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One moment Seren was standing in the Teleportarium chamber, the next she was bumping against a mass of bodies and what she assumed to be the outside of the Destroyer. It took her a couple seconds to remember to activate her jump pack, and then a couple more to orient herself. When she finally stopped herself from spinning, Seren found herself staring directly through a window at an observation deck. The floor was littered with an assortment of body parts: arms, legs, heads, fingers, hands. She even saw Spade’s entire torso among them. Two men were staring at the carnage, mouths agape. Serene immediately placed two charges on the window, signaling to those around her to follow her out of the way.

“Hello Second, this is Crown. I’m on the port side, top of the observation window. Group up on the highest level commander in your area and breach immediately.”

The window was thick and made of armaglass, but the charges were made to breach metal hulls and the entire window exploded when they discharged. Seren watched as the body parts and organs of her legion blew out into space, the bodies of the two unfortunate men among them. She entered the ship just as the last arm passed her. Red lights and alarms blared in the universal language for critical emergencies. In the hallway just ahead of her, she could see an airlock door just starting to close. She managed to clear it just as it shut, then reopen it for the rest of those with her.

“Crown you’re bleeding.”

Seren looked down and realized for the first time that she was missing three fingers on her right hand. As a medic quickly patched her up, Seren took stock of the current situation. The second legion had always been small, with just under a thousand members. Just under five hundred had successfully made it onto the ship, split into six groups of varying sizes scattered throughout the ship. About a fourth of them had lost limbs or been otherwise injured from the teleport, and when including those who volunteered to help the wounded, Seren left almost a third of her men behind. Assuming the rest of the legion was in a similar state, that left about three hundred to finish the operation. It was less than what she had hoped for, but still within her expectations. Seren’s group, much to her delight, had boarded closest to the bridge. She split the legion into two groups. One would gain control of the bridge. The other would sweep through to the enginarium. Her instructions were simple, but Seren had learned from experience, it was better to let the Second make their own decisions. They were less likely to disobey for the sake of disobeying that way.

They were outnumbered, but the enemy had been caught off guard, and for the first several minutes, the Second was able to easily mow down the enemy forces as they scrambled for weapons, armor, and order. Unfortunately, the chaos didn’t last and as Seren’s group rounded the next corner, they were met with return fire. Using their jumpbacks to their advantage, Seren’s group quickly closed the gap and disposed of them with minimal casualties.

Her hand was throbbing by now, and she could barely keep her grip on her weapon. Blood coated the bandage, but stopping now would mean losing the gamble. She grit her teeth and continued pushing forward.

Luck was on her side, and two of the groups behind her had finally pushed through and joined them, bolstering their numbers. Seren allowed herself to take a backseat in the fighting, focusing instead on indirectly guiding her Legion to make the correct decisions to push forward to their goal. Of course, she still participated enough that it looked like she was fighting hard. She couldn’t give anyone the opportunity to accuse her of cheating later after all.

At last, the door to the bridge came into view, and the Legion dropped all pretense of working together. They blew through the enemy like ferocious animals, all fighting to be the first through the door. Unlike the others, Seren had been ready. She raced ahead of the group, expertly taking advantage of the chaos to ensure her victory. When all was said and done, her bloody handprint was the first on the door and she burst into the room, grinning.

“Game set ladies, I’ve won again.”

Cries of protest erupted over the comms.

“You cheated again, didn’t you Seren?”

“I told you we should have ganged up on her.”

The bridge occupants stared at them open mouthed, unable to understand the conversation and casual nature of their invaders. The second ignored them and casually pushed them out of their chairs and they naturally went to huddle in the corner without direction.

Seren stared at the flight console. Lights flashed at her meaninglessly and unlabeled buttons of different colors tempted her impulses. She turned to the officer standing next to her, “Do you know how to fly this thing, Eirys?”

“Crown,” Eirys said slowly, “do I really look smart enough to do that to you?”

Seren stared at her, then put her hands on the console.

Shoutout to @FrostedCaramel and @grimely for all their help
Suni. Hessen walked through piles of scales, and past a half completed breastplate to reach the mound of blankets in the middle of the room. He put one foot on the top of the pile and shook it. You haven't finished making your armor. We agreed to make for Azoras the day after tomorrow.

Suni’s head poked out from her haven. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes. "It's fine. We're just going to say hello to the small fry. I don't need armor if I don't get hit."


"You worry too much, old man." The head disappeared back into the mound.

Two days later Faro led a yawning Suni down to the exit chamber on the fifth floor. The metal doors screamed as they opened, rusted from disuse. Faro touched two fingers to his forehead, then chin and placed his open palm on the front of his left shoulder and bowed. “Safe travels, Arha.”

Suni returned the gesture without the bow, “See you soon, Faro.” The doors screamed shut once more, and the room began to fill with water. She took a large breath as it closed over her head. The pressure in the room increased gradually, collapsing her lungs, until it was equal to that of the ocean outside, and the doors out the city slid open. Hessen was waiting for her, his body snaking around the mountain. She grabbed onto one of his horns and they began the journey north.

Azoras had a total of five deep mines under their control, located approximately three hundred kilometers to the north of Pale. The mines were too deep to send submarines and were instead operated using unmanned machines controlled at the surface. This meant that all of the Azoras defensive measures were focused on protecting the operating stations there.The five stations were patrolled by three fleets at all times, each one consisting of a warship over five hundred feet long and twenty smaller ships about hundred feet in length each.

They arrived at twilight, so there was no need to worry about the harsh afternoon sun making it difficult for Suni to see. As they neared the mine site, Hessen dove to a depth of two hundred meters to avoid detection and positioned himself underneath the lead warship. On Suni’s signal, he launched himself from the water, knocking into the side of it. The ship rocked from the blow, sending some of the crew flying overboard. Suni jumped from Hessen’s head, landing on one of ships tall towers. “I am Suni Straov,” she announced, her voice booming across the deck. “Surrender or die.”

As one the ship’s crew raised their guns. Before they could open fire though, Hessen rammed into the ship from below once more, knocking them off balance. A thick wall of water enclosed around the warship, cutting them off from the rest of their fleet. Suni dove off the tower, did one perfect flip, and landed on the top deck. With a swing of her arm, the fish hook spearhead extended out on fibers made from Hessen’s mane and then snapped back into place, cleaving through the seven crew members before they found their feet.

Suni jumped on a railing and slid down to the lower deck. Several bullets tore through her body, but she didn’t seem to notice and soon she was dancing among them. A cackle bubbled from her chest as blood spray stained her white robes and bodies fell around her like petals of a blooming flower. Three blades came at her from different directions. She caught one with her spear, grabbed the wrist of the second with her long limbs and pulled him into the crossfire of the third, and kicked both away into another wave behind them. Someone swung at her from behind, only for Suni to twist at an impossible angle, slicing both him and the person next to him in half. At some point, they stopped attacking, and ran for their lives, caught behind the feral beast hunting them and then abyss of the ocean below them.

Suni! That’s enough!

She froze. The wall of water came down and she stared at the carnage and trembling forms of the survivors in front of her. Hessen rose from the water, the carnage of the remaining fleet behind him.

You are injured, and they have lost the will to continue.

Suni dug her fingers into a wound on her shoulder, fishing out the bullet and flicking it off the side of the ship. Hessen eyed her from his position next to the ship. “Shut up.”

I didn’t say anything.

“You don’t need to. I know what you’re thinking.”

He retreated back into the water, As long as you finish it before next time.

Faro arrived twenty minutes later with a small crew of around twenty people. Suni had already made most of the preparations with the crew’s unwilling help, so it did not take them long to turn the vessel around back towards Pale. As they were pulling out, a second fleet appeared to stop them. A jet of high pressure water erupted in front of the lead warship, slicing straight through its metal armor. It made a futile attempt to turn, shearing off the left half of the front hull, before sinking into the depths below. The remaining retinue immediately turned around and fled.
Hessen was very careful to tell Suni to watch her behavior and speech; he wanted her to act the part of a divine messenger to gain their respect. It lasted for a little under two weeks, which was longer than he expected. Currently, a month after her first appearance in the mountain, Suni sat in a meeting, head resting in her palm and eyes crossed to look at the pencil she was wiggling between her upper lip and nose.


The pencil fell from its perch and tumbled onto the floor.

Leave it, Suni

Suni reluctantly abandoned the pencil and sat straight in her chair, turning her attention to the six men and women seated around her.

Faro, the man who had first stepped forward for her a month before, handed her a folder, “Arha, the six of us have each written reports for you to look over. They will give you an idea of the current state of affairs here in Pale and the greater Vaharan mountain range, as well as our suggestions of how to move forward.”

Suni accepted the folder sagely.

“If you don’t mind, we’ll go over the financial reports first.” Suni shuffled through the folder and brought one of the packets to the front. She looked at Faro and gave him a slight nod. He gestured to the woman sitting across from him. “Tilda?”

The woman was thin and had a pinched face with high cheekbones. She stood and cleared her throat, “It will be difficult for us to find the proper funds to repair the generators, but once the capital meets– Arha, you’re looking at the wrong report.”

“Oh sorry, I can’t tell which is which.”


“Well, I can’t read them.”

Tilda blinked rapidly several times, “Why didn’t you tell us earlier you couldn’t read?”

“You never asked.”

“Now, now, no need to get worked up over this,” Faro said and motioned Tilda to sit back down. "Arha, we’ll arrange a tutor for you. With your intelligence I’m sure you’ll be able to learn in no time.”

Suni looked back down at the packet. The words on the smooth rock paper looked like masses of black horizontal blurs. “Oh, I don’t think that will be necessary. I can’t see well enough to read.”

Faro pinched the bridge of his nose, “Arha, I will schedule a time to go over the reports with you. For now I suggest we adjourn our meeting.”

Suni glanced up at Hessen, who was resting on her head, his head dangling onto her forehead and front limbs splayed out to the sides.

He means pause it until later.

Suni leaned back in her chair and kicked her feet up onto the table, face screwed into a glare. “I think we should hold off on doing anything drastic until I visit the capital. Nothing matters until everyone in Vaharan knows of my existence and our God’s presence. After that, I will go to Azoras and demand they share their resources so we can restore Pale and other cities here. Let’s say… in about six months.”

The advisors exchanged uneasy glances around the table, “Six months, Arha?” Gallen asked from next to Tilda, “Should we not wait until you’re an adult?”

“No worries. I’ll be fully grown by then.”

It seemed preposterous, and yet made sense at the same time. In the short month she had been here, Suni had grown from a large child to a teenager that towered over the tallest man in the mountain. Tilda opened her mouth to protest, but Faro held up a hand to stop her. “Arha, if you don’t mind me asking, how old are you?”

Somehow Suni had retrieved the pencil from the ground without anyone noticing and returned it to its rightful place on her upper lip, “A year and eight months now I think. I don’t really keep track.”

“That’s impossible,” Tilda muttered under her breath.

Suni sprang on top of the table in one fluid motion, the pencil clattered to the floor once more. “Are you accusing me of lying, Tilda?”

The older woman shrank back in her chair, “No, Arha! Never! I only, it’s just, outside the realm of my knowledge how such a thing could be possible.”

Suni sighed and shook her head, walking along the edge of the circular table, “I told you when I got here. I was sent here by your god. Don’t you see? He made me for this. My sole purpose is to act as his messenger.” They looked up at her, eyes full of wonder and worship. Suni squatted down in front of Tilda, marble eyes unblinking. Her tail patted the woman lightly on the cheek. “There’s nothing to worry about. Six months from now I’m going to make the bastards from Azoras bow their heads to me.”

That evening, Faro came across Suni in the library. She was resting on her stomach, head cupped in her hands and legs bent over until they touched the ground in a scorpion shape. An open tome lay in front of her.



“What are you doing?”

Hessen turned the page with a flick of his tail. The barest hint of a smile danced on Suni’s face. “Why, reading, of course.”
Before moving on to the lower levels, Suni explored the rest of the third level. She passed a large dining area occupied by a stone round table. Seated around it were nine figures dressed in pure white robes tied shut with white sashes. People in black robes tied with black sashes scurried around the room, setting down food served on metal tableware decorated with gold accents. She moved on before being noticed. The mountain city had a distinct lack of doors, instead using open archways. However, each High Priest had their own set of rooms with locked ornate metal gates. These were easily obliterated by Suni. They opened to an office connected to a set of apartments, once again separated by a metal gate. Each oozed with overindulgence, filled with rare wood furniture, decorations made of gold, and plush cushions. She moved on after looking at only two of them.

The third and fourth floors were where the bulk of what would be considered a town square in a regular town built on land. Winding hallways replaced streets and buildings were simple caverns carved into the stone walls, the yawning openings covered with dirty drapes, strips of dry seaweed, or nothing at all. The bright electric lights of the previous floors were replaced by the occasional dim orange glow of whale oil lamps. Luckily, Suni already had poor vision and could easily navigate in the darkness. She ran her hand across the remnants of electrical wiring and broken lights on the walls, frowning. The air here was also noticeably colder, wetter, and thinner. Townspeople walked past her in groups, all making their way to the upper levels. They cast her quick, nervous glances and whispered among themselves but did their best to avoid the strange creature dressed in a priest’s robe but a servant’s sash stalking their home.

“This place is a dump.”

This mountain range was attacked by the Azoras to the north not long ago. It appears they have been unable to recover.

Suni rolled her eyes, “‘Not long’ for you usually means ‘actually a very long time, but since I’m an old fart it doesn’t feel like a long time to me.’”

Hessen flicked her with his tail. Only a couple hundred years or so.

“That’s a long time to be living with so much broken shit.”

The next three floors were full of vertical gardens, bathing under UV lights, though less than half appeared to be functional, with the last floor being completely abandoned. “How come you didn’t defend them when they were attacked? Aren’t these your people? They worship you.”

Hessen snorted. Worship? They perform ridiculous rites and leave me useless “gifts” and call it worship. They use me because they are weak, pitiful creatures. Their priests demand tithes in my name so that they may live in decadence. The common people say prayers in my name looking for forgiveness for their sins and to explain phenomena they don’t understand. I owe them nothing.

The next five floors were all residential. In comparison to the priests' rooms, these homes had no doors. Each was made of one to three interconnected chambers. The walls were bare and any small amount of furniture they had was made of carved stone. Their beds were thin cloth mats placed on the floor and the pillows were made of woven straw. She paused at the top of what would have been the sixth residential floor and sniffed. “The air past here is dead.”

They do not have enough working generators to pump air into the rest of the mountain.

“How far down does it go?”

Even a small mountain would have many hundreds of floors, and this one is an average size.

Suni leaned back to sit on her tail, legs crossed and arms crossed in front of her. Her eyebrows wrinkled into what Hessen affectionately called her “thinking glare.” He slithered across her shoulders and gently bumped his head to her cheek.

What will you do, little one?

She jumped up and grinned. Her eyes glinted with excitement. “I will remind these pitiable creatures who the god they worship is.”

The majority of the mountain residents were gathered on the first floor, heads bent in their daily morning prayer when the mountain began shaking. Suni exploded into the room from the floor below at the same time the ocean rushed in from above. It churned around them, herding them into a tight group on the far side of the room. Suni ignored their screams of panic, her face lit up with a smirk as she skated across the surface of the water to the center of the room. The water left as quickly as it appeared, draining down the stairs into the depths below. Before anyone could breathe a sigh of relief though, the room was filled with the sound of cracking stone. They looked up just in time to see the sacred statue of their god collapse. In its place, Hessen loomed over them. At only a fraction of his true size, he still nearly filled the entire room, the statue’s head dwarfed in his enormous claw. The townspeople cowered in fear. One man attempted to crawl away, only to scream in terror when Hessen swung his head towards them, revealing Suni standing on top of it.

“Lower your heads!” She snarled. “You dare look upon your god with such filthy eyes?”

As one, her audience scrambled to their knees and prostrated themselves before her. Some of them mouthed silent prayers. Others choked back silent sobs.

Mind your language, Suni. They will respect you more for it. Use their faith against them.

“I am Suni Straov. The Great Dragon has long doubted your faith and sent me here as his envoy. I came here hoping to prove him wrong, but what did I find?” She jumped down from Hessen’s head, lithe and catlike and began slowly pacing in front of them. “Priests engorged with their ego and wealth! A city in ruins! A people who don’t know what it is to worship and respect their god!” She stopped in front of the familiar smell of the nine priests she’d come across earlier. “Stand up.”

They shuffled into a line in front of her, fighting to be the first to obey and stand nearest to her. One of them dared a glance upwards. The swing of her spear was so unexpected that the priests didn’t realize what had happened until the offending party’s bun had fallen on the ground. “I said stand up, not look up. Are you deaf?” Though she was only a child, a freakishly tall child but a child nonetheless, she appeared to tower over them. The priest could do nothing but shake their head, the greedy fervor from just a moment ago nowhere to be seen. Suni swung her spear once again, causing all nine of them to flinch. Four of them screamed. Three wet themselves. Their sashes fell to the ground. “Strip.”

They didn’t hesitate to obey,

“As of this moment, you are stripped of your positions. You are to live on the lower floors, among the rest of the citizens. You are no longer allowed to live off of tithes or receive special treatment. Now get in the back and out of my sight.”

The nine former priests did as they were told, wearing nothing but their underclothes. If the situation had been different, they may have been jeered and laughed at. As it were though, they made their walk of shame in silence. Suni held her arm out behind her and Hessen dissolved into water that snaked out towards her, wrapping around her arm and forming back into the miniature version of him.

It would be best to keep my true form separate from this smaller version of me. A god should remain mysterious.

“Our god has departed. You may all stand and raise your heads.” She waited for them to find their feet before continuing, “Starting today I will serve as your…” She paused for just a moment, attempting to make up a word that would fit. “…Arha.”

Hessen snorted on her shoulder and turned his head away to hide his laughter. Suni ignored him.

“Together with this messenger the Great White Dragon has left me, I will repair the mistakes you have made and guide you back onto the proper path.”

The crowd stared back at her in silence. Their entire world had been turned upside down in only a few minutes, and they now had no idea how to react. A lone middle aged man wearing a black robe and sash with dark skin and hair that showed the first traces of gray stepped forward. He placed his right fist high on the left side of his chest and bowed his head. “Arha, please guide us.”

The rest followed suit. Their words echoed across the cavern. “Arha, guide us.”

If you can name the book I stole "Arha" from I will give you a cookie
Light filtered in from above, illuminating the stairs in a streaky yellow light and warming the stone steps. It gave Else the strength to climb the last section out of the mountain and into the open air temple. It was one of the smallest, as it was located on the smallest isle at the very edge of the mountain range. The circular foundation had been built directly into the mountain, looking as though someone had slammed the two together. Decorated pillars ran along the outer edge that sloped downward in height from the center and opened up to face the ocean.. In the middle was a round, stone bowl with images of the water dragon carved into its sides. Despite its size, the temple was considered one of the most important, due to the fact that its location on the far reaches meant it was the closest to their God’s den and the most likely place to spot him from afar.

She was surprised to see a pair of bare feet as she emerged from the underground. It was usually still too early for worshippers to be leaving offerings. When she finally emerged, Else saw not a devout follower come to pay their respects, but a naked girl staring at the altar with an inquisitive expression. At least, Else thought she was a girl. She looked younger than her, perhaps a young teenager, yet she was most likely the same height or even slightly taller than Else. Her body was oddly proportioned and a long scaly tail brushed the floor behind her. A spear was embedded deep into the stone next to her, making Else gasp. “You’ve damaged the temple! Who are you?"

“Suni.” The girl turned to look at her, eyes squinting in the sunlight, mouth twisted in a small frown. "Is that an adult?"


"They're smaller than you said."

"What are you talking about?" Else asked, baffled.

The girl continued on as if Else hadn't spoken. "How could you forget? Maybe you are getting old."

"Who are you talking to?" Else demanded. The girl titled her head and then pointed to the open ocean behind her. Else opened her mouth to speak when a huge shadow rose out of the deep, showering them both in a torrent of salty water. The entire isle became shrouded in shadow as the great dragon Else had only seen in drawings blocked out the sun. She threw herself to the ground, body trembling, as her God towered over her. She dared not look up, for to look directly at Him this close was forbidden. As she shook frozen in place, Else heard the soft padding of footsteps as the girl, Suni, approached her.

“Hey, can you take me into the city?”

LIght once again illuminated the temple and Else dared a glance upward. Suni stood in front of her, her spear held loosely in her left hand, which Else realized, looked more like a staff with a large pointed fish hook on the end. Her God was gone, but sitting on the shoulders of the girl in front of her, was what appeared to be a miniature version of Him. He snaked around her neck, his long tail wrapped around the upper half of her left arm. “I-Is that..”

“It’s Hessen.”

Suni did not appear to be willing to offer any explanation beyond that so Else could only nod, despite the fact she had no idea who or what a “Hessen” was. “Y-You can speak to our god?”

Suni opened her mouth to speak, then closed it, a slight frown on her face. After a long pause she shrugged, but said nothing.

It seemed impossible, But it was also impossible to deny what she had seen with her own eyes. Else studied Suni for a moment, her eyes stopping on the girl’s eyes - the same color as their gods. She staggered to her feet and wiped the salt water from her face. “Follow me.”

The first floor beneath the temple was dedicated to prayers and worship of their god. It had the highest ceiling in the mountain and was occupied by a gigantic statue of their God in the center that had been carved out directly from the stone when the room had been created. The floor below that, contained the offices of the priests of the temple and the maze-like libraries containing everything from scriptures, histories, and textbooks to fictional fairy tales. Else took them to the floor just below, where the living quarters of the priests were located. She would have liked to take her straight to the high priest, but there was no way she could before giving Suni clothes. At this level of the city, the only thing available were the white robes reserved for priests, and Else hoped the High Priest would forgive her for this transgression, given the fact that she couldn’t exactly parade a naked alien-looking girl with a tail all the way down to the lower levels.

Suni was quiet but stopped often to inspect the various parts of the city. Else had to practically tear her away from the libraries. She didn’t know what to make of this strange creature. She clearly had a connection of some sort to their God, but her attitude and appearance was completely unbefitting of someone of that position. It made her angry. Else and so many others had dedicated their lives to worship of the white dragon, and this ugly creature had appeared out of nowhere and somehow earned his favor for no reason.

At the far end of the third floor were the laundry rooms. Luckily it was the end of the week, meaning that there would be a stack of clean robes to choose from. The girl was the skinniest person Else had ever seen, and the sleeves of the robes consumed her stick-like arms, but would otherwise fit well enough with a belt. She hesitated before picking one out. Traditionally, blue was for the lowest level acolytes, followed by green, red, purple, and then white. Else personally wore a red belt, one that she had worked hard to obtain. If this child could communicate with their God, then she deserved the highest tier, white, but Else couldn’t bring herself to hand her the sacred color. Suni stared at the colored bands of fabric over her shoulder and pulled out two black ones. “Wait! The black ones are for the cleaners.”

Suni shrugged. “I don’t care.” She used one to tie the robe shut. The second, she hung on the first for some indiscernible later purpose.

“We’re going to go back upstairs to see the High Priest.” Else began leading her back to the stairwell, but Suni stopped in the doorway.

“I already saw upstairs.”

“Well, yes but you need to talk to the High Priest?”


“Because you can communicate with our God! We need to.. We have to…” Else wrung her hands together, “I don’t know what we need to do with that information, so that’s why we have to go to the High Priest. He’ll know what to do.”

“Okay, you can go tell him. I’m going to explore the rest of the city.”

“What? Wait, you can’t!” It was too late though; Suni had already begun sprinting down the hallway. She moved at a terrifying speed and it took Else less than a moment to lose sight of her, leaving her wondering how in the world she was supposed to explain what had transpired.
Hessen never thought that he would raise a child. Let alone, a monster child that grew faster than any creature he knew and tested his patience nearly every day. He loved her anyway. On the third day Hessen was jolted awake by a voice in his head, speaking in the mother tongue he had almost forgotten. He immediately dove into the water, calling out to his lost kin, chasing after the voice that taunted him but found no one. When he returned, the child was waiting for him, smirking. That day he accepted her, not as a human, but as one of his own. He named her Suni.

Suni quickly outgrew the little isle Hessen brought her to and let him know by flinging herself into the water after breakfast two days later. Hessen dove after her in a panic only to see the gremlin swimming as if she had been born in the water with the largest shit-eating grin he had ever seen. His relief was quickly replaced with the feeling of questioning all of his life choices as she spent the next three hours using her small size and maneuverability to hide and avoid all his attempts to catch her. That night though, as he did his best to lie still to avoid disturbing the sleeping babe on his snout, his heart felt full.

It didn’t take long for rumors to spread among the humans. They spoke of seeing a strange figure that accompanied their god. Some thought she was a ghost. Others thought she was a new dangerous sea creature. Hessen steered her away from them, worried of what they would think of her. Humans were so often afraid of things they couldn’t understand, and they understood so little. At first, Suni didn’t seem to mind the lack of human contact. She satisfied her curiosity by speaking to and often, despite Hessen’s warnings, fighting the colorful ocean life around her, earning their friendship and respect. After a year, Suni became restless, giving Hessen the choice to take her to human city or wait for her to sneak away and see it alone. And so, for the first time in over five hundred years, the great dragon made the journey to the home of those who worshiped him.
The pod knows something has gone terribly wrong as soon as it touches the water. Its sensors immediately begin a scan for humanoid life. Its calculations show that it doesn’t matter though. Unless they were within the immediate vicinity, they would never be able to find it. The pod does find life, but the discovery only makes the situation worse, as it senses a giant beast coming towards it. Alarms begin beeping and red text scrolls across the screen. The child within cracks open an eye, then rolls over onto her side, covering her face with an arm. The pod only has one choice. It immediately begins to make preparations for long-term internment. According to its calculations, The child will be able to survive for two days, fifteen hours, thirteen minutes and fifty-four seconds on the seafloor, which it will reach in approximately three minutes. At the speed the beast is traveling, it will reach the pod in two minutes and forty-two seconds. The current best case scenario would be for the beast to pass by without noticing the pod and for it to be found later. This seems unlikely, as no intelligent life has been detected within a one thousand kilometer radius, but given the situation, it is the only available option.
Only one minute left until the pod touches the seafloor. The beast disappears from its sensors; it appears to have turned around and left the area. Thirty seconds left. Five. Four. Three…The pod does not sense the dragon coming from behind until it’s too late. Alarm bells ring and lights flash, but there is nothing to be done. The beast engulfs it one smooth motion.

Hessen carried the pod in his mouth for over an hour, taking it to a small isle with an abandoned temple. Since he didn’t know what it was, he wanted to make sure that it was as far away from the populated mountains as possible. The “temple” was nothing more than a circular foundation with a half circle stone wall, and a rectangular slab of rock in the middle. Hessen gently opened his mouth and let the pod roll onto the stone bed. Bright red lights flashed as the device beeped incessantly. He squinted in the bright light and did his best to stop himself from crushing it with his foot. After ten seconds or so the device calmed down. A metal cover on the outside retracted, revealing a window. Hessen used a claw to roll it until he could see inside.
He was greeted with a pair of pale blue, almost colorless eyes that matched his own. The two stared at each other. Well, Hessen stared and the child glared back. She was an ugly little thing. Too skinny and long, as if someone had grabbed her by the hands and feet and pulled until she’d been stretched out. He tapped the window and the pod hissed and slid open. The child did not seem interested in moving and continued to wrinkle her eyebrows at him. Hessen leaned forward and touched the tip of his nose to her forehead. He chuckled, a deep rumble in his throat. Someone, somewhere had sent him an ugly, angry baby. And yet, he knew the second they touched that he would die for her.

After the meeting, Emrin went back to her room and attempted to salvage her ruined notes. Then, she carefully packed her things and made her way to the meeting spot. The carriage ride should have been a good time to get to know her companions, but Emrin instead chose to spend the 2 hours sleeping. It was a better use of her time. She was suddenly woken up by someone stomping in the carriage, and woke up to see Liam getting off the carriage. Emrin ignored what he said and simply rolled her eyes and followed them out of the carriage, and drew her staff. She didn’t follow them all the way to the inn though, staying back by the carriage. Now that she was awake and out of the carriage she could see that Liam was right. Something was...off. Even though it was early in the morning the town seemed strangely empty.

The three sorcerers in the inn sprang into action the moment the door opened. The man on the stairs immediately drew a second dagger and leaped off the stairs at Liam. The man behind the counter immediately dropped the body he had been holding and drew his staff and cast a spell, sending a magic bolt in the doorway at Ryder and Finlay. Meanwhile, the last sorcerer, a woman, began a summoning spell, summoning a large white basilisk, which she used to attack the carriage that she had noticed through the window.

Emrin had been about to step up to help upon realizing they were under attack when the basilisk came crashing through the inn wall straight towards the carriage. She managed to get a shield up just in time, and the basilisk pulled back to strike again.

As Liam was ready with an arrow drawn, he quickly aimed at the sorcerer and fired. Turning his attention to the knifeman he raised his bow like a staff and blocked the knife by slamming it into the man's wrist. Allowing himself to fall backwards, he allowed the opponent's energy to push him back onto the floor. Raising his foot up against the man’s stomach, he then used the momentum to roll backwards and toss him behind him, into the path of the fire blast.

As the less than hospitable inn staff was revealed and registered in Ryder’s mind, he started casting a hex on himself but didn’t manage to quite finish before a magic bolt was hurled at them. Jumping to the side to evade it, Ryder came to a stop on one knee after a roll on the hopefully moderately clean floor, only slightly bruised and singed.

Finishing his own spell of boosting up his reflexes, he gave his two companions within the inn a glance. They weren’t dead and Prosthetics & Bow seemed to be handling the dagger guy well enough. So, without further thought, Ryder sprang into action and closed in on the sorcerer with the staff.

Easily jumping on top of the counter, Ryder sought to leverage the higher ground by first aiming a sweeping kick at the sorcerer’s staff to disarm him or at least knock the physical means of defense aside momentarily. Long enough for the spear bearer to attempt an attack. He went for the sorcerer’s shoulder, intending to prevent staff shenanigans more permanently.

Meanwhile outside, Liah was still groggy after being woken up. Having no issue with staying behind while the boys cleared the inn. However a large snake came out of nowhere and started attacking Emrin just barely managing to block the attack. Liah yelped and bolted from the carriage, making her way next to Emrin as her familiar rascal grew to the size of a tiger, growling at the much larger basilisk. Liah started to summon, and suddenly water seemed to shoot out of the ground in a spiral, taking shape into a blue mongoose. Slightly smaller than the basilisk but much larger than Rascal. Directing her summon to attack, the mongoose sprang at the basilisk and tackled it, wrapping it’s own body around it as it bit its neck. And rolled away with it.

Sidney had been sitting quietly in a corner (or at least as much as she could) lazily writing a letter to her family back home. If it were a paper for class she would have been able to pump it out in less than twenty minutes but had taken the time to add unnecessarily gratuitous detail to the sights as they rode and generally ignored her fellow classmates. They didn’t get to travel so why not let them live vicariously a bit?

By the time they finally stopped Em-something had fallen asleep, only waking up when Arm-and-Leg got up to leave the carriage. Since she was still putting the finishing touches on her letter she opted to wait until properly finishing before getting out.

She was so immersed in her writing that she didn’t notice anything was off until the wall of a building exploded and a large serpent - no! A basilisk erupted from it. With one hand she grabbed the window sill of the carriage to leap up and the other for her bolt-action that had been slung over her shoulder the whole ride. During her flip into the roof she got a proper look to the other side of the carriage. Nothing was coming at them at the moment. Dead or waiting in case these guys fail? It didn’t matter at the moment. Big ass snakes and whatever was going on inside had the priority.

Scoping down on the serpent, it was now wrapped by a blue transparent summon that was keeping it off of the sleeping Em-something. Too risky for a headshot? Hm, not great odds. Miss and she’ll get mad, maybe alert others and weaken our position. No. Better odds. Moving from where the head was, she aimed closer to where the heart, lungs and other more vital organs. It may be a summon but most still responded like any animal when injured. The first round hit the center of its body while the second only just clipped it.

The basilisk struggled against the mongoose, it’s body thrashing. As it thrashed its tail, a gust of wind blew the debris from the destroyed inn towards them. Emrin put up another shield and cast a spell on one of Sidney’s bullets, increasing its speed and power. The bullet ripped through the body of the basilisk, and it collapsed momentarily, before being healed and raising it’s head again. After being healed the basilisk finally managed to get a hold of the mongoose and tear it off of its body, flinging it to the side.

As Liam threw the man with the daggers over his shoulder, he cast a spell, diverting the magical bolt around him. Rather than go back to attack Liam, he immediately struck at Ryder, redirecting his spear enough that it merely grazed the staff-wielder’s shoulder, rather than piercing it. Then with his other hand he made an attempt to slash Ryder’s throat. The staff-wielder took cover behind the man with the daggers and called out to the summoner.

“Calla! Come! We’re pulling out. Hold them off with Beck.”

The Summoner, Calla, looked annoyed but obeyed the order and quickly ran to join the other two. Her basilisk followed her, knocking Ryder out of the way and positioning itself between the group of three sorcerers and the Isunian students. The sorcerer quickly began casting a teleport spell.

“They’re getting away!” Emrin cast an air bolt but was blocked by the basilisk and the group of sorcerers disappeared. Emrin swore and then walked into the inn, looking at the aftermath.

“We need to search the bodies. One of them might have a clue to where we need to go. Search the inn too. There should be supplies for us somewhere.” She looked around her, "If you're not ok with touching bodies, then look for the supplies or other clues." She walked up the body closest to her and started searching through his pockets.
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