Ties That Bind
It had been nine years since Tiranis had devoured her brothers in the nest. Seven years had passed since the baby dragon had watched an elven hunting party kill her mother. The sadness had passed, but the hatred and anger had only grown.
Tiranis was much larger now; nearly full grown. She was marvelous to behold, with brilliant purple scales fitted so perfectly together that she appeared smooth. Tiranis never lost her egg tooth; it had grown with her and the grey protrusion was part of her visage. Her bat-like wings, which would span nearly twenty feet while in flight, were now tucked almost imperceptibly on her back. Hovering just above her wings was her deadly barbed tail. Tiranis’ back legs were powerful, built to hold prey. Her front legs were far more delicate, almost human-like in their dexterity. However, no human hands sported claws like the razors on Tiranis. This type of hand allowed the dragon to wield weapons, wear jewelry, and cast spells without a word.
The dragon quickly moved her digits in strange gestures, releasing an icy blast. The petals of a heliconia plant turned white and cracked open. The sweet smell of the nectar trapped inside wafted out. Tiranis had been practicing her spellcraft. She was becoming very adept, both with the speed and power of her magical forces. This prowess with earthen magic was not overlooked.
The groundlings, which her mother had summoned to serve as Tiranis’ protectors, had taken note of the dragon’s power. The three earthen forms stood in a huddle and discussed their obligation to Tiranis.
“Her mother summoned us to make sure that she was safe,” the smallest groundling started. The creature was gnome sized, but looked more like a mushroom. The cap, which was part of the figure’s head, resembled a large red sedge hat covered in silver medallions. Tiranis had named him Spores. He raised an arm in the direction of the dragon and continued, “I would say that she is safe now.”
The medium sized groundling couldn’t argue. “Her magic is fine. Her claws are sharp, and her scales are hard.” The body of the creature was broad but short, like a dwarf. The skin of the creature appeared to consist of bark with small bits of moss clinging in spots. The dragon called him Stumpy, although the creature cringed every time he heard the name. “She is a dragon, and doesn’t need us anymore.”
“She has not needed us for some time now,” the largest groundling spoke. He looked like a lion with a mane of leaves. His voice was deep and powerful, yet there was kindness in his eyes which was lacking in the other groundlings. “Let us not trick ourselves. It is not her budding power that is making us seek release, but the growing evil inside her.” His face was sad. “We are all in agreement that the Heart of Carinth should pass to the elves of Silkwood?” Spores and Stumpy both nodded reluctantly. Munkus, the lion-like groundling, gave a sigh. “I will deliver the stone to the elves immediately. When I return, we will say our goodbyes to Tiranis.”
“Munkus, do you think she will turn her evil on us if she finds out?” Stumpy asked the leonal groundling.
Spores cringed at the thought, “She must never find out.”
Munkus thought for a moment before giving his answer. “I agree that we should take every measure to insure she does not find out. Although, I do not think she would hurt any of us. I like to believe that she thinks of us as brothers,” he stated with a smile. The three groundlings took comfort in that thought. They didn’t know any better.
“You have to watch my eyes!” Kaa screamed at Bynn. The two elves were sparring with wooden weapons. Kaa launched into a frenzied attack and beat the younger Bynn back.
“You just told me to watch your waist!” Bynn countered, both with words and swords.
Kaa turned and threw his wooden sword into the surrounding forest. He also threw his hands up in disgust. “That’s right! You had better watch my arms too. And if I had a tail, you make sure you keep a close eye on it as well.” The hunting master pointed at Bynn, “Or did you forget how painful that sting can be?”
Bynn reached back and rubbed the scar where the dragon had stabbed his shoulder. Even though it had been many years ago, he had not forgotten the pain of the dragon’s toxin. It was a miracle he had survived at all. However, he still did not understand the lesson his teacher was pushing. “So I have to focus on every little thing, all at the same time? Watch your eyes, lips, hair, hands, and your ass too?”
“No need to watch my ass, unless you’re into that sort of thing,” Kaa said as he started to calm down. “On second thought, even if you are into that sort of thing, keep your eyes off MY ass.”
Bynn laughed and shook his head as he shoved his two wooden swords into the dirt. “You wish I was into that sort of thing, so I would keep my hands off of your daughter,” he joked. Kaa nodded his head emphatically. “You are a glutton for disappointment, I am afraid.” The two elves shared a laugh. Bynn was ready to receive his lesson.
Kaa was proud of the younger elf. Bynn had come a long way in his training, and was very proficient when duel wielding a long and short sword. Although no one would ever be good enough for Vaidon, Bynn was about as close as any elf on the island would come. The elven father shook those thoughts from his mind; it was time to be the teacher. “You can’t fight a blood monkey the same way you fight a jaguar. And you can’t fight a jaguar the same way you fight a terror bird. Each one will require you to look at different things in order to defend against them.”
“So how do you know what to look for?” Bynn was very interested. Since the attack from the dragon he had only been on light hunts; never hunting anything truly dangerous. If Kaa was going to teach him about such creatures, perhaps it meant a more intense hunt was forthcoming. Bynn dared to hope.
Kaa noticed Bynn’s excitement, and in truth he had planned on taking him on a terror bird hunt soon. “Jaguars will tell you everything you need to know by their ears. Monkeys give themselves away by the way they hold their mouths and chins.” Kaa went into detail and Bynn listened well. “The eyes of a terror bird may seem like a blank canvas; but if you can learn to pick up on the subtle movements, then you will never get nipped by one of those terrible bills.” Bynn was concentrating, and soaking up the information as Kaa continued in a serious tone. “The only creatures that use their asses to clearly show their motives are our female elves.” It took Bynn a moment to register the comment. His confused expression caused Kaa to laugh loudly enough to earn a response from a nearby howler monkey.