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Her head was pounding as AD woke to the dull grey of a barred prison cell. If only she had a dollar for every time that had happened since joining the Alliance. She sighed, glad at least that it wasn't Coredeath's prison, or a Huntsclan dungeon. The cell was typically what she'd expect. Three walls, one with a tiny barred window, and the fourth wall and door made out of more bars, too narrowly spaced for her to squeeze through. On the other side of the door was a long hallway with doors at either end. AD could tell by the shadows cast on the wall that there were other cells next to her's, but they appeared to be empty. Her's seemed to be in the middle of the row. The only furniture in the cell was a cot, a sink, and a toilet, all bolted to the floor and walls. She pulled on the bars experimentally, but they didn't budge. The bars and lock also proved to be fireproof, and without her dragon talons, she had no way to pick the lock. As she searched the room, her thoughts drifted back to the events that had landed her here. Her cloak had been taken, but thankfully they hadn’t found the Heart of Draco. She’d hidden it in one of the cloak’s inside pockets, and had swallowed it while running away from the market.

​She didn't have long to think though, as two stern-looking guards came towards her cell. Or at least, they would have looked stern, but tripping over their own feet every few seconds ruined the effect. Both were goombos, one armed with a long spear and the other dragging a sack that was almost as big as he was. They seemed to be having trouble seeing where they going, which was no wonder, as they both wore sun glasses. Both of them also wore what looked like tin-foil hats. It was all AD could do to keep a straight face. She actually felt sorry for the poor silly things, and didn't think laughing would get her any points with these two. Besides, who was she to judge clothing styles? Maybe it was a dress code thing?

​"Somebody left a gift basket for you." said the one dragging the sack, unlocking the cell door.

​"I'm over here." said AD.

​The guard locked the empty cell door again and peeked out from under his sunglasses to make sure he had the right cell this time. As soon as he caught of her, he quickly covered his eyes again and unlocked the door, while other guard held her at spear-point. Tossing the sack in, they quickly relocked the door and left the hallway. Curious now, AD opened the sack. There was an actual gift basket inside it, but so big that it shouldn't have fit into that sack at all. AD wasn't that phased by it though. After all, magic could do many strange things. The first thing she pulled from the basket was a greeting card that read:

​"Welcome to the Chi Kingdom of Sarasaland! Sorry my sister punched you in the face. Enjoy your prison stay!"

​AD blinked in disbelief. They actually had a greeting card for her exact situation… That was just weird, even for this place. Clearly though, it was the little werelion cub AD had seen at the market, who had sent this card. Her big sister certainly had a hard punch, which made AD wonder why she didn't have a black eye, or worse. Now that she thought about it, the bruises on her wing were gone too. Those had almost healed on their own anyway, but the change was still enough to notice. They must have taken her to a healer before dropping her off in here. That was odd... Given her alien nature and the tabloid news, she’d have thought their first stop would be a government laboratory- not that she was complaining. Better a jail cell than a dissection table. Unless...

​She shook the dark thoughts from her mind. Paranoia now would only drive her crazy. The best thing to do now was get her strength back, and be vigilant to the here and now. She turned back to the gift basket, noticing that it was stuffed full of fruit. There were also two books, and something that resembled an oversized nail-care kit, along with several small combs. One book was titled Wing and Feather Care for Dummies, and the kit proved to be the various tools she’d need. The other book was The Official Sarasaland Tourist Guide. Well, AD thought, at least she’d have plenty of time to read them. Settling down, she started in on the fruit and began with the feather care guide.

​It was a presence that caught her attention, for there was no sound to hear. AD didn’t turn to look behind her, she didn’t need to, but simply continued reading. The figure waited, patient, until she finished the page she was on. But it was AD who spoke first.

​“The dragonslayers of my world were trained as ninja.” she said. “How long did you think you could hide?”

​“If you knew I was there all along, then why not seek me out?” said the Fumon. “I could’ve killed you at any time.”

​“But you didn’t.” said AD. “And you sent me trainees in your ambush. That has me curious... I’m clearly a newcomer here, and you don’t know the extent of my power. For all you know, those newspapers could be right. Why not get rid of me?”

​“That was a test, and a warning.” he said. “As for those stories, who do you think started them in the first place?”

​“My question stands. What purpose could you possibly have for me?”

​“We are the Fumon. Spreading ignorance and hatred is what we do. And you, my draconic friend, well...”

​She heard the scrape of sword leaving sheath, turned, but found him gone.

​“Why waste the potential you have for causing both, and so much more?” he whispered, his voice right beside her head. She froze, feeling the steel of his blade against her belly. He tapped her lightly with it, right over the spot where her gizzard was. The spot where the Heart of Draco now rested.

​“Others before you have tried to control what I guard.” she said. “You won’t find it any easier.”

​“You would be foolish to anger us.” he said, stepping away from her and gesturing his sword to the shadows on the back wall. She looked, seeing the eyes of other Fumon hidden there. Too many if it came to a fight.

​The sound of the hallway door opening distracted her. When she looked back, the Fumon had vanished.

"Hi there!"

​“Gah!” AD clutched at her heart, staring at the werelion cub who had just appeared at the cell door seemingly out of thin air. She stepped back, felt something bump her tail, and looked. There was an egg sitting on the floor behind her. Scowling, she cracked it open, quickly checking the ruby inside for damage. Satisfied that the gem was still whole, she tucked it under her wing.

"Are you ok? Sorry I scared you." said the cub. "My name is Kate. What's yours?"

The dragon-yoshi blinked, taking a moment to process the excited chatter before answering. "Call me AD, and I'm fine, thanks."

"That's good," said Kate. "Did you like the fruit basket and my card? Gaijin thought the books would be good for you too. I hope your wing is feeling better. Are you really an alien? Do you want to be friends? Can I ride you? How did you get that aweful scar on your side? Did you know there was a reward for catching you?"

"Uh…" AD blinked again, not sure how to even begin answering. It wasn't that she didn't like children, but being the loner that she was, she'd had little experience with them. She ate some more fruit before answering this time. "The fruit's good. The card was weird. Thanks for the books. My wing feels great, and yes, I'm an alien." She wasn't ready to answer the cub's questions about friendship or rides just yet. Kate's family might not approve a friendship with a possibly dangerous outsider, for one thing. As for giving the girl a ride… AD had been ridden before, but never just for fun. Dragon riding was a stealth tactic for combat when planes would be a disadvantage, and also to quickly evacuate the wounded from a battlefield. It took a great deal of trust between those involved, and it was still too early for AD to know who she could trust in this new world.

Her wing subconsciously moved to cover the old scar at Kate's mention of it. "I don't like to talk about it…" she said.

Kate seemed to have realized she'd gone too far, and an awkward silence followed.

Suddenly remembering the last question, and wanting to change the subject, AD said, "I knew about the reward for hunting me. It was in all the newspapers. I suppose your sister and Gaijin already collected it?"

“And used it to pay for your bail.” said a new voice.

They both turned to see Kate’s sister, Gaijin, and his wife being escorted into the cell block by the same guards that had brought AD the gift bag earlier. At least, she thought it was the same guards. It was hard to tell. The two stopped the group once they were inside the door, offering them each a pair of sunglasses and a tin foil hat. These were politely, but firmly, refused, and the group continued down the hall until they’d joined Kate. The guards both exchanged a glance, then exited the hallway, closing the door behind them.

AD studied the new arrivals for a few moments, and they did the same to her. Finally, it was Kate’s sister who broke the silence.

“Sorry about that sucker punch.” she said. “I’ve have used a net, but we didn’t have one.”

AD gave a slight nod. “I’ll live.” Turning to Gaijin, she added, “And I’m sorry about hitting you in the face with soggy groceries. You... you didn’t have to help me... Thank you...”

“You could’ve just asked.” said Gaijin. “We’d have given you the help anyway. You certainly don’t seem as dangerous as the newspapers would like us to believe.”

“I see that now,” said AD. “and I am sorry... I judged your world based on how mine would have acted.”

They looked at her in some confusion, but before she could explain, Gaijin suddenly drew his sword. The others tensed at this signal, readying their own weapons, and Aki asked, “Gaijin, what is it?”

“Fumon.” he said simply, pointing his sword between the bars of AD’s cell to something above and behind her.

She turned to look, and spotted one of the ninjas’ bandanas caught between two of the ceiling titles. “So that’s how they got in here.” she said, more to herself than the others.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the building, one of the Fumon trainees was looking for the bandana he’d lost for the third time in as many weeks.

Light caught AD’s eye, and she turned back to stare at Gaijin’s sword. The blade was covered in writhing coils of fire emerging from its hilt. She felt a growing heat beneath her wing, and pulled out the Heart of Draco, noticing that it was behaving strangely as well. It pulsed much faster than normal, and glowed with power, though she wasn’t using it. All of the group stared between the two artifacts. On a hunch, AD brought the ruby closer to Gaijin’s blade, and the activity of both increased. The sword blade completely caught fire. Meanwhile the ruby grew hot enough that she could barely hold it, pulsing like a racing heartbeat and the color of its glow turning a darker red the nearer she held it to the sword, until it was almost black. The two quickly drew away from each other, and with the separation their items returned to normal.

AD was stunned. She’d never gotten a reaction like that out of the gem before. But then again, she’d never let it near another magical artifact before, as she now guessed Gaijin’s sword might be.

Gaijin and the others look equally shocked, and he studied her more intently this time before saying, “We clearly have a lot to talk about.”

“That might take a while.” said AD. “I’m not sure how long I’ll be stuck in here.”

“But you won’t!” said Kate with a grin. “Didn’t you hear my sister? We paid your bail! You’re coming home with us!”

“Only,” said the older werelion, raising a finger in warning. “until we find place for you to settle down.”

AD made sure her gift bag was tied shut as the guards were summoned to let her out. Though she was grateful to them, these four and she still had some way to go before any friendship could be made. But this, thought AD, might just be a good start to one- if her answers to their questions didn’t alienate her even further...
Jail Drake
Hi all! First off, thank you to those who've wished me a happy birthday. :D Yesterday was my birthday, but I wanted to give something this year instead of just getting things. :) I would've finished this earlier, but I had work to do. I hope you still enjoy the late present: Part 5 of AD's adventures in Sarasaland.

Part 1: arkansandragon.deviantart.com/…

Part 2: arkansandragon.deviantart.com/…

Part 3: arkansandragon.deviantart.com/…

Part 4: arkansandragon.deviantart.com/…

Also, Kate and her big sister aren't mine. They belong to this guy: eventing-guy.deviantart.com/

I'm just borrowing them for the story. Gaijin, Aki, and the Fumon aren't mine either- but I'm pretty sure everybody here already knows who they belong to.
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AD couldn't help but stare as she cased the marketplace. There was a famous market back home, the Magus Bazaar, which had been part of the hidden magical world. She'd never had the chance to visit it before the war, but from photos and stories, she imagined it would have looked something like this place. There were shops and stalls all over the streets and busy shoppers going every which way. Most of the stalls she expected to see: food, cloth, trinkets and the like. But then there were stalls that sold things like inventory bags ("A bag for every adventure! Now with extra slots!"), and things called power ups ("It's dangerous to go alone, buy something here first!"). She considered swiping one of the bags, but the stall owner was keeping a careful count of them, so she decided against it. What she really needed though, was food.

It didn't take long to find the food stalls and vendors selling tasty treats. But snagging anything proved to be more difficult. Apparently, since the fruit stands were manned by yoshies, and some of them were new to the job, all of the food vendors had taken the precaution of sealing away their goods until an actual customer came by. AD had already see two of the new apprentices reprimanded for snacking from the other stalls. She wondered why they didn't try to take any fruit from their own stock, but quickly discovered the reason when she tried it herself. All the fruit had been sprayed with something tasted like peppers and hurt her stomach. She wouldn't be able to just eat her fill and leave.

Soon enough though, she found a likely target in a couple of the strange chestnut creatures, which she'd learned were called goombas. They were shopping for food, and already had a large bag full. She didn't dare try to take their wallet, as both were armed. The male had a strangely-bladed sword- she guessed this must be the "Gaijin Goombah" she'd read about -and his wife carried a bo staff. Robbing an armed target was dangerous enough. Robbing a very likely swordmaster would be suicidal. Still... maybe if she went for the bag of food, that wouldn't be as noticeable…

Pretending to look over what other stalls had to offer, she watched the pair from the corner of her eye. Mrs. Goombah was soon chatting away with another shopper, this one reminding AD very much of the were-beasts from back home. She had the aspects of a lioness, and there was a younger one with her. She didn't look old enough to be the cub's mother though, so most likely a sister. AD looked closer, noticing that the cub held a large wallet...

No. She'd already sunk this low. She wouldn't disgrace herself further by stealing from children. Better just go for the bag of food and get it over with.

She waited until Gaijin had his back turned, looking over the fruit stall. The next moment, her tongue was out and the bag of food safely in her mouth. AD moved away as stealthily as she could, making sure the cloak still covered her. She'd almost made it into the cover of the bamboo, not believing her good luck, when Gaijin landed in front of her, sword drawn.

Of course. She'd been starting to wonder when her bad luck curse would kick in today.

She turned to flee back into town, only to find that way blocked by Gaijin’s wife. Slowly, the two circled AD, backing her against a nearby wall. She’d been in much worse situations than this before, but then she’d known what her enemies were capable of. She had no idea what these two could do, and she didn’t want to fight them anyway if it could be helped.

“Alright,” said Gaijin. “We’ve caught you. Now drop it!”

AD spit out the bag of food, intent to try talking her way out of this, but she’d misjudged how hard it was being thrown, and her aim. SPLAT! The whole soggy mess hit Gaijin square in the face, knocking him over backwards! AD and Aki stared at Gaijin for a moment in stunned silence, then both moved at the same time. While Aki rushed to help Gaijin, AD made another break for the bamboo. She disappeared into the thick forest, running until she was sure she’d lost any pursuers. Only then did she stop to rest.

A snapping twig from behind was her only warning. She whirled- but too late. The last thing AD saw was the were-lion’s fist coming straight at her face.
The Ancient dragon surveyed the landscape that stretched out below him, the only sound the beating of his great wings and the rustle of the wind over his dark red scales. Torchwing was in no hurry. It had been awhile since the old Helian had been out of his lair, and the warm sun felt good on his skin, highlighting the golden stripes that dappled across it.

Movement caught his eye, and he glanced downward, the rotten stench of decay meeting his nostrils a moment later. His great eyes narrowed as he recognized what they were. There is no mistaking the Whithered Aegis once you see them.

"Flame!" He thought, "The undead are growing bolder by the day..."

This small group of undead seemed to be attacking something, perhaps some poor Adventurer that had crossed their path. The dragon flew lower, trying to see what it was. When he could only see glimpses of whatever it was, but as it seemed to move on four legs, he might almost have mistaken it for a wolf.

Almost.

A piercing cry reached his ears, unlike anything he'd heard before. A flash of white, brown and yellow, a flurry of large, feathered wings-

"That," He thought, "is no wolf."

Immediately, he dove, landing hard enough that the earth trembled with force of it, and let out his mightiest roar! That certainly got the undead's attention. They abandoned their prey to face the newcomer, rushing onward regardless of the powerful foe they now beheld. There were seven in all, but the Ancient soon made quick work of them. After gathering his loot from their remains, he then went over to examine their quarry, which now lay unconscious on the ground.

"By my scales..." he thought as he gazed at it. "What is this thing?!"

In all his life and travels, Torchwing had never seen a creature quite like this. In size, it was little bigger then a dragon hatchling, but it looked older then that, perhaps just come into adulthood. In head and chest, the creature resembled a strange giant bird. A snow white head and neck, a large curved beak, with brown feathers down its chest and large feathered wings sprouting from its back. A strange mane of lighter brown fur also ringed the base of its neck, reaching down to mid-chest. It's forelegs were bare from the elbow down, covered in tiny yellow scales and ended with strong talons, each equipped with a deadly black claw.

But here the resemblance stopped, for the beast's hindquarters were completely different. The brown feathers ended at its midriff, blending smoothly into short, tawny brown fur. The hind legs were like those of the Saris, lean and powerfully muscled. This, Torchwing reasoned, would give the creature ample power needed for lunching itself into flight. They ended in large paws, and long rope-like tail come off the rear, ending with a large tuft of fur.

"For stabilizing flight, most likely." thought the dragon.

It was then that he noticed something twitch on the creature's head. Two white ears stuck up just behind the eyes on it's head. They also, were like those of a Saris, but instead of fur, these were covered in feathers. They twitched again as Torchwing drew nearer.

"So, still alive, my strange friend?" he asked. As if in answer, one ear swiveled to catch his voice, and the one of the creature's eyes eased open. Torch caught sight of dark blue with a round pupil, but clouded with pain as the creature tried to raise its head to look at him. It blinked once, then the eye closed, and it went limp again.

It was only now that Torchwing noticed the blood, and silently cursed himself. He'd been so caught up in the beast's appearance that he hadn't checked it for injury. For all he knew it could have bled to death while he was still gawking at it! He quickly found the source of the problem however, a long gash in the creature's side, which was bleeding sluggishly.

"Hrm... You won't be alive much longer if I don't find a healer." He said quietly. Fortunately, Torchwing knew of a naka (non-dragon) city nearby. He would take the creature there for healing. Perhaps they might know what it was...

...

Torchwing glanced around as he entered the healers' building. He was in Khutit (bi-ped) form, as his normal form was too big to enter through the doors. He soon spotted "his" creature on a bed near the far wall. The human healer tending it gave him a respectful nod as he approached.

"How is our 'guest'?" he asked softly.

"Stable." said the human, an elderly male, "Luckily the wound only looked worse then it was. But he seems under nourished and hard pressed. Perhaps those Withered Aegis you killed had been hunting him for awhile now."

"Strange..." mused Torchwing, "Why would they chase him for so long?"

"Maybe he can tell us when he wakes." answered the healer, "If his kind speak, at least."

A soft groan came from the bed. The two turned to look, and saw the creature lift its head, looking around slowly with wide eyes. It saw them and hissed in alarm, flaring its mighty wings!

"Peace!" said Torchwing, reaching a claw toward it, palm out, "Peace, my friend! We won't harm you. You're safe now."

The creature gave him a strange look, then settled back down. There was a long silence, then-

"You look familiar."

Another silence, as Torchwing and the healer stared in shock. Certainly they had guested that the creature could speak, but hearing and seeing it actually do so still took them by surprise. Its voice held a faint croak and hiss, whether an accent or simply from a dry throat, it was hard to tell. But the voice was definitely male.

Finally regaining his composure, Torchwing regained his dragon form, though he had to lie down after banging his head on the ceiling. "Do you remember anything of what happened?" he asked.

The creature started for a moment at the sudden transformation, but then calmed as he seemed to recognize Torchwing. "Aye, I remember you, Magic Wielder." his said, nodding his head to the impressive dragon. "You saved my life."

"Pardon me," said the healer, speaking to the creature, "I don't mean to be rude, but who are you?"

He studied the human for a moment, then said, "My name is Talonstrike. I am one of the Gryphire'ryne (Griff-Fire-Rye-In); the Children of Gryphera (Griff-Fear-a), first of our kind."

"Griff- Griffire- Griffin?" tried the human.

Talonstrike looked at him thoughtfully, then said, "If our name is too much for you, then yes. Griffin will do."

"My name is Torchwing." said the dragon, as Talonstrike turned back toward him. "Where do you come from, Talonstrike?" he asked.

The griffin was silent for a moment, then said slowly, "My home is a steep cliff face, the cliff where we built our eyries for generations. The cliff rings all around a small valley with many trees and rivers. Hunting and fishing are good, and we can gather wood, clay, and weaving grass (flax) to build with. My kind have lived their since before any of us remember, never needing to go into the outside world. We were content, and lived in peace." He paused then, lowering his head and continued, "We thought those crags and cliffs would protect us from all threats... We thought we were safe..." He looked up, met their eyes-

"We were wrong."

He continued sadly, "They came upon us without warning, and without mercy. They carry the scent of Death, yet they are not dead! These, these walking Death, somehow they made it up the cliffs... There was this- this plant-like thing with them! It tried to take root, twisting and distorting eveything around it. We fought, we fought, but they drove us into the valley... Many of my battle-kin were slain... I was sent to find help. I fled, but those- those-"

"They are known as the Withered Aegis." Torchwing said solemnly. "They are undead."

"Yes..." said Talonstrike, "Yes, those, those undead, followed me, ambushed me when I chose to rest. I should have known! I would be dead as well, were it not for you." He raised his head, looking gratefully at the Ancient dragon. "You know of these foul creatures." he then said seriously, "I can see the truth of it in your eyes."

There was another long pause, like the calm before the storm...

Finally, Talonstrike said, "I was sent to find help. But, it seems that you have found me..."

...

A few weeks had passed since Talonstrike's rescue from the Whithered Aegis, and Torchwing came to visit him regularly. During these visits, the Ancient dragon told Talonstrike about the lands of Istaria, of the Living Races and their Gift, and of their plight by the hoards of the Withered Aegis.

The griffin's health was fast improving. Today he was well enough for a short flight outside. Torchwing accompanied him, and afterward, they both rested on the roof of a nearby building.

As they sat there, looking out at the setting sun, Torchwing looked down at the young griffin. He studied the other for a moment, as if gathering his thoughts, and then said, "I have told you much about our lands these past few weeks. But you have yet to tell me more about your homeland."

He paused, wondering if he should continue. He knew that speaking of the griffin's homeland might be painful for Talonstrike, but it was the only way the other Living Races might be able to help free them from the undead armies. Finally, he said, "I would like to know more about where you come from. Perhaps with that knowledge, we might find a way to rid your home of the Whithered Aegis."

The young griffin remained silent, staring out at the horizon. For a moment, Torchwing was afraid that he might have asked the question too soon. But then-

"My home is an island in the sea."

Talonstrike did not look at the dragon as he spoke, but continued to fix his gaze out beyond the setting sun. His eyes had a far away look in them, as if he were once again seeing his beloved home.

"My home is an island shrouded by a deep fog that not even our keen eyes can pierce. Within this fog are tall pillars of rock and sharp stones that jut from the water. And through that fog are beaches of white sand that ring a clear lagoon. Beyond the lagoon are tall steep cliffs that ring the entire island.

The eldest of my people say that our home was once a great mountain of the sea that spewed fire from it's depths. The mountain blew itself up, they say, and now all that remains are the great stone cliff-walls and the heart of the mountain at the center of the island. There is still fire inside it, but it no longer spits flames.

The steep cliffs are were we build out eyries, our nests. And below are lush forests and meadows. It is a good place. Or, at least, it was..."

Talonstrike faltered then, looking away from the sunset.

Torchwing waited patiently, not wanting to interrupt. The young griffin said nothing more for a long while. Then he seemed to perk up slightly, as if remembering something. One of the creature's claws went to his chest, and drew out something that had been hidden among the feathers and mane of fur.

As he held it up, the thing seemed to glow in the warm light of the sun's last rays. Torchwing stared at it in wonder. It was a simple pendant. A smooth round stone hung on a rawhide cord, but the stone was unlike anything that the old dragon had seen before. It was the color of honey, with flecks of what looked like gem powder in it. Strangest of all was the tiny grass beetle that seemed to be encased within it.

"What is that?" he asked, pointing to it with a claw.

"A gift from a friend," Talonstrike said softly, gazing at it as he held it in the light. "We call it 'Amber'. It seeps from certain trees on our island and hardens into stone over time. These are tall, straight trees with needles for leaves. Sometimes we collect the sap from these trees to make it ourselves, but amber is more easily found in hardened clusters at the base of the trees. Sometimes things like this beetle get trapped in the amber before it hardens, and we find them."

He finally turned to look at Torchwing, and continued, "My people are not stone cutters. Amber and gems are the hardest things we can cut. Wood, fired clay, leather and sharpened gems are what most use for armor and weapons. But the most experienced crafters can take the amber and melt it, and then cast it into feathers which are tied together with rawhide over leather padding. Gem powder is often mixed with the amber to strengthen it."

His eyes seemed to smile then, and he chuckled quietly, saying "I guess it wasn't a very smart idea to leave without getting my armor first..." But then his face grew solemn again. "The undead came from under the water and through the fog. They somehow made it up the steep cliffs... I wasn't the only one who was sent to find help. But the fog that we thought could protect us, now became a death trap. Those of us who didn't crash into the stone were slain by the undead that followed us into it. We never saw them until it was too late... As far as I know, I was the only one who escaped..."

Talonstrike would say no more after that. Torchwing watched him for a few moments, unsure of what to do. Finally, he said, "I'm truly sorry for your loss. But I will do what I can to help you. And perhaps we can convince the other Living Races to also come to you people's aid, and strike another blow against the Blight and the Whithered Aegis..."
Scale and Feather: An Istaria What-If Story
An old story I wrote on the Istaria community forum, thanks to a suggestion discussion, and later posted at Fanfiction.net. Thought I might as well post it here too. I'm know as Flamestar on the forum. :)

What if the 11 Living Races of Istaria weren't alone in their war against the Blight? What if there was a 12th race, long hidden and unknown to the outside world? What if the Withered Aegis found them first and ensnared them in the Blight? What if a survivor escaped and sought help from the Empire? Currently a one-shot.
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AD scowled as she read the newspaper article again. She was still on the front page, and the story had spread to many other papers during her first week in this strange world. The story of her “attack” on that “anonymous source” was false, of course, but she didn’t think anyone would stay calm long enough for her to explain things. Even worse, the story had been updated to include alleged sightings of her, blurry photos, and interviews with town watches and bounty hunters. There was some good news though. It seemed at least one group of the hunters weren't chasing her for the reward, and simply wanted to find her to keep her out of trouble. She supposed she should be grateful, but in her mind it was still best to avoid contact at all, if possible. AD sighed, stashing the paper away in her small shelter to use as fire kindling later. Said shelter was little more than a shallow burrow covered with brush and cut bamboo, but it would serve her needs for now. Looking up at the sun to check the time, she decided it was time to head out. She grabbed the cloak stashed in her burrow as well, and, making sure it covered her properly, headed back through the forest towards the town. Her wing was almost healed, but she didn't risk flying just yet. Besides, walking gave her more time to think.

She'd stolen the cloak from someone's clothesline, and the newspaper from a mailbox. That bothered her enough as it was. In her own world, she was a guardian above all else, and then a warrior, but here, here reduced to a thief. Stealing from an alien warlord bent on conquest and genocide was one thing, but this... These people were innocents. She had no reason to fight them. Unfortunately, she had no money to offer them either. The little coin she had found, which, strangely enough, was just floating in the air in places and hidden inside equally strange floating blocks and cubes of brick, had been stolen from her while she slept by those black ninjas who seemed determined to make her stay here miserable. One of them had actually had the nerve to tape a note to her forehead as they were leaving. He’d gotten a good headbutt before she’d sent them all running with a few well placed fireballs. The note, interesting enough, had said:

“We O U an angry mob.
- The Fumon”

She hadn’t been able to catch them in the night, and the next day when she’d gone to search for more coin, it was find all of the areas she’d noted picked clean. Not even the bricks had been left. This wasn’t her only encounter with the Fumon, having been ambushed by a small group of them only two days earlier. She’d beaten them off, and guessed it was this same group which had robbed her and left the note. She sighed, thinking back to the newspaper again. No doubt it had been that first ninja spreading word about her that got the hunt started in the first place. She’d have to be on her guard more than ever. She told herself that she was used to that by now... Still... In the war against Coredeath, at least she hadn't been the only fugitive...

But AD had other problems besides the price on her head. This new world took some getting used to. The floating blocks and coins were weird enough, but there were also pipes sticking out of the ground and from the undersides of ledges, and even sticking sideways out of cliffs and hills. Then there was something constantly just at the edge of her vision. If she focused on it, it looked like a small picture of her head with a number zero beside it. No one else she’d seen had a number, or if they did, it was something only they could see. Overall, there was a nagging feeling in the back of her mind that the entire setup of this world reminded her of something... She just couldn’t figure out what yet...

Her body was something else new to figure out. She was used to moving on two legs, but the different body proportions made her clumsy at first. She was glad to discover that she could still breath fire, though it now felt like hiccuping and came out as fireballs instead of a steady exhale and a thick stream of flame. The wings were another problem altogether. Even without the healing bruises, she had no idea how to preen them correctly. The few times she'd tried, she'd broken feathers with her teeth or yanked them out completely with her long sticky tongue, both of which hurt. Her senses were also different. Dragons had hearing and sight well beyond human range, and could even see in infrared, granting them excellent night vision. Yoshies seemed to have human-level sight, with some improved night vision. But there were no visible ears, making AD wonder how she was hearing things at all. Feeling the sound vibrations through her skin, maybe? Her nose proved to be incredibly enhanced though, giving her a sense of smell to rival a bloodhound's. Dragons' noses, while more powerful than a human's, weren't anywhere near as good as a yoshi's.

Most pressing on AD's mind, however, were food and water. At home, the Alliance had been self-sustaining, thanks to civilian and craftsmen refugees turning the miles of HQ's underground caverns into farms and workshops with a combination of magic and technology, so basic needs, and even some creature comforts, hadn’t been lacking. But here, she would have to fend for herself again. She could forage and hunt, having lived off that in the past, but after the first few days of this, the prey, and even the plants seemed to have gone into hiding, mostly inside those strange pipes dotting the landscape. She didn't dare follow them into those, not knowing if she'd be able to get back out again.

That her new form was omnivorous was a blessing, but being able to swallow things as big as she was had been a shock. Dragons could only manage chunks of food the size of their mouths. She also apparently had a gizzard, but instead of spitting out pellets like owls did, inedible material was laid as eggs. But even with these advantages, she just couldn't seem to get enough food. Her first night scouting the town had brought better luck, as she hadn’t eaten all that day, and led her to a storage shed full of fruit. The different fruits looked just like ones from home, but were each as big as her whole head. It had taken no less than thirty of those before she was satisfied. Such a voracious appetite made her question if yoshies hibernated during the winter. Near as she could tell, it was currently mid-summer here, when food should be plentiful. Needless to say, she'd nearly been caught during her gorging. She hadn't returned to that shed since, despite the tantalizing smell, and the owner had warned others of her break-in, making any more such nighttime ventures all but impossible. As for water, thankfully that was a bit easier. The old well in town had been capped to keep anyone from falling in, and she had only to remove this for a drink, then remember to put it back afterward. Her nose had led her to several pools in the forest as well, though most of the water seemed to be underground. She found that she could also get it from the plants she ate, but with little food, that didn't help much.

So now, a week since her arrival, AD found herself just outside the town market in broad daylight, sizing up a target to to rob- and hating every second of it.
First Days are Always the Hardest
Yes, I know it ends at a sort of cliffhanger. But I'm still figuring out who her target is going to be, and I didn't just want to leave this sitting around in my documents...

Anyway, here are the links back to parts 1 and 2. Will post links to the next part when it comes up. :)

Part 1: arkansandragon.deviantart.com/…

Part 2: arkansandragon.deviantart.com/…

Part 4: www.deviantart.com/art/The-Thi…

Part 5: arkansandragon.deviantart.com/…
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So... I've recently discovered the surprisingly addictive game known as Minecraft. I thought it was cool. Still like Istaria better. And than I discovered the Minecraft mods. Oh. My. Gosh. O_O Those are just amazing! So that got me wondering... I've been watching "Gaijin Gamers Play", and how our favorite Goombahs and friends would like game some Game Exchange mods. :) Now, I'm just starting out with learning code, even though I have a game design hobby. So I probably couldn't pull it off yet... But if there are any Minecraft modders out there who are also fans of Game Exchange... Would anyone be interested in trying to do a Game Exchange mod for Minecraft?
Fan Art Idea?
No idea where to put this.
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I also have a fanfiction.net account: www.fanfiction.net/u/1218133/A…

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:iconamcalmaron:
AMCAlmaron Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Cheers for the watch!
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MechaPriest Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy late birthday! 
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arkansandragon Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2014
Thank you! :)
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Nights2Dreams Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Just wanted to say, happy birthday :) hope you have a good one. Do take care.
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arkansandragon Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2014
Thanks! :)
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Ceasarex-the-mage Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2014  Student General Artist
TY for the Fave!:iconthanksforfaving: 
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Brunofneves Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for the fav!
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Darkphoenix909 Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for the watch!  :D
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istarlome Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2013
this is long overdue....thanks for the :+fav: :hug:
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cloneddragon Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
hum, so Contest Entry: ADJL avatar is currently featured on Jeff goodes site for ADJL fan art.
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