Episode 33

Aristespha, Bach, Cideeda, Dretphi, and Sotalia walk on the sidewalk next to a tall brick building rising above the sparse urban center. The group searches around the area. Cideeda's ears flick towards a point in the distance and lead her facing. "I think the park is over there. Sounds like a lot activity."

Aristespha nods quickly to Cideeda, shields the sunlight off her aetherphone with her hand, and squints to read. "You are probably right. We are in front of the city hall, so that should be the right direction. Lord and Lady Valentropen said on the phone they would meet us there."

As the group moves on, Sotalia nearly skips with each step, excitedly fidgets with a sway, and smiles. "I can't believe this is a mission! I never thought anyone would contact the guild to find fancy whelps! Their pictures in the mission brief were so cute."

Sebastian's ethereal voice resonates from the sword at Aristespha's side. "Remember, we have to return them."

Sotalia sighs with a grinning roll of the eyes and waves a playfully dismissive hand while she averts her gaze elsewhere. "I know. I know. We eventually have to return them, but a half hour or so with one won't be too much of a trouble."

A slight smile cracks upon Dretphi's lips and she directs her voice to Sotalia. "The Golden Gale is impressive."

Aiming a picture on her aetherphone at Dretphi, Sotalia smiles wide with a bite of the lip. "I know. But, I still love this Nocturne Nightmare. Just look at those little horns and yellow eyes!"

Bach rolls his shoulders in a stretch and rocks his head slowly shoulder to shoulder with a nonchalant smirk. "Well, I hope I'm not too rusty at baby dragon wrangling."

Sebastian speaks out from the sword with a ghostly laugh. "Bah, after all the times we had to catch Lagi, I think you'll be fine, bro. Though, I remember it being a lot easier when he got bigger."

After a flash of memory crosses Bach's eyes, he blinks back to awareness with a slow shake of the head. "Well, right before his wings grew out to match his body. Then, he started maintaining level flight."

A series of pained chuckles sound out from the sword. "Yeah. Gods. How we didn't get into any more trouble than we did, I will never know, bro."

The group approaches a street intersection, check both ways, and quickly cross to another stretch of sidewalk near ancient, decorative fencing. The long ironwork row twists and turns in intricate patterns, from artistic purpose and eras of neglect. Over the fence, tall green grass unrolls underneath the canopy of gigantic, ancient trees and supports a carpet of bright flowers and landscaping. Next to a large stonework "Centenn Park" sign, a flagstone path branches out into the natural flow of the land and partitions large sections of stonework and alcoves of benches along the way. People travel along the walkway to and from sections the park. The group strolls along the trail, while winds rustle untold numbers of leaves above and sway waves of sun speckled grass below. In a large open, paved area, colorful booths and tents contrast the plain architecture and simple natural surroundings. Small groups wander through the crowds to visit the booths of artists, craftspeople, and performers. Off towards the perimeter of the fanfare, an elder evuukian couple sit on a park bench in the shade. Aristespha spots the couple, moves up to lead the group, and glances back. "That is probably Lord and Lady Valentropen. I'll lead ahead and do the formal greetings. From what I remember, they are the heads of a minor house. We'll see from there."

A silent acceptance spreads through the rest of the group as they hang back. Aristespha checks her attire and appearance over, assumes a proper posture, and gracefully approaches the elder evuukian couple. She grants a small bow, pleasantly recites an elegant series of phrases in a very proper Evuukian dialect, and stands up straight awaiting a response. The elder evuukian man rises from the park bench, his attire radiating proper presence despite business casual appearances. He examines Aristespha carefully with a proud stature, and nods his head with a slight smile. He holds his hand out for the elder evuukian woman and she promptly pulls herself up. She brushes her elegant sun dress off, grants a slight bow to Aristespha, and then smiles appreciatively, grasping hold of Aristespha's hands as she converses quickly. The elder evuukian man notices Bach, Cideeda, Dretphi, and Sotalia nearby and lowers his head down next to the woman. He speaks softly and eyes towards the group, motioning his head. The woman blinks to awareness, briefly covers her mouth, and waves in the rest of the group. "Oh my! Where are my manners? Please come over. I just haven't been myself lately. Forgetting my basic courtesies of all things."

Aristespha waits for the rest of the team and then directs the couple's attention. "Lord and Lady Valentropen, this is the rest of my team. Sotalia Feratosia, Dretphi Veranattin, Cideeda Garadra-Deeseeni, and Back Warwick."

Lord Valentropen surveys the team and nods calmly. "I would like to say that I am quite pleased that an accomplished adventuring group as yourselves bid. What was supposed to be a long weekend outing has turned into a troublesome ordeal. My wife and I were here to for a local whelp show. Then, some rouge group decided to release the whelps outside when we were away."

Lady Valentropen enthusiastically replies and gazes excitedly across the group. "We just didn't know what to do! We don't know this area and the only thing that came to mind was filing a quest with the guild. That was quite the experience in itself. I had to explain that I wanted my fancy whelps captured... not... eliminated!"

An eye roll accompanies a muted sigh from Lord Valentropen while he keeps his lips pressed shut. Aristespha presents a calm smile and pats Lady Valentropen's hands in hers. "It is not a typical request. But, we excel with such quests. We will be happy to find your fancy whelps and bring them back to you safely."

Lady Valentropen smiles brightly, lets go of Aristespha's hands, and pivots towards the park bench to search inside a large purse. "Thank you so much. Let me get my tablet. I must show you pictures of my precious little dragons."

Sotalia and Dretphi gather near as Lady Valentropen enthusiastically showcases choice photos, taking time to happily recount traits, mannerisms, and descriptive features. Lord Valentropen sternly sighs and focuses on Aristespha. "While my wife goes into great detail about about her pets, I have taken precautions for such a situation. I paid for magical markers and electronic tracking collars. I have the relevant information for you and your group."

Aristespha nods with a confident, professional smile, and gestures towards Cideeda. "I and the other mages in our group can handle the magical tracking. Cideeda is our technical specialist and should be able to use the tracker information."

Cideeda steps up next to Aristespha and both discuss details with Lord Valentropen. As the two groups converse, Bach drifts his gaze out into the vicinity of the park. His attention wanders over to a gathering of children sitting on the brickwork underneath the shade of a gigantic tree. He notices an elaborate booth that resembles a small stage in front of the children. Bach reads a fancifully lettered title upon the booth.

"Brento and Kayleedi's Puppets Present the Past"

The stage curtains split apart with the sound of clacking wooden rings and a pull strings. A dark mist billows out from the back drop and rolls over the stage, fading away. Two glowing, blood red eyes pierce through the foggy veil and a sharp, jagged edged mask slowly pushes forward past the stage. A black sleeved arm directs the menacing glare of the mask upon the audience, who react in playful fight with some failing to hide their honest fear. A woman's voice dramatically announces. "Brento and Kayleedi's Puppets Present, The Scourge of Dark Lords!"

The mask retreats back into the dispersing mist as the curtains close. The woman's voice speaks up over faint noises of activity behind the scenes. "We start back in the time just after the Abstract Prism was created!"

The curtains part to reveal a mystical, colorful background and a hovering, slowly spinning prism. An orb of bright light glows behind the prism, and rainbows from the refracted light project out in the area to the delight of the audience. A detailed wooden puppet stands triumphantly near the base of the prism. His arms move smoothly as he adjusts his wizardly hat and brushes off his finely tailored robes. A man's voice proudly speaks. "It took the combined efforts of thousands of mages, an untold amount of Elder magic power, tremendous sacrifice of magical potential..."

The puppet mage turns to the audience for a fourth wall aside with an exaggerated eye-rolling head gesture. "And A LOT of bickering about how the whole Foundation Construct thing should work... Yeesh. You would think I was trying to get them to agree upon what flavor of ice cream to get."

Children not hypnotized by the sparkling prism snicker. The puppet returns to admire the prism and his arm unfurls out to the prism. "Surely, with this triumphant device we shall bring forth a new age of magic energy to everyone and no longer have to fear the terrible abuses of Elder magic that so plagued us to this point."

Another puppet hops from the side of the stage and moves close to the other. She taps her hand to her chin in thought towards the audience. "About that..."

She pivots to face the mage with a flare of her elaborate sorceress dress. "What are we going to do about the Elder magical energy already imbued in the world, power focuses, creatures, artifacts, and well a lot of other things?"

The mage pauses stiffly, slowly spins in place with an arm out to gesture a point that never comes to his mouth. He moves his hand to roughly scratch the back of his neck as his previous confidence leaks out. "Uh... We'll... Uh... Oh... Um..."

He cocks his head to the side and plainly states. "We REALLY need to do something about that!"

The sorceress repetitively nods dramatically in return, as the audience laughs. The curtains draw back together, the female voice rises above the sound of shuffling in the back. "Over the years since, many have sought out the tremendous power of Elder magic for their own reasons."

The stage opens back up to a plain backdrop and a fanciful puppet rises up at center focus. A small spotlight shines on him and highlights his gaudy crown and flowing robes. The woman continues her narration. "The first was a former king, deposed and driven mad by what he had lost. He was the first to don the title Dark Lord. He became known as Dark Lord Hellstrom."

Dark Lord Hellstrom boldly puffs out his puppet chest, waves an arm out to the audience with dominant male voice. "I will use my former wealth of enchanted artifacts to not only regain my kingdom... But, I will make THE WORLD my subjects and lead them as I feel they should!"

The female voice speaks up with a tongue in cheek tone. "His timing wasn't the best."

Two groups of mages descend down from above and hover from nearly invisible strings with dour, stern glares upon Hellstrom. After boastfully preening himself to the audience, Hellstrom notices the gathering above and meekly admits. "Oh, right. I totally forgot all the mages that created the Abstract Prism are still alive and... Still are really powerful... Uh oh."

He comically dashes around the stage in a panic as the mages fly after him, eventually escaping off stage. After a few moments laughter from the children, another figure moves from off stage to the center and stands proudly. The woman narrates. "Seeing the failures of Dark Lord Hellstrom, Dark Lord Strad worked in the shadows, quietly converting people to his cause. He used strange Elder magics stored in his ancestral castle in attempts to extend the lives and powers of himself and his followers... at the cost of the lives of others."

A pale skinned evuukian puppet rises, unfurls his cape draped arms out, and pans a hard stare out into the audience. "I and my coven will continue on forever and guide this world from the shadows."

In backdrop, pairs of small glowing eyes glimmer into existence. A few average puppets move near and dramatically fall out of view when Dark Lord Strad directs his hand to them. A faint trail of light streams from each fallen puppet and collects within Dark Lord Strad. "A few peasant lives is a small price to pay."

The narrator's voice chimes in with an unamused tone. "The peasants didn't agree. Neither did the many bands of adventurers hired by the peasants."

The eyes retreat away and cutouts of groups of peasants with pitchforks and torches march towards Strad while adventurers descend from above. Strad acts out a dramatic death scene before falling out of sight with everyone else. After some behind the scenes activity, two puppets appear in the shadows to either stage side and the woman's voice calls out. "Many more Dark Lords would try to rise to power, but not all Dark Lords started out with evil intentions."

A small spot light shines down upon a fvalian woman puppet and the narrator elaborates. "Dark Lord Reevani wanted to help the ruined environment of her home land..."

Dark Lord Reevani cheerfully addresses the children. "I just want to make my home pleasant and green again..."

The spotlight shifts to a dark red and Dark Lord Reevani claws out her fingers with a menacing grin. "But it seems I HAVE to make EVERYONE STOP DESTROYING IT... By destroying THEM."

The spotlight returns to normal and slides over to the other puppet, as Dark Lord Reevani falls out of view. The newly lit emin woman puppet tosses her long hair back over her fanciful horns and elegantly waves a hand out to the crowd. "I, Dark Lord Decimatala, just want to be the best mage in the world and further our understanding of magic."

Her eyes flicker red and the puppet smiles with oozing evil intent. "It's just shame that NO ONE seems to understand that they SHOULD NOT get in MY WAY."

The spotlight dims, the Dark Lord Decimatala puppet drops out of view, and a new puppet rises up in the center. The woman voice puzzles out loud to the audience. "Then, there are those whose motives remain unknown and continue to operate in mystery to us all..."

A directed light fall upon the center puppet, the head lifts up to show an iconic mask bordered by a hood. The children gasp and stir as recognition takes hold. Bach freezes and his eyes widen to full attention upon the mask. Chorused whispers emerge from the audience to declare the Dark Lord's name. Noxian. As the masked puppet remains on stage, the prism rises up into the background briefly with the bright white light behind it. The prism lowers back down and the woman questions out loud. "What drives these people to seek Elder magics?"

The male voice presents another query. "Did they start with evil intent?"

The woman replies with another question. "Does having so much power just lead people down such malicious paths?"

An uneasy wave squirms through Bach. Without missing a beat, the man's voice presents another theory. "Or does Elder magic now corrupt those who wields it so thoroughly that you eventually become a Dark Lord?"

Bach winces and remains very quiet as his eyes stare down into himself searching for something. The woman narrator triumphantly speaks out, as adventurer puppets spring forth from all corners of the stage and charge the Dark Lord Noxian puppet. The scene pause and the woman narrates loudly, triumphantly. "Whatever may the be case, there will ALWAYS be heroic adventurers that will answer the call and defend all us from The Scourge of the Dark Lords!"

The curtains close up to the cheers of the children, applause of the parents nearby, and the quiet commentary of passersby joining the audience. From the sides of the booth, a man and woman fvalaian hop out. Both wear colorful outfits and grin with showmanship flair. The woman perks orange-red furred ears, sways her orange, white-tipped bushy tail, and tilts her head to the side, settling her long ginger hair. "I'm Kayleedi!"

The man stands proper with a faux dignified air about him. He bows forward, letting his short, dark gray hair shift forward, wags his silvery fluffy tail, and waves his gray furred ears. "I'm Brento!"

The two ready themselves, glances over at each other with a nod, and start quickly gesturing with speedy incantations. Both release magical energies simultaneously, the stage curtains swing open to the various puppets used in show taking bows, waving at the audience, and making a presence. The stage closes back up and Brento and Kayleedi take a final bow before waving to the crowd. As the audience disperses the two meet and greet, and enthusiastically interact with everyone. Parents and children, guided by parents, donate money into a tip box, which Brento and Kayleedi excitedly demonstrate their appreciation. Bach blinks back to awareness to a familiar set of claw points on his arm. Cideeda lifts a brow as she releases Bach's arm. "Hey, let me see your phone for a minute, need to get the tacker information in it."

Bach reaches into his pocket, retrieves his phone, and hands it to Cideeda. "Oh yes, sorry. Just spaced out there."

A sly smile graces Cideeda's lip and she snorts with a shake of the head. "Don't hide it, you were watching the puppet show."

Bach shrugs with an awkward smirk and sighs. "You got me."

Cideeda grins with a wink to Bach as she taps through various menus on Bach's phone. "It was a cute show. I caught bits of it after I got the tracker info from Lord Valentropen."

She pushes a hand on Bach's back and rotates him around towards Aristespha and Sotalia. "You'll probably need to go over there, they're discussing the magic marks on the whelps. Probably something you need to be part of."

Bach nods in agreement and walks over toward Aristespha and Sotalia.

Along a row of small brick townhouses, Sotalia strolls down the wide sidewalk next to the access road as the wind rustles the leaves of the greenery overtaking the area. She holds up her aetherphone, squints at a fluctuating bar display, and lifts a brow. Slowing to a stop, she glances around the vicinity, eyeing the seclusive spots in the nooks of the building architecture and crannies within the trees and between the bushes. She places the phone into a pants pocket, rolls her shoulders in a stretch, and closes her eyes. Gradually she lifts her arm up and pans her open palm in a scan of the area. As her hand aims towards an alley, she pauses and cocks her head to the side with a confident smirk. Moments later, a loud metallic crash rings out and sounds of something digging in debris prompt Sotalia to spring her eyes open. She rushes towards the corner of a wall framing the alley and peeks down the corridor. In the midst of scattered piles of junk and strewn trash, a black scaled whelp perches itself upon the rim of a large dumpster and digs through the garbage. He briefly scratches at his collar before resuming his inspection of the bin. Sotalia smiles slyly, perks her brow, and mutters under her breath and the din of junk crashing upon the pavement. "Hello, Nocturne Nightmare."

The Nocturne Nightmare leans forward into the dumpster, carefully searching among the refuse. It sniffs and snorts, occasionally grasping something within it's front paws before it flings it out of its way. Back claws grip the edge of the large metal container tightly and its pair of wings stir to keep balance. Sotalia quietly slides out into the gap between the walls of the alley, raises her arms, and focuses her full attention upon the whelp. With graceful, purposeful gestures, she slowly mouths out incantations as flows of magical energy stir around her body. An almost imperceptible warping of energy gradually stretches out from her and closes the distance to the whelp. The Nocturne Nightmare lifts his head up briefly, munches on an extremely old, plastic wrapped sponge cake, and licks the creme filling before resuming its dumpster dive. As the barely visible field envelopes the black scaled, horned whelp, Sotalia grins triumphantly and narrow her eyes with a confident lift of an eye brow. "Gotcha."

The Nocturne Nightmare's body drifts upwards which surprises the whelp. It attempts to latch onto the dumpster rim with both pairs of paws, but the claws only scrape off the smooth rolled edges. The whelp attempts to flap its wings to escape but all attempts to propel itself fail while it drifts down the alley towards the opening. The forces upon it rotate and right it to face Sotalia as maintains concentration and gestures to reel the critter in. The creature glides in front of Sotalia and stops within a meter to float helplessly in front of her. Sotalia smiles happily at it and raises the pitch of her voice with a sweet tone. "Oh, hello Urivennotropalin! That's a really pretty name your daddy gave you. How about you be a nice little dragon and come with me back to your mommy and daddy. If you are good, we'll stop by the market and get treats."

Nocturne Nightmare whelp, Urivennotropalin, narrows his yellow eyes, snarls up his nostrils, and rights his head back. His wings flare out to reveal the intricate designs upon the just over meter wingspan. He bares his sharp teeth, tilts his head to prominently display his elaborate main pair of horns, and holds up his front clawed paws towards Sotalia. With a puff of the chest, he draws in lung fulls of air. He breathes out a loud growling roar with a slowly shake of the head. The high pitch and small size of the whelp completely disarms the terrifying display of draconic power. Sotalia's jaw drops as she cups her hands over her her mouth and nose in an adoring gasp. She admiringly gazes upon the whelp and squirms in absolutely delight before reaching both hands out for the whelp. "Oh. My. Gods. You are absolutely adorable! That was SO CUTE! I don't know if I'll be able to give you back!"

Urivennotropalin blinks in sheer utter confusion and cocks his head to the side trying to understand the opposite of his expectations. His attention returns to the situation just as Sotalia's long, black fingernails scratch upon the undersides of his chin. He attempts to growl defiantly, but it falters away to a sputtering, bubbling purr as each delightful scratch lulls him to comfortably close his eyes. Sotalia grins ear to ear with a slight bite of lip as Urivennotropalin follows her hands. "OH! Your mommy was right. You are such a big baby when you get your scratches."

Sotalia guides Urivennotropalin onto her chest and shoulders. He melts onto her under the constant attention. She continues to pet and scratch the whelp to his delight, and carries him out of the alleyway back in the street. "Oh, I am SO spoiling with some treats from that market."

In an empty, abandoned field, Bach puzzles at the readings upon his phone and slowly pivots the area, scanning around. He finds nothing but an open field shadowed by passing clouds, an overgrown treeline that weaves through an ancient chain link fence, and a solitary, rusted metal shed. He stops his gaze upon the shed, closes his eyes, and reopens them to a blue light. He places his phone away and nods his head in self agreement, eye dimming back to normal. He walks towards the shed and avoids various noisy pitfalls littering the path along the way. When notices the crude, old lock upon the shed door, a child's voice calls. "W-w-who are you and why are you here?!"

Bach pauses and darts his glance around searching for the source. A few seconds later, three middle school aged children leave the concealment of the treeline underbrush and position themselves guarding the door of the shed. Bach shifts his eyes between them. An emin girl with small horns and short, brilliant green hair addresses Bach. "Who are you and why are you here?"

The tall grath boy and tall human girl summon up their resolve and stand quietly to either side of the emin girl. Bach lifts a confused and puzzled brow at the group, shrugs to himself with an awkward tug to the corner of his mouth, and sighs. "I'm an adventurer hired to find some lost fancy whelps. Have you seen any colorful whelps that match these pictures?"

Bach retrieves his phone, taps on the screen, and presents a series of pictures to the children. The images of the fanciful creatures capture their attention. But upon a particular picture of green and brown scaled whelp, blatant recognition reminds them of their duty and they muster wavering but stern stares. A slight smirk graces the corner of Bach's mouth and peeks at the picture to confirm. "I see. I don't suppose you've seen the Viridian Forest Racer?"

The emin girl's green on black eyes glance between her two friends and she carefully answers. "We have... seen it in the area."

Bach nods with a growing smile and swipes through the phone gallery to show a picture of Lord and Lady Valentropen with the Viridian Forest Racer. "That's great news! If you could tell me where he is I'll be able to get him back to his owners."

The children each examine the picture upon the phone and a wave of guilt washes over them. The emin girl puffs up, glares at Bach, and holds out a hand. "I want to see your guild ID! If you are a real adventurer, you should have one!"

Bach tilts his head to the side at the defiant outburst, reaches into his pocket to pull out his wallet, plucks his guild ID card out, and places it into the awaiting hand of the emin girl. The three children draw in close to squint and inspect the document. The human girl looks over to the emin girl with reluctant acceptance. "Uh... It looks legit."

The grath boy perks a brow and eyes Bach inquisitively. "Intern?"

Bach sighs with a shrug. "Long story."

The emin girl returns the ID to Bach and bites her lip in a mix of frustration and moral conflict. Bach shakes his head with a smile. "He's in the shed, isn't he?"

Her mouth opens to contradict, but she agrees with the statement. "Yes. But how did you know?"

Bach presents his phone again and flips to a screen with a signal strength indicator. "He's got a radio collar on him and there's a magical mark on him, too."

With a heavy sigh in sync with the disappointment of the others, the emin girl pulls out a key from her shirt pocket and sadly unlocks the lock upon the door. "I guess he should go back to his home. We found him wandering around hungry and thirsty. We've been giving him water and feeding him..."

The door swings open to cast a brighter light inside the dim, rust ventilated shed. The everyone shocks at the scene before them. Upon a bed of pellet animal feed scattered all over shed floor with scraps of packaging littering the area, a green and brown scaled whelp lays belly up, wings out motionless. Fright grips the children and guilt seizes the emin girl. "Oh no! We just got the feed because we heard that's what whelps eat and I-I-..."

As tears well up in the distraught children's eyes, Bach steps forward, kneels down next to the whelp, and narrows a curious eye at the critter. He notices a slow rhythmic motion of breathing, quirks a brow, and pokes the full belly of the whelp. The whelp releases a shrill belch, squirms upon the bed of feed, and nuzzles his nose into the pile. His tongue lazily wanders out to drag a few more pellets into his maw, and sounds of slow crunching follow. Bach rolls his eyes with a shake of head and grins over the shoulder at the puzzled children. "Dont worry, he's fine. He just over ate and fell asleep. Reminds me of my friend's dragon when he was little."

The grath boy watches the whelp squirm uncomfortable upon the pellet pile and directs his concern to Bach. "He is uncomfortable. Can we help him?"

Bach glances back to the whelp and nods with a smile. "Sure. He probably has A LOT gas trapped in his stomach."

He gently rolls the whelp over, folding back his wings and guiding his idly waving legs. "So, who wants to learn how to belch a dragon?"

The children gather around excitedly as Bach carefully lifts the lazy whelp up, patting the whelp's tight belly. "Don't worry. Everyone will get a turn. There's plenty of gas to get out him."

Hidden in the bushes along a disused access road, Cideeda and Dretphi peer out and alternate stares between a partially open candy bar and a pair of whelps intently observing the candy bar from the safety of a high tree branch. Cideeda leans close to Dretphi's ear and whispers cautiously. "Get ready. I think the red one is going to try for it."

Dretphi nods, glances down at her hands as she sorts through the mesh of a throwing net, and narrows her eyes in thought. "Understood. Still curious as to why they are this cooperative. Usual whelps are competitive."

Cideeda's furry ears flick and adjust to series of sounds emanating from the tree top. "It is strange they aren't nipping at each other to figure out who gets first pick of the food. And, it's really weird they haven't left that tree after we spotted them."

A flash of red peeks through the gaps of the foliage and a crimson whelp launches off the branch down towards candy bar. It flaps hard to a stop and lands short of the candy bar. It scans the area with its shiny red eyes and creeps closer to the treat with each pass. After a few seconds, it lowers its head down and contentedly sniffs the chocolate covered bar deeply. A series purring barks call out from the woods and the crimson whelp responds similarly. Dretphi curls her arm around her side with the net draping in hand and focus upon the candy bar consuming whelp. Cideeda maintains a vigilant watch and holds her hand up. The moment the turns its head away from Cideeda and Dretphi's direction, Cideeda's hand drops. "Now."

Dretphi flings forth the net with a masterful spin upon the last moment of release. The net spread out wide as it lofts upwards above the target. The crimson whelp lifts his head up to peer around its horizontal surroundings, but fails to check straight above. The net splashes down on top of the whelp. The moment it registers the weight of the net, it attempts to fly away in a panic flurry of shrieks and flops upon the dirt. Cideeda grins confidently and glances over to one of two cages. "Nice! I'll get the cage ready. You hoist and deposit, I'll release and lock."

A loud shrill, angry screech echoes into the area and glints of gold sparkle through green of the tree top leaves. Fast rhythmic rushes of air quickly bellow and a four winged golden whelp jets down next to the crimson whelp. Dretphi and Cideeda exchange glances and both stare out, puzzling at the situation. The two whelp trade chirps and purrs, and investigate the net. Dretphi tilts her head to the side and her eyes process a thought in her mind. "The Golden Gale came to rescue the Crimson Raider?"

Cideeda blinks in short-lived astonishment that flashes over to irritation. "Shit! They're trying to bite through the net!"

Dretphi and Cideeda both quickly grab cages and rush out to the two whelps. The Golden Gale hisses and strafes to block off access to the Crimson Raider. Cideeda and Dretphi maintain a tense stand off with the Golden Gale while the Crimson Raider gnaws on the tough fibers of the net. Cideeda eyes Dretphi and gestures with her claw tipped fingers. "I'll distract, you secure."

With a quick nod, Dretphi circles gradually away from Cideeda. The Golden Gale bounces its glare between the two, until Cideeda snatch the border of the net and tugs it sharply. The Golden Gale full attention bears down upon Cideeda and its snap its mouth at her swiftly dodging hands. Cideeda rapidly reaches in a constant barrage of attempts to grab the net, avoiding the fast nips of the gold-scaled whelp. The Golden Gale continues to feverishly defend against each assault upon the net for tense seconds. It stops to its surprise when a firm but gentle hand prevents its mouth from opening, and a strong arm wrap around to tightly press its wings against the torso of a grath woman. Dretphi lifts the golden creature up and away from the fray, as it helplessly waves it's paws out into the air with a great deal of shock in its eyes. Cideeda gathers the ends of the net, props a cage door side up, opens the door, quickly lowers the netted Crimson Raider inside, and closes the cage door. She carries another cage over to Dretphi and the two lead the Golden Gale inside. The two breath out and vent their tensions with laughing sighs. Cideeda double-checks the locks on the cages and chuckles to herself. "Well, not exactly what I had planned, but I'll take it!"

Dretphi nods with a few breaths and concern directs her narrowed gaze to the unhappily barking whelps. "There is something wrong. I do not believe they are acting normal."

Cideeda kneels down between the two cages and examines the whelps as they peer out and scratch their cages towards their original tree. "I have to agree. This isn't right."

Dretphi stands up, walks over towards the base of the tree, and squints upward. "Something is there. Could you climb up?"

With a confirming nod and smile, Cideeda moves over to the awaiting Dretphi, places a foot in Dretphi's interlocked hands, and rides the boost up along the trunk until she dig her claws into the bark. She continues to climb up the tree, surveying each level of branches on her way up to a collection leaves and sticks. After a few more pulls, her head crests above the rough nest. She gazes inside with a smile and laughs down to Dretphi. "We're going to need to a rope and padded bags. We've got eggs."

Between tall brick buildings along a sidewalk, Aristespha strolls down past store fronts and surveys the goods present in the display windows. As she rounds the corner, she looks down the extra wide sidewalk to fenced section in front of a business, stops walking forward, and places a hand on a hip with a smirk. "Hmm, I think we found one, Sebastian"

Sebastian's ethereal voice resonates from the sword. "Really, dear? I didn't hear the phone beep. Did you sense the magical marker?"

Aristespha sways her hip to the side, glances around briefly, and taps the sword at her side. "It's clear, pop out and see."

The ghostly visage of Sebastian forms next to Aristespha and he follows the direction her sight line ahead. He narrows his eyes, reads a sign taped to a metal railing door, and snorts out chuckle. "Huh. I guess so."

A gentle gust of wind flutters the cardboard sign against the fencing.

"Cafe Clarks still OPEN, so come inside! Outside closed due to miserable little flying fucker! - Frustrated Management"

Sebastian's visage fades and drifts back in towards the sword. As Aristespha moves forward, she retrieves her aetherphone, taps up a signal indicator, and stares up near the roof tops of the buildings with a faint violet glow in her eyes. She reaches the entrance into Cafe Clarks and inspects the daily specials upon a decorative chalkboard as a mischievous grin graces her lips. "Ooo... They have quite the selections of teas. I wonder..."

A bell rings out from above the entry door and an apron wearing evuukian woman server holds the door open. "Hey! Welcome to Clarks Cafe. I'm afraid the patio area is closed right now. The sky terror is still loose."

Aristespha lifts a curious brow at the woman, navigates through a few menus, and reveals a picture of sky blue scaled, white plated, whelp with a prominently pointed nose cone and peach wing membranes. "Does it look like this?"

The server eyes widen sharply and she briefly snarls her upper lip. "That's the little shit... Oh, pardon my manners. He's been terrorizing our customers when they are trying to enjoy our pastries and drinks."

A man's voice from inside calls out. "And that bastard have been stealing anything magical that isn't nailed down!"

The serving woman sighs and points up to the roof top of a nearby building. "He's up there right now. Watching. Waiting. We're hoping he'd moves on soon..."

She pauses in thought and smiles eagerly. "Wait! Are you here to get rid of him?"

Aristespha nods as her bright violet eyes focus upon the blue scaled whelp perched up on the roof top. "Yes. There's a few that escaped. This one is a Sky Lancer variety of fancy whelp. I need to capture him."

She thinks a moment and looks around the server to call inside. "He's been stealing magical objects?"

A chorus of people confirm and list the many trinkets and larger items. Aristespha nods, gestures to the server, and lifts the latch on the fence gate. "Follow me and act like you are seating me."

The evuukian woman follows along, going through all the motions with Aristespha responding appropriately. When Aristespha sits down and the server leaves after placing down a menu, Aristesha calls out to the server. "Excuse, where is your bathroom?"

The serving evuukian woman blinks in confusion and points inside. "This way."

Aristespha stand back up and removes the sword and scabbard from her belt. She lays it down upon the table top, pulls out the blade enough to purposefully glint the sun bright up towards the whelp, and concentrates her purple glowing eyes upon it while holds it. A devious smile draws across her lips and a low ethereal chuckle resonates from the sword. Aristespha joins the evuukian woman inside and waits with her back against the wall near the door. "Let's see if he is... Interested."

Mere seconds later, wind cutting wings descend down upon the table top. The whelp keeps his single pair of wings out and steps cautiously around on his only pair of legs. His silvery, greedy eyes focus upon the blade and his claws clamp down upon the scabbard. With fast, powerful flaps from his meter wingspan, he manages to barely lift the scabbard off the table. The Sky Lancer momentarily glances down at the lack of progress and looks up to see Sebastian's ghostly, flaming form grinning menacingly at him. "OOGITY BOOGITY!"

The whelp shrieks in terror, drops the sword in panic, and flurries its wings opposite of Sebastian, right in the path of an awaiting Aristespha. A wave of energy launches force from Aristespha's gloved hand and envelopes the whelp in an immobilizing field. The Sky Lancer remains nearly motionless, breathing freely with eyes darting around in bewilderment. Aristespha calmly walks up to the frozen critter and finishes a series of incantations with a simple tap upon his bony nosecone. Long tiny snores sound out from the whelp as it remains stuck in the air. Aristespha continues walking to her previous table, slides the sword fully back into the scabbard, taps out a quick message upon her phone, and seats herself to read the menu. Sebastian drifts down to a seat next to her. The server steps around the sound asleep whelp and bows slightly to Aristespha and Sebastian. "I've been informed by my manager that anything you... Two want is on the house today."

In the midst of stunned silence and customers wandering back out to the patio, Aristespha nonchalantly points out something on the menu. "While I wait for the rest of my group to secure the whelp, I very much would love to sample your Briley Black tea."

Dusk dims the sun's orange-red light upon closing market booths and people clearing the park. An emin girl, grath boy, and human girl run happily in the open fields, drawing colorful trails of magical energy from each of their wooden wands. Sotalia scratches Urivennotropalin one last time as he rests cradled upon Lord Valentropen shoulder. "I'll miss you."

Lady Valentropen shakes her head at a bloated, gassy Viridian Forest Racer resting in disgust of itself inside his cage. She sighs in disappointment and mutters a phrase in a high dialect of evuukian. She steps up and glares down at the Sky Lancer, who shamefully lowers his head. Finally, she smiles warmly to the Golden Gale and Crimson Raider together in a cage over a cloth nest of their eggs. Lady Valentropen graciously bows to Cideeda and Dretphi. "Thank you so much for being so thorough! I knew those two have been very sweet to each other, but I didn't know their relationship was that far along."

Aristespha presents a few pieces of paperwork to Lord and Lady Valentropen. "I know this is your first time using the guild system, so I'll be happy to guide you through the process to close out a quest upon completion."

Bach's attention drifts out and he spots Brento and Kayleedi closing up their stage for the night. He casually wanders over, sees the donation box, and places some money inside. Brento and Kayleedi notice the gesture. Brento bows gentlemanly. "Thank you, kind sir."

Kayleedi happily bounces and smiles. "Thank you. Since you're here, we are always looking to improve our shows. Do you have any suggestions?"

Bach thinks a moment and smiles at both Brento and Kayleedi. "Not really. It was really well done. But... there's one detail you need to update..."

Brento and Kayleedi together lean in with ears perking for Bach's next statement. Bach keeps his smile and lifts his brow in thought. "Noxian doesn't wear the mask anymore."