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 COA III: The new IC

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Sadie
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeWed 14 Nov 2012, 5:00 pm

Resting with Aelirsa breathing softly by her side seemed to be the best way to sleep in the end. Perhaps her restless nights were as simple as that, she lacked someone. But there was no-one who would take her in like that, no-one she could be truly comfortable around.

Her head lifted from the cool slumber as Tem spoke. Shuffling around awkwardly, she kept her body close to Aressa without cutting her off from Tem's view. "Uh... I ate at the restaurant, Aressa should eat. But she's asleep..." She gently stroked Aressa's mane at that point, looking too pristine in her unconscious state to disturb. But it would be beneficial for her surely.

Lowering her head down, she whispered to her sleeping companion to avoid waking her with a start. "Tem has food, you should eat." Returning her attention to the water dragon, it was clear he still had concerned about her leg, and for good reason surely. "It's okay, we only did what we felt was right. I just feel that placing it in a cast to let it heal itself would be better, than myself trying to heal it, and not fixing it completely." She had heard of defects caused by partial healing, mostly deformed bones and weakened body flesh. Pain she could manage, with the case she could walk a bit better again.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeWed 14 Nov 2012, 9:56 pm

Kaldra nodded, “Alright, sounds good.”

He is the only one of us skilled with healing.

His lips pressed briefly on her cheek, leaving a sensation of heat where they’d been after he’d already pulled back. The corners of her mouth turned up at the tingling sensation that ran down her spine once again. Luckily no sparks came jumping off of her spikes again; it would be a bit embarrassing if she shot off electricity every time they had contact.

Remaining in her lying down position, she watched him approach the resting pair of dragonesses. She didn’t anticipate anything going wrong, Aressa was far too tired to do much of anything by the looks of it, but she still wanted to see how events proceeded.

~~~~~

“There, there, I’m here with you,” a voice like a whispering breeze soothed, “Your mother is here with you… I’ve always been with you.”

“Mom?” Aressa called out, pushing through the wispy blankets of fog surrounding her, “Mom, where are you? I can’t find you!”


“… Aressa should eat. But she’s asleep…”

The fog briefly was sucked away from her, solidifying into the misty form of a Luong much like herself, before everything faded into darkness.

“Tem has food, you should eat.”

Aressa’s eyes creaked open, ears tilting into an upright position. An alien feeling of… calm enfolded her in its soft embrace. A ghost of a contented smile slipped across her face before fading. Where that ‘memory’ had some from was a mystery to her, maybe Aelirsa’s motherly care had summoned it. Remembering what had initially woken her, she glanced upwards as she raised her head, meeting Aelirsa’s gaze.

Voice still rough from the sandblast earlier, she said, “I’m alright, really, I don’t want to take all your food.”
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeThu 15 Nov 2012, 2:41 am

The first thing Aelirsa reminded Tem of was that she'd already eaten. Of course! She was right there too, stupid! The ends of his mouth curved down for a second in shame. She'd even been the one to suggest going to the café! Still, he couldn't shake the feeling that he might not have seen her eat very much. Whatever the case, though, it didn't take much thinking to decide that Aressa really did need the rolls more. Aelirsa was clearly healthier than her (not counting the leg), and who knew when she'd last eaten? He couldn't help but notice Aelirsa giving Aressa another of her soft caresses before very gently urging the luong awake. So much care after so little time. Just like Agate. Does she feel the same way about both of them, or is there a difference? There was the fact that Aressa was rather like Aelirsa and Agate wasn't....

It was a question for a later time, since Aelirsa was telling him about the injury and how she thought she could handle it herself. Tem raised his eyebrows at her words, his curiosity piqued. A cast instead of healing it herself? Does she have some sort of healing ability too?

Before Tem could formulate a response for Aelirsa, Aressa politely declined the food. He wouldn't be dissuaded so quickly, though, especially when her voice wasn't sounding too good. "Please, Aressa, this isn't all our food," he reassured her with a smile and an encouraging tone. "If we don't give any to you, then what's it for anyway? Go ahead, take them." He held his paw out for her, both rolls clutched in his finger-like claws.

Staying in that position, he turned his head back to her Western companion. "So Aelirsa, did you say you could heal it yourself or make a cast? Because one of those might be great, but I was also thinking of trying...well..." His moderate level of confidence drained away when his mind turned to exactly what his water healing involved. "...um...see, I have water abilities, right?" Yeah, you made that pretty darn obvious just now, he scolded. "So, um, I can use water to heal myself up faster than usual. Not all that fast, but much better. And, uh, just really recently, I found out I can...kinda use it on other people...for even faster healing, I guess...and I wondered if I might try it on you."

He took a gulp. Since he was about to move on to a slightly different topic, he regained a little composure. "So, the way you're talking about a cast, do you think it's broken? Because it might..." He looked at the dragoness' shoulder closely, hoping for a clue of some sort, but there was nothing his inexperienced eyes could pick up for sure. "...er, it might just be sprained or dislocated instead, I'm not sure." Brows creased with focus, he leaned his head in a little closer, hoping he might water-sense some subtle hint about the wound from the constant flowing inside her body.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeThu 15 Nov 2012, 3:37 am

A smile came as Tem reassured Aressa that it wasn't a huge sacrifice to the group, although she would have probably insisted she accept the offer anyway. Continuing to stroke her head, she shuffled around again to bring her closer. "See Aressa, I want you to eat anyway. Out of everyone, you need to most." She could do with a drink too probably, but it seemed Tem had other ideas.

Listening as he went on to explain his healing abilities in detail, she smiled, feeling impressed. Certainly a very valuable skill, and especially since he could use it to help others. "I haven't really had a reason to test healing yet, if it's even there. But, as you know, I can form ice into shapes..." At least Agate appreciated the pendant, incomplete as of yet. Once she had finished the cast, the chain would be her priority.

Reaching out her intact arm from stroking Aressa, she touched his shoulder warmly. "I can maintain it from my body, I don't want to use more than is necessary anyway. Besides, the pain is simple enough to block out." Shifting her weight, she held up her injured leg slowly. "I can feel a grind, in the middle of the bone. I'd rather let it line up before healing, if that's okay."

Doing her best to stand anyway, she paced around Tem in a circle to demonstrate she wasn't entirely lame. It wasn't anywhere near the walking speed she would have preferred, but surely it was better than the alternatives. Returning to Aressa's side, she settled down again carefully. "Aressa should have a bit to drink too, same for the others. I am managing my wounds, and I was unconscious for the sandstorm. I'll be fine for the time being."

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeThu 15 Nov 2012, 9:02 pm

Tem smiled a little when Aelirsa encouraged Aressa to accept his food - even if the luong thought she was being noble by refusing, she was more likely to acquiesce if a dragoness that she probably trusted more than Tem insisted on it.

She went on to clarify that she didn't really have healing powers, which morphed Tem's expression into a slight frown. It went away as soon as she touched his shoulder, though. He felt a small rush of energy at the contact, an inevitable, instinctive reaction to mild surprises like this one. At least she was the one willing to do the touching first... he considered, a little grimly, thinking about the water healing in his near future. It could stave off some of the damage in Kaldra's eyes. In truth, he knew his dire prediction was most likely an exaggeration, but there was a very real possibility that something, somewhere, would be hurt inside Kaldra if he had to go to the lengths he expected, even if she didn't consciously realize it. I'll just try and get it over with as quickly as I can....

The ice dragoness explained that she could simply block out the pain. This time, Tem really frowned. For him, that solution wasn't good enough. He was glad that she then specified the kind of damage she felt and even managed to do a little walking on the leg, but he still fervently felt that she was, in fact, not fine for the time being.

"Sure, she can have a drink," he started replying, making the water bottle float over from behind him. It hovered an inch above the ground, then flew into Tem's waiting forepaw. "And yes, it's definitely good to let it line up. My healing's all about making things good as new, but it could never hurt." One of the myriad books he'd read had explained all the detriments a poor bone mending could leave. He didn't remember many of them, but he retained the impression that it was a very bad idea to be careless.

He felt he should add on, "And about trying to take the pain...look, I know I kind of tried to say this before, but just remember - it's great if you can, but we would really like to see you healed up. It's not like we're going to think this is a waste of time or anything. I mean, you'll be able to walk faster anyway, right? So...yeah, bear that in mind. Don't feel at all like you're a burden, okay? I'm happy to heal you." He included a smile for encouragement, although a second later he wasn't sure he liked what he might be starting to imply.

He cleared his throat. "Ahem...now, which bone is it that you feel the grinding in? And...well, I'll admit I'm far from a medical expert, so how long were you thinking this lining up would take? Because we might be able to do some of it ourselves, and I'm ready to start right away. No point waiting while the..." The wave of stressful anticipation hit his throat just then - he was not exactly looking forward to doing this in front of everyone, especially with Kaldra there, however necessary he felt it was. He cleared the tightened passage once again. "...the others get their water and food and everything."

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeFri 16 Nov 2012, 11:06 pm

Aressa blinked in a moment of surprise and Tem insisted once again that she eat, even going so far as to say that what were the rolls for if not to feed her. Such kindness… once again given to one so undeserving. These dragons continued to prove her previous views wrong. She reached out a paw, taking the rolls, feeling their lukewarm surface give under the pressure of her grip.

“O- ok,” she stammered roughly.

She turned her head to the side, her azure mane flopping slightly forward to hide her face from the two alongside her. Wetness pricked at the corners of her eyes, the shell she’d tried to conceal herself with for protection against emotion gaining yet another crack, the flames that roiled in her soul beginning to cool. Agate’s act of forgiveness in sparing her life had begun the process, Aelirsa’s considerate words and thoughtful actions spurring it further, and Tem’s generosity continuing it.

Maybe this entire world isn’t filled with dishonesty and self-preservation at the cost of others…

Blinking until the gathering orbs of salty liquid dispersed, she bit into one of the rolls. Ears aligning so that the conversation of Tem and Aelirsa wouldn’t pass by unheard, the first roll quickly disappeared down her throat.

I could make a cast for Aelirsa’s leg, I could start repaying her.

“I could help form a cast for you, Aelirsa,” Aressa said, stopping for a brief cough, “I still have enough stamina for that.”

~~~~~

Kaldra watched the exchange occurring between the two ice dragonesses and Tem. Things seemed to be going alright, given that she could only catch small snippets of what was said. Then a certain string of words caused breath to catch in her throat.

"I'd be happy to heal you."
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeThu 22 Nov 2012, 10:47 am

Seeing Aressa eat at last was no small relief to Aelirsa. The poor girl had been on the bad end of things, eating would surely help ease tense nerves. The offer of helping to make a cast made her smile, it was little things that the dragon did that showed just how much she was getting better. Though Tem seemed to be very insistent that she be healed, it seemed she didn't have much choice to oblige.

"Early, in my life like this, I took a shot to the shoulder from a farmer, while I was in a rather hungry phase. This isn't so bad." Sitting down, she lifted her arm up carefully. Her intention was to delicately move it around until she felt the bone settle in a certain way that would indicate the line-up. Even so, it would hurt quite a bit, she'd need Aressa's support to keep from alerting the others.

Moving her arm very delicately, she found that it was hinging in a certain direction. "I think there may be a small portion of it unbroken, makes this a little trickier." Grinding her teeth heavily as she began pushing her arm further, the sudden click into place caused her to gasp, but otherwise she was glad it was done. "There... just, seal up as much of the fracture as you can. I'll keep my weight off just to be safe.

Ironic, given just before she had expressed concerns about gaining it. At least her arm wasn't bent where it shouldn't be, and she had a private place to put it back.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeFri 23 Nov 2012, 10:58 pm

Aressa’s visage, once becoming something akin to hopeful, darkened at the mention of a farmer shooting her companion. Why would a human raise a gun to such a beautiful creature? Then again, what concrete reason did they have for doing any of the terrible things they did? Uncertainty, fear, rage… those were their motivating emotions.

But those seem to be my driving emotions as well, don’t they?

She and humanity were more alike than even she probably realized. They both sought revenge for past wrongs, both desired to be accepted by their peers, both felt their inadequacies as sharply as knife blades in their cores. But they also both strived for forgiveness and the ability to move on. Both wanted to become stronger than they were before.

This will be a step along that road.

“Alright, I’ll just manipulate a bit of the water in your body to that spot and solidify it,” she said, “Do you think that would suffice?”

That way if Aelirsa would rather have Tem heal her, she could announce that now, or suggest some sort of way for them to combine their water and ice abilities. It was better to be on the safe side with an injury such as hers.

One whose blame falls on my shoulders…
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeSat 24 Nov 2012, 12:44 am

Tem smiled when Aressa accepted the food without further resistance. She obviously needed it, and besides, the healing process would probably go over more smoothly without one of his foreclaws occupied. His curiosity was piqued by her offer to help with a cast. Hmm. That could be useful, although if I do a complete enough job, it shouldn't be necessary. Maybe he wouldn't manage that, though, in which case Aressa could lend some handy support.

Aelirsa commented on a painful encounter with a farmer just before she performed the bone realignment herself. Tem realized that, if a lot of slayers had been farmers just before taking up the mantle of vigilante violence, he could probably say the same as she had. Good thing I had my healing for that. Hm, I should keep that in mind...might make the connection a little easier. Another hot, nervous wave rushed through him, and his scaly cheeks warmed up further before he could stop his train of thought.

Aelirsa's brief pain and sense of urgency were a good enough distraction after that, though. He would have preferred less hurting on her part, but he had to admit that it was a relief to have the realignment go quickly, at least. Just as he was drawing water back out of the bottle and training his senses on the spot on Aelirsa's leg, Aressa mentioned her own plan. Oh, solidify it - I wonder if that would work?

That put a new spin on things. If he could skip the likely-embarrassing process altogether, that was an opportunity he didn't want to miss, but only if Aelirsa would be properly healed. "Do you think that would set the bone well enough, Aressa?" he asked in return, since he wasn't terribly confident that a little ice could stand in for bone matter very well. "Because I could probably mend it entirely, and if it goes that well, we shouldn't even need a cast." Indeed, that would make everything much faster and easier for Aelirsa, although he was somewhat worried about talking himself straight into what he was dreading.

He waited in case one of the ice dragonesses would confirm his thoughts, but in the meantime, he placed a coat of water on Aelirsa's foreleg and on the same part of his own leg. Now that he considered it a little more, the water already inside Aelirsa's body would be a lot more helpful for healing her interior, but it could never hurt anyway.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeSun 25 Nov 2012, 10:12 pm

Aressa looked at Tem as he spoke up. What he said ran parallel to the doubts that she was thinking over herself, to be honest. She wasn’t really much of a healer, most of the time her ice abilities had been put to use for either mundane, demeaning tasks (like cooling drinks) or through combat (or attempted combat, as with Agate and the others). There might be a way for her to set it up so that it simply used up a constant, small amount of her own magic to keep the ice solid within Aelirsa.

In the time she was thinking this over, Tem created a coating of water of his and Aelirsa’s leg. The water on his foreleg mirrored Aelirsa’s in placement. Did they have to be similar in order for his healing to work? How many times had he healed someone?

“Well…” she said, “I’m not an expert on this, to be truthful. The ice would probably need some sort of assistance in staying solid within the… well, heat of a dragon’s body.”

She shook her head in a brief expression of annoyance with her lack of knowledge, “I might be able to simply make a cast on the outside of her leg, it would act similarly to an internal cast as it would still hold the leg in one position.”

Aressa pointed over at Aelirsa with a tilt of her head and, coughing briefly, said, “It’s up to Aelirsa which way we try.”

It is her leg we’ll be working on after all.
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeTue 27 Nov 2012, 7:49 am

As the two dragons discussed the fate of her leg, she merely looked at it limply, unsure if she liked the idea of having ice form inside her body. What she knew of biology told her that ice crystals forming inside the soft tissue could easily tear it to shreds, and even if that wouldn't happen then restriction of bodily fluid movement would certainly factor in somewhere.

"I'll hold the cast around my leg. I could condense and freeze water from the air to keep cracks from forming, slow a process as it may be. I'm uh... just not sure that ice inside my body would be wise at all." She wouldn't have trouble keeping off that leg anyway, after all she had three others to utilize. Glancing at Tem's leg as he seemed to use physical referencing as an aid in healing, she found herself blushing slightly.

"I guess I'm not eager to cheat natural healing, and I'd rather not impose. I'll be fine with a cast, I promise." She did her best to smile, weak as it was. It felt necessary to show gratitude for their efforts.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeWed 28 Nov 2012, 3:42 am

Tem looked back at Aressa as she gazed at him, meeting her eyes briefly. The expression that formed for her was one of compassionate concern, partly for her need to make this undoubtedly stressful decision about Aelirsa, but also deeper. He wondered about her, and he couldn't look into the luong's eyes for any longer because he was still just a little afraid of her, but mainly he simply wanted to make her feel better, or to at least know how to. He had another ice dragoness to tend to first, though.

He listened to Aressa's reconsideration of her choices. He thought she seemed rather smart, going over the complications so thoughtfully. If only her mind hadn't been restrained by this "Master" she'd mentioned... Tem would have to dwell on that later, but it was hard to stop his outrage at the man from boiling up again.

She said it was better for Aelirsa to decide, and Tem supposed he had to agree. As much as he would have liked to get his method over with to ensure she was well healed, it was ultimately her responsibility. Come to think of it, she was the one who'd chosen to risk the injury in the first place; difficult as it was for him to shed his guilt about crashing into her, to stop his overwhelming compassion from automatically rushing forth and blaming no one but himself, Tem had to try not to think of himself as the main cause of her pain. I need to keep reminding myself of that. It'll probably be easier once the problem's solved...I hope.

Aelirsa then decided on a cast after all. Tem wasn't quite sure how to feel, but she made good enough points that he guessed he could settle for just being relieved. "Cheat natural healing"...she's right; I can't predict what might happen, or if I'd even do it right. He looked back up from his pondering and tried to smile back to her, though it still turned out more worried than anything. "All right, just be careful with your leg for a while, then." He'd almost started withdrawing the water from her foreleg when it occurred to him, "Oh, I know you mentioned condensing from the air, but do you think it would still be helpful to leave some of this water for you?" He lifted a foreclaw and pointed to her arm as he spoke. "And...since she volunteered before, Aressa might be able to help you form it too, if you want."

With that, he looked back down bashfully, training his eyes on an indistinct, very boring point on the uniform gray concrete. He felt nervous about guessing others' intentions when they were right there to correct him, and then with his anticipation of the healing...it was a bit of a hectic moment for him in general. He involuntarily clenched his claws just a little as he tried (without much success) to let those emotions cool down.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeWed 05 Dec 2012, 5:42 pm

Aressa silently berated herself as Aelirsa mentioned how ice forming inside her body would be a very bad idea, possibly even dangerous. What had she been thinking? She could’ve made Aelirsa’s pain even worse by messing around with her muscles and veins with little to no medical experience. Her face likely had a rather downcast expression at this point, mirroring her self-hating inner thoughts. Reaching out and trying to help was a rare occurrence for her to say the least, so making a mistake that could have ended up causing suffering for another hit her at the core.

“You’re a monster… an illiterate, dangerous beast!” Master’s voice taunted.

Aressa blinked for a bit longer than was normal, containing the brief spike of emotion brought on by the memory. Learning to control herself had been one of the main focuses of her therapy in the DoD, after the emotional rehabilitation of course. They hadn't wanted to release a dragoness out into the world that couldn’t control her emotions or the power bursts they resulted in. It was a good thing no officials from there had been present outside that store earlier.

Although they’ve probably been notified of it by now, what with all the pictures those idiot humans were taking.

Terror began to gather in the pit of her stomach. How would the DoD react once they found out about what she’d nearly done? What if they decided she was too unstable to be on the streets any longer? They wouldn’t decide to… eliminate her, would they?

Stop thinking like that, just focus on Aelirsa now. Just focus on her…
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeTue 11 Dec 2012, 2:34 am

The glances between the two were quick, evasive. For the moment she didn't want them to think she was staring at either deliberately, nor spaced out in some form of pain trance. Remaining alert was the key, she had to keep her wits up. And if that meant feeding her brain with constantly changing images, so much the better. Standing there was making her body numb enough.

"That would help greatly Tem, I appreciate the gesture. I'll try my best to conserve the small supply, at least I'll be able to re-form a couple of my snowflakes for this purpose." Her eyes closed with a very soft slap of flesh. They had gone a bit watery over the attention she had received, being a dragon so used to travelling alone, then entering a group status had quite an effect on her.

Concentrating the freezing power of her body down into her leg, a low, guttural growl came as the process began. The flesh would be brought down to a dangerously low temperature in the process, but she could prevent it from forming the dangerous crystals. As the water began to freeze from surface of her leg outward, the expansion caused a few groaning cracks which sealed up promptly.

Once the process had been completed, she finally opened her eyes and looked down at the new cast. "Doubles as an ice pack, rather convenient, is it not?" Resting her paw down carefully, the cast held up against her normally balanced weight. Gradually adding more pressure to it, until her other paw was in the air, she became satisfied that the cast would hold.

"Thank you, both. Had I been alone with such an injury, I would have undoubtedly ignored it and moved on. Sometimes, I refuse to admit my own limits" Nodding to Tem once more, she turned to face Aressa, reaching out her good paw to stroke the luong's mane. The distress that had formed was plain to see, in that case it was up to Aelirsa to rectify that.

"I'm okay Aressa. You needn't worry about me, if anything, I should be concerned with your well being. I brought you into the group, a situation which I failed to realize you weren't entirely comfortable with, and now I feel it necessary to undo that mistake I made." Settling down to sleep again, with the pain now just a dull throb in her leg, rest was a far easier task to achieve.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeTue 11 Dec 2012, 9:29 pm

Tem smiled when Aelirsa accepted leaving the water there. He was glad to have made the right choice. He had to wonder what she meant about snowflakes, but the following growl diverted all his attention to the ice dragoness. His eyes locked onto the expanding ice for most of its formation, until he could tell the process was well in hand and he felt he should check on Aressa again. Sadly, she didn't seem any better, though a second later Tem wasn't sure what kind of change he'd expected to see within such a short time.

He returned his gaze to Aelirsa again once she spoke. He trained his attention on her test of the cast's strength and was happy to see it stay solid. The dragoness' thanks brought another smile out of him. "You're welcome."

Her own limits... Yes, it would have been a bad idea to continue without help for her leg. Just one injury had forced her to halt for a while.... What else could a bunch of completely unknown monsters do to us? Break all our legs at once? Try to kill us instantly like... A chill ran down his spine at the thought of Kaden's terrible encounter. We have such limits, yet such a task to do. Can we, at all? He rested his head glumly on his foreclaws.

Not if we charge ahead recklessly, but if we're careful like this, then maybe... Now there was a thought. It was tempting to forge ahead as quickly as possible and ignore whatever tried to stop them, but sooner or later their heedlessness would take them down before they could do - her - any good. But if we acknowledge our limits, maybe our potential will actually expand. It was a glimmer of hope that he'd have to hold onto.

He buried those half-resolved thoughts as he turned his eyes to Aelirsa, who was apparently trying to soothe Aressa some more in that formal way of hers. Then she seemed restful at last. He really hadn't needed to perform any healing after all, assuming the cast would hold for a while. Well, so much the better, if he could get back to Kaldra sooner. Did I say anything that might have troubled her anyway...?

Yet there was something else still distracting him. Something stirred in him every time he saw Aressa's mane stroked with such caring, and the luong was so accepting of it, and so comfortable with Aelirsa after clashing with her and everyone else just a matter of minutes ago....Whatever had become so violent and angry, it wasn't Aressa; it wasn't what she had to be. Suddenly Tem felt a wave of incredible relief wash through him that they hadn't abandoned her, coupled with immense dread at how horrible it would have been to leave her to take the blame. She deserved every ounce of kindness they could give her.

It was on that thought that Tem rose to his feet and took the few strides necessary to bring him to Aressa's side, taking a (not very comfortable) seat on the rough concrete. Maybe he was wasting his time with Aelirsa already there, but he still asked the luong softly, "Hi, Aressa. Are you..." Apprehension flared up in him at the overly simplistic question he sensed coming, but, not having anything better, he let it out. "...are you feeling all right?" He gave her the best concern-eyebrows he could muster, to show that he honestly did care, although he was inwardly wincing since on many levels she was obviously far from "all right."

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeWed 12 Dec 2012, 10:54 pm

Aressa smiled in relief as Aelirsa formed the cast using a combination of Tem’s water and her own ice; in all honesty, she wasn’t sure how much power she had left herself. However, the smile didn’t reach her eyes. They remained emotionless in a continuing effort to maintain her mental stability. The shield has risen once again. She’d expended quite a bit more than normal in just these last few hours. It wasn’t like she’d ‘run out’ per se, it just drained her energy until enough time had passed that her magic had ‘recharged.’

Aelirsa's words of ignoring the injury and moving on, of refusing to admit her own limits… they resonated deeply within Aressa. How many times had she done the same?

“The cruel chord slashed into the scaly flesh along her back as Master flicked his wrist. Streams of crimson blood trailed down, bubbling up from the fresh wounds like water from a mountain spring. Her eyes remained fixated on the featureless basement wall in front of her, refusing to allow her emaciated body to tremble. She would not give that monster the satisfaction of seeing her fear nor her suffering. He did not deserve that sick reward.

She would outlast him.”


The cool caress of Aelirsa’s paw along her mane jerked Aressa from the grasp of the memory that had dragged her down into its abyss. Another blink, another partial suppression of the remnants of her past. But they would return, they always returned. Usually at night, those serpentine scenes would come slithering into her mind, entangling her in inescapable nightmares. Now, in the daylight, they were somewhat easier to repress. Somewhat easier, but not much.

Tem settled down alongside her, causing unease to tingle to life along her spine. Was she feeling alright?

No… no, I’m not feeling alright. I can barely go a day without reliving the torment that madman induced, barely go a few hours without despising myself, barely go a few minutes without wishing revenge on all the self-centered and repulsive humans on this god-forsaken planet! I’ve hurt those who’ve tried to help me, can’t even hold a normal conversation, will probably have my life snuffed out by the barrel of some dragon slayer's gun or at the orders of the DoD…

But she said none of that.

“Um… yeah, I’m a bit tired I guess.”
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeThu 13 Dec 2012, 9:02 pm

When Tem heard Aressa reply that she was merely tired, he offered a kind of small, sad smile. He wanted to believe her - maybe she really was feeling mostly fine after the kindness she'd already been shown - but he still couldn't. It was one thing to not feel too much pressure at the moment, but it was another to be truly comfortable and stable, and from what he'd heard from her, Tem was convinced she needed plenty more help with the latter.

He didn't voice his concerns openly just yet, though. "Mm. Well, okay. Just remember..." The heat that he should have expected started rising in his face, now that he was about to articulate some of his deeper, more heartfelt sentiments. He cleared his throat a little to gather some of his momentum again. "If you're ever not feeling well, all you have to do is ask for a little help. Aelirsa's already here for you, and..." There was a slight pause as he hesitated, but then he extended his apprehensively lifted paw to settle it lightly on the luong's mane. "...and plenty of others too."

He gave a concerned but hopeful smile, although a few seconds later he was too nervous and had to look down. He kept his paw on her soft fur, though, as he concluded, "I can't say I know how it happened, exactly, but we've all come to feel like a family. Maybe -" he had to take a gulp - "Aurnia's loss has brought us together, or we're all just lucky enough to be really nice to each other, but whatever the reason, we're here to support each other. However much of that support you need, I'd be happy to see you get it." His paw was resting on her mane a little more firmly now. He was smiling again and trying his best to maintain his gaze on the somehow still mildly intimidating dragoness.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeSun 16 Dec 2012, 11:08 pm

Aressa ran a paw over her eyes, massaging the slightly raised scales running along the length of the upper ridge of her face. How could a few fellow dragons do this to her? How could they manage to dissemble a wall I’ve worked so hard to construct in mere hours, maybe even less? It was baffling, especially to one who, if not exactly prided herself on, at least held comfort in her ability to stay a part of the world and yet distant from it all. Now she had thrown herself into the thick of it.

Could he be able to help me as those stuffy therapists never could? Aelirsa has already shown herself to be far… warmer, than she originally appeared to be.

However, how would Kaldra react, should she decide to seek companionship, or simply a pair of ears, in Tem? They were obviously quite close, from the near constant contact they kept with each other. The brief bumping into each with their flanks, the touches with their paws, their tails sliding over each other… were all the signs of a deep caring, more likely even a love.

No one will ever feel that way for someone such as me.

Wetness pricked at the corners of her eyes and she drew back her hand, a perplexed expression on her face. Where had that thought sprung unbidden from? For all her years sticking to the shadowed corners, the thought of a companion had never crossed her mind. All those joyous couples rolling around in the snow, ambushing each other with snowball fights, jumping and getting rides on the other’s back, she’d always looked upon such scenes as visible displays of weakness and sentimentality. It wasn’t for her.

“It’s just,” her voice cracked, “I’m not really alright… I haven’t been ‘alright’ for so long, I’ve forgotten what it feels like.”

Gah, way to sound pathetic.

But his touch just felt so soothing along her mane, his warmth alongside her perpetually icy form cracking her composure.

“I’m… scared of what might happen to... to all of us," she began, "maybe even because of me. Won't the DoD find out about me, about what I did, or nearly did, to all of you? Won't they decide to consider me too great of a liability and..."

She trailed off, clenching her eyes shut. Such an honest admittance was unusual for the dragoness-of-few-words, but the feelings had been building up inside of her for so long that they just… burst out. Her paws were dug into the pavement in front of her, more tears gathering at her lower lids.

((Rewrote the ending portions so many times, still not completely pleased with it. Was inspired by Never Let Me Go by Florence + The Machine. Songs are a big source of inspiration for me and my writing in general, if that hasn't already become obvious.))
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeMon 17 Dec 2012, 3:05 am

Tem watched Aressa's paw go up to her face, then back down. Seeing that, Tem suspected she was indeed troubled, and then...

I knew it. For the luong's sake, he would have preferred to be wrong, but she was, sure enough, not all right. Forgotten what it feels like...how could that happen? What kind of torment must this poor girl have gone through?... He slowly stroked her mane, hoping to soothe her.

Her breaking voice and the gathering tears were too much for Tem. He supposed he'd sort of caused them, mentioning all this to her, which didn't really help his mood, but he had hope that she'd ultimately feel better for it. He opened his mouth to speak, and he paused for the slightest instant when it struck him just how little he'd expected Aressa to confess everything so readily, but then the words came. "Hey, hey, hey..." he said gently, his voice calm. He was stroking her neck in a regular rhythm. "It's okay. Aressa, you're not too great a liability. All of us will vouch for that. I don't think they'd try to get rid of anyone with half a dozen dragons insisting they'd be idiots to do it, hm?" He offered a small smile. "Even if you catch their attention, we weren't far away from doing the same ourselves. In fact...um, there's this one thing I kind of shouted out to a whole bunch of people yesterday that might have already done it."

He took a gulp, his face now burning, but he continued speaking. "Honestly, I'm scared for all of us too, but if we stick together and trust each other, we'll do the very best we can. I've decided to put my faith in that. I mean, I'm still terrified, but..." He smiled regardless, laughing at himself in a way. "There's a lot we can do as a group. And we'll be even stronger with you in it." He very nearly didn't do it, but just before his fear and caution could stop him, his desire to comfort her won out. He reached his snout forward slightly and nuzzled Aressa's neck, just behind her jaw. Then he pulled back, brows creased with ardent concern. He hoped he could at least stem the flow of tears....

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeThu 20 Dec 2012, 10:27 pm

Aressa didn’t open her eyes for a while, focusing on the constant rhythm of Tem’s paw running down her mane. The tears running down her face crystalized just before they dropped from her scales and into the air, becoming miniature little hailstones, before hitting the pavement and silently dissolving into circles of water.

How long had it been since she’d cried? To be blunt, her way of dealing with emotions was usually to bottle them up, downplay them, or simply pretend that whatever had caused them just hadn’t really happened. It was her way of pushing pain under the metaphorical rug and concealing it, even from herself in a sense. It wasn’t the healthiest coping method, but then, it was all she’d had. When someone is on their own and lacks the trust to talk to someone (if they should have anyone to talk to in the first place), they have to learn to deal with things themselves. They have no one to lean on.

Her sapphire eyes creaked open, glistening beneath a thin coat of salty liquid.

All of them would truly stand up for me, against the Department of Dragons no less?

Then his head rubbed against hers, right where her cheekbone met with the armored flesh of her neck. So similar to the actions of Aelirsa and so soon. Why would they decide to trust her, much less put faith in her and her aid?

“Exactly, you’re an abomination!” Master exclaimed.

“Thank… thank you,” she said softly, voice a bit hoarse still from the combined effects of the earlier sandstorm and her crying. Crying was so unlike her, but so many things were changing now… including her. She sniffled a bit, but the tears finally stopped trailing down her cheeks. Both Tem and Aelirsa had already proven to be so helpful, would they be able to help with her more deep-seated memories as well?

But what if they turn away from me… once they realize how… how easily I shift from emotion to emotion, how easily Master comes slinking back… how I often wake up screaming at night…

“It’s just tha-” she halted, not wanting to bear any more of herself, raw as her heart was at this moment.

Only time would tell if she would entrust the rest of herself with her new companions, but for now she would take comfort in the insistence that they would stand by her side and defend her against those who might see her locked away.

((Slightly happier with this post, trying to articulate Aressa's torn feelings over opening up or keeping her secrets as just that, secrets.))
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeSat 22 Dec 2012, 2:55 am

((I picked up on both those things, so you must be doing just fine.))

When Aressa continued to cry, Tem felt ready to call his efforts a failure and try again, but his attitude shifted when she gently thanked him through the tears. A tentative smile played along the ends of his mouth, until he noticed the icy droplets stop falling and smiled for real. "Of course," he replied, and with his caution fallen away by this point, he nuzzled her again. Her mane was so soft, brushing over the scales around his nostrils as his eyes drifted closed....

It occurred to him as he pulled back how different this was from some minutes ago, when he'd scraped himself trying to stop her from hurting someone else. Or is it so different? Then and now, I want to cool her violent thoughts and calm her; I want to help her. No, not so different at all.... Perhaps caution had left him, but logic hadn't. Sometimes they were the same, but sometimes not. Right now, Aressa needed help for her sake as well as everyone else's, and this was logically his best bet for giving it to her; it was only fear that wanted him to interact with her less.

Just as Tem came out of a swirl of potent, indistinct feelings and these thoughts, Aressa started to say something else. It was an unmistakable lead-in to a further explanation of her troubles, but she cut herself short. Tem's brows rose with a surge of concern. "It's just that what, Aressa?" he asked as gently as he could with his urgent tone, paw still stroking her neck slowly.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeMon 24 Dec 2012, 5:11 pm

Aressa winced internally, turning away slightly so that Tem couldn’t meet her eyes. Reflexively, she reached up her left paw and scratched at the scar tissue on her neck. The flesh was so tough from the repeated healing, breaking, re-healing, etc. that it didn’t do too much harm. All that remained from the quick dragging of her pointed nails was three lighter-colored lines on her scales. They simply faded after a few seconds.

Trepidation caused her paw to drop back to the pavement and clench into a fist. Puncture wounds dotted the inside of her palm as she tightened her grip further, tiny spots of crimson slowly growing in size, but hidden by the digits responsible.

“They’ll never accept the real you,” Master sneered, stalking back and forth just in front of her, “They’ll decide that you’re better off kept in captivity.”

No, you’re wrong; Tem said they’d stay by my side against anything!

“Well, sure, he says that now, but who in their right mind would entrust their safety and the safety of those they treasure to a destructive and animalistic creature. You nearly killed one of their own mere minutes ago.”


What if Master was right? She couldn’t bear to see them turn away from her, mistrust and burning hatred clouding their eyes. For who could trust a beast? That was what she was, deep down. It was what Master had shaped her into and no amount of sympathetic gestures would be able to turn back time. They would surely realize that to if they knew what went on in the sheltered regions of her mind.

It was that feeling that prompted her to lamely murmur, “It’s nothing.”
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeMon 24 Dec 2012, 9:47 pm

In response to Tem's question, Aressa said nothing for a while, instead looking away and scratching at the alarming circle of scar tissue on her neck. Tem redirected his gaze slightly; he could sense that his inquiry was clearly not a comfortable one, and he didn't want to stare in case it added to her tension.

Having seen that, he mostly expected the two words she offered in reply. He nodded instantly, whether she would notice or not. She obviously had something else to express, but Tem not only accepted if she didn't want to reveal it; he was also starting to agree with her, given how he'd taken a fairly direct approach to trying to root out and cure her emotional pain. He felt it was only luck that had caused Aressa to actually offer something at all, and apparently it hadn't been easy. Look how I'm disturbing her, just asking her once. If I insist like before...as good as it is for people to get their troubles out in the open, I think it would be a little too much at once.

He had a sad, compassionate look in his eyes, but Tem said simply, "Okay." If she was finished talking, then he thought it best to take a break and leave her side for the moment. They could take this in steps. Before he went, he leaned back to let his haunches hold his weight and then wrapped his forelegs around Aressa's chest and neck in an embrace. He kept his grip gentle so as not to startle her too greatly, although he did tighten his hold slightly over the few seconds it lasted. With his cheek against her mane again, he noticed that her body wasn't quite so cold as he might have expected, and he smiled just a little. He hoped she would understand the wordless gesture - even though he was leaving her be for the moment, he still cared and would be there when she was willing to continue.

With that, he returned his foreclaws to the pavement, then rose to a stand and walked back the several feet between him and Kaldra. As he lay on his belly at the black dragoness' side, a spike of dread surged through his chest; trying to ease a pain as intense as Aressa's was all well and good, but he'd opted for a rather...physical method for much of it - right in front of her! In front of everyone! - and he hated that he'd failed to consider that choice. He'd thought it was the best and probably only thing that he could do to help, but had it really been? Not to mention what I was talking about doing with Aelirsa! He gulped out of nervousness as he tentatively took Kaldra's paw again, unable to guess confidently what she would think of his behavior.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeFri 28 Dec 2012, 12:43 am

Aressa nearly breathed a sigh of relief when Tem readily accepted her rather unconvincing reply to his question. Then she was enfolded in an embrace. Tem’s scales pressed briefly against her body. Most were smooth, but faint dips and scratches (some caused by his collision with Aelirsa) were present. A low current of regret began to grow, but she smothered it. She couldn’t handle that in addition to all the other emotions muddling her thoughts.

A trembling smile ghosted over her troubled expression. Tem walked back towards Kaldra, the one he cared so much for in spite of her… intimidating appearance. If someone as formidable as that dragoness could find someone who could love her, maybe there was yet hope for Aressa.

It’s still doubtful that anyone would want such a broken creature as me though…

Aressa settled down, head resting on her paws and eyes half-closed. Faint tear tracks were visible through the sandy grime that still rested upon her worn scales.

~~~~~

Kaldra watched the embrace with no true expression filling her visage. Inside her mind, everything resembled a churning ocean surface, full of undercurrents and trick waves. Yet it seemed to be clearing as understanding gleamed through like the rainbow after a torrential storm.

Clearing her throat, she said cordially, “So, are Aelirsa and Aressa doing better? Aelirsa’s leg seems to be held in place nicely by that cast.”

He was just trying to help by offering to heal her… that was all.

But then he had remained with the two ice dragonesses, conversing quietly with the supposedly-unapproachable Aressa. There was still something about that girl that put her ill at ease. Surely such torture as being kept captive as no more than an obedient slave would leave far more than surface scarring of the flesh. The scars within her mind were probably more expansive than anyone could possibly fathom, much less heal.

I will not let her harm any of the members of this group. I was the one who originally found Tem and Ev, they are my responsibility, and those that came after would not have ever come if the original group had not formed.

However, she could not throw out the ice luong. There was far too much concealed behind those frosty eyes. The poor child had never even known her parents, the most she had were faint memories at best. Tem had seen that, that is what spurred him to try and talk to the detached dragoness. It was understandable and she was not so heartless as to resent him for that, if anything she admired him. Aressa was a formidable creature indeed.

She turned her paw that was beneath his so that their fingers intertwined, squeezed, and said, “I understand what you did. Thank you for helping Aressa as well.”

But what if it was more than just sympathy that made him… caress her mane and… nuzzle her neck?

Those actions were more than that of a friend. Kaldra’s gaze sharpened, though her grip didn’t tighten in any way and her eyes were turned slightly downwards. Seeds of doubt had been sown and only time would tell if they were just or unfounded feelings.

“How is she?” she continued, "She didn't seem too unnerved by your... comfort."
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 8 I_icon_minitimeFri 28 Dec 2012, 2:18 am

Tem snapped to attention the instant Kaldra began to speak. He dreaded words of doubt or maybe even scolding, but instead it was an innocuous question. Still... Kind of dodging the Aressa part with that little comment about Aelirsa, isn't she? He was right; he'd really done it now; he'd found a wedge to drive between him and her and stupidly leapt on the chance -

"I understand what you did," she reassured him, with a paw-squeeze to boot. His fears melted...mostly. When Kaldra seemed to search for a word for what he'd done with Aressa - "comfort," how nice - he felt justified for still retaining some doubts. Well, she'd been kind enough to at least seem to accept what he'd done.

"Oh, I think she...I'm sure she has more to take care of, emotionally, and all," Tem answered. "But I'm glad she took the...comfort. She needs it, from people like Aelirsa and me. The more appreciation and kindness we give her, the sooner we can ease everything that's troubling her. I think if we work at it enough, she can feel happy again someday."

He laid his head on Kaldra's shoulder, stirring his concerns for Aressa around in his head for a few seconds before addressing the other part of Kaldra's earlier question. "I suppose both she and Aelirsa are doing better now." His voice had a detached, dispassionate quality, as if he was distracted by thinking and worrying about something else, which he certainly was.

He wasn't sure at first if he should bring it up at all. She'd said she understood. That was enough, right? And yet... No, it's not enough; I don't feel at ease like this.

At that, he lifted his head back up from her shoulder and looked straight into Kaldra's solid red eyes. There was a chance that he was making all this up and would look foolishly worrisome, but for now, whether he would look back on it later as rational or not, he felt like it was worthwhile to address even the slightest nagging possibility. With a squeeze of her beautiful black paw, "Kaldra...um, I'm glad you said you understand, and maybe I'm fretting a little too much, but just know..." He couldn't maintain his gaze. "...I realize how that might have looked, but just know that it doesn't mean anything. Uh, anything bad, of course I wanted them to get better, but - um -"

This was the other thing he'd been afraid of. Luckily, he always had a non-verbal option with Kaldra. He quickly kissed her on the cheek before he went on, his volume now lowered for the somewhat more private words he felt coming. "I know it looked a certain way, but Kaldra...don't go thinking it means the same as it would have meant for you. I just want everyone in the group to be as comfortable as they can be. In fact..." Hope and warmth bubbled up inside him and curved his mouth into a smile when this particular idea struck him. "...it...it's like what you said at the police station, about looking out for everyone instead of just us. This was like that. Okay?" He still had his doubts, but his eyes had that brightness again that they so often had when they were set upon the black dragoness. I really hope I'm not overreacting.

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