Perry helps Mari onto Shadowsnacks, then replies, “Of course my dear, I’m an excellent rider you know. Just make sure to hold on tightly, we’re going to be flying faster than a dragon! Now come Shadowsnacks, show us the meaning of haste!”The legendary steed takes off, galloping off into the starry night sky. It’s extremely fast and Perry just laughs with joy as the three zoom together through the clouds.
Perry, now reunited with his friend and recalling the dark times he saved him from, can’t help but sing:
You say mysterious Well, I say I'm just a lonely bard, wandering A bit delirious When all the trees appear the same, appear the same Cast me away, my shadow's cold Into the Feywilds where I will grow old Well, I'm not looking for answers here I just want to go home
As he sings, small green and yellow lights begin forming and swirling around the three of them as they paint the night sky. Perry’s horns retract completely, and his wings change from their normal, bat-like form into majestic midnight black raven wings. The mount picks up even more speed and eventually breaches the clouds.
They fly for a few minutes before looping back around to the castle courtyard. Perry hops off and helps Mari down, then asks, “Well, how do you like him? Did you have fun?”He has an enormous smile on his face and his physical features have reverted back to their normal form.
Transformation was Mantle of Majesty which only Lia has seen so far. Mari will be the second person ever to see this form of Perry.
Poljen thanks Mari for the refill and returns her toast. And he finally finds his tongue to say, "May our next adventure be sooner than we expect!" He also begins to notice how dirty and grimy he is....
Irdeith is the one to answer Velon's call, he has a worried expression on his face. He listens to the report made, then says, "There has been an incident. The cult showed up at the gates of Helgabal, with several dragons supporting them. They demanded the return of the half blue dragon children we had entrusted to the people of that city."
"Protanther had received word of the impending conflict in time to send reinforcements, several of our own dragons arrived to help defend the city, in addition to the pair that had been helping to raise and guide the children. The cult attacked anyways. It looks like our peers would be victorious for a time, but then Hoondarrh arrived on the scene, overwhelming them. Hoondarrh is an Ancient red, one that has not been seen in centuries, it seems he has awakened once more, and is fully in league with the cult."
"After my peers were destroyed, Helgabal was forced to hand over their charges, and then the city was burned to the foundations anyways." Irdeith shakes his head, "So many lives lost."
"To make matters worse, both sides of the treaty that has kept dragonkind from engaging in open conflict have now violated the terms of said treaty. War is now inevitable."
"To protect the other cities where we had left the dragonblooded children, they've been moved elsewhere. But that cannot last forever, especially if they are to grow against their nature as we had hoped"
Perry looks embarrassed for the first time as he replies to Mari, "Ah, that's just...something I've been working on, but I'm happy you saw it. I can use the magic I learned to manipulate in the Fey to change my appearance. It's only magic though, and I can only maintain that form for a minute right now, but it's actually scarily powerful. I only use it when I absolutely must and I would never use it against anyone unless they were truly evil and absolutely had to be stopped. Shadowsnacks being here just overwhelmed me a bit so I let loose. If I keep getting stronger, I think I can make myself look that way permanently."
"But anyway, I'm so happy you like Shadowsnacks! You can ride him whenever you want! Right, Shadowsnacks?"
Poljen's smile vanishes in an instant, and his face turns bright red. His free hand covers his face as he takes a few deep breaths. He finally begins to speak, with a slight croak in his voice at first. "Morgaine, I am so sorry! I don't know why I spoke her name. I think it maybe it is because I am used to her harmlessly flirting with me, teasing me. She is my drinking buddy. And I swear I just saw her flying by on Perry's winged horse." He shakes his head, looking down, obviously more embarrassed than he can say. The barbarian doesn't realize he should stop speaking there, but his mouth runs on.
"I mean, if I had said Lora's name, that would have been truly terrible..." And it is then he manages, despite it not seeming possible, to turn an even deeper shade of crimson...
Morgaine looks up from the table and looks at him. The sadness goes from her eyes briefly replaced by and understanding look on her face. She listens to him jabber on and covers her mouth to hide the snicker she can feel coming.
Morgaine also sees how red his face is and decides to get up and stand right next to him and kiss his check and head out of the room to get some air hoping he might follow her.
Poljen feels terrible when Morgaine gets up from the table, but then becomes confused when she kisses his cheek. He watches her saunter from the dining room and decides he needs to play this out. He quickly downs the rest of his ale as he also rises and hurries after the beautiful warrior woman. He doesn't call out her name. Instead he catches up and walks beside her, looking at her, some confusion on his face. But he figures she will either tell him to go away, or give him some other sort of simple signal as to her reaction...
Morgaine sees the barbarian come and walk beside her and look at her; she turns her head to him and smiles. There is a small sparkle in her eyes as she hope she isn't to forward by placing her arm through his and rests her hand on his forearm as they walk.
"A nice night " as she looks up at the stars. She also notices how the moon makes his eyes shine a bit more. " That was a good fight" as she tries to engage him in some type on conversation and not dwell what happened in the dinning hall.
Poljen exhales audibly as it appears Morgaine is not going to torment him over his slips of the tongue. He looks up with a grin and says, "Aye, a nice night indeed." Turning to face her he adds, "And it was an excellent fight! You have shown yourself as brave and as tough as any member of the Blaze." He glances around to make sure no one is too close as he says, "And I dare say as pretty!"
Morgaine smiles at him when he speaks about the fight and how she fought during the battle. She glances down at the ground briefly and tries to hide her flushed face though from the compliment.
As she tries to keep her voice steady, she replies; " Thank you"
She enjoys the walk and his company and looks at him very once in while and gives him a smile. Even though he is dirty from the battle; there is just something about him she likes..but she not sure what it is.
Earlier in the dining hall, Velon almost spits out his ale upon the arrival of Shadowsnacks. At the site of the majestic pegasus the paladin laughs a hearty laugh that fills the hall and he remarks "you will never cease to amaze me, Perry." "I'm a bit surprised this 'Shadowsnacks' isn't purple, though, I'll admit!"
Later in the control room, however...
Velon is crushed to hear of the destruction in Helgabal, the return of Hoondarrh, and most of all the loss of the fully grown dragons. All joy in the victory over Cyanwrath is washed away. He thinks little of the blue half dragons in comparison, as he was new to all of this when they were sent away and got the impression that they were likely to be nothing but trouble anyhow.
Hanging his head, Velon finally replies after Irdeith's tale. "I am sorry for the loss of your friends, and our allies. What can be done? Would you like us to go after the red? We have yet to pursue the horn, unfortunately, so there is much left to be done."
Velon sees Poljen's potential new sword and tries to remember to ask about that once more, but does not want to interrupt the serious matter at hand with Irdeith until the end of their conversation.
Perry is feeling good after his fateful reunion with Shadowsnacks and the ride with Mari. Not long after that whole experience, he decides to have himself a glass of wine or three before bed. He pours himself a glass and goes for a stroll around the main castle tower, talking to several of the staff and chit-chatting. Overall, the bard is in a cheery mood when he remembers, "Oh that's right, Velon was goingto talk to the golds right about now. I want to go see if cute little Alyss is around."
Perry makes his way up to the control room, still sipping his wine. "Hoondarrh is an Ancient red, one that has not been seen in centuries, it seems he has awakened once more, and is fully in league with the cult," is the first thing Perry hears as he walks by the entrance to the room.
He drops his wine glass and it shatters on the floor.
"Hoondarrh, the Red Rage of Mintarn? Seriously?! He's one of the most famous red dragons ever. Legends say he once had an impressive hoard, filled with powerful magical items and artifacts. He was also a powerful spell caster himself. Strangely, it's been rumored that he has always been fascinated with humans. Rather than kill the folks of Mintarn during his first appearance there, he made a bargain with them instead. In exchange for a certain amount of gold per inhabitant, he let them live and even protected them from pirates. As far as I know, no one really ever found out why he was so unusually kind to the people of Mintarn. Most other coastal settlements and villages were scorched to the ground in his wake. Some say he did it only to build up a reputation. His last known lair of treasures has been empty for centuries. If he's back and working with the Cult, then that is really, really bad Velon. Like REALLY bad. We can't fight him head on I don't think."
Mari smiles at Perry and Shadowsnacks. " It is good to meet you Shadowsnacks. Thanks for the ride. It was exhilarating and an honor. " She waved at Perry. " You have really outdone yourself this time Perry. I am quite impressed. I still can't believe it. "
" Thank you for the privilege of flying on a Pegasus. It was truly amazing. Your new ability is incredible too. You surprise me Perry Pennington ." She waves to him and heads back in.
Lia looks at the others with a stunned look visible . " This is truly terrible. The cult just wont leave those hatchlings alone. Hoondarrh....I thought that he was only a legend . Now that he is in it as well. We must make every move with great caution. The dragons we have defeated are as children compared to him . " She begins pacing around the room. " I must warn Fay of this . They have some of the hatchlings there as well. " She walks briskly out of the chamber and down the hall. Stopping there she opens a connection with Fay and warns him of the new threat.
"One thing I have learned from experience Lia, is that few legends lack some truth behind them. Your son should be reasonably safe though. We removed the hatchlings from the care of his kin, and made sure that it was known that we had done so."
Irdeith shakes his head and continues, "And no Velon, I would prefer that you stay well away from this one, I just felt that you should be warned. Perry is correct, Hoondarh is a nightmare made flesh."
"Actually, things are relatively quiet after Helgabal, it seems that both sides are pausing for breath. Care for some company? I won't be able to stay long, but might be able to help out with a few issues. I can intercept you on your flight back west."
Velon listens intently to all Perry, Irdeith and Lia have to say regarding the terror that is this ancient red dragon. Part of him is disappointed that they aren't likely to be up to the task, while part of him is relieved as he worries for the safety of the castle crew and the Blaze daily.
"Yes, of course. It would be good to see you, Irdeith. If you have no more pressing task we are likely to go for the horn next, in which case I believe we will stop at Adbarrim again for some supplies."
Poljen's mind races as he tries to think of what next to say. But he is no smooth-talker like Perry. He does not even rise to Velon's status in that regard. He continues to eye her up an down, noticing the well-toned muscles of her arms, and how her muscular thighs are a hair's breadth from splitting the seams on the side of the gown, which would expose her legs even more. He finally says, "Morgaine, I am not known as one who uses words well. But we seem to be of like minds in many ways. I think we should go to my room or yours, and find out how, um, compatible we are." He is still flushing red, but seems earnest.
"The blue mask has proven elusive, but at least it remains out of the Cobalt Claw's hand as well. You managed to give us a hint on the white mask before. After some research, we think it is in an area a few hundred miles east of where the horn expert disappeared. That's a very wide area though, and this castle is not likely the ideal way to scout such an expanse. I had figured while you looked for Maccath, I could survey that area, and then we reconvene."
He hesitates, then says, "Actually, if I recall correctly, you still have a stable full of half trained wyverns do you not? I know someone who may be able to help, I can bring him along as well if you like. And perhaps one additional guest, I will need to check a few things first."
Morgiane looks at him and gives him big smile like he was reading her mind. She leans into him a bit and kisses his lips, and tells him she'd like to see his quarters. She still has her arm on his forearm and follows him as he leads her to his quarters. She glances at him several times as they head there and gives him a smile every time.