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 COA III: The new IC

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Jalines
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeWed 17 Oct 2012, 1:29 am

Ev was both relieved and terribly embarrassed when Tem came up and answered Kaden properly. It seemed he had been so slow that one of the others was able to think of a solution even while occupied by something else, but at least the interjection would remove some of the crushing attention his failure was surely receiving. Still, he dreaded how he must have looked to Kaden after such a blunder. He hung his head for what must have been the hundredth time that day, too mortified to dare looking at her. His mental image of her reaction was bad enough without the confirmation he expected.

Ugh, this is what happens when I don't spend all that time thinking things over... instead of doing nothing, I do things wrong, and that's even worse. Like... Ev was about to use the situation with Tom as an example, but in that case he had actually done relatively well without too much preparation time. Well... fine, but... that's an exception, he debated himself. I've been messing up the whole time until then, and apparently I've started to again. I need to just shut up before I fumble my way into something even worse than this.... Kaldra's encouragement just before the sandstorm started coming to mind, but Ev pushed it away. After his constant fears about trying to speak had been fulfilled, he didn't want to try to feel good about himself at the moment.

Ev abruptly realized that he had spaced out during an important discussion. He had been hearing the words without really listening to them, so he mentally recited what he remembered in order to process it. The hospital? The possibility hadn't occurred to him in the slightest, probably because they so greatly needed to keep a low profile. He was glad when Tem and Kaldra conceded to Aelirsa's opinion; Ev thought getting hospital treatment would take too much time and draw far too much attention. They have a point about ensuring everyone is 'as able as possible,' though.... He shuddered to imagine fighting what Kaden had described in any condition, let alone with a wounded foreleg. He didn't trust himself to voice those concerns for a while, though, so he settled for a small nod of support that would be very hard for anyone to actually notice. Of course, that was just as well for him - he could always do with less attention.

A sudden itch on his body reminded him of the sand embedded between most of his scales. He saw some covering a few of the others, including Aressa and Aelirsa, but he didn't know how he should go about requesting that they find someplace to wash off and drink. They probably didn't get it as badly as I did... I mean, they seem to be walking and talking just fine. I shouldn't pull us off course for my own comfort. He stayed silent, although he still secretly hoped that someone would bring it up. The same was true when he spotted a decent alley (if there ever was such a thing) that they could slip into - a little extra wide yet still shadowed fairly well by the buildings on each side, and close to the path they were already taking. He mentally urged the group to head there, but he continued to follow wordlessly behind and leave the actual decision to them.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeThu 18 Oct 2012, 1:07 am

It would be a severe understatement to say that Aelirsa was handling herself alright. Between blocking out the pain and getting over her anthrophobia, she was desperate to just find a place to settle down for the time being and recover. Investigation, much as she hated to admit it, but soft pawed souls had been leading it for too long. While she hadn't been around for much of it, the little she knew made it quite clear, at least in her mind. They couldn't afford to let people just avoid the subject, they needed a dragon up there who wouldn't just back off. She disliked humans, and they undoubtedly disliked her back. There would be no loss if she needed to become determined with her questions. The others needed progress, their morale was suffering badly. This would be her contribution to the group.

I've been relying on the formal, calm and collected part for too long. It's about time that whoever these people are, understand that they won't be getting away with their little game much longer... Her attention was diverted to the alleyway she had been seeking out for almost the entire time. Maybe her sensitivity to the emotions and intentions of others was kicking in, she wouldn't have noticed it so easily by herself. Changing her direction to head right for it, she paused as it quickly became apparent that an explanation was needed for her actions. Turning around slowly, not to mention awkwardly, she glanced at each of the others in turn. From the look that Ev had adopted, he had seen what she had seen, if anything, he was probably the one who had unknowingly guided her towards the alley. If only he had the self confidence to speak up, they would listen to him surely. This was her chance to demonstrate confidence in him, and hopefully gain the chance to rest.

"I believe Ev has quite the sense of observation, may I suggest that we make our camp persay in the alleyway he is silently directing us to?" She tried smiling at him, but she had just put him on the spotlight, maybe he wouldn't appreciate that sort of gesture. Making her way over slowly, she stopped close to speak in private with him. If the incident had taught her anything, it was that they all needed to trust in each other more, provide confidence, and have faith. "Sorry, from what I saw you seemed disappointed in the lack of attention, I hope I didn't overdo it there." Returning her attention to the group, she once again looked at each in turn before making her slow pace towards the alley. It held the possibility of water, definitely shelter, and some privacy to ponder over her actions.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeThu 18 Oct 2012, 2:59 am

Ev looked up curiously at Aelirsa as she suddenly started toward the very alley he had spotted, then abruptly stopped herself and turned around. Pausing as well, he met her gaze for a tiny moment before reflexively looking down. Almost immediately, though, the completely unexpected mention of his name made him look back at her with wide-eyed surprise. That surprise turned to dread as she kept speaking, especially when she ended with the perfect phrase to pin every surrounding dragon's attention right on him. Perhaps it was Aelirsa's way of trying to credit him with his observation, but Ev felt the comment would only make him appear strange for revealing that he had decided something yet remained silent about it. He shrank more than he thought possible during the fraction of a second he knew it would take for everyone to turn their judging gazes toward him. The massive burst of stress nearly doubled the amount of poison he was breathing, and his heart started pounding. "Um..." he muttered almost inaudibly, too panicked to respond any other way.

Seemingly wanting to intensify his torment, Aelirsa hobbled over to Ev. The attention became excruciating as she so slowly covered the relatively long distance from the front of the group to the back; taking the effort of retracing her path to tell him something would only make the event appear that much more worthy of the group's piercing interest. During her approach, he stared at her with an expression that blended pain, shock, and confusion, as though she had stabbed him for no reason. His eyes flicked pointedly to the stream of green vapor as she came close to the danger zone, although he doubted for a second whether he would mind if she inhaled a bit of it.

The ice dragoness's next remark almost made him pass out. Disappointed?! What the hell are you talking about?! Have you not heard of something called shyness?! If he had been any less mindful of everyone else's presence, he might have yelled those thoughts in her face out of sheer surprise. As it was, he was simply stunned into silence. Then, as though she hadn't just humiliated the little Luong beyond belief, she walked slowly back toward the alley after an authoritative look at everyone. Anticipating a final shift of attention from Aelirsa back to him before the group moved again, Ev cowered to little over half his normal size. He would keep following when they inevitably started moving, but for now he wanted to fend off their gazes as quickly as possible.

He gave Aelirsa a quick glance and narrowed his eyebrows. He couldn't fathom her motivation, so the whole incident seemed to him either some sort of deliberate effort to make him feel worse or, at best, a display of complete ignorance about his personality. Well... she did point out the alley for me... but doing that any other way would have been better than all this attention.... Oh, God... why did she have to do that to me?

((I hope I didn't go too overboard here, but it's hard for me to judge when I'm tired, so... I'll just go with it for now.))

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeThu 18 Oct 2012, 4:35 am

It quickly became obvious that what she had done hadn't been met with gratitude. She didn't need to be sensitive to anything to work that out. Just looking back had told her enough, yet again her assumptions had caused problems. It seemed that she had been expecting too much of him, he obviously didn't like the attention she had unknowingly caused for him. Perhaps that was just who she was, seeing some things but missing others. She had seen someone who struggled to put forward his opinion, who generally hid away, but not someone who did that deliberately, out of fear and shyness.

And she had gone and blown that out of the water. Great, now she couldn't blame him for being resentful in the least. But she had to rectify her mistake quickly, before things got out of hand again. Misinterpretation had ended with her broken leg after all, she couldn't let a similar thing happen the second time over. "If it's alright with the group, I'd like to take up the rear of the procession this time. I'm not in the state to lead a retreat, especially in the vague chance that something awaits in the alley. I really do not like cats at all." That was her chance, blame cats for wanting to hang back which would let her talk with Ev.

Undoubtedly she was probably making herself look like a walking contradiction again, but she had to show that she wasn't totally ignorant of his feelings. Waiting for the others to make their way forward, she returned to Ev's presence once more, being sure this time that attention wasn't drawn to them. "Ev, I'm really sorry this time. I was merely distracted by the thought of rest, I ignored the obvious signs of your uncomfortableness with the situation, again I apologize. I do hope that I haven't lost any respect by doing so, I was merely trying to help."

Of course, it had merely made things worse again, as usual. Perhaps that was how the next witness would end, making things worse for the group once again because of her idea to be more determined in questioning. She pushed that thought aside, this moment was to console Ev out of the problem she had caused. "It seems I have a habit of making things worse when trying to help. If there's anything I can do now that won't, make things worse for you, then I'll gladly do so. I'm afraid that since meeting the group my contributions haven't been beneficial, quite the opposite really."

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeThu 18 Oct 2012, 8:59 pm

Tem was quite happy to hear Kaldra agree with his thoughts - a hospital was too much, not stopping to rest was too little. A little extra warmth fluttered into his heart at the sound of her approval and satisfaction. He smiled as he continued scanning the nearby buildings for an alleyway to slip into. Luckily, there was one just nearby that he noticed after only a few more seconds. Oh, good! He turned to begin walking toward it.

He opened his mouth and was about to tell the group that he'd found a good spot when Aelirsa suddenly beat him to it - in a very odd way. What was that about Ev silently directing us? Did...did she even look back at him? Is Ev psychic or something? Tem couldn't help but stop briefly, staring in confusion as these thoughts swirled through his head. He certainly hadn't been getting any secret messages, so... Is it Aelirsa that's special, then? That was still weird, but it would make a little more sense.

Only then did Tem realize that he'd turned his puzzled gaze onto Ev, who was starting to look mortified just as Aelirsa came up to him and began speaking quietly to him. Tem felt a surge of guilt. He knew pretty well by now that more people staring at him was not what Ev needed. "Uh..." he started to get out, knowing he should reply to Aelirsa, "...yeah, that alleyway is good." After a strained second of mulling over whether it would be more helpful or harmful to the poor Luong, "Th- thanks, Ev." Tem put as much sincere gratitude into his voice as he could, hoping he could calm Ev's obvious anxiety, although what with his confusion a moment ago and now regret about staring, the water dragon couldn't be quite sure it would come out right.

He was glad to then turn his gaze away and hastily trot forward some more to catch up to where he'd been, his shame showing up as a mild, apologetic frown. Well, I suppose Aelirsa doesn't necessarily have to be great at reading everyone's feelings.... Whatever part of herself Aelirsa had used to make friends with Agate and peace with Aressa apparently didn't work so well for helping Ev get more involved with the group. It's not like we're going to berate the poor little guy or anything, but I'm still worried about he's going to feel after that.... Tem knew it wouldn't be any help to look back at the Luong, though.

As if she hadn't made the situation awkward enough yet, Aelirsa then put a little too much energy into asserting why she should be allowed to fall to the back. Everyone knew - or at least, Tem assumed it was that obvious - that she simply wanted to talk to Ev some more, and he didn't see why that should be a problem, so he saw no need to make excuses. "Yes, of course, Aelirsa. No problem." As if cats would be an issue. He would water sense them if there were any - well, actually, he did pick up a form shaped suspiciously like a small quadruped, but it was already slinking away at the sound of the dragons' approach.

Tem - sure enough - picked up more quiet speech behind him, if not the actual words, as the group finally came up to the entrance of the alleyway. He gladly anticipated the imminent opportunity to set down his bag and curl up to rest for a while. They hadn't bothered him while he'd had so much to distract him, but now the minor scrapes along his underside, from the crash with Aelirsa that had partially caused their current mess, started stinging again. Nothing a little water can't fix, he mused. He just hoped the rest of the group, especially Aelirsa, could recover without too much more difficulty.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeMon 22 Oct 2012, 11:04 pm

Kaldra winced slightly as Aelirsa botched an attempt to include Ev and spotlight his skills. With his disposition, that would not be received well at all. It was a well-intended gesture, but ill-conceived. However, an alley would be an easy place to regroup and recover out of the public eye. They could discuss their next course of action after that... incident with their last attempt.

So it didn’t seem like she was simply ignoring the whole thing, she turned her neck so she was gazing at the two and replied after Tem, “Thank you, both,” a short pause, “and taying back would be fine, Aelirsa.”

~~~~~

Aressa hardly looked at all during the entire exchange between Aelirsa and Evakylir about the alleyway one, or the other, had spotted. Getting involved in any way wouldn’t be beneficial. She did, however, realize how healing seclusion would be for her nerves after this whole mess.

A mess mainly caused by me… Aelirsa is hurt because of me.

“I’ll just go on ahead,” she said hoarsely.

She was like a knife, tearing incessantly into the bonds that had once held this mismatched group of dragons and dragonesses together until they began to unravel into distrust and misreading of character. Her presence always left suffering in its wake. Master was right about her after all.

“And what would happen if I let you lose out there?” he sneered, “An untrained, untested Beast with little self-control or restraint? Ha, you’d eat them alive! Terror would surround you like a cloud of wasps stinging all who came too close! I’m doing you a favor by allowing you to stay in my expansive home.”

Again the notion of leaving the group sprung up from the darkest corners of her mind. Maybe they would have made actual progress in their quest if she hadn’t been there, dragging them down with her as she descended steadily into the depths of her own toxic consciousness. They would have been much more at ease, that much was certain. In response to the grim procession she was stumbling along, beads of ice began to gather in the spaces between her scales on her face and the underside of her paws. Frost remained for a few instants on the pavement after her paws lifted as she continued walking.

((That Kaldra section wasn't my best, but I honestly had more inspiration for Aressa's section, helped along by this song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82hLvgGuDu8 ))
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeSun 28 Oct 2012, 2:03 pm

Ev, still assuming the worst about how he would be perceived, was surprised to hear Tem and Kaldra merely agree with the choice of location and thank him. He didn't let himself become too encouraged, though, for fear of having his hopes let down by someone else. They've known me the longest out of everyone here, so of course they would be nice to me. The others, though....

He tentatively raised his gaze to scan the group members' reactions, but before he got a chance to look at anyone besides the two who had spoken already, Aelirsa's request to fall back caught his attention. For a moment, Ev wondered, Cats? What is she...? Then he saw that she was making her way to him once more. Oh. Wonderful. Trying to keep the torture going, are you? Thinking very badly of her, he didn't hold back a slight snarl or a burning, accusatory gaze as she approached.

He felt slightly shameful of his opinion when she started apologizing, but he still had a hard time believing her at first. He was formulating a retort when she went on to say that she often made things worse when trying to help. Ev looked down and exhaled, expelling his aggression with the air; she had struck a nerve. As soon as he knew that he and the ice dragoness had that problem in common, his anger turned to sympathy.

A long moment passed before he responded. Giving everyone around him a quick glance, he said in a somewhat hoarse voice, "Just... please be careful next time, okay? That... really scared me. I-I know what it's like to keep making mistakes when you're just trying to help, so... I accept your apology. But I really don't like to get any more attention than I have to, so when you put it all on me, it was...." He shuddered, recalling the terrible outcome he had imagined.

He started walking slowly toward the alley with the others, assuming Aelirsa would follow beside him. "Just, for everyone's sake..." Ev's raw throat became too irritated, and he had to cough a few times. "Sorry... anyway, just try to be really certain of things before you act on them. That's what I do to avoid mistakes... well, most of the time. I mean, sometimes you don't have much time before you have to do something, but... you know, whenever you can. This time, it didn't turn out quite as bad as I thought... the attention thing, I mean... but if you don't take your time and look at all the evidence, you might make a bigger mistake with someone else in the future."

Ev blinked a few times, thoroughly surprised that he had found so much to say. He doubted his wisdom a moment later, so he sheepishly added, "Um... just some advice." He looked down and shifted slightly away from Aelirsa while he walked, returning to his shy, closed-off self.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeSun 28 Oct 2012, 2:27 pm

Her initial intentions to undo the damage she had caused quickly seemed poor as Ev didn't react well to her approach. However, as she gave her apology, the relief that came with seeing he had calmed down was enough to make her feel safe. Nodding at his request for future encounters, she felt somewhat relieved that she wasn't alone in being a hasty decision maker. He had more control over it all the same though.

Following along beside him in such a way that she didn't cause him more discomfort, her mind was soaking up his clear advice to her. "I should know such things, but as of late I have chosen to ignore them I guess." An idea came to mind that would hopefully restore some favor from him, provided of course that he was still open to her trying to help him in ways that would actually worked.

'In future Ev, would it help, if I took the attention off you instead? What I did was foolish, but I try not to appear as though I fancy myself too much, pride is something I lack deliberately. But, if it would help recover what little faith you have in me, then I am willing to do so." Ever so eager to help, for her it was more a matter of what people thought of her than how high they held her.

His action to shy away again she took as a sign that he wanted time alone. Now was a perfect chance to demonstrate that she appreciated his forgiveness and advice, that her desire was to ensure the wellbeing of their group. "Ev, if others come to assume that, I like to be the centre of attention..." She took a long, lingering breath there. The thought she really didn't like, after how long she had tried to keep herself as a humble dragon. "I wouldn't lose your respect though, would I?"

She closed with that semi rhetorical question lingering in her mind. Of all the other dragons, Aressa and Ev were the ones she felt would be the last to leave. The luong undoubtedly because she herself couldn't abandon either. She felt too strongly to give up after the misinterpretations people had of her, and she had of others. As for Ev, it was a long standing belief that the quietest in the face of the storm, would be the ones who stood strongest throughout.

She wouldn't blame any of them if it came to leaving her out of the group, they were fair and just. It was more of a way of comforting herself that there was always hope in the darkest times. And she knew they were coming.
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeMon 29 Oct 2012, 2:06 am

"Umm..." Ev muttered to show that he was considering Aelirsa's two questions carefully even if he didn't respond for some time. He knew the answer to the second one more readily, so after a long breath, he addressed it. "Well, if you don't actually like being the center of attention... I can't see why I would judge based you on what other people think. So, no, I'd still respect you. In fact, that... that would be a really considerate thing to do for me. But...."

He took another breath. He didn't want to risk hurting Aelirsa's feelings by turning down her offer, yet no other answer would be honest. Since she had been supportive of him so far, he hoped she would understand, or at least accept, his response. "But, well... I don't think that should be a problem, because... I think I'll be okay on my own, without you taking attention for me. I mean, I really appreciate the offer, but... I've been avoiding attention my whole life, so I'm pretty good at it. I just... think it'll be better if I stick to what I've been doing." Ev looked straight down and frowned apologetically, feeling bad about having to disappoint her. He barely remembered to add, "Um... thank you, though." And he meant it; volunteering to help him in a way that would promote a misconception about herself was a serious promise for the ice dragoness to make. Few had ever been willing to do so much for him, and he wouldn't forget that Aelirsa was among them.

In the following pause, though, troubling thoughts came to Ev's mind. To his amazement, he realized that he was actually carrying on a decent conversation with someone else, speaking his honest thoughts and feelings without overly long pauses. However, he had been hoping to accomplish this with Kaden so he could get to know her better. Oh, no... what will she think, seeing me talking so privately with Aelirsa? She'll think I'm interested in Aelirsa instead, that's what! In order to lessen the possibility of such a misunderstanding, Ev took a step away from the ice dragoness, hoping he was relatively subtle about it. And who could blame her? I haven't given her any clear clues about how I feel... yet I can't just walk up to her and say "I like you" or anything like that... gah, what do I do? He still couldn't figure out the torturous conundrum that had been afflicting him for nearly all the time he had known Kaden.

He sighed, which would likely appear strange to everyone else since they wouldn't know the reason for it. Well... at least having a real conversation now is great practice for others in the future. I'll have to remember this when... if I talk to Kaden. Then his thoughts turned to Aelirsa. Though he was grateful for, and admiring of, her attempts to help him and the group, he simply didn't think of her in a romantic way. He often thought he should choose the partner who he knew had the best qualities, but he could feel on another level that love wasn't a problem that could be solved with logic. And besides, I know barely anything about Kaden. I should become more familiar with her before I try to make any comparisons, logical or otherwise. Now if only I could actually start talking with her....

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeMon 29 Oct 2012, 7:52 pm

Relief came at the reassurance that she always had respect in the worst of times, that was all she asked of him really, the fact that he was so willing to give it made her feel far safer. The but however made her hesitate in her pleased mood, as every but couldn't mean good news. She nodded as the answer to her unspoken question came. "That's alright, I just felt I should offer all the same. Don't feel afraid to be a little firm in what you say to me Ev. I know how to handle myself well."

Watching as he stepped away further, she glanced around for a moment before taking the hint. "If there's anything you need, or anything you want to pass on in private, just let me know if you're comfortable. I realize how painful paranoia can become, and there's no need to make that worse unnecessarily. Take care of yourself, okay friend?" Leaving it at that, she made her way back to the group once more. The thought that there had been a romantic element to what she had done hadn't occurred, nor would it.

She had tried her best to provide someone with help, and while it hadn't been entirely successful, she felt she had still accomplished something. She could go to him if it became necessary without worry. Catching up to the group once more, she was sure to be on the alert for her feline enemy. "Seen any cats? I swear, every time I am trying to have a good night's sleep they decide to ruin that. Dogs are worse, but they can't climb up and sit on your face."
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeThu 01 Nov 2012, 2:10 am

As Tem entered the alleyway, he looked over it one last time, but since his water sense wasn't picking up anything interesting, he was already fairly confident that the place wasn't threatening. His scrutinizing gaze informed him that the alleyway wasn't exactly inviting, but, fortunately, that was mainly because its gray concrete was plain and boring rather than particularly unpleasant-looking.

He paused briefly to take one last look back at the group. He hastily turned his gaze away when his eyes fell on Ev and Aelirsa, who were still discussing a matter that was clearly important and emotional for them. He was pleased to see Kaden, Agate, and Kaldra doing relatively okay, and then he moved on to Aressa. Tem, even as unpracticed as he was at reading others, could guess from her body language that the Luong was distressed - more so than normal, he thought. Something down by her feet gave him a tiny, odd reading on his water sense; he flicked his gaze to the pavement and noticed the traces of ice forming around her paws as she proceeded along. Definitely distressed, he concluded. He frowned a little in sympathy. He would have liked to go and see what was the problem, to try and help her with it, but he wasn't sure how the poor unstable Luong might react. Maybe he could try seeing her about it once everyone was settled in a little better.

And with that thought, he found a spot in the partially sunlit, mostly empty alleyway and, setting down his food bag first, eased himself onto the ground. He winced a little as his scrapes renewed their stinging. Lying on bare, hard concrete certainly wasn't helping with those. In the crash, his body had chafed along the ground for only a fraction of a second, but it had been forceful enough to painfully rub away some of the grayish scales of his underside, much like a scraped knee. He would've liked to think that, as a dragon, he was too hardy and mighty to worry about things like that, but his blue scales only offered moderate protection, and his gray ones were somewhat softer and finer than those.

Well, at least I didn't get hurt any farther down than my belly, he reflected gratefully as he reached in and plucked the single plastic water bottle from the paper bag's pile of rolls. He unscrewed the cap - quite proud that his scaly foreclaws had the dexterity to do that without real trouble - and at a mere thought, some of the water seeped out in a hovering stream that then flowed down to coat Tem's minor injuries in soothing wetness. He shifted his weight so that all of the scrapes could be exposed, and after that, it took only a small subconscious thought to keep the healing layer of water there. He wasn't sure how much healing he'd be able to do in just a short break, but whatever he could accomplish would be helpful, and his powers worked as a wonderful pain reliever in the meantime.

He knew that the rest of the group could use some help recovering too. "Hey everyone," he spoke up, figuring his brief pause with the water was enough time for the group to catch up well enough, "I have the extra food we bought from the Morning Spark. Help yourselves if you want any rolls. There's plain ones and cinnamon ones. We have a little water too, though not much." At that, he took a drink of his own, pouring the water from above his mouth so he wouldn't touch the actual bottle with his scaly lips. Luckily, for someone who could control water it was pretty much impossible to miss. He allowed himself only a short drink, so most of the bottle was left for the others, as well as for whatever healing he might have to try with Aelirsa's injury.

He took a deep breath through his nostrils. Now was the time to relax, however briefly. Now that he'd stopped moving, he noticed a little irritation from traces of sand still stuck between his scales - not much, definitely better than some group members - and shook and rubbed himself to get rid of it. He hoped, with a small but eager rise in his pulse, Kaldra would come and lie next to him, but he would also like to talk with Aressa at some point. He glanced at her and, in his burning curiosity and concern, only barely remembered not to make the mistake of staring. He pulled out a sweet, sugary cinnamon roll and let his gaze drift comfortably back to Kaldra as he started munching away.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeSat 03 Nov 2012, 2:22 am

Her head shook as she quickly realized her silly phobia of the cats was being rather an annoyance to the others. That or they were just too distracted from the recent events to even notice. Either way, she wasn't contributing greatly to the group. How typical of me, just causing more problems than I am fixing. In truth, there wasn't really much she could do, stripped of her precious snowflakes now. Despite what others would say, they were indeed her one and only benefit to the group, and now they had been powdered and melted away beyond reclamation. Now what?

Finding a nice place to settle down, she positioned her leg out to avoid putting weight on it before lying down properly. Hearing Tem's brief announcement made her pause to think about her own situation. She couldn't justify using up all of the water to form a cast, surely there were other sources that weren't so limited and precious. He had clean drinking water, they didn't exactly have ready and easy access to that. Shaking her head at him all the same, she felt terrible for the way his belly had been rend by the impact. Surely the sting of exposed flesh was far worse an injury than the throbbing of her leg. She at least could find positions to avoid pain to herself. For him it would be far harder, especially given the trend to lie down for a rest. Once again, something she hadn't thought through properly.

He wouldn't want you to lie near him anyway. The thought was suddenly prevalent in her mind, for what reason she couldn't discern. Why? Why would it be so wrong for her to provide him comfort and relief from the bitter ground that would be interfering with rest. He doesn't want to be seen with you. Neither did Ev, none of them want to see you becoming close to them. Her head was shaking strong, as much as she wanted to pretend that it was completely untrue, she was unable to. The signs were there, Ev had been evasive of her just when they had finally begun to have a proper conversation. And Tem had Kaldra already. But, she should be fine with that, she had spent years accepting that she was just someone who didn't have an interest in relationships.

The loneliness that was quickly dawning on her was stifling, cold, virtually the embodiment of her element without even realizing it. But why? This was not how she lived, she liked being in denial about her situation. Now, she had to face the bitter truth of her existence, not even the simplest of protections left to hide her. The sudden cold that swept over her body in such a way brought a chill to her. There wasn't someone that would sit there to keep her warm. She liked Aressa, but somehow she doubted that she could condone anything between them. And everyone adored Agate, why burden Aelirsa with her care. As for the rest, they just didn't seem to know each other that well. She was an outsider to the group, despite what she did to help, which backfired. Simple as that.
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeSun 04 Nov 2012, 1:07 am

Aressa continued walking, sensing the coldness gathering around each paw step as she did so. That wasn’t a good sign, that was obvious both from the most recent happenings, but also from her early life. Ice would frequently spread outwards from her body when she’d been contained in the basement of Master’s house with no source of food as punishment for some wrong he believed she’d committed. The more distressed she became, the more frigid the cage of concrete and chains became.

To the rear, a few feet beyond the entrance to the alleyway in fact, there was a sudden burst of noise. “Daddy… daddy,” a child’s voice begged, “Lift me up on your shoulder so I can see!” “Oh alright,” a mirthful voice answered. Glancing back, she saw a young boy gripping a ragged teddy bear in his hands; face alight with joy, he was lifted up onto his father’s defined shoulders. Their hands were clasped together as the boy looked around, amazement at this new view filling his eyes.

She turned away, a knife blade seeming to pierce her heart. The safety that youth had… that security. No matter the trials he would face, there would always be a buoy for him to grab hold of in the stormy seas. She was just another wayward soul tossed ruthlessly by the swells. In her efforts to save herself, or at least comprehend this labyrinth that was life, she dragged the others down. The father and son had already passed by, which was just as well.

I should travel alone.

With a low sigh, she settled down next to some discarded cloth items, head still raised but eyes unfocused. The offer for food and water reached her ears, but, in spite of her hunger, she didn’t move.

Why should I take their resources? What have I done to deserve their charity? Nothing. No matter what Aelirsa says… I am a burden.

~~~~~

Kaldra remained at Tem’s side as they progressed down the alleyway. Scanning their surroundings as they went, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. There was some trash, discarded items, the usual debris found in places such as this. Ev and Aelirsa were still conversing at the moment, while the other members of the group were walking a ways behind her and Tem.

Aressa still seems ill at ease… is there anything I could do for her though? She isn’t the most social dragoness, but not talking to her could make her feel excluded…

Tem settled down in one of the sunlit portions of their temporary abode, placing the bag of food down a bit in front of him. She caught the brief tightening of his facial muscles as his body lowered. The reason for the wince was made obvious when water snaked out of the open water bottle clasped in hand onto numerous scrapes on his gray scales. It seemed that his collision with Aelirsa had left him with a few souvenirs. They didn’t seem too serious, but any form of injury could be distracting.

Smiling softly, she lay down at Tem’s side. Her sinuous tail aligned so that it was positioned over his and her left shoulder touched his, enough so that there was contact but not so much that her spikes would scrape at his already-tender scales. She didn’t take any rolls though; she’d eaten some at the café and wanted to leave enough for the others.

“I’m alright,” she said, and then her gaze came to rest once again on Aressa’s hunched form. There was a brief thought of approaching the troubled dragoness. However, doing so would only cause the attention of the others to be drawn in. She decided to wait and see how things developed.
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeThu 08 Nov 2012, 3:51 am

Just as Tem started chewing his first bite of the cinnamon roll, a sudden exclamation caught his attention. His head reflexively swung toward the sound, mouth frozen mid-chew, eyes almost comically wide in alarm. In merely half a second, though, the youthfulness of the voice and the sight of a smiling father-and-son pair registered in Tem's mind. Even better, they were just passing by, and they soon left his vision. He exhaled through his nostrils and relaxed, blinking a few times as he returned to chewing and calm seeped back into his body. Tem figured it was a safe bet that those two didn't mean him or his friends harm. The youthful innocence of that voice...who could fake that? The kid wasn't out to hurt anyone, that much was certain.

Did I ever sound like that? Tem's memory of himself at a similar age was fuzzy at best, but he didn't think his voice had ever had quite such a carefree edge to it. Even as a hatchling, he'd already seen so much pain and had to escape so many dangers....It was a depressing fact, most of all because he was far from the only one. Most dragons could recall similar childhood experiences, sometimes far worse than his own. When Aressa crossed his mind again, his mood became even more glum.

He hoped his little start hadn't been noticed. He had his second bite in his mouth, trying to go on chewing nonchalantly like nothing embarrassing had just happened, when Kaldra came to lie down next to him. Instantly, his face lit up and he forgot his momentary gloom. He started beaming when she settled her tail on top of his. She keeps doing that! Oh, it's just...so, so sweet! He immediately twirled his own tail around hers in return. The fact that there was someone willing to give him so much love, that he'd helped someone with such a miserable past feel so wonderful...it made his heart race and his entire body rush with energy and joy, so much joy that it might have scared him if he hadn't been so happy.

He was just about finishing his bite when she told him that she was already set for food. Oh, of course; some of us already ate at the café. On that note, maybe he shouldn't have taken the cinnamon roll. Too late now, though. It probably...well, hopefully wouldn't be too much of a problem anyway.

"Okay," he said back in a soft voice, with his mouth curved into a smile and his blue-scaled brows gently shaped into a (hopefully) soothing, cheerful expression. He reached up his left foreclaw, since the roll was still in his right, and stroked her cheek. "Are you all right after the sandstorm? You look okay, but I just want to make sure. Not too sandy or anything?" He didn't wait for a response before holding Kaldra's foreclaw in his own and gladly nuzzling her neck, down by her shoulder. He even gave her a kiss on the black scales there and then laid his head comfortably on her neck, once he had maneuvered his own neck around the nearby spikes, of course. His pulse rose a little further still at his gentle touches and the warmth he felt from Kaldra's scales.

He opened his eyes and browsed from his current position to find Ev, Aelirsa, and Aressa looking quite a bit less happy than he was. The two ice dragonesses were sitting apart from the rest and, by the looks of it, probably brooding deeply. Look at them. They don't have others to comfort them like I do, yet I'm just sitting here laying on the affection! Soon enough his face was burning. So much for me looking out for the others over our little relationship...when did she tell me to do that, an hour ago? Two? Not a good record so far.

He gulped and raised his head from Kaldra's neck. He didn't really want to put quite so many questions on her at once, but he thought it would be best to do something if it was right. "Oh, and...do you think we could...maybe talk to Aressa?" he asked in a hushed voice, eyes already creased with concern for the Luong. "Or Aelirsa? I think they could use the company, if it seems like a good time."

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeFri 09 Nov 2012, 6:09 pm

Much to her surprise, and a little to her discomfort, she found that sleep was relatively easy to achieve. Given the circumstances, and her unbound leg, she knew it should have been even a bit harder to achieve rest. Yet there she was, practically dropping unconscious on her forepaws. It was peace all the same, for a little while, she could escape her fears and problems, the torment of being alone in a crowd. Or at least, the problems she had envisioned herself falling victim to.

The dreams that came to her however were far from peaceful. Only a few moments of blissful emptiness from the stress of the day were available for her to enjoy. Of all things however, she found her mind returning to the conflict she felt had been won over so long ago. There was no love loss between herself and humans, she always refused to accept her past life as valid since her reformation. Yet, even now, she found herself struggling to accept that she was a complete dragon.

A child's voice made her wake with a start. Wincing as the sudden jolt caused pain to her leg, her head flicked right towards the wall before anyone else could see her startled expression. Why was she suddenly edgy? Dreams about not shedding her human mind, waking up as if out of a nightmare at the mere voice of a child? She shook her head in an attempt to remove the thoughts, rolling onto her other side to be away from them completely. Something didn't seem right, about herself.

Getting up proved to be rather difficult with her injury, but she managed it nonetheless. She didn't know any reason for why she was suddenly having emotional difficulty, especially such triggered by a child. Having no siblings, for that matter any young kids in her life left her clueless. With shuddering steps, she finally made her way over to the ones she guessed would know what to do. "Uhm, Kaldra... you wouldn't happen to know anything about... kids?"

How ironic, she felt she was acting almost exactly like Ev at that moment. Extremely nervous, and afraid of leading any questions back to her. But then his state was normal for him, for her it would be far more noticeable. Trying to keep her composure normal, she glanced around for a few moments. "On second thought... never mind. Maybe I shouldn't have slept through that class back at the Institution." She didn't waste time turning and heading anywhere but them, there was too much worry about leading to false assumptions.

Aressa. She could trust her surely. Although given her past, she wouldn't have anything that would help her diagnose her problems. But she could be a friend, someone who would listen, that was enough for now. Settling down beside Aressa, she nudged her chin with the tip of her nose. A small gesture, but she hoped it would relieve any apprehension all the same. "Hey, uh... I was lonely, and I felt bad for just leaving you back there. Is it okay if I stay for a bit?"
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeFri 09 Nov 2012, 11:29 pm

Kaldra smiled softly as the joyful laughter of the human child reached her ears. True, unbridled joy… something they all seemed to be in short supply of in these trying times. The father and son pair meant no harm, how could something so innocent mean anything ill? Children were naïve and pure.

I was once that way too… it feels like ages have passed since those carefree days.

Tem replied to her comment about not needing any further food, a gleaming smile working its way onto his face. Everything about him shone when that expression filled his visage. He was just so… lively when he was at ease. When he’s around me. Who would have thought that one such as her, with her obsidian scales and blood-red eyes, could bring someone else so much peace? A similar expression was just beginning to materialize on her face, chasing away the gloomy mood that had snuck its way in after seeing the dejected Aressa sitting alone, when his paw cupped her cheek.

Electricity jolted up her spine in reaction to the pleasure his contact produced. The sparks wouldn’t harm him; they simply came to life along her blue spines and disappeared in little puffs. As if that wasn’t enough, Tem enfolded her forepaw in his own soothing grasp and nuzzled her neck. Her breath caught in her throat. It just felt so right… so perfect, having his body heat pressed along the smooth surface of her scales. Her pulse began to rise in response to the continued weight of Temezren against her.

What I would give to stay like this forever.

But they couldn’t. The rumbling tone of a voice near the nape of her neck brought her out of her own thoughts and back into the real world. “Uh… wha-” she stammered, blush would be painting her cheeks if that were possible, “Sorry, that would be alright. I’m sure they could use someone to talk to or at the very least the presence of someone nearby.”

It seemed that Aelirsa was making her way over to Aressa, however, so she waited to see how things went. First, the ice dragoness walked up to her and Tem, a strange uncertainty present in her gaze. Wait, she wanted to know about kids?

“Um… I don’t know much about them, sorry. I was an only child and all, spent most of my time with… mom up in the mountains and plains.” Then Aelirsa left, walking over to Aressa once again.

~~~~~

The world was eerily blurred in front of Aressa’s eyes. A world of sharp emotions and harsh realities was transformed into a myriad of colors so jumbled they might as well have been painted on by a drunk. Was everything spinning or was that just her? With a shake of her head, everything fit back into place and the multi-shaded forms solidified into the bodies of the other dragons and dragonesses.

One form was closer than the others… by squinting her eyes slightly she was able to determine that it was Aelirsa. It seemed that her little chat with Ev had come to a close. A pang of… was it jealousy? panged in her chest, but faded before she could determine its cause. Her thoughts were quite surely halted by the sudden touch of Aelirsa’s muzzle against her chin. Contact.

Eyes widening for a moment, she answered somewhat shakily, voice a bit hoarse, “Yeah, that’s fine.”

Thankfully, everything stayed solid and where it should be in front of her eyes. It was a small blessing, but a blessing nonetheless. Unease was growing in the pit of her stomach, seeing things was never a good sign. Then again, not eating in a few days probably wasn't that smart either, plus using magic took energy, energy that was already running low. She just had to hope the exhaustion would fade with time. Maybe she should tell someo- no, she wouldn’t. But Aelirsa was trustworthy… and so nice, in spite of everything she’d done to her.

“Hey… um, I’m not,” she paused, shaking her head once to the side to clear the fog gathering in her mind, “feeling so good. I’m just gonna close my eyes for a bit… probably just tired.”
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeSat 10 Nov 2012, 12:34 am

She noted the similarity in her situation that she shared with Kaldra, both were only children, and that was rather comforting. While the fact that she had spent time with both parents in her case, it was another that would understand her situation. She wasn't used to considering others, and thus it made her position in the group tedious. But she had succeeded in integrating herself, that was a good sign if anything.

The hoarseness of Aressa's voice as she spoke caused worry. Looking at her intently for a moment in the hope she would explain further, the explanation she sought came as a moment of relief. Reaching out, she touched Aressa's mane softly, stroking it in an attempt to create a feeling of comfort. Whether she was just tired, or there was something more to her ill feeling, she would do her best to comfort.

"Alright, I shall do my best to keep you warm. If there's anything at all I can do, please, tell me." Settling down again, she glanced at the long, slender body that was characteristic of luongs. Whether she realized it before or not, it seemed she aimed to have a slender body herself, training to be fast for almost her entire dragonic life. Looking down at herself, she again felt something wasn't right.

"Uh, Aressa... Am I, gaining weight?" She had eaten her fill before joining the group, and of course there wasn't really any reason to assume that Aressa could tell, but she had seen her a lot more than the others. "I'm, feeling weird about my appearance, something seems different." Settling down again, she shook her head and closed her eyes, reaching out for Aressa's paw.
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeSat 10 Nov 2012, 9:19 pm

Aressa had to stop herself from leaning into Aelirsa’s touch. How soothing it was, to have someone so at ease around her that they would willingly hold her paw or draw their paw along her mane. Just that simple contact silenced the sinuous thoughts climbing to the front of her mind, caused those inner doubts to lose their power for even a moment. Is this what having a mother is like?

Storing that particular thought away for later consideration, she softly said, “Thank you.” The admission ending with a short cough, an aftereffect from the earlier whirlwind of sand they’d all endured.

Endured because of me.

She dug her claws into the pavement instinctively, but then managed to loosen them and lay down, head resting on her paws. Aelirsa’s voice drew her attention once again, so she raised her head. Was Aelirsa gaining weight? What an… unexpected question. Aressa narrowed her eyes and tilted her head to the side a bit, thinking it over.

“No… I don’t believe so,” she answered finally, “I haven’t really been travelling with all of you that long though, so I’m not the best judge.”

Personally, she’d always been on the thin side herself, most of the time unhealthily so. That’s what came from an uncertain source of food. Before all that she’d been under the “care” of a man who sometimes withheld sustenance as a form of punishment. Even now she could feel that familiar hunger gnawing on her stomach, urging her to encroach upon the selflessness of the others. But she wouldn’t. She was undeserving of their food.
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeSun 11 Nov 2012, 5:24 am

A mere nod was all she felt was necessary in response to the thanks given. It was clear that neither wanted to go into lengthy discussions about what had happened, she would respect that. Shuffling closer still, she did her best to shelter the other dragon. Her response was not unexpected of course, she imagined the others would have said similar things.

"Okay, I did eat a bit before rejoining the group, so it could just be that." Clearly Aressa needed food, though she didn't want to intrude on Tem's purchases. Now she severely regretted not getting enough to go around for all of them. At least she wasn't distracted herself.

Holding her paw softly, she let her cool breath soothe Aressa. "I'll try and find you some food, I promise. Least I can do..." Her eyes closed again, there was someone to keep her company for the moment, she was fine with that.

And yet, she still felt there was something odd about herself. Perhaps some of the snowflakes had survived, or were currently reforming...
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeSun 11 Nov 2012, 3:08 pm

Ev was touched by Aelirsa's offer to let him confide in her if he needed to, even though he was so introverted that he wasn't sure whether he would take her up on it - not so soon after meeting and talking with her, at least. Then he was a bit surprised and saddened when she suddenly broke off the conversation. "Um, okay," he said with a small degree of confusion. A moment afterward, though, he found relief in that he wouldn't have to find a tactful way to end their talk sometime later, since he had very little idea of how to do so. Hearing the ice dragoness's next comment, he thought, Again with the cats? She really must not like them.

Shaking his head slightly to clear his thoughts, Ev turned his attention to Kaden as always. After his valuable conversational experience with Aelirsa, he was unprecedentedly confident (meaning he actually had the slightest glimmer of hope) that he might be able to start one with Kaden if he could think of the best way to address her. Mind racing with possibilities, he followed behind her as he finally entered the alley with a quick glance down each direction of the street; he had been letting everyone else go inside first to keep them safe from his poison breath. Still considering that risk, Ev forced himself to stop only a few paces into the alley even though he would have liked to be nearer to Kaden. He could have suppressed the poison, but he wanted to save as much time as possible and, more importantly, avoid slowing his thoughts in case he did get involved in a conversation.

He looked down and furiously ran his mind through what he had just learned, what he knew about Kaden, and which phrase would be the best to open with. He was finally narrowing down his choices and looking intently at the blue-and-gold dragoness when Tem spoke up about the food. Ev slouched his shoulders; he didn't think his ideas would work as well with Kaden's attention on something else. Dang it. Too slow again. Well, I probably would have said something stupid anyway. Just like I always do... whenever it matters what I say, at least.

He brooded for a few more seconds before recalling what Tem had said. The mention of water got Ev's attention as soon as he processed it. He whipped his head to the side and found the mostly-full bottle on the ground in front of the blue dragon. Imagining how good a drink from it would feel on his desperately parched throat, he took a few steps toward it. However, he stopped himself to consider whether anyone else might need it more than he did. Let's see... who got the worst of the sandstorm? Aressa, probably... and Aelirsa was pretty close in there too, although I don't know how much she might have breathed in. But then, why aren't they taking any water? It confused Ev to see the ice dragonesses lying down by themselves after what they had endured at the center of the storm. Well... I guess I can take some first, then... and maybe I can offer it to them afterward. Yeah, that'll work. Once again, he mildly regretted that there wasn't an opportunity to do something similarly nice for Kaden, but at least being considerate of others would hopefully improve his standing in her eyes.

The little Luong took a long breath and held it to stop his poison for a moment without straining his mind. He tentatively but quickly walked up to Tem and Kaldra so that he could have enough time before running out of breath. Glancing around very briefly to make sure he wasn't getting in the way of anyone else who wanted food or water, he grabbed the bottle in his right foreclaw and lifted it above his head to pour the water into his mouth as Tem had done. He collected a small amount in the back his mouth, then swallowed it. It felt like liquid heaven on his battered throat, even if it couldn't soothe the effects farther down his windpipe. He couldn't resist another drink, so he lifted the bottle again and started pouring. Just then, however, a child's high-pitched cry from the street behind him made him jump and spill most of the drink's worth of water onto his foreleg and the ground.

Not much water was lost, but Ev was mortified for the third time in twenty minutes. He set the bottle down and backed away so he could speak without risking poisoning Tem and Kaldra. "Oh my God... I-I'm so sorry... I just... g-got startled... um..." His voice dwindled in volume until it was barely audible even to himself. He slunk shamefully away to his previous spot, breathing more poison than before. Too embarrassed to withstand the others' attention, he sat down facing the street. With his throat calmed, he might have considered getting some food, but not after his mistake had wasted a precious group resource.

Man! I messed up again! Ugh, I can't do anything right! So much for looking better to Kaden.... Ev looked down at the base of the wall to his left with a destitute frown. After a moment, he turned his attention to the group members behind him, hearing Aelirsa speak and Aressa answer. Oh, good, they're talking. Thinking more about it, he realized the significance of Aelirsa conversing with the one who had injured her foreleg. Wow... she doesn't even mind. She's stepping up and doing what's best for us, and especially for Aressa, rather than just thinking of herself. Ev wasn't sure that he would have been able to do the same in her situation. Now that he had seen an example, though, he would try.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeSun 11 Nov 2012, 6:12 pm

Tem noticed Kaldra's momentary confusion when he asked her about the ice dragonesses. So she was probably really absorbed with what I was doing, he deduced. He was glad, and also a little bit guilty that he was glad. Why should he be proud of being able to distract the leader so easily? Yet he couldn't convince himself that he'd be more satisfied if she didn't feel strongly enough about him to let go for even a moment. She even sparked when I touched her, he thought giddily. I mean, how cute is that?

He was also glad that she agreed with him, though in a second it seemed it didn't matter, since Aelirsa was coming up to them herself. She caught him off guard once again, with a sudden, vague question about kids followed by a hasty excuse to go over to Aressa before Kaldra could get out much of a response. Is she going nuts or something? he asked himself, and he wasn't sure it was the first time he'd wondered that. He paid attention to Kaldra's brief answer - more about her past. He eagerly soaked up what few facts were contained her sentence. An only child? Just like me! The rest brought back his memory of what she'd told him about her mom, and a pang of sadness smothered his mild excitement. She lived in such a beautiful place too. To have that kind of tragedy happen there...to look at that wonderful land and be able to think of only pain... He had to cut himself off.

He went back to wondering what Aelirsa had been talking about. Some institution that was supposed to teach her about kids? What about kids? Why was she even... No, wait, there was that kid outside the alleyway just now. He could imagine the father and son stirring up some emotions with that little display. "...Er, okay, maybe we should just leave those two to themselves for the moment," he commented quietly to Kaldra.

Speaking of the moment with the kid, Ev was still sulking in his lonely little spot. With his own surprise at hearing the child, plus everything else to think about, Tem hadn't done much about Ev's spill yet, but the Luong obviously needed some reassurance. The blue dragon noted Aelirsa giving Aressa some soothing contact and chatting about...gaining weight? At a time like this? Had he heard that right? As sweet and insane as always. At least Aressa was calm and still, if not necessarily content - maybe she was rarely as aggressive as she'd been with Agate; maybe her heart wasn't in it. Then Tem returned his attention to Ev and said, "Ev, it's all right, really." He observed that the bottle was still decently full, over halfway. "A little water is nothing to hurt yourself over. In fact..."

He'd tried this trick before, when his human co-worker Rick had gotten clumsy at the library a few times. (By the fourth time, Tem had started to suspect he'd done it on purpose just to see it again.) Tem concentrated and held out his left foreclaw (with his right still holding Kaldra's), and the dark spot that had splashed onto the pavement now vanished while a sloshy layer of floating water formed from the tiny rising particles. He didn't exactly need the foreclaw, but it helped him concentrate a little better for some reason or another. If he was careful and precise, he could avoid dragging any dirt along. That care made it take a while, but he successfully left the concrete dry and a small blob of water hovering above it.

He smiled at Ev as he returned his foreclaw to the ground. "There. No harm done." He brought the shimmering globe up to his face so his sense would be as sharp as possible. After holding a scrutinizing gaze on it for a few seconds - which wasn't really necessary since it wasn't his eyes that were telling him anything - he said, "Seems nice and pure, too. I'm not picking up any poison or dirt, if you're worried about either of those." He was technically saying it to Ev, but his voice was loud enough for everyone in the small space to easily hear, which was just as well in case they were concerned too. He had to grin a little at having done his job so well. "If you still need a drink, I can put it back in the bottle or just keep it like this for you," he offered.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeSun 11 Nov 2012, 7:04 pm

Aressa settled back down after she spoke, head resting once again on the tops of her paws. Her tail curled inward, the fluffy tip rustling with the movement. Once Aelirsa began to speak again, her ears tilted upwards towards the side, though her head remained where it was. Her eyes were half-closed.

Makes sense that she’d already eaten a bit; her source of income is probably more stable than mine… theft isn’t exactly reliable or consistent.

“Thank you for the offer…” she breathed, warmth blossoming within her chest. A brief twinge of regret surfaced as Aelirsa finished by saying it was the least she could do. It wasn’t like Aressa had done anything to merit such graciousness. In fact, she'd done quite the opposite. The blame for the injuries of all the group members, even the scrapes left by the flying particles of sand, fell on her shoulders, for Agate would not have retaliated if she hadn't attempted to maul her.

Filled with a mix of gratitude and guilt, her eyes drifted closed as she slipped into a light sleep. Aelirsa would wake her once it was time for them to get moving, if the likely nightmares that came with sleep didn't wake her first.

~~~~~

Kaldra watched Aelirsa as she walked away and settled down near Aressa, nuzzling her chin and running a paw soothingly across her mane. They began to converse like they had been earlier. It seemed the two ice dragonesses, kindred in both element and some personal struggles, were becoming quite inseparable. All the better for them. No one should feel alone among companions.

Noticing the spill after a moment (her concentration sure was off recently), she felt sympathy growing for Ev. He was always trying to be so caring and helpful, even trying to push through his shyness to do so. Tem spoke up to reassure him though, mentioning how he could fix the spilled water.

Well, this could be interesting.

Transfixed, her crimson eyes followed the little orb of liquid as it detached from the concrete and came to float in front of Tem’s face. No impurities floated within the suspended form, as affirmed by Tem aloud a few moments later.

What a useful skill, she mused to herself, grinning.
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeSun 11 Nov 2012, 9:16 pm

Kaden laid down on the ground of the alley, her eyes slitted against the sun’s glare. She had been lost in her own thoughts the past few minutes, and was just now coming back to reality. Tem’s remark about rolls reminded her of her hunger, and her eyes gleamed at the thought of her parched throat being relieved by water. She wasn’t sure if she should say anything to Aressa, but luckily, Aelirsa handled that.

The laughing child and his father made the air dragoness recall similar days with Lily and Kaden’s parents at a quaint fair. Some gave second looks at a human carrying a young dragon like one would carry an eager child, but she didn’t care.

Her head whipped around as Ev suddenly jumped. He looked absolutely mortified as he shrank back and repeatedly apologized for his spill. Kaden frowned. Why is he always so worried about little things like that? Tem easily solved the problem with his water abilities, and she watched the blob of hovering water for a moment.

Then she stood, carefully removed two cinnamon rolls from the bag, and approached Ev. “Hey, um...” She found herself suddenly stuck with her words, like how peanut-butter always stuck to the roof of her mouth. “Would you like a cinnamon roll?”

She settled down next to him, grinning as she took a bite out of her own as she held the other in her foreclaw, offering it to him. “They’re really good!”

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeMon 12 Nov 2012, 2:39 am

Ev felt relieved for a second when Tem said his spill didn't matter, but then he pessimistically assumed the water dragon had just said it to be nice. Just because I look like a kid, they think I can't handle the criticism I deserve.... He didn't want to admit to himself that he would most likely be crushed if they thought as ill of him as he imagined they would each time he made a mistake.

A slight sound of running water behind him, coupled with the fact that Tem hadn't yet said anything after "In fact," made Ev turn around curiously. He raised his eyebrows as he saw the blue dragon collecting the spilled water into an orb above the ground. Oh, right... forgot about that. Now that the problem was being fixed, the little Luong felt much better. He also regretted how harshly he had just thought of everyone. Oh no, did I really just turn their kindness into a bad thing? Unless they're covering up actual annoyance... but no, I don't think so. No, they're too good for that. Better than I deserve.

That last thought drove him to answer Tem's offer with, "No, um... I'm okay. You can... put it back, or whatever. B-but thanks." He was about to turn his head toward the street again when he saw Kaden walking up to the food bag. Curious, he surreptitiously watched her out of the corner of his eye while he pointed his head toward the ground. He was happy she was getting food for herself, although he wasn't so glad about her taking two rolls. Thinking she intended them both for herself, he took slight issue with the fact that others might need the food depending on how much was left.

Ev looked away so the blue-gold dragoness wouldn't see that he had been looking at her, although his attention was still completely focused on her when she spoke. Oh! I see, she's giving one to someone else. That's all right, then. Hm, who- When he looked up, he realized with utter surprise that she had come up to him, of all dragons. He gradually opened his mouth as though to speak, but no sound escaped until he noticed exactly how close she was. "Oh! Careful!" he warned, fervently inhaling the poison in the air before Kaden breathed any of it. Driven by her proximity to greater effort than anything he could have managed alone, he instantly banished the poison beneath an iron shell with the simple thought, Poison, gone, now!

He blinked a few times, recollecting himself after the barrage of unexpected things within several seconds. "Uh... sorry," he quickly apologized for the poison, even though she seemed to be largely unafraid of his breath for whatever reason. He had to admire that quite a lot.

Ev almost couldn't believe he wasn't dreaming when Kaden lay down next to him. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod! No way am I this lucky!! He was nearly too stunned to react to her offer of a cinnamon roll, but after some more blinks of amazement, he stammered out, "Um- uh, y-yeah. Yeah, um, th-thanks. A bunch. Heh." He smiled weakly as he tentatively lifted the roll out of her foreclaw with his left one, making sure not to touch her scales. Her beautiful scales...

Embarrassed at both the thought and the choppiness of his reply, he let his shaky smile fall into a frown and looked away. He couldn't quite think of a particular reason why he should be so embarrassed or timid, but his body still flooded with nervous heat from being so close to Kaden. Oh God... what do I do... um... He had been imagining all kinds of things he might say if he ever got an opportunity like this, yet all his ideas fell apart when faced with the actual situation. Fearing he would say something even slightly wrong, he remained silent as he so often did. He frantically tried to figure out how he should behave, considering different possibilities. Let's see, if I shift away, she might think I don't like her... but then if I move closer, she might get uncomfortable, especially if she doesn't like me... yeah, of course she doesn't like me, so... wait, but then why did she come over here? Oh, right, to be nice... but she didn't have to stay here, did she? Man, I can't tell what... oh, hey, she's eating! Eat, idiot!

After those few motionless moments of thinking, Ev abruptly took a bite of the cinnamon roll, flooding his mouth with lovely sweetness. "Mmm!" he muttered before he could stop himself. He shrank slightly, believing for some reason that he shouldn't express himself too much, but he did realize that it wasn't actually a very bad outburst. Suddenly a decent thought materialized where all others had faded; he continued, "Yeah, these are good!" Unfortunately, he had been too excited by the appearance of something he could say to wait until he had finished chewing. Oh, no! Gah! I bet she'll hate me talking with my mouth full.... Mortified yet again, his face ignited as he looked in the opposite direction of Kaden. Eating rapidly so he could talk again without worsening his gaffe, he said once he finished the bite, "Sorry... I, um... don't usually do that...." He thought with a mental sigh, Yep, knew that would happen. I really shouldn't have expected anything like this to go well. His expectations for himself really were too high, but he thought no less than perfection would be sufficient to make someone as great as Kaden like him.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 7 I_icon_minitimeMon 12 Nov 2012, 2:37 pm

Ev declined the extra drink, so Tem replied with a simple, accepting "All right" and waved the water orb back over to the bottle. It squeezed into the tip and was gone, the bottle partially refilled. He figured he might need about that much water to try and help with Aelirsa's lingering injury, but it wouldn't be hard to take it back out later.

When he looked back up, Kaden was taking two cinnamon rolls over to Ev and offering one as she lay down at his side. Tem couldn't help but smile and think, Awww, are we getting another friendship? That's so sweet. He was pleased to see the group bonding as well as ever, especially in the wake of the brief blast of conflict that Aressa had produced.

He looked over at the ice Luong. She seemed to be drifting off to sleep under the protective and comforting touch of her new companion. He supposed that was good, although he would have liked to see Aressa eat something first. He hadn't fully registered it until now, but she was uncomfortably thin; he was fairly sure he could see the faint outline of her ribs showing on her scales. I can take some food over to her and Aelirsa when I go to fix that wound.

Speaking of which, now was as good a time as any to begin - if the group wanted to move soon, Aelirsa would be ready faster, and if they wanted to relax a while longer, she would be more comfortable. He'd already finished his cinnamon roll too - just before he'd used his foreclaw for the water trick, in fact - so that left him free to stand a little more easily. Tem was aware that his tail and foreclaw were both still holding Kaldra's, so he began untangling those, explaining, "I'm going to go help Aelirsa." He gave her a kiss on the cheek before he had a chance to think better of it, then rose to his feet and proceeded to the food bag. He took out two of the plain rolls and carried them in one foreclaw as he strode over to the pair of dragonesses.

"Hey," he greeted in a soft, gentle voice, with a small, friendly smile accompanying it, "would you two like some food?" He settled back down on the ground, facing both of them and stealing plenty of glances at Aelirsa's injured foreleg. At least it doesn't seem to be causing her too much pain anymore, he noted with relief. He just hoped that whatever he tried wouldn't end up making anything worse.

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