There was a dragon at my lair entrance yelling down inside.
“Flatspin, are you home?” The voice echoed through the caverns.
“Yes…” came my reply, still groggy from too much ale.
“It’s your daughter, Agua. I need to speak with you, it is urgent.”
“Justa moment . . .”
The sounds of empty kegs being gathered could be heard. She only wished her good news might bring me out of my depression. His thoughts reflected on his mate of many years having vanished, with no clues where she might have gone. Though he searched everywhere, even into the dangerous parts of Istaria, she could not be found. The noise abated.
“Ok you may enter.” I grumbled, wondering why my sleep was interrupted.
Agua entered my hall chamber and sat beside me.
“What brings you here my daughter? Come to watch your father drink himself into oblivion?”
“Mandu would like an audience with you.”
“Why can’t he just…” as the reality set in I sighed. “Ok, let’s hear it.”
I stood up on my legs and stretched. “Another mate for Agua.” I thought as I remembered the day when I took up a new mate, believing my first love was gone forever. I flew over to where Mandu had said to meet me, near the waterfalls at Mia’s Edge. My landing was not graceful.
“Hello Mandu, I hear you wish to speak a request of me.”
“Yes sir, I know that you are Agua’s father and I wish to be bonded to her in ceremony. I ask for your blessing in this manner.”
“I will allow this, you must promise me that you will stand strong at her side, and be there when she needs you.”
After the ceremony, I decided to fly around. I saw an argument ensuing below between some Naka and decided to stick my snout in to listen.
“Our community is RUINED.” One of the naka yelled at the man dressed in silken robes marked with the royal imperial symbol on the back.
“It was by order of the empire that all abandoned plots below a mandated size were to be sold. The structures were unkempt and in need of repair.”
“But we used those machines, some even had silos open to us. We woke up one morning to lands barren of structure. Is this the land the empire wishes us to live in??” said another.
The official cleared his throat. He knew what they said had some truth to it but he had to stick to his job.
“The lands were to be condemned anyway, so whether or not, the structures would have been torn down by land management. All plots are to be resized to larger areas. This will give Istarians larger areas to construct NEW buildings and machines. Perhaps you should save your tongue for your new neighbors and request of them to replace that which was lost.”
Murmuring started around the group that got louder and angrier. I let out a roar that probably could have been heard in the next community over. All of the Naka quieted, fearing I might be hungry or just hung over.
“You Naka… look around you. Istaria is in ruins. For years these structures stood as a testimony to those that have once lived here. Yes, they were useful but they are gone. Be lucky you have plots as there are no lairs left for dragons. Be thankful that you will have bigger plots soon to work on. And be grateful that you still have land… as the Withered Aegis battles even today to reclaim the land you so preciously argue about.”
The murmuring started again, but heads were nodding and a little more order came to the chaos that had started. I snorted at them and flew off. Below me I could see why they angered so. A great deal of Istaria’s plots were below the imperial’s new standard and had been bought, cleansed, and then condemned back to the empire. Entire communities lay barren leave a few larger plots that were still standing. “The Naka will survive, though I should have eaten a few of them… I’m hungry.”
To make the citizens of Istaria happy, they soon erected a summer Pax Istaria festival outside of Tazoon. Fireworks, an animal feeding zoo, (though I wouldn’t call them animals as we fight their older versions on a daily basis), and everyone there was gathered around this Naka named “The Huckster”
“What’s up with this guy?” I asked.
“You use your Imperial Bounty Markers and buy tickets.” Serres responded, “Then you trade them for animal food, fireworks, or give them to this guy” pointing to the Huckster. Serres pulled out a royal scepter from the Huckster’s stash of stuff.
So I spent a little time there and in an hour had a sizable collection of formulas, hoard, soul fragments and…. Snowballs… 600 of them. Many were having such fun trading tickets and getting things they really didn’t bother to think how addicting this could be. I had to stop after 200 tickets as I could have spent all day just sitting in the sun gathering more things to clog up my already overstuffed lair.