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In the Wake of Giants


The Eager Rper

This Rp is between two people who are older than 18. Mature subjects and language are likely to be seen/mentioned here. Nothing is absolute - anything is possible. If you aren't of age, turn back please. Otherwise, read at your own risk. Thank you :)

The bustling dirt roads of Amastad grew crowded as the sun rose up in the sky. Janine sighed as she kept her pace in the sea of humans and livestock. It was the second Tuesday of the month, which meant ome thing: mass trading.

Yes, all sorts of strangers from the neighboring kingdoms traveled to Amastad to trade their goods to one another. Amastad was well known for its excellent crops, so it's easy to say that it was an important part of keeping the other kingdoms alive.

The shouts of men and the bleats of livestock made Janine sigh and shake her head. She just felt... annoyed at the moment. Was it the huge crowds? Or perhaps the stench of animal droppings? The possibility of stepping in said droppings? At the thought, Janine paused and looked around. Even though she was in casual clothing, she didn't feel like dealing with that. Hell, it may have been the reason she was feeling this way. She began to veer to the sides of the main road, making some people call her out and complain at her. She scoffed - at least she said 'excuse me'.

When she finally got clear, the young woman stared at the swarm of bodies as they seemed to appear unending. Like one massive stampede. Janine's stomach lurched as she watched the crowd; that feeling that she got everytime she watched everyone was popping up again.

With a soft huff, Janine continued on her way down through some darker alleys. It was a cooler pathway, but it was better than feeling the sticky bodies of hundreds and hundreds of strangers.
Of course, being down these small passageways meant that she'd be face to face with very unsavory and shady people. With a deep inhale, Janine kept her head down and walked past those creepy strangers - trying to give off her typical air of aggression.

After multiple turns, Janine finally got to her destination - a tavern called 'The Sleepy Hollow'. The name was surprisingly justified - considering how this place was when it was any other day but the second Tuesday of the month. Janine stood outside the doors and leaned up against the wall - she didn't want to go in just yet.
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the Hugger Troll
Look at them. They scurry like rats, stinking of their own mess.

The comment was rich with disgust and might have drawn a fair few scathing looks in return. The crowd remained oblivious to the disdainful comment, too busy with trying to get on with their day. The one receiving the comment however heard it as if we're another person stood next to him. In a way, that was true. The shire he rode was not truly a horse but something far more sinister in nature. Had she been freed of her trappings, he had no doubt she would exact her revenge on the one responsible. He was glad it wasn't him.

He looked between her dagger-like ears and chuckled, "I happen to be one of those rats too you know."

No, you're not. You are the predator here, not this stinking prey.

Her conviction was sound but he would never utter the truth to anyone besides Chestnut. Only she knew him for what he truly was. A beast of the night, the stuff of nightmares a thing to be feared and disposed of. His life hung in a very fine balance.

His hand twitched, feigning control when she knew exactly where she was going. The charade had to be maintained. He had to appear to all as nothing more than a simple Knight riding his warhorse through the throng of a busy crowd. People parted easily enough, no one was going to argue with a 17.1hh heavy horse. Especially one with the power and strength of a fire demon inside, not that they were to know that.

They came to what passed for a tavern and he noted it had opened far earlier than usual. That would accommodate the the day's trade, it exceeded most days and from that more coin would likely pass into the owner's hands. He stopped before he rose and fell as he dismounted, landing heavily with a thud. He lifted the reins over Chestnut's broad black neck and tethered the lead loosely to a post. She could pull it free quite easily but for him, appearances were everything.

Raban paused to watch the crowd for a long moment. He had come for trade too but not quite the same as the various peasants and peddlers had in mind. His was rumour, speculation and gossip.

He glanced at Chestnut before he moved to go inside. He gave the woman by the doorway a glance and a nod of greeting, noting there was something familiar about her.

Quit ogling the rat. She'll think you weird. Who am I kidding? You are weird.

Raban blinked and glances back his black shire with her distinctive white blaze down the length of her face. He grunted and looked back.


The Eager Rper
Janine glanced up when she heard the hard clops of a horse. For a split second she thought it was going to be somebody with a shady background, but when she looked at the rider, she took it back. This man looked familiar. She blinked, her eyes and his eyes making sudden contact.

Shit. She felt herself grow tense. Her mind was sending those warning signals, but she didn't feel too threatened by him yet.... Yet. She only thought that because he didn't look like a drunkard who frequented here. Not to mention the pretty horse.

"Nice horse," Janine said before she turned around to enter the building.

She walked in the establishment and drank in the picture before her.
Nornally, the tavern was scarce of customers during the morning, but now, there were a bit more people than usual. And Janine didn't mind it too much -- so long as no drunk bastard tried to make a pass on her.
She was young, but she was just old enough to enter a place like this. Admittedly, she felt out of place, but it was her best bet for remnants of solitude while still being among the masses. She went to the front table and sat down, one chair away from a man sipping on a mug.

The innkeeper walked up to her and asked what she wanted. "Some water please," Janine repiled. Just because she walked into a place like this didn't mean she had to buy alcoholic beverages.

She kept her face and straight, not wanting to bring about any attention to herself. Any eye contact and she'd have to deal with some man, and she didn't feel like doing that. Behind her, closer to the fireplace, were a small handful of men chatting to each other like a group of women. She turned around to listen to them talk about random subjects. It was amusing, as men always said that a scene like this was always dor the women - gossiping and talking shit about stuff that didn't pertain to them.

And look, now there was a sight to behold. If only she could capture the moment and hang it on the wall. She chuckled to herself and faced front, where she was just in time for the innkeeper to give her the cup.


the Hugger Troll
His eyes continued to register her a moment as she reacted to him in some way. His senses could pick up on her unease quick enough. He glanced back to Chestnut as the woman gave a compliment towards his steed. He smiled as Chestnut snickered irritably, ears facing backwards and forewards again. She never did like being called the animal she was trapped in but that was something she would just have to deal with. At least until they found some way to free her. He still wasn't sure how that was going to be achieved but he would work it out.

"Thank you," he returned before she left and stood to the side, watching the crowd or at least that was what he seemed to be doing.

"You really ought to get used to it by now. People don't see you for what you really are," he thought this and she heard him. It was how they communicated and in times when he was without his self control, it was quite often Chestnut who made sure he didn't hurt anyone unknowingly. That was their agreement from the day he had saved her life upon finding her.

"Yes, well, I still don't have to like it, little wolf," She bit back, flicking her tail over her rump. He stared at her before he shrugged and headed inside the tavern, clad in simple leathers and cloth. He only tended to wear his armour when he needed to or for other ceremonial occasions. Today however he didn't want to attract too much attention to himself. That would hardly do. Raban assessed the space of the tavern as he made his way to a table. He noted where the other ways out of the tavern were, how many were in the communal space and what the general feeling of the room was.

The pros of what he was aided him in his human form though it was never to the same range or strength as they would be in his darker form. He could smell varying scents that filled the room, most were old and clearly from several days prior to today but some were fresh. One was distinctly familiar and it brought his attention back on the woman that had complimented Chestnut. He had to have met her before now to have known the scent. He was distracted as a figure stood next to him and cleared their throat meaningfully. Raban broke his gaze and peered up before settling for a small cup of ale. He paid for it when it was put before him and leaned back slightly in the chair. It creaked slightly and he winced.

Men spoke in small groups, the innkeeper and his couple of assistants puttered about their business and Raban watched as the time drew on eventually attracting more and more patrons to the source of drink. It was as good a place as any to derive information as any. As more people consumed more drink, the looser their lips got. He didn't have to worry too much about lies being told, he could sort the chiff from the chaff easily enough if needed. He shifted gently on the chair. He had been in the saddle for a little while now and he was beginning to feel it.

"Serves you right. You could run yourself and still keep up."

Raban's face remained impassive as Chestnut's input rang out in his mind, reading it for the jest that it was. Despite their agreement, they had become relatively good friends who relied upon each more than they were both willing to admit.

Voices filled the space as more table were taken and his gaze fell on one that talked a little too loudly as they settled about their drinks.


The Eager Rper
Janine sipped on her water as the room slowly got filled. So much masculinity in one room; all of the women would be outnumbered five to one. Some men were young, but most were older - she crossed her lower legs a little, remembering and retaining some of the feminine rules that her mother gave her.

Her ears picked up on the bubbly banter of the men, and she shook her head as their words filled the room; how are they already close to being drunk? It wasn't even the afternoon yet. Most of the talk was bragging and taunting nonsense: how one man managed to sleep with two women at the same time, another one talked about how he managed to sleep with the wolves, whatever the hell that meant.

Janine shuttered as she drank more water. Sometimes she figured men to be dirty dogs. She couldn't understand how a woman was supposed to be attracted to animals like them.
As the conversation and bragging dragged on, the topic thankfully changed from sleeping to hunting stories. Her ears somewhat perked at the topic - as much as she loved animals, hunting gave out its own appeal.

The topic was brought on by a somewhat older group of men. They mentioned deer, wolves, and bears -- the typical stuff. But then, the stories teetered more and more on the fabricated side - Janine grew slightly annoyed, but whatever - a story was a story. She liked to tell stories herself, but she wouldn't tell anyone here any of them. And besides, she'd fought beasts much bigger than a wolf or bear.

Then, a voice spoke up from the opposite side of the room. Janine turned around to see a man somewhat shrounded in darkness and covered in a cloak.

"Ha! You younguns no nothing about danger. You talk about bears? The beasts I hunted and fought were five and ten times the size of a bear!" the man exclaimed as he swigged his drink. Janine blinked with increasing interest - where did he come from? Was he already there when she came in?

The young men looked to each other and scoffed. "Yeah right old man! What did you fight? A cow?" one of the men taunted. Most of the men gave light chuckles, which made Janine shake her head and scowl at them - she never liked it when people diarespected the elderly.

The man gave a small smirk, which Janine barely caught. He must've known something they didn't. He looked to a man sitting next to him, which stunned Janine even further. These men must've been there the entire time.

"Tell me, do you know what beast plagues the five Kingdoms today?" The man asked.

The other man shrugged his shoulders as he looked to his companions. "Dragons?" the man asked.

"Exactly." He gave a pause to let the thought sink in.

It took a moment before the younger men picked up on the idea. The men began to chuckle amongst themselves.

"Nice try old man, but we know better than to think you had chased dragons. Was it as big as a cat?" A young man teased. The room was filled with laughter - laughter that Janine didn't appreciate.

The first man looked to the man next to him and nodded. "Alright then, if I'm lying, then tell me about - this," the man's companion pulled his cloak off as he stood up. She struggled a little to take his shirt off, but once he did, it revealed a nunber of outrageous scars. The one he pointed at first was his arm - it had a huge, singular jagged scar that virtually ran down the entire arm, from shoulder to wrist. But he wasn't done, as he then showed his shoulder - it had a large circular scar in the center of the joint, where the bones met.

His final show was on his back: two giant ugly scars that discolored most - if not all - of his back.

Janine was simultaneously mortified and intrigued at the display. She was wondering the same question as everyone else.

"How the hell did that happen to you old man?" one of the younger men asked. The room was accompanied by agreeing murmurs of drunken men.


the Hugger Troll
Raban drank sparingly. Whilst he could put them away just as well as the other men were in the space around him, he preferred to keep his senses about him. He relied on them a good many times in the past and no doubt he'd need to rely on them in the future. For all appearances, his attention was mostly on the door or the bar but in truth he was quietly listening to the conversations going on around him. He yawned briefly and leaned back again, reaching to rub one side of his jaw before a group of voices began to gain his attention.

Boasts and brags and most he had heard before on several other occasions and it was mostly stuffed he ignored. He hunted them too occasionally, especially during the dark times as it relieved the need to hunt and staved any course for human flesh. However, he sought no cause to toot a horn about the affair. Not like how some liked to. He took another sip and raised a brow as an older voice piped up with inflections in his voice that caught his attention further. He turned in his seat a little before subtly shifting it so he had a better view.

He watched the conversation unfold maintaining his impassive facial features. The air changed and grew excited as words were exchanged. The old man did seem rather sure of his own convictions. He leaned forwards slightly, hand loosely clasping his cup of ale which stood half full by now.

Dragons. No creature he wasn't already used to and had occasionally thanked his curse in the course of some fights. Especially on the rare occasions when his true form could be a complete use to him but it was always dictated by what company he was with. He smiled to himself a little. Mankind was perhaps naive of some of the horrors that the dark produced, too distracted or concentrated on the Dragon problem. Dragons could make menaces of themselves in many ways and given their gargantuan sizes, they weren't worth ignoring.

"Much like this interesting tale," Chestnut muttered in his mind
"Then let me listen. These boys sure aren't," he replied, eyes narrowing as he watched the youngsters laugh and shake their heads with disbelief in the old man's story. Raban knew better than to mock. Even legends began with a tiny shred of truth and there was never any use in underestimating experience. He sipped his drink at length, grey-blue eyes staring at the group with interest that was quickly stirring. He paused as the old man threw off his shirt and Raban took in the injuries that broke the skin. He unknowingly sat closer to the table edge as he looked at the marred flesh. It had to have been from something large. Dragon claws could wreck terrible damage if you weren't careful and some of the smarter dragons used this with innate knowledge of anatomy.

The old man was lucky to be alive never mind trying to put youngsters back in their places with his show and tell.

"Answer lies before them and still they question the old rat?" Chestnut spat in his mind echoing his own line of thought. There were few other creatures that large that could do that kind of damage other than Dragonkind.
"They're clouded by drink. Except for one, I think." He mused back, letting ale slip past and down his throat. "They continue drinking, they won't remember his tale."
"You will."

"Come on, old man. Tell us!" The rest joined in, drink pushing them to impatience. Raban frowned before he downed the rest of his drink and thumped the butt of it on the tabletop. The sound struck loudly, cutting through the din of youth.

"Continue, friend. I think you can colour us all interested in hearing your tale," he looked to the old man and nodded, his own voice never raising in a shout but was clear and concise enough to be heard despite its husky notes.


The Eager Rper
The old man chuckled as he heard a voice speak to him aside from the drunken voices throughout the room. He put his shirt back on and sat down with a sigh.

"Alright then. It was about 20 years ago. The dragon problem in Amastad was twice as worse then than it was now. I was in the Dragon Slayer brigade then. The night was dark and damp - a storm was about to come in, so many people were trying to lock up and get warm before the rains came. A dragon ended up getting spotted stealing some animal from a barn, and the alarm sounded. Me and a small group of the Dragon Slayer chased the beast into the forest, hoping to either retrieve the animal, or kill the beast itself."

The man paused to take a sip of his drink, using the small window to collect his thoughts. Janine was even more intrigued at the story, but she compelled herself to keep a neutral expression. So far, nobody had taken notice of her presence, so she was good so far.

"The dragon led us deeper into the forest than the Knights normally ever went on their own, but we were determined to wear the beast out. The forest was soon covered with a thick fog, and before the knights knew it, the dragon managed to disappear into the forest.

We looked for it until the rains came in and the thunder rolled. We decided to declare the mission a loss until we heard a strange roar. It was somewhat close to where we were looking, so we raced after the noise until we saw the dragon -- dead and mangled up like some rat after a cat played with it.

Its body was punctured with multiple holes, and its neck was completely twisted around, riddled with fang marks as it laid on the ground.
The moment we saw the dead dragon, we then saw markings all over the trees. We realized that we were in another creature's territory and swiftly decided it was time to leave....

But something else said otherwise.

Just as we turned to leave, a deafening roar stopped us in our tracks. My ears were filled with this dreadful sound. I covered my ears as it overwhelmed my senses, but nothing worked to dampen the volume. My vision blurred, my bones felt like they would shatter at any moment, and I felt blood coming out of my ears. I screamed in pain as I tried to steer my horse, but the next thing I knew, I had blacked out.

When I woke up, I wasn't on my horse anymore, and I had a splitting headache. I looked to the side as the rain soaked my face and body, and was face to face with a fallen comrade. My horror was cut short as heavy footsteps appraoched me, and as I strained to move, I was quickly pinned down by a large foot with a hooked claw on it. Its head came down to meet my head, the lightning shedding light on its figure. I saw its eyes - they were filled with the worst kind of rage. It growled lowly before roaring in my face and racking claws against my back, forcing a tortured scream out my throat. The beast flipped me over and pierced a claw in my arm, then went down my arm, tearing at me like I was a pieceof cloth. It then skewered a long claw through my shoulder, making me scream even harder.

The beast growled lowly, and watched as I screamed for someone to save me... Or for the beast to end me, whichever came first. But instead of ending me like any other dragon, it simply took a moment to regain its breath, and watched as my blood spilled on the soaked ground. I don't know what else it did to me, because the pain was so bad, I felt myself black out once more."

The man paused and looked to the man beside him. With a sigh, he swigged his drink and shook his head. "The first thing I saw when I woke back up was a hospital ceiling. It was a miracle I had lived, they said. A single Knight had waited for me to wake up. Turns out, the dragon walked off and left me to slowly die.

And that beast killed every single one of the Knights in our group.... except for the two of us."

Janine stared in awe at the man when the story was over. That was a hundred times better than a bear or a wolf story. It was a real dragon. And a vicious one at that. It was when she lifted up her drink did she realize how excited she was - she didn't catch how shaky her breath was or how how tight she had balled her fists. It was almost like she was there.

"Wow," Janine whispered to herself.


the Hugger Troll
Raban nodded glad his little prompt got the man to continue his tale and though he kept to an impassive facial expression. To hear this old man was part of the same order was inquiring and he was gaining a new respect for the man. Not many who fought against such beasts could claim to have reached old age. He had either gotten very lucky or was very experienced at the task. There had been more than a few times where he had only just escaped serious injury and nine times out of ten that had only been due to what he truly was.

He listened with a boyish keenness as the old man spoke. He liked a good tale or story as much as anyone else. There was scant else to do on some nights and sometimes a story could warm the hart more than a fire or blanket could. He enjoyed that far more in retrospect. It was clear it was doing the same for others in the space of the tavern. The silence was only broken by the man's voice and gasps at various points of the story. Whether it was true or whether it was fake and the scars were indeed caused by something else... both were plausible.

However, there was something in the voice and his senses that told him that this tale was not as false as some of the more naive peasant-folk may believe it to simply be. There was the ark of truth in this and that got him curious as he watched the old man come to the end of his telling. The details were too specific. He read fear and awe rise in the room. Dragons were feared by everyone but their size and nature also caused some to admire them for what they were or what they presented. For him, it was more a measure of carefully maintaining a delicate balance. He believed that Dragons did have their right to live on this world but so did human folk and other beasts that lived. He took no pleasure in killing them but did so only to cull them to a certain number. Raban was quite specific in his hunts. He would only target those that had grown too big and lived too long or those that had grown too ferocious and unwilling to share.

This one sounded just like the sort he hunted. Too big and too much of a danger to everything surrounding it. He could respect territory. Any wolf could. However, a dragon could covet that and widen it. Since it was bigger than most else, other creatures could barely argue such points. He sniffed the air and wrinkled his nose.

Silence filled the air once the old man had told his story of his lucky escape from certain death and Raban smiled in the pause before he nodded, leaning forwards, his chair betraying his shifting wight with a resounding creak that broke the silence in a snap, drawing attention.

"This dragon, it still lives, do you know?" he asked, careful to put the inflection of awe and curiosity in his voice. If it still lived, it could rear its head again, do more harm to innocent lives. There had been talk of a forest where few returned but whether that was connected, he couldn't say for sure. The law had long given up on trying to find the answer to that mystery.

Raban barely acknowledged as many turned their heads to look at him. Some blinked slightly having not registered the man beforehand and yet as they did now, they could note Raban bore his own scars. His rugged skull with prominent brow and cheekbones that followed with a strong jawline bore two scars down the side of his face. They weren't dragon related but he had been content to let people of the order assume them to be.

The question drew more curiosity from the crowd, aiding the air to grow more excited. Raban could smile, people loved a good story with their ale.


The Eager Rper
Janine took notice of the change of air in the tavern. It went from sloppy drunk carelessness to attentive and curious. A good story did that to people.
Janine almost hoped that the story wouldn't end -- she liked it when there was something to distract her from her outside concerns.

She looked down when a voice quipped a question to the old Knight -- it was the man she saw outside before she went in the tavern. Turns out, he was paying attention to the man as well, even going as far as to ask a question, like a curious child. She smirked a little, wishing she had the guts to ask.

At the question, the man looked to his friend, as if asking if he wanted to answer the question. The other man, who was at least a decade younger than the first man, shrugged his shoulders, then looked towards the owner of the question.

"To be honest son, we don't know. After the vicious attack, our leader said that this dragon was our biggest threat to our Kingdom's safety, and that we needed to eliminate it.... But understandably, nobody wanted to chase after it. After all, who wanted to be cut open like a piece of meat?

We didn't know what we were dealing with, and we didn't have any eveidence as to where it lived, since it was pure chance that we stumbled upon the beast's territory anyway.
Some brave soldiers went out to find the territory again. We tried to warn our leader of the danger, but he didn't want to listen... Hours later, that same terrible roar echoed throughout the forest. Birds flew in the air, I swear to you, I could hear the screams of our Knight comrades as well. When we raced to save them, but they came bursting out of the forest before we went inside. Upon close inspection, there wasn't a scratch on them, but their ears were bleeding something fierce. Even their horses' ears were bleeding. After a few days, they were declared dead from internal bleeding."

The man shook his head with a grumbling sigh.

"From that moment on, we were forbidden to look for the dragon. It was much too dangerous to condemn any more lives; we couldn't afford to lose anymore Knights.

We decided to nickname this dragon - "The Hidden Death". While I do keep my faith in the Knights, I wouldn't dare send anyone after this monster."

The man looked to the rest of the other captured men, with a look of the utmost seriousness.

"If it is still alive, this beast has stayed in the forest all these years. I normally don't recommend to leave a dragon alone, but for this one.... I wholeheartedly urge any and all Knights to leave this one alone. You'll live longer."

Janine stared in awe as the second story ended. This was just getting better and better. This dragon has singlehandedly stricken fear into the Knights. A dragon that has been declared to not be hunted.... That must've been what her leader was talking about the other day; she had overheard her head Knight speaking softly about "The Hidden Death".

So that's what that nickname was about. It was about this dragon. While she wasn't the type to rush blindly into danger, she felt this.... Growing feeling. It just fueled this dangerous desire to see the creature herself.

She took a small breath to calm herself down. There was no reason to rile herself up over something that had happened years before she was even born.
But instead of keeping quiet, something happened - her nerves reached a certain point, and she accidentally blurted a sound out that caught the men's attention.

She flinched and grolwed mentally at herself - why the fuck did she do that?

"Yes lass? I assume you have a question?" The first man asked.

Janine figured she had no choice but to speak up, and turned around to face the scarred man.

"I was wondering, can you move that arm? Efficiently of course," Janine asked.

The man looked to the young woman with a tilted head and made a sound that sounded like a mix between an scoff and a chuckle.
"What do you think the answer is?" He asked.

Janine narrowed her eyes a little - she couldn't tell if she was being challenged of her common sense in asking the question, or if she was truly being asked what her opinion was.

With a sniff, Janine decided to challenge the man back. She refused to be intimidated.
"Well, considering how you've beaten the nearly impossible odds of surviving, one could imagine that you've also beaten the odds of never using the arm again. Considering that you still have that arm, I can assume that you can use it to a certain extent. Unless you're just keeping it for decoration?" Janine asked.

The man paused for a moment as the tavern grew quiet. For sure, it could seem that he would grow angry out of feeling disrespected, but the man instead gave an amused guttural chuckle at the response.

"That's quite the answer lass. To answer your question, I can use it still, just not up to its full potential. Don't expect me to lift up men across my back anytime soon," the man responded. Janine smirked and nodded her head, pleased that she didn't back down and resume her silence.

At this point, one of the young men who originally teased the men got up on his feet and raised his cup.

"Well old man. That's quite the story. I guess it's safe to give acknowledgment to a lucky bastard. Here's to sheer luck.... And stories from the depths of the forest," the man said. Surprisingly, or maybe unsurprisingly, most of the men got up and said their agreements, sipping their drinks before sitting down. Janine simply raised her drink as well - the declaration was very true.

The men sipped the last of their drinks and gotten up on their feet.

"Well. It's best we get going. We can only sit in one place for so long." The first man said as they began their walk to the door. The other men had their various reactions, varying from trying to keep the men in the tavern to just voicing their displeasure. Janine was almost among those to beg the two men to stay, as she could listen to stories like that all day. But she supposed she talked enough for one bar visit.
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the Hugger Troll
Raban felt you could cut the air with a knife and receive an ample slice of all the energy it contained. Curiosity drove people to rise from their drunken stupors and he smiled at their excitement. It lay akin to his own. Who couldn't find stories about dragons worthy of attention.

"The saps with no inner child, that's who"

He almost snorted aloud at Chestnut's dry words of bemusement. She was a shrewd thing, able to read people as keenly as he could. He smiled and told her to hush, wanting to hear the answer to his question. He listened with the same rapt attention as most others in the room.

There was good chance this dragon was still alive. It coincided well with the talk of a forest some distance away from which people seldom returned. Whether it was because of the Dragon or because of something else just as dark and ferocious, he was unsure. Either way, he felt it would have to be investigated.

Ears bleeding? He frowned at this and knew that meant even more trouble. Smaller dragons couldn't yet reach that ability whereas the great lungs of a giant very well could be enough to do so. If he and Chestnut were to go and see for themselves, they would have to do so with caution. At least they both had a distinct advantage over other Knights. A wolf and a demon... it made for a powerful combination but still, whether that was enough to best a giant remained to be seen. He was open to the knowledge it could very well take more.

The old man gave them his dire warning to leave the dragon be and he heard it but his interest was sparked and duty demanded it was investigated. Undoubtedly there was some way it could be defeated, that he knew. The trick was just learning how that could come to pass.

Raban's attention was stolen as he heard a female voice pipe up from the crowd. At a glance, he realised it was the woman who had complimented his horse. She seemed to be taken aback or otherwise unused to drawing attention to herself if her expression was anything to go by.

The wolf knight tilted his head at the question and listened as the pair exchanged words in a mix of challenge and disdain. He was uncertain as to why her interest in the movement capability of his arm was of any importance but everyone could ask what they wanted.

His eye caught movement as he raised his cup to his lips and paused as he listened to the youngster toast the elder's success and fortune. Raban nodded, it had certainly been worth the telling and he knew the story would in turn be fed back to others, changing as stories often did when retold over and over. Small details exaggerated to falsehoods in their eventuality. He lifted his cup in the toast and drank, finishing what was left in his cup.

Raban remained in his seat as the pair gave their leave followed in turn by a succession of others. As he sat there, he found his gaze resting upon the woman again. He sniffed the air and smiled to himself. They had at least seen each other before but only so far as being seen. He did not recall her name which suggested they had never been introduced. Least of what he could remember. This meant there was a potential she was also part of the same order.

He shrugged, he could have equally been quite wrong in his estimations.

"So, up for a little trek to the forest, old friend?"
he asked the demon in horse flesh waiting outside.

"Little Wolf, I thought you'd never ask," Came the reply.

He smiled to himself quite visibly. Chestnut loved the thrill of a hunt. She might be stuck in a Shire but there was no forgetting demon's excitement inside.


The Eager Rper
Janine was back to her quiet stature as soon as the two elders left the tavern. But she couldn't get too comfortable with the quiet talking - surely it would end sooner than later. The thrilling storytelling was over, and it was bound to give way to the original drunken surroundings from before.

She turned her head ands noticed a couple of middle-aged men glancing at her. She blinked and mentally growled. No. No way. She did not come here for any drunken nonsense; especially not so early in the morning. The young woman looked to her cup -- there was a little bit of water left. She could rush the rest of her water down. So before she got dragged into something undesirable, Janine swigged the last of her barely cold water, and turned to scoot herself off her chair. And yet, even when she tried to leave, the two men had gotten up and approached her. She stood up and crossed her arms, hiding the balled up fists that were ready to make contact with whoever tried anything funny.

"Yes? May I help you?" Janine asked with a standoffish tone of voice. One of the men raised his hands up and chuckled a little.

"Calm down now girly, we didn't come over here for any trouble. We just want to know what someone like you is doing in a place like this," the man asked with a raised eyebrow.

Janine couldn't help the scoff that rose up and out of her mouth. Now what the hell did that mean exactly? The woman felt herself tense up with anger, but she still wanted to keep her calm demeanor. She stuck out her hands and separated the two men to make a path for herself.

"Nothing. Nothing at all. Now if you'll excuse me, I got things to do," Janine said as she walked to the door.

The men looked to each other and scoffed lightly. It seemed that they didn't appreciate the brisk brush off -- especially from a woman like Janine. One of them walked up to Janine and grabbed her arm, trying to keep her in the tavern, but Janine whirled around and slapped the man, forcing him to stumble onto an empty table.
He released Janine's arm as he fell into an empty chair, groaning as his face stung harshly across his cheeks. Janine glared at the second drunk man, flexing her fingers like she was going to rush the man herself.

"You want to grab me too?" Janine challenged. The man stepped a few inches back, shaking his head vigorously. She sniffed with a small smirk. Why did she have to resort to violence to get out of situation? Well, in any case, she felt a little bit of her tension release itself.
With that out of the way, Janine made her exit out of the stuffy tavern, and the outside air hit her face with a vengeance. She sighed as she saw the masses of the townspeople once again, and figured that she needed to get some space a little longer.

She looked up at the sky. It wasn't noon, so her lead Knight wasn't calling in the brigade just yet. If she left now, she'd have just enough time to step into the forest and take in the scenery for a while.

With that, Janine took off, hoping that she'd make it home before it was too late.


the Hugger Troll
Raban stood all ready to leave the dark little tavern and head out before he noted the woman rose as well followed by two to three others. He gave pause, silently watching them as he sniffed the air. A selection of heady scents filled his nose but hers was standing above the rest along with these men. He could sense their excitement, anxiety, thrill perhaps and that spoke to the beast within him more than it did to the man. Raban listened, pretending to be caught in the indecision of leaving or buying another cupful of ale. The barkeep hovered nearby either waiting for the choice to be made or keeping an eye on proceedings. Raban could not blame the man. Furniture was not something immediately replaced.

It seemed the woman held things to hand and for that, Raban was grateful. There was a couple of things he needed to do before the meeting. He had come an awful long way for it and had rode fast to make it on time. Now he was too early and needed to waste time. Thankfully, he had supplies and other things that needed replenishing. He gave it a few moments before he turned the cup upside down and with a heavy thud of his boots, walked out of the tavern much to the barkeep's dismay.

He smiled at Chestnut before he unhitched her reins and rather than mounting her, he chose to walk ahead, leading the way through the throng of peasant folk, local guardsmen and other wayfarers. It wasn't that hard to make his way to the shop he needed and then to the stables afterwards. He needed a new saddle as his old one was only just holding onto to Chestnut's girth.

"Would be nice if it was fur lined, you know"
"That would raise suspicions, old friend"
"Too bad little wolf"

Raban helped the stable-hand to fit the new saddle paying close attention to the girth straps and ensuring it was right for the horse in which Chestnut was trapped. He counted out the coins that spoke of the saddle's cost. A small fortune for some families. He noted the time before Chestnut spoke of a need to get away from civilisation for just a little while and he knew it was not worth keeping her here for long. He thanked the man serving him before he got on the saddle and steered her out of town. He chose for the back streets this time around and was able to maintain a relatively quick pace, her powerful legs make short work of the churned mud.

It was not long before she brought him to the edges of the forest and he stared at the depths in the treeline. Forests presented a sanctuary for him at times when things were rough and uncontrollable. Those times were rare, few and far between but he knew he was a monster in those instances. The further he happened to be in those circumstances, the better for everyone else.

He found a trail and let Chestnut pick her own route with a subtle reminder to head back towards town in time for the meeting. She acknowledged with a toss of her head and a snort before he lost himself to thought, his body reacting to Chestnut's movement instinctively.


The Eager Rper
Janine panted as she ran all the way back home. It was a small challenge, with all the huge horse carriages and cattle carts zooming back and forth in the dirt streets. But she made it relatively unscathed.

"Mom! I'm home," the young woman called out as she stepped inside the house. She looked to her left to see her mother on her rocking chair and knitting something. Janine approached the older woman and kissed her cheek.

"Hello child," her mother said as she reciprocated the kiss. Janine took a piece of bread, slathered it with butter, and nearly ran out the door again.

"Where are you going?" Janine's mother asked.

"To the forest! And I'm taking Venus too!" Janine said as she ran out the door and around the corner to her stable. Neighing happily was her knight horse, Venus. A somewhat smaller black and brown beast of a horse who was given to her as some sort of joke by some sniveling, sorry excuse for a knight instructor.... Just because of her skin color.

At first, she wanted to send the horse back - but not without making the horse swiftly kick the asshole in the face - but she quickly grew to like the equine. The mare had spunk it seemed, and it surprisingly liked to pick fights with the stallions. When she saw that, Janine instantly fell for her, and called her 'Venus' just because it sounded like a name for a hot-headed woman.

After weeks and weeks of dedicated training, Venus and Janine became inseparable. Now, she can just tell Venus to stomp that insufferable Knight to the ground, and nobody would care... He was an asshole to a lot more people than her.

After saddling her up and riding her out, Janine was quick to approach the forest. As they drew closer to the treeline, Venus snorted excitedly. Janine could swear that Venus was taken from the wild and forced to work for humans. It would explain the mare's occasional attitude towards other humans besides Janine and her family.

"You ready? Alright, let's go!" Janine shouted with a small whoop of excitement.

With a neigh, Venus moved her legs and galloped through the forest, running as fast as her strong legs can take her.

For however long the older man and his steed would travel, there would suddenly be a roar echoing across the forest canopy. Birds flew away in surprise, and the forest would slowly grow quiet again. But after a few seconds, another roar would echo - this one somewhat deeper and a few seconds longer. Bears? Or a dragon perhaps?

Once it got quiet again, the sounds of thudding can barely be heard, if one listened hard enough. What could the thudding sounds be? Fighting? Hunting? But all too soon, the beginning smells of a fire had caught in the air. What was happening up ahead?


the Hugger Troll
Chestnut threw her head as she picked her ways across the forest floor, the reins held slack against her broad neck. There was no control, there was no need here in the forest. Demon and Lycan both understood each other perfectly and though she knew she would never have befriended him had she been free of her restrained form, he had been something of a saving grace for her. Equally, she knew of no other for nearly a hundred or so miles who knew what Raban truly was and could bring him back from the brink of no control. She snorted, the last time he has lost his control had been earlier in the year just after winter had started to let go of its cold, bitter grasp. He had been so close to killing a little girl. Chestnut could remember the shrill screams of the girl's mother running towards the beast and child. Chestnut had galloped her way into Raban's path, blocking it and saving the girl. She had reared, her giant hooves striking outwards to a mind lost to outrage and hunger. It had given the girl the time to run away back to the safety of its mother and its village.

The demon was all too used to this on the times it happened and through the link that stood between them, she knew how much it had torn at his soul afterwards. It ate at him constantly. Getting him back to his usual mood as usual took time. She only bothered trying with him. She could not care for the rest of humanity. To her, it was nothing more than a plague worthy of its own destruction. She paused and raised her head with alert ears pricking the air as the sudden sound of a beast's roar crashed through the forest. The demon tilted her equine head and stared upwards as birds flew, animals hushed themselves before large nostril's flared, scenting the air.

"You hear that, little wolf?"
"Plain as day, old friend," Raban affirmed beneath his breath, his posture growing erect and tense.

Raban could feel the hairs on the back of his neck rise and they stayed like that even after the second roar. He paused before he slowly dismounted, removed his gauntlet and took a knee, his hand feeling the earth. He grew still with nothing but the sound of his and Chestnut's breathing. Thud. Thud thud. Thud...

Chestnut stepped forwards in a drawn curiosity that only could be attained from a fire demon. It knew the familiar snap and crackle of flames, knew its path of destruction and breath of new life. "We should move, little wolf. The forest cooks and it's not natural," she told him as bluntly as he knew her to be when danger was afoot. It was a plus in battle. He rarely had to turn her head or stop her, she knew what to do and no one was going to argue with a 17hh shire horse at full charge.

Raban frowned as his eyes tracked the horizon through the dense trees. Unnatural fire could mean any one of a few things. Man, demon, some other rare beasts that rarely ventured beyond their own lands but he knew it far more likely to have been Dragon here. It gave more truth to the old man's words and to the rumours running the mill of late. He rose and returned to his place upon her back. "We need confirmation, Chestnut. Let's not be noisy," he said quietly and Chestnut flashed her tail over her flank before she began to slowly venture on, carefully placing her large hooves through the leaf litter.


The Eager Rper
The sounds of thudding were somewhat constant in the forest as the Knight and horse slowly drew closer towards the sounds. The deeper the two went, the darker the forest gradually became. And the thudding sounds grew louder as well.

The trees were taller and the tree canopies partially blocked the sunlight, which produced darker shadows. At some point, the two would come across the silhouette of a familiar figure: it had a long tail, a body that was as large as a small cottage, and shapes that strongly resembled wings and flapped in the air. The figure would make a roar... But this time, it was dragged out and weakened, as if the creature was injured. For a moment the shadowed figure moved around, then disappeared into the forest.

Following the figure, the Knight and his horse would come come across a small clearing in which blue flames burned and decorated parts of the ground, and various parts of surrounding trees. In the center, there was a large scorched circle, where dying licks of blue flames burned for as long as it could.

Blood also decorated some burned bushes; its relative freshness hinted by how blood slowly oozed off black branches and leaves, hitting the ground with sizable drops. A thin trail of blood would lead away from the circle and into the forest, suggesting that whoever made the circle had left to flee the area.... But from what?

Even though the area was empty, there would be an ominous tension building up in the air.... As if someone... Or something, was out there in the forest.

Thud.... Thud.... Thud.....

Something was approaching the area that the Knight was in. And it sounded a bit large. Was it the culprit of the fire? Or was it something else? Either way, fleeing the area or hiding seemed to be valid options for survival.
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the Hugger Troll
The further they went in, the more he relied upon his heightened senses. He could smell the smoke, knew what had burned within the flames. he could hear the cries of wildlife as it tried to escape it. He was listening for the signs of something far larger however. Chestnut gave pause as something shifted in the darkness. he could feel heat emanate from her and she was gunning for a fight or the chase. He could never tell which with her. For all his senses and knowledge about her, she could still confuse him. Part of her charm, he supposed. His eyes narrowed as he watched the wings lift and flap, the beast gave a sound quite unlike the majesty he had heard from dragons before. A young one perhaps or one crippled from either age or injury. He wasn't sure which as wolf and demon continued on.

It disappeared and he wondered at it for a long moment as Chestnut entered a clearing touched by blue flame and black cinders. She stood in the middle of it all, one leg directly in the flames and yet was untouched by it. Dragon fire was magical but unlike demon, it was still a natural source. Her own was unearthly and something he knew he would never care to know. Yet he trusted her with his life daily, knew that only she knew his mighty fine secret. He was aware the moment the Order found out about what he was and the unholy truth of it all, he would be as hunted down as the Dragons of the world.

"Someone had fun here," he muttered, the scent of blood spoke to the animal inside and adrenaline rose within him. He might be in full control of himself but he still felt its thirst.

"Something large, something ancient," Chestnut returned, pawing a feathered hoof through the flame with clear sign of admiration and affection. He could feel that from her in his mind.

"Don't get too attached, old friend. You know the score,"
"Of course I do, Little Wolf. No harm in appreciating," she returned with a hellish chuckle.

He suddenly sat straighter in the saddle, ears and nose picking out noise and scent quite new to everything else. This looked like something was hunting and Raban got a feeling he and Chestnut had put themselves on the menu. Whilst his guard was raised, there was no fear. His expression was calm as he observed the forest encircling them. Broken branches betrayed a path. Blood and scent trails too. He could follow any one of them but as the thuds through the ground sounded, he knew he would not have to.

"Let's see what we're facing, old friend."
"You always did prefer the shadow of the dark," came the response and the large shire turned, heading straight for trees with high growing ferns and other low canopy plants that offered cover. He dismounted and let her choose her own spot. He had no need to question a speedy retreat. His true form would handle that. He stayed in cover and watched the clearing whilst he calmed his being. He wanted to know the scent more but he could not risk draining his energy yet. Half changes, as he called them, were taxing on his system and knew his body disliked it but it did often give handy information without a full change.


The Eager Rper
The thudding sounds drew closer and closer to the clearing as the source approached the area. The ominous tension rose higher and higher, and after a long few moments, a presence rose from the far side of the clearing.

Green eyes faintly glowed in the darkness, hinting at the height of the creature. A foot lifted up slowly and proceeded to step into the light, revealing a large foot with a hooked claw. It was tapped into the earth, making indents in the ground as the rest of the body came forth; the body soon revealed a dragon, and upon estimation, it was at least three times taller than a human.

It was a strange looking beast, with wickedly long claws that were stained red, and back spines that flexed every now and again. Those spines went all the way down to the tail, which was scaled from base to tip. The beast's brown skin was striped with yellowish-brown coloring, and large green wings were folded against the body. There were splotches of red decorating the body, but it was hard to tell if they were from the dragon itself, or from its prey.... But a sore lack of wounds would suggest one answer.

It was clear the dragon was searching for something, for it sniffed the air as it slowly stalked the ring of weakened fire. The beast lifted up a bloody claw and sniffed it, droplets of blood hitting the ground as it took in the scent of the blood. The dragon lifted its head to sniff the air again, large hooked claws tapping into the earth once again.

A growl came out of the dragon's throat as it looked to the ring of fire. Smoke wafted into the air, somewhat masking whatever scent the dragon wanted to track. It went down to the ground, long claws on the dirt to balance the creature, and opened its wings as it looked around. The wings lowered to the ground and were flapped lightly, blowing the dirt up and the smoke away from its face.

It sniffed the ground once it felt the smoke wasn't a problem anymore. After a few seconds, it stopped and sniffed a particular area. Eyes narrowed as a low growl came from its throat, and the dragon stood up on its two feet again to look right in the direction where the Knight happened to be hiding.
The beast began its approach towards the bushes, claws clicking against each other as the growls grew louder. It continued until it was standing right over the Knight, eyes glaring at the bushes -- but it didn't do anything yet.

The beast lowered its head slowly, razor sharp fangs flashing red and white as it drew its head close to the bushes. Was it staring at the Knight? Was it going to kill him? The dragon lifted its head and made a sort of growling sound that sounded full of anger. It lifted a bloody set of claws, poised to strike into the bushes...

In that moment, a roar echoed into the forest again. The dragon stopped and turned to the direction of the roar, sniffing the air again as it turned around. The dragon flicked its tail as it stared, as if contemplating whether it should move or not. The answer was clear when it began moving in that direction, but it stopped for a few seconds, turning it's head to the bush it was just over. The dragon then turned around and raised a bloody hand to swiftly stab directly into the bush, embedding its claws into the bush and ground. It paused before slowly digging the claws out of the shrubbery, with the result being its claws being semi clean of blood. The dragon studied its own claws for a second with an unreadable expression on its face before turning around and taking off, following the sounds with a low growl as if walked off into the darkness of the forest again.
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the Hugger Troll
He glanced as Chestnut found a tall bunch of ferns to lie behind and then he peered back, sat on his haunches ready to spring to safety at a moment's notice. It was almost pitch black where he hid and he felt comfort from that. He always had since he had become what he was. The dark called to creatures of the night in so many ways. He had of few werewolf attacks made in daytime, in fact none at all. Most didn't even know that they were the ones who caused all the missing people and bloodshed. He found them difficult to contend with. He supposed he was biased but he had been so very fortunate with his change and it was equally rare. Raban hadn't heard of his werekind before. All he knew of were those who turned wolf by night and innocnet man by day.

He picked out the eyes quicker than Chestnut did and knew exactly to what they belonged. They were too large to be for anything else. Not even mantivores grew this big and they were pretty sizeable beasts. He winced as it came into view instantly knowing that any fight against such a behemoth would very likely need two or more of his Order. It would need veterans too, not greenhorns too young to know the tricks Dragons liked to use. There were many, even some Raban was sure he was green to. He watched it with careful, studious eyes and knew that not only was this dragon of some considerable age itself but also that it knew how to master its surroundings. It was careful and watchful, the beast knew it's own situational awareness and that made it even more dangerous.

Raban narrowed his eyes even as he felt Chestnut's presence in his mind. He initiated the conversation and his mouth did not move to even give away his spot.

"It's hunting."
"Us, you think?"
"Probably. A shire horse... a man, both would barely be a snack for this one"
"You're not just a man though"
"No idea if it can tell that from my scent... hush, it grows closer!"

It was looking directly at him, or perhaps rather the bush in which he was hiding. Raban's form tensed in its crouch ready to spring out of the way. He didn't particularly want to change as his armour was not made with that in mind but he would if he had to. He inched a little backwards, his own eyes never leaving the face of the great beast. He blinked as another roar sounded in the distance and he frowned wondering to whom that belonged. The leaf litter rustled as the larger beast turned and he watched it carefully before it attacked his hiding place.

Muscles sprung, he moved out of the way. It proved to be fast despite its great size and he grimaced as a claw tip caught at his leg but he was aware enough to no cry out or growl. In the past, pain had been enough to initiate changes but he soon got a handle over that. Otherwise being a Knight in the thick of battle would have been a surefire way of getting himself killed instead. Only the strongest of moon would force him to lose his control and his sanity. He kept calm, he kept silent, watching the dragon move away.

"You were lucky!"
"It knew I was there. It knew..."
"From scent alone?"
"Oh, demon of fire, you forget your trap. Course, from scent alone!"
He earned a snort of derision and reproach for that and soon the Shire stood over him, peering down at him with large sobering eyes. She snickered and kicked at his side gently with a broad hoof.
"Come the moon, yours will be your trap," she intoned before her head lowered and she sniffed at where the claw had caught him. She knew when he was hurt without a need of seeing it happen. "You'll want to staunch that, little wolf."

He looked before he pulled a cloth free from about his neck and held it in place. He frowned and then conceded, "Okay, so tracks too..."
"Thank you,"
"It's very aware, old... knowledgeable... Quite unlike what we've fought before. No wonder it prevailed against the Order before... I daresay it would need us all to bring it down,"
"It might just be wanting that, old friend. Like you, it likes the hunt. I could sense it,"

Once his wound stopped bleeding, he tied the cloth off and moved into the clearing. He looked at the large tracks it left behind and used his feet to measure their length. He whistled softly as it took more than six lengths of his own feet. Chestnut followed him, her head drooped to also peer at it before her head lifted at the following stillness. Not a bird twittered.


The Eager Rper
Janine was settled in a tree, reading her book and snacking on her bread as she flipped the pages. Despite being a Knight, Janine had her hobbies - reading was one of them. She often hid doing such an activity, for she was concerned of how she would be portrayed if she was shown doing such things.
Most of the time, Knights weren't known for literature, so it was possible that a person who read was one who was too weak or pansy to stand up for themselves or not strong enough to physically follow their demands.

In any case, those who bothered her would face Janine's horse. Looking down from her book, Janien caught Venus nibbling on some greens. She chuckled, returning to her book just before a weakened roar echoed into the forest. Both Janine and Venus paused and looked up, wondering what and where the sounds were coming from.

Sensing danger coming their way, Janine proceeded to climb down and put her belongings away, grabbing the reins of her horse as she made her way further into the forest. She made Venus go slower than she did the first time, and she studied the forest with careful eyes. Venus made a nervous nicker as the first grew slightly darker, and Janine patted the horse's neck to calm her down. There was nothing to fear - yet. No need to get worked up without good reason.

Another roar sounded out, making Venus stop and lift her ears attentively. Janine sniffed the air, but with subtlety, simply swiveling her head around to see if she could catch something. And she did catch something in the air - blood... and smoke.

That was odd. What would these intermingled scents be doing floating in the air? Janine growled softly and directed her attention to the left, where the soft breeze blew the scents toward her. What was happening out there?

"Something's happening. But I can't make it out, Venus. Wait.... What is that?"

A thudding sound from the forest drew closer to the young Knight, sparking a sense of wariness and alertness in her. But something was off about it. The thudding wasn't even and constant, but instead, it was random and all over the place - like a newborn foal or calf.

Before long, she spotted movement between the tree trunks. Venus heard the footsteps coming closer, and began to back away with nervousness. Janine didn't try to stop her, but she made sure to keep her distance as well. Then, out of nowhere, the footsteps accelerated towards them.

Janine gasped and slapped the reins, having Venus launch out of the way. She sprinted out of the way just when a large creature collapsed past the trees. The Knight and her horse turned to see the dust settle upon a dragon.

A wounded dragon.

Janine gasped softly - where did it come from? She descended off of Venus, who neighed a warning and stepped in front of her.

"Venus, calm down. I'll be careful, promise," Janine said to her horse. Venus looked over to the heavily panting beast and backed away further into a bush, where she felt safer.

Janine steadily approached the dragon and studied its features with awe. It was a four-legged one, and from what she could see, it was a young dragon. She looked around carefully - where was its elders? Janine found out early in her training that dragons tended to live in either large family groups, or larger colonies over a huge expand of land. This dragon was too young to be alone like this.

Janine easily noticed how weakened and wounded the dragon was. There were slashes that marked the scaly hide, the flesh was bruised, and the dragon was still moving. She was amazed the beast was still alive. She looked up to the wings that were supposed to help with flight, but she quickly saw why the dragon couldn't even try - multiple slashes racked down the thin veil of skin, making the wings look like old tatters of curtain. And the limbs that attached the wings to the shoulders were riddled with holes around the bone, most likely making movement nearly impossible without intense pain. The dragon was purposely made lame, but by what?

Janine narrowed her eyes when she noticed the dragon's maw moving. She drew herself closer to try and hear the sounds, and wasn't able to make out any actual growls. She actually... made out.... words. Not human words, but words nonetheless.

"He co...mae... He com....ae..... He comae....."

Janine shook her head worriedly, trying to figure out what she was hearing. The shock of actually hearing a speaking dragon hadn't yet clicked in, for she was too in tuned to the dragon's clear distress.

"What? What are you saying?" Janine muttered.

The dragon opened an eye and saw a human standing in front of it. It gave a startled roar as it struggled to get up. Like the attempt, the roar started out strong, but it quickly morphed into a pained and choked sound, and it fell short. The dragon collapsed back onto the ground in front of Janine, panting heavily in pain. Janine couldn't help but feel sorry for the dragon, and looked around to male sure nothing was sneaking up on her. The dragon muttered again, and Janine tilted her head curiously.

"What? What are you saying?" Janine asked.

The dragon opened their mouth and shook its head with a groan.

"He comae... He com....ae..... He comae....." The dragon repeated. Janine felt herself grow restless as she tried to understand the beast. What was it saying? The words sounded close to hunan words, but not quite there. 'Comae'.... It sounded like 'come'.

'He come'. Or maybe 'he comes'?

Janine panted as she leaned in to try and touch the beast.

"Who? Who's coming? Who's this 'he'? Janine asked, unsure if the dragon even understood her.

The dragon kept repeating the phrase, and its urgency and panic began to grow on both Janine and Venus. What was happening? Why did this feeling of dread suddenly come upon her? The rattles in her head echoed endlessly in her mind, warning her of impending danger.

Thud... Thud.... Thud.... Thud.....

Shit. Something was coming. Venus felt the danger as well, and began neighing and rearing up. They had to get out of here. But the dragon was too distracted to make a decent attempt at getting up. It just kept repeating the draconic words over and over again, until a low growl pierced the dialogue.

Janine gasped and froze, and the dragon looked behind to see a shadow approaching them. Janine's eyes widened, and she slowly backed away from the wounded dragon. But the dragon muttered the word that Janine didn't yet know she needed to hear.


The wounded dragon made its quickest attempt at standing on its feet, and quickly grabbed a startled Janine before running off.

Janine screamed, and looked back to a panicked Venus, who was harshly neighing at the unfolding situation.

"Venus! Move it! Run! Run now!" Janine demanded just as a large dragon busted out of the shadows and roared at the horse. The black equine jumped out of the way, and began racing towards Janine and the dragon she was on.
The larger dragon snarled and gave a loud roar, giving pursuit with claws outstretched.


the Hugger Troll
He was caught in indecision as he peered the way the huge dragon had gone. To go after it alone even for him would be next to suicide. It was far too big. Had Chestnut not been trapped in her cage of a horse, she would have had far more luck in bringing such a beast to the ground. Even being what he was... he was not confident about engaging the beast again so soon. However, it had to be kept tabs on.

Raban got to his hands and knees ignoring the shot of pain through his leg as he did so as he bent low and sniffed the footprint. He gained the scent of it and from here on in would be able to recognise it anywhere. Even if years passed before he came to see it again.

He rose to his feet and moved towards Chestnut, settling into the saddle with a little difficulty. He would later have to rest, allow his wound to heal but for now he knew he needed to be sure this beast wasn't about to get too close to the forest's edge. From what he could tell, it had claimed the forest for its own and anything else that entered was subject to its wrath.

The younger dragon had been evidence of that even with the age old rivalry between man and dragon. Just like the world of men, dragons were equally argumentative amongst each other for various reasons. He knew the bigger one was not likely to rest till the younger one was either dead or had left what it considered its territory for good.

"Dangerous.... dangerous..." Chestnut muttered but she willingly turned her bulk and headed down the path the dragon had taken.
"We won't engage. Just keep an eye out..." he returned wincing as her belly struck against the flat of his leg.

Demon and Wolf moved to one side of the trail and Raban kept his ears open to any new sounds. There was the deep thud... thud... thud of the beast's treads as foot met earth and after a few moments, he noted they were picking up in their pace. There was urgency within the sounds and the roar that followed shook him. It was unearthly and nothing from what he had heard by dragons before. Chestnut snorted and picked up the pace as she picked her way through the forest. She could not gallop but entered a steady trot.

Raban lifted his head as he heard a scream followed by the shrill panicked neighs of a horse and he growled in urgency. Someone else was here and had been in the dragon's path.

"Two sets of heavy treads, little wolf... The dragon still hunts the other..." Chestnut surmised hearing what his had failed to pick up upon. He nodded as Chestnut dared to increase her pace, her hooves striking into the ground but maintained a fair distance from their quarry.

He did not know if the source of the scream was because of the older, bigger dragon or because of the smaller one but it was clear now that this was no longer turning out to be just an observation outing. Someone was in trouble and as a Knight, he was duty bound to aid them. However, this was a dangerous situation and something of an unknown quality.

"Distraction might be of use here, little wolf if you're going to save a meat sack," Chestnut intoned in his mind as her nostrils flared, her legs thundering beneath him. She could run faster than average fuelled by demon strength and he could feel the heat rise upwards through the leather of the saddle.

"Outrunning that beast would be something momentous, old friend... Think you could?"
"I was thinking more you. You are faster, more agile. That beast is older, bigger... maybe not so agile,"
she snorted back.