then. One day in the course of my duties, I came across an idiot. He was trying to spread the cremains of someone improperly. I confronted him, and he refused to back off.” She turned and looked at me momentarily.
“An unarmed human who stood up to a Dragon? What a fool! I thought. At least at first.” She said bemusedly, turning to address the rapt audience in the chamber.
“Then I realized who, and what, he was about. I discovered that this was a male who was so devoted to his dead family, his wife and daughter’s ashes, that he was willing to stand up to a Dragon.” Frazziss jerked her arms up and around as if she were amazed.
“It was then that I began to hope that perhaps, I had found a Hero.” She bit her lip.
“So, I tracked him. At first, I thought he was just another fool who chose to base jump off of El Capitan. So, I did my duty and tried to arrest him. It was only a short while later, that I realized the truth. That he hadn’t been trying to base jump. Instead, he had been trying to kill himself. I couldn’t understand why he was doing that, so I continued to follow him in an effort to find out why.”
“Yet no matter what I could do, or threaten him with, he refused to stop! He even refused to tell me why!” Frazziss scrunched up her face. “Eventually, he offered me a deal: he would tell me why he wanted to die, if I stopped trying to save him. I accepted.” She stopped and heaved a great sigh.
“It was only then, that I had learned the trap he had set. For when he told me the reasons why he wished to die, I realized for sure that I had, at long last, found a Hero.”
“I was greedy, I admit it! I wanted the Love and Devotion that he was willing to bestow upon his first family, for MYSELF!” she cried, fighting back her tears. “AT ANY COST!” she shouted.
“So, the very next time he tried to die, I broke my word. Why? Because I loved him then.”
“A selfish love? Yes! I will not deny it! But love, nevertheless!” Frazziss finished, then nodded to Kaqqin to let her know she was finished with her explanation.
Kaqqin, then had nothing to say for a moment or three. Finally, after finishing biting her lip, she excused Frazziss from the witness podium. Kaqqin then turned to me and spoke.
“Allen-Belushi! I call upon you to give testimony.” After a nudge from Qirri, I then approached the podium/boulder and chose to remain standing. I looked at Kaqqin then, and noticed that despite her seeming youth. I sensed that she was wise beyond her years.
“What testimony should I give?” I asked her. She paused and formed her thoughts.
“Speak of the events prior to your meeting Frazziss, up to and including, where she broke her promise.” Kaqqin said solemnly. After a second of mulling it over, I realized where and when I needed to start.
After a few seconds of getting my thoughts in order, I began.
“Have you ever woken up and think that there is something ‘wrong’ with the world?” I began loudly, clearly.
“I don’t mean ‘wrong’ in that the morning showed up way too early, again. Nor do I mean that you woke up with a Coyote Date because you drank too much the night before- wrong.” I noticed then that a number of Dragons in the audience began giving me the stink eye.
‘Damn the Photon Torpedoes! Full speed ahead!’ I smiled inwardly.
“I mean that kind of wrong that hits you, when you look around your bedroom, or the place you’re staying at, or everywhere and anywhere else you go; you notice that despite everything being in all of their ‘proper’ places, you still get the weirdest sensation that everything is still somehow…wrong?” Looking up and around, I noticed then that the stink-eyes were gone, and I had everyone in the palm of my…paw? I could see the nods, and knowing smiles cast my way.
So, I continued on with my testimony. It took me a long while. But, the Dragons there seemed to hang on my every word. Until, finally.
“Won’t force me to do anything…?’, Yeah right! After she’d said that, not once did she let go of my dick. Not even in the slightest!” I griped from memory, standing there next to the boulder/podium.
“She had a death grip so hard,” I continued, “that not one drop of my blood could flee my dick to feed my blood starved brain. Well, the bigger one at least.” I sighed, and then finished. “Sneaky Little Minx.” I smirked admiringly, as I looked over at Frazziss, she grinned over at me then. I turned back to the chamber.
“So yeah, she had me then. We kissed, and my fate was sealed.” I said, looking around the chamber and seeing numerous satisfied smiles and grins on just about everyone there. Qirri and Frazziss included.
I turned and nodded that I was finished with my testimony. It was then, that I noted that Kaqqin had a grin, along with some tears welling up in her eyes.
‘Ah what can I say? Every woman loves a romance.’ I mused to myself.
“Thank you Allen-Belushi.” Kaqqin smiled at me. “Advocate Qirri, do you have any questions?” Qirri shook her head.
“Very well then. Allen-Belushi, you are excused.” I took my place in between Qirri and Frazziss. Kaqqin then nodded to Herrassiss, who had listened to both monologues with a resigned look on her face, almost as if she were bored to tears. She stood up with her Battle-Axe in paw, and spoke.
“The testimony is in, is the Council ready to adjourn to discuss the matter?” she spoke imperiously, looking at each of the Councilors in turn. Each councilor nodded her head in acquiescence. Herrassiss then turned to Qirri and addressed her.
“Envoy-Qirri, you are recognized to stand as Advocate for both Frazziss D’Aragon and Allen-Belushi. Do you desire to attend the deliberations?”
“I do!” Qirri exclaimed with a fire in her eyes.
“Then attend.” Herrassiss said simply to her, then stood up to address the crowd.
“The High Council will now adjourn to deliberate appropriate punishments, if any.” She banged her Battle-Axe upon the ground, signaling the end of the meeting.
With nary a glance towards anyone, every High Council member chose to silently stand and exit the chamber. Qirri moved to join.
I had so many questions then, but I felt helpless. Before exiting the chamber Qirri looked back at Frazziss and I, and smiled. It gave me a glimmer of hope.
A couple of never wracking hours later in which I did my best to not pay attention to the endless catcalls from the peanut gallery behind me, the Council solemnly filed back in, taking their respective ‘chairs’.
I noticed that Qirri didn’t return with them, which scared the hell out of me. I looked over at Frazziss for an explanation. All she could offer, was a bewildered shrug of her shoulders.
As the Councilors finished filing in, the chamber that had been previously filled with chattering Dragons, all went silent. I noticed then, that every Councilor looked the worse for wear. It was like they had all been in a fight.
Herrrassiss then stood up amongst the group, and approached the speaking spot. Even she appeared weary enough then, to be leaning heavily on her gavel/Battle-axe, as if it were a cane.
I expected the meeting to continue immediately, yet nothing happened. After a couple more minutes, I learned why. They were waiting for Qirri. My jaw dropped in surprise when I saw her enter.
For she arrived even more banged up, than the collection of Councilors there were. She walked in with a pronounced limp, was covered with scratches and gouges, and a couple of her braids had been scorched off. I also saw that one of her eyes was swollen shut. When we made eye contact, she gave me a grimace.
“You should have told me about the Nostrum!” she growled at Frazzis and I right then.
“I don’t understand, Qirri! Why are you…?” I tried to ask, but she held up a paw to silence me.
“I will explain everything you need to know, after the Council has pronounced their verdict.” She stopped and panted, looking at down at herself, then she paused and gave me a smile, explaining.
“Dragons always get into physical fights when deliberating. If you could have seen it all, you would have seen that I earned my four nights with you.” She panted some more, and added. “And then some.”
It was then that Herrassis formerly continued the council’s session. She turned her attention to me.
“Allen-Belushi.” She began, and I met her eyes. “I now give you a chance to distance yourself from any judgment that will be cast upon Frazziss. You may stand with her and share her fate. Or, you may step aside and go your own way,” she glowered down at me.
“What is your decision?”
I met her eyes and glared back at her for a second. I then growled at her in response. My doing so, made her blink in surprise. But before anyone could respond to my sass, I gave her my verbal reply.
“I stand with my woman.” I said, loudly and clearly to the chamber, “ALWAYS.”
Right then, I felt Frazziss grab my paw with hers, which she then drew it up and pressed it to her face. Looking over, I matched her smile with mine. I turned back to Herrassiss and noticed that she wasn’t insulted by my defiance of her. In fact, she was smiling. That triumphant one, again.
‘Oh Crap.’ I thought to myself helplessly.
“Frazziss D’Aragon, Allen-Belushi! Stand forward and receive the judgment of the High Council!” she announced. We did so, together, nervously.
“Frazziss D’Aragon, the High Council has taken your testimony to heart and we have unanimously decided that you had sufficient reasons to break your word. Your Honor as a Dragon is hereby restored.” Herrassiss stated, banging her Battle-Gavel upon the floor once. Frazziss gave a guarded smile in return. Looking back at Qirri, I noticed that she wouldn’t make eye contact with me then.
“My Fellow Dragons and Dragon kin!” Herrassis continued, “We stand upon a momentous time in Dragon History! The High Council has deliberated, and we have chosen to declare that Allen-Belushi to be the first of his kind in many centuries: An Authentic Male Dragon!” She declared, snapping her Battle-gavel upon the floor once more.
The chamber erupted in chaos then. Hisses, growls, shouts, and roars of triumph.
There were even a few Dragons out there who chose to cut loose with their breath weapons in celebration. Though they were quickly evicted for such an unseemly display. Through it all, Herrassiss stood waiting patiently, as if she were going to speak again.
“Furthermore!” she shouted, after things had quieted down. “The High Council has decided to declare Allen-Belushi to be a National Treasure!” Once more chaos erupted. Through it all Herrassiss waited patiently. She then turned to me.
“Allen-Belushi! Before the Council makes its final judgment, there is but one more question you need to answer.” I looked up at her and waited for it.
“Can you fly?” Herrassis asked, rhetorically.
‘Well, I can glide…’ I thought to myself. ‘But actual honest to Maou-ness proper flying?’ I continued, looking over sadly at Frazziss. Then I gave my honest reply.
“No, Councilor. I cannot. The best I can do right now, is glide.” It galled me to have to admit to it. Herrassiss’ smile widened to the point that I could see her teeth.
‘Ah fuck!’ I whimpered silently. She then turned and addressed the Council.
“High Council, he admits to his own immaturity!” She then turned and faced the crowd, giving me the occasional glance.
“Our National Treasure, despite his sexual maturity and his wings, cannot do such a simple thing as fly. He is therefore a Whelp!”
“Furthermore! There is still the matter of how a human male could become a Dragon! The answer to that, my fellow Dragons, is that he did so with the aid of a Treasure stolen from my House! He did this through the actions of his mate, my daughter!” She turned to Frazziss and hissed, “Is this not true Frazziss D’Aragon?” Frazziss chose to remain silent, not looking at her.
“I said. Is-This-Not-True?” Herrassiss growled/enunciated each word, all the while glowering down at her disowned daughter. Finally, after many a venomous glance directed back at her mother, Frazziss replied.
“It is true.” She said quietly, quivering with her eyes shut. I put my arm around my woman then, and she leaned into me.
I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t think of anything that would relieve her of her fear. Hell, I couldn’t think of anything to make me feel better then, either. I just knew that there was something coming down the pipes, something bad.
“I hereby move, that the High Council hand over custody of Frazziss D’Aragon and her mate, Allen-Belushi, into the control of my House.” Herrassis stated happily.
“OBJECTION!” Qirri shouted then. “State your reasons for the necessity!” Herrassiss didn’t take offense, instead she smiled and carried on speaking both to the Council and the crowd.
“It was my fervent hope that when I disowned my daughter, that she would have learned responsibility. Sadly, she has not.” Herrassiss shook her head in mock grief.
“Through her own actions and misjudgment, she allowed her first born daughter to die a needless death!” Frazziss turned and hugged me fiercely then, I could hear her whimpering into my shoulder. I held her tight in response.
“Furthermore, she subsequently broke her word, ostensibly in the name of “Love!” Herrassiss spoke, then expectorated as if she had tasted something foul.
“Then, to top it all off! She manipulated one of her younger siblings into absconding with a Family Heirloom. This heirloom was a Succubus Nostrum given to the family D’Aragon, in ages past, from the Great Maou herself! This Nostrum was used by Frazziss and Allen-Belushi to transform him into the first Male Dragon in centuries.” She declared in an aggrieved tone.
“I hereby demand compensation! It is also my hope that with Frazziss in my custody, she will eventually learn proper Dragon behavior!”
“My logic for this is such: Since Frazziss D’Aragon couldn’t be bothered to take care of her own daughter, how can we of the council, and I myself personally, stand aside? How could we all allow her to take on the responsibility of the first male Dragon to appear for the first time in centuries?” Herrassiss spoke to the crowd.
“I contend that we cannot! Therefore, I demand that Allen-Belushi be handed over to me! I can insure that he be kept safely in custody, and raised PROPERLY!”
“I second the motion!” stated Geround quickly. The Council voted, and the motion was passed, five to one. Kaqqin being the sole to vote against it. Both Frazziss and I clutched each other tightly. It seemed then that all hope was lost to us.
Later after the High Council had adjourned. Frazziss and I consulted with Qirri in her private chamber. What she had to say was grim.
“Can she do this? Legally?” I demanded. Qirri looked up from having her swollen face in her hands and replied.
“Yes.” She replied. “She can. That’s because legally, you are a child.”
“But!” I began, but I held off when Qirri held up a paw.
“You cannot fly, that makes you a whelp. Therefore, a child.”
“But Wurms don’t fly…” I started, then stopped when Qirri glared at me with poison in her eyes.
“They don’t have wings. You do. Now stop wasting my time with foolishness. Do you have anything pertinent to add?!” she growled at me deeply. Then, after a moment, she softened her look.
“Technically, this finding of the High Council isn’t binding for at least seven days. What that means,” she began when I looked at her, “is if the Full Dragon Council can meet and discuss this matter before those seven days are out, you have a chance to appeal the High-Council’s decision.”
“So why the big whoop about seven days?”
“Dragon Law. If the Full Council cannot, or will not, meet before that time limit, then the decision of the High Council is considered binding.” That left me momentarily shocked.
“It can’t be coincidence that access to the Dragon Realm suddenly got so difficult!” I said by way of reply. I was about to say something more. But that was when Herrassiss walked in on us.
Frazziss, for her part, was shocked into insensibility at the sight of her mother waltzing in.
When I saw Herrassiss I knew immediately why she was there. She was there to gloat, and she didn’t disappoint.
“Councilor!” Qirri shouted, as she stood up. “This is unprecedented! Your being here is a violation of…!” she began, but was interrupted.
“BE SILENT ADVOCATE!” Herrassis commanded. Qirri obeyed, reluctantly.
“Yes, you are correct Allen-Belushi, it is most certainly NOT a coincidence.” Herrassiss stated with that damned annoying smile of hers. I decided that I was getting rather tired of it right then. Qirri goggled at Herrassiss’ words.
“Yes, Allen-Belushi, despite the circumstances of your humble birth, you are rather surprisingly intelligent.” She phrased it as a compliment, yet still I was insulted.
“What do you want?” I demanded.
“More importantly, Allen-Belushi, what do you want?” she smirked. But before I could answer, she continued.
“I already know your answer. You want to be able to continue seeing Frazziss don’t you? Well, you can, if you give up fighting the inevitable.”
“The inevitable?” I demanded.
“Yes. The inevitable is your submitting to me and my demands. What I want Allen-Belushi, is for you to do as you’re told!”
“Speak plainly for once!” I shouted. Herrassiss got annoyed enough to flare her wings, when I demanded that of her. For several long moments she glared back at me, seemingly staring at me while chewing on the inside of her lip. Finally, she spoke.
“Very well then, Plainly. What I want,” She began, moving forward and raising a paw. “Is you.” She finished by placing that paw on my arm. I looked at her aghast. She saw my look, and pulled her paw away from me.
“NO!” she laughed. “No, I don’t want you sexually. Not for me! Far from it!” she continued snickering as if the idea amused her.
“No, what I want you for, is to be my Dragon-Stud, Allen-Belushi, on call for everyone else! Particularly for those who have chosen to help me, or will do so in my endeavor to gain power over the Full Council.” I felt my eyes flare at that info.
“You called in favors, and made a number of deals, all to set this up, didn’t you?” I spoke insightfully. She hesitated, and then nodded.
“This is the culmination of a lifetime of manipulation and politicking. With you under my control as a Dragon-Stud I will be able to pay back the favors the Pathway Guardians want. Then, all Dragons will have to bow to my wishes.”
“Pathway Guardians!? Favors?!” Qirri interrupted then. “What you say make it sounds as if you’ve been abusing your power as a Councilor!” Herrassiss burst out in laughter in response.
“Of course, I’ve abused my power Advocate!” Herrassiss scoffed. “That’s what power is for! Yes, I insured that the Pathways are clogged and made as difficult to access as I can! If I didn’t, then the full Council would be here within the week and they’d turn all of my plans into shambles!” Herrassiss’ declaration left Qirri gaping in shock.
“What?! Why is it so important that I be under your control as a Dragon-Stud?” I asked Herrassiss suddenly. She looked at me suspiciously for a moment. Then narrowed her eyes even further.
“In the prophecies concerning the Succubus Nostrum, it was stated that when the ‘First Male Returns’,” she explained, “other male dragons would start to be born!” she said, scrunching her lips together.
“But they haven’t!” she snarled, her teeth flashing.
“Since your transformation, almost a dozen Dragons have become gravid. I had them all magically scanned, and not so much as a single one of them is gravid with a male. Not. A. SINGLE ONE!” She pointed to me with a finger/claw, and stomped a foot on the ground with emphasis.
“Therefore, YOU must have a role to play when it comes to siring Male Dragons. It doesn’t take a spell researcher to figure that one out!” She growled fiercely. “What it is exactly? I have no idea. But I intend to find out, when you’re fully under my control!”
“What of your daughter’s feelings?” I asked quietly.
“What of her?” Herrassiss fumed, “She’s irrelevant!” Then she stopped raving and smiled.
“Oh, I get it now. You want to know if you’ll ever be allowed to see her again. You will, I promise you that. But only if you do as you’re told. Be a good little Dragon-Stud and sire children with my political allies. Preferably male children. If you do all that, I promise you that I will make sure that neither you, nor Frazziss, will want for anything.” She replied, making her terms sound reasonable.
“I’ll have to think about it.” My reply made her smile evaporate, and her face froze.
“You have until seven days from now,” she said coldly, fiercely, “to make up your mind Allen-Belushi! If by then you have not submitted, then I guarantee that both you, and Frazziss will come to regret it!” She then drew in her wings and made as if to go.
“Seven Days!” She hissed as she left. Looking over at Frazziss, I noticed that she had drawn into herself. So, I went over and drew her into a hug. She didn’t indicate that she noticed me. Instead she just stood there and shivered with her eyes closed.
“What she said and did just now, was a violation of at least a dozen laws of Dragon kind!” I overheard Qirri talking dumbfoundedly then. “And she’s the Head of the High Council!!” she exclaimed shrilly.
“She’s not bluffing, is she?” I asked Frazziss. She opened her eyes, and shook her head fearfully.
“She’s perfectly capable of everything she promised, and worse! She has no soul Allen!” Frazziss whispered. I sighed, and shook my head. I looked over at Qirri.
“Qirri. Is there anything…?” I asked, but she didn’t seem to be listening to me, instead she was staring off into the distance without blinking. “Qirri! QIRRI!” I shouted, then bopped her on her nose. She flinched violently, and shook herself while glaring at me with reddened eyes. I returned her glare for several seconds until she blinked and her eyes returned to their natural color.
“What are my options? Can she do this?”
“Technically? Perhaps. Frazziss, that Succubus Nostrum? Was it a family heirloom like she claimed?” Qirri asked Frazziss then. Frazziss nodded. “So, you had the right to use it?”
“Well, sort of…” Frazziss began, fretting. Qirri’s face fell.
“Did you take and use it, without it’s minder’s permission?” Qirri asked pointedly. Frazziss nodded again. Qirri closed her eyes and covered her face with her paws.
“That doesn’t bode well.” I injected. Looking at Qirri I could see her looking back at me through her paw-fingers, she shook her head, and uncovered her face.
“Then, she has the right to claim you as compensation for the lost Nostrum. Technically, from the moment she claims you, you’ll be a Ward of the House D’Aragon.” Qirri finished. What can I say? I whined a bit at that news. Qirri looked at me sadly.
“So, there’s no hope?” I asked. Qirri didn’t answer immediately. Instead she seemed deep in thought, her eyebrows scrunched up. I stood by and waited as patiently as I could. Finally, after what seemed the longest while, she looked at me.
“Submit?” She asked me, and it pissed me off when she did.
“Submit? SUBMIT?! Are you out of your fucking mind Qirri? I will NEVER submit to that Hag!” I shouted. Then I noticed her smiling. “What?”
“That’s the spirit Allen-Belushi!” Qirri smiled then. “A True Dragon never submits to extortion, she,…” she began, then hesitated and started again. “A real MALE Dragon fights!”
“Then how do you recommend I fight?” I asked. Qirri’s smile dropped. She seemed lost in thought for a second. Then she looked at me and sighed.
“It’ll be a long shot.” She said quietly. “You will have to Ascend”. I looked at her funny. She caught my look and explained.
“You’ll have to become an adult.”
“What?! I already am an adult!” I huffed.
“Not as far as Dragon Law and Custom is concerned no. Or, at least not yet, you’re not.”
“What do you mean?”
“If you became an adult, then you would have the right to tell Herrassiss to,…how do the humans put it? ‘Shove it up her asp’?”
“Ass. It’s called her ass, her butt.”
“Whatever.” She rolled her eyes at me. “The point is, if you’re an adult then some other compensation for the lost Nostrum can be negotiated for.”
“All right, how do I become a Dragon-Adult?”
“You will have to do this, by making it through one of the Seven Paths of Ascension.” She replied solemnly. With Frazziss, and I listening in, Qirri went on to explain what those paths were.
“In an Age long past,” She began, “the Dragon Realm was separated from the regular world for, well, reasons.”
Chief amongst those reasons was the assumption that Dragons had become decadent. The Council at that time, decided that there needed to be a way to ‘separate the wheat from the chaff’, so to speak.
So, when they removed the Dragon Realm from the circles of its original World; they also created Eight Paths into, and out of it. The eighth path’s use is complicated, but generally it’s used primarily by the Council.
The other Seven paths were collectively designated as- The Rite of Ascent. Eventually they became known by another name: The Gullet.
Each of those seven paths consisted of a Gate that started from Point A, literally a starting point from wherever in the multiverse it is opened, hence onwards into a wormhole. These wormholes were the conduit to Point B, allowing the traveler to enter the Realm proper.
Well, not easily allowing that is. Even though the first four, are considered ‘easy’ in comparison to the remaining three. None of the Seven were ever considered to be a cakewalk.
According to what I was told then by Qirri and Frazziss, the first path is called: The Dragon’s Teeth.
Teeth, because it’s associated element is Earth. This path/ordeal/wormhole, is one that consists of rocks and boulders bouncing and jostling around in a massive series of unending landslides and earthquakes.
Yeah, you heard me right. Earthquakes, big ones.
Essentially the passage through is like a massive rock tumbler. And that’s on a good day. To give you an idea of its difficulty, this is the path that Wurms usually choose for their Rite of Ascent, and not all of them survive it.
The second path is The Dragon’s Blood. Its element is Water. It consists of tempestuous seas and massive lakes: Tsunamis, Maelstroms, Flash Floods, that kind of stuff. The Ryu, and Sea Serpents tend to choose this one.
The third is The Dragon’s Roar, its element is Air. Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Thunderstorms, and the like. The biggest danger is wind-shear. One moment’s inattention, and you’re tumbling, usually fatally. This is the path of choice for flying Dragons, and it’s the path that Frazziss’ chose for her Ascension.
The fourth is The Dragon’s Breath, its element is Fire. It’s a bit of a misnomer, since not all Dragons who have breath weapons, have one of fire. Every kind of Dragon-Breath Weapon that has ever existed, is there. Which is rather freaky, because there are Breath weapons there, that no living Dragon has now. It consists of Fire-balls, Cold-blasts and a weird one called: Plasma-Sphere. All firing off at random. Bailiffs qualify here.
The fifth Is where things start getting tough. The Dragon’s Scale, its element is Metal. Any candidate who takes this path has to deal with metal in all of its forms: Swords, pikes, arrows, ballistae spear-bolts, and yes, even gold, endlessly being fired at or stumbled across randomly. Council seat holders qualify here. As did Qirri. Apparently, Herrassiss’ battle-axe/gavel was a souvenir from her ordeal through this path.
The sixth is The Dragon’s Seed, its element is Wood. What it is, is the equivalent of the hardscrabble existence the First Dragon had to survive after she was born.
Many go in, and only a pawful make it out. It’s the only one where there are actual animals rampaging through. What kind of animals? Remember the movie, ‘Pacific Rim’? Kinda like that. Anyone who makes it through this one, qualifies for Council Head, the Full Council that is.
Then, there is the Seventh. It’s called the Dragon’s Spirit, it’s element is Aether. It consists of: The-Creative-Thought-That-Is. Which is about as clear as mud. But that’s all I could get.
“Why is that?” I begged.
“Because those who have endured it, never speak of what they encounter along the way.” Qirri answered sadly, with her wings drooping. “The only way one can access that path, is to have a previous path-walker open it for them. But even then, there is no guarantee the entry Gate will open.” She frowned.
“What do you mean?”
“The Path is near-sentient, and apparently you have to prove yourself worthy to be allowed access. If the Path itself deems you unworthy, then it will not allow itself to be fully opened.” I was shocked enough that I felt my jaw open and stay that way. Qirri then stood up, placed a paw on the side of my face, and looked longingly into my eyes.
“Allen-Belushi, it is a longshot. For even if the path opens itself up for you, you may not survive the passage. If you did survive it, it will leave you changed.” She heaved a great sigh. “And this is the path that I recommend you take.”
“WHAT!?” I shouted. “Why?!”
“Because it is the only path that the Guardians in charge of, cannot be bribed. From the sound of things, the current difficulty of the Full Council gaining access to the Dragon Realm, can be laid at the feet of Herrassiss.”
“Well she basically admitted to it.” I whined.
“She will undoubtedly pay for it. But.” I looked at Qirri and got a sinking feeling. “At that point, if she has a Male Dragon under her control, the rest of the Council may very well be inclined to go easy on her.” She said with her eyes closed, dropping her paw.
“But why?” I asked. Then stopped and slapped a paw to my face. “Because who would want to piss off the keeper of the Male Dragon?” I uncovered my face and looked at Qirri. She just nodded.
“So.” I began. “How can I find a ‘Seventh Path’ Guardian?”
“Leave that to me.” Qirri replied. “That’s what Advocates are good for, procuring necessities.” Then her face fell. “But, it won’t be easy, Allen-Belushi. There aren’t that many of them to begin with, and the ones that are left, aren’t inclined to share the path anymore.”
“There’s still hope, Allen-Belushi.” She said, putting her paws on my shoulders. “Because if I fail, and Herrassiss gets ahold of you, then I won’t get my four nights with you.”
She leaned over and put her nose to mine. I could see her eyes glowing pink then. “I have EVERY intention of getting them!” she said as she gripped my shoulders painfully, and then leaned in to kiss me with the kind of passion that only a horny Dragon can demonstrate.
Well, I did feel just a teensy bit better; after she finished deep-tongue-kissing me.
After that, Qirri had Frazziss and I go back to our ‘cell’. Despite it being near the evening meal then, neither of us were in the mood for food. Instead, we just lay on the sandstone slab-bed and snuggled ourselves in each other’s wings and arms.
For what seemed like hours, we just lay there together in silence. Then, after a bit, I noticed that Frazziss was crying. I could tell she was doing this, because her tears made a different kind of wetness on my chest scales, than her drool does.
“Frazziss, try not to cry or fret. We’ll,…” I began. But I was stopped when she gave off a small yelp and hugged me all the fiercer. She started sobbing audibly then. What could I do? I held her even tighter back, and just rocked her for a while. Finally, after her sobbing subsided, she spoke.
“It’s like my dream. Remember that?” she snuffled. I didn’t know what she was referring to, and I said as much.
“My dream, after you first woke up from the Nostrum trance. The one in which I dreamt that other Dragons were going to try and take you away from me!” she quietly wailed.
“Oh, that dream.” I said quietly. She just nodded her head against my chest, her whole-body quivering. I was about to try and come up with something to console her, but that was when I heard someone speak.
“Allen-Belushi, Frazziss!” that someone whispered loudly. When we both looked up, we saw that it was Qirri. She motioned for us to come over to her, near the entrance to the cell. Which was strange, because according to Dragon custom, she should’ve scratched at the Door-post to announce her arrival.
‘Something’s up!’ I thought to myself. I was right.
Qirri had managed to set up a time for Frazziss and I, to meet with a Seventh Path Guardian.
“In two hours in the Dragon’s Graveyard.” She explained.
“Several reasons.” She said as quietly as she could, looking around herself constantly while she did.
“You are both under surveillance!” She explained. “Herrassiss is taking no chance that you might ‘flee the coop’ as the humans put it. Anywhere you go, you will be followed. If you attempt to flee, your followers have orders to do everything they can to prevent it. Up to and including killing Frazziss.” She said solemnly.
“Holy shit!” I said, aghast and pissed. Qirri shushed me, and nodded.
“BUT!” she said, holding up a finger, “If you go to the Graveyards and ‘pay respect’ there, you’ll have a better chance of making it into the pathway, as your followers are under strict orders to not reveal themselves to you if they can help it. The graveyard makes it easier to see any nearby others. Assuming of course, that the path deems you worthy to enter.”
“All right, where do we go and who do we meet?” I asked, as meekly as I could then.
“You must be at Entru’s Cenotaph in precisely two hours. Whomever you meet there, will be the Guardian. Other than that, I can say nothing more.” Qirri licked her lips and spoke again. “But, whatever you do Allen-Belushi, DO-NOT-BE-LATE!” she half-hissed at me, eyes blazing intently.
“I wish you the best of luck. Maou-speed!” Qirri turned then, and was gone from the room. I watched as her tail tip slipped from view. I looked at Frazziss.
“I assume you know where that Entru’s Ceno…whatsis…is?”
“Cenotaph.” She prompted, I nodded.
“Yes, I do, it’s a short distance away from my daughter’s tomb.” Frazziss replied, not looking at me. “That’s probably why the spot was chosen.” She looked at me then. I noticed that her face had gone still and her eyes were dull.
“Uuuuh. Will you be OK, going there?” She looked at me for a moment more, and then gave me the slightest of nods.
“Then let’s go.” I said. She didn’t respond. But, after a second or two, I started to lead her. She just allowed me to do so without a single word of protest. Which is so unlike her.
‘Damn.’ Was all I could think then, in my worry for her mental well-being.
It took the better part of an hour for us to get there. Part of the reason for that, was that it was well after sunset when we started out. Also, we both kept overhearing someone(s) tailing us close by. We both could hear their claws or scales sliding across the stone all around us, yet out of sight. It was fucking creepy.
When we entered the graveyard proper, those someones became farther away. Though I did catch the occasional blur of someone stepping behind a rock wall or tomb.
The other reason was that Frazziss started slowing her steps the closer she got to her daughter’s tomb. I couldn’t blame her. Its not an easy thing to do, approaching the grave of a child you outlived.
It’s something that fills you with a chill foreboding. Back when I was human, every time I approached my daughter’s grave, I was filled with guilt. Guilt for well, everything. Yeah, I know. It doesn’t make any sense. But grief seldom does.
Frazziss probably felt that same way. About a block away from the destination she latched onto my arm with both paws, and wouldn’t let go. It was like I was her foundation then. But, she never cried out.
The Graveyard? It consisted of massive tombs, mostly. They were of all kinds: ornate, plain, and everything in between. They ranged between Black Marble, to White Granite, and Rainbow Obsidian. Though I noticed that there were a few markers in the ground, indicating dug-in-the-earth-graves. Those were for the Incubi, apparently.
For some reason, I noticed a few lone tombs looked as if someone, or something, had pushed their way out, and they all had been left like that. It was as if the family didn’t give a damn anymore. Which was sad.
I wanted to ask Frazziss about them, but I decided that that question could wait until a better time. Assuming there was one.
Then, suddenly, there we were, next to one tomb in particular. But the sight of it made my heart break. Why? It was a child’s tomb. There was no right for a tomb to be that small.
Frazziss finally broke her silence then, and collapsed on top of it and cried, and cried, and cried. I didn’t try to get her to stop, so instead I knelt down next to her and put my arms around her.
“I’m sorry.” She kept whispering through the plain basalt stone of her daughter’s tomb.
After a while she stopped. It was then, that I noticed that her daughter’s tomb was unmarked. Looking around at other nearby tombs, I noticed that just about every other one of them had markings. Birth Dates, Death Dates, and Names. Yet her daughter’s, had none of that. Not so much as a chalk mark.
I asked Frazziss about it. Apparently, the inscribing of such cost more than the tomb itself would. And back then, she hadn’t been able to afford it. In fact, she still couldn’t. The thought of that disturbed me. I looked at her daughter’s unmarked tomb, and then I looked at my paw.
“Molding Stone, huh?” I thought, as I stared at my paw. “Let’s find out, shall we?” So, then I kneeled down close to the marker, and started inscribing as best I could. It took a few attempts, but after a few minutes of summoning up my mojo, I was able to make it happen. The stone just parted underneath my claw like it was made of jello.
Frazziss’ eyes went wide when she saw me try the first time, then her jaw fell open when she saw me be somewhat successful. It wasn’t the neatest script. I didn’t manage to keep it centered properly, nor level. But it was something. Something that wasn’t there before.
“Nocturnimpetu D’Aragon”. Which meant: Night-Fury.
When I was done, I looked over at Frazziss and she was crying again. But this time she was smiling gratefully at me. She sniveled for a bit as she gave me the most loving of hugs.
“Thank you.” She whispered into my scaly ear. She then asked to be alone for a while. Standing up, I noticed then that I had earned a small audience.
It was a Wurm with silver scales. She looked at me pleadingly.
“Please Drake!” pled the Wurm, “Do the same for my baby! I couldn’t afford…” she began, and then started to cry. Noting the time, I realized that I was getting short then.
I looked over at the Cenotaph, it wasn’t that far away. Then I looked back at the Wurm and her tear streaked face. Then I made my decision.
“Show me.” I replied, as I went over and touched her on her arm. She looked at me incredulously, and I nodded. She slithered off a bit, and looked back at me to make sure I was following. I sighed and did so.
It took a short while, but it was in the direction AWAY from the Cenotaph.
‘If I make this quick, I should be able to make it back in time!’ I thought to myself, as I looked back at the receding Cenotaph marker.
Naturally what Amelia, the Wurm, wanted for her lost child was something ornate. At first, I was all set to deny her. But then I remembered my own little girl and how important she had been to me.
‘In for a penny, in for a pound.’ I decided. ‘I will give her everything she desires.’ So, I did.
I took my time and did a much better job of it. It was far worthier a project than I had done for Nocturnimpetu. But then, hers was my first. Once I was done with Amelia’s daughter’s grave, I tried to get away as quickly as I could. But Amelia the Wurm was ecstatic then, and profuse in her thanks. She tried to offer me what little Gold she had, but I refused.
Yeah, I know. A Dragon refusing Gold. Weird huh?
I couldn’t take it, not for that reason. Taking advantage of a person’s grief? It just didn’t feel right to me. It took me a while longer, but I was able to get away and I hoofed it as quick as I could, to Entru’s Cenotaph.
By the time I got there, there was no one there. I realized that I had failed to meet the Guardian at the appointed time. Looking up at the stars overhead, I estimated that I was at least half an hour late. So, I did what was left to me then. I knelt down, covered my face, and wept.
‘I fucked things up!’ I cried to myself. ‘I’m such a piece of shit! I fucked things up for my woman and our baby! Why, couldn’t I have just left that Wurm alone?!’ I just kept repeating those thoughts, over and over in my mind.
I did until I felt someone touch my shoulder. Which made me flinch and look up at them. It turned out to be Urmat. I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Frazziss. She was staring at me accusingly. I couldn’t keep eye contact with her.
“Why are you crying Allen-Belushi?” Urmat asked me, concernedly.
“It doesn’t matter now, Urmat.” I replied after a few seconds of getting my composure, shaking my head. “More importantly, why are you out here in the dark?” She smiled back at me then.
“I often spend many of my few remaining hours contemplating what my life would’ve been like…” she began, as she started to look off into the distance with her smile sliding off of her face. After a few seconds, I nudged her to continue. She blinked.
“What my life would’ve been like, if I hadn’t been so silly in my youth.” She finished, turning and facing me with a smile once more. I noticed that Urmat’s reply seemed to shock Frazziss. I had no idea why.
“Now then Allen-Belushi, tell me why you’re out here crying in the dark?” she asked once more, this time more insistently.
“It doesn’t matt…” I said again, as I stood up. But, I was stopped when she laid a paw on my shoulder and locked her gaze with mine.
“Tell Me.” She COMMANDED. I can’t think of another way to put it. She commanded, I obeyed. It’s as simple as that.
Sparing a lot of the details, I told her why I was there, what I had done, and why I missed the appointment.
“So, you’re late because you chose to indulge Amelia’s request? Despite knowing that it would inconvenience you greatly?” Urmat demanded of me with a fire in her eyes. Then I realized something.
“Wait! How did you know her name? I didn’t tell you that!” I said surprised, she just smiled back up at me.
“You chose to soothe a Mother’s grief, over your own needs and desires.” Urmat stated then, not as a question. I nodded.
“Then that means that you’ve passed one test.” She said levelly. “The Seventh Pathway Guardians won’t even consider opening a gate, unless the beseecher is proven to be worthy.” She said cheerfully. I was speechless then. I raised my hand and pointed a shaking finger at her.
“Yes.” She said simply, nodding. “I am a Seventh Path Guardian. Probably the only one remaining on this side.” She looked at me sadly then.
“But be warned Allen-Belushi, the Seventh Path is one that is known as the Path of Life. That force of Life is called by many names. The Zipangu call it: Ki. Those of the West, call it Soul, and as such, summoning a Gate for another, will cost the Guardian a year of her life!”
“What if the Gate doesn’t open?” I asked, afraid.
“Irrelevant.” Urmat shook her head sadly, “The Summoner will still lose that year. If I open this gate for you Allen-Belushi, it may very well cost me my life. Yet, I sense that you are not yet quite worthy of such a sacrifice!” she growled fiercely at me right then.
“Why?” is all I could ask then. Urmat glowered at me.
“Because there is a secret between you and your mate, one that you should’ve shared with her before now.” She replied accusingly. “If you continue to keep it from her, then you would fail within the path.” She frowned.
I looked over at Frazziss and she was looking at me questioningly, I knew she overheard us both.
“Tell Her!” Urmat told me urgently then. I felt a chill run up my spine then, all the way from the tip of my tail to my head horns. I swallowed, and went over to Frazziss and told her my secret.
“WHAT?!” Frazziss all but yelled at me. Bowing my head, I told her about my ability to choose who gets pregnant after I had sex with them. At first, she was speechless. Then the next thing I knew, I was on the ground. The reason? She had cold cocked me in anger. Looking back up at her, I saw her eyes blazing white hot in fury.
After a few seconds, she reached down and pulled me to my feet. Then she hugged me fiercely.
“We will discuss this more, later.” She whispered, before she pulled back and looked angrily into my eyes, then I turned and looked at Urmat. She nodded at us both, motioning for me to come over.
I stood before her, and didn’t feel worthy of the honor. She looked up at me balefully for a second, then shook her head seemingly in disgust. Then, she reached up with both paws and grabbed my head, pulling it down to hers.
“Would you die for Frazziss?” she demanded, locking her gaze with mine. Looking back, I stared deep into those depthless Dragon eyes of hers and replied.
“Yes.” I stated truthfully. She looked back at me for a moment longer.
“No more secrets between the two of you, EVER!” she demanded, and I nodded.
“Assuming you make it through.” She added cryptically. “I remember opening a gate each, for my last three surviving family members.” She said with a quaver in her voice. “None of them came out. Do you still wish to go through with this?”
I nodded again. She sighed.
“So be it!” she said with finality. “Here is the best advice I can give you for a successful journey. One- Face your fears. Two- Be true to yourself. Three- Allow yourself.” I nodded to her then, taking it all in.
She moved off and stood in the center of an alleyway between tombs and raised her arms. I heard a shout then from someone nearby. Turning I could see a half dozen Dragons running towards us.
“Allen-Belushi! I give you: My Last!” Urmat shouted, then she Screamed a soundless scream that went on and on and on. It reverberated within my soul and I had to try putting my hands over my ears. But doing so didn’t do me any good. It was that painful.
Looking up, I saw Urmat shaking like a leaf in the wind, holding her paws up and out in front of her, still screaming soundlessly, and facing me. Nothing seemed to be happening. Out of the corners of my eyes, I saw that everyone else around had stopped in their advance, also covering their ears.
Then, the not-Screaming stopped, and Urmat collapsed to the ground. I thought at first that I had proven unworthy of the Gate, but then I noticed something.
In between where Urmat now lay unmoving and I, a point of blackness had formed and it swiftly transformed itself into a large sphere six feet across. I decided that it could only be the Entrance Gate to the Seventh Path. I took a quick look back at Frazziss and gave her what I hoped was a loving look. But when I did, I noticed that the other Dragons nearby were also getting up, and moving closer.
I had to go. So, I did. I leaped through the Gate and I fell through it. I could sense it closing behind me, as I heard someone shouting then, but the sounds ceased when the Gate snapped shut behind me, and I was left alone.
I screamed as I fell.
“Frazziss?” Qirri asked, as she stood next to Frazziss in the noon-time sun.
“You need to eat. Allen-Belushi will need you strong when he comes back, you know.” Qirri said, trying to reason with her.
Frazziss, continued to ignore Qirri. Instead, she remained sitting where she’d been for the previous days, silently maintaining vigil at the Seventh Path Egress Gate spot.
“Frazziss, PLEASE! At least drink some water!” Qirri pleaded, falling to her knees, holding an Ewer of water in her paws.
Slowly, reluctantly, Frazziss reached over to the ewer and took a few swallows from it. After a few moments more, Qirri took the Ewer back and waited for Frazziss to say something, yet she didn’t.
“I’ll just leave the food here if you should decide to change your mind.” Qirri said quietly. Frazziss nodded once as she did so. Qirri then walked over to the edge of the clearing and spoke to a waiting attendant.
“At least she is willing to drink.” She said defeatedly. The Dragonewt attendant looked sympathetically at her.
“Is there any hope?” the Dragonewt attendant asked. Qirri looked at her sadly.
“Maybe.” She sighed dejectedly, shaking her head and looking back at Frazziss with a deep and abiding melancholy.