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Restoration

Elorendil

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The sun’s first light crept over the tops of the trees. Or, rather, it would have, if there had been any sun to see. The sky was covered in a thick blanket of dark rain clouds, and poured torrents of driving rain upon the quiet hamlet. Two sopping elves led a pair of horses from the stable.

“Fine day for a journey,” one commented drily. Her companion made no reply. Undaunted by the answering silence, the first elf continued. “She will not be pleased by this.” At this, her friend merely nodded as they continued to slog through the deep mud towards the hilltop where they were to meet the third member of their party.

As they neared the green hillock, the ground appeared to shift. The horses pulled back in fright. The golden haired elf made a face. “I had forgotten how difficult traveling with a dragon could be.” She said as she quieted her stallion.

Her companion had quite a bit more trouble with her own steed. “If only Nimar had not gone lame just before I left Imladris. This borrowed horse is more trouble than it is worth. But, at least she should be sound again by the time we reach Imladris.”

Presently, the hill lifted its head. At least, it would have been the hill’s head, if hills had heads. The green grass shimmered like so many emeralds and took shape. A young dragon stretched and yawned, flicking water crossly from its wingtips with a quick shake. “What was that about travelling with dragons?” she asked, fixing her intense on the elves.

“Errr, ummm…” The first elf stammered, searching for a way to placate the dragon.

“ ‘Ummm’ what, Mirelena?” The dragon grumbled as a thunderclap shook the ground. “And this weather is awful. I can’t fly when it is lightning!”

The second elf looked up at the dripping-wet dragon. “Well, then, Chrysophalax, you will just have to walk, like us. But first, we need to go see Narya and get your treasure.” The trio walked through the rain to the kitchen door of the Weeping Will Inn. The elf knocked on the door, which opened a crack to reveal a small orc. Trying to hide her distaste for the creature, she asked, “Is Narya there? Tell her the Elorendil and Mirelena have come to collect the Chrysophalax’s prize.” The orc turned and disappeared inside. A few moments later, a very sleepy Narya appeared with a dully gleaming object tucked under one arm.“I am sorry to wake you, Narya, but we feel this is important and must set out as soon as possible on our journey.” As Narya passed it to Elorendil, a drop of rain fell on the silver surface and hissed, like oil in a hot skillet. Elorendil quickly wrapped a protective cloth around it and looked at the dragon. “What shall we do with this, Chrysophalax? I have some room in my saddlebag. Or would you like to carry it?”
 

chrysophalax

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The emerald green dragon eyed her for a moment, looked disdainfully at the mud clinging to her normally immaculate claws, then shook herself, tenting her wings over her head. "As it is my treasue, I will carry it. It won't come to any harm that way."

She then extended her neck and plucked the small silver cage from the elf's hand. Talking would be a possibility for her now,but as the rain had put in her a foul mood, it was better that way. The elves weren't pleased at the turn in the weather either, so together they pushed on,looking hopefully to the sky for a break in the clouds.

Chrysophalax was philosophical...for a dragon. she had come on this journey because she had missed her friends, but also she hoped to find a true home for her treasure. It had seemed more than a coincidence to her that she had been the one to find the talking box, after all, it hadn't been that far up in the tree! Why had it attracted only her notice?

With so many questions, her curiosity was at fever-pitch. All dragons love puzzles and this one she felt sure would have a most interesting solution indeed!
 

Mirelena

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An older hobbit, wearing a wide-brimmed hat dripping with water, huddled on the seat of an old wagon as his pony trudged through the mud. The wheels left twin ruts behind him that quickly filled with water. As he turned east onto the main road with his load of soggy field greens his pony snorted and tossed its head nervously, and then his downcast eyes beheld an unusual sight.

A deep print in the grass at the side of the road was filled with water. Several hobbit strides later was another depression. What made the hobbit blink was the size and shape of what was obviously a footprint. No creature from the Shire was large enough to make a print that size. What was more, it looked more like a bird's foot with impossibly huge talons. Suddenly, the placid plodding of his packhorse stopped and wouldn't budge an inch. Raising his gaze the hobbit saw the reason for his animal's fright. There, just a little ways up the soupy lane lumbered a dragon!

Turning slowly to the heavy crock beside him, he blinked hard and shook his head. Looking up again and seeing the same thing, he reached over and set the liquor under his seat.
 

Mirelena

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It was unsurprising that while the hobbit was distracted by the dragon he would not have noticed two other figures walking beside it. Clad in grays and browns and greens, they looked like shadows of the land. Raindrops landed on the three companions and then ran off oiled cloaks and glistening scales. In contrast to the deep depressions left behind by Chrysophalax, the elves left shallow prints behind that filled with silvery ripples.

They walked until evening. The route they had chosen would take them north and east to skirt the Old Forest and then on to Bree. There they would stop at an inn to dry out their clothes and have a warm meal. In the meantime, when they found a copse of trees that provided some pretense of shelter, they took the opportunity to stop and have a small meal. The elves produced parcels of dried fruit and canteens of water while Chrys looked at the sky and, satisfied that there was no lightning, took to the skies to find a meal. Elorendil and Mirelena gave their horses a handful of grain from a saddlebag and then tethered them to trees to graze what they could from the soggy earth.

"I certainly hope that Chrys can find something to eat," Mirelena began, "It has occurred to me that it would be horrible if she became so hungry we would be compelled to sacrifice our steeds for our friend."

Elorendil smiled at this. "We have nothing to fear, I am sure. Chrysophalax has always exercised the utmost self-control."

"The utmost you say?" Mirelena echoed and raised an eyebrow. "Our dear dragon's self-control is indeed laudable, more so even than that of some nobles I know, but I do believe that we have each had the opportunity to bruise our pride in the presence of others. Or have you forgotten the time when we put pinecones in Lord Elrond's-"

"Of course I have!" Elorendil said quickly. "I have put it completely out of my memory."

"What is out of your memory?" asked Chrysophalax as she descended to them. The horses snorted and stamped nervously at her approach.
 

Elorendil

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"Nothing," Elorendil said, shooting a warning glance at Mirelena. There was no need to bring that story up. She and Mirelena had been rather mischevious when they were younger. The inhabitants of Rivendell had learned quickly to be on their guard when the duo was around. A smile touched the corners of her lips, despite the damp chill that hung in the air. It would be good to be back. She turned her attention back to the larger of her two companions. "Have you hunted your fill, dear dragon?"

Chrysophalax sniffed in discontent and licked her lips hungrily. "I have had but a snack. The game seems to be hiding in little caves from this rain."

"That is unfortunate, though I cannot say that I blame any creature who hides from this miserable drizzle." Mirelena said. "But we should move on if we wish to make it to the village of Bree by nightfall. I am sure you will be able to catch something during the night."

"Aye," Elorendil chimed in with a smirk. "Just be sure you do not catch some old farmer's cow, or we shall never be welcome at the Prancing Pony again." She turned and leapt up onto her stallion. "Come, let us be going. The sooner we leave, the sooner we can get indoors and dry off!"

* * *

Night fell early that evening, heralded by ever darkening thunderclouds. What a troupe we must look like, Elorendil mused as they finally came in view of the cozy little town. Lights shone out from windows and smoke curled upwards from chimneys, promising warmth and a good meal. Two soaking wet elves in the company of a dragon! We are likely to give the good gatekeeper quite a start. When they finally reached the rickety old gate, Elorendil slid to the ground and knocked twice. A small window opened in the gate.

"What do you want?" Demanded the wizened old gatekeeper.

"My companions and I wish to lodge at the Pony for the night," she answered, gesturing to Mirelena. Chrysophalax hung back just out of sight of the gatekeeper.

"Alright, fine lady," said the gatekeeper. "Come in and find rest and shelter." Slowly, moving with creaking joints, he opened the gate. When the gate finally swung open far enough for him to see Elorendil's second companion, he blanched. "There ain't been no dragons in these parts for many years!"

"She will not hurt anyone, good sire, I assure you," Elorendil said as she stepped past him. He made no move to stop her and simply stood staring. Elorendil cast a glance over her shoulder at her two companions. "Are you two coming, or are you going to stay out in the rain all night?"
 

chrysophalax

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Secretly enjoying watching the blood drain from the gatekeepers face, the young Dragon tightened her grip on her treasure, then launched herself into the air. The man fell back with a gasp and the elves, trying not to chuckle, strolled into Bree as though nothing untoward had just happened.

Overhead, Chrys circled slowly above them, rumbling her amusement as several townspeople began to look upward and point. From long practise, she knew she was well out of range, should any young archer take it into his mind to try his luck, so she swooped and dipped, giving them a show they wouldn't soon forget!

In the street, Elorendil and Mirelena could barely contain their laughter. They knew their friend didn't like the taste of Men, but it was more than obvious the locals didn't! Quavering voices mingled with the occasional fainting spell as the good citizens of Bree beheld the first Dragon seen in those parts in several hundred years. The fact that two of the First Children were making their way toward The Pony didn't even make the oldest granny bat an eye.
 

Illuin

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The shrieks and hollers from alarmed townspeople may as well been a thunderous applause in the mind of the euphoric dragon. “In a proper world, a last bow would be a suitable gesture following a performance like this”; she said, as her path in the heavens wound up tight into small frenzied circles. Now hovering high above the old front gate, she spotted the gatekeeper directly beneath her, who appeared to be chasing two men away from the Inn. “I wonder what that’s all about”; she said, as she coiled her head beneath her right wing, and followed the couple trotting down the road with her sharpened eyes. She was about to lose interest and rejoin her companions when at once, the two men vanished before the dragon’s eyes. Alarmed, she straightened out her coiled neck and swiftly spun around to take another look; but there they were, traveling down the road into the darkening countryside. “Did I twist my head up so tight that I was beginning to lose consciousness?”.

The suspicious dragon moved in for a closer look. The lights of the receding town no longer lit the countryside, yet the dragon soon realized that not all was dark. “Mîr nin!”; she roared. Her treasure was glowing very bright and illuminating her underside. “That’s what obscured my vision; the light from Mîr nin! It must have been glowing brightly when the two men vanished, or, when I “thought” they vanished”. She took one last look at the two travelers to make sure; laughed nervously, and headed back to town. “Ha, I almost forgot I h..........whoa!” As she glanced at her treasure, she realized that it was no longer glowing brightly like it was; but was now hardly visible amid the light of the nearby town. “I wonder if it is trying to tell me something.” she thought; as she descended upon a nearby hill that stood high above the trees. She angled herself slightly to find the best footing, and just as she was about to touchdown, there was a momentary flash of light that lit up the top of the hill.

Although she was startled, she managed to set herself down softly upon the sandy hilltop. She was high above anything else nearby, so there was a clear view in all directions as far as the dragon eye can see. She set her treasure on the ground and waited for it to do something, or say something; but nothing happened. “Why was it glowing so brightly before; and what was that bright flash of light?” She sat there waiting and waiting, and it suddenly dawned on her; “Elorendil and Mirelena! I’ve got to get back before they start looking for me. Anyway, maybe they can help me figure this out if I tell them what happened”. She grabbed her treasure in haste, and just as she was about to launch herself back to town; there was another flash of light. “What in the name of Glaurung is going on here”; she said aloud.

She sat back down and held her treasure up to her eyes, and studied it closely. She rotated the box so she could examine each face closely, but it looked identical from all sides. “Hmm; I just can’t figure this out”; she said softly. Her eyes then gazed upon the countryside stretching endlessly beneath the moonlight; toward Rivendell. She looked again at her treasure and said; “Well, I might not be able to figure you out; but I’m sure they can over there”. As she said that, she moved her treasure (as to point) toward Rivendell, and there was a brilliant flash of light. “Wait a minute”. She thrust her treasure toward Rivendell a second time and there was another bright flash. “That’s it!” she said. “If it is moving toward Rivendell, it glows brightly”. She launched herself into the air and held her treasure far out in front of her. She turned toward Rivendell and at once her treasure was glowing bright enough to illuminate the taller treetops beneath her. “This is even better than scaring the townspeople”; she shouted. “I must have been heading directly toward Rivendell unawares when those two travelers seemed to vanish; and then after, when I was following them. I have to get back to town quickly and tell my two friends”.
 

chrysophalax

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Having lost sight of the two elves, she began scenting the air, her tongue flicking in and out rapidly, tasting it. After a few passes along the main road, she detected the faint but distinct scent that declared elf to her.

With a toothy grin, Chrysophalax dove down behind the smallish inn her friends had chosen, The Poxy Cat. Wrinkling her nose at the choice (no one had asked her anyway), she set about peeking in various windows. When the ground floor failed to yield results, she stood on her hind legs, fogging the glass with her breath.

She had tucked her treasure beneath one wing, holding it close. After seeing how bright it had glowed earlier, she was anxious for it not to be discovered and her leathery wing was of sufficient thickness to keep it hidden from prying eyes.

As she proceeded along the backside of the building, she heard the clear, lilting sound of Elor's laughter, coming from the floor above. Ah! There they are! They could at least have said... she thought ascerbicly. Glancing around quickly, Chrysophalax sunk her claws into the wood and climbed up the side of the structure to the sounds of protesting wood, groaning beneath her weight.

A few scratches on the glass brought both elves rushing to the window, eyes wide in astonishment. "Tell me you didn't just..." "Climb up the..." "Don't look now, yes, she did." Chrysophalax smiled. "I have news! Now, shall I come in, or will you come out?" she asked, a wicked gleam in her eye.
 

Mirelena

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Mirelena and Elorendil scrambled, rather comically, from the room and out to meet the dragon. By the time they had reached her, Chrys had let herself down the side of the building... and left a trail of clawmarks to show the method of her slow descent. The two elves looked from the twinkling eyes of the mischievous dragon to look at each other and then back to the scarred wood of the inn.

"Maybe they won't notice," Mirelena whispered in Elorendil's ear. Elorendil smiled and then addressed their serpentine companion.

"What it is the matter?" she asked. "You said you had news."

"Indeed I have!" the dragon crowed, "I think we're on the right track! I was flying with my treasure and it wants to go to Rivendell! It lights up when it goes in that direction. So we're going the right way."

"Well, that's certainly a comfort," Mirelena commented. "I wonder if the box is trying to communicate with us, or if it just enjoys traveling east."

"Either way, Imladris is most certainly our destination. Another week and we should know the answer to your question, my friend. In the meantime, I desire a hot meal. Though, the reputation of this establishment is somewhat questionable. How do I let you talk me into these things, Mirelena?"

The elf with the golden hair laughed innocently and replied, "I know you thrive on adventure!"

"Adventure, yes. I do not thrive as well on stew that looks like it should have been thrown out a week ago."

"Come now," Mirelena soothed, "A bottle of wine and you won't know the difference. Everyone knows that you cannot hold your liquor. Or have you forgotten the time that we-"

"Yes." Elorendil replied firmly. "I have put it entirely out of my mind."

"Are the two of you just going to stand there squawking like human women or will you eat you meal so we can be on our way?" interjected Chrysophalax.

With Mirelena still poking fun at Elorendil, they disappeared into the dingy interior of the inn.
 

Elorendil

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Elorendil put her hands on shapely her hips and stared at the dragon. "Chrysophalax, we have just arrived and night has come. We cannot set out tonight, tomorrow will have to be soon enough. I, for one, look forward to having a leisurely evening in the common room and sitting by the fire sipping a mug of fine ale."

Elorendil started towards the inn, then paused to cast a glance over her shoulder at the dragon. "Are you coming, Chrysophalax? It would be most entertaining to see the inhabitants of the establishment react to having you inside!"

She strode through the doors without waiting to see if the dragon would follow and trying simultaneously to ignore Mirelena's incessant teasing. Her senses were instantly assailed with an assortment of odors, both the inviting smells of hot food and the less pleasant scents of travelers after a long day's journey. Her stomach growled at the enticing scent of roasted mutton and a good meal. She quickly surveyed the inhabitants and selected a table beside the fire, with a group of young looking hobbits clustered nearby. A mischevious grin twitched on her lips as she made her way towards the desired resting place. She really did hope that Chrysophalax would come in. It would be rather comical to see the reaction of the hobbits when the dragon appeared.

She settled comfortably into a chair with a good view of the group of young rascals and waited.
 

chrysophalax

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The green dragon shook her head. Her friends clearly wanted her company, but this wasn't the Shire, nor was it the Weeping Willow and therefore she doubted the reception she might receive. People were rarely to be trusted, in her opinion.

Her thoughts turned to the lovely wooded hill overlooking the town just to the north. The perfect place to conceal myself and take a nap undisturbed. and so she took to the air once again, scanning the ground for the best spot to land. Her treasure hadn't glowed since she had told her friends of her discovery, but she wasn't worried. Carefully she curled up, nestling the tiny silver box against her belly, then laid her head atop her right wing, eyes opened the tiniest slit in order to guard against any intruder foolish enough to approach.

As morning dawned, Chrysophalax stretched her claws, digging them into the earth contentedly. The day looked to be a warm one and she spread her wings, flapping them gently to shake off the heavy dew that has accumulated in some of the ridged joints.

Suddenly, a scent wafted on the morning breeze snapped her to attention. Sheep! On her feet in an instant, she almost darted off without thinking, but a soft bell-like note chimed from the silver box, bringing her to a sudden stop. Mortified, she scooped it up and placed it in a nearby tree, clawing the trunk to help her find it again.

Her stomach rumbling, she then took to the air in search of breakfast, unaware that she had been spotted by an incredulous hunter not far from her resting place. The man followed her, keeping his distance, already picturing in his mind how fine her head would look, mounted in his wall.
 

Daranavo

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A well calloused hand shaded steely blue eyes as they looked at the immense creature that glided gracefully and almost effortlessly just above the morning horizon. There was no look of fear, no look of hatred or spite upon the man’s face as he continued to track the Green wyrm that flew above him on the wind. Thoughtfully he took it all in and as he rubbed his chin the wheels of tactics and strategy began to turn inside his mind. For Jayden was a Ranger and hunter, not just any hunter, Jayden was a Dragonslayer.

Though he had eaten at many a King’s table he held no allegiances to them. He had rid many lands of Dragons but he did not hunt them out of a love of fame or even gold. Nor did he do so for lands, titles or the hand of a Princess. He hunted them because no creature existed that was as powerful or cunning as the great Wryms of old. He hunted them because he loved it; the thrill, the excitement, the danger of the hunt!
 

Mirelena

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Mirelena found it rather amusing that they didn't actually rest through the evening. The hobbits Elorendil had found were rather energetic and started dancing on tables and singing loud drinking song. A little while later, when a group of men already very merry came in from another tavern things only got louder and more exciting. The elves drank enough to keep up with the cantankerous party, but when the mortal peoples were staggering and reeling, the elves were merely feeling happy and slightly warmed. Being a descendant of the Firstborn did indeed have its advantages.

The next morning, the elves sat in armchairs by the dying fire watching the sleeping men sprawled on tables and under tables and curled around the table legs. They talked in low voices as the sun crept over the horizon. Windows around the greatroom had been opened to let in fresh air and the view of early morning. The grayness of the dawn made the world outside look mysterious and whispered of advetures beyond the mist. Droplets of dew and rainwater hung heavy upon long blades of grass, exploding with brilliance when the first rays of the sun touched them. As if on a cue, the proprietor of the inn came through the kitchen doors. Bright eyed and chipper, he surveyed the soused and motley assortment of men steeping in the scent of rancid liquer. Chuckling to himself, he began collecting tankards from the counter.

When the ladies saw him, they paused in their conversation. Elorendil quickly stood up and went to the inkeeper and spoke with him. He listened, nodded a few times, and then disappeared the way he came. A few moments later, he returned with an empty burlap sack over his shoulder and an assortment of foodstuffs in his arms. He laid them upon the counter in the space he had just cleared. At this point, Mirelena stood and approached her friend. The elves spoke again in low voices between themselves, occassionally asking questions of the attentive businessman. After some haggling, the man cheerfully gathered up several items and deposited them in the burlap sack. Mirelena laid a few large coins on the bar and quietly thanked their host.

Elorendil was already halfway to the stables by the time Mirelena reached the door. Mirelena tarried for a moment on the doorstep savoring the fresh air like it was the very first morning, and then ran after her friend. They saddled their horses, stored their provisions, and started off down the road. The blond elf commented on the claw marks on the side of the building and the two shared a laugh.

Suddenly, the horses whinnied and reared up as a scaly green head emerged from the mist. The elves frowned at their steeds and greeted their friend. They continued on their journey, the dragon expounding upon the virtues of mutton, Mirelena loudly singing a lewd drinking song to the emptiness, Elorendil commenting on the finer points of miruvor compared to red wine, and none of them aware of the lone, dark figure watching them from the crest of a hill some ways beyond their merry party.
 

Daranavo

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It took just over an hour however Fargus had found two, quite plump sheep that he knew the Dragon would find irresistible. He fed the them several herbs that he has used many times before. To the sheep such herbs are harmless, however to a Dragon, they serve as a potent sanative. The difficulty he always had was to get them to move toward such a creature. Something sheep were not always inclined to do.

For their first meeting he could not have the mighty beast snapping off his head when it learned his intentions. He always liked speaking to Dragons but more often then not, a tiny insult would send them into violent action. As far as the elves, he wasn’t sure what to make of them. Not many would sit and talk to a Dragon and these two seemed awfully at ease in its presence. Yes he decided, he would have to find out more about them certainly.

With that Fargus untied the first sheep and set it loose. He smacked its behind and growled. Luckily it seemed to be heading right for them. Quickly he released the second and repeated the process. This one headed a little east of them but perhaps it will be close enough for the Dragon to smell it. He only needed to eat one to ingest enough and if both were consumed it would wake with a very nasty headache. Silently Fargus moved west and came around their camp downwind. Having the senses of elves and a Dragon together were going to be difficult for him to subvert but he felt confident in his own abilities to warrant at least trying. Fargus drew close enough to see the flicker of their fire and listened to their conversation. He only had to wait now and patience was something he has always had.
 

Elorendil

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The unsuspecting trio continued to stroll through the green countryside with one elf on either side of the dragon, allowing warmth of the afternoon sun washing away all memories of the previous day's downpour and misery. Elorendil was watching in amusement as a small rabbit bounding along the roadside parallel to their course when Chrysophalax apparently decided the small creature would make a nice snack. Without warning, the dragon spread her wings and made a leap over Elorendil's head, landing with a thud and snapping up the poor bunny. Elorendil, however, didn't get a chance to even see Chrysophalax land. The sudden movement from the dragon was too much for her steed, who had been watching the green dragon warily and prancing in nervousness for the whole trip. The stallion leaped forward into a crazed gallop, running wildly from the predator that he was sure would swoop down on him at any moment.

It only took Elorendil a moment to regain control of her mount, but when she finally turned the quivering stallion back towards her companions, Mirelena's face was wreathed in mirth. Her own horse had merely been struck motionless by its terror of the dragon and stood wide-eyed and trembling in its tracks. "Ah, I will never forget this day!" Mirelana gasped through her laughter. "The great horse trainer, borne away by a rampant horse, while my own humble steed stood fast." She doubled over with laughter as Elorendil sat glaring at her.

"That horse is hardly standing fast." Elorendil growled. "She is shaking so badly that I do not think it could run away if it wanted to. At least my mount had the sense to run, rather than stand there petrified and wait to be eaten." She turned to glower at the culprit of her horse's fright as the dragon swallowed her snack and licked her lips in contentment. The stallion danced sideways beneath her, still afraid of the monstrous green mountain that crouched before it. "Chrysophalax, you cannot simply leap about after your prey while we are traveling with these horses! They are not used to having a dragon for a companion and you are going to frighten them out of their wits. Pray, if you wish for a snack, warn us first and then go seek it someplace away from us."

"Well, if you cannot control your steeds, perhaps you should just let me eat them and be done with it." Chrysophalax sniffed, a slightly hurt look in her luminous green eye. "Can I help it if I am hungry and see a tasty morsel by the side of the road? It is not my fault that your beasts are oversensitive."

Elorendil sighed, her stern expression softening. "Once we get to Imladris, I will have a more stalwart mount. In the meantime, I am afraid that these will have to do. This is a customer's horse, and I cannot have you eating him. Such high-bred creatures are often of a skittish disposition when they are first sent to me. Besides," she said, a touch of mischief reappearing in her eye, "if you ate them, then we would have no choice but to ride on your back to Imladris. After all, we must not delay in getting there to discover what this treasure of yours may be."

"Ride on me?" Chrysophalax snorted in mock horror. "Never!"

Elorendil merely rolled her eyes at the dragon's theatrics and turned to follow the road before them with her eyes. "We will not reach Amon Sul for some time yet. Has your appetite been sated, dear dragon, or must we wait while you go in search of larger prey?"
 

chrysophalax

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Chrysophalax was miffed. Not only were the elves' horses acting foolish, but now her companions expected her to act tame! She had always been very nonchalant in her dealings with lesser beings, as she found them amusing. However, being told what to do by them was irksome.

One would think I had reared up, snarling and roaring ferociously, instead of merely pouncing with skill and agility onto that rabbit. It was a quick death, what more could they as for? thought the green dragon grumpily, stopping suddenly in the middle of the wide road. She sat down with a thump, stirring up enough road dust to make the horses snort repeatedly. She smiled toothily.

"Let us be fair. " she began reasonably. "I will not tell you or your neurotic beasts when or what to eat and you will grant me the same courtesy. No harm will come to them, as you know. Had I wanted horsemeat, I would have taken it days ago." Here she fixed the elves with a penetrating stare. "We three are intelligent beings, yes? Therefore do not assume that I will eat your means of transportation!"

With that, she rose and began to walk along the road at a slightly faster pace, allowing the elves to digest what she had said and as she did so, the scent of sheep just downwind caught her attention. As though to soothe her disgruntlement, she trotted some distance down the road before launching into air in an attempt to find them.

Just as she spied a small herd below, the fact that they were accompanied by a keen-eyed shepherd lad with a stout stick caught her attention. Pondering her chances, she peered about for easier prey, when something on the breeze signalled danger.

Descending swiftly until she just skimmed the treetops, she sought the scent again, only to have it elude her. Perhaps she should return to her friends and alert them. No sheep would be worth it if an enemy attacked them in her absence!
 
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Mirelena

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"Two of us are intelligent beings," Mirelena muttered under her breath as Chrysophalax flew off ahead of them. Dragons were dangerous creatures. True, this particular one happened to be their friend, but dragons, as a rule, were only concerned with adjusting their armor, hoarding their treasure, and finding their next meal. It was unwise to get too comfortable with a dragon, unless you wanted to become an appetizer. She was about to mention this to Elorendil when Chrys returned to them looking slightly less irritated.

“I am sorry to have offended you,” Elorendil said in a low voice as the two elves approached their friend, “My words were meant only in jest.”

“You’re just an elf,” Chrys replied, “I guess you can't be expected to understand the finer points of dragon etiquette.”

“Too true!” Mirelena interjected. “Never mind that our kin have been alive since the stars awoke. We're 'just' elves.” She winked at the dazzling green head that bobbed along beside them, then her tone grew more serious, “Did you find anything to eat, Chrysophalax? Our concern is not unwarranted—you have had almost nothing to eat in at least three days. If you are concerned for our well-being and safety, I can assure you that we are quite capable of protecting ourselves. Unless... Is there something that has you worried?”

“Well, concern for your 'well-being' had crossed my mind, but I'm not exactly worried,” the dragon replied with a snort, “I want to make sure you two don’t kill each other before I can find out what my new treasure is. Besides, I can't stay away too long because your horses look so tasty!”

Chrys blew smoke towards Elorendil who neatly sidestepped her mount around the gray column.

“’Roast of client’s horse’ is not on the menu, dearest dragon!” Elorendil protested. Chrys stopped in her tracks as the pair continued on.

“Then I shall just have to find something else,” came the saucy reply. Mischief sparkled in her eyes as she started after them again. “Mirelena isn’t training her horse for a client. The two of you can always ride together. I promise to leave the saddle bags if you’ll let me have a snack.”

Mirelena’s laughter was cut short as Chrys let out a playful growl at her mount’s flanks and her horse took off down the road in a fright. Chrys followed in hot pursuit laughing her deep, dragon laugh. Elorendil urged her horse on, watching her friends as they disappeared over the crest of the next hill and wondering what really had their dragon friend concerned.
 
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Firawyn

Verbatim et litteratim.
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Not many folk could claim to have a dragon as a friend and companion. Not many dragons would tolerate the presence of two-footed creatures. Elves sometimes had dealings with dragons, men less often, and dwarves…well nearly always dwarves were at war with dragons, as both had a lust for treasure, and neither shared well. But he, Baraz the Dwarf, had always been different from his kin. As a youth, Baraz had stumbled upon a dragon egg after his father and uncles had killed a female dragon in a cave deep in the Misty Mountains.

Baraz had taken the egg, and hid it from his father. Then, only days later, the egg hatched, and Baraz named the dragon “Baruk”, which meant “axes” in his tongue. Baraz saw the dragon as a means to live a freer life than that of the Mountain folk, and as soon as Baruk grew too large to hide, the two of them left.

For the next seventy years, all was well. Baruk, although he was certainly a dragon, knew only what Baraz has told him of the battles between their folk, which was little. The two traveled here and there, usually in hunt of some lost treasure. They never stayed in one place very long, because they were not welcome – these dwarf and dragon companions.

And then, Baruk began to long for answers of his origins. He left Baraz’s company, and headed toward the Iron Hills, where he’d heard rumor of a dragon who dwelt there. Baraz then returned to his kin in the Misty Mountains, and for a time remained there. He then made his way to Imladris, a place he knew that Baruk would know to seek him, when his quest for knowledge was complete.

Baraz waited in Imladris for seven years, with no word from Baruk. Then, only weeks ago, Baraz had heard rumor of a dragon-slayer about, called Jayden, and began to fear for the life of his friend. He prepared himself, and set out westward from the elven city, in search of Baruk.

On the fifth day from setting out, Baraz came to a crest in the road from where he could see a valley below him. To the north and south there were fields, with many a sheep. Then, toward the southern way, he spotted a man with two sheep. He appeared to be feeding these sheep some sort of vegetation, but by his garb and gear, Baraz was sure he was no Sheppard. By the length of the sword in his scabbard, Baraz also suspected that he was a man who must surely fight large foes. In the caves of the Misty Mountains, a man might carry a sword this size for trolls, or in earlier days, perhaps he might have been a Ranger from the North. But no, this man was no ranger, and he was nowhere near any sort of caves that trolls might lurk in. And, Baraz mused, sheep certainly made good snacks for dragons, that much he knew for sure – Baruk had raided this very field in years past.

Baraz suddenly felt fear for his friend and companion. He theorized that this man might be that Jayden he’d heard speak of, this dragon-slayer. With a huff Baraz set his road south, toward the man. He gazed over the landscape and found what looked to be a dried up creek, now only a trench high enough for him to walk in until he got closer to the man. Before long, Baraz entered the trench and followed almost directly south. He guessed that he’d have to travel only fifteen minutes or so before the creek turned away to the west again and he would have to climb out and walk the rest of the distance to where the man waited in the open.

Baraz proved himself correct, and within the quarter-hour he’d estimated, the creek, which was now a good six inches filled with water, bent westward back toward Imladris and he was forced to climb out and onto the grassy bank. The bank proved to be steep and muddy, and by the time he reached the top he was covered in mud up past his knees. The only pleasing thing Baraz found in that moment was that less than five meters ahead, sitting under a tree and facing away from him, sat the man. The bliss was short lived as the man turned to face him after he’d only walked half the distance between them.

“I heard you coming thirty meters up the creek, dwarf,” the man said. “And what a sight you are, all covered in mud! You could have just walked on the side of the creek, rather than in it, if you wished to come this way. I would not bar your passing.”

“I did not wish to pass, I wished to reach you unaware,” Baraz said gruffly. “And you didn’t hear me coming until I came up the bank, of that I can be sure. Dwarf I may be, but I walk like a ranger, quite as the night.”

“If you walk like a ranger, yet truly are a dwarf, then you must be Baraz,” the man replied. “I have heard of you.”

“And I have heard of you. You are the dragon-slayer they call Jayden,” Baraz replied stiffly.

“I have many names, but yes, alas all of them seem to be attached to the words dragon-slayer,” Jayden, for it was indeed him, replied. “It is honest work, more than some folk can claim.”

“Killing is never honest,” Baraz snapped, “Especially when the man is not your enemy.”

“Dragons are not men, nor any race like men,” Jayden answered with a smile. “They are monsters, best put in the past. We’re in a new age, Baraz, an age of men. The elves linger little more, the dwarves are less in number, and as always the Halflings keep mostly to themselves. The creatures of Mordor are nearly extinct, and dragons are quickly following suit.”

The man and dwarf were silent for a moment. The birds chirped, a squirrel ran up the tree, the wind blew through the tall grass a comforting breeze.

“Where are the sheep you had with you?” Baraz asked, noticing at last that they were not at Jayden’s side any longer.

“Off to become dinner to a large dragon that I’ve been tracking,” Jayden replied, pointing. “You see, there are certain herbs that sheep can eat with no ill effect, but when the sheep is eaten by a dragon, gives the monster a horrid stomach ache, on top of making it very sleepy, and easy to kill.”

“Ah!” Baraz shouted. “You are indeed a coward! You call yourself a dragon-slayer and wear that title with pride but the truth of it is that you drug the poor beast into submission before you deal the final blow!”

“Not a coward, my Dwarven ranger, but not stupid either. I know dragons are great and terrible, especially when they feel a need to defend themselves. It would be like you in a mine without a rope!” Jayden tried to explain. “No dwarf would be fool enough to go mining without a line of rope because it’s safer to have the rope.”

Baraz had had enough. “You are the monster!” he accused. “And I pray to Eru you get eaten by a dragon in the end! I take my leave of you, dragon-slayer, but rest assured, we will meet again.”

Baraz took off southward, making way in the direction Jayden had pointed. He moved quickly as his stout legs would carry him. Perhaps this dragon was Baruk, and his quest would be over more quickly than he’d dared hope. Perhaps not, and he was walking right into the path of a dragon who did not know of this dwarf who was friend to dragons. Either way, Baraz had to go – he had to prevent this dragon from eating those sheep, or at the least, warn it that the dragon-slayer was coming.
 

Daranavo

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Jayden knew that arguing with a Dwarf was both foolhardy and most time consuming. Obviously this Dwarf did not consider Jayden a real threat or he would have killed him right then and there he was certain. He hunched down and took a squat as his mind wandered. He removed a damp glove and rubbed his stubbly chin with cold fingers as his mind began to work.

In any case he wondered if the old feud between Dwarf and elf-kind still existed. How would these elves take to a dwarf walking up on them in the dark? Certainly not to well, especially so if they were to somehow think that this Baraz intended to do them some ill will. But these elves were much more lighthearted then most. These two would have to be on edge if they would take action again an unsuspecting Dwarf out in the wilds. With a crooked brow Jayden lurched forward with a plan.

For the better part of the night and the morning he had ran. The Dwarf was well behind him. He made sure that he left a few tracks to follow but nothing very obvious. Baraz seemed quite intelligent for a dwarf anyway but Jayden had known several dwarves and had come to know their customs and language well. He would use this knowledge for his advantage but the ruse would require the elves to play their part.

Though the clouds threatened rain he felt it would hold off for a little while longer, perhaps the morning he hoped. The elves had once again taken to resting their horses for a few hours and had a small fire going to warm them. He did not see the Dragon nor did he smell it nearby. Baraz was closing in on them and he knew he would have to act fast if his ruse was going to work at all. From the tree line he silently crept forward and removed from his belt a small axe that he had found in the neck of a dead Orc long ago. It had served him well but it was actually a standard throwing axe that had been used by Dwarves as long as he could remember. With a strong push of his arm he flung the axe toward the unsuspecting elves. With a low, boisterous, bellow he grunted, “Ishkhaqwi ai durugnul”, as the axe smashed a mug one of the elves was holding close to their face. Jayden faded back into the trees and disappeared into the wind.
 

chrysophalax

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Dropping like a stone onto unsuspecting prey is a skill taught to all dragonlings, for how can one feed ones's self if one can't surprsie one's own nestmates? No wonder then, that not all hatchlings survive until they are strong enough to fly free of their competitive siblings. It was precisely this talent that Chrysophalax used to pin Baraz to the ground.

The dwarf lay still beneath the crushing weight of the enraged dragon. It had its snout right up against the crosspiece guarding his nose and seemed to be trying to say something, but he could understand nothing as breath smelling like an open grave washed over him and he gagged helplessly.

How dare you attack one of my friends, child of stone? she snarled, eyes blazing. Had your axe drawn blood, yours would now be mingled with it, rest assured! With that threat, the green dragon retreated from her stance atop Baraz' chest and went to nuzzle her friend, sniffing her all over to make certain the elf had come to no harm.

Mirelena laughed aloud, holding her aching sides as Elorendil endured the dragon's concerned snuffling. The sight of the elf's face, coupled with watching the retching dwarf try to roll onto his knees without attracting the dragon's attention she found hilarious. "Re-relax, Chrys! It was only a cup!" she managed to gasp out, but her friend was having none of it. "Only a cup! Only a cup! I'll have you know I was given that "cup" as a naming-day gift by my father, who had it from his father. First Age, that was and not easily come by!"

"My humble apologies." mumbled Mirelena as she wiped her eyes. "So, who's this then and why has he destroyed so fine a cup?" Three sets of eyes turned to the dwarf in question, who could only stare back miserably as he tried in vain to clean his newly befouled beard. "No hurry, I'm sure." said Elorendil dryly. "We have all night."
 

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