Drake Breach Sierra <Wildlands>
- The Drake Breach Sierra: A rugged range of rocky hills that feature an irregular and jagged profile, distinguished by the ashen rise of the snow tipped Dragonspine Mountains to the far north, and the transformation of rolling plains into more somber auburn grasslands and bleaker lapidarian terrain that stretches between the northern face of Refuge Mesa in the south, and the barren expanse of the Ebonhold Approach in the north.
- As the terrain slopes ever higher with each step towards the north, the soft grasses of the aubern landscape quickly start taking on a rougher edge to them, adapting to the increasingly rugged terrain as firm soil gives way to slate and rock. Boulders of various shapes and sizes, and a few interesting geological formations, start to make an appearance, hindering any northern advance as the surrounding air takes on a ice-tipped chill.
- The Dragonspine Mountains in the north loom taller now; the comfort of Crown's Refuge to the south quickly fading into a fond memory as the harsh reality of the terrain meets with the harsh reality of the here and now. The ominously quiet landscape is occasionally shattered by the shrill call of a raven, or the forsaken bark of some highland fox that got too close to a grass snake.
- To the west, the shimmering surface of the Jadesnake River can easily be made out upon the vista of the Sierra, flowing uphill towards the northeast as it makes its way towards the Dragonspine Ravine.
Theo squats down next to a large boulder and leans heavily against the cold surface. His breath is ragged and in cold air forms little clouds that surround his head. "Rest jus' a little," he mutters to himself as he scans the area. His brow furrows as he looks first one way then the other. "Frig," he says with some anguish, "I can barely figur' where I was..."
"You're wandering in *entirely* the wrong direction, you know."
The statement, spoken in a matter-of-fact tone of voice, is unusual not the least because the context of it seems to suggest that the speaker knows exactly what plight Theo is in, but because until it *was* spoken, the Drake Breach Sierra was virtually empty.
An empty range of rocky hills, no less, with little cover and severe exposure in equal measure. Suffice to say, the chance of someone being able to sneak up upon the wayward Bladesmen is very slim indeed.
"Crown's Refuge," the dry voice rumbles from behind Theo, the depths of the varied tones that fall upon those two words as endless as time itself, "is to the south."
Amber eyes, burning with cold amusement, fall level with the back of the forsaken Freelander, smoldering within the depths of his visage atop a range of pristine jaws capped with aciculate teeth as large as the man's arm.
Talons as sharp as the gales of the Dragonspine Mountains twitch upon the ends of powerful claws, while the horned rills that flow from the back of his head add the final touches of dramatic splendor to what can only be a creature as venerable as he is august. Wings of a dark crimson - as if stained with blood, and left to soak for all eternity - stand to attention behind his elegant bulk as he stands, tail coiling around his form like a sleeping snake.
Yes, if it was virtually impossible for anything to sneak up behind Theo, a big red Dragon would be one of those things that went beyond any definition. A level of improbability that they don't have a word for yet.
Theo's first impulse on hearing the voice is to grab for his spear from it's place on his back and spin to face it's owner. However he fails pitifully. Upon sight of the drake he let's out a shriek of fear and stumbles backward with hand flailing blindly in the air. Within seconds he's on the ground and shaking uncontrollably as he staring wide-eyed in shock.
With a sigh akin to a late winter breeze, the crimson drake can steal a quick look at the heavens in a snap of contempt, before just as swiftly looking back upon Theo with a degree of amusement coiling around the edges of his stalwart maw; just a hint of the suggestion of consumate white teeth playing behind that draconian smile. He is, by all intents and purposes, standing upon all fours as he regards the Freelander, all one hundred feet of length presented to Theo's fears, with wings spanning that length again as they stand tall above him. Until, with a sharp crack, he casually folds them to drape down the sides of his back.
"To the south." he repeats, slowly, as a parent might state to a child. One might note that, for all his size, the grass beneath his claws doesn't seem to have been damaged much. Nor do there seem to be any tracks in his wake.
A pitiful sound squeaks from somewhere in Theo's throat as the drake fold it's wings. He manages a quick nod after the directions are given before averting his eyes from the beast. His lip quivers as he speaks in a hoarse whisper, "S... s... south... jus' don't hurt me. Swear... I... jus' want to figure on what is goin' on. And I jus' don't understand nuthin' no more." He swallows hard, "I dunno. Everyone jus' keeps disappearin' and the world is goin' down right shadow crazy."
Val'sharax inclines his head softly; a gentle expression of affirmation, chosen carefully to ensure that it doesn't look as if he's making a lunge for his terrified subject. Long draconian ears perk to sharp attention as he considers something, before folding back against his head once more. The tip of his tail twitches ever on, the crimson of his scales shimmering with a metallic sheen unlike anything made by human hands.
"Indeed." He rumbles, looking beyond Theo to a point far to the south, beyond even Crown's Refuge if that gaze - that measureless gaze, as deep as the night is black - is anything to go by. "Tell the Kahar," he notes, finally looking back at Theo while setting aside all that the man rambled as a mere triviality, "That the Silvan Nimrost remains in Fastheld. Tell him to consider it..." He smiles an ominous smile, "...a "change of heart". I doubt that will understand the irony of those words, but it is enough to know that even I cannot make deals with those who no longer have the heart to do so."
A rumble like distant thunder cascades around the quiet evening air; a rumble that orginates from the Drake himself, it seems. A draconian snicker. "There is more to the tale than that, but the affairs of Drakes-" a plural! -"are of little concern to misplaced adventurers. Aren't they, Theo Lowland?"
Theo nods several times as the message is given making an effort to keep his gaze off the Drake. "Heart. Yes. Change..." he mumbles and nods some more and starts to roll over onto his hands and knees. It is unclear whether he is even paying much attention to the question until his name is spoken. He stops in midroll and looks directly at Val'sharax. "You know my name? Wha'? Ventures? What are you talkin' about?"
"You do not belong here." Val'sharax states as fact, rather than question, again looking beyond Theo to the distant south, as if expecting someone - or something - before just as promptly smoothly shifting his glance to look behind him, over the vista of his own body, towards Ebonhold to the north. This done, those cold amber eyes again fall upon the Bladesmen, and his smile - if one can call it that - is best left described as malicious.
"It would seem that Zan'setharan "forgot" about you when he decided to send the lost Kahar across the Drake Breach. As did the Kahar himself. Curious. I wonder what it feels like to be forsaken..." Those amber eyes narrow dangerously- "Or Human, for that matter." -before the Crimson Drake smiles once more. A wolfish smile, without mirth. "Regardless, travel south. You can ask him yourself."
Theo cringes at the smile and nods his head rapidly, "Aye s... s... south I gots it..." His voice trails off as he swallows again. He blink a couple of times and then says rather quickly, the fear in his tone taking on an air of bitterness, "And if yah really wants to know it feels bloody crappy."
"I dunno why I I'm even goin' there or doin' anythin' for that matter. Those above never care much for those below. Ain't that jus' the way of things'. I'm gonna friggin deck 'im when I see 'im. Yah... that's what I'll do." He pushes himself to his feet and spits on the ground.
The Crimson Drake quirks an eyeridge at the drama unfolding beneath him; a blaze of amusement flickering within the cold depths of his amber gaze as he regards Theo, ears flicking curiously as he listens to the tirade. The resounding growl of a draconian chortle promptly follows in the wake of those venomous words; Val'sharax most evidently finding some degree of mirth in the swift shift of personality.
"Quite." He rumbles, his voice awash in sharp tones of power beneath a truely ominous smile, "Go forth and teach the Kahar the nature of your censorious and denunciatory personality. It should make for quite the display. As for your admonition on the temperament of your kind..." he notes, regarding Theo's speech on what it is to be human, "Do I LOOK like I CARE?"
Theo steps backwards, his face falling as he shakes his head vigorously. "N...no," he stammers, fear returning to his voice, "You don't. Sorry... I-" He turns swiftly in retreat and starts walking towards the south, "I'm gonna now... really. I... should. Jus'... you know? Thanks...I guess."
Val'sharax mutters something in a sharp, harsh language that is without a doubt ancient beyond measure... and then just as quickly as the snarl came, it abates once more. Such is the nature of a Red Dragon, it would seem. Independent and sovereign beyond all reason. Especially in the pursuit of amusement.
"Now go." he states, the change in his voice as quiet as the minute after a thunder storm finally passes, "Before I'm forced to do something utterly mundane. Like eat you."
And /that/ brings a genuinely vivacious smirk to his draconian features. As if waiting for that as a signal, his wings abruptly *crack* as he spreads them to their full span, folds them once more, and then - as quiet as a feline - shifts his posture and stalks off towards the west, leaving nothing in the way of tracks or smote frondescence in his wake. His tail snake across the ground beyind him; a river of crimson that one moment seems solid, and the next...
Insubstantial, somehow. As does the rest of him.
Theo stiffens at the word "eat". A small 'meep' is uttered and his pace quickens. The sound of unfolding wing causes another small gurgle. He doesn't look back. He just starts running.
Return to Season 4 (2006)