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PostSubject: In search of the sweetest sound   In search of the sweetest sound Icon_minitimeTue May 07, 2019 11:06 pm


As it often was, the air was ripe for the rain to come. A sunburst at midday had broken through, but now clouds were overheard, threatening a thunder storm and the blessing of warm rain on her scales. A feeling that never failed to put her in a good mood.
With two powerful strokes of her gilded wings she corrected her course, swooping gradually lower as she neared her target. Even if the rain never came, she would have been especially perky. A flicker of joy was in her copper eyes, and a thrum of contentment echoed from the sides of her mouth as she huffed into the wind.

It was so rare that she actually visited humans, let alone the ones of the Tahora valley, that she would often miss the place altogether and have to twist back on herself. The humans had done well to place themselves there. Valaya thought, were she a soft and cunning biped, just like they were, then she would place herself in a nook like that. Easily defensible, it would make a good place to keep everything in its rightful spot, though she was of the hoarders that believed it was hard to beat an inconspicuous cave with a dazzling inner space. Not least of all because no other place rang such a sweet sound from its chambers, or played the tune of a peaceful trickle of water in the same way.

Within the power grasp of her talons was a thick and heavy linen, wrapping something long, she held it close to her chest, but with painfully tender care. Her movements were slow and deliberate as she maneuvered on the current of wind, as if the slightest bend too sharp would destroy the thing, for now, embalmed.
Were humans useful? It was hard to say, they had such a different life that they rarely crossed her mind. But they had some deft paws, hands, that could appease her ears much more than any clumsy dragon of poor taste.
So for that alone, she would continue to meet them. That, and, she simply had to share her new source of pride which was swelling in her chest for such an exquisite find.

With a small shiver of excitement down her spine, just as her shadow began to grace the rocky shape of the valley temple below, she began to circle and descend.
Ah, a euphorn was there, resting with a view over the valley, in conversation with someone, but otherwise, the temple was quiet for now. Not the audience she would wish for, but Valaya was not going to turn back now.
As softly as a hoarder might, she beat her wings to slow her as her hind legs met the solid flat of the temple mouth, claws clutching the surface with a few steps to cushion her landing, she came to a halt and was sat back on her haunches, her thick tail wrapped around for support with a plume of dust displaced about her.

Valaya didn't need the brightness of direct sunlight to shimmer, her well maintained appearance did that for her, flecks of light bouncing from her crown of golden horns.
She looked about expectantly, craning her neck.
"A priest! Please send me a priest!" She spoke insistently, her voice projected as a thought, and one quite difficult to ignore at that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Use things, not people and love people, not things."
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PostSubject: Re: In search of the sweetest sound   In search of the sweetest sound Icon_minitimeTue May 07, 2019 11:51 pm



There was no other sense of peace to be had that was quite like that inside the temple on a quiet day. Marrgoran could feel the humidity encroaching from outside, but the interior of the great stone hall always kept its cool, making it a comfortable retreat from the heat he was accustomed to. Most of the dragons in the area preferred to bask outside in the sun, when they came to visit, but there was often at least one of the tiny creatures draped over the stones at the edge of the spring which babbled gently in the centre of the room, breaking the silence within the ancient building. It gave a pleasant sense of companionship as he worked, cross-legged on the floor, twining together coloured fibres from a number of neat piles before him and occasionally holding his work up for the approval of the little dragon lounging behind him.

Outside, he could hear the faint murmur of the temple’s leader speaking to one of their most esteemed visitors. The Euphorns may have been gracious about interruptions and annoyances in most circumstances, but he still knew better than to interrupt a conversation between two of his seniors uninvited, when there was other work to be done and other company to be kept. Even if that company wasn’t feeling very talkative at present. That was of no matter; it allowed Marrgoran to slip into an almost trance-like state, humming softly under his breath as he worked.

Absorbed as he was in his craft, he didn’t notice the shadow sweeping back and forth over the etched stone outside the temple’s entrance. His concentration was broken at once, though, when the familiar deep thrumming of pressure against his eardrums altered him to a dragon’s descent, something he’d learned to be alert for at any time of night or day. His hands stilled on his work for a moment as he lifted his head, trying to discern if it was any dragon he was familiar with; but by the heaviness of the wing-beats, he suspected not. Knowing his mentor would not want to be disturbed from the Euphorn for such a matter if it could be helped, Marrgoran swiftly packed away his materials and rolled them back into his cloth, even as an insistent mind reached out and brushed against his.

As so often, he couldn’t help but feel that the words, mentally spoken, carried with them almost a compulsion to act; whether it was that or simple common sense, though, he knew better than to keep this dragon waiting. He was certain from her voice that he hadn’t met her before, and couldn’t be sure of her breed; however, as with most of the larger breeds, it sounded like she was accustomed to being obeyed. Hurriedly, though with an attempt to keep some poise, Marrgoran made his way out of the great mouth of the temple, feeling himself enveloped by the humid heat of the afternoon as he did so. He was greeted by quite the majestic sight for his troubles; every day he was blessed with something like this, he found himself remembering why he had chosen to dedicate himself to priesthood in the first place. It was with this pious train of thought that he bowed his head before the great hoarder, clasping his hands before him as he spoke.

“Good afternoon, Lady Hoarder,” he said warmly, now lifting his head to meet her eyes as he spoke; as he did so, he noticed the bundle the dragon cradled to her chest, previously obscured by her forelegs. He took care not to eye it too closely, instead addressing the dragon directly. “I am a priest of the temple; we are honoured to receive your visit today. How may I be of assistance?” He smoothed down his robes as he spoke, the woven patterns highlighted by fragments of light from the dragon’s golden scales. He found that with the more opinionated dragons, it rarely did any good to actively offer them refreshments or any other amenities, so fond were they of thinking things were their own ideas. When it came to hoarders, though, being well presented certainly couldn’t go amiss.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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PostSubject: Re: In search of the sweetest sound   In search of the sweetest sound Icon_minitimeWed May 08, 2019 12:49 pm

The quick response was pleasing to her, and she lowered her head to inspect the human as he presented himself. Young and polite, he wore attractive colours and a good demeanour - how charming, she thought. She couldn't help but wish it had been the head priest though, the man with the ornamental head piece and necklace, one she'd been mildly envious of, and all she could remember of her previous visits.

"Come see what I have acquired, human. You may call me Valaya." She shifted her hind legs, not too comfortable to be holding the instrument without support. "I want to find out what you know of it." Valaya's tongue flicked as she smelled the air, getting a sense for who she was dealing with. She reared her head back up and lowered one claw where the neck of the parcel rested, then her other claw when she was certain it was safe.
Rising again to her feet, Valaya stretched her legs, flexed her claws and her jaw widened in a yawn, set with an array of crystalline teeth. With a shake of her neck she abruptly sat herself down with a weighty boom, sprawling herself over the rocky plateau. If she was lucky, it might even rain in a moment.
"You see," she began, "I don't know where it is from, this instrument, but it must make a beautiful sound. How could something so elegant, not? Valaya crooned, motioning with her head for him to unwrap the object. Beneath the linen, it was a lengthy stringed instrument, fixed with dainty metal work between carvings of seasonal hatchlings and a water lily. Painted red and yellow along its slender body, nearly half the length of a man.

"I also know that you humans have clever paws - or hands as you call them. So, this will be easy for you." She purred, settling herself in for a performance.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Use things, not people and love people, not things."
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PostSubject: Re: In search of the sweetest sound   In search of the sweetest sound Icon_minitimeThu May 09, 2019 12:28 am


“That’s very kind of you, Lady Valaya. My name is Marrgoran; it’s a pleasure to meet you.” He half expected that he would be wasting his breath by introducing himself, given how many dragons simply referred to everyone at the temple as ‘human’ or ‘priest’, but it was always worth a try. Manners cost him nothing, after all.

Marrgoran waited attentively as the dragon arranged herself and her treasure to her satisfaction, gusts of wind stirring his hair from the movement of her wings as she fussed over the little bundle. Valaya’s shadow dropped away as she finally lay down, letting the sparse sunlight illuminate her prize as Marrgoran stepped closer, his interest piqued. Hoarders, much as they loved any shiny metals or stones, had diverse tastes overall, and he had heard of some truly unusual objects collected by them over time. He could only imagine what an experience it would be to see such a dragon’s entire hoard; though he very much doubted many humans had done so and lived to tell the tale.

Hesitantly, despite Valaya’s explicit permission to examine her finding, he knelt beside the cloth and folded it gently back to either side, thankful for once for the hours they spent sweeping and cleaning the temple. She certainly wasn’t overstating the beauty of the object; Marrgoran thought it was perhaps the finest craftsmanship he had ever seen. The delicacy of smithing and woodwork that had gone into this… well, it must have come from one of the greater civilisations dragons had told him of, in far-off regions. Doubtless there were people who would pay great piles of money for the instrument. Softly, he brushed a finger across the strings, producing a faint but sweet- sounding chord which sang in the air between them for a moment.

He was very aware that Valaya would need answering sooner rather than later, and that his answer couldn’t be what she wanted to hear. For a moment he thought he had misunderstood, but her air made it very clear that she was expecting him to play for her. Visitors to the temple from afar had occasionally brought similar- though far less fine- instruments and played for the priests and dragons, leaving him with both a vague sense of how the thing was to be played, and the knowledge that it took many hours of practice to produce a proper tune. That didn’t stop him from carefully picking up the instrument and cradling it across his body as he had seen travellers do, trying to fit his hands to the strings. It felt awkwardly long in the position, and it swiftly occurred to him that the other instruments he had seen had been less than half the size of this one. Perhaps they were less similar than he thought.
“Valaya, it gives me great sorrow to disappoint you, but I do not know the workings of this instrument; my hands are not quite so clever as you flatter me, I fear. It is true, though, that it is a most beautiful instrument. How did you come to find it, if I may ask, wise dragon?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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PostSubject: Re: In search of the sweetest sound   In search of the sweetest sound Icon_minitimeWed Jun 05, 2019 11:38 am


A small shiver of delight passed through her as he brushed the strings, the first words from the instrument were exactly as pleasant as she had expected. But then, there was only quiet and she sensed hesitance. Focusing in her rich eyes on him, she then saw the puzzlement on his face.
But weren't all priests required to do these sorts of things? They practiced song, their rituals, their guidance and all those things that were good for a soul, so why not instruments like this one, or especially this one in particular?

"You do not play it?" She repeated the obvious, and a thrum of disappointment bubbled in her throat. Valaya snorted softly. Marrgoran might not be able to play it, but she was nevertheless keen to share her success.
"Your neighbours to the south east, closer to that patch of deep marsh. Days ago I was sleeping in the cliffs overlooking them in the distance, when I two notes, as clear and pure as polished blue crystal. I looked down right beneath me and saw there were three men there, merchants, with this wonderful instrument. They were resting at the time. When I listened much more closely to their voices I heard the lilt of the southern desert people. Perhaps the instrument is from there?" Granted, Valaya was loathe to spend much time in a clime like that, and the different tones from those parts tended to be indistinguishable to her, as keen as her ear was otherwise.

A gleeful look curled on her mouth as she bared her fangs. "So I visited them, and asked about the instrument, I said that it was so beautiful, and how much I would love to have it, and they happily obliged." Blinking away the memory, she leaned in a little closer to Marrgoran.
"So, you will learn to play then?" As imposing as her size could be for people that did not deal with dragons, and even in spite of exactly what she had done for this one object, her question was simple and naive with hope, more a statement of fact than a question.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Use things, not people and love people, not things."
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Artemis
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PostSubject: Re: In search of the sweetest sound   In search of the sweetest sound Icon_minitimeWed Jun 05, 2019 3:43 pm


Despite having said as much not ten seconds ago, Marrgoran shook his head slowly in response to Valaya’s question, looking down at the instrument that he held with some regret. There may not have been any true musicians in his village, but they had their songs, as did the priests at the temple, and he was certainly fond of those; being able to play a real instrument… well, that would be quite something. He listened attentively as she described her trip, although not without skepticism, especially as she described how she had obtained the instrument. Being among the largest of dragons, he supposed she wouldn’t have needed to resort to stealthy theft to get what she wanted, but he doubted the humans had exactly been keen to give away a treasure of this magnitude. Evidently, they had just believed its value second to that of their lives. That was assuming Valaya hadn’t simply skipped the negotiations and killed them to get what she wanted… Marrgoran couldn’t suppress a slight thrill of nerves at the thought, but she didn’t seem the murderous type, only a little entitled.

He nodded along thoughtfully as Valaya spoke; he couldn’t say whether the instrument was more likely to be from the southern marshes or the desert; as far as he was aware, he’d never met somebody from either region, let alone been there himself. If they were merchants, they could well have been carrying the instrument anywhere; although as far as he knew, the biggest settlements were scattered along the temperate climates in the centre of the island.

As the great fanged head swooped towards him, he managed to keep his stance, though one never quite got used to the feeling of dragons being so nearby. As with all innately magical creatures, there was a distinct sense of other about them; but it somehow seemed that bit stronger when they were also large enough to bite off your head and scarcely notice. Underneath it all, though, they were really just people like any other- albeit with quite a different world outlook. That was what his head priest always told him, anyway. When there were no dragons about to overhear and take offence.

“I am sure you might be right about where the instrument comes from, although I don’t know as much of the world as a dragon does through its travels. Certainly I would like to learn it, if it would please you. However… I do not think anyone here would know how to use this instrument, Lady. I do not know how I could learn. I would not want to damage your treasure through ignorance.” On that note, he thought better of his hold on the instrument, careful as his grip was, and bent forwards to replace it on its cloth with some regret.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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PostSubject: Re: In search of the sweetest sound   In search of the sweetest sound Icon_minitimeFri Jun 21, 2019 11:51 am


Valaya flicked her head the other way, not understanding why the young man could not make sense of what she was saying.
"Not here, but elsewhere..." She began, nudging his shoulder with her nose as she then cast a glance over her shoulder to the horizon. "Someone will know how to play it. They must, and they can definitely teach you. My wings can carry me far, but my paws can't play the tune, so, you will eventually." Her tone was encouraging and optimistic, as if Marrgoran, in saying he would like to learn had also enrolled on a grand musical flight across the continent.

"But Valaya is a very rich dragon." She referred to herself in the third person, blinking thoughtfully as memories came to the fore. "Let no human say that Valaya does not have many treasures to give to worthy humans that assist her. Come with me and learn to play the beautiful instrument, and I will give you your pick from my nest, from all but my hatchling's trove. How does that sound, Marrgoran?" Already endeared to him by his politeness, and apparent willingness, Valaya made a generous offer while expecting nothing short of enthusiastic agreement.
"We can even set out today, while the breeze is warm and firm, we will get far in this sort of sky."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Use things, not people and love people, not things."
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Artemis
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Things that I am :
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Female Loveliness : 73
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PostSubject: Re: In search of the sweetest sound   In search of the sweetest sound Icon_minitimeWed Jul 03, 2019 10:32 am


As Valaya nudged him with her head, Marrgoran swayed backwards and had to catch himself on one hand. He couldn’t help but feel that the dragon had unseated him with her words just as much as she had physically. The trip she was suggesting would surely take weeks, even by a dragon’s flight..? Then again, he really had no concept of the speed of their travel. Clearly she didn’t think it a great undertaking, if it was worth her trouble just to hear some music.

His first instinct, naturally, was to protest that there was no way he could leave his home, family and role at the temple for such an unknown commodity; even without the travelling time to consider, they might have a great deal of difficulty finding somebody who could play the instrument. Valaya hadn’t really presented her proposal as a request so much as an expectation, though, and he couldn’t quite find the words to turn her down. Instead he gaped uselessly for a moment, staring at the polished hardwood of the instrument so as to avoid her imperturbable gaze. The more he tried to find a valid excuse not to go, though, the more he entertained the possibility of accepting. The opportunity to discover the world, the things he could see, would certainly only come once in a lifetime. How many humans alive could boast of having flown with a dragon, not only viewed a Hoarder’s treasure but taken their pick from its prizes, even travelled more than a few hours from their home? And perhaps most amazing of all, Valaya had actually remembered his name. He had been away from his family for weeks before, observing rites at the temple; and only being a junior priest, they could certainly do without him here, given he would be fulfilling his duties by doing the dragon’s bidding.

The whole endeavour was crazy; but somehow, a rush of excitement overtook him, and before Marrgoran could even second-guess himself, he found himself blurting out an acceptance.
“That would be- the honour would all be mine. Of course the reward would be its own… Today, yes, why not?” Hoping she wouldn’t take him at his word and rescind the offer of her treasure, he managed to take a moment for rational thought and collected himself, standing to brush off his robe and bow respectfully to the hoarder.
“I am honoured to serve you as you see fit, Lady Valaya. May I ask a little time before we leave, however, to tell the priests and my family of the plan?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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PostSubject: Re: In search of the sweetest sound   In search of the sweetest sound Icon_minitimeWed Jul 03, 2019 10:04 pm


Valaya visibly lit up at his response and sounded her approval vibrantly, a trill of excitement escaping from her snout.
"Yes, what a good idea that would be!" She exclaimed. "Tell everyone in your nest, every last one of them. When you return and they see what you have done, they will come to me too. They will know that Valaya has the greatest treasure to be found. Greater than any other of my kin. Yes, a splendid idea." One she would have thought of herself, if she had more time of course.

Casting about over her shoulder again, she glanced up to the sun, seated in its throne at the zenith of the sky. There was still plenty of distance to be covered in this time before dark. She was not a dragon of the night; her eyes saw the world in rich colours that other dragons might not, but at night her vision was no better, and often worse, than a human's. Another reason to have her lair arranged with all manner of appealing torches.

"Human," she paused to correct herself, "Marrgoran, as you prepare, wrap your soft skin up like this," she referred to the instrument, "or you will be burnt to a crisp. That would be no good at all."
"You are a priest, so you are quite lucky, and I always fly with lucky things. Therefore, you must not be harmed." She spoke, as apparently protective of the man as any one of the prizes in her collection.
Mind wandering, she imagined what the other dragons would think of that, it would be quite exceptional to believe humans were treasure, even if just for a little while.
Valaya snapped her attention back to Marrgoran suddenly as a gleeful thought took her fancy. "You must also bring me the head priest's crest...or necklace, then we will have all the luck we need for this journey." The tip of Valaya's tail fidgeted with hopeful anticipation as she slid her other request forward, the same one that had been denied when she had asked the head priest himself directly.
Perhaps this new priest's task would change the man's mind, being so significant and all.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Use things, not people and love people, not things."
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PostSubject: Re: In search of the sweetest sound   In search of the sweetest sound Icon_minitimeThu Jul 11, 2019 10:25 pm


Marrgoran couldn’t help but feel that Valaya was overestimating how enthusiastically his family would respond to this jaunt- in fact, the more he thought about it, the less he felt his mother would approve- but it didn’t seem tactful to say so. If she really did take him to her nest, they’d doubtless be interested to hear about how much treasure she had, if nothing else. Luckily, Valaya continued to speak, saving him from having to make any immediate reply. He was a little surprised, and touched, by her concern for his skin, though he couldn’t help but wonder why exactly he would be “burnt to a crisp” or what she thought he could do about it. Hopefully she was just referring to the sun, which was blazing merrily over their heads.

“Thank you; I will take care to do so. I think I should also bring some food and water for the journey, if that would be alright.” He could only imagine that her treating him as an apparently prized object would extend to not letting him starve, given how small the relative burden would be to her. He hadn’t heard of priests being considered lucky before, but then dragons were always coming up with strange new superstitions just as humans were. Her second requirement, he wasn’t sure he could meet so easily.
“The crest… I’m afraid that marks his rank. He cannot give it away, or travellers and dragons will not know who is the head of the temple. The necklace, though…” Marrgoran wavered. It was a personal effect, as far as he knew; perhaps bestowed by a patron dragon, or a gift from family. It seemed rude at best to ask for the necklace; but it didn’t sit right with him to lie to Valaya. “I will ask, Lady Hoarder, but please remember that I am only a junior priest and he has the power to deny my request.” He accompanied this with another small bow; hopefully she’d understand the plight of being a powerless underling, at least.

He made a quick detour inside the temple to take some of the hard breads and fruits they kept within, and some useful personal effects; he only kept his temple robes here, though, so would have to return home to find clothes for the trip. With a small sack slung over his shoulder, Marrgoran re-emerged from the temple and approached the head priest, thankful to see that the Euphorn he had been talking to had now retired into the shade. He nodded respectfully to his mentor as he approached, before speaking in the dragon language. Some dragons had a tendency to assume deception, or at least ill manners, whenever human languages were used in their presence; and besides, he was accustomed to doing so from his training in the language. He briefly recapped the situation, inclining his head towards Valaya as if the head priest could mistake which hoarder had made this request. The older man reacted with no end of surprise, but didn’t seem disinclined to grant Marrgoran leave for the trip. Gaining the specific patronage of a dragon such as Valaya would certainly be valuable for all at the temple. Buoyed by the success of this application, Marr pressed on.
“Lady Valaya has made one other request before we travel; I hope this isn’t presumptious, but I wonder if I could be granted a loan of your necklace while we are away? She believes that it will bring us good fortune.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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