GGCE 12 – Old Dogs (2)

“Yeah, Glacier. I just felt the connection reform right now…” She said, soberer now, anger fading as she circulated her mana throughout her body to purge the alcohol “Eh? EH?! T-T-The Hearth Mother?!” The elf shut the girl’s mouth with one hand “Shut it, Annabell!” She growled as Grannar patted his cheeks to try and soberer up. “He’s going to come now… Isn’t he?” She knew which ‘He’ the dwarf was referring to. Like most Fey races, Dwarves had long lives, some living up to ten-thousand years, while Grannar wasn’t that old, he certainly was in the upper thousands. He had not seen the wonders of the first age, but he was there during the tail end. When the world had the pick up the pieces when the gods disappeared.

They were referring to Glacier’s dad, Lord Edward.

After the poor girl managed to get a grip on herself, the elf removed her hand. Annabel was still left in a daze though. She couldn’t blame her. The Hearth Mother religion had a massive following outside the two largest countries, the Theocracy of Alistair and whatever the hell country was next to it. Otherwise, those damned statues that Lord Edward had erected in her likeness could be found in most places that the Templars hadn’t been. The Church didn’t go out of its way to destroy them, but when they were found, they had to be destroyed. Their sphere of religious influence mainly hovered around the rear countries were monsters were mild and Demons rarely reached.

However, it was mainly around prosperous countries – which weren’t front-line countries. Front line countries struggled to deal with monsters and the like, those countries treasured the statues as they had the strange effect of keeping a half-mile area radius safe from monsters. Demons used to respect them before and stayed clear of them, but recently they had been near the statues, but not harming people inside them. This made for interesting interactions because no hostile actions were welcomed in the presence of the Hearth Mother, one who welcomed all travelers.

Ha’vie could attest to her kindness.

“When do you think Lord Edward will come for you?” Grannar asked as he sipped at the mead in his drinking horn. He had lost his thirst at the mention of that man, but he was too cheap to not drink it after paying for it though. Lord Edward had nearly killed him when he found out Grannar was dating Ha’vie sometime before the fall of Fable’s End. They weren’t on speaking terms, but that was expected. He wasn’t someone Lord Edward would approve of. He wasn’t some noble nor was a powerful Warrior or mage. He was good at inventing and cooking. He was decent with a crossbow though and he could fend for himself against a B-Class monster.

“He’ll be here next week at the earliest if he doesn’t know where Athena is.” Ha’vie shrugged. She was sure he already spoke to Big brother Fenrir. He was always the most loyal to Lady Glacier. When Fable’s End was a bustling Elven city, there were rumors that he was personally created by Lady Glacier herself, while Athena had been tamed in battle. Ha’vie herself had been picked up as a teen when her village had been destroyed. She was now an adult, but Lord Edward still treated her like his ward, something that bothered her to no end. Lord Edward wasn’t a pleasant man, but one could think of him like a bad-tempered grandpa who did things for your good but wasn’t so good at doing it nicely.

That’s something she learned only after Fenrir had spoken to her and pointed out everything he had done. He wasn’t good at expressing himself since he lost Lady Avery and Camilla. However… Lord Edward did not approve of her husband, Grannar. By approve, he nearly killed him when they met. Since then, they had been on bad terms. Not even the Monster Hunter guild knew they were married either. The Guild Leader was trying to court her and Grannar wasn’t a strong man. He was a gentle dwarf, a good man.

“Ya think he’ll try and take my head off again?” Grannar said with a teasing tone, but they both knew it was an actual possibility. He sipped at his mead, his thirst gone and replaced with anxiety. The music filled room began to just annoy them after the long day. They had just gotten back from a long quest and didn’t want to bother with the difficult stuff like this. Ha’vie only wanted to bunk down and get her loving, however, the fact that the mystical bond between her and her mistress was reignited just the other day scared her.

She didn’t know what the future would entail for her and Grannar…

As the mood soured quite a bit, the couple had set their mugs down silently and just listened to the ambiance of the tavern. The laughter, the music, and the clanking of iron ware as the subjugation party celebrated its victory. A small victory considering they left with nearly double their numbers, but the world was slowly growing more dangerous that not even Ha’vie could protect them all. A girl came over and clamped her hands on Grannar and Ha’vies’ shoulders with a hearty laugh. “Why the long faces!? The Scorpions should be celebrating!” The elf turned slightly to look at the girl.

She was a muscular human nearly seven-foot dressed in fine silks that looked gaudy on her. She was this guild branch’s manager, Diana Storm-born, Viking of the Western Isles “I heard you guys saved a lot of people out there. Not saving them all was to be expected.” The manager misunderstood the situation, but that worked in their favor. It was a personal problem anyways. “Will do.” She said. She made small talk with Diana before she managed to fend her off her husband. “Keep it up. You guys are the only S-Ranked Monster hunters here.” She said as she made her rounds about the groups.

Afterward, the couple decided to call it a night and drag their tired bodies to their house on the edge of town, the weigh of the future still pressing down on them.

. . . . . . . .
A woman stared out into the unending vastness of the night sky, a sea of puffy grey clouds underneath. The high altitude winds howled in her ears, blowing her platinum blonde hair; revealing large horns that resembled those of a ram’s on both sides of her head. Her red-eyes overlooked the world from a ruined stone Terrance. Behind her lay the ruins of the Sky Gardens, the homeland of Dragons. “Lady Athena, your subject pays respects.” A stoic man no taller than six-feet knelled behind her as her white dress hugged her enchanting body. The man dared not even look at his goddess’s body, only keeping his eyes trained on the dusty stone floor a foot from her feet.

“What do you have to report?” She said, her voice sweet on the wind. “Yes. Fable’s End has had movement. The previous mid-day, a group of humans found the city, but one, in particular, managed to trigger Lord Edward’s trap and the group was nearly annihilated.  The one that managed to trigger the trap managed to get his hands on Lady Avery-” The man’s report was cut off by the sound of crushing stone. The silenced himself, hoping his lady’s rage would not be directed at him. He closed his eyes and prayed to his ancestors for safety as the sound of more stone being crushed filled his ears.

It wasn’t until a few minutes later did his lady’s sweet voice enter his ears. “Continue.” Her voice was monotone and he knew to finish up.” The humans managed to get through the Death barrier and holy barrier set on the mountain. This morning, they left with Lady Avery in tow. The group entered combat with a horde led by a Greater dragon that watched over a piece of the Great Divide. The dragon and his minors were routed personally by Lady Avery’s hands.” Finishing his report, only the wind answered him as Athena silently mulled over this information.

Over the course of five hundred years, she had been trying to reunite the dragon tribes. Dragons had become an endangered species after Mistress Avery had felled the Sky King, but she couldn’t blame her. He truly was a mad king that would have destroyed everything they loved. No one knew his motives for why he tried to destroy the world, but he did. It wasn’t until the Dark Emperor dragon came that another king was crowned… and he too felled by her mistress. Now her soul was touched by filthy humans, unfit to even serve as her slaves!

Her blood boiled to raze those humans who desecrated the holy grounds of Fable’s End and awoke her Mistress. “Does Lord Edward know about it…?” She asked in a small voice barely carried by the wind. The dragon heard it though. “Yes, it seems Lord Edward tried to kill them but did not at the end. He let them leave the city with their lives. He then fought with the Southern God Alistair. The one that- ” He was cut off. ” I know who he is!” Athena hissed with seething rage at the mention of the name. The reporting dragon could only sweat like he was a passing rain cloud as his lady’s rage was particularly bad tonight.

“Was there anything else…?” She asked after tempering her rage to a dangerous calmness. “I have not heard any reports about Miss Ha’vie. With that, nothing else to report on.” He said. “You may leave now.” By the time “Leave” had left her lips, the dragon had already spirited away through the broken doorways of the castle and made himself scarce. Athena paid it no mind as her red eyes glowed with barely reigned in rage. “I should just purge those pests.” Of the three, Athena was the most ruthless and violent – with a hatred of humans.

While her master hunted dragons, she used their bodies to the fullest extent she could. Most humans left their bodies to rot where they fell, some even just cut their heads for trophies. She could not stand such disrespect, that was why she aimed to be the next Queen of Dragons. Her Mistress waking could hamper her plans, but she was willing to put her ambitions aside if Lady Glacier wished it. In her eyes, no one was more important than her. Which was why she felt such anger that someone had dared to defile her soul orb. The one Lady Camilla worked so hard to bring back from the afterlife.

She took one last look over the moonlit sky before turning to the ruins of the floating islands called Sky gardens. Floating over the Eastern seas, it was one large land mass, the size of Fable’s End mountain, but upside down with smaller islands orbiting it. They were attached to the main island with either long think ropes the size of cows or small bridges made of moss-covered stones. It had been nearly fifty years since she had taken the Sky Gardens, but she hadn’t fully explored it. They barely managed to take the main island after fifty long years and the cooperation of every Greater dragon that was free to fight.

While dragons were immortal, aside from Wyverns, that didn’t mean they couldn’t die. Disease, curses, and poisons. Each inch of land had taken so long to take due to having to be vigilant against so many unholy things that had taken up residence or were left from the age of the Sky King. She didn’t understand how the Mistress made it through in one day. Truly Lady Glacier and her friends were beings above gods. Since the taking of the main island and clearing the many traps, not much was left – making it a safe haven for dragons now.

Soon, they’d be taking the orbiting islands one by one after the other dragons tended to their tribes. Some of the smaller tribes who’d already been pushed from their homes by encroaching humans or demons took up residence in the many nooks and crannies. The misfortune of dragons growing smaller by the century seemed to work in their favor here as the greater dragons didn’t even number in the hundreds, leaving plenty of room for their smaller kin. Walking down in her human form, she strolled down a broken grey-stone path that leads through an overgrown plaza were several Greater Dragons awaited in their dragon forms. “What be the news, would-be-queen?” A grey dragon asked, his large red eyes full of curiosity.

“The hearth mother has returned,” Athena said, the corners of her lips rising in a smile.

. . . . .

The pitiful caravan moved on, trudging through the morning fog of the forest as they neared the border of the Empire. Desmond walked in between the two girls, His right eye was swollen where he had been punched by Navara last night, but he still could see that blissful scene. Avery, however, didn’t seem to care too much about it as she let him off with Navara’s punch to the face. He tried hard not to think too much about last night, even after seeing such godly figures. Yet the smirk still plastered his face. One good smack sounded as Navara’s hand swiped across the back of his head “Ouch! What was that for?!” Desmond whined.

“You’re still thinking about last night!” She barked back. “It’s written all over your face, man,” Avery added with a giggle. She didn’t mind, not anymore. Her first reaction seemed to lean more towards a reactionary response rather than actually being upset. “Can’t you stop her, Avery?” He pleaded, but she only brushed him off with a smile and the shake of a finger. “You’re on your own, Desmond. Who told you to look at girls bathing?” Desmond only moaned at the treatment but found it wasn’t so bad. Navara wasn’t using her full strength and Avery could tell it was the embarrassment that mostly filled Navara’s actions. The girl probably liked being looked at by her one-sided love, but she wasn’t going to fully think that. (PF: Ashes told him to! It’s not Desmond’s fault!)

Desmond sat on a horse, his face black and blue. He had seen Heaven, then he experienced hell, yet he couldn’t find himself to regret it. He couldn’t remove the scene he had saw the other night of those two angels, the beautiful in the moonlight. That was until Navara slapped him across the back of the head, her face bright red while Avery walked leisurely beside them. ” You’re thinking about last night, aren’t you?!” She hissed, embarrassed that he saw them. She was just regretting beating him up until she saw him grinning like a fool to himself and she wondered “When did this boy become so dirty?!” Desmond only apologized, pushing the blissful image to the back of his mind.

Avery was the only one who didn’t mind what happened, rather she seemed all too calm. “Don’t you feel dirty, now that he saw you naked?”, but her only response was “I don’t know, it didn’t really feel wrong.” Avoiding saying “This isn’t my real body.” Aside from the fact it was her only body now, she just couldn’t find it in her to feel wronged. Navara did look at her funny afterward.

The group looked at the trio with a mixture of hatred, amusement, or annoyance. They didn’t tell them anything though. They had a long march ahead of as the distant border wall came into view. “Avery, have you been to the Empire?” Desmond asked tried to redirect Navara only for her to throw it right back. “She’s been sleeping for a long time! Of course she hasn’t!” She wanted to slap this stupid book-worm again but she didn’t want to make him too stupid.

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