AchromaAchroma

DEVIOUS PLANS

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At a signal from the watcher atop the Monastery Nest, a small company of dragons cautiously leaves its safety in hopes of reaching one of the few remaining chroma storehouses to hold their lifesaving fuel. Behind, two monks in ornithopters take to the sky. Unbeknownst to anyone, lurking on the underside of the floating land ahead, sinuous movements and gentle hissing fill the shadows as monstrous drakes lie in wait.

Looking all about them, the dragons are reassured of the sky’s solitude and fly in earnest toward their target. A harsh cry pierces the air as spiny-headed rocs interrupt their flight. Sharp talons extended, their red-rimmed eyes glitter as they hinder the dragon’s progress.

Tails swishing and claws tearing at the air, the dragons successfully bat away the nuisance birds, checking once more they are alone. The darkling sky still empty of threats, they urge themselves on.

The moment the dragons are too far to successfully flee back to the safety of the Monastery Nest, malum drakes – this breed are medium in length and round of body, strong and serpentine with elongated claws – spread their massive wings and slam into the dragons from beneath, sending them reeling in shock at the sneak attack.

Recovering themselves, the group of rocs seize their opportunity to claw at the dragons’ eyes as they attempt to weave away from the malum’s determined pursuit. A few amongst the dragons’ number are a breed known as minima who fling themselves into malum drakes, aiming for the weak spot between the raking claws and sharp deadly teeth. In wrapping their wings about themselves, the minima become a projectile of near deadly force, using the momentum of their flight to strike in a whirling ball.

The sky seems full of falling or feinting dragons, lashing tails and gnashing teeth. Their roars and clashing bodies make a mighty din which shakes the foundations of the land nearest their battle.

In their attempts to escape, the dragons’ descent brings them close to the drake hiding place below. The malums and rocs fall back, gleeful to have succeeded in their plan. The dragons look behind, out of breath and wounded. They alight upon the barren wasteland, looking upward.

A roar of joy spreads through them as an impundulu – a beautiful golden bird the size of a roc – appears. It’s glimmering feathers glow in the last rays of the sun as it sings a beautiful song of hope to the dragons, on its way to alight and perhaps heal them.

Creeping and crawling from the dark beneath the barren wasteland, Tenebris uncoils his massive bulk. He heaves himself forward and up, silently, hanging behind the unsuspecting dragons until suddenly he strikes, coiling himself about the golden-feathered impundulu just before it can reach the dragons. Wings pinned to its body, the beautiful bird can do nothing but croak in fear as Tenebris tightens himself, hissing his victory in the face of the watching dragons whose fight is momentarily quenched in surprise and fear.

Tenebris grins, slow and dangerous, his slit pupils widening at the pleasure of the task as he propels himself and the impundulu into the air, releasing the bird when his flight reaches its zenith and watching it plummet, dashing the dragons’ hope to the ground.

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