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Post by Astral Mon Jul 20, 2020 11:58 am

Anthropinos the biggest settlement in the human world. It was more like a kingdom really it's size rivaling that of even the Twilight Imperium before the monsters tore it down. It is now the largest settlement in the world and was exactly where Astral planned to construct her first human temple as well as a magic collage. If she weren't just about all knowing the bureaucratic dino dung would confuse the stars out of her. "Moooom what are we doing here?" Aurora groaned. Astral looked at her daughter with a look of confusion. "You're the one who wanted to tag along I told you we weren't going to be doing anything that would entertain you. We're just going to be walking around talking to people and buying some land. "For real?" Aurora whined. "Why don't you take off and explore a bit. I'm sure you could find trouble pretty quickly here of all places." Aurora rolled her eyes. "Have you seen these people. They might not even notice if I turn into a dragon here and now." "Aurora!" Astral yelled. Jericho and Andromeda stood in shock their sister would dare utter words like that with so many people around. "What, nobody even noticed. They're all stuck in their own little worlds oblivious to the existence of anyone and everyone else." Astral glared at Aurora. "I'm starting to reconsider letting you run off." "Nope too late!" Aurora said as she bolted out of sight. Astral smirked slyly. "You're terrible mom." Andromeda commented. Astral just continued to smirk.

Astral had reconnected with some of Svad's more wealthy clients and did some powerful magic for them in exchange for a hefty amount of coin and their silence in her magic capabilities. Both buildings she was going to be constructing herself where going to be rather large. She expected her teachings to gain a rather large following fairy quickly. After all. She would be preforming a couple miracles the likes of which the human world had never seen before. They won't actually be that grand though. The stuff she had planned wouldn't be too hard for a well versed dragon magic user. She would also be teaching them magic more powerful than they had ever seen before. Course at the end of the day they were still humans. It would take lots of work just to get them up to par with what a dragon could do self taught in a few months.

At first Astral was going to be purchasing two separate lots as there just wasn't anything available in a single spot large enough for what she had planned. But just now land large enough for what she had in mind for the collage and temple to be next to each other had just become available. The owner died and the kids the land went to decided to sell it off. Astral did a sudden spin on her heel and started walking the other way. "Change of plans!" The trio arrived right as they were hammering in the for sale sign. It was a very large block of whatever shop you could think of stretching on and on. What luck! "I'll buy it." The man hammering it in stopped and looked her over for a moment. Sorry ma'am we aren't selling individual buildings. It's the whole piece of land that's for sale. Astral was actually a little offended at the dismissal. She supposed she used to wear more elegant clothing before she had children with Svadilfare and was traveling around with him. And in Kryo she was well known as Svadilfare's wife so that gave her a bit of status as well and she got used to wearing more "normal" clothing. Just because that's what everyone wore in Kryo and she didn't want to stand out like that. "Yes I am aware, thank you. If we can get it settled quickly I can show you something I promise you won't want to miss." The man looked at her with a rather unamused look. You'll need to go to the court house and pick up the request to buy papers and submit those once that's submitted....." Astral didn't let him go on as with a flashy twirl all of the necessary documents she needed appeared in her hand with all the necessary signatures. One of the advantages of a such a messy system was nobody would ever know they didn't actually physically stamp the papers she materialized. They were otherwise identical to what she would have gotten had she taken the time to go through the system. The man's eyes lit up and all of his attention was on her now. Astral handed off the papers to him. Carefully he read through them and lit up with delight. "Congratulations Mrs.Avedon the land and buildings are yours and your husbands to do with as you please. My apologies for earlier I didn't expect a wealthy sorceress such as yourself to be dressed so modestly. I shall indeed never forget this day, the easiest sale I have ever made. Thank you again miss." The man said with a bow. "Oh you haven't seen anything yet."

Andromeda waited with eager anticipation. She could just tell the way her mom was moving and talking something big was about to happen. They all kinda just accepted mom was a goddess her and her siblings hadn't ever really seen her do anything too fancy other than the ease with which she used magic but she didn't use it often. It was hard to doubt she was a goddess though as who else are shape shifting dragon humans with a human dad and a dragon mother. This was going to be different though. Mom was going to do something. Jericho on the other hand was pretty oblivious and just kinda curious what mom planned to do with all these buildings.

Astral thrust a palm upwards and sparkling line of colors and miniature explosions shot up into the sky before exploding into a brilliant flash. "That was awesome!" Jericho exclaimed. Andromeda also thought that's what mom had been planning and was pretty amazed. Astral then spoke to the crowd that all had their eyes on her suddenly. "My name is Astral and I am the mouth piece of the goddess Astral here to spread her message! Witness her strength as she constructs a temple of knowledge and a collage of magic!" Astral projected her voice with magic so everyone in the city could hear. They would be confused for those who weren't about to witness this but rumor would quickly spread. Turning around Astral faced her new land and buildings and raised her arms up. She didn't actually know how she wanted to do the first part though. Maybe the classic meteor. That's always fun and Elara will enjoy hearing about it. Several sonic booms cracked in the air as a meteor hurled itself right into the center of all the buildings. An invisible barrier kept any damage from the ground or from anything outside her land. For extra flare she had everything light up in a brilliant flame and just like that it was all gone. The crowed was in too much awe and many terror to say anything. Woops. She hadn't met to scare them. Even with her time as a mortal not that far behind her it was too easy to not be scared of things anymore. Astral was just having fun opening up, it'd been decades since she'd done anything on this scale. Right away Astral then began on the construction. Pillars rose up from the ground windows popped out of support beams and swung into a place. It was like Rube Goldberg contraption and Tetris mixed together as the buildings built themselves in a mesmerizing way. The audience was a little more vocal this time with some wow, amazing! can you believe this, and who is this Astral god thing?

With it finished Astral let them soak it in for a moment. Andromeda and Jericho were dancing around freaking out. "That was totally awesome! I didn't know mom could do that!" Astral chuckled and let a bubble of joy well up within her seeing her kids so energetic. They weren't this hyper as often now that they were older. She missed it. Astral began projecting her voice again. "Alright everyone shoo! I need to get things ready. The temple will be open tomorrow for questions and a lecture. The college will open maybe a week from now.

After everyone left and she shooed away everyone still pestering for details Astral turned to her kids. "Come here. Can I count on you guys?" Jericho responded right away with a "Of course." While Andromeda was little more inquisitive asking "For what?" "Andromeda I'm going to need your help with running the temple. And Jericho I'll need your help with running the college. At some point I'd like you to take over there." "Wait what?" Jericho asked confused. "I barely know anything about magic. Dad still knows more than me!" Astral rubbed his head with a hand that image of him and Andromeda jumping around in excitement a moment ago filling her own head. "No worries I'll be teaching you too." Jericho adverted his gaze downward "I'm still not sure about this." This sudden turn in his mood was crushing for Astral. "Son I know you have a lot you struggle with and I honestly don't know how to help you buuut." Astral said with a great big smile. "I can teach you to crush your sister without hardly lifting a claw orr err finger." And they all knew what sister Astral was talking about. That put a little bit of a smile on Jericho's face. "I'd like that. I'd like that a lot."

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Post by Svadilfare Mon Jul 20, 2020 5:13 pm

It had been a while since Svadilfare had been to Anthropinos. Actually, it had been a while since he'd left his house. Svad had broken his leg a few months back but insisted on letting it heal naturally. Astral didn't get it, of course. Why suffer when she could heal it with a snap of her fingers? But she knew better than to try and reason with Svad when he had his mind set on something.

For a majority of the time Svad was stuck at home, Astral had traveled around. Apparently, she wanted to build a temple--nothing odd about that; she'd had plenty built in the dragon cities. But this temple was going to be built in Anthropinos.

"You're going to build a temple in Anthropinos? You do know no human aside from me knows you're a goddess, right?" Svad recalled asking when Astral brought it up one day.

"That's why I'm doing it. It's time to bring attention to myself."

"Okay. But in the human part of the world?"

"Why not? There's already a human god, so it won't be weird."

"No... but why? And why now?"

"Because the kids are old enough to take care of themselves now, so I don't have to stay in Kryo. And because I'm part of the human world. No reason I can't have human followers."

Svad had rose his brow at her explanation and crossed his arms over his chest. "So... basically, you're doing it because you're bored?" Astral had shot him a look and denied it but Svad always assumed that was part of it, if only a little. And just as Astral couldn't change Svad's mind on certain things, Svad couldn't change hers on this. She was right after all and there wasn't any harm in it.

However, the Kryoan was very much against the plan to build a college for the study of magic. For one thing, Astral waited til the last minute to bring it up--which she had done accidentally.

"That's a terrible idea."


"Because of what some people will do with it."

"Except for you, it takes humans years just to learn one spell. And I'll be in control of what people can learn since I'm running things."

"You seem to be forgetting how resourceful we humans are."

"It'll be fine."

"What if dragons find out that humans are starting to learn magic en masse? Won't they want to wipe us out before we become a threat?"

Astral had a good laugh at that question. A really good laugh, actually. She was actually in tears by the time she caught her breath. "Human magic will never be strong enough to be a threat to a newborn Hatchling, let alone an adult dragon. And the only way dragons would find out is if one of the other dragon gods happened to notice and decided to tell them. They'd have no real reason to first of all, and they're all too busy dealing with the monsters."

"Which you should be doing too, right?"

"I am. For humans at the moment, anyway. Look, if more humans can use magic, then your settlements can be better protected from the monsters and you'll never have to worry about them except when you travel alone or in too small groups."

Svad couldn't argue with that one. It took a lot more convincing but finally Svad relented and agreed to help his wife with her plan.

Astral wanted the kids' help, though. Jericho, Andromeda, and Aurora volunteered to go with their mother to Anthropinos to help with the temple and college she planned on building. Svad supposed Astral wanted him to stay and rest or whatever.

He would have, if not for his father's insistence that he go. Leonidas had been sick for a while and wasn't getting better. On the same principle that Svad hadn't wanted his shattered leg healed by Astral's magic, Leonidas didn't want to be healed magically. The Kryoan chief didn't want to be healed in any form, actually.

Though he was more or less retired as an assassin, Svad still accepted jobs on occasion if the coin was good enough. His best paying clients typically hailed from Anthropinos and he received a letter from one such client. He was expected to arrive around the same time Astral planned on going, so he decided to tag along, albeit reluctantly. He didn't tell them his real reason for going, however. He had long since told his children about his reputation as an assassin, but as far as they were concerned, he hadn't been one since just before they were born. For most of the journey to Anthropinos, Svad stayed at the back a ways behind and didn't say a word.

Eventually, a worried Jericho joined him. "Dad? Are you okay? You haven't said anything since we left home."

Svad smiled lightly at his oldest son. Well, oldest hybrid son. He didn't bother to hide the sadness in it, though. "You remember your Grandfather is sick, don't you?"

"Yeah." Jericho almost instantly adopted his father's sad demeanor.

"Well, he's getting worse. I'm just worried is all. Worried that... he won't be there when we get back home."

Jericho frowned and looked up at his father. "Why don't we go back home then?"

Svad chuckled softly and laid a hand on Jericho's head, lightly ruffling his hair like he used to when he was younger. "In the whole world my son, there is only one person more stubborn than myself or your Mother. Your Grandfather. He insisted that I come along, spend time with you kids instead of caring for him 'as if he were doting', as he put it. And since trying to argue against Leonidas Sarik Vincent Avedon is hazardous to your health..."

Father and son chuckled a bit then fell silent. After a little while, Jericho, wanting to cheer his father up, said, "I think he'll still be there."

"...I think so, too."

By the time they reached Anthropinos, Svad had cheered up a little, just by having his son next to him the rest of the journey. Unfortunately, he couldn't go with Astral and the kids to the location of Astral's new temple and college. He had to make his way to his meeting. After bidding farewell to his wife and making the kids promise to behave, Svadilfare melted into the crowd and disappeared. His destination was the same place he'd met Uragiru, the man who'd kidnapped his human children to force him to kill Solomon Wyrmfyre. Svad thought back to that day. It was one of the few times he'd allowed Astral to accompany him to a meeting. He always wondered if they'd be where they were now if he'd made her wait outside the city. She probably wouldn't have been as interested in going along if she hadn't been part of the process. Although, back then, she jumped at every chance to go with Svad to a human city she'd never been to. Still, she could have just as easily had something else to do. Then there was the night at the tavern. That definitely wouldn't have happened if Astral hadn't been there. But if it was all inevitable, it didn't really matter. Everything would have happened sooner or later elsewhere under different circumstances.

Usually, Svad's client was already at the designated meeting place. Today, however, the client was running significantly late. The woman about Svad's age who was currently serving drinks brought the Kryoan a letter just delivered by a courier. Apparently, his client was being delayed by the monsters and was going to be a day late. Oh well. Now Svad could spend the day with Astral and the kids instead. It didn't take long to figure out where Astral was. As Svad made his way through town, he suddenly heard his wife's voice and shortly after witnessed a meteor hurtling toward the city. The Kryoan weaved through the clamoring crowd until he was standing next to Andromeda and Jericho, who were hopping with excitement. He chuckled as he remembered that rarely got to witness their mother's power. The spectacle was soon over though and everyone went away at Astral's behest. It was then Svad noticed Aurora was missing. He didn't bother to ask where she was; he knew the answer already: wherever there was trouble.

While Astral spoke to Jericho, Svad wandered first into the temple. What stood out first and foremost to him was the quality, the level of which was reserved for royalty. Each stone was cut perfectly and seemed, for how they shone in the light, to have flecks of Moonstone scattered within. The wooden floors were just as impressive, made with the best pieces of oak Svad had ever seen. There was a beauty even to the simplicity of the glass dome... at least, it appeared simple now. Once night fell, the moon would reveal the etchings of stars and moons and cast their shadows upon the walls and floor. The alter was far less subtle. There was a marble statue of Astral in her human form hidden beneath robes. Beside it was a large Moonstone--fake of course. A real one of actual size perched upon a podium between the two. A dish for burning incense and a small alcove for candles were off to the left of the door.

Svad stood at the center of the room, staring up at the glass dome ceiling. He could only imagine what this place would look like tomorrow, when it was furnished and ready for potential worshipers. He left the temple and went to the college next door. It wouldn't be inaccurate to call it a mini castle. There were many rooms, most identical in their size. Not wanting to look at them all right now though, Svad went back outside to find Astral and the kids. Instead he found no wife and one child: Aurora.

"Did Mom do this?" Aurora asked as she looked at the two buildings.

"Of course. You thought something bad was happening when the meteor came down?" When Aurora didn't answer, Svad chuckled. "Well it's good to know that all we have to do to bring you back is to hurl a rock from the sky. Jericho and Andromeda are with your Mother, in the college I suspect. How about you stick with me for a little bit?"

Aurora beamed and nodded her head enthusiastically. While she did enjoy the thrill of trouble, she liked spending time with her dad a lot more. "Ok! Where are we going?"

"Hmm. Good question. Why don't we start with where I was headed before your Mother's showing off?" Aurora laughed and wondered how her dad could get away with jokes that would normally earn her and her siblings a stern look. She happily followed Svad and wished only that Jericho hadn't already gone off somewhere with Andromeda and Astral. Oh well. Jericho had spent time with Dad by himself earlier; now it was her turn.

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Post by Aurora Tue Jul 21, 2020 10:43 am

Aurora wasn't sure what she was looking for. Something to capture her attention she supposed. Ironically as she was looking for something to capture her attention her mere presence was capturing the attention of many others. She'd long since gotten used to the eyes on her most notably the males. It wasn't hard to figure out she was considered unbelievably attractive in her human form. Personally she thought her dragon body was much better looking. She'd even had royalty propose to her one time. He wasn't very attractive though. He was as thin as Jericho. Not to mention boring. That was the biggest problem with all the men oogling her. They weren't very interesting. Even Jericho was more interesting if only because he was so fun to tease.

Aurora came to a very abrupt halt and stared in fear. Right in front of a tavern looking building sat two dragons. They both looked like icewings well actually she took that back the smaller one could be a seawing. There were plenty other people staring and chatting a decent crowed actually but neither the dragons nor the humans seemed particularly bothered. Especially the dragons who sat next to the entrance of the tavern like they were on guard or something. By the gods what as going on?

A hand landed on her shoulder and she jumped startled.

"Hey babe. Don't worry I'll keep you safe. I'm a dragon slayer." said the random man. Aurora grabbed his hand and twisted it forcing him to turn his back towards her. "Ow ow ow ow ok I get it, hint taken." The man whined pathetically. Aurora kicked him away. What an excuse for a human. If he was telling the truth twisting his arm would have been much more difficult. Her stupid human body wasn't very strong compared to the men. It didn't make any sense to her. Mom said there wasn't really an inherent strength difference between the genders in dragons only in height and species. So why were the females weaker in humans. This is partly why she still picked on Jericho. It wasn't fair. He was male and yet didn't take full advantage of the gifts that has given him. Though in human form he was stronger than her now which was even more unfair cuz it hardely even tried. She worked out and trained all the time!

Oh no! The seawing is staring right at her now? What did she do?

Aari smelt something on the white haired human that was strangely familiar. What was that scent? It was on the tip of her nose she had smelled it before. Aari watched intently as the girl walked into the tavern. Drakon seemed curious as to why she had taken such an interest in the girl and investigated as well but didn't find anything noteworthy.

Aurora had never been so terrified in her life. They were both looking right at her. Of all the people they were ignoring they decide to take a vested interest in her. Without even thinking she walked into the tavern trying to act casual like this was always her plan and there was no reason to be suspicious. I mean there really wasn't but those two made her feel like there was.

Naviera didn't consider herself a very sexual creature. However when that white haired girl walked in she found her heart jump in her chest. Damn she was cute. Especially how she walked in looking all confused like she hadn't actually meant to come in here. That begged the question with how innocent she looked, how did she work up the courage to walk past the dragons especially if she had no goal in coming here? The taverns occupants had been trapped here for an hour now nobody going in or out because the didn't want to get that close to the dragons. It was perfect for the assassin, it made it very easy to keep tabs on the people around her. Acquiring those two dragons had been the best decision she had ever made.

"You lost?" Naviera shouted to the snowhead.

Aurora's head snapped to the red headed woman sitting at a table alone in a corner. The was she was dressed it kinda reminded her of how dad dresses. Her brain frantically searched around for an excuse. She wish Andromeda was here. She'd come up with something in an instant and it would sound so natural and make so much sense nobody would question it. "I uhhhh can't find my dad." Aurora said figuratively patting herself on the back with how good that was.

Naviera looked at the girl with a slightly amused look. She was an awful liar.

"What's his name, maybe I can help?" Naviera offered.

"Uhhh Svadilfare." Aurora said not really thinking before speaking.

Naviera's brain raced. Svad like THE Svadilfare! What were the chances. Of course she'd find his daughter attractive the world was weird and cruel like that. And the knowledge she was his daughter made it weird now. How old was she anyway? Whatever it didn't matter now. Rumor was Svad had retired which hurt her ability to pass him up. It's really hard to pass up a legend that's retired. Hmm maybe she could work a different angle. Maybe now that he's retired she could get some of his contacts and maybe a letter of recommendation from him.

"Well he certainly isn't here." Naviera said getting up from her table and tossing some coins to the bar keep. "I've been meaning to speak with him though so I wouldn't mind helping you look.

"And you are?" Aurora asked suspiciously.

Naviera's eye twitched a few times at that question. She'd become just as infamous as Svadilfare for a different reason. He was known world wide for being the best assassin to ever live. She was known world wide for being the assassin that owned and traveled around with two dragons. And Svadilfare's own daughter didn't know her!

"I'm surprised you don't know. I'm a fellow assassin like your father and the owner of those two dragons stationed outside."

"You own those dragons?" Aurora said trying her best the hide the contempt that was quickly welling up within her.

"Yes. I realize it's unorthodox. But with the proper training they can be invaluable guard dogs." Naviera of course realized they were sentient. She had learned that when she had stolen Aari and the dragon spoke in the human tongue saying she was going to willingly go with Naviera in response to the man attempting to stop her. But that was a secret humans weren't ready to hear and so Navi had to speak to others as if they were mindless beasts.

Aurora clenched her fists and ground her teeth together. She wanted to shift and bite this despicable human in half. She tried to think rationally. This was normal. Humans hated dragons. They sometimes captured them though Aurora didn't know they 'trained' them. She couldn't help but think of one of her siblings being captured and enslaved.

"You alright?" Naviera asked.

What would Andromeda do. What would Andromeda do. What would Andromeda do. Diffuse the situation by using their words against them. What words could she use against them? She couldn't do that. What could she use against her. What did she know Naviera didn't. Dragons! Aurora knew more about dragons than any human. I mean she was half dragon so she damn well should. Course her little adventure when she was young proved she didn't know as much as she would like. Hmm she had an idea.

"Isn't that dangerous traveling around with dragons? Aren't you worried about the monsters?"

"Monsters?" Naviera replied confused. "They're dragons they tear any monster we come across to shreds."

Now it was Aurora's turn to be confused. "What's the biggest baddest scariest monster you have ever seen?"

Naviera didn't even have to think about it. "Definitely the Borosque. I assure you they are no myth. I have seen one. I was very glad to have my dragons with me."

Aurora couldn't believe it. In an almost whisper she breathed out "You have no idea."

"Um excuse me it attacked me and I lived. I think I know what I'm talking about. You trying to say you've encountered one and lived. I doubt even Svadilfare could survive an attack from that thing."

"No that's not it." Aurora said. Her pissed off mood had completely vanished. Disbelief and sadness that the human race had no idea what was out there replaced the void. "A Borosque is nothing. Those dragons are putting you at significant risk for encountering a number of monsters the likes of which you have never seen before and couldn't hope to defend against?"

"What?" Naviera couldn't believe this girl thought she could educate her.

"Humans I mean we humans of course are relatively safe from the monsters. We're not enough food for them to really bother for the most part. The only ones we encounter are the ones too weak to take on a dragon. Dragons are the real food source for the monsters and there are so few dragons left a single dragon will attract lots of monsters. Take for example the Great Wolves. They are twice the size of your dragons hunt in packs can change their fur to metal as armor. They could accidentally step on one of those dragons in passing and kill them. Meanwhile you're so insignificant they wouldn't even acknowledged your existence." A few tears were beginning to form in Aurora's eyes.

"How do you know this?" Naviera asked. She wasn't doubting the girl. She was a horrible liar and in this she was not lying. But rather Navi was very curious how this girl knew all this and nobody else did.

"Umm. Thanks for your help but I just remembered where he said he'd meet me. I better get going. Alone." Aurora said quickly speed walking out of the tavern and ignoring the dragons she passed. She decided to meet back up with her family. Specifically she really did want to find dad. He was always able to cheer her up.

"What are you all looking at?" Naviera asked the residents who'd all been eaves dropping. They all quickly pretended to become suddenly busy with something else. Naviera of course was going to follow the girl secretly at a distance. This was all far too interesting to ignore.

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Post by Svadilfare Tue Jul 21, 2020 1:35 pm

Svad decided to go back to the tavern he was supposed to meet his client in. Even though they still planned to show up, there was a chance they'd send someone else on their behalf to discuss payment. Such practice was common among those who didn't have time--or couldn't afford sneaking off--to meet in person. As he walked along, instinctively keeping an eye on everything and everyone, he noticed Aurora was quiet.

Aurora was pretty talkative around her dad, usually going on about her latest prank against Jericho. Something seemed off now though. When she first came up outside the temple she was cheerful. Now, walking behind Svad, she let her true mood show. Svad kept glancing back at her--both protectively and to gauge her mood--as they walked through the city but didn't say anything. It was only once they were inside the tavern, sitting at a table in a back corner, that Svad finally spoke. "All right, Aurora, what's wrong?"

Aurora looked at her dad then down at her hands. "I saw a couple dragons earlier."

Svad frowned lightly. "Here? In the city?"

"Yeah. They were sitting outside a tavern. One of them, I think it was a SeaWing, looked right at me. Just me, nobody else. And then when I walked up to go inside the tavern, the other one looked at me, too. That one was an IceWing from the looks of it."

The Kryoan's frown deepened slightly. "Why did you go into the tavern?"

"I was scared! I-I mean I thought maybe somehow they knew and I didn't want any more attention drawn to myself."

The frown lessened and Svad's expression turned to one of understanding. "Of course. Probably a poor choice of location, but that was a good idea. What happened then?"

Aurora seemed relieved that her dad wasn't mad at her for going into a tavern. Or that she had just yelled. "Then this girl--well I guess she's an adult but she looks kinda young, maybe my age--spoke to me. She asked if I was lost and I said I was looking for you. Then she asked me your name so she could help find you. Turns out she knows you."

"Really? Hmm.. You said she looked about your age?" Aurora nodded in response. "It was Naviera, then. Go on."

"She told me she owns the two dragons I saw. I was really mad at first..." Aurora lowered her voice to a very soft whisper even though there wasn't anyone close enough to their table to hear. "..I wanted to turn and bite her or something. But instead I changed the subject and asked her about monsters and whether she was worried about traveling around with two dragons. She said she's glad she has them because they can kill any monsters that try to attack her no problem. But she doesn't care about the bigger ones! The ones that go after and kill dragons!" Tears had been forming in Aurora's eyes again and now they fell.

Because Aurora had raised her voice again, and a bit louder than before, a few people looked up from their own conversations or thoughts. The pinpoint accurate daggers in Svadilfare's eyes forced their attention back to their own business. Svad reached forward and wiped his daughter's eyes. "For all the good things in the world, there is bad to accompany it. Most people will probably never see dragons as anything more than 'mindless beasts'. Captive ones will never be more than slaves, a means to do what humans can't or don't want to do... and they are expendable. Naviera... apparently sees her dragons as unstoppable forces that will serve to keep her from harm. As long as they are fortunate enough to never come across a monster they can't handle, she won't think anything of their safety. But then, she is like everyone else--she doesn't care because she could just replace them." Svad fell silent for a bit, his attention moving outside. He kept his gaze there at the passing crowds as he continued. "It's hard for me and your Mother. I know it's even harder for you and your siblings, because you have a foot in both worlds and have to hide it. But one day, Aurora... one day you won't have to. That's part of your Mother's reason for building a temple. I think. I didn't really ask; I was too busying telling her the college thing might be a bad move." He looked at his daughter again and smiled lightly. "I never hated dragons, but I would have never hesitated to do battle or even kill one if ever the opportunity would have presented itself. I had such an opportunity, once. But your Mother changed my mind, eventually. It probably won't happen in my lifetime, but hopefully you'll see that change happen for more people one day."

Yep, dad made Aurora feel better. But before she could smile and say anything, Svad's expression changed again. He was looking outside. Aurora followed his gaze and saw Naviera approaching the tavern. "You were followed," Svad said matter-of-factly. "I'll have to teach you how to notice and lose someone later." He shifted his gaze to the entrance of the tavern and waited for Naviera to walk in.

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