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Post by Baldirak Sapiens Draco on Wed Feb 19, 2020 7:34 pm

The days were beginning to shorten. The air was cooler, but not biting, not yet. When the stars came out at night, they shone brightly, and not even the moon could hope to dampen their light. In the mornings, a bright sun was for once welcome, for its rays were not harsh, but warming, soothing. A creature stirred as those rays passed over its hide. A thin but chilling layer of dew had settled in the wee hours before first light. Now, gently, that chill was chased away, the cool condensation warmed before it rolled downward to the ground below. The being opened one eye as the golden rays became more demanding in their master's desire that all life under his rule should waken. The birds, ever faithful and eager to please, had risen before the sun, and now sang the song of waking to the rest of the forest. A small flock of them passed through the branches of a tree, a tree that the slowly waking creature once covered in dew lay beneath. Its other eye opened, and with a great groan, it rose to its feet. Those feet were tipped with claws that drew lines in the soft dirt. As gravity had sent the dew rolling, it now lowered vines and delicate branches of moss. They hung gracefully from the face and body of a winged, scaled beast. With one great shake of its form, however, the foliage was cast away. But on the morrow, it would return, as it always did, when the dragon slumbered. Free of the plants that served as crown, shelter, and bedding, the dragon began moving through the forest. A river ran through it, to the east, with water as clear as a cloudless sky. The others would be heading there, too.

The aforementioned were indeed already at the river by the time the dragon arrived. They were more of his kind. Adults, juveniles, and hatchlings alike gathered round the winding waterway. All stopped and stared as the male landed. He was their elder, yet looked no older than the youngest of the adults. He was no taller than what dragonkind could achieve, yet he seemed as tall as the tallest mountain. He was in fact mortal, but for all intents and purposes, he was their god. All bowed as their leader walked forth toward the water. His orange eyes passed over them and landed on the one dragon he was surprised to see bowing: his brother. A hatchling ran up, too impatient and excited to wait. Her scales were an interesting shade of blue, a mirror of the sky before sunrise. She tried to no avail to flap her wings so that she might fly up to the bigger dragon's snout. Instead, the elder indulged her and lowered his head and gave an inquisitive growl. The young one answered with a series of chirps and growls. The other dragons made sounds in response that one might have likened to laughter. If one not of dragon born could have understood their primal language, they would have heard a brief conversation between the elder and the younger that went something like this:

"Something to say, little Io?"

"Wraeli'kos, you always get here late. I'm starving!"

Another race with a stricter set of rules on speaking to one's elders, would have considered the hatchling to be most rude. But the adults found Io most endearing. Wraeli'kos raised his head and continued on. He stopped at the water's edge and looked first to the left, then to the right. The other dragons formed a line on either side of him, then crouched a little, as if about to jump into the river. The river wasn't quite wide enough for an entire  clan to throw themselves in. Rather, they were waiting for what was to come. Wraeli'kos took to the air just high enough to ensure everyone was in place. After seeing everyone was, the elder let out a roar. It was not what one might have imagined for a dragon. It was not ferocious; it was melodious. It echoed and the trees swayed, seeming to catch and pass on the sound on throughout the entire forest. Then all was quiet again and the forest seemed more still than before. And then another roar sounded, as if in response to the first. But this one was not melodious, nor did it come from a dragon. It came from the river. Once calm, the water now became violent. It churned and grabbed at whatever sat uprooted along the bank. As it grabbed it also threw. It flung fat, silver fish from the depths into the air, high enough for the dragons lining the bank to snatch them with their maws. The roaring and churning of the river lasted just long enough for every dragon to secure four fish for themselves, then just as suddenly as it stirred, the river stilled and was calm again. The dragons dispersed then into their separate pairings: mates and their offspring, perhaps soon-to-be mates, the unrelated and single having conversations. The loners moved the furthest away. Wraeli'kos usually stayed until Io ran up to thank him, but today, for once, he really was late. The elder flew off across the forest toward his next destination.

The forest was vast but eventually gave way to a valley. The valley, too, was sizeable but split in half by mountains. The mountains wore crowns of snow and cloaks of wispy clouds. On the other side of the pass, beyond the valley, there was a canyon. Wraeli'kos twisted and turned through it, his serpentine body able to squeeze through narrow spots other dragons would have had to fly over. Caves were carved into the walls of the canyon and those caves housed dragons. They were big enough to house three comfortably--a mated pair and a single offspring--and no more. Most, however, were home to a single dragon. The dragons here were referred to as the Canyon Clan. They were not a true clan, but they all got along quite well and were protective of their little community. As he flew through the canyon, Wraeli'kos let out a call. It echoed and was answered first by silence, then by a responding call. The response came from a female who emerged from a cave toward the bottom of the canyon. She was wingless and could have been mistaken for what would one day be called a Komodo. She stood on the landing ledge as Wraeli'kos approached and backed away to make space for him when he landed. They greeted each other with whistling noises that a speaker of the dialect would have heard as:

"Eldest, you are just in time for the birth. He was convinced you would not come, but I had faith. Please, come inside and bestow a name upon our firstborn."

"I am glad to have made it, Freir. I slept a little too soundly this morning, I'm afraid."

Wraeli'kos followed Freir into the cave where her mate, Dio, lay in a nest of rock and mud. Dio greeted the elder not with whistles--for he was mute--but with a dip of his head. Then he nuzzled his mate and laid his head back down. Frier laid beside him and looked at the elder, communicating once again with the whistling dialect.

"Dio says he is honored to have you here and wishes he could speak to you directly." Dio has a telepathic connection with Freir that was created only when they became mates. It is a connection he can share with no one else, so Freir is his voice.

Wraeli'kos looked at Dio, his eyes expressing an emotion that would one day be compared to what is called a smile. "With a bond as strong as the one you have with Freir, there's no need to speak. How are you faring? I understand the carrying is quite short but the birth itself can be quite long and draining." The Canyon Clan, while not really a clan, was a species of its own. They were unique among dragonkind for it was the males who gave birth and, even more uniquely, to live offspring. No more than one was ever born at a time. This was not a characteristic of the species, however, but a self-created law of the Canyon Clan which was enforced through magic. The birthing process was indeed rather taxing to the males and it was believed multiple births would kill them.

Freir was silent for a moment while she listened to her mate's thoughts. She gave him a comforting lick on his snout before relaying his response. "It is draining, but it will be worth it in the end."

Fortunately, Dio didn't have to endure much longer. About ten minutes or so later, Dio and Freir were nuzzling and licking their daughter. Wraeli'kos left their cave briefly and returned with a gift of fish from the river winding through the bottom of the canyon. "It would be fitting, I think, to call her Dia." After bidding farewell to Dio and Freir, Wraeli'kos left the canyon and returned to the forest he had come from. It was time for him to have a conversation with his brother, who had acted most strangely that morning.

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Post by Baldirak Sapiens Draco on Sat Mar 07, 2020 8:42 pm

The young--and only--brother of Wraeli'kos, Nerro, would be found at the mouth of the river from which the Forest Drakes had received their morning meal. He was a little shorter than his sibling, about a foot or so. Where Wraeli'kos was the color of fossilized amber speckled with the red of glowing embers and highlighted with thin bands of brown comparable to thick mud, Nerro was an assortment of greens and browns that allowed one to blend into the clothed forests of spring and summer. At the mouth of the river, where trees were scarce, Nerro stood out like a goose among ducks.

Wraeli'kos spotted his sibling and landed two wing lengths away. Nerro met him and the two engaged in a greeting that the ignorant would have mistaken for the beginnings of a fight. In a way, perhaps, it could be a fight, for this particular greeting was only practiced between two males, and more specifically, related ones. A play fight would be more accurate in that case. Regardless, it was only a greeting. With pleasantries out of the way, Wraeli'kos started up a conversation. Whereas earlier he spoke in the dialect of the Canyon Clan, he now used the Forest Drakes' dialect of chirps and growls. "Brother, something was bothering you this morning. What was it?"

Nerro sat and raked his claws across his chest. "I bow to you like everyone else, so something must be wrong."

"You have never acknowledged me as your Elder, Nerro. Therefore, yes, something is wrong."

Nerro's eyes were a piercing and unsettling shade of yellow, brighter than the sun itself. They did not glow, but one could not stand to look directly at them, save perhaps the defiant. He narrowed them now at his older brother. "At home I would be the Elder. It is the birthright of the youngest."

Wraeli'kos was one of the defiant. He felt no fear nor unease in gazing into Nerro's eyes. He tossed his head from one side to the other, a disapproving gesture. "This is our home. It was the will of the eternal plane that the last generation find a new home in the mortal plane. The laws here are different, Brother. Here, the oldest is favored. I do not gladly take your birthright from you. But I will not let you weigh me down with guilt. Tomorrow, the Council meets. If my being Elder displeases you so, you may bring it before them, but remember years are not the only mark of the Elder."

Nerro hissed in disdain. "The Council favors you as well, Wraeli'kos. What I say does not matter when it is uttered beneath your shadow."

This time, the older brother narrowed his eyes. "Our kind heads the Council as the oldest race, and I head our kind, yes. But every Elder must be in agreeance. No one can rule over all."

"What I saw will change that."

"What did you see?" Nerro had the gift of foresight--a rare trait among Dragonkind.

"I will show you tomorrow, at the meeting." Nerro's expression was rather plain, but behind it, he wore a rather dark smirk... if dragons could smirk, that is.

Wraeli'kos' eyes narrowed more. "Very well, Brother." The Elder took to the sky abruptly and flew away. There was no time to ponder Nerro's intentions. There were other duties to tend to. A drought was threatening the Wind.

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