Joqout's Story: Chapter Five


::Lazy! Weak! Coward!::

Joqout rolls aside to avoid a slashing blow with Timan's oddly-shaped, two-handed blade. The rolls brings him to his feet again in time to catch another slash against the plating on his arms, metal meeting hardened bone with a painful screech, and shove it back fiercely. He sends Timan stumbling back a full two steps with the force of it. That won't stop the yaujtadragon for long, Joqout knows, but he makes an attempt at breaking the encounter, anyway: he steps back and drops his arms, physically disengaging himself and putting himself in a non-threatening position.

Timan's strange muzzle parts to bare his teeth in a snarl, and he comes at his bond-- and project, or more accurately, torturee-- with his blade, again. Joqout sighs and drops out of the way again.

Coward, again. Coward seems to be Timan's favorite insult for him, though he has plenty of others he is very free with. Usually, Joqout manages to hold onto his temper, ignoring the taunts and focusing on whatever he's doing at the time, be it work, exercise, cooking, or, as now, battle.

Timan lunges again, and is again thrown back when his blade meets the resistance of Joqout's armoring. It isn't as easy now, as it used to be: Timan has grown significantly in the past year, doubling in height and weight. He now towers over Joqout's human body, despite its six and a half feet, and it takes much more effort to throw him off with physical force. So, Joqout has been taking as many different approaches to evading him as to actually forcing him back. Agility has, in the past, been a talent he prized but did not train, and now he is forced to work at agility as well as strength.

Among other things, such as emotional control, observation, and alertness. His next dodge puts a treadmill between him and his bond-turned-attacker, and he takes as much advantage of the chance shield as he can, circling it, keeping it between him and Timan. This time, the ambush began in the gym, while he was at one of the weight-machines. Joqout has, on more than one occasion, been glad that the equipment is steel and near-indestructible, given how carelessly Timan swings whatever weapon he has in hand. More than once, when an ambush took place in their new-dragoner home or, worse, a store, Joqout's task has included trying to keep the half-grown yaujtadragon from breaking anything that they would, afterwards, have to pay for.

At least, after the last time Timan had attacked him among a merchant's wares, the threat of arrest has made that particular scene far less likely to occur. It had given Joqout a fierce, if guilty, sort of pleasure to watch the security team the shopkeeper had called drag Timan and his weapon away to cool his heels in jail overnight. Joqout had spent that evening, free of the worry that the yaujta would appear out of nowhere or, if he came without the intent of battle, off-handedly give insult, peacefully visiting with Dasque.

"Peace" has been something of a rarity, for Joqout, ever since Timan chose him and chose to make him into a warrior. He no longer dares social activities, and has few friends, Dasque being one he refuses to completely cut ties with, despite the infrequency of his visits. After the last time Timan, all unknowing, nearly put the poor, gentle Solistien to tears with his harshly honest words, Joqout refuses to take him along. After the last time Timan decided to come, despite the refusal, and launched himself out from behind a couch and nearly sliced Dasque's coffee table in half in one of his sneak attacks, Joqout has been far more careful about when he makes those visits, even alone. No one who isn't family, Joqout is certain, would never put up with him and his destructive tagalong.

Distracted by bitter thoughts, Joqout hasn't noticed that Timan has driven him away from the protection. By the time he realizes his mistake, only a frantic lurching backwards-- which sends him sprawling on his back-- saves him from being cut lengthwise.

::Pathetic,:: Timan spits, holding the curved, two-handed weapon with one point at his bond's throat.

Joqout glowers; he isn't done for quite yet, this time. Timan has forgotten his tail. Even human-formed, Joqout cannot rid himself of the plating on his arms and legs, his finned "ears", or his long, spade-tipped tail, and now he is pleased enough at that. A quick lash sends it rapping sharply against the yauktadragon's legs, hooking them out from under him. Timan falls back, giving Joqout time to scramble out of the way and get back to his feet.

He can only bless his own habits of coming to the gym only late in the night shift, when there are few others around and he can commandeer a whole room of equipment for himself. Of course, that habit, which began out of shyness and secret guilt for his desire to keep himself in shape, has only been continually reinforced by Timan's constant, randomly-timed, surprise attacks, during which Joqout can only wish for as few other people around as possible. His bond with the yaujta is weak, and commonly blocked, and though he is assurred and reassured all throughout their new dragoner classes that Timan's species was honorable and good, all he knows of him is the relentlessness, pitilessness, and disgust he treats him with, and the determination with which the youth has trained himself since hatching. If there is anything else to Timan, Joqout has not seen it, and he feels it is simply safer to avoid contact with others as often as possible, just in case.

"Not so pathetic now, am I?" he shoots back as Timan picks himself up again, glaring even more darkly. "Pay more attention to your enemy, Timan," he advises sharply, "or he will surprise you."

::So I see,:: Timan replies with a growl, leveling his blade again, but not yet attacking. ::But then, if my enemy chooses to strike from behind, he is not worth any more than a quick slash across the throat and then an unburied death!::

Joqout can feel his fury ignite at the implication that he is without honor, and holds himself completely still in an attempt to contain it. No matter how much he hates the arrogant, irritating, implacable yaujtadragon, he does not want to unleash his unreasoning fury at him. "An enemy who has nothing to lose, and only desperation, will do what is necessary," he retorts through clenched teeth.

::An enemy who refuses to yield to the right when he has lost, and who turns to deception to win, has no honor,:: Timan hisses, echoing the words with a vocal hiss, and swings his blade around so that all of its curved points are pointed at his bond.

I will not kill him. I will not. He's just a boy, barely out of his shell. He's gotten better, but he's still not as good as I am. I will not use that to hurt him! Joqout says nothing, teeth clenched so tightly that his jaw hurts, bracing himself for an attack which he knows must be coming. He's just a kit! How could he possibly know what honor means, anyway?

Timan's expression darkens, and Joqout actually flinches under the powerful mind-voice that says, ::BECAUSE THAT IS WHY I WAS MADE!::

This time, Timan's attack is quicker, almost frenzied, as if... as if he has something to prove, and he's going to prove it out of Joqout's own body. The limited anger Joqout allows himself at insults, poor treatment, and relentless pressure cannot stand up to Timan when he is actually angry, not when Joqout is hampered by the desire to leave Timan alive and unscathed. The yaujta forces him back, step by step, leaving shallow cuts along his arms and chest. The battle is in earnest. Only Joqout's skill, all the practice he's put in all his life, keeps Timan from gutting him, slicing important tendons, or lopping off his head.

The wall hits Joqout's back; he has nowhere else to go. When Timan's blade makes the cut straight for his neck, all he can do is duck, and wince as the unnaturally sharp, strong blade cuts into the drywall coating on the metal walls and sticks. Joqout darts out of the way, out of breath and stinging from all the little cuts and slices that are now dripping bloodily down his limbs and belly.

::Coward!:: Timan's young but furious mind-voice howls in frustration, almost incoherently. ::Despicable-- running away-- come back and face me for your insult-- pig! Coward! Cheat!::

At the last, hurled with true venom just as Timan yanks his weapon free, Joqout forgets on keeping a hold of his temper. No one, no one, dares call him a cheat! Especially not some domineering, inexperienced, hateful little monster! His clothes stretch, strain, and rapidly rip into shreds as the body beneath them suddenly grows, exploding into scales, wings, bone armoring, and teeth and claws bared and braced. The little, brown and gray yaujtadragon fearlessly launches at him, fully dragon-formed and fully three times his height, and with a single swat of his foreleg, he sends the puny attacker crashing into a wall.

The sight of Timan sliding down onto his head and shoulders and into a heap on the floor, dazed and unmoving, shakes the bare hint of true murderous, berserk rage back down into simple anger. The sight of four streaks of neon green across his chest, dripping more of the same down his neck and onto his chin, drops the simple anger into stark horror and tremulous guilt. Joqout shrinks down again, to fit comfortably in the human-sized room, and scrambles to his unwanted bond, terrified that he might have caused irreversible damage to him.

"Timan? Timan!"

::I'm fine,:: the-- for once-- vulnerable and off-guard yaujtadragon sends, blinking upside-down at him. ::I'm fine.:: Joqout rights him again, letting him sit and rub at the hard dome of his head, which, though it took all of his weight when he landed, doesn't seem broken or even scratched. When Timan's gaze clears again, there is almost pride in his voice when he says, ::That was better.::

Joqout drops his hands again, scowling. "Better? Better?? Timan, if I didn't start thinking again after I sent you flying, I could have killed you!"

::But you did,:: Timan points out mercilessly, wiping at the anti-acidic blood on his muzzle, ::and you didn't. I'm fine, you're fine, and at last I got you to do something!::

For a moment, Joqout stares hard at his-- still unwanted!-- bond. Timan waits with unusual patience, staring back. After a moment, his thoughts finally in some sort of order, he states flatly, "You're being a little monster just to make me angry, aren't you."

::Of course,:: Timan snorts, as if it should have been obvious. ::All that power in you, that only comes out when you're furious? Of course I'm trying to coax it out!::

"Why??" Joqout demands, barely clamping down on the wail that the word tries to be.

::Until you stop fearing it,:: Timan explains with careful patience, ::that power will rule you, instead of you ruling it. If you can't get it under some kind of control, it's as dangerous to you as to anyone else.:: He picks himself up, ignoring his wounds, and retrieves his weapon, while Joqout watches in stunned disbelief. For once, Timan actually makes a little sense, and he didn't couch that sense in curses, insults, and demands. For once.

::I guess you win this one,:: Timan admits off-handedly. ::But you won't be so lucky, next time. So be prepared!:: He casts Joqout a brow-lowered look. ::And put some clothes on. You look ridiculous.::

Without another word, leaving Joqout sputtering, he leaves. 

And once he has left, Joqout looks around, realizes he's going to have to pay to replace two walls, repaint, and clean the floor of his and Timan's blood, and puts his head into his hands and groans. 


Joqout's Story

Chapter Six



Fantasa and Legend dragons are the intellectual property of Silver Midnight.