I take a shuddering breath, and with much embarassment (good Lord....I'm actually blushing!)
Indeed, the fur of Alicia 3's face has grown a more crimson color....as sometimes happens when a manimal is embarrassed (yet another delightful fact about the mystical nature of the manimal).
I begin to speak.
"I was more than stunned when you saved Malachi with that bite...." I begin, recalling that fateful day....
A pair of feet slapping the deck, and a scribbing sound tells the dragoness that she is not alone. She barely manages to raise her head to look at the two were-foxes that gasp at the fallen dragon.
"Help me . . . ." Malachi whispers. "Please . . . "
It had been a quick swim out to the strangely quiet ship out in the bay. Admittedly, the two were-foxes weren't sure what exactly that'd find, but this wasn't it.
Fred takes a step closer, to get a closer look at the injured reptile, and the dragoness makes eye contact with Fred. Through the contact, a flood of telepathic information floods the soaking wet were-fox's mind. Fred shakes his head. Somehow, he knows that this dragon had been on it's way to . . . . rescue the Pack from this island prison at the request of Carradene. The whole story seemed to be unclear, but Fred sees that this . . . dragoness is surprisingly noble.
"Of course I didn't understand that at the time," Alicia 3 mutters in self disgust. "I just felt surprised and betrayed at what you'd done. But after what you told me...and what my empahtic gift verifies within you.....What I really now am is disgusted t myself!"
Now, as to why the dragoness hadn't come sooner had something to do with Carradene himself . . . . . something like Carradene liking the way things were on this island . . . . until the whilely old wolf caught wind that Minestus was displeased with him . . . . . Carradene had called in an old debt, and the dragoness had come. She had flown into the area controlled by the golems and . . . .
"We've got to help her," Fred mutters, looking at the injuries. "But how . . . . " He snaps his fingers.
"Malachi, change to human form." Fred shouts at the dragoness. Hopefully, what he had heard about the initial transformation of human to werecreature was true! He did know, from his brief contact with the dragoness' mind that what he had in mind wouldn't upset her . . . .too terribly. She wouldn't be thrilled, but preferred to be alive than dead.
The injured dragoness' body shrinks and warps into a surprisingly ordinary human looking female, equally as injured as her first form. Quickly, Fred reaches down and nips the fading dragoness.
"Why in the name of God did you do that?!" Alicia asks Fred as they watch the dragonness slowly change from injured human into an unijured female were-fox.
"Well, it was the only way to save her," Fred mutters. Malachi stands unsteadily and finishes Fred's thought "And you two could use a bit of help . . . . against Carradene, his cronies, and maybe those golems."
Alicia looked at Fred and shook her head. His actions were, more and more, the actions of a madman. She understood his anger at having been changed, she understood his anger at having been stripped of any privileges of royalty, she understood his anger at losing his home and family and friends; but she did not understand his saving a dragon.
She thought upon her own lands, her father and mother. She remembered Trelaine and Gazi; the Town Crier was the first to find their bodies, burned to a crisp. Alicia's father, the King, was enraged that a gentleman and a gentlewoman of his kingdom would become fodder for dragon- sport. A decree was made, and soon many noble knights were scouring the countryside looking for the killer dragon (or any dragon for that matter, ALL were killers after all). Sirs Hewlett and Seigel were the first to die; Sir Ronald survived only due to the sudden appearance of a mage by the name of Belboz (who, it was said afterward, took three mules, a maidservant and the knight's favored bow in payment). These memories filled her with sadness and anger, and the anger was directed towards the dragon before her and the man who sought to save it's life.
"You are wrong, monster," she said with an unconcealed hatred towards the Dragon. "WE do NOT need your help, not now, not ever! Carradene is a coward and a mean-spirited son of a brown-haired bitch, and the Den is not afraid of him nor the other wolves. YOU are the threat, YOU are the danger; YOU are the monster!"
Alicia spit upon the creature and leaped across the deck, over the planks, and into the water before Malachi could even blink. Fred was speechless.
"You must stop her," whispered Malachi. "If she tells the others of my presence-" Her voice trailed off and she slumped onto the deck, near death after her many travails.
~~Crud!~~ thought Fred. ~~This is madness! I know what I 'saw' when the Dragon touched my mind, she IS noble, yet how shall I convince the others?!!?~~
two days later
The Agreement had been duly witnessed and agreed to: all territorial boundaries would be summarily lifted until the Dragon could be found and eliminated.
"Bloody hell!" screamed out Taylor. "WHERE in God's Name could the damnable Duke of Suffex be?!!?"
"He can't be far," said Mason. "Alicia told us that the Dragon was sickly."
"But that traitor Fred," added another. "Bit the monster and gave her the only blessing of our tainted blood. The bitch may well heal up within seven days."
While the various groups of wolf, fox, bear, weasel and assorted animals were covering the countryside, a smaller group was holding Council within Towne.
"Well Carradene," sighed Moran. "Do you concur with the advice of Bonaventura?"
"It makes some amount of sense," replied Carradene. "Yet, how could the Traitor and the Monster sail an entire ship by themselves?"
"Look," began Dierdre. "The Monster may be half fox, but she still has magic in her veins. A simple incantation may have been enough. We know the ship to be gone, our Golem-Scouts informed us of this yesterday. We also know that the Traitor is nowhere in the local vicinity. He must have taken the creature to the far side of the island so she could recuperate."
The conversation had been going on for some hours now and the leaders had grown frustrated. They were anxious about the Golem, anxious about the volcano, anxious about the traitorous cur who bore the name Fred, and anxious about having a Dragon-turned-fox on the island. Finally Alicia interrupted the discussion.
"There is another possibility," she said. "He may have taken her to the lands of the Forsaken."
The group gasped at that suggestion. It had occurred to some, of course, but they had thrown out the idea without even bringing it up because of the implications. Yet there it was, on the table, out in the open.
The Council dismisses the idea as too improbable and continues the search, only skirting Forsaken territories and aimed towards the far side of the island.
1/5/2000 12:54:41 AM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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