14 Aymeri - Tally and Marroshok
Heshan was quiet as Tally appeared close behind, the morning dark and quiet as the city just began waking up. He could tell from her voice that she had a lot on her mind, that she was nervous. Heshan knew better than to turn and reassure her. He had to get her--and the others, if he could--prepared. They'd been caught off guard, and that simply would not do. He turned his head, acknowledging, but not quite looking at her. "I have called you out here because I am advancing your training," he said, voice devoid of the mellow tone that usually tempered the steel beneath. "I am not going to throw words at you for what was done back at the castle, because nothing I can say will convince you that you were in the wrong." There was a ripple, a shift in the air; quick as a flash, suddenly Tally wasn't looking at Heshan, the human, but Marroshok, the Tail. The dragon's form moved far too quickly for one his size, lithe body moving in a terrifyingly precise manner to coil itself around. Two enormous paws placed themselves on either side of her, his tail lashing behind and creating hot ripples in the chilly sea air. Marroshok's breath puffed down, a thundering growl thrumming under his breath. His ire was very, very apparent, in the way he held his wings stiff, the way his lip curled over curved fangs the size of sickles in his mouth. "You wish to fight dragons? So be it. But you will not go unprepared." His shoulders bunched, neck curved into an S as his eyes blazed into hers. "Now, move," he warned, a moment before his head surged forward.
Tally had braced herself for a lecture or maybe even a solid ass kicking with their usual practice swords. This, however, very quickly tore away what drowsiness remained as Tally narrowly slipped out of the way, pulling back enough to realize she'd come vastly unprepared. Even though they'd been training with swords from the beginning, there was jack shit a dulled practice blade could do to stop even a young dragon. Still, she knew she had to get airborne, far enough from the ground that she could at least avoid being stomped on. "Fuck. Fine," she shouted, her heart pounding wildly. "But, hey, I do kind of need your advice if you've got a sec. It's... it's about Jasttor . I know, hypocritical coming from me and all, but really. I don't have the first fucking clue how to get through to him. Not without it turning into another big ass fight."
Marroshok's teeth snapped on empty air as she zipped away quickly, her wings flared. "Good," he growled, teeth bared in a dragon's grin. His huge eyes tracked her, slit pupils widening like a cat's just before it pounced for its prey. He laughed, a deep, throaty sound that made his human form's sound feeble in comparison. "Jasttor did what he believed was right in his situation, given the only choices he had," the gold wyrm said. "Put yourself where he was, and give yourself a split second to react, with only the abilities he could use." On this, Marroshok swatted at her with a huge paw, his whiskers curling forward in feral delight when she tucked her wings in on instinct to fall and duck out of the way faster. "Very good," he said, picking up his speed. Other than his deep, rumbling voice, he was shockingly quiet for his size, the crunch of sand the loudest sounds beneath his feet other than the waves. "He has something of a defeatist attitude for himself, that is true," Marroshok commented. "But tell me this: Was it not a situation you all surrounding him could not have prevented?" His tone was harsh, his other paw feinting for her as his tail lashed from the other side to knock her out of the air. "Did you not have the chance to escape? Keep each other from that danger?" He snarled as she moved, whipping his head to follow. "You wish to get through to him, but you do not ponder your own actions and what effect they have."
Tally didn't even see what hit her. All she knew was one second she'd managed to drop out of the way of his claws and the next she'd slammed into the sand, hard. Her wings crumpled beneath her, the impact knocking the wind out of her lungs. It took a few seconds just to get her vision to clear enough to see where she'd landed and, for a brief moment, she thought about just not getting up. Marroshok had a point. They'd been stupid, reckless charging in like that. Sure, Crawler had turned enormous and she'd been able to just blow through the cultists on the ground like it was nothing, but pitting one person against a dragon was beyond reckless. And she could see how Jasttor would only have a split second to decide and she couldn't say she wouldn't have done the same damn thing in his shoes. But outright telling her they ought to have run made Tally's blood boil. He wanted them to just abandon him? Leave him behind and hope for the best? "We should've run?" Tally spread her wings again, wincing at the pain radiating through her bones, and pushed off the ground. She let her own anger spur her on as she shouted back to Marroshok, "We should've just let them do whatever the fuck they wanted with you and left? I didn't think that was the kind of group I joined up with. Maybe I would've reconsidered if I knew this was the ditch-a-friend-to-save-another club."
He had to hand it to her; despite being knocked down and faced down by something much larger and scarier than her, Tally didn't seem intimidated enough to just meekly accept his words out of fear. His tail curled around her, holding her in place, as his body began to shimmer with magic. The land surrounding them and the waters out further glowed for a brief moment before it stopped, though nothing seemed to have changed at first glance; moving, however, revealed that the landscape had been altered, put under some kind of illusion. "Even in the worst of circumstances, I can take care of myself and fare better than you," he countered. "They did not want me dead. You should learn your enemy better. And you would have, if you had bothered trying to get to know Troannaxia better." His wings spread, pushing the air down as he leapt into the air--instantly bringing them twenty, thirty, fifty, eighty feet off the ground. Uncurling his tail, he tossed Tally in midair, letting her instinctively catch herself. "The Queen of Evil Dragons does not kill those who are important to Bahamut. I may only be one dragon, but I am not foolish enough to pretend that I am not someone of importance in this war between them," he said. "She would send me back into my pearl and gloat over her own victory, taunting you until you fell into her claws. And in her eyes, you mean nothing. Just another lamb to the slaughter," his voice rose in volume until the last word was roared, and he let loose a tongue of flame in Tally's direction.
Like before, Tally tucked her wings around her in time to avoid the flames sent in her direction, plummeting towards the ground for just a few seconds before catching herself midair to process what Marroshok said. The mention of Troannaxia in particular left a knot of guilt in her gut; she didn't know for sure if she would even be able to talk to Troannaxia, but it was really the way she'd snapped at Medericus back in Stonebend and dealt harshly with Jasttor after they arrived that kept her from trying. That and the lingering sense of unworthiness, the thought that, even though she'd survived and gained some of Marroshok's strength, that she'd be found wanting somehow if Tally spoke with her. "First of all, that was entirely my fault," Tally replied, lowering her head as if to admit defeat. "I... I let others' opinions and experiences with her keep me from trying. And I," she took a deep breath, "I was afraid of what she might think of me. I've been a nobody all my life and... and this is the first time I actually thought I could do something to help fix what turned my home into this... hellscape where money matters more than lives. And that was why I was scared of losing you. They... they might not have killed you, but they sure as hell wouldn't have let us just take you back with us once they had you." Tally unbuckled her shield, letting it drop down into the sand, followed by her sword. "I am weak and virtually powerless compared to what they're capable of. And I mean nothing to them. But having you here," Tally pointed toward the guild, "makes it feel like we actually have a fucking shot at this. Like it's not just some group of dumb kids getting together and calling themselves a rebellion. When we brought Troannaxia back, the look on Teg's face said it all. They were losing hope. And having her was like a victory, even if we had to keep that pearl hidden away where no one could find her. You can be here, train us, give us advice when we need it. That is why I couldn't leave you. And maybe that was dumb as hell but you're not going to get me to regret it."
Breathing fire for the first time in a while felt good, like he'd been letting it churn in his guts for too long. It was like yawning, or letting loose a huge breath after being cramped in too-small space. Tally neatly dodged it, seeming unaffected by the heat due to their shared resistance to the flame, before her body language became small and abashed. Marroshok paused in his assault to listen, his wings rippling down his enormous, lithe body as they kept him aloft. He sighed, a deep, old sound that escaped through huge nostrils. "Hofibavi dokaal. You are just a child. Sometimes that is easy to forget." He didn't change back into his human form, but at least he wasn't bristling anymore. "I will speak to Jasttor. He is earnest in his ideals, and truly means well. He is just misguided." The huge dragon nudged his head under Tally's body, urging her to sit just behind his horns. "I fear for you. I fear for the future of the innocent, because good people like you are expendable in Her eyes," he said. "I stayed at my god's side, as a friend, as a devout follower, as a bodyguard--and we lost everything. I cannot see that happen again." As he spoke, brief images were shared to her--as if he wanted her to see it all, link it to her memory. Just as Marroshok said, there he was, all golden vengeance; his body was fitted in armor that moved with him and protected him against spears and incoming arrows as if they were tiny leaves in the wind. Two other gold dragons were nearby, snarling and roaring as they stood around a shining pillar--which moved, and registered as something alive and enormous, gleaming platinum. Two thick, muscular legs stood like columns, the chest, as broad as the entire Zhayerian library, glowing with blue light as the Platinum Dragon readied his breath weapon. His face, finned and magnificent, marred with blood and poison as his lip curled over teeth that could have been masts on a ship. Across the way a terrible chorus of screeching and thundering roars sounded, a maelstrom of color and dragon's heads upon a single body. Hundreds of tiny human bodies were crushed beneath her foot as she cruelly aimed for them, charging for her brother, the unforgettable stench of death clinging to her--and in just a second the two great deities collided, snarling, impossibly loud as they shook the earth in their battle... The image flashed forward, Bahamut's body crumpled like a fallen mountain. Tiamat, placing a paw at his throat, used two of her heads to tear into his wings. He roared in agony as his sister literally ripped him limb from limb, the seven gold dragons banished and already around Tiamat's red dragon neck like a horrid set of pearls... "I am old, Elinoa," Marroshok said, a sad rumble creeping into his chest. "I do not have much time left in this world, and I want to see us stop this evil for good. And I do not want to watch young ones suffer and die again in vain." His body rippled again, long and gleaming in the sun and reflecting gold flecks on the water's surface. "We are not done training, but I think the natural talents you have with your wings could be put to use," he said, and flew his way quickly further over the ocean's surface and away from the cliffs and rocks. "You are very good, but let an old dragon show you a few tricks."
It was a greater relief than Tally expected to see Marroshok visibly calmer and to feel the difference when he nudged her. She sat leaning against one horn, listening with great interest as he explained. Then, memories that weren't hers flooded her mind, so real Tally could swear she smelled the stench of blood and death and decay as she watched Her trample hundreds of people to death. Tally all but felt the snap of bone as She tore her brother limb from limb and, more than that, the overwhelming sense of helplessness as Marroshok and the others could only watch as it happened made her eyes sting. As the memories faded, Tally could only bring herself to lower her forehead against Marroshok's. "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry," she whispered, almost afraid to give the sentiment too much volume. "We're going to fix this. We're going to stop Her for good this time and set things right. We'll... we'll find a way. Something that... evil has to be stopped and we're going to do it for real this time." Though she tried to force a smile, her brows creased as fresh tears stung her eyes, whipped away by the wind as Marroshok flew them out over the ocean. "Come on then, old fart. You're not allowed to kick the bucket until I've learned everything I can from you."
Marroshok's eye rolled upwards to look at her, his voice low. "One can only hope," he answered. "That is one thing I admire about the dokaal--there is always optimism and stubbornness to get things accomplished, and it is often why you are successful in your endeavors." The great dragon sighed, letting her slip from behind his head to fly a little ways in front of him. "You are bold, I will give you that," he chuckled at her comment. "Now, before we begin, I will warn you: I am not going to be gentle with you. A war is looming ahead, whether we like it or not. And we are even less prepared for it than we were before, as of now," he said. "You and the others must be prepared; however, seeing as you are my charge, I will start by making sure you know how to use those new little wings of yours. And you will practice with me and spar every morning until you learn all you can. Your body will hurt. You will feel like begging to stop. You will want to give up." His body shifted up and down as he held himself aloft, a huge figure in comparison to the tiny half-elf. "I cannot let you. I cannot have any mercy, because you absolutely must be prepared. Re wux krathin?"
Tally grinned back at him, her heart pounding wildly, but not out of fear. Excitement and determination seemed to be running through her in equal measure as she called back, "You couldn't make me quit if you tried! I'm just dumb and stubborn like that."