In the Wake of Giants [1x1]


The Eager Rper
Janine sniffed the room casually, taking in the typical scents. After a few moments, however, she picked up unfamiliar scents, and she scanned the room for their sources. She stared at Sir Keigal until Raban whispered in her ear. Stranger? What…? And then she saw him - the man that stood as ominous as a spindly tree with bare branches in a dark forest. She was easily able to pick up on the unease in Raban’s voice, which did nothing to calm her down. Just from picking up Raban’s worry, the rattles of warning echoed softly in her head. Danger. The sounds aren't overwhelming, but it was present.

Thankfully, they didn’t make her zone out on what was to be said.

Janine’s ears picked up the multitude of nervous nosies the knight next to her kept exerting, and she stared at the chair before taking in the stranger that was clearly not a new Knight. He dressed too simple, and his body type didn’t exactly match. Well if she was to be fair, neither did hers exactly, but she was more muscular than this man. And yet, as innocent as he seemed to be, she knew that was far from the truth.

She glanced at his eyes, and she gave a soft hiss through her barely opened mouth. Whoever this man was, she was beginning to grow intimidated by them. She took another glance at Raban and studied him for a moment. He seemed to be doing the same thing as her - silently gathering information through observation. However, with his knowledge, he would most likely be able to come up with more accurate conclusions better than her. And more scary ones.

When he spoke again, Janine followed his gaze back to the chair. She slowly nodded her head, quietly agreeing with him. There was no way that this belonged directly to be Order. She’d never seen that thing last week, or the week before that. Janine listened carefully as Sir Kiegal spoke.j She snorted softly in surprise instead of gasping as her impulses almost permitted. This was about Raban. Damnit.

This wasn’t going to be good at all.

She continued to listen, ears lowering slightly in nervousness. She had hoped that the Order would’ve forgotten about that little detail. Apparently not. She silently cursed Sir Kiegal and his mental diligence. Then there was a sudden touch to her hand. That time she gasped a little, and turned her head a little to Raban’s hand. Was he that nervous? Should she return the motion? But in honesty, she didn't know exactly how to return it. So she just put a few fingers above his, to let him know she was there too.

She had no idea how Raban was taking all this. They were basically talking about how to detect and kill him right in front of his face. But they were all oblivious to the fact. She hoped that he could keep calm until the meeting was over. Hopefully, this was a meeting that was all talk, with nothing that could present them with any danger.

And yet, at the same time, Janine wasn’t completely filled with worry. She was also sensing herself to be filled with irritation and anger - even though that most werewolves were dangerous, Raban wasn’t just some mindless beast - he was kind and caring, and he had more consideration over life than most people. To kill someone like him is a crime in itself. She shook a little as the anger built, but she kept herself relatively calm. Somehow.

And then this… Greaves man spoke. While a few things made her nervous, she didn’t really put a human on that list. However, this man made her terribly so. He was a Hunter….. A hunter of werewolves and vampires….. Would that mean he could excel in demon hunting as well? His speech was…. Informational if she would say so. While he said many things that she already knew, she didn’t like the way he was announcing the information. He must really know what he was doing, and she didn’t like it.

Her ear flicked upward a little when Raban whispered again. The best? What did that mean? And then the words of Greaves entered her ears again. Wolfsbane. Did she read about that? She wasn't entirely sure. But she might’ve talked about it with Raban. And the man had the means to make everyone a vial of the most deadly things for a werewolf. She growled in her head; it was like they were hoping to kill the werewolf overnight.

And then someone asked about the chair. As curious as she was about the chair, she would’ve never voiced her interest in it. But the sheer morbid excitement the man drew from the question alone was enough to put a chill up her spine. She didn’t like this man at all. The Order was just going to drag everyone they suspected into this chair? Wouldn't that just cause a panic? But then again, they probably wouldn’t want to spread fear around…. This whole werewolf fishing would most likely be discreet, quietly questioning various people if they showed suspicious behavior. That method sounded more… Ideal. But more scary. Who knows who would be watching the town? How long was this man supposed to stay?

Then he asked for a demonstration. Damnit. So much for just telling and not showing. She was so deep in her own thoughts that she didn’t realize that the room was suddenly quiet. That was, until she zoned back to the present and felt Raban’s hand shift. The hell? She turned her head to see the other knights staring at Raban, and then to the platform where Sir Kiegal and that Greaves were also eyeing her fellow Knight. She took a double take before realizing what was about to happen.

Oh no. Oh shit. She eyed Raban, worry glazing over her eyes and face. She couldn’t let him get up there! But she couldn’t get herself in trouble, and she didn’t want to make a scene. She couldn't back Raban up if she was kicked out of the Order.

'Damnit Raban! What are we supposed to do about this?!'


the Hugger Troll
He glanced at her touch to his hand and smiled reassuringly, or rather as much as he could be reassuring about his own death sentence. If it was just silver, he could possibly hold out for a little while. It depended how long they were going to keep him in the chair. The hunter however was a different matter. If he was trully the hunter of his kind as he seemed to be, he didn't doubt that Greaves would immediately pick up upon his discomfort.

It wasn't a situation he could avoid.

"Can't you get out of it?"
"Can't refuse. Can't walk away. There's no reason why a Knight wouldn't accept being eliminated as a monster, Chestnut. I have to do it and hope I can hold out. You ought to know me by now."
Raban replied to an angry demon in his head knowing equally it was something she would never fully understand or appreciate about him. As much as they were friends, they were opposites.
"You're insane. That hunter will know you're one. You want to chance him not openly accusing you?"
"Let's hope Kiegal and my reputation can help me."

Raban studided the faces staring at him for a moment before he nodded his assent. He glanced as Greaves smiled in return and he didn't like how the lips curved at one side a fraction higher than the other. He sighed softly before he rose. He paused briefly to look Janine in the eye hoping to convey that he would be all right even if they both knew that was an open lie. He didn't want her to lose her control and draw more suspicion to them both than was needed. He slowly closed his eyes at her, dipping his chin just slightly before he moved further along the line of the bench before he walked towards the stage with his gut in a tight knot.

His head was awash with feelings and concerns alongside those of Chestnut's who was not being shy in letting him know how much she thought that was he was about to let happen to him was a bad idea. He didn't disagree with her but there was no other way to get out of it. Even if they body swapped again, it would still show a reaction and give the game away. Suspicion was going to be raised either way he dealt with this. He just had to try and control how far that suspicion went. He wouldn't fool the huner, that much he believed but he hoped Greaves would want the prize Raban presented by his own hand.

Was this what walking to one's own execution felt like?

Raban ascended the small set of steps as Greaves opened the brackets to the retrainsts. Up close, the chair looked a lot more unpleasant. Rbaan had been fortunate in his many years that he had never fallen to being held captive and yet in the face of this torture and retraint device, he was about to, in part, break that record willingly. He lived a strange life.

"If you would remove your gauntlets and boots," Greaves requested of him and Raban looked at the man before he slowly gave a nod in return. Well, that ruled that chance out, he mused as he sat in the chair and obliged the request. Kiegal moved forewards at that point to take Raban's gauntlets and boots so that they weren't in the way.

"Sit fully in the chair,"

Raban did so, it was not comfortable but then it had not been designed with a potential enemy's comfort in mind. He could feel everyone's gaze resting upon him and he felt distinctly uncomfortable about it. There would be a feeling of betrayal from all of them, with the exception of Janine, if they learned of what he was. He felt like that in a way he would be letting them all down. He was on friendly terms with many of them and he knew that equally a good many of them respected him in return. Perhaps as much as they did with Sir Kiegal.

Greaves turned towards the many faces, "It helps if the subject is sat full within the seat of the chair. Ensure all four brackets are fastened before giving it time to take effect should the subject be a werewolf. Do not allow yourselves to grow lax in the fastening. Could mean the difference between life and death for you. These brackets are coated in pure silver and it requires direct contact with the skin of the individual sat in the chair!"

The tall man moved as he spoke, shifting Raban's feet and wrists into the bracket holds and made a show of exposing skin as much as he could at the ankles and wrists. Raban pretended to watch what the man was doing to him as if to copy the interest of the others watching it happen to him as much as possible. It was difficult. He could already feel the proximity effect of the silver brackets and he noted that a ring Greaves was a wearing was also made from the metal. Undoubtedly to aid in his work. The tall hunter continued talking about the way to use the chair as he moved to close the restraints, clicking the pins into place.

Raban's breath hitched slightly, not enough for the average human to have noticed but he wasn't going to fool himself into hoping that Jedidiah hadn't notice. The man was close to him to have heard it even without his profession in life helping to make decisions. The man moved to one side as Raban lifted his head and looked steadily at Janine. He kept his focus on her entirely as he felt the burn of the silver. It was getting more and more uncomfortable. Not only did he have to endure the strain of keeping on top of the reaction but he had to school his features to such that it would not be obvious to the humans in the room with him. He had to hope that Greaves did not plan to keep him in the chair for longer than ten minutes or so. That had been roughly how long he had estimated he could withstand it for in previous attempts to push past his weaknesses. Ten minutes of pain that increased the longer he was exposed and the longer he was exposed, the slower he would be. Even standing would be an effort. The pain was creeeping into his muscles, making them feel heavy and lethargic.

Greaves was talking more now about the chair and werewolves; how dangerous they were, what they could do, what they were weak to, how to fight them but Raban heard none of what was said. He only knew the man was speaking. Raban had bunched his hands into fists as the brackets were fastened and it allowed him hide some of his pain in clenching his digits together but it was not enough to completely disguise it. His breathing drew tighter and more laboured. Not so much that Kiegal or the rest of the human crowd appeared to have noticed but he knew it would not be passed over entirely. Not by Janine, not by Greaves. Janine would be able to read the pain that was steadily building and coursing through him. His skin felt as if he was being pricked by fire and ice, almost to a fever point. He endured it all as minutes turned with him focusing entirely on Janine's visage.

Raban forced himself to concentrate on her, to ignore the pain and lethargy and to focus on her and the friendship they were building between them. Chestnut could only do so much, he could feel a heat from her that stood for encouragement and reassurance but their friendship was not the same sort of friendship that had bonded the two Knights. They were invested in each other that spoke of more than just a mutual need to survive in a world that feared and despised them. He knew he cared for her enough to warrant doing whatever was needed to help and protect her and in that same span of time, he felt and knew she would do for him too. It was an effort to blink and even make that look natural. He had to break eyhe contact a few times. It would be odd to be caught staring at a fellow Knight and a woman too. That would either raise suspicions or raise a gossip line, or do both. Neither of them wanted that sort of attention. Not right now.

He chanced to look at Greaves and sat flummoxed. How was the man still talking and engaging in conversation in regards to questions by the other knights and those from Kiegal. Hadn't he said enough.

"Keep going, Little Wolf. Focus. You can resist." Chestnut spoke, cutting his line of thought that would have unlikely undone him and revealed his true nature. He didn't like the nervousness to her tone and realised it stemmed perhaps to the length of time in the chair thus far. His chest was tighter but he forced each and every breath in and out to appear normal which only added to the pain.


The Eager Rper
Raban got up on his feet and slowly made his way to the chair. Janine could only imagine Chestnut’s fiery anger as she witnessed this. If she could remember correctly, she and Raban were able to share thoughts and visions with one another. If so, then she was certain that his demon companion was seething with rage as she witnessed this. As was she. She was about to witness her only friend being in what she could only imagine as intense pain that might just seep into his body. How long would he hold out?

And the worst thing about it was that she couldn’t do anything about this. Not without raising suspicion on herself and Raban simultaneously. How foolish would that be? And she suspected that Sir Kiegal would want everyone to witness this, so getting up and leaving would be suspicious as well, especially with her line of work.

Damn it. Damn this whole situation. And damn that Greaves. Especially him. If she was more beastial than she usually was, she’d stalk him in the middle of the night and kill him.

No, she couldn’t kill the man. She couldn’t tell if this was for the greater good of humanity or for his own twisted pleasure. And even so, she didn’t really think she could bring herself to kill someone, no matter how guilty they were. But if she couldn’t do that, what did that mean for her as a knight? Was she truly one if she wouldn't follow orders, or simply follow instinct if it was required? If it meant to end someone’s life?

She wasn't sure. But this was no time to think about herself and her morals. This was about Raban and this high level threat he was about to endure.

Janine tnsed slightly as Raban sat on the chair. Greaves began talking again, but she didn’t listen to him. Not at all. She began to focus on Raban, and strove to take note on his bodily response. She’d never seen him react to any of his weaknesses, so it would, in a sense, be educational for her. She’d be able to keep note if anything like this happened in the future. If he was able to get out of this without raising suspicion, of course.

Janine began to stare intently once all the shackles were done. She kept scanning his body, to see if she could detect anything. And all the while, she struggled to not show herself in a full blown panic. Keeping note of the fact that she wasn’t alone with him, Janine tried to feign interest and curiosity for any of the Knights that may or may not take a glance at her, while deep down, she was encouraging him to stay strong, and to holdfast.

‘Come on Raban. You can do it. Just hold yourself for a while longer,’ Janine mentally chanted.

She wished she could talk to him mentally to encourage him as well, but her worry might’ve made her a nuisance instead. It may be best for both of them if they didn’t talk to each other with their thoughts.

It was small, but after a few minutes, she noticed Raban struggling to keep from reacting to the silver. Who knows how much it was hurting him, but she didn’t know how long it had been, and how long he had to go. Hopefully not too long. Hopefully. Her mind was racing for an idea, any idea that wouldn’t have drawn attention to herself. But nothing she thought of worked. Nothing short of straight up sacrificing herself by changing into her demon creature would work without being questioned. And while she would do damn near anything for Raban, it wouldn’t do no good for him or her own mother if she was dead. She’d just give everyone an even harder time, and that would be contradictory to what she wanted to accomplish.

So she had to wait. Wait and pray that Raban was strong enough to hold out.

But then, something suddenly felt off. Like something was happening outside. Her senses began to redirect itself from inside the hall to outside, her ears and body trying to detect the danger. Her gaze went from focused to distracted in a way, or at least, distracted from what was happening inside the building. And then she smelled it. It was so faint, but she still caught it. Her eyes widened a little.

The scent of death. Death, blood, the forest, and… smoke? Fire?

No…. Janine was imagining it. She couldn’t smell it in here… Could she? There were no open doors. Where was she smelling it from? Then, she felt the faintest rumbling on the ground. Did anyone else sense that? Nobody? What the hell? She hissed softly, eyes scanning Raban’s body once more before focusing on the sudden sound of alarmed horses from outside. She heard Venus neighing first - it was faint at first, but then as the seconds went by, her cries grew more and more urgent. The other horses began to make their sounds as well, letting everyone within earshot hear them.

Janine’s semi-calm demeanor shifted into that of a more nervous nature. She was relieved to let her true emotions show, their true reasons masked by the events unfolding outside.

Then, the building shook as a bone-shaking roar reverberated across the land. And then, another roar, that was clearly weaker than the first one, but still loud enough to be heard.

Janine gasped as she stood on her feet. That first roar was unmistakable. That giant dragon from that day. It was back.


the Hugger Troll
Raban did not know for how much longer he can hold out for. By Chestnut's estimation, he was pushing to eight or nine minutes now but she had never bothered too much to know or understand too much how time worked. Not when you were usually an entity where time was not a concept to rule one's life by. Time was something more of a human concept but she knew that, and tried to help anyway. His back was straight against the back of the chair as the pain got worse and worse.

"How much longer?" Chestnut's raving and seething comment cut through the pain and he nearly snorted out loud with amusement.
"For as... long as.. K-Kiegal's... satisfied, I guess..." he managed back, glancing to his left. Greaves was still nattering about something or other. He had lost track of where he was by now.

He was continuing to force himself to force on Janine. He could see her looking back and that helped. He felt rather than saw her encouragement for she knew something of what this was feeling like. It gave him strength and he was grateful for that. It was something he could latch and hold on to.

Raban sniffed the air and frowned, it was followed by the hackles that hid beneath his skin. He realised then it was not through his nostrils that was causing his sense to go to high alert. He looked up, his eyes shifting slightly from his usual blue-greys to the dusky yellows of the wolf before they reverted back to normal. If he wasn't let out soon, he was going to lose it. His hackles rose again, the wolf was trying to answer the sense of danger in a need of self preservation.

He shuddered an exhalation before Chestnut poked his mind again. "Would you quit with the hackles? Something's afoot"

He could have growled at her but he didn't trust himself to give out a sound that didn't fit, "I... can feel... it, thank you. What's going on...?"

"There's... smoke filtering in... doesn't smell firey. Smells more.... well.. big and scaly,"
"These other beasts are smelling it too. Even the nag. Oh... there goes Venus..."

Raban looked towards the door moments before the roar sounded and rattled through the stone and wood of the building. The room died with silence as Knights tore their gaze from Raban and to the windows and door with stunned expressions. Only Janine, Kiegal, Greaves and Raban had reated. Only reason Raban couldn't do anything was that he was restrained in the insane demonstration and was trying to resist succumbing to openly showing reactions that weren't human. Greaves reacted bfore Kiegal had a chance to speak, walking away from the chair and was by the door when Kiegal did eventually speak.

"Knights! To your stations! This is not a drill. Look alive!" Kiegal yelled moving to follow after Greaves, forgetting about Raban in the excitement and shock of what was behind that roar. The room lurched into action after that and no one paid mind to the one Knight inable to move.

Raban exhaled heavily before the pain was starting to break through. It was growing more and more unbreable and the disbelief of not beng freed before they had run off to see to the threat angered him. The anger was something he had to reign in before it bubbled over and made him reveal himself in a way he never wanted to. He battled with it and got control but not before the nager flushed through his legs and back, making him to lift the heavy chair enough to bang on the floor. Sir Kiegal paused and turned before Raban saw the guilt flash through the man's face. He watched as he turned to look at Janine, "Help Raban out of the chair please, Janine!"

He moved ahead of the throng of people to aid in directing his knights to where they had to go, though most knew where they were headed already. It wasn't long before the room was empty of Knights and the clerks were hurrying towards rooms that connected to the hall. Raban waited till they were gone completely and before he growled out in pain.

"Don't mean... to press you Janine... but please get me out of this ... godforsaken torture rig?" he looked at her, his eyes shifting to the wolf's again before they returned to his blue-grey's. He was starting to think murder wasn't a bad thing if he ever got persoanl with that Greaves.

He looked towards the doorway, he could hear Chestnut joining in with the frantic neighing of scared mounts.
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The Eager Rper
The roars stirred the serpentine demon within Janine. Danger was afoot, and she needed to go out and protect Amastad. Not to mention her horse panicking up a storm. But she wasn’t immediately willing to rush outside. She took one hesitant step towards the door, but stopped and waited for everyone to leave the building, feigning uncertainty in order to bide time. She turned her head when she heard Raban’s chair, and quickly turned it back around when Sir Kiegal ordered her to unshackle Raban, in which she swiftly responded with a “yes sir,” and made it look as if she was rushing to the Knight. But she slowed down in order to make sure everyone was gone. Moments after everyone had gone, she heard Raban growl in pain. She hurried up to the platform. The dragon roars echoed closer to the city of Amastad as she moved her fingers across the latches of the silver restraints.

“I know Raban, I know. Hang on,” Janine said as she unlatched the ones around his wrists. A few seconds later, she unlatched the ones around his ankles.

“Some damn timing huh? I don’t think I’ve been happier to hear a dragon roar,” Janine tried to joke as she helped Raban to his feet. With all that time in the chair, he couldn’t have been able to stand well. Despite him being bigger than her, she still was able to support Raban.

“I don’t want to offend you, but are you okay? Can you ride? We don’t want anybody to see you all hurt looking when you haven’t been fighting off any dragons yet,” Janine asked softly as she carried him towards the door.

The first thing she saw as she walked outside was Venus tugging on the reigns as hard as she could in order to get away. She was snorting and panting, panicking out of her mind, all thanks to the roars of the dragons. Janine felt bad about Venus - she maybe was being reminded by that first day, when she was racing next to the first pair of dragons while trying to get after her. Chestnut didn’t seem to be very calm either. Perhaps her horse instincts were fighting against her typical headstrong nature.

She looked to Raban as she walked towards their horses. She looked to Raban again, worry still laced across her face. She stopped in her tracks. “Raban? Should you wait inside? Maybe you should rest before you start rushing into danger? Decide if you’re able to shake this off quickly enough; if you can’t then I’ll gladly help you relocate,” Janine said with a determined look on her face.


the Hugger Troll
He felt as if his veins were about to burst and he could feel himself being more and more sluggish in the chair. The longer he was bound in this godforsaken trap, the more useless he'd became. He did not like that feeling. At all. It went against what he stood for, what he had promised himself to be. To know a hunter could have taken that so easily, even unknowingly, was galling. That roar emanated through the ground and walls again and he blinked heavily for a moment, frowning. Everything felt so heavy. If it wasn't for the pain coarsing through, he could feel like sleeping. He was sure he was slouching by now. He wasn't sure. It didn't really help that he was getting a growing need to go and pee.

Slight touches at his wrists brought him back to the present and offered a distraction at least as she spoke. As soon as she had worked the pins free and lifted the brackets, he removed his arms. They were slow to respond and he didn't immediately achieve the move till after a couple of tries. He really hated silver, though the Wolfsbane was worse. At least being exposed to the metal was something he had a little stop-gap between before it produced damnable results. He gave an audible breath of relief when he no longer had silver against his skin. He blinked when he found himself shifting forwards, his muscles sluggish to his weight, and found himself being support by his friend. His legs didn't want to respond at first and his breath shuddered all over the place. He had been very close.

He snorted and chuckled, wincing as muscle shimmied over his ribs. He hated being a burden but equally he knew he needed the help. At least till the effect wore off. "You know... I'm riding that same feeling right now. That was... too close..." he admitted as she helped him to his feet and retrieve his boots and gauntlets. Despite the heavy lead feeling in his legs, it felt good to be standing again, even if it was assisted. He was glad she seemed strong enough to hold him, he knew that he was not a light man even when his limbs were in perfect order and he wasn't small either.

"I don't think you could offend me. Well, maybe if you didn't bathe for days..." he smiled, his fingers beginning to slowly tighten about her shoulder as they moved. His head was dipped in concentration of foot placement, "Sorry... Yes, yes... I'll be fine. Silver, painful and slows me down the more I'm exposed. I'm just grateful he didn't break out the damned plant. Should be able to ride... Chestnut does the driving, I just have to hold on."

He was fortunate her back was broad, he wasn't as used to horse's with a slimmer build at all given how long he'd had Chestnut around for. "Yeah, that'd... that would not do," he breathed, the effort becoming easier now as his blood picked itself back up again. It would take a little time but his sluggishness wasn't permenant and the pain was already starting to ebb away from the forefront of his mind. He could think a little more clearly and sound a little less like he was slurring his words.

The fresh air was welcomed and he took a moment to greedily inhale and exhale. It helped even as he looked towards Venus tugging at her tether alongside a shire that was constantly shifting back and forth and a little to the side.

"She's going nuts. This trap I'm in is going nuts. I don't blame them going nuts. You shouldn't go. It's nuts!"
"Gee... Chestnut... not so loud," he muttered aloud at her. She was a fire that struggled to contain herself at times. Especially when she was angered like she was today.

They stopped again as Janine spoke. He read the worry in her inflections as much as he could read it in her expression. He was vulnerable in a way they both feared themselves to be. There were untold questions of how circumstances would play out. The dragon's arrival was a welcomed but brief reprieve. There was no hiding from that understanding.

"You should sit this one out. You're not exactly able to help yourself right now let alone fight."

Raban stared at Janine caught between wanting to go, being expected to go and knowing he was a liability to himself, Janine and the Knighthood. Course, he couldn't really explain how that was to Kiegal and he knew he would be missed if they realised he wasn't helping to protect the city. She looked determined at this point and he frowned.



"I probably shouldn't... but it... it'll look strange if I'm not there too," He glanced towards it as another roar broke the air and frowned. There was downsides to being one of the older Knights with a reputation he had unwittingly earned. He hadn't chased after it, it had just come over time. He hated how he sounded like it he was hedging over an excuse but everyone was on high alert and he did not fancy attracting a closer attention.

"I'll be all right... Just help me up, would you?" he looked at her and Chestnut looked at them both with a huff of open disagreement.
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The Eager Rper
Raban was heavy, as intended. As expected, he was having difficulty getting up and walking around. She was happy to help him walk. But when she asked him if he was battle ready, he hesitated. She frowned, uneasy about the pause. If Raban wasn 100% sure, then she figures that he shouldn’t move. She could tell he was torn between personal and public obligations, appearances, and his own damn safety. She growled lowly - he wouldn’t even be thinking this hard if it wasn’t for this Greaves and his cursed contraption.

Quickly setting her anger aside, she waited for his answer, and of course, his answer was to go anyway. Of course. She gave a sound that was a mixture of a hiss and a huff, noting her irritation as she carried him to Chestnut. When she got him to the reigns, she quickly but carefully got from under him to tend to her own panicking horse. She shushed Venus as best as she could.

“Come on Venus, you have to calm down! This is no time for losing your cool. Shhhhh,” Janine said in as calm of a voice as she could. She forced Venus to look at her whilst patting and rubbing her neck, the brown eyes of the knight staring into her horse’s brown eyes. The neighs quieted down into harsh snorts, which then quieted into whinnies and nickers.

“There you go. Now let’s get out of here,” Janine said as she untied the reigns from the post. She then got on her horse and began to ride out towards the doors. But just then, there was a noise as she turned to her right. About thirty or so feet from the courtyard was the second of several entrances that led in and out of Amastad. These were the doors that let farmers walk to their fields and barns without the slowing bustle of the crowds. These were the doors that the Order often used to get to their patrols and exercises, wherever they may be. This was also the door that led into the green field, which eventually led to the forest. Raban and Janine knew that all too well.

Janine froze as the doors rumbled. She looked around, and somehow saw barely anybody this way. Why? Wouldn’t everybody want to get away from the dragons? Oh yes, Janine remembered that there were underground shelters that were made a couple of years back. Just in case an invasion of any kind happened. It also doubled as dragon shelters, should a dangerous enough dragon attack the city. Perhaps some of the people that were unable to flee fast enough hid there. The main protocol was to flee outside the city and hide in the forest. But surely, with the chaos ensuing, most folks just might resolve to hide indoors and hope that their buildings won’t burn with them inside it.

Then, she heard the flapping of dragon wings.

“Oh goddamnit!” Janine exclaimed.

The door was banged on with incredible force. Once. Twice. Thrice. Janine huffed as she ran to the opposite side of the courtyard entrance, so she could see who was to come inside. There were obviously no guards at the doors, or else they’d been trying to alert someone. There was a growling and a snarl, and then silence.

The sounds of thudding feet was quickly heard, and sure enough, the final bang was enough to reveal the intruder: the vicious dragon that the Order tried to fight that one day. The doors were swung damn near off their hinges as the giant beast scanned the immediate area. It then got down to a lower position as it looked to where the chaos was. Dragon roars and human screams and shouts were able to be heard from a relative distance. The beast sniffed the air as it walked on all fours, albeit in a rather awkward way. Its claws were so abnormally long, that it didn't seem to help with quadrupedal locomotion. The dragon looked unphased with this awkward gait, or rather, aware of this position and just worked with it, and stayed quiet. It sniffed the ground, wings folded and nostrils flared as it searched for something. Janine lowered herself along the back of Venus’ neck, slowly patting the horse whose nervous nature was beginning to flare up again. She shushed her as softly as possible, hoping that their positions won’t be given away.

She looked towards Raban, who she hoped was hiding himself well enough. She didn't want Raban to be found out in a weakened state, despite whatever stage of recovery he might be in. If he wasn’t 100%, he wasn’t fully ready for his enemies. At least, that’s how she perceives it. The dragon snorted as it looked towards the inside of the seemingly empty courtyard. The muzzle of the beast slowly peaked through the entrance, viciously sharp fangs dripping saliva as the jaws opened slightly. Janine’s eyes widened in fear - if they were caught, they were immediately trapped.

The dragon’s head poked itself further and further inside the yard, nostrils picking up the multiple scents of the humans, until it paused and turned its head towards Raban and Chestnut. It growled lowly, its toe claws tapping in the dirt as the dragon’s investigation drew closer and closer…

Until the sounds of a little girl pierced the air.


the Hugger Troll
Raban knew he was risking a lot in his decision to get into the saddle and continue on with responding to the threat. He was slow and, for the moment, unable to hold his own weight. The dragon, if it saw them and gave chase, would sense that easily enough, or so he felt and thus he would be depending entirely on the speed of Chestnut or the actions of Janine. However, he trusted her implicity with himself and that of Chestnut to take command if she felt the situation required. Raban was used to both receiving and giving at any given day. That came part and parcel with being a Knight and what he was.

He could tell Janine agreed with Chestnut in that he should remain behind, recollect his strength by the hiss of her inflection. He probably should but equally if Kiegal didn't see him out on the field, it would raise questions of why he wasn't present and serving to the letter of his duty. Humans were unaffected by silver for the most part. Very few were allergic and even then it rarely was an immediate reaction. That could take days and ruled them out as werewolves as a result. There would be no explanation or excuse Raban could give to explain that time after being pinned to a restraint and torture device. Getting into the saddle was enough to breifly tire him out and he sat low over the saddle horn to regain himself as Janine moved to Venus. He felt for the girl, she must have remembered the last run-in they had with the Dragon and he could not blame her being so unsettled.

With a grunt of effort, he pushed his upper frame up, taking hold of the reins. There was a slack to them but it didn't stop the demon equine from following Venus' steps out of the parade ground. She went alongside the other and Raban frowned. It was quiet of the sounds that normally accompanied a Dragon. Shouts from guards or the screams of children, women and men. There was no one of the Order either and he figured that Kiegal had assigned them to this spot as they would have been the last to leave given Raban's recent predicament of being showcased. It made some sense.

Both Raban and Chestnut looked directly at the doors as they rumbled and argued against the hinges and the wooden bar that locked the doors in place. Someone clearly had that presence of mind to bar the doors before retreating to the bunkers below Amastad. Raban approved. It seemed to have bought them some time but it was questionable. A good many dragons flew. It wouldn't take much for a dragon to raze a city from the skies. He frowned, again wondering why of all days to attack. He was still grateful. It's presence had distracted the Order and the Hunter from making an untimely discovery but he was still curious as to what brought it out of hiding.

There was the flap of leathery wings and an exclamation from Janine. He remained where he was as Janine crossed to the other side though Chestnut did move closer to the inside of the wall to the compound. There was a loud noise as the doors eventually failed to hold themselves to the hinges and broke apart. That encouraged the screaming of humans running to get away or find safety as the Dragon broke in and entered in the most ungainly way Raban had seen of any creature. Where had this creature come from?

It was sniffing, he could hear the nostrils draw in breaths and he saw them flare as they opened and closed. Chestnut stood stock still and Raban lowered himself over her neck as much as he could. He wrapped an arm under her neck, feeling her warmth rise through the skin and leathers. Not hot enough to steam the air but enough to keep him warm and to encourage him as he awaited for his muscles to regain their usual function. It was a relatively quick process to recover from the exposure. The pain was nonexistent now and the sluggish feeling was dissipating from the forefront of his mind. He remained quiet and gave no sound but that was not what he was worried about. This beast was scenting the air. If the wind was in the right direction for the dragon, it would find them regardless of how quiet they were. He glanced towards where she was before before the snout slipped through the entrance of the yard.

Raban felt small and outmatched even if he had proved to be a nuiscance for the xdragon before. He wondered if it remembered the wolf that had nearly succeeded in clawing out its eyeball. He could recall its fury at being so nearly half-blinded by something it had clearly viewed as beneath it. It would not be merciful towards him at all if the dragon found him again.

"I think it knows you're close, Raban. The snout, see how it tilts,"

Chestnut wasn't wrong, it was turning and tilting towards his position and if they didn't do anything soon, would discover him. It gave a low growl, one of recognition and memory. So, it did remember him, he mused speculatively. Or at least it did by scent. Raban was aware that even though his scent mix would be human for the most part, predators would pick up on the wolf that hung with it. The snout drew closer and closer and Chestnut, to her credit, did not retreat from it or move forward. She owed him nothing and yet she was protective of him.

The sudden scream of a child struck the air so loud it almost hurt Raban's heightened sense of hearing. The dragon lifted its head, distracted from the source of its query. This was their only chance of opportunity and now there seemed to have been the danger of a young girl in the mix. They had to act fast.

He raised himself, his muscles responding a little better than before. It would still be a little time before he was fully himself again. Raban waved quietly to draw janine's attention before he signalled to her that they should ride out now, for her to cause a distraction if the girl was in close vicinity. It was a basic form of sign language that all Knights used to convey messages to each other when sound would give away their position. The act of surprise often won more battles then the fighting alone. He reasoned Janine, being at her full strength and on a faster horse would be able to outride the dragon through her distraction whilst he could get the girl to safety either on Chestnut or by foot if he had to. At least by that time, he hoped his strength would return to him fully.

Raban gave the signal to go once she agreed or made amends to the hastily made plan he had suggested and Chestnut lurched forwards when Venus did. The horses had to move out at the same time so that the dragon may be presented with hesitation as who to attack first. Or at least Raban hoped as they raced out of the trap they had been in whilst the dragon wasn't looking. This plan would only hold if the dragon chose to remain chasing them on the ground. The layout of Amastad would not be accommodating for its size and it would either break through them or take flight. If it chose to remain grounded, Raban hoped the small alleyways would also aide to slow it down.

The girl screamed again and he could see her now. It seemed that she had chanced running out to get to the safety of the bunkers or at least she was facing the direction of where he knew one of the entrances to be in. She was lying in the mud on the ground, and she also seemed to be in a level of pain. As they galloped away from the dragon's legs, he could see now that she had tripped and hurt her leg on something hidding in the path of strewn mud churned up by the feet of humans and the hooves from horses. He cursed and Chestnut raced on harder towards the girl. The girl screamed harder, her dirty face streaked with her tears as she failed to free herself.

"Don't bite too hard, Chestnut,"
"Try not to!"

He could feel Chestnut's heat rage to a higher degree. She disliked hard galloping but their window of opportunity would only remain open for so long. Indeed, even now, the dragon realised it had been duped as the two Knights raced out from beneath it and was chasing after them.

"Now Janine!" he bellowed as Chestnut slowed down just enough to grab the girl by her shoulder with her flattened teeth, her strength pulling the girl free. The demon mare tossed the girl back to Raban who caught the girl, and settled her roughly in front of himself.

"Hush girl! No more screaming, or we're dead, you hear?" he said to her sharpely and quietly. He just hoped the dragon gave chase to what distraction Janine provided. His muscles were not liking this at all as he focused on holding on to the saddle and reigns with one hand and his legs whilst the other hand held the girl in place against him.


The Eager Rper
The dragon paused as it heard the small cries of a smaller creature. It backed away from Raban and Chestnut’s hiding spot, retreating back outside the courtyard to see where the sounds were coming from. It didn’t take long before it spied a little girl, dirtied up and holding a small doll. The dragon stared at the small girl before it made a rumbling growl, lifting its feet to take a couple of steps towards her. The girl began whimpering before crying out for her mother, flailing on the ground as fear gripped her. Janine gasped with worry as the dragon tapped its claws into the ground, as if thinking about its next course of action. What the hell was she gonna do now?!

Then she saw Raban signal to her. She paused her thoughts to focus on him, and he silently gave her the command to go out and be a distraction for the dragon while they escaped. He was most likely gonna rescue the girl. Fine by her. She nodded with determination. She was fortunate that he was able to think of something on the fly better than her. She got back on Venus and readied herself, thinking on how she would distract the dragon. Venus snorted a little as she prepared to run, and moments later, Janine slapped the reigns, making Venus dash out of the yard to get to the dragon.

The dragon lifted one of its wicked claws just when it saw something moving beside it, its growls sounding surprised as it poised to strike. Janine unsheathed her sword as she raced to the dragon’s foot. Just as the dragon was about to swing downward, Janine swung her sword across the beast’s leg muscle, then swung it back across on it in a different spot. The beast made a pained roar before stumbling to the side. It bent down to see its leg, and when it was done it snarled, turning their head to see what struck it.

It saw a human in shining armor, sitting on a horse and standing defiantly in the middle of the road. This one looked familiar… Yes. This one stabbed into their foot that one day. And forced their muzzle shut just before they had to retreat into the forest. It took quite a while before the cursed rope was cut from their muzzle. How dare they strike them again? Eyes narrowed as the dragon’s attention focused on this particular human, and they roared ferociously as they turned their entire body to give chase.

Janine gasped and ran towards an alleyway, the large dragon easily gaining ground. But thankfully, thanks to Venus’ eagerness for speed, she had been giving it her all already, and was in the alleyway just when the dragon's jaws snapped shut. It reached in the narrow space with its long claws, but Janine backed Venus away just in time for her to be out of reach. The dragon snarled and raged for a moment before it turned around to hear the sounds of a horse galloping away. The dragon snarled as it decided the horse and humans to be an easier prey. The dragon moved in haste, and despite the cuts on its leg, the dragon made just about the same speed towards Raban and Chestnut than before. Janine gasped and raced after the dragon as soon as she noticed that its attention wasn’t on her.

“Raban! Watch out!” Janine shouted.


The dragon made several steps behind the Knight and horse unit before making a huge leap. The large beast landed and skidded into the dirt, dust flying in the air as the beast moved across the ground. When the beast stopped, it rose above the dirt cloud and glared down at the two humans and horse, snarling menacingly as it spread out its wings. The wings then reached back as far as they could go before they launched forwards, blowing the dust away after only a couple of flaps. The dragon kept glaring, until it suddenly roared and charged with claws outstretched. But before the dragon got close enough, a sword flew across the air and went into the dragon’s shoulder. It roared in pain and backed up several feet, scaled tail thrashing into a couple of buildings in the process.

The dragon looked over to the sword embedded in its body and craned its brown neck to grab at it with its teeth. It was yanked out and thrown to the ground, blood dripping onto the ground as it looked up to see the same Knight from moments before.

Eyes narrowed at the female human with a seething anger; toe claws began tapping into the cobblestone and the long claws twitched as the dragon fed itself with a growing rage.

This Knight was going to breathe its last breath.

“Come and get me you overgrown lizard! I bet your mother couldn’t even scare a puppy!” Janine taunted as she raced towards the doors of the meeting hall.

Good news: the dragon ignored Raban and his charge.

Bad news: The dragon was now after Janine and Venus with a rage that burned as much as the sun. With a furious roar that beat against the standing buildings. Janine tensed and cursed as she made Venus race towards the courtyard once more. She took one more glance towards Raban before he disappeared from sight. Now her focus was surviving the dragon as it snapped and swiped at her and her horse. She steadily encouraged Venus as she snorted heavily, horse legs racing like the wind as her speed was once again tested.

‘Hope you can make it Raban,’ Janine mentally hoped as she got closer and closer to the meeting hall. Somehow, the doors were open enough for her and her horse to race through, and just when the dragon was basically feet away, Venus legged it in that last moment. The dragon slammed into the face of the building, shifting multiple inner structures to the point of cracking.

Janine panted as she slowed Venus, but took her to the back of the building. The beast roared furiously, and the building was under constant attack. Now it was Janine’s turn to be trapped with nowhere to go.
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the Hugger Troll
Raban was glad when he noted that Janine understood and accepted the plan that he had considered and made in haste. There were holes in the plan he had suggested but there had been little time in which to formulated and reacted to the situation. It was the best he could have come up with in that moment. He may have feared it but he had long accepted that his job came with a death risk. That he had survived this long was a miracle in its own particular right. He didn't have to share it with Chestnut, she was already itching in her readiness for the charge she would have to do for this to work. She was eyeing the other horse opposite, waiting for Venus to surge forwards and at the signal in Raban's mind, she lurched forwards. Large hooves drove past and dug into the sloppy mud with a surety that all working horses were used to dealing with. Given the weight of the armour and the man upon her back along with the saddle, bridle and the small bits of armour afforded to her as well, it was a necessity to be able to carry all that and not slide.

As Raban hoped, the maneavre caused the dragon to give pause to the potential idea of going after the source of the scream, bringing its attention back to what it had originally began to sniff out before. The beast roared and the sound of it alongside its proximity was near enough to deafen Raban altogether. Sometimes, heightened senses were not a blessing. He pressed on as Janine got its attention and he prayed that Venus was feeling her speed today as Chestnut surged towards the little girl in the muddy roadway. He had no idea where the mother was. They would have to worry about that later.

With their charge safely against Raban's chest on the saddle in front of him, Chestnut surged on and changed direction to verge towards the right hand side of the path. The demon horse's dagger-like ears flicked back as thuds slammed into mud behind them betraying the course of the dragon had changed for them. Raban chanced looking back and nodded at Janine's shout of warning. It was starting to gain on them but Chestnut seemed to have appreciated her slower speed. It didn't really matter, all that dragon had to do was fly or screech to catch them. With Raban gripping her sides and the girl tightly, she carried on.

Chestnut heaved but kept going, finding a momentary silence all too disturbing. Her wonderment was soon answered as a there was a large spray of mud and water that splattered at her hinds and Raban's back. Mud was going to tb the least of their worries as the wings forced wind to surge against them. It made her slide and stumble a few times as she pushed on. They could not stop or else they would be dragon food. Neither demon or werewolf had intention of letting that happen. They also had another charge to worry about.

The girl screamed again as the dragon roared so close behind them and Raban knew it was close. Close enough to strike perhaps. He half expected it from the beast, but nothing happened. He heard Venus' hooves drive into the mud, so he knew Janine was close and it seemed she had done enough to distract it from them again. Chestnut did not waste time in using the opportunity Janine and Venus had given them and turned sharpely doown a smaller road on the right, sending a spray of thick mud into the side of a building. The road was closed off by a small fence that was leaning slightly. Chestnut was not phazed by it in the heat of the moment and vaulted cleanly over it, landing heavily on the other side to cause both man and child to grunt and exhale in reaction.

The good news it was no longer on their tail, but Raban knew equally it was now chasing janine and Venus once again. He hoped and prayed that Venus was given swift wings as he headed for the next nearest entrance to the underground bunkers that he remembered. He struggled to remember where it was briefly and he growled softly with irritation.

Chestnut slowed to a trot and snorted before she stopped altogether. Raban looked at her for a moment and inwardly knew she could sense the tensions of another. What demon didn't like the feeling of those who were scared beyond comprehension. He knew her kind often fed upon it like greedy drunkards and Chestnut was no different in that. It was just her nature and there was no denying her that. She pawed the ground testily and it didn't take the wolf long to realise she was angry and spoiling for a fight.

"Get the girl to the hole."
"Do it. Now. No buts. It's not like death of the horse is going to kill me,"

Raban grumbled knowing the truth of her statement. They had tried it before as a means of trying to release her from her equine trappings but it had come to no avail. Whoever or whatever had cursed her to such fate had been cruel in the makings of her curse. He stood in the stirrups and dismounted, lifting the girl away from the saddle afterwards. The child clung to him tightly and Chestnut turned to face them, tossing her heard before she gave a snicker and ran off.

"Wh-where she go?" the child cried not understanding when Raban clearly hand. He looked down at her and smiled.
"Never underestimate the loyalty and gumption of a mighty steed, little one. Come on, we have to get you to safety."
"Safer with you," she sniffled. The comment was warming even though he knew that if the girl knew what he was, he would not have received it at all. Keeping her against the mail of his chest, he moved swiftly through the streets before memories were stirred and he remembered where the entrance was.


Chestnut was furious and dying for a fight. She was enraged that she had to endure being trapped all this time, always being forced to run from situations purely out of the constant need to survive. However, occasionally, she was often done with just surviving. She wanted more from it all. To be what she trully was. Course, that was denied to her but she was still a demon of brimstone and hellfire and she was going to be damned if she was going to let Raban and Janine have all the fun. With hardly anyone around to see, she held no fears of being discovered. If anything, she would just prove the worth and necessity of horses being needed for the task.

She returned the same way she had charged in and sure enough could see the Dragon beating its anger against the walls of the Order buildings. She could see the fracturing in its structure and it would not take much longer before they gave way under its weight. Eyes bright with the fire of her fury, she spotted the sword it had removed. She snorted before she reared, neighing in an otherworldly challenge before she charged, picking up the sword by its hilt.

"Careful, old friend," came Raban in her mind, his words thick with encouragement over the worry she knew he would have for her. Still, the encouragement he was giving gave her more fuel to her charge. It was a charge that would kill any man stupid enough to remain in her way as she headed for the Dragon. With an arch and dart of her head, she stabbed the sword into the wound where Janine had embedded her sword before, trying to drive in deep. It would normally be not more than a mild nuiscance, she supposed, but she had heated herself to the highest temperature she could maintain and had heated the sword too. Legs splaying out briefly in her need to slow down enough to achieve her aim, she vaulted forth beneath the stomach of the dragon and bucked her hind hooves hard into the other leg.

The 17hh and two thousand pound weight of a mare trotted off towards the broken doors of the entrance to Amastad and turned, rearing at the dragon in a neighing taunt of demonic fury. This was her meat-sack's friend. Perhaps his only other friend next to herself. She was not going to let Janine get to the nasty end of a dragon's maw. In reality, Chestnut was just buying time. She could hear the neighs from the other knight's horses as they had realised that the dragon had attacked the point wwhere they had left only Janine and Raban to guard it. With a snort, she reared again and neighed, steaming soaring from her back as her forelegs drove through empty air.

With a few words, she soon knew that the child was safe and that Raban was on his return to her side. She would hold out till then. She glared at the Dragon in her challenge.

"Come, foul beast. think you know fury, think you know hate. Come and dance with me, beastie!"

Course, it could not hear her words but then the fire and hooves would have done that enough on her behalf.


The Eager Rper
Janine panted as the dragon kept slamming the building. The structure shook with each moment of contact - either the building will come down, or the dragon will go away, whether from boredom or impending enemies. Janine hoped it would be from incoming Knights. She froze when she heard the roars of another dragon, and the distant shouts of her fellow Knights shouting orders and running around. So there were two dragons in the city. That’s what she thought. But why? Divide and conquer?


The dragon slammed into the meeting hall again. She needed to figure out a way out of this death trap, or else accept being eaten alive by this vicious beast. She looked around to see where she could go with her horse. Speaking of horse, she took a glance at Venus, who kept scraping her feet across the floor with nervousness.

“It’s okay Venus, we’ll be fine. The dragon will eventually give up,” Janine muttered softly. But deep down, she was fighting the concerns that this dragon might not give up. Not after what she did to its shoulder. The rage that she saw in its eyes looked horrifying, and it didn’t look like it would be satisfied until she was eliminated. And with each slam of the wood and rock being attacked ruthlessly, she feared that it wouldn’t hold fast for very long.

But then she heard the loudest roar of pain she’d ever heard. It shook the already weakened walls of the building, pieces of rock falling onto the floor and her. What the hell was happening out there? And then she heard the cries of a horse.


The dragon slammed into the structure with their scaled tail. This thing was going to come down, and that infernal female was going to die a slow death. And it was worse for this human that she was a Knight - they were killed with the highest amount of hatred. The dragon paused for a moment to study the state of the building. The rock was crumbling and the wood was splintered. It was almost ready to come down. It just needed one more push. The dragon backed up a small distance, preparing its body for one last barrage. It was so focused on its task, that it had no idea of the incoming horse on a rampage. Claws tucked under the body and the wings were tucked as tightly as they could. It scraped their foot across the ground like a bull. Then, as the dragon was about to take off, it felt a searing pain in their injured leg. It let out a huge sound that would be a pained roar, shaking the walls to the point where it was apparent of its lack of stability. The dragon stumbled as the pain shot up their leg with every flex of the leg muscles, their breaths shaking a little as the beast tried to withstand the pain.

The beast had barely managed to stand on their other foot, but before it could regain its balance, something knocked its good leg from under it. Now the dragon had only seconds to brace itself as it fell onto the hard ground by its side. With a large thud the beast fell on its whole side. Dirt blew a small distance as the dragon panted heavily, still reeling from the intense pain that was still plaguing its body. Why was it hurting so much? With a snort, the dragon looked around as its leg twitched - there was a sword in its leg again, but this time, it burned like the fire of a dragon. Odd, the dragon never smelled another human around. But this injury was very painful. And very infuriating. Looking up, the dragon saw a horse standing in front of the entrance that held its acquired target. Eyes narrowed as it watched the horse neigh and snorted with a certain meaning behind it. It sounded like a horse, and looked like a horse, but this animal’s behavior didn’t match it. Shouldn’t it be cowering in fear? Running around like it’s head was bitten off? Shouldn't it have a human with it? And yet, this horse was…. Challenging them, a dragon? And not only that, steam rose from this smaller creature’s body, as if it held the essence of a dragon itself. Confusion was painted all over the dragon’s face, but only for a brief moment. The large creature turned to steadily pull the sword from their leg with a couple of claws, blood spraying the ground as the sword hit the ground with steam rising from it.

The dragon stumbled a little as it shifted its position from being completely prone on the ground, to its less favored, but apparently necessary four-legged position. Blood gushed out of the wound for a moment before slowing, and it noted the pain was now strong enough to hinder its movement - it knew that now. Confusion was set aside physically, now replaced with rage and determination. Maybe this strange creature must die as well before it could get to the main target. No matter. It shall see how well the creature liked it when it was cornered.

The dragon snarled at the horse as it slowly drew closer. Their eyes locked with the horse’s, and claws tapped into the ground before it spread its wings out to their full length, and then curled them slightly inwards to make a barrier as best it could. Hopefully, the sight of it being possibly cornered would instill enough fear into the horse and make it run in a panic and go straight, but if not, then its long claws would make do to reach the distance. The dragon snapped its jaws like that of its aquatic relatives, hoping to force the horse into its naturally fearful state.


the Hugger Troll
Raban had had a little difficulty in convincing the child to leave him for the safety inside the bunker. THe more time he wasted here was less spent aiding Janine. Facing that monstrosity alone did not make for favourable odds. He just hoped Chestnut got to her in time to distract it from actually doing any damage to his friend, or her horse. Child safely nestled below, he ran back the way he had come, follwing Chestnut's charred scent and the footfalls of her large hooves.

He could feel the shakes in the ground and he knew the dragon was angry. Each shudder seemed more frustrated and energy packed than the last before the air drew quiet. He gave pause behind a beuilding as another roar sounded and stared off in its general direction.

Another one?

Raban hoped not but then it had not sounded like the first. It sounded... younger? He wasn't sure and he took a moment to catch his breath. He was going to need as much of his strength as possible. He could not risk getting away with changings forms here. There was too much chance of being discovered. Once he had a decent pause to regain his breath, he moved onwards through the mud-churned streets again.


That looked and sounded like it had hurt, she mused as her large form pranced and shifted with energy that could barely be contained. Mud flew as it crashed and she snorted in victory. She was aware it was not fatally injured but she had made a blip turn into a serious matter to hand. Her foreleg pawed at the ground, driving a furrow in the mud. Chestnut felt somewhat akin to her natural state, at least with her emotional feeling. She was on fire and loving it. In reality, she still was only causing air to steam before rising upwards in an almost heat on tarmac like effect, the air shimmering slightly.

Chestnut looked at this winged beast, knowing it too had to know of fire and watched as it rose with a confused outlook to its actions. It was slower, more hesitant and angry. It removed the offending weapon for the second time and the demon delighted in the loss of blood as the hot blade landed. It sizzled a little of the water in the mud before it began cooling. It had noticed her and seemed to question her existence as most usually did. She wasn't really surprised. How many dragons had seen demons trapped in animals over the years.

It seemed to have made its mind at last and Chestnut snickered keenly.

"Come on you filthy scale-toad, bring it!" she challlenged again, rearing, her hooves striking out. She landed as their gaze met and fire burned within her. Oh, how she longed to be ability to burb him outrightly to a crisp in punshment for even considering attacking her in return but she was incapapble of that just yet. She'd have to wait for a freedom to be given to her.

It moved and shifted itself closer and closer. Chestnut moved backwards in reverse for a moment before she tossed her head quite violently. She remained out of its reach, the claws would likely be vicious and do a lot of damage. She wanted to avoid those.

There was a plus to being stuck inside a warhorse and draft horse. They were more docile, and weren't as easy to spook after being trained to ignore the usual sounds that might otherwise spook a gentler horse. As a warhorse, it was expected to ignore the loud clangs and strikes present at a battle and respond to its master. As a draft horse, it had to deal with a good many other things that would otherwise upset it. There was a decent reason for any Knight to own a trained warhorse.

It looked like it was in a great deal of pain, it was walking in a weird way. Weirder than how she had seen it move before.

"A heated sword might just do that, you know," Raban commented in her mind. he was close. She felt him to be close.
"Yeah, colour him really, really pissed," Chestnut giggled and in the face of danger, she reared and neighed out her fury and might in return. Chestnut did not know fear in the way horses and humans learned it. She waited for it to get too closer before she tried to 'box' it's maw or its clawed hand with her hooves. She was continiously driving a high heat that was unnatural in all sorts of ways.


Raban saw the beast now as he rounded the corner and he could smell blood in the air. He knew from smell alone it was not human or horse, so he could be assured Janine was all right. He wasn't sure where she was but she had to be somewhere. He growled softly as he thought of how to deal with this. The beast was facing Chestnut, its wings outstretched like a wall and he spied its tail flicking stretching back behind it. He eased his sword from its scabbard as he felt Chestnut's fury from here. She was a nightmare of hellfire when she was angry and he was sad she could not show her full might. The dragon might have had a harder time if she was.

He moved closer, trying to be quiet as possible to reach the battered entrance to the compound. His hackles were all kinds of alert and wary. Again, they were outmatched even if this beast was injured. If anything, that added to how dangerous it was. It was hurting and it was angry about it knowing exactly what or who had been responsible for it. It had the intelligence to know retalition and vengence it seemed.

The Knight needed to find Janine, to make sure she was all right and that they could deal with this together somehow. He was not entirely sure how but he had to go with baby steps. He slowly reached the entrace and popped his head round to see if she was in the compound at or if there was the evidence to say that she was. He glanced to his right, hoping Chestnut would hold the distraction and not die in the process.


The Eager Rper
((Sorry if this post is confusing a little. I tried to transition between the POVs of the dragon and Janine, and then it sorta merges near the end. Hope you won’t have too much trouble.))

Janine slowly stepped towards the door as the sounds sounded familiar. The most chilling of calls entered her ears, like some horse of death had entered the courtyard.

Wait. Chestnut? Was she really out there? She didn’t hear, smell or sense Raban, but she wasn’t going to chance it. She had to help. But how? Venus’ nervous nickering made her look back, but she couldn’t be distracted. This dragon had to be driven away one way or another, and it needed to be driven out now, before anybody got hurt. She walked up to the broken doors and peeked out to see a black horse standing in front of the building, being the only defense from the rage of a furious dragon. Steam rose from her body, as if she was made of fire. Janine couldn’t help but smile. It was Chestnut.

“Chestnut?! Holy shit, you are…. Insane. And amazing,” Janine muttered with a smirk. Who else would charge into a battle with a dragon that could kill a horse in one bite? She saw the dragon, who must’ve seen the shimmer of the Knights armor, cause it snarled with shining fangs dripping with saliva. Oh no, that wasn’t good. And her sword was still outside, so she had no weapons on the ready. Maybe she had to find something to use before it decided to crash through here. But why hadn’t it?

“Chestnut, I don’t know what your plan is, but I hope it’s a good one!” Janine shouted. But the dragon rose up, wings shaking and forearms swiping at the demon horse to stab at her. Janine had to do something…. But what?


The dragon was furious. How was this one horse able to ward him off? Maybe the answer was that he wasn’t trying hard enough. And he couldn’t, not with his hurt leg. His tail scales shook and shivered, and his tail thumped on the ground as the dragon furiously thought for a solution. There was no way it was just gonna let some horse ward it off. Not now, not ever. The dragon swiped at the horse, but the beast’s hooves stomped on his paw, sending a tinge of pain through his arm.


It was not going to go down like this. Not by some dragon-horse-thing. The dragon decided to show this smaller creature why it was feared in the forest. The beast snorted at the horse, teeth bared and eyes narrowed. The winged beast drew closer at a slightly faster pace, then inhaled a long breath. The dragon held the breath for a moment, and then let out its insane roar directly on top of the horse. It held the roar for what seemed like forever, but it wasn’t going to let up anytime soon. The dragon lifted a clawed paw and swiped low on the defending horse, sweeping the demon’s feet from under her. The dragon then stopped the roar, pausing to take a few breaths before it slammed both claws down on either side of the horse, and lunged at the horse with its mouth agape for a bite. It snapped its jaws shut on a leg before lifting its head up to shake the infuriating horse around before letting her go and throwing her to the ground beside it. It then lifted a hand to stab a claw through the horse’s leg, roaring at her in anger before moving their attention to the main target.


Janine tried to figure out a way to help Chestnut, but she couldn't figure it out. There wasn’t a second exit, so she was effectively trapped until the winged beast backed away far enough for her to safely escape. There was the glass window to her left, but that was too risky in itself. Sharp glass wasn’t any better than dragon claws. She then saw the dragon rise up high above the ground, snarling and puffing up its chest in preparation to breath fire… No wait, she forgot that it didn’t breathe fire, but instead -


All of the thoughts in Janine’s head just vaporized into thin air when those soundwaves hit her ears. And her sensitive hearing didn’t make it easier. She couldn't help but to let out a pained roar as she struggled to walk and cover her ears. With a pained grunt, she fell to the floor, her hands struggling so hard to drone out the loud roar that threatened to destroy her ears, but doing absolutely nothing about it.. She couldn’t think about anything but how much it hurt, and even that was hard to focus on. Her mind was almost in some sort of forced blank state. Her ears felt as if they were about to fail her.

And after what seemed like forever, it stopped. Janine shuttered heavily as she struggled to see properly. Her vision was just a darkened blur, and she couldn’t have that right now. Her mind struggled to focus on the present, trying to reel itself into the matter at hand. And that was the dragon. The dragon…. Dragon…?

Janine groaned softly as she felt the ground thud under her. Fucking hell, she had to focus on the damn enemy. What happened to the sound? Why couldn’t she hear anything? She lifted her head to see a giant nostril sniff her body. Everything in her body tensed to the point where it was painful, and tried to move in an attempt to get away. The mouth opened slowly, revealing rows of sharp teeth, ready to snap shut on her body, before multiple vibrations on the floor distracted her - and apparently the dragon was distracted too.

Janine turned her head to see Venus beginning to panic again, pacing and shaking in fear at the sight of the large dragon standing over her owner. Janine somehow drew her attention from her impending doom to Venus’ comfort, rolling over to shush her horse.

“Calm down, Venus, it’s going to be fine,” Janine strained to say. The dragon suddenly looked interested in Venus’ panicking, and craned its head and neck further into the building with a piqued interest. Janine gasped and stumbled to her feet, racing to her horse’s defense.

“Leave her alone you scaled monster!” Janine shouted before opening her own fanged mouth and biting as hard as she could on the dragon’s neck, hoping to distract it. The beast roared at the sudden pain and lifted its neck up; the dragon slammed its neck - and in turn, Janine - all across the crumbling face of the building, finally making it fall apart. She felt herself back onto the floor, and was forced to let go when she felt fingers pry her away from the dragon. She gasped and panted as the dragon head backed itself out of the building, leaving the Knight to rest for a moment as she tried to regain some sort of strength. It was then that she scented a familiar scent - she looked up and saw a Knight... She let out a happy gasp, for it was Raban that she saw. She was about to call out to him...

Until there was a sudden thudding of glass and rock. Janine jumped and turned around to see the dragon roaring and lunging itself at her horse. Venus reared up and raced towards the entrance, in a desperate attempt to escape death. Janine raced to the dragon just as it swiped at her horse and missed. With her hearing slowly but surely coming back to her, Janine leaped on the dragon's hand and bit a finger as hard as she could. The dragon roared and lifted its hand - and Janine - into the surrounding walls. She bit harder to keep herself attached to the dragon, but with every impact, she felt her grip of both consciousness and the dragon itself fade. She landed on the floor once again, but in that moment, she felt something sharp pierce through her armor, and in succession, her own flesh being sliced across her side.

Eyes widened as everything inside Janine screamed and roared in pain, and it was a few seconds of pain before the air finally carried the shrieking roar of pain ripping out of her throat. Even so, she forced herself to clamp harder against the offending flesh. The dragon roared in more pain as it flung its hand with added force in a final attempt to separate Janine from its hand - and it worked. Janine flew straight down and slammed into the chair that was still in the middle of the platform. Wood and metal flew into the air as she rolled onto the floor, her consciousness showing signs of fading as the dragon examined its hand.

But her inner demon wasn’t going to give up without a fight. Not with Venus in danger. Somehow, someway, even as the edges of darkness surrounded her vision, Janine gave herself one last push and stood up defiantly, a hissing roar flying out her mouth before her eyes glowed brown and she shifted before the dragon’s eyes. The dragon growled in shock even as the newly changed demon ran up to the beast, using her sharp claws to latch herself to the smooth skin of the dragon's shoulder. The dragon reacted to the new threat at the last minute, roaring and shuffling in an attempt to get Janine off its body. But her demonic side was now in a blind rage, raking claws across dragon flesh, and avoiding the spikes that rose in the dragon’s defense. She roared as she climbed up to the dragon's neck, slashing and stomping with her wicked sharp claws, doing everything in her power to force the dragon away from Venus. The winged beast roared as new pain bombarded its hide, and it even fell down due to its hurt leg hindering its mobility. The dragon seemed to actually struggle against the wrath of the serpentine demon, snapping its jaws and clawing at air in an attempt to get her off.

The dragon got lucky enough to grab at Janine’s tail, and used its strong neck muscles to launch her across the room to the wall on the other side, where her back made a sharp thud before she sunk back onto the floor. Still in a rage, the serpentine demon got back up with a sharp hiss, and launched herself back to the dragon. With a surprised grunt, the dragon had hurried itself onto their feet to prepare for Janine's second attack. It swung downwards, but missed, completely destroying the wood and metal chair in the process. With a hissing roar, Janine clawed her way back on top of the dragon's neck, showing no mercy in her assault. The dragon roared in retaliation and slammed its neck into the walls, hitting Janine in the process. She fought with all her might, but her strength was still faltering, even if she didn't realize it. With a snarl, the dragon used its long claws to pin Janine into the wall, where it then grabbed her by the neck and flung her into the far wall again, where she was suddenly snapped out of her angered state. She tried to stay awake as her feet made contact with the floor, fighting to stand one last time, but as the blood dripped down her body, the last of her strength slipped away. She dropped to the floor, and didn’t get back up.

The dragon panted as it studied its enemy. What in Drakell was that?! The beast stared at the serpentine demon and growled to itself. That was supposed to be a human. It used to be human. But it wasn’t now. What was it dealing with? The dragon growled lowly, suddenly hit with the realization that there were strange creatures among the humans; creatures that were stronger than the average human. How, it didn't know, but the proof was in front of it. The dragon was injured in ways that it hadn't experienced in a very long time, at least in the hands of humans. The dragon had to retreat - it couldn’t fight at all with these wounds. Besides, it sensed the unrest of the humans of the city, and it wouldn’t make it if they all decided to come around at that very moment. It had to leave, and quickly.

The large dragon struggled to get on its remaining feet, and turned away slowly so it wouldn’t knock down any of the remaining structure of the human building. It turned the corner and took a look at the horse - if it even was a horse - that it felled, and walked over to it to snatch it up in its fangs with a snarl. The beast then took a glimpse of a male Knight, where it then locked eyes with him. The dragon growled lowly in a warning, despite the blood dripping all across its body, sniffing the air to take in his scent, then snorted the air when it detected something familiar. Suspiciously familiar. But it would have to come back to that when it was healed. The dragon limped away out of the courtyard as fast as it could, scaled tail clattering as it went back the way it came.

New enemies. Stronger enemies. And they were protecting the city…. Those pesky Knights have strange creatures among their ranks. It would have to up its game. But in time. For now. It had to rest….

Rest, and remember this day, for it will be their first and last time to surprise it.
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the Hugger Troll
Despite being trapped in an equinne mortal form, Chestnut was feeling more alive and free than she had done for the longest time. The dragon outsized her completely but she felt superior. Even if she wasn't. All this was for was for herself. Not just for herself even if being selfish was true to her nature, but it was also so that Janine and Raban might have a chance to aid each other and find a solution to fix all of this. Chestnut did not know if Janine could die to a Dragon. Raban could certainly take some serious damage from this beast that would render him so comatose that he may appear dead. Or at least, she only knew of one surefire way to kill a werewolf.

She looked back at the dragon in total open defiance in a way no natural horse would ever think to do. Even a trained warhorse. She could tell the horse inside her was terrified and in some ways she was a little remorseful that her decision to take this route would likely end in its death but it was better served here than allowing Janine to die. Raban would not settle for that and Chestnut would be damned again if she allowed her Little Wolf's only other friend to die. She did not want him to be lonely. Friendship from a human or part-human source was hard for him. He never got too friendly with people out of fear that they may somehow come to harm on his account. They had both seen that happen. With Janine however, they had no fear that his secret would be betrayed and no fear of turning her. That was one friendship worth defending and dying for.

The demon horse could feel the air sizzling around her and revelled in it. She did not stop herself taunting the beast before her with rears and neighs, hooves driving through hot air. She landed heavily before turning at one point to buck at his leg before she resumed her revelations. She tossed her head as she heard Janine's shout. She neighed in reply, both cursing the woman for shouting and for doubting her. She recanted that latter half after a moment's thought. Good plans was usually something she left to Raban's conscience. All she had were plans, and invariably they were good only by a fire demon's standards.

"Chestnut... Really?"
"Really really."
"No other way, huh?"
"Nope. He's angry. It's glorious! See how angry he is! The incomprehension! The confusion! Get to Janine. Oh, and find a lance, maybe."

Chestnut understood and had accepted her fate despite it being cheated of any true fate the dragon had in mind. She could imagine its confusion and fury if and when they were to meet once again. He would remember her and her fire. She was sure of this and that mattered to her. She wanted this eyesore to recall a horse, as strange as it was, that had hurt it. A creature so beneath it. That was humiliation. She neighed in taunt again as she saw the dragon finally reach the decision she was goading it to. It was a selfish act of selflessness. It was somewhat ironic.

"Come on you scaled freak! Your brain cells turned to slugs?!" she screamed. Course, all that came out was a shrill, angry neigh before the dragon swiped at her. Her head darted forth and bit hard at the paw before her legs crumbled out from beneath her. She landed on her side heavily and snorted, steam rising from large flaring nostrils. Her vision was blinded from the claws slamming down beside the shire's large body and if she could smile, she would have. She knew what was coming next and thought nothing of increasing her heat to boiling point even as the dragon clamped its jaws on her and shook her. She funneled all her heat into the leg it was using to hold her by. The pain only fueled her rage, which in turned aided her heat. The violent shaking was enough to make her dizzy and disorientated as she was slammed into a hard surface that broke her body in ways she had not felt in a very long time.

To add salt to injury, it stabbed her again as she struggled to breathe. She could tell the horse's lung was punctured, it was an effort to inflate the large lungs inside the ribcage. She whinnied but she did not repent her heat at all. The air still sizzled and burned. As much as she hoped its tongue felt at least. She huffed as it moved away, eventually distracted by the others. Damn that horse.


Raban was in a delicate position and somehow had not been noticed yet as he crouched as low as he could. He stilled completely as he heard and felt his companion's body being slammed into the ground as if she was nothing more than a sack of potatoes. His heightened hearing heard the bone breaks as they happened and he shuddered internally. Chestnut was in a lot of pain as was the horse in which she inhabited. He was sorry it would never see the retirement he had planned for the mare. He was about to charge at it but it opened its jaws and roared in that unnatural high pitched roar that hit him hard.

The Knight's fingers could not help but release and drop his sword as his heightened hearing was assaulted. It was painful, so painful he could not think. Hands gripped his skull as he stumbled backwards, his mouth set to a bare-toothed grimace as the pain drove harder inwards. It was like a thousand nails being stabbed into him systematically before they paused and then repeated. He knew it wasn't likely possible, but it almost felt as if this sound alone could kill him. It was a pain that was not going away quickly enough for his liking and continued to hurt even as he tried to work past it. The longer it rendered him useless, the more that Janine was in danger but as hard as he tried, his hearing was taking a long moment to recover.

"Been saving that one, hasn't it," Chestnut's heaved and painful voice fluttered in his mind. He barely heard it amongst the pain and the silence but it was there. He heard the tone and snorted aloud, nodding physically rather than responding to her. Waste of mind breath. Was that even a thing?

Raban grunted as he looked around. The place was still as yet dserted of people and Knights alike. No one else of the Order appeared to be nearby. Dealing with the other dragon, he assumed. He hoped they were having luck.

"A lance, idiot" Chestnut reminded him.

Like a boy obeying its mother, he grunted and turned before dropping his hands. He searched about before his eyes caught sight of something sharp and lance-like. It would do simply enough as he wrenched the pole from the ground. A flag pole of sorts that it was clear it had not seen a flag for many a year. It was old and rusted but the tip was sharp enough to suit his purposes. Gripping the shaft tightly, he returned the way he had come with a quick stride, keen to aid Janine. She was alone otherwise with nought but Venus for company.

Raban frowned as he retrieved his sword along the way, returning it to the scabbard before he approached. He did so carefully, not wishing to alert the dragon to his intent. He could see it clearly now as he got closer. It looked hurt and angry, its leg was cut with a gash that looked burned and it was clearly bothering the giant. He realised Chestnut may have angered it further and in so doing played upon that pain and tired it out just enough. Dragons had a tough hide but they had their weak spots just like everyone else. Perfection was a fickle beast to get right.

It reared, lunged and Venus escaped it soon after. He switched the way he held his lanced ran at the beatst to gain momentum for the throw. He was happy to use the dragon's distracted attention to a potential. He guaged the trajectory before he released the weapon in his hold with a grunt of expelled air, and and the makeshift javelin flew to its mark. It soon found its mark before the chaos happened. It had changed its attention to Janine again, so enraged at her that it didn't appear to notice the flagpole sticking out the softer hind of a leg.

He drew his sword before running closer to view the scene. He was glad the streets were deserted, or at least appeared thus. He sniffed the air warily but could not discern whether anyone else was in the vicinity. That did not appease him much but there was little he could do about that. There was little one could do to fight this colossus as a human. Janine would have more luck in her true form, that much was clear to him but he doubted the Order would appreciate either of their more peculiar forms. The Order hall was a clarified mess and he did not mourn the loss of the torture chair either as he spotted bits of it strung about the remains of the platform. He couldn't get in and barely avoided being swiped by a tail, forcing him to lie prone against the ground. In his armour, that was not easy to do and getting up seemed to not be an option just yet as the tail wavered above him again.

The Knight could also hear his companion struggling to get the horse to breath and understood she was also trying to stand to no avail. He hushed her, willing her to conserve her strength for now. The answer was a giggle of whinnies. He refocused his attention on the dragon and Janine, who looked in a world of pain herself now but she was fighting as if the world was behind her. He willed her to stay in there as much as she could as he wormed out and stood again. This was dangerous not only because there was a damned massive dragon tearing down masonry as if it were eggshell but because Janine was in form and exposed right in the city. It was a precarious predicament if she was spotted. And there was enough heat about the presence of his kind for him to not wish to add to the fire. Caught in his indecision, he was smacked by the tail and grunted as his back met masonry. He wasn't sure the dragon had realised it, so madly was it trying to fight and beat Janine.

Winded, he struggled to his feet. Perhaps that silver wasn't quite done with him just yet, he mused darkly as he eyed the giant. Finally standing, he moved but slowed to a halt when he saw Janine in a still heap and the dragon pausing to regain itself a little as it seemed to question itself. He wasn't sure at what but he gripped the hilt to his sword just in case. The dragon had unwittingly knocked him a fair distance back but he had a view of them all. It turned then and made to leave but not before it seemed to think Chestnut some kind of prize as it picked her up. She could not stop it from doing so and nor did she try. Only snorted at it.

Raban knew he was not losing Chestnut permenantly. Killing her was not how her curse worked and if the dragon killed the horse, she would be dumped right back into the mind of another unwitting equinne somewhere in the grounds. He hoped she wasn't dumped into a horse owned by anyone else. That would not be easy to explain. He moved but the dragon paused and looked in his direction. It sniffed and Raban was sure it recognised him. It was hard to say how good a dragon's sense of smell was but Raban would hazard a safe bet that it was pretty damned good at the task. Raban looked the dragon right back in its gaze, fingers flexing around his hilt in case this dragon wanted to take him on, but it seemed to know it was at a disadvantage. Raban watched it leave with his friend and companion but she was not the one he was worried about.

Sheathing his blade, he ran towards Janine with no idea where Venus had gone. No doubt her faithful steed was somewhere closeby but that did not matter.


"Janine"" he cried, with more emphasis before he reached her. Dirt and shards of wood flew outwards as he knelt and drew a halt to his run at the same time. There was the silver of the restraints nearby, he felt its tingle though that in itself wasn't painful for him. He looked at Janine's frame and grimaced at what the dragon had done to her. He prayed no one would come running in on them. Someone seeing her like this, especially anyone of the Order or that blasted hunter, was not something either of them needed. He swore aloud, Chestnut had all his supplies and salve's and there was no chance in kindly asking that dragon if he could have the saddlebags before he left. It was too late for that.

His hands moved gently to her shoulder and head, leaning close to ascertain whether she was at least still breathing.

"Come on, Janine. Don't you die on me now..." he muttered, fearful that he might. He lost a horse, he was going to be damned if he was going to lose her too. He thought in haste before he glanced towards the destruction of the entrance. There was hardly anything recognisable about the place. He looked back to his friend with worry and concern. That dragon might be badly hurt, but if Raban guessed right, it'd be back for them.

"Comeon, wake up. Can't get you out of here like this..." he growled softly.


The Eager Rper
Venus stomped and raced around the courtyard in fear - being this close to a dragon was not a pleasant experience. Being that close to danger set her naturally tense nerves alight with fear. She paced circles around a broken cart before running out of the yard, unwilling to be anywhere near the broken building.

Janine was still for the better part of the moment after Raban made his way to her. After about a minute or two, her slitted pupil shifted towards Raban’s looming figure. She lifted her neck, only to be met with a proper ache and pain. She hissed in response to it, falling right back into the growing puddle of her own blood. Damn it. She didn’t expect to be hurt this badly. She looked to her side and was met with the worried face of her comrade. A weak hiss flowed out Janine’s mouth as she struggled to get up again, trying to play off her injuries.

“H-hey Raban. How’s it going? D-did you see the dragon run off?” Janine said with a soft groan. The worry in Raban’s eyes made her look to her side and hissed softly. “Tissss just a scratch.” Janine’s voice was even raspier than normal. She strained as she aimed to raise to her paws, but she slumped back down. Everything hurt, from her head to her tail. And her side hurt the most. She was losing blood, and it seemed like quite a bit. A small sliver of fear of her not surviving this attack crept into her mind, but she shook her head in defiance. She had to make it. She refused to die from one scratch. She gave a short hissing-roar at the long gone dragon, cursing it to die a thousand deaths for threatening her city and friends.

But, she wasn’t really in the best condition herself. She gave a strange sound that resembled coughs, her throat aching so much from roaring. “Damn that dragon. It was really after me that time,” Janine muttered. She nosed herself into Raban’s arms, the only comforting scent that seemed to calm her down - even though it was tainted with the scent of worry. She relaxed a little, but mentally shook herself; she couldn’t calm down - not yet. Not when she was in danger of being found out. “D-don’t worry about this, Raban. I’ll change back before the rest of the Knights get here…. I just…. Need to…. Focus….” Janine said with a heavy pant. The serpentine creature strained herself in getting to her paws, ignoring the growing pains that spread across her body like fire. She snarled softly as she turned around, slipping a little in her own blood as she faced the wall, trying her best to focus on her human self, and not the pain that somewhat prevented her from changing. Come on. Now was not the time to lose focus.

She heard the neighs of Venus and immediately thought of Chestnut. That crazy demon knew no boundaries, even though she was bound in the body of a horse. “Where’s Chestnut? I want…. To… Thank her for coming when… She did,” Janine said as she strained her mind to focus on changing back.


the Hugger Troll
Raban's mind was awash with worries and questions. That dragon might have saved his secret from showing itself but equally he was now damned sure the dragon had recognised his scent and knew what Janine was. That, and Raban's horse demon had humiliated and taunted it like no true horse ever could or would. Raban wasn't sure it was even used to having been challenged by a horse before let alone a demon. He was worried that would have consequences later down the road but it would be something that they would face when it came to that juncture. For now, he had to concern himself primarily with Janine and their current situation. It was not ideal.

His ears picked upon treads of a four-legged gait of a creature with hooves and he rested a little easier if his assumption that was Janine's Venus. He could see Janine was in a lot of pain from all the injuries and wounds she had sustained in her crazy battle with the flying colossus moments earlier. He knew she would be a little more at ease with knowing Venus was closeby. Raban liked the mare, she was plucky and had her own mind too. He would have been sad if anything happened to the equine.

Feeling movement, he looked at Janine's serpentine face and smiled. There was no fear on him about what she was. She was his friend and he would be there for her, no matter what. He had made that promise to her and he was not about to break it. He tried to ensure she didn't move too much as she reacted to the pain she was clearly experiencing, not wishing for her to expel too much strength.

"Hey, hey... take it slow, easy, huh? You've been through a stretch," he said softly as he then glanced about. He saw a banner that had been hung to the wall strewn about the rubble in a crumpled heap. That would be useful, he mused, but only once she changed back. He had to get her back to her mother, feeling the woman would be able to help him close Janine's wounds and might have the supplies required. If not, at least she could watch over Janine whilst he fetched them. He could have taken her to the Order's own infirmary but he was wary of its matron and wary of Janine revealing too much in her pain. Her mother was the safer bet.

He faultered a little, the image of Chestnut in the dragon's jaws too fresh in his mind but he quickly found his tongue, "The dragon's gone, off to lick its wounds I think. You gave him such a beating," his mouth quirked in jest, wanting to instill a little humour to the situation. Sometimes, it helped to stave the gravity of a situation. He wasn't entirely sure she would make it but he wasn't willing to entertain the idea that he could lose a friend today. He was not going to allow a mother to lose her daughter either.

"Easy, we have to get you out of here... " he reasoned to her, not moving his hands away from her frame, his thumbs only lifting to stroke at the skin of her face in reminder that he was here for her now. He would not fail her. He could feel her nose deeper into his hold and he shifted slightly to make it easier to hold her against his chest. His hand kept stroking, reminding her that she was not alone with her pain. Raban had been there before and it was not the easiest thing to deal with alone.

He nodded, he was worried the Knights would return before he got her out of her but it seemed they had been distracted with an attack on the other side of the city. He was still worried about that hunter. "Take your time. You focus on changing, Janine. I'll worry about getting you out," he told her firmly. He remained close as she moved.

It was then she asked about Chestnut and he reached to scratch at his neck, sighing softly with a little nod, "You'll get your chance... She just won't be joining us again for a while. Dragon took her... but even if he kills the horse she's in, she'll be dumped into another." He was not worried about not seeing Chestnut again but he was concerned she would get dumped into the wrong horse.

"Don't worry about her though. Got to worry about you first," he said.


The Eager Rper
Janine panted softly as she forced herself to think of her human body. Transformations normally came easily to her; even when she was in a moderate amount of pain she was able to change without much difficulty. But this was somewhat different, for some odd reason. Why was it so hard to change this time around? Bigger wounds? Is it her body’s way of protecting itself from further harm? Whatever the reasoning was, it wasn’t really benefiting her very much. She and Raban were pressed for time, and she couldn’t afford to lag around.

Raban’s voice then spoke up, telling her that the dragon had taken Chestnut away. She lifted her head in shock. The dragon took her away? Even after all she did, Chestnut still lost? She didn’t know why she was surprised. Nothing as small as a human or horse could just take out a dragon - that was common sense. But she couldn't help but to think that this was all her fault. Maybe if the dragon didn’t see her when she walked up behind Chestnut, maybe the dragon would’ve been more merciful to the demon horse. Maybe if she didn’t trap herself in the building, like an idiot, nobody would’ve had to save her and Venus. The fact that Chestnut wasn’t going to go away didn’t seem like too much of a consolation to her - if Chestnut was a normal horse, or if it was someone else entirely trying to save her, they would've been dead by now.

Maybe it was the loss of blood, or the impending dread of being found out, or the initial trauma of her fight, but Janine felt herself panicking. She lost Raban’s horse, and she destroyed the Order’s hall, and now she couldn’t shift - what if they got found out? And it’d be all her fault. Her tail rattled, signs of distress as she shook her head.

“I can’t focus…. I can’t…. It’s all my fault,” Janine hissed. Her head banged on the wall a couple of times before she got up and began to pace back and forth. All the while, little droplets of blood trailed her path, making bloody pawprints paint the floor as she moved around. “The building, Chestnut, the dragon…. And now I’m going to get us in trouble with the Order! I… I can’t stay here, Raban. I have to -”

Janine’s panicked monologue was interrupted when she slipped back onto the floor. A hissing snarl flew out Janine’s mouth as she landed back onto the bloody floor, pain shooting all across her body with a renewed strength. “Damnit! Why is this so hard?” the distressed serpent hissed. She looked up to Raban and whimpered. If she was the one who exposed herself and Raban in one fell swoop, she’d never forgive herself.


the Hugger Troll
This was taking too long for Raban's liking. Not because he didn't wish to allow her the time to process and focus but rather because of his own worries that she would be seen in her current state. The wounds alone were one thing. A quadrupedal serpentine demon was quite another. Raban knew first hand how she would be perceived by humans and the reaction that would come with it. Humans were so rarely willing to try and understand what scared them. Her visage alone was frightening but aside from that alone, the Order and several religious groups would be quick to call her a creature from hell and that she must be dealt with in the same manner they decreed with his kind. He did not and could not blame them completely for it. Humans were scared of everything like a nervous dog that had seen a life of abuse and the emotions of fear, aggression and anger were easier to bring to the fore than it was to keep an open mind, to comprehend, to understand. There was no time for that in a human's world of surviving.

The news of Chestnut did not seem to go down too well even if his demonic friend would eventually return to him through their bond of contract. He watched her with the oddest of feelings as he studied her reaction. It was hard to read a serpent's face nevermind Janine's but he got the feeling that she was, maybe, blaming herself in some way. He hoped she wasn't. Chestnut was Chestnut and she would do what she wanted to do. Raban wouldn't have been able to stop her from feeling the sensation of being free even if he had wanted to. He understood the wish to be free only too well. It was perhaps odd that Janine was reacting more to the loss than he was... He had known her longer and should have been more affected by it but Raban was calm about it. He had long understood that the relationship he had with the fire demon was not one borne out of immediate friendship or comaderie but one stemming out of mutual need and understanding. She had kept him safe during turns and he kept her safe with a promise he would free her of the curse that bound her.

He frowned, Janine was losing it completely as she rattled and moved around, none of which was helping her blood loss in all likelhood. Raban slowly rose watching her with an expression that got more and more firm. It was also odd to realise that he saw a lot of his younger self in Janine. A time when he didn't have the extent of control that he could rely upon now. That had come with years of experience he knew but this was close to the heart and his own history. She was speaking and working herself up in a panicked frenzy and the wolf shook his head, growling in such a fashion that voice his own unease and frustrations. This was not the time for the loss of focus.

She whimpered at him and his gut shifted in reaction before he strode towards with an utter surety than had not been there previously as he took her head in his hands. He gripped at the base of her jaws and looked her right in the eyes with a somewhat predatory gaze coupled with a firmness to hand.

"You listen to me, Janine and you listen good," he stated. His voice was not cold but firm in the manner of one who dispensed with the emotion that could often land people in danger. He had been in too many battles and fights and knew that emotion could cost lives far more than the enemy.

"You focus on me. Think of nothing else. You need to change back. That's your job right now, Knight. Do not think of Chestnut or that dragon, understand?"

"You won't be helping any of us if you don't change back. I swear it, Janine. You die on me now, I'm coming to haul your arse back out of the underworld," he huffed at her.

"Focus," he encouraged, never letting go of his grip. He needed her to find her focus, whatever it was that made it easier for her to change. Be it a thought of her mother, himself, Venus or whatever. Raban wanted to get her to safety. He had made that promise not only to her and her mother but himself too and he was not the sort to break vows if he could help it.


The Eager Rper
As she laid on the floor again, Janine was panting with short hisses. The pressure of being found out was too much. If they were in the forest, she’d have no qualms about becoming a human. Hell, maybe she’d give herself a nap before trying again. But this wasn’t the time to have that kind of leisure. After some time panting, the serpentine demon shuddered, feeling her stomach clench with nausea. “Hnngh, I feel sick now,” Janine muttered. But she then heard Raban stride up to her, and his entire expression made the snake lower her head a little with nervousness before he grabbed her head with a firm grip. If she would’ve been able to blink, she would’ve done so in shock. His gaze made her hone in on him, admittedly a bit nervously, as she looked into his eyes.

He commanded her to focus, that it wasn’t the time to panic. Somehow, the way he spoke to her made the demon a bit nervous, even if she knew he wouldn’t do her any harm. But at the same time, it was all with a commanding voice, which spoke to her knightly inclination to listen to authority. Her tongue flicked out occasionally as she listened to Raban speak. She nodded a little, grateful to have a voice of concise authority to tell her what to do.

Raban sure was passionate when he needed to be. She couldn’t help but to tilt her head when he said that he’d fetch after her if she died. Surely, he wouldn’t go through such impossible lengths for her, would he? No, no thinking about the future. She had to focus on the now. And now, she had to change back into a human.

“Okay Raban… Okay.”

Her serpentine snout pushed towards Raban’s chest again. His hold around her head did help to soothe her a little bit, even if it was a rough grip. If she needed to relax enough before being able to shift again, then so be it. Even though it was intermingled with the scent of nervousness, Raban’s scent did in fact help to calm her own nerves down. Strange - she thought that her mother’s scent would be the only one that would calm her down. She had done so to relax her nerves for years. But the thought of her being with her mom as a human helped as well.

It was slow acting at first, but her body was eventually calming itself. Her heart began to beat slower, her hard panting softened into quieter hisses, and her mind was able to drone out her worries for the moment. Her mind shifted to picture her human form, and when Janine focused on it, she actually felt her body listening to her desires. Her large furry and scaled body shrunk down to her human size. While the pain in her body did present itself multiple times, she willed herself to ignore it and deal with the transformation at hand; soon enough her body features were that of a human covered in armor. In the area where she got slashed, the chain-mail armor was appropriately ripped.

Janine gave a tired grunt as she opened her eyes a little and looked up to Raban. “God I’ve never felt this tired before. I haven’t felt pain like this before, but I thought my pain tolerance was a bit higher than this,” Janine sighed. Her eyelids felt so heavy, and they dropped a little as she laid there. Was she going to go to sleep? A rest would be great at the moment. Her healing would be faster than the average human, but it was nowhere near as fast as Raban’s healing speed. She’d be bedridden for much longer than him, and sleep was only one of the few ways to speed up her recovery a little. It was a tempting thought.
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the Hugger Troll
He could sense her nervousness. There was fear too. He understood all of that. The situation was hardly ideal for any of them but here they were and there was no running from it. His gaze did not faulter in any way, wanting her to understand that he would be there for as he had promised. he knew many who made promises only to fail and run from them. It always wounded a lot more than people realised and sometimes could be so ingrained to a person's psyche that it was at times impossible to shake. He didn't want Janine feeling as if she was not worth saving or feeling responsible for events that were outside of her control. No one could have anticipated the dragon turning up when it had nor could they have done so for the hunter that had lended his aid to Kiegel. Raban knew that one was something he should have anticipated himself. Words travelled as fast as scents did at times... but then, he mused, how would it have travelled that quickly out of Amastad.

Never mind, he told himself, it was a question for later. He was, at least, seeming to finally be getting through to Janine's senses as he felt her jaws tilt in his hold at his words. It was something. It meant she was there and was responding. It was a hard thing for anyone to let another take command, to take control. Especially for something so used to maintaining it throughout their life for fear of being discovered.

She spoke and he found himself relieved that she was following him, that his words were taking root. She had been there for him when he had no control and that had been when he had hardly known her. She had potentially, albeit unwittingly at the time, saved a lot of lives in Amastad from him and in turn eased his conscience already weighed down by the lives he had known himself to have taken. He visited their graves at least once a month. He did not know the lives he had taken in his bloodlust but he felt honour bound to remember them. He wasn't too sure why and Chestnut had been more confused by it than he had but he did it regardless of how bluntly the demon questioned a human need to honour their dead. It meant a lot to him that he was there for her too.

The man did not move as he felt her push into him, keeping his own breath regular as she worked on finding her centre. Raban's hands relaxed and shifted down her neck, one remaining to closer to the jaws than the other. He did not know what exactly she was deciding to focus upon but it seemed clear the contact at least was helping her. His attention remained solely on her alone, he pushed all thoughts of dragons, demons and hunters to one side. Those matters could wait for now even if the emptiness where Chestnut's presence was disturbing to him. What mattered to him right was getting Janine back home safely where she could rest and heal. Nothing else would move him from this task. Not Kiegel himself.

A smile flexed gently on his face as he felt her change and shift form. He caught himself wondering whether her changes caused her pain normally. It would be very unlike his own. He felt the pain of it even through willing changes. Soon enough, she was back to her human state and he shifted to ensure she didn't fall out of his hold. He did not know how different her changes were to his own but he knew or felt the contact would at least remain appreciated. Unwilling changes often left him confused and disorientated, leaving him highly vulnerable. He brushed hair out of her face just before she spoke and he smiled at her.

"Sounded like you gave it your all, my friend. You can sleep soon, but not just yet, okay? You need to stay awake for me," he said before he carefully shifted her so that she was lying down and that he could, for the moment, move about. He moved to quickly inspect her wound with as gentle a touch as he could manage before he, with a little difficulty, removed his tabard, tearing it roughly where it joined at the sides before he wrapped it around where the largest gash was mostly to stem the blood flow. "Sorry," he muttered, tightening it so it wouldn't fall in transit.

He looked back at her and gave her a smile of reassurance as his hand moved to her shoulder, "You stay awake. I'll worry about the rest okay?" he continued. "Got to get you home. Get you safe. It'll hurt a little more, but I can't help that."

"I'm going to help you stand. Put your arms around my neck," he explained to her, shifting himself somewhat to make it easier for her and for himself to complete the task, helping her if she required it. He did not trust her to be able to walk by herself even if she insisted. It was clear enough that she was exhausted from the fight and her wounds were just too much. The less strain the better for her. Raban had no worries in his ability to carry her, his inhumane strength was a benefit to them now.