Joqout's Story: Chapter Eleven


For someone unable to teleport, Tavarez gives a very detailed image for someone else to teleport to. He is right, however, in his warnings of a turbulent arrival. Valdis appears, a two-handed weapon hefted in each hand, in the visualized forest setting, and promptly sets both butts on the ground to lean on them, wings sagging around her shoulders, breath coming with some difficulty, and a pinch of pain starting between her eyes. It had been, she agrees with the rat-faced man, a turbulent teleport-- but now she is here, and she has a halberd to deliver.

As she catches her breath, hair-buried ears alert for any sound that might indicate danger, she looks around for the clearing Tavarez promised had, at one point in the presumably recent past, contained the dragon by the name of Joqout Kasim. The clearing, she can see, just through the trees to her left. The dragon, she cannot, but that means nothing. He might be hidden by a tree, or laying down, or wandering the woods.

Then again, if he is a normal sort of dragon, the size of most in Valdis's acquaintance, the fact that she cannot see him probably means that he has long left this place. In that case, she will have to track him, and actually earn her ten silver pieces. At least tracking a large creature through thick forest will not be difficult, even for someone who is only an amateur tracker, like Valdis.

Her breath recovered, and headache relegated to a mere annoyance, Valdis straightens and hefts the weapons again. Her own glaive is familiar in her hand, a trusted friend and a comfortable weight, good steel and iron-reinforced wood, crafted especially for her for her second birthday, when she finally reached her full height-- but a very plain, simple, and mundane weapon, nonetheless. The foreign halberd, however, is anything but plain, simple, and mundane. It feel strangely heavy, even given there was probably a core of iron to stabilized the metal-tipped pole, as if it is eager to be given away so it can move on. It is decorated with silver molding and amethyst gems, and a simple, vibrantly green ribbon tied off just below the blade, standing out against the black wood. There is something strange about it-- about her, for Valdis remembers what Tavarez had called it, and cannot not quite shake the conviction that there is something feminine about the weapon-- and Valdis thinks she will be pleased to hand it off to this Joqout dragon and return to the city and the guildhall and her dinner.

At the moment, however, she is simply wasting daylight-- though this world seems earlier in the afternoon than the one she has so recently left behind-- so with her goal in mind, she starts walking purposefully towards the large clearing.

To her surprise, the clearing is not empty, but neither does it contain a dragon, as she'd hoped. Rather, a humanoid of some unknown species-- dark of skin, plated on his limbs, with finned ears and a long, spaded tail, and as nude as she would be if she had the choice-- kneels in the dark, freshly-turned dirt, hands and knees grubby from presumably turning that dirt. Two mounds of earth disturb the forest floor, one massive and the other smaller, marked with a stone scored deeply with indecipherable marks and rolled into place at one end. Valdis frowns at the scene, and the dark-skinned humanoid looks over his shoulder, body tense at the sight of her. He has a warrior's build. Valdis stands in silence for a moment, taking him in with wary curiosity and definite admiration, while he sizes her up with a cautionary stare of his own.

Rather than let the moment drag on, Valdis breaks the silence at last, speaking in the common Nexian tongue and hoping he can understand it. "I apologize for my interruption, but I am seeking a dragon."

That seems to disturb him more, for he rises swiftly and fluidly for one as powerfully built as he. His voice, when he speaks, is the same tongue, though accented strangely, if slightly. "Which dragon might that be?"

"Joqout Kasim."

Green eyes narrow slightly. "Why?"

"I have a gift for him from a friend," she says neutrally. Something has happened to this man to make him so wary-- something to do with these mounds? Mystified, but certain the mystery will remain so, she holds out the black-hafted halberd, resting the mace butt against the ground. Carrying her own glaive, heavy though it is, has never been a chore: it will be a relief to be rid of this polearm.

"I have no friends," the green-eyed warrior asserts bitterly, and turns from her.

"Then you are Joqout Kasim?"

"For what it is worth, yes."

"Then whether you have friends or not, this is yours."

Joqout Kasim looks briefly over his shoulder at her, then pauses in his step as the halberd catches his eye. He does not turn nor does he make a step to take the weapon, but he does stop, and he does frown at the weapon, as if puzzled by it.

"If you do not take this," Valdis urges, impatient and hungry, "I will not get paid, and I will not get dinner."

"Gods forbid I keep you from your dinner," Joqout Kasim murmurs, and somehow the statement is not insulting. He turns, finally, and steps back to put his hand on the polearm and close his warm, brown fingers around it.

For some reason, against all logic, Valdis had been expecting something dramatic to happen when fingers touched weapon. When nothing of the sort happens, it feels strangely anticlimactic. She releases the haft with relief, putting her glaive back where it belongs: in both hands. Joqout Kasim draws the halberd back, brows drawn together, then does the same, setting both hands against the smooth, cool wood.

Now the fireworks begin. Valdis steps back involuntarily, and Joqout Kasim looks as if he would to drop the weapon-- but his hands spasm closed on it even more firmly, instead. The blade sings-- there is no other word for the ethereal yet jubilant sound-- and it glows-- light leaking through Joqout's fingers even where they block the emitance. The light has a faintly green tint to it, oddly enough, except for where the two gems radiate a decidedly purple glow.


"I don't know," Valdis answers the bitten-off question, holding her own safe, unmagicked glaive between herself and the glowing halberd. "I thought there was something funny about it!"

::I'm not funny-- I'm me! And I've finally found my bond!::

This time, Joqout does drop the halberd, as if it's hot-- or as if whatever compulsion to hold on to it has suddenly released him. The weapon falls to the ground with a heavy thud in the loam, but once there, doesn't merely lay there, glowing and humming. Instead it... writhes. Valdis can think of no other word to describe the blurring, wriggling motion, movement from an object that should not be moving. The form blurs, making her eyes water, and shrinks-- and grows-- and turns from something long and wicked-looking to something compact and utterly without malice: a tiny, bipedal, gem-encrusted dragon. Valdis and Joqout both stare as the creature shakes itself vigorously and engages in a meticulous, catlike series of stretches.

At last, as if realizing that its audience is struck dumb and staring at it, the small dragon looks up at Joqout and chirps, "Well? What are you just staring for? Say something!"

Rather than answering the small dragon, Joqout looks up at Valdis and suggests weakly, "Do you want to stay for dinner?"

Since the shock of watching a weapon turn into a dragon, on top of being tired from the teleport, makes Valdis much less interested in another trip than in immediate food, she agrees.


Joqout's Story

Chapter Twelve



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