Tales of interest brought to you by Vostra Altezza, of the Emberglow Hearth.
Pangur tried not to giggle when the coatl grasped his foreclaw, as his paws were very fluffy and ticklish on the Fae’s thin scales. He was all ears as Vos went on, frills ticking as he listened—Pangur had always enjoyed listening to the strange accents of foreigners ever since he left his home among his all-fae clan, where vocal inflection was nonexistent.
Khalu just looked bored, continuing to much on the bats until Vostra mentioned travelling, finally. No, she wasn’t fond of strangers, but she’d travel with him if it meant that, one, they could get moving again, and two, she could keep an eye on the coatl. She’d feel more wary if he’d left now, perhaps to go grab a gang of friends or something to rob them. At this point, even she doubted that that was likely, but she was wary by nature. Better safe than sorry.
Before Pangur could speak, she swallowed the remains of the last bat, dipped her head down, and clamped down on the neck of his vest, unceremoniously tossing him into the air as he yelped in surprise. He easily spread his wings and caught himself on the wind, flapping fast to hover in place, but he still shot a glare at Khalu, his white head frills flicking and vibrating in annoyance. “What in the Windsinger’s name was that for, you lout?” he asked, more miffed than anything.
The wildclaw shrugged, a sharp-fanged grin plastered across her face. ”We can walk ‘n talk—well, fly, in your case—‘stead ‘a sittin’ around all day,” she reasoned, stepping past Vostra as she headed down the path again. ”If you had your way we’d end up sittin’ there another fifteen minutes. I swear, you joined the wind flight ‘cause yer a bag of hot air more than anything!”
"Pff," was all Pangur had to say on that, flitting after his clanmate-slash-noble steed. He did turn midair briefly to give Vostra a ‘follow us’ wave of the claw. They were going slow enough for him to keep pace, and, amazingly, Khalu addressed him before Pangur did, the little fae having alighted on Khalu’s back again.
"Anyways—what was it ya said, Vostra?—anyways Vostra, we’re headed to the Auction House to grab some grub," she explained. The raptor thought for a moment, then snickered. "Literally."
Vostra stepped back with incredulity as Khalu grabbed the smaller fae and flipped him into the air. They seemed so casual with each other… Vos found it amazing that such a small dragon could be leader of a clan of dragons much larger than Pangur himself. He watched with surprise as the wildclaw walked past him, the two wind dragons bantering with each other with noted familiarity.
Limping slightly, he started walking when Pangur motioned to him. He hummed for a few seconds when Khalu spoke to him.
"Grubs? Why would you walk all this way for insects? Are there not enough where you live?" Vos asked with honest curiosity. "This is interesting. I don’t know that anyone from my clan has had to buy food. We eat what we catch and if someone catches nothing, they eat nothing. Sometimes we share. No one goes hungry for long."
Vostra was always interested in learning about other cultures, clans, dragons and behaviour. He found the relationship between his two new travelling partners and their clan very intriguing.
Khalu’s suspicion peaked and she tensed as she watched Vostra reach for something she couldn’t see. Weapon? Spell? A dangerous—
…Bat. Or, bats, rather. She brought it up to her nostrils and took a good whiff. No poisons or anything. ”…Thanks,” she said begrudgingly after a few seconds, popping one into her mouth and crunching down.
"See?" Pangur said up to Khalu. "Nice people do exist!”
"Never said they didn’t," Khalu muffled out through a mouthful of bat as Vos stood and stretched out his bad leg. Pangur looked it over as he spoke, searching for swelling. He met Vos’ eyes when he asked for his name, and straightened up quickly, frills perking as he stuck his tiny foreclaw out. "Yes, Pangur! Leader of my clan back home in the Plateau. Pleasure meeting you, Vos."
After a moment, he leaned forward, sticking his neck out and squinting up at Vostra’s eyes. ”One of the Flamecaller’s, eh? You’re a ways from home,” he noted. ”Your Common is almost impeccable, by the way!”
Vostra grasped Pangur’s small paw in his (comparatively) much larger one for a moment.
"Pangur." He repeated. "A fine name. And thank you, I practice it for a very long time. Sometimes I still have problems, however."
He looked up and watched a few dragons fly off overhead.
"Well. It is getting late. I have wasted much time sitting here. Where are you friends headed? Maybe we are going in the same direction, and can continue together? Me, I am looking to buy a trinket for a dragon back home."
Pangur watched as the long and slinky dragon retrieved, cleaned, and placed his hat on his head in one smooth motion, a frill ticking in interest. Very graceful, though lessened a bit by the sudden jerk of his hind leg. Injured, likely, also evidenced by the light coating of dust dulling the sheen of his fur and feathers. The fae looked over his shoulder at the approaching Khalu, who was busy giving Vostra a mild stink-eye. She snorted.
"Eh. She’s suspicious folk, from the Stormbringer’s brood." Pangur shrugged, then skittered closer, seating himself just a couple feet in front of Vostra—he only came up to the coatl’s midsection, as the dragon was on his hind legs, so he had to crane his neck up a tad. "Forgive me if I seem familiar, but you are injured? I’ve become adept at wrapping sprains and cleaning cuts, if you need."
At this point, Khalu had stopped right behind Pangur, looking down at the two of them. She nudged her leader’s back with a foot. ”Yer also good at feedin’ yer clan, when yer not chattin’ up strangers on the roadside,” she stated flatly, brow furrowed. Pangur just flicked his wings and snorted in return—a small, high-pitched, punctuated noise.
"Oh, don’t be rude," he replied flippantly. "Far too wary, how do you people make friends?"
The wildclaw sighed in annoyance, head feathers flattening. ”Fine.” She looked down at Vostra, obviously sizing him up. ”I’m Khalu,” she grumbled flatly, offering a claw after a moment when Pangur elbowed her shin.
Vos looked down at the little dragon, but before he had a chance to respond the wildclaw had finally reached them. He watched the two of them interact, rather amused. It was obvious from the way the large dragon acted towards Vos that she felt he was an unwelcome interruption on their journey.
Vostra kept a wary eye on the wildclaw. While he did not perceive her to be a threat, she would definitely be a formidable foe if something were to go awry. He was not keen on having to fight her, especially with his leg bothering him.
As such, he did not take his eyes off of her while she sized him up. He kept his posture relaxed, flicked his tongue, and felt around in his bag for something.
As she stuck out her claw and sullenly introduced herself, he pulled out a few freshly killed ashball bats and cheerfully slapped them into her paw.
"It is nice to meet you, Khalu. I am Vostra Altezza. Many dragons find that rather… presumptuous, so many call me Vostra, or just Vos. Please, take these. May they soothe your mind. Vostra is not here to cause trouble."
He turned back to the small dragon before him. He balanced on his good leg and stretched out the other one a bit.
"Oh and as for your question, friend, I am fine. Vostra just has to.. how you say… Walk it off." Vos paused for a moment. "Well, I know Khalu now, but I don’t think you mentioned your name."
"Hey, fidgetwings," a wildclaw said over her shoulder, bringing a foreclaw up and over her shoulder to tap at her sleeping passenger’s frilled head. "Rise ‘n shine, O glorious leader! We’re almost there."
Lying belly-down on the back on the bipedal dragon, a fae stirred and cracked open their large, light green eyes, brow furrowing. His head was pillowed on Khalu’s hood, hanging unused around her neck, and his wings were wrapped around his sides like a blanket. ”Mmph,” came his unenthused response.
Khalu rolled her shoulder to nudge the fae further. “C’mon, up ‘n at’em,” she encouraged as she meandered down the worn dirt path to the famous, if uncreatively named, Trading Post. She could already spot dragons up in the clouds, all flying the same direction she and her travelling companion were headed, and her sensitive hearing picked up on a hint of far-off chatter from an innumerable crowd.
With a small groan, white frills low in annoyance, Pangur pushed himself up onto his elbows, stretching his spotted wings out as he yawned. “Urgh. How much farther?” he grumbled in his small, buzzing voice. Though fae vocals were classically void of tone or emotion, living most of his life among other species gave him more inflection than most.
As response to the much smaller dragon’s question, the wildclaw pointed out a large iron rod jammed into the ground ahead, with a number carved into it’s top. “One more mile, according to the markers,” she replied. “Not long.” And she was glad. Even with her outstanding stamina, her muscles were really starting to ache. Wildclaws were built for short bursts of impressive speed and strength, not the nomadic endurance that a trip like this required. Unfortunately, with Jun’s sprained wing, Khalu was the only other option for a quick(ish) trip to the Auctionhouse.
Pangur sighed and got to his feet, placing his foreclaws against the back of Khalu’s long, strong neck for balance and he stretched some more and shook off the rest of the stiffness. Sleeping on a Wildclaw’s back was a far different experience than on an Imperial’s. But, as clan leader, it was his duty to manage the clan’s collective treasure hoard, most of which was currently in the two saddlebags slung across Khalu’s back, and today it was time to spend it on… bugs. Nobody had been happy about it, but a recent drought had wilted most of the tall grass in Pangur’s territory, making insects even harder to catch than usual. Even with the clan’s combined efforts, their insect stores had almost run dry and the Faes of the clan—Pangur included—were having to ration. After a short meeting, everyone had agreed that this was a measure that had to be taken.
Standing on his hind legs on Khalu’s back, his head was almost at eye level with hers, he noted—and then he noted something else. A feathery traveler sitting on the road ahead, doing… something. If he wasn’t mistaken, it was a Coatl. “Hey, strang—!” he started to call out, before Khalu swatted at him with a harsh "Shh!"
"Oh, now what?” asked the Fae annoyedly, frills flopping down.
"You are waaay too trusting, Pan," Khalu admonished quietly, having slowed down her pace. "A stranger sitting in the middle of the road, not even a mile away from a giant crowd, being approached by two obviously worn out dragons carrying a load of gold. And you’re not even slightly suspicious?"
"I have trust in my fellow dragons, unlike you," the little dragon huffed. He crouched, and then leapt, diving forward as his wings spread and the wind caught him. Khalu called after him, but he couldn’t hear over the wind in his ears. "Hello!" he called out to the stranger, alighting on the ground about a meter away from them. "Are you okay over there?"
Vostra Altezza had been sitting to the side of a dusty road, stretching his right leg and frowning at a chipped claw when he heard someone call out to him. He turned his head to the side and flicked out his tongue, tasting the air.
Standing a small ways behind him was a light colored Fae. Behind the small dragon he noted a larger dragon, a Wildclaw, with a very exasperated look on her face, walking towards them. Vos turned back around and picked up his dusty black cavalier. He brushed it off and adjusted the feather before placing it back on his head. He stood up and turned around.
"Oh hello, small friend. Yes, Vostra is fine."
The wince that crossed the coatls face as he put weight on his leg betrayed the truth. The truth being that he hadn’t been paying attention while he was walking and had fallen flat on his face about 5 minutes earlier. Things like the big, exposed root always seemed to be sneaking up on Vostra, or so he swore. Not that he would admit it, anyways.
"Thank you small friend, you are very kind. Your friend however, does not seem happy to see me."
Vos looked past the Fae at the approaching Wildclaw, reaching around his side for his waterskin.