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 COA III: The new IC

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Lupus
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeThu 19 Jul 2012, 9:24 pm

Aressa stumbled to a stop in shock as Aelirsa blocked two forms from halting her charge. She nearly slammed right into the mess of bodies. They solidified as her momentum had slowed enough that her eyes had a chance to process what had happened. It didn’t do anything to soothe the flames of hatred, but it did cause her to pause. Why would she- that wasn’t important right now. She turned back to the feather-shielded hybrid, eyes becoming murderous once again. Aelirsa had said something about killing Agate not being honorable…

Ha, my entire life has been filled to the brim with dishonorable actions! These scars didn’t appear on my flesh because of being nice!

Mouth open and freezing air flowing out instead of slobber, she could practically feel the scales tearing easily beneath her ice-strengthened claws, almost hear the screams… just like those sounds that had been forced from her own throat all those years ago by the cut of a whip. If only she knew where Master was, now that would be truly satisfying revenge. Agate would have to suffice.

A wall of sand shot up, slamming into her body and filling her mouth and eyes with gritty particles. Everything hurt; it was like liquid fire had been poured into her eyes. A few particles rushed over the scar tissue winding around her neck, wearing away at the pink-tinged scales. With a choked off roar she fell into a heap, paws over her eyes, the ice gloves dissolving into water and soaking into the ground. Her sides shook as she tried to expel all the sand from her mouth.

“You little-” her growling speech dissolved into a coughing fit, “I’ll kill-” more coughing “How did you even-” she finally gave up on trying to speak.

“See, you aren’t even strong enough to take on a little thing like her,” her Master jeered, “I always knew that you were easy to force into submission, but this… this is just pathetic.”

No matter how much she despised him, Aressa knew that he was right. She’d been beaten back by Agate, of all people (she refused to refer to her as a dragoness)! It was humiliating. A few final coughs and she managed to sputter out a few words. “You don’t deserve those powers, you vile human!”

~~~~~~

Kaldra ran after Ev with the intention of trying to hold Aressa back before she was able to do too much damage. She’d stun her with electricity if she had to, but there was no way she would allow Agate or anyone else to be hurt. Then all hell broke loose.

She fell back, sputtering and hacking, when the sandstorm hit. She had just a second to be proud of Agate for standing up for herself before she closed her eyes against the onslaught of whirling sand. Her wings were raised around her body in a mostly futile attempt to shield herself, she could only pray that it’d had the same effect on the homicidal terror heading straight for what she had once thought was the most vulnerable member of their group. That assumption had obviously been proven wrong.

Electricity sparking along her spikes would probably make her visible through the blinding sand; possibly giving her target a warning, but at least the others might be able to see her. Her only goal was to protect them and if that meant attacking one of their own kind (if the sand hadn’t incapacitated Aressa already) then she would do that.

Aressa was trying to shout through the sandstorm, but only snippets reach Kaldra’s ears, none of them pleasant.

What could have set her off?

((If they can manage to move in the blinding sand, one of them could probably hold Aressa down or something. She's right in the middle of all of them now.))
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Sadie
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeThu 19 Jul 2012, 9:49 pm

The impact sent her sprawling. A searing pain in her front shoulder probably indicated it had been dislocated, or worse, a broken bone. Needless to say, that arm was now incapacitated completely. Ice goggles formed over her eyes to protect them from the stinging sand while she looked at what was weighing her down. Tem.

Struggling free of his weight, she only thought of doing the smart thing and keeping Aressa restrained, foolish most likely with her injury, but it didn't necessarily have to be physical. While the sand wore away at the protection for her eyes quickly, she limped over to the luong's head and collapsed.

"I know the fury that comes with the urge to kill. I acted on it... and I have never forgiven myself for it. Don't do the same, even if just to maintain pride." Voice rasping from the sand, she let the full force of her bruising and dislocation swamp her into unconsciousness again. Better that way, to be able to sleep through the pain in bliss.

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Miirik
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeThu 19 Jul 2012, 11:53 pm

Kaden sailed straight over Aelirsa and Tem’s collision and ended up a bit of a way away from the group. She landed in grass this time, which spared her from scrapes, but she was sure she would be really bruised.

Then, of course, it got worse.

Agate screamed something and the entire area was suddenly caught in a storm of sand from Agate’s mouth. She barely had time to pull up her wings to protect her face, and the brutal sands scratched up her wings. Good did come out of it, though--she had a bit of time to think without worrying about an attack.

For some reason, her thoughts went to dust devils in a desert. They would appear, collect a bit of sand, and then disappear--an ephemeral existence, gone--but still with effects on the world. The sand would be moved.

Well, it was worth a try...

She summoned a whirlwind of wind and (Thank goodness!) it worked. She was able to maintain a bubble of wind that kept most of the sand away from her. Some still nicked her legs, but it wasn’t too bad. Slowly but surely, she made her way to the heart of the whirling sand: Agate. She headed towards two silhouettes. They belonged to the two ice dragonesses. Aelirsa seemed to have pinned Aressa down, but she wasn't moving. She wasn’t dead, was she?

Inching closer, she saw that Aelirsa was still breathing but looked injured. Aressa was gagging on sand. As much as she had grown to loathe Aressa in the past few seconds, she couldn’t just leave her to suffocate. Perhaps she could ask Agate to stop? After all, if Kaden, even at a distance, had been affected by the sand, who knew how the rest of the group was faring?

She scanned the area for the figure of Agate and finally found her shape in the storm of sand, spewing more into the air.

It was getting harder to maintain her bubble of winds that blocked the sand--if Agate didn’t stop soon...

No, I just have to focus. She pushed through with all her might and found herself next to Agate. “Please,” she gasped, as her legs began to buckle from the energy needed to keep up the winds swirling around her. “Stop! You’ve done enough.”

Kaden collapsed in front of Agate, looking up in fear at the dragon she had felt the need to protect just moments ago.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeFri 20 Jul 2012, 12:56 am

Tem lay where he was, sucking in breaths and feeling his head throb painfully, for a few seconds. Then he heard Agate scream, "STOP!" a matter of feet away from him. A quieter or more complex message would have been harder for him to catch in his state, but he definitely heard that.

He tried - and failed - to lift his head up to see what was going on. He had just started blinking his eyes open when a wave of sand suddenly washed over him out of nowhere, prompting him to utter a weak cry of displeasure. He'd hardly had them open, so his eyes weren't in pain from tiny particles hitting them, but when he couldn't open them again safely, he was even blinder than everyone else. Unsure if the sand had enough power to injure the light membranes, he gathered the strength to tightly fold up his wings, which had been sprawled haphazardly on the ground after his crash. Sadly, he didn't have the same protection for his similarly-structured hearing fins.

The bits of sand pelting him were plenty of distraction, so he still didn't figure out what he was lying on until it slipped out from underneath him at some point. Oh...must have been Aelirsa.... He vaguely comprehended some kind of worry about her state, and then Kaden's as well, and everyone else's while he was at it, but his mental faculties were still largely out of commission. His head now resting on flatter, harder ground, he didn't see the point in moving, aside from the minor squirming he was instinctively doing in response to the uncomfortable sand, and the sandstorm and his half-conscious condition would have made it too hard anyway, so he continued to lie there rather uselessly.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeFri 20 Jul 2012, 4:48 pm

“Please,” Kaden rasped as the sandstorm persisted to obscure everyone's vision and clog their throats. “Stop! You’ve done enough.”

How ever could Agate obey the air dragoness's plea? She was finally standing up for herself, giving this bully, this enemy, a piece of her mind. Why should she stop? Why shouldn't she just prolong the blistering flurry of sand? Why should she have to halt her actions before Aressa has choked to her last? After all, the ice luong did desire to murder the hybrid. If Agate killed Aressa, wouldn't that be simply preventing her own extermination? Furthermore, the dragon-girl could claim revenge with Aressa on behalf of everyone who has inflicted misery upon her damned life. Didn't they deserve to pay!?!

Despite the billowing storm of sand, Agate's eyes widened. With this, she swiped a better look at Kaden. The dragoness of gentle blue and gold peered up at her, trembling. Ev and Tem had retreated to the ground. And poor, poor Aelirsa--she lay in a crippled heap upon the ground. It was all Agate’s fault. It was all her fault!

No! They can’t die as well! The hybrid wailed within her mind. They can’t-- after all they’ve done for me, after bringing me home at last. Although it’s been but a day, they’ve been there for me, supported me, and cared for me; it has been the day of a lifetime! And now they fight among themselves, bring each other down all because of... me! If it wasn’t for me... Agate’s eyebrows tapered to a determined slant. They can’t die--no, they won’t die! With that, the dragoness of the earth sucked up the storm, behaving much like a vacuum as the whirling sand returned through her maw.

Now that the sand had cleared, Agate was welcomed back to Aressa’s bloodthirsty glower. The hybrid barely resisted a flinch. She must stay strong for what she was preparing to say next.

“As you probably already know,” Agate began, addressing the entire group of dragons. “I am a hybrid, a maternal hybrid to be exact, carrying the blood of a quetzalcoatl mother and a North Carolinian miner within my veins. I would perish amongst elation if everyone could accept that without questions...” She risked a glimpse at Aressa, despite this action being the equivalent of a death wish. “Or violence. Unfortunately, it seems that it’s apparent that an explanation is to be in order.

“Back before my mother was converted into a dragon, she had known my father from the time she was a very young girl. They grew up together, relishing in their jubilation, not knowing the meaning of “care”, for they had none in the world.

“As they left their childhoods, my mother became very ill, emotionally and mentally. It inflicted her so terribly, she was unable to smile nor laugh. The mere mention of food caused her to gag. She could do nothing but lie in her bed, day and night, weeping. There even came a time when her tears had run dry, and she was condemned to a slow, agonizing death. That would have been her point of termination, her doom, if it wasn’t for my father.

“My father... he was the only being of this world who she cared about. Yet, she couldn’t even continue to cling to her grip on life for him.

“Since it was inevitable she would soon give up and offer her body back to the earth, even after my father had begged himself hoarse, he sought and found their one last hope--Avalon.

“Avalon promised her a new life, and that is what she received--but at a price.

“After he had given up his one and only love to Avalon, a wild rumor arose of dragons, and how they were devouring those who came to Avalon!

“Deluded, my father became a slayer, swearing to annihilate each and every dragon so he could avenge my mother’s “death”. It wasn’t before long that he met my mother once again, this time wielding a weapon.

“Obviously, he discovered who the dragoness was before it was too late,” Agate remarked on her own speech, gesturing to herself. “But from what I overhead, it was a close call, weeks of bed rest included.

“Anyways, you see, Aressa,” Agate piped up the courage to look her in the face, although, not necessarily the eye yet. “One side of that battle was fueled on false revenge. Can you imagine where that would have gotten my father if he had persisted to act on that revenge? Nowhere, less than nowhere if you think about it. His love would be dead, and his thirst for revenge would forever ravage unsatisfied.

“So please, Aressa; respect what my parents have gone through and my existence. You may not be in love with the idea of hybrids, but you can at least tolerate it. Please. Killing me, or anyone else, whatever race they may be, will not solve your problems. Please...”

With that, her throat parched from a combination of sand and abundant verbalization, Agate shivered in spasms as she collapsed. She had stood up to her bully.


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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeFri 20 Jul 2012, 11:08 pm

Aressa stared up at the form that had suddenly materialized out of the wall of flying dirt and rock. It appeared to be Aelirsa, the blue-scaled ice dragoness. Her annoyance at the reappearance of the one who’d destroyed her already-tentative trust only added to the desire to make her way to Agate. But it seemed that Aelirsa was injured, from the way that she kept weight off of one of her forelegs as she walked. Apparently her blockage of Tem hadn’t ended well for her. She still had enough energy left to berate Aressa though, evidently.

“My fury has been fermenting for all my life, aided by constant cruelty and abuse,” she hissed, “You think that this is out of pride? Ha, all I know is suffering!”

Then, as suddenly as it had begun, the storm of biting sand disappeared. Limbs shaking, she got to her feet. Then that vile creature, that cause of the agony filling her throat, began to speak. The hybrid even had the nerve to stare straight into her eyes when she mentioned the ever-present questions due to her appearance. How she’d love to strike those eyes right out of her scaly skull! Crimson liquid would trail down her face like tears from empty eye sockets. Then came the revelation that her father had become a slayer and her heartbeat grew into a thundering war song. He was a killer; he was just like the man that had relished the sight of blood trickling from the welts he cut into her back with every strike of his whip!

She took a step forward, but stumbled sideways. She tried to speak, but her raw throat protested and all that came out was yet another cough. With a steeling breath, another wave of nearly-frozen water coated her aching throat, soothing the burning sensation until it was only a dull ache. Finally though, the glasses-wearing, legless hybrid ceased her speech and Aressa could get in a word edgewise. Whether she was still conscious enough to hear or not, she was tired of that… creature acting like her life was so tough.

“Nothing will ever repay what was done to me by Master. He was once a slayer just like your precious father,” she practically spit out the last sentence, thankful she was able to stand steadily, “At least you had a family, my parents left one day and then he found me… you want to know where my childhood was spent?”

She ran a hand along the band of scar tissue around her neck, “I spent it in darkness, locked away, chained to the floor of a dank basement. I was only brought up to cool his drinks or terrify some person that got on his bad side!” a claw held up, gesturing towards her back, “You think you know suffering? Try feeling a whip bite into your flesh again and again… and again.”

How she wished she was strong enough to beat it into the girl, but she was spent from a combination of days without food, holding in her anger, and then being battered by sand. Her sides were shaking, eyes half-closed, and she sat down on her haunches.

“It hurt so much,” she whispered, no energy left to project her voice, "The people who found me said I was brave... they said I had been so brave. But then why was I always gripped by fear?"
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeMon 23 Jul 2012, 12:47 am

Tem had no hope of telling how much time was passing, but after some amount of it, the sand at last stopped flying against him. He dared to open his eyes - finding it much easier this time - and was also able to raise his aching head to look around. After a lot of effort just trying to get his eyes to focus, he realized that Agate was in the middle of some kind of speech, telling how her mother was on death's door when she was taken to Avalon. That intriguing detail roused Tem a little further out of his daze, and he listened along.

It was when the hybrid was explaining how her father had gone out for revenge when Tem suddenly had the alarmed thought, Is Kaldra all right after that sandstorm? He swung his gaze frenetically about until he found her, some distance from the others but looking well enough. He let out a small sigh of relief and turned to listen to Agate again - now she was asking for some tolerance from Aressa - but then his eyes fell on Aelirsa's collapsed form.

He felt a rush of energy and immediately struggled to get up despite the lingering clumsiness in his limbs, not to mention a bit of pain here and there. The sight of the unmoving ice dragoness made him feel more guilty than anything - even if she'd been the one to move in front of him, he couldn't help but feel as if he was the one largely responsible for whatever pain she was in. I hope the sandstorm didn't make things harder for her....Hey, where did the storm come from anyway? He thought back and, given how Agate had seemed to be in the best condition after it, supposed that she might have been able to cause it. A glance revealed that she didn't seem to be doing so well anymore, though. He happened to notice Kaden looking exhausted but probably not seriously injured next to the hybrid. Maybe she has wind powers? The color would suggest something else, though.... He didn't think he had the energy or focus to guess right this second.

He had just made it to his feet when Aressa started speaking. Tem immediately dropped back down out of fear, afraid of getting the enraged Luong's attention, but fortunately, she seemed more intent on correcting Agate's ignorance than turning on him all of a sudden. Still, he tried to make himself scarce as he slowly padded toward Aelirsa, keeping low like a (sore and battered) panther stalking through the jungle, in an attempt to stay a little stealthier. The mild aching in his joints - as well as what felt like a scrape or two along his chest and underbelly - slowed him down even more, but eventually he made it to Aelirsa's side just as Aressa seemed to run out of energy. He'd listened to the Luong's entire discourse - although the whispers that followed were too quiet for him to hear - but he didn't feel up to dwelling on all of that too deeply when he was already so concerned about Aelirsa.

He lay down again, thinking he might be harder to notice that way and also welcoming the rest, and examined the dragoness as best he could from his head's position on top of his claws. She isn't moving...but I can see her breathing, thank goodness...oh, I can't tell how much damage I did to the poor girl, he lamented silently. He wasn't feeling energetic enough to move around her for a better look, and he didn't like the idea of possibly catching Aressa's attention, either, so he lay there for the moment, worriedly contemplating what he could do to help Aelirsa and what might happen next.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeMon 23 Jul 2012, 4:15 pm

As the sandstorm raged on, Ev grew increasingly certain that he was going to die. He was having to take longer, larger breaths for more air, which meant that he was also inhaling more sand into his throat and lungs. If the tempest didn't stop soon, he figured that if a lack of oxygen didn't kill him first, the grains would mess up his respiratory system too much and doom him anyway.

Then, just as he was losing the last of his hope, the storm ceased almost as suddenly as it had begun. Ev kept coughing violently to expel as much sand as he could. His throat was already terribly raw from the previous coughing and the constant abrasion of the rough particles, but he was desperate to clear his lungs since he didn't know exactly what a pile of sand might do to them - only that it would probably be very bad.

Through his bouts of coughing, he heard Agate speaking, but he didn't catch very much of what she said until his lungs felt less clogged and he calmed his coughs to a degree. He finally opened his eyes and quickly took stock of the other dragons. To his relief, Kaden seemed to be doing relatively well, as did Kaldra, but Tem and Aelirsa seemed battered. Well, they did crash into each other... Ev recalled. He hoped the collision and the storm hadn't injured them too badly.

When he heard the hybrid say "my mother became very ill," his attention was instantly focused on her. Oh, no... Agate didn't suffer the same thing I did, did she? As he listened, though, he eventually realized that she was recounting her parents' history from before she was born. So she is a hybrid. Wow, I actually guessed correctly. For her sake, he was glad to hear that things had worked out well enough with her family.

Once her story ended, Ev's attention briefly returned to his sand-covered mouth and raw windpipe. The moisture-absorbing grains had left him unbearably parched, and they were rubbing against every surface of his mouth in the most uncomfortable way. He glanced around to see if there was any much-needed water nearby, but he didn't see anything that might help.

Aressa spoke next, attracting his notice. This time, though, he remained more conscious of his dreadfully sandy mouth, and he worried that the other Luong might still see fit to attack Agate. Fortunately, she only responded with words for now. Ev couldn't help but soften his expression while she told of her childhood as a prisoner to a greedy human "Master," followed by some whispers that he couldn't make out. Good God... no wonder she has so much anger. Attacking innocent people like Agate for it still isn't right, but... that's truly awful. Of course, after the hybrid had unleashed such a mighty sandstorm, he had to wonder whether "innocent" was the right word for her. In this case, though, Aressa was indeed the sole offender, even if Ev couldn't bring himself to think too harshly of her after learning about her tortured past. He found it regrettable that Agate had blasted the whole group in order to defend herself, but he didn't blame her; he knew that the ice Luong was responsible for creating the need in the first place.

Ev quietly rose onto his forelegs, not wanting to catch Aressa's attention in case it invited some kind of harmful reaction from her. However, another urge to cough sprang up too suddenly for him to resist. He gave two loud, powerful coughs, sending a few grains of sand to the ground. He looked up in apprehension, hoping the coughing wouldn't be noticed after he had already been doing it so much. Now that he was moving more of his body, he noticed after a moment that some sand was also caught uncomfortably between many of his scales. Oh, man... I could really use a body of water now. But alas, another quick look around yielded nothing new.

He couldn't be sure how Aressa would react to anything he said in her current state, so he didn't try to address her. He probably wouldn't be able to speak intelligibly through his raw throat anyway. Since Kaden was one of the few dragons that still seemed operational, he did prepare himself to come to her aid if she tried something and Aressa reacted forcefully. He actually significantly doubted that the fellow Luong had the energy or the will to attack anyone else at the moment, but he didn't want to take any chances with Kaden's safety.

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Lyric
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeWed 25 Jul 2012, 2:55 pm

Agate’s stomach plunged. She was no expert on speeches (for this was her first one), but she had a feeling that deliverances weren’t considered “well-received” by the audience when they shot you dagger-filled expressions that promised a bloody and vengeful death to the speaker. Nooot exactly the results she was hoping for.

Aressa appeared to be especially disgruntled about the tidbit of Agate’s father and his past filled with dragon killing sprees. Why’d I have to open my big maw? The dragon-girl thought with a cold snap full of forlorn. She was typically a soundless outcast, just another background character going about her insipid existence. However, whenever she did feel a sudden rocket-launch of confidence on obtaining the glory of being a main character, the words she tended to utter were rather, well, cretinous. The harsh, sinking feeling of failure would pound against both her mind and heart; the echoes alone being quite painful enough, but the strikes themselves unbearable.

Although her treads were wobbly, Aressa was able to stand, even if it was only for a brief moment. Agate had taken to the scalding cement--again. Standing upright was out of the question for the hybrid, since she had drained the majority of the little energy she had possessed on her sandy outburst. She had never before used her powers at such an intensity. Yet, the sandstorm was a mere infant compared to natural sandstorms (since Agate was only a half dragon). It was because it had been heavily concentrated in a small area was why the storm had caused so much damage, at least from what she could discern.

Aressa’s response caused Agate to gag on her own breath. No wonder the ice luong was such a menace. Life itself had been nothing but a menace to her. The earth dragoness couldn’t even happen upon the realm of imagination where Agate could place herself in Aressa’s paws (besides the fact that Agate didn’t even have paws).

“I’m sorry that your childhood was so terrible,” the hybrid choked out, still finding it difficult to breath on a regular pattern. “But you’re free now! Can’t you at least appreciate that fact that liberty is yours, the fact that you now have a family who won't abandon you?” She indicated Tem, Kaden, Kaldra, Ev, Leaf, and a K.O.ed Aelirsa. Although the whole blather about “family” probably wasn’t necessarily true (in reality, many of the dragons had most likely encountered the notion of ditching the female luong at some point that day), Agate’s intention was to reach her good side, the side without her vicious claws of ice.

“Please, there’s no need to fear any longer,” Agate tried to console Aressa, attempting to prop herself up all the while. The combination of the juvenile’s fatigued state and gravity would always smite her straight back into the asphalt. The one who really has a reason to fear is me, fearing that you will destroy me any second! Aressa’s fleshy scar alone was enough to ignite shivers upon her spine.
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeWed 25 Jul 2012, 10:49 pm

The tranquility of blissful sleep. The relief from the pain of transgressions passed, lives taken, punishments avoided, new beginnings gone wrong. Sleep was a true rarity for her ever since the phase of transformation. While she could rest and rejuvenate, she had never been able to escape the torture of her daily life without merely suppressing it. This moment she could enjoy for a long time.

Her front leg suddenly seared like a bright red coal. No, please, just a few minutes of sleep... The tearing at her scales, shattering the snowflakes she had spent her time crafting to powder. But it meant now that she had no physical reason to shut out the pain. With the danger gone, the full force of her injuries would return to encourage her to escape. Basic instinct, lifesaver in a different situation, but right now, far from it.

Lurching over to the side so her body wasn't pressing down on her shoulder, a loud cry of pain rattled her teeth. Whatever had transpired while she was unconscious would probably determine how the others reacted to her waking. No doubt it would include an attempt to sedate her again. Controlling the regular roars that she hadn't thought possible from her own body was essentially impossible.

No concern for the stripping away of what she considered to be her main aspect of beauty. No concern for what she had done to protect Agate from Aressa, then the latter from a situation that could only end in bloodshed. So long as one of them had the ability to relieve the pain shooting out from her shoulder, and the duller ones in her side.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeThu 26 Jul 2012, 1:39 pm

As Aressa sat, exhausted from the biting sand, she thought she saw movement at the corner of her eye. Thinking it was probably nothing and being too tired to check it out, she simply closed her eyes, falling headfirst into the treacherous thoughts lurking in the shadows of her mind. That whole telling-her-past thing was great in theory, but it had an unintended consequence; bringing all those buried memories lurching back to life. She could hear the yells, feel the terror, and hear the crack of the whip. It was her own personal hell and the worst part was that it was all real. This was no nightmare built of smoke; this was built of flesh and blood. With a steadying breath, she reopened her eyes, but they were still distant as her memories had her trapped firmly in their grasp.

She heard a sort of slithering noise, like a tail sliding over pavement, and turned her head. It was then that her eyes settled on the form of Temezren crouched low over the ground. His brows were knit with concern and his gaze was fixed on Aelirsa’s prone form. But then Agate began to speak once again, so her attention immediately zeroed in on the hybrid girl once again.

“Family… now there’s something I’ve never really had,” she rasped, “I didn’t even have a real name until the Department of Dragons found me, up until then I was known as Beast,” she met the girl’s eyes, but this time her stare wasn’t angry, just dejected, “What makes you think that all of them won’t abandon me now?”

She held up her paw and the ice gloves reformed, albeit without spikes, “I should just leave….” a short cough, “go back to the alleyways where I belong.” Everyone has a dark side, but Aressa’s was simply too expansive for the group of dragons to accept her now that they'd witnessed it. The ice dissolved once again.

One bad effect of her further speaking was that it caused the particles lodged in the throat to move, eliciting a particularly violent coughing fit. By the end she was nearly gasping for air, curled into herself for some semblance of stability. When it did finally end and she’d regained her breath, she realized how bad off she truly was. Opening her mouth during the sandstorm had been the epitome of stupidity, at least from where she was now. She was filled with the same weakness and lack of will to move that many experience after a bout of sobbing. The anger, once boiling rapids, had dried up like a stream struck by a drought.

~~~~~

Kaldra noticed that the sandstorm had stopped and lowered her wing-shield, a little curious as to who had convinced Agate to cease her counterattack. Given that the dragoness had endured years of teasing there was probably quite a bit of desire for revenge stored inside her. It looked like Kaden was closest to her, so it was probably likely that it was her. How she’d managed to push her way through the sandstorm was a mystery though… maybe she had air abilities or something. She was collapsed now tho- Oh no, where’s Tem?!

If Aressa hurt him I’ll kill her!

Normally Kaldra wasn’t violent in the slightest, but when someone that she cared about, especially someone like Tem, that whole ‘mother bear’ instinct kind of kicked in. She couldn’t stand to see them injured or even remotely sad. She would do anything to keep them safe, even facing off against a particularly dangerous foe. Her pawsteps increased in tempo until she was nearly running, her eyes had zeroed in on Tem crouching down behind Kaden’s prone form, with Aressa sitting right on the other side. She’d heard Aressa’s brief history as she was approaching, but quickly shoved in into the back of her mind, her sole focus was getting to Tem’s side.

((Okay, there's my post, sorry I haven't posted in a few days. I'll be pretty busy for the next few days, but I might be able to fit in a post or two.))
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeThu 26 Jul 2012, 4:51 pm

Tem looked up from Aelirsa's unconscious form to look over at whoever had just let out a painful-sounding hacking cough. Apparently it was Ev. When Agate spoke up again a moment later - drawing Tem's gaze again - even she, the creator of the sandstorm, seemed to have difficulty breathing. Tem realized how fortunate he was to have gone mostly unhindered by the storm; in fact, it had been an excuse to lie there and recuperate more than anything, luckily without any more than some irritation in his wings and ear-fins.

Agate's words set Tem thinking on what he'd heard from Aressa a moment ago, that she'd been captured by a greedy slayer and chained in a basement for her entire childhood, whipped whenever the heartless human felt like it. It was almost too horrifying a concept for him to grasp - a lack of freedom so complete that she'd never had the chance to experience any of the world for herself or learn anything she wanted to...with no one in the entire world to offer her a sliver of love or caring or even sympathy, only pain and the soulless, cruel, simply and purely evil man that dealt it to her...Tem had to stop himself from dwelling on it any more deeply for fear that he would suddenly burst out crying. If just the thought of it is too much for me, then it's clear as day why she's so -

He jumped at the sudden sound of Aelirsa crying out in pain directly next to him. She was so close by that the noise was intense enough to hurt his hearing fins a little. He whipped his head toward her with an expression of almost frantic concern. God, did I really hurt her that much? What can I do to help her?? She seemed to have gotten herself into a different position just then, and Tem didn't doubt that she was likely trying to ease her own pain somehow, but he only had guesses as to exactly what area needed help. She took some weight off one of her legs...maybe part of that leg, or the shoulder, is injured?

Despite Aelirsa's predicament, Tem couldn't help but turn momentarily to listen to what Aressa then said. He'd put so much emotion into her story just then that he felt the need to know whatever else he could. The additions to her account only sickened him further; that demon of a man had seen fit to call her "Beast," as if she, a mighty dragon, was no more than another common animal that his arrogant race had brought under its sway. How we've proven them wrong.... Even so, without ever meeting this human, Tem knew with absolute certainty that he already wanted him dead; although he'd come to realize that there were plenty of humans with the good sense to accept a new race, he'd never lost an ounce of bitter resentment for the ones who hadn't proven to be so kind and wanted them gone as soon as possible. Whether they were somehow convinced to give up their shortsighted hate or simply killed off, Tem didn't usually have a preference, though for the particularly nasty ones like Aressa's "Master," the range of options was rather narrower.

With Aelirsa still in pain, that was as much attention as he was willing to divert. He swung his head back to the wounded ice dragoness - noticing a bit of icy powder under her that he hadn't observed before, and more back where he and she had originally landed - and immediately decided that the best way to assess her condition was to ask her about it. "Aelirsa, hey...can you tell me where it hurts?" he inquired simply enough. He was tempted to lay a paw on her for comfort, but he reconsidered when he realized he might end up touching a painful spot. He noticed a familiar black shape on the edge of his vision and was instantly relieved to look up and see Kaldra rushing toward him. A bit of a smile found its way onto his face, though it quickly fell back into worry. "Hey there," he said to her with a sigh of relief, "great to see you. Maybe you can help me; Aelirsa's not looking too good right now." While he waited for whatever response Aelirsa would be able to come up with, he continued looking her over, hoping for some more insight.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeThu 26 Jul 2012, 7:48 pm

Dizzying pain searing through her flesh, eating away at the cold hardened endurance she had developed. Was this punishment for trying to do the right thing? No doubt another of those cruel ironies she so despised. Aressa might have fared better, but then she would have been impacted by two dragons, and incredibly upset at that.

A question of concern, directed from Tem. Kaldra was already making her way to his side. They care for each other, they help each other. They would fight to save each other, they would die to protect each other... She on the other hand had no-one, nor did she want someone to bring down with her into the pit of misery she suffered daily.

"All over." She hissed loudly as another surge of pain went through. Not wanting to try and move her arm in case it was not broken cleanly, she instead lay down on her unharmed side once more. "The sandstorm destroyed my ice, I don't think I'll be able to produce a cast for some time now." Her breathing was wheezing to say the least, but at least it was breathing.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeThu 26 Jul 2012, 9:39 pm

Meanwhile, Leaf had gotten sidetracked in the store and had been inside for the entire ordeal outside. Now, she headbutted her way through a small crowd of onlookers plugging up the automatic doors (the nearest available spot to stay out of the sandstorm) and rushed out into the parking lot.

"What the hell happened out here?" she asked, more concerned than anything else. "Did you guys get attacked by someone or something?" Her gaze progressed from one dragon to another, checking for injuries, before settling on Aelirsa as the apparent worst case.


Many of the onlookers were on their cell phones, some making calls to who knows where (or perhaps it was entirely obvious where), others holding them up to take pictures or video. None of them were about to make their way out of the building just yet.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeThu 26 Jul 2012, 10:59 pm

At first, Agate seemed like she had no intention of stopping the sandstorm. Then she saw something change in Agate’s expression and, mercifully, the sands were sucked back up into Agate’s maw. Kaden didn’t even bother to struggle to her feet as she relinquished her shield of winds, exhausted from the effort.

She simply closed her eyes and listened as Agate spoke. So she’s a hybrid after all...and her dad became a dragon hunter? She shivered at the mere thought. She was happy that, like Lily, Agate’s father was able to make the right choice.

A pang of sadness hit her when she heard Aressa speak--she couldn’t even imagine a life so painful. But the ice luong was so, so, so wrong if she thought that every human was like the merciless one that covered her skin and mind in scars. Lily was proof. Converts too, even if they were dragons now.

She opened her eyes to check on the others, noting that they seemed fine. She was really getting hungry, though--controlling so much wind at once did that--so she couldn’t really pull herself to her feet. Ev, Tem, and Kaldra were moving around, so obviously they were okay. She heard footsteps and looked over at the source: Leaf. Apparently, she was just now leaving the store.

“It’s a long story...” she mumbled in Leaf’s direction.

Then she saw the onlookers behind Leaf.

Kaden’s eyes widened as she stared. Had they really caused such a commotion? Were they calling the police?! The hospital?!

She found her feet at last, though they were shaky. “Guys,” she hissed in a panicky voice. “Guys, we--oh God, we need to leave. Nownownow. Can Aelirsa stand? Or uh, be carried?” She glanced around, trying to appear calm. Not working. Ohgawdohgawdohgawd! What was she supposed to do!? What if the police caught them and they could never find the murderers and they got stuck in jail and--!?

She sucked in a deep breath as she stumbled away from the catastrophe, in hopes that the group would follow so they could figure something out away from the crowd. She took off at a brisk trot towards a more private location--an alleyway, perhaps? Come on, come on, come on! Please follow, please follow, please follow. She glanced behind her, slowing down in case the others hadn’t caught up yet. Besides, her legs were shaking already. She definitely didn’t want to use her abilities again anytime soon.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeFri 27 Jul 2012, 1:47 am

Tem's frown intensified at the first part of Aelirsa's response. That was exactly the answer he wasn't hoping for. The ice dragoness went on to explain about losing ice and a cast, though, and that helped give him an idea. "A cast? You mean, you think something's broken? Where? Is that where it hurts most?" His questions came out in a rapid stream, desperate as he was to find a way to cure her pain.

Just then he heard Leaf ask an appropriately surprised question about what had suddenly caused the crazy scene around him. Oh, Leaf! How did I forget to look around for her? At least she'd apparently stayed safe from all the commotion, though what she'd been doing the whole time, he couldn't say beyond guessing it was something inside the store. Maybe she found out some more from that guy after all....

Whatever the case, that was far from his biggest concern - he noticed at about the same time as Kaden did that a crowd of human witnesses had watched all or part of the group's abrupt fall into chaos, and they were now holding their cell phones to their ears to make calls or pointing them at the group to capture the action. Oh God! This is even worse than me telling all those protestors what Kent said - way worse! This kind of publicity is exactly what we don't need! I'm sure they're calling the police or the ambulance after all the violence and cries of pain. Even if they don't arrest us, even if the paramedics can help Aelirsa, it'll put us on hold for anywhere from hours to days and definitely get us all over the news....

The answer to that was to leave. Kaden's panicked warning turned out to be a pretty close parallel to many of his own feelings, but when he looked back and saw her stumbling away, he instinctively felt it was best to warn her back, "Kaden, wait up! We're all going to look guilty of something!" That worrying notion hadn't had much time to develop, so it might have come out a little roughly, but that was the essence of his doubts. How would it look if the second they all noticed people were watching, they fled the scene? Even more attention, humans speculating with their wild imaginations about what the group might be hiding...would it be better to talk to the crowd, to try to dismiss their attention by explaining? To risk giving the emergency crews enough time to come and detain them for who knew how long? Gah, I don't know! Maybe Kaldra could say since she's the leader, but I don't know if she has enough experience to choose correctly....

He realized he was wasting enough time just by thinking about it. He knew that, either way, it would be helpful to have Aelirsa in better condition as soon as possible, so, letting some of his rushed panic reach his voice, he spoke to her some more. "Uhh, okay, Aelirsa, we might have to get out of here in a hurry, so please, is there a particular spot where the pain is, or something else you can tell us about your injuries that can help us fix you up very very quickly?" Kaden had mentioned carrying her as well.... "If we do need to go, er, Kaldra could probably carry you." His first instinct was to choose her since she seemed to be the oldest and thus largest and strongest, though he wasn't so sure about his choice when he remembered the spikes he'd had to avoid the day before.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeFri 27 Jul 2012, 2:14 am

She coughed rather hoarsely. Fortunately it was just phlegm and not blood that found it's way onto the ground. No doubt there was sand in her lungs in need of clearance. Tem was speaking again, while her hearing was going dull from shock, she could still make out most of what he was saying.

"I'll give you credit for putting out or breaking my shoulder. At least that brain of yours has some decent protection." Using her free arm, she struggled to stand again, dragging the useless one as she trod away slowly. It was rather painful when her claw caught and tugged on the wound, but at least the numbing feeling was spreading at last.

"We need to get Aressa away, otherwise she'll continue to fume and who knows what will happen then." Using her battered wing to keep her paw off the ground, she kept her attention on Tem who was clearly worried. "Please Tem, try not to look too worried, it just makes everyone else worried, including myself."

She could explain later. Needless to say she probably had as little love for human authorities as Aressa did, if not moreso. They did after all let the murderer of her friend get away clean, they did give her a hard time during the incidents following. No, not again, not in front of others especially.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeFri 27 Jul 2012, 3:09 pm

Ev watched tensely as Agate continued trying to persuade Aressa to stand down. Fortunately, it seemed that his guess about the ice Luong had been accurate, although he was met with mixed emotions when she supposed that it would be better for her to leave. Now that the group had taken her in and learned of her past, he felt that it was their duty to be the family she never had, as Agate had said. On the other hand, Aressa might be a lot to deal with if she needed more therapy to keep from spontaneously attacking people. Wincing in shared discomfort as she violently coughed out more sand, he nevertheless thought they should at least help her get her throat cleared out.

He didn't have much more time to think about the other Luong, however, because a cry of pain from Aelirsa instantly drew his attention. Ev's eyes widened in worry. Oh, dear... it looks like she didn't take that impact too well. He was glad that Tem and now Kaldra were trying to help, since he didn't trust that he would do a good job of it himself.

Leaf suddenly asked an understandable question from the direction of the store. Doesn't look like she was affected... that's good, I guess. Ev had to wonder, though, what had occupied her time inside for so long. He was about to try to give the wyvern a little more information after Kaden's vague answer when he noticed the crowd watching and recording them from the store. For a second, he stared in horror with his mouth slightly open; any attention from so many strangers was bad enough for him, but it was mortifying when they were taking pictures and video of him to upload to the internet for some reason he could never understand even as a former human. He snapped his head away from the onlookers to hide his face from their phone cameras.

At the moment, Ev agreed with Kaden's reaction wholeheartedly. He took several steps in her direction before his attention returned to the wounded Aelirsa, making him hesitate. Tem's point about looking guilty also gave him pause. I guess that would look kind of suspicious, he admitted, but he imagined that it might not look so bad if they all departed together, since then no one would be left behind as an apparent victim of some sort of assault by the rest of the dragons. At a glance, the only humans in the area appeared to have been sheltered against the sandstorm inside the store, so hopefully they would also avoid accusations of racial violence.

These considerations flashed through Ev's head quickly, but he still stood frozen by indecision for several seconds. He didn't want to leave Kaden by herself as she fled for a less exposed area, yet he felt guilty about the idea of abandoning the collapsed Agate, Aelirsa, and Aressa. When Aelirsa managed to stand up and begin hobbling away, however, he felt more certain. He started back towards Kaden, reasoning, Agate is just tired, I think, and Aressa... isn't wounded like Aelirsa, at least. They can probably get up soon. His largest remaining concern was that Aressa would use the situation as an opportunity to leave the group, which he feared would only lead her to more trouble.

As he jogged in Kaden's direction, his slightly increased breathing agitated some of the sand still caught in his throat and forced him to cough, much like what happened to Aressa. He strongly wanted to get out of the view of the crowd, though, so he forced himself to keep going as he painfully and noisily expelled more of the seemingly infinite grains. He wanted to look back and check on everyone else, but the coughing made it difficult to keep looking up. He would just have to hope that things were going well enough for them.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeSat 28 Jul 2012, 1:17 am

Kaldra nodded when she came to a halt alongside Tem, immediately taking in the situation and its possible consequences. Aelirsa was hurt, seriously enough to cause the usually-stoic dragoness to cry out in pain. She was about to suggest that they carry her to a doctor, or at least out of this area, when Leaf came running out of the store. That movement brought her eyes to the crowd of people holding up phones and making calls just inside the glass windows.

This is bad… this is really bad!

They couldn’t be stopped by the police now, what if Stackpole was among them? She definitely didn’t want to get questioned by that creep again, much less go to jail. Sure, there was a possibility that paramedics could help Aelirsa, but was it worth being on the news, having their faces everywhere, and being held up for days on end? No, it wasn’t truly, there were far too many uncontrollable variables and too many ways that things could go wrong. They needed to get out of here now.

Then Tem mentioned that they might look guilty, but was quickly cut down by Aelirsa. “I don’t really know what would be best… I don’t want to look guilty, like you said, but I also don’t want to end up in the police’s clutches or something similar.”

Now what do we do with Aressa? Her childhood was horrifying, but she did blatantly try to kill Agate and sparked this whole mess… would keeping her with us be worth it or would it be our undoing?

But it seemed that Aelirsa was already stumbling away, one leg dragging slightly on the ground with each step. Kaldra winced, that looked pretty serious. She met Tem’s gaze and then motioned with her head towards Aressa, hopefully he’d understand her worry about bringing the obviously unstable dragoness along with them after this recent… outburst.

~~~~~

Aressa heard voices filling the air and felt the uneasy tingling feeling that came with being watched. Filled with trepidation, she looked in the direction of the newest voice and saw a female wyvern hurrying out of the store. Gathered behind the windows were tons of humans, all gripping their little gadgets… phones they were called. She felt cornered, trapped, like an animal in a zoo surrounded by drooling little brats clutching toys in their grubby fingers. She hated feeling cornered.

If only I had the strength, I would pierce all those picture-taking electronic devices with ice. Maybe that would teach them a lesson in manners.

But she didn’t have the strength, so that was out of the question. They would come, those uniformed humans called policemen, and they would lock her up in a tiny little cell. It would be Master’s basement all over again. That was if they didn’t decide to simply bring in the DoD and have her euthanized like a rabid mutt.

Kaldra, Tem, and the others won’t rescue me… to them I am a menace. I guess they're right...

“You all just go…” she said, projecting just enough that those close to her would hear, “I shouldn’t come with you any longer, I’ll stay and take the blame,” she glanced at the fleeing dragons and then back at the awestruck humans, “After all, it’s just another cage.”

((Aressa's section kind of bothered me, I don't think it really turned out that great. I was running a little short on dialogue ideas at the end.))
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeSat 28 Jul 2012, 3:55 am

Aelirsa's response to Tem caught him off-guard - he was glad to hear her report a spot to focus on, specifically her shoulder, but her discussion of giving him credit and protection for his brain struck him as very odd things to suddenly mention. He pulled his head back a little, and his brows momentarily curved into more of a confused expression than a worried one. She's acting weird again....She's not going into some kind of shock, is she? At least she didn't sound so formal anymore; that would have been much weirder.

She surprised him again by struggling to her feet by herself and beginning to limp in Kaden's direction. He felt an unexpectedly large wave of relief wash through him; she wouldn't need to be carried after all, and she didn't even seem to need immediate help to move. When the ice dragoness gave her warning about Aressa, Tem had his doubts, glancing back at the Luong, that "fuming" was something she had enough time and energy to do much of at this point. He understood if Aelirsa wanted to be cautious about someone so threatening to Agate, though. Still, he was just as torn as before as to what to do. His struggle to find the right choice happened to put a very strained and concerned look on his face, which Aelirsa then mentioned out loud. He was surprised for the third time and instantly grew self-conscious. I don't think my expression is really what's worrying everyone at this point! he thought, but, still too astonished by Aelirsa's behavior, his voice stuck in his throat before he could reply to any of Aelirsa's comments.

So now Aelirsa was heading away, apparently disregarding Tem's warning. A brief glance around the scene revealed that Ev was doing the same. They don't agree with me! He supposed that they must all be considering how bad it would be to run into the authorities, but leaving those humans' pictures and videos to spread across the internet and the news with only crazy rumors to explain the dragons' behavior still sounded like a terrible idea to Tem. Panic seeping back into his expression, he turned to Kaldra in a desperate search for answers just as she started speaking to him. It sounded like she had her own doubts, however. She motioned with her head towards Aressa for some reason - Tem read it as concern, but he wasn't sure if it was for the Luong or for the other group members she might endanger, so that didn't help much.

Then Aressa told everyone it would be best to leave her to take the blame for all of them. Would it be best, would it be worth it, to sacrifice Aressa so the rest could leave and possibly be cleared of most suspicions? She'd told them to do so herself, so she must have had some level of acceptance for it, but still...the answer ringing through Tem's head was a resounding no. Her comment about the cage brought back those sickening memories of how Aressa had had to live so much of her life, how that torment had left her this unstable mess. How could the group live with themselves if they abandoned Aressa to suffer that lack of freedom all over again? How could they be so callous? Part of Tem warned him that his noble sentiment could end up hurting the group greatly later, and yet, he was also certain that any possibility of friendship between Aressa and the rest of the group would be lost if they really did leave her. But if they took her in - if they were the family she'd never had, like Agate had said - they could do so much good for her. Now that Aressa was so melancholy, so downcast, she seemed so non-threatening that it was hard to imagine her exploding so badly later. Now resolved, Tem responded to the Luong with a firm "No," and continued, "you've been in a cage long enough, Aressa. If we're going to leave, we'll leave together - all of us." He was satisfied to have let out some of his passionate feelings on the issue, though of course he was still very worried about what his choice might mean, or if anyone would even agree with him.

The next issue was whether they actually would leave, which was looking more and more likely by the moment. Tem was certain that letting the authorities catch them was a bad idea, but, unable to shake off his concern about the group's publicity, he told Kaldra about his ideal scenario. "Uh, okay, we can leave so the police don't catch up with us, but before we do that, do you think we could tell all of them -" he gestured with a paw toward the onlooking crowd - "what happened here? Briefly? I just don't know what they, and the news and everything, might say about us if we leave without a word."

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeSun 29 Jul 2012, 12:29 am

Aressa was just getting to her feet when Tem replied with a firm disagreement. It gave her pause, were they actually going to allow her to stay with them, even after what she’d done? He didn’t want to her to go back to forced seclusion. He wanted her to come with the group. Maybe these dragons were different than those that she’d seen in the past; maybe even the hybrid Agate and the convert Aelirsa were different than humans she’d known. Maybe things were finally looking up for her…

Yeah, and maybe this whole thing will come crashing down on all our heads.

But what if the others disagreed with him? What if they threw her out, argued over how dangerous she was, what if they abandoned her to the sharks that were humans? To have such hope given to her and then taken away so quickly would be more painful than simply being left behind. As it was, it seemed that their main focus was to get away from the crowds, although Tem wanted to get rid of any untrue notions that those humans might have about the cause of the disturbance.

I doubt this will go well, but if he wants to try so be it.

She remained standing, not making any motions to leave with the others or move closer to the entrance of Fry’s.

~~~~~
Kaldra nodded, “Alright, we can stay for a minute and tell them how there’s nothing to worry about. It can’t take too long… but leaving quickly would cause suspicion, you’re right.”

That’s why I need him at my side; he catches things that I would not. I guess he trusts Aressa enough, or at least feels sympathetic enough, to let her come with us still. I’m okay with that, I trust his judgement… I just hope it doesn’t come back to bite us later.

She could feel sand gathering in cracks between her scales and quickly shook her body, like a dog after it gets wet, to clear them out. There, that’s a bit better. She looked back over at Kaden and Aelirsa, if they kept going she was confident that they’d be able to catch up. They’d likely head to a more secluded area of Jessica or just make a beeline for the forests. Either would be preferable to this.

"Would you like to explain what happened or would you rather I did?"
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeSun 29 Jul 2012, 2:38 am

Ev managed to quiet his coughing and look back long enough to realize that Tem was saying something to Aressa. At first he thought he would keep going, but then he processed Tem's message more completely. "Been in a cage long enough"? What is she doing? The other Luong had spoken too quietly for him to hear even if he hadn't been coughing, so he didn't know for sure. Whatever was happening, though, it sounded important enough that he stopped for a moment.

He glanced anxiously at Kaden, ever aware that she was getting farther and farther away, yet he stayed put while Tem discussed why he wanted to explain the situation, followed by Kaldra's agreement. Ack, they really are going to stay a moment! And Aressa... is she trying to take the fall or something? Ev wouldn't have believed it - he completely expected that she wouldn't be able to stand the thought of further imprisonment, and he couldn't have blamed her - but from Tem's words before and Aressa's expression now, it seemed to be the truth.

Ev once again felt awfully torn between Kaden and the others. He feared that Kaden might view it as a betrayal if he didn't follow her, but he couldn't stand the idea of letting Aressa fall back into captivity for them. He felt like the group had started her on the path to recovery from her terrible past, yet it would be for nothing if they abandoned her now. His eyes darted between her and Kaden for a few seconds until he made a decision.

He turned toward Kaden and called, "Kaden, wait!" He didn't want her to end up separated from everyone else while they remained momentarily outside the store. He would have liked to elaborate on why she should wait, but he wanted to delay as little as possible, and he was also a bit panicked about trying to manage the quickly moving situation with little to no time for planning.

Then he turned back and attempted to help persuade Aressa to join them. "Aressa, you... you really don't have to take the fall for us! Tem's going to... explain stuff, and it-it'll all work out! Just... come with us! We can help you! We... we can be a family to you, like Agate said!" Ev hated that he didn't have much time to think about what to say beforehand, although it wasn't the worst-case scenario he often imagined. He just hoped he hadn't said anything that would backfire or otherwise cause problems.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeSun 29 Jul 2012, 4:08 am

Tem nodded back to Kaldra, glad to hear that she'd found his suggestion reasonable. Tense as he was, he jumped slightly in undue surprise when Kaldra suddenly shook herself, though he calmed back down a little as the distinctive sound of sand pouring onto concrete revealed why she'd done so.

Then she asked him whom he'd prefer to do the talking, which didn't help his frenetic mood much since it gave him yet another decision to work through as quickly as possible. He fidgeted in place, claws tapping lightly on the pavement, not bothering to hide how stressed this whole mess in general was making him. "Errr, umm..." She seems pretty good with her words, most likely better than me, but it was my idea, so I might be quicker about thinking of what to say....

Before he could get out any actual words, he heard Ev call out for Kaden to wait and then briefly explain, in his usual awkward way, some more reasons why the group wouldn't leave Aressa behind and she should join them. Tem wasn't sure he liked the little speech since it came out so much less elegantly than his quick words to Aressa a moment ago, but he supposed the point about them serving as a family was a good one to say aloud. Still, it didn't please him that Ev had, intentionally or not, sort of recommended Tem to do the speaking, although it didn't skew his plans too badly since he'd been leaning toward choosing himself to speak. "I'll - I'll just do it," he said, and he turned to the crowd and let fly what possibly-disastrous words came to mind most quickly.

"Don't worry," he started in a voice raised to a high enough volume to reach them, "this was all just a - a misunderstanding. Um...look, we were just all...having a bit of a serious moment, trying to work through a tough spot in some of our friendships, and it got kind of crazy, but we're all right now, and since we're very very busy and really have places to be, we're just going to, er, go now, because we really shouldn't be late for any of this and Leaf you probably need to get over here right about now!" That last part was due to all his panicky rushed feelings rising to a boil and spilling out of his mouth rather than any kind of actual displeasure with Leaf in particular, though it was entirely possible that he didn't convey that too well.

His gaze hovering on Leaf for an extra half-second, he then turned to Kaldra and told her in a slightly out-of-breath voice, "Okay, we can go now, unless there's something you want to add. Otherwise, best to not lose any more time." No sooner had he said that, though, when a little detail he'd forgotten about in the tumult suddenly and without warning flew back into his memory: the food bag! He'd dropped it just before leaping at Aressa - his head whipped to the spot he'd jumped from, and he found the bag on its side. A single roll had been lost to the pavement on impact, but the rest still seemed tucked inside, and the bag's opening was, fortunately, facing away from where the sand would have been able to get inside. Tem didn't want to walk back toward the crowd to grab it, but luckily, he didn't have to; having been the one to pack the bag, he'd been careful to include some water, if only a single bottle given the size of the bag. That was still plenty for him to pull - even if he'd missed it while scanning for water to throw at Aressa, probably because, with the bag still clutched in his claw at that moment, the bottle had managed to blend in with the fluids coursing through his own paw. ((I actually didn't decide there was a water bottle until now, so I'm rather impressed with my little save here.))

Whatever the case, he pulled the bottle towards himself, dragging the bag with it along the ground, careful not to go too quickly and possibly spill more rolls. Within several seconds, the bag had arrived in his right forepaw without incident. Not wasting a moment, he started walking in the general direction that Kaden, Ev, and Aelirsa had started in, though he slowed once his eyes fell on Agate - the hybrid seemed to be struggling to get up. "Need some help, Agate?" he asked urgently, still feeling no less rushed but certainly not about to leave one of the group members behind when she might not have been able to follow. He hurried to her side as he spoke, ready to help prop her up at a moment's notice.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeSun 29 Jul 2012, 2:01 pm

Kaden came to a complete stop. She turned her head once Ev had warned her to wait. What the heck is going on now? she thought when she saw how Aressa was still in the same spot. She turned around and walked towards the ice luong, her expression being one of clear confusion. She caught the end of the conversation as she walked closer. Judging by the words she had heard, Aressa was planning on...staying behind?

Why would she want that? Agate just told her how we are practically family now!

She walked up to Aressa. “Are you seriously thinking about staying behind!? Did you even hear what Agate said? We’re not leaving you behind, and that’s it!” she growled. “So come on--we have a mystery to solve and you’re helping us, Aressa!” She hoped she didn’t sound mean, but honestly, she didn’t want to break down and cry or something.

Then she saw Agate, who still looked like she was having difficulties. Tem seemed to have the same idea of helping her, as they both walked towards the hybrid.

“Hey, uh...do you need us to help you move? You can lean on my shoulder if you want to,” she whispered into Agate’s ear.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 5 I_icon_minitimeSun 29 Jul 2012, 9:46 pm

Aressa looked up at Ev, her surprise evident on her face. He wanted to help her; he believed that they could all help her? To be honest, the concept of family was rather foreign to her. The only ‘family’ she’d ever had, if you could call it that, was the dragons at the DoD who’d helped her try to glue the pieces of herself back together. That man, that monster, that kept her locked away all those years would never count as family. She hadn’t seen her actual parents since they went off hunting that fateful day so many years ago.

Even my memory of what they looked like has faded…

But these dragons… they said that they would be her new family. After all she’d done to them, after she’d almost maimed one of their own, the idea that they’d still take her in was astounding. It left her speechless. How do you thank someone for showing you undeserved kindness? How do you repay them for that hand reaching out to pull you away from the abyss?

I’ll try and stay sane, for them. I will get better.

It was strange to go from wanting to see them all bleeding out at her feet to wanting to make herself better for them. But it wouldn’t be that simple. One couldn’t simply wipe away years of torment with one act of kindness, however unprecedented it was. Healing takes time. It would start now with the dragoness that had nearly ending up the victim of her rage.

She is no longer simply the hybrid, Agate is truly a dragoness.

“I can carry her if you’d like,” she said, walking over towards the glasses-wearing girl, shoving the nagging voice of Master into the back of her mind. He was no longer here and he would not ruin this chance that had appeared before her, a chance to make up for all that had been done to her and all that she’d done in retaliation.

~~~~~
Kaldra’s head spun around at Ev’s remark to Aressa, so it seemed that Tem wasn’t the only one that wanted to help the abused dragoness. She was personally a little wary, an experience like the one she’d had, while tragic, often left more than just visible scars. That much had already become evident through her apparent hatred of humans and anything remotely connected to them. But she had no one else to turn to, she was really and truly alone in life.

I couldn’t live with myself if I abandoned her now and forced her to take the blame for everything.

“Ev’s right, we’re your family now,” she smiled briefly, “Family’s work together to get through things and we’re no different.”

She turned to Tem after he finished talking, nodding once to show her approval. There, that would hopefully placate the curiosity of the crowd. With a quick flick of her tail, she said, “Nope, that was good. We should get going now though.” She was a little surprised when he used his elemental talent to pull the food bag closer, he was more skilled in its use than she’d realized. He had healed her leg wound earlier, which was amazing, but this sort of everyday use was a useful addition. Then he noticed that Agate wasn’t getting up and went over to her, so Kaldra followed him, naturally. She was prepared to help if needed, but carrying the girl with her spiky back would probably prove difficult. They were great for protection, but a bit problematic when it came to delicate maneuvers like carrying someone.
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