This piece is a cross-over between the world where Lor Astazor takes place, and Elonth. The two worlds are not canonically the same, but due to similarities between them, I thought this story would be a nice little gift for GreatMar‘s birthday.
“Dear, you’ve got mail,” Vinett spoke softly as she entered the house, closing the door behind her with an invisible force. “Looks important, has the government’s stamp and everything,” she added, looking at one of the three envelopes floating by her yellow head, simultaneously walking across the living room. Even though the house they lived in was spacious, it would be considered small or even cramped by dragon standards. However, for the two of them it was more than enough. “Did you pay the wrong amount of taxes or something?” She asked jokingly, catching the envelope addressed to Versodel Ruimkom in her paw, letting the other two drop to the wooden kitchen counter.
“I’m bad at Imaadudish, not math,” Versodel’s voice came from an adjacent room – the house’s garage that acted as a makeshift workshop. “Can you read it for me? You know words be confusing sometimes.”
Vinett flicked her tail in slight annoyance. “You’ll never learn if you keep making me do all the hard parts.”
“Yes,” her housemate responded, his green head poking out of the small side-entrance to the garage. “But if it’s important, I will hate to misread it.”
“You have a point,” she opened the envelope with her claw, letting the packaging drop to the floor as the letter itself stayed in her grasp. She cleared her throat and began reading in the most official-sounding voice she could manage.
Dear Dres Versodel Ruimkom,
We have detected heightened energy concentrations during extreme weather events in the area of Your residence. As our measurements differ from the recorded readings during similar events from the past, we suspect unaware or unauthorized usage of an advanced ability and as You are the only unclassified draqui within the vicinity, we would like to ask You to appear within the Central Courthouse of Tumenoord at 23 Sentarin Avenue, on 24/06/1983 for questioning and possible assessment.
Attendance is compulsory.
Elders of Tumenzar
“Twenty-fourth?” Versodel asked coming into the room, “That tomorrow, right?”
“Yes,” Vinett responded. Her yellow body was stiff, with the legs being slightly bent, right above where the scales changed color into a deep green that covered her paws. Her wings, a lighter shade of green, were raised slightly above her body, in an involuntary defensive stance. “Vers, what are they talking about here? I haven’t heard of the Elders sending personalized letters when an ability is located.”
“Maybe because they were unsure?” Versodel put his wing over his friend. Unlike the green scales on the head, which ended half-way down the neck, his wing arms were dark yellow, with an orange membrane spread between them. The rest of the body had an amber coloring to it, with the end of the tail showing green scales again. “I’m sure they are nice. I can go and it will be okay.”
“But what are they talking about here?” She inquired, letting her body relax before continuing. “Do you have any idea what could’ve caused the unusual readings?”
“Uhm…” He paused, scratching the side of his neck with the front paw that wasn’t blocked by his friend. “I’ve being working on… A little thing on the side. A secret thing. I waited for storms so you won’t have felt me work.”
“Vers…” The dras said softly as she turned her head to look at the other dragon. “You promised no more crazy stuff, right? You were supposed to simply write that story of yours so that you could learn the language more. I enjoy helping you edit it, and we could possibly have a first draft done this time next year…” There was a short pause as she made her way out from underneath the wing “Is that why you were so slow with the updates now that the summer storms came in?” She finally asked in an accusatory tone. “I thought you simply couldn’t focus with all the energy around.”
“Sorry,” he said, head dropping slightly and tail curling to the side. “I show you tomorrow, promise. After meeting.”
“If you wouldn’t I’d look for it myself while you were gone,” Vinett said with a smug smirk as she turned around to the other two unopened letters. “Both from Meihian. Must be from Tir. Let’s see what amazing things she’s seeing on her vacation…”
The inside of the courthouse was richly decorated with various sculptures and paintings along the white stone walls; many depicting what Versodel presumed to be past Elders. He patiently waited in front of a door large enough for two centuries-old dragons to stand in side by side, guarded by a pair of dragons in black cloaks that covered their bodies, but not their wings. Similarly dressed dragons were also present on both ends of the hallway, their presence more intimidating than it was reassuring of the safety of the building.
“Dres Ruimkom will now be questioned,” a large voice announced from behind the doorway. The right guard stepped up and opened the right door, silently motioning with his wing for Versodel to go inside.
He slowly walked through the wooden frame, into a surprisingly dark and open room. Its walls were made of solid, polished granite, and there were no windows in any of them, with the only source of light being many a shiridan crystal, bobbing up and down gently underneath the ceiling.
Inside there were six dragons: five older dragons, standing in a semi-circle near the edges of the room, and a petite female, sitting behind a square screen near the entrance. The dragons in front of Versodel were ordered by their species, with a middle-aged blue Ebonscale on the far left, followed by an older, purple one. In the center was a yellow tumenzarian whose size suggested he was well over three centuries old, with a younger, orange, tumenzarian to his left. At the far right of the group was the smallest of the dragons, a mostly white Scriven, with a row of golden spikes going from her tail to her head, topped with a pair of curly horns.
“Dres Versodel Ruimkom, is that correct?” Spoke the Tumenzarian in the middle, as the female by the door tapped with her claws on the keyboard’s buttons, writing down what was being said.
“That is yes, Your Honor,” Versodel said, bowing his head slightly.
“I am sure you are familiar with the Tumenzarian Elders,” the dragon in the center made slight motions with his head towards the purple Ebonscale on his right and the orange Tumenzarian on his left. “However, today we also have a visitation from Rowin Geasireim, the president of Ciniki; and Odaya Tunnueng, the draqui president of Meihian. They will be present during this session.”
“It wa- …is an honor,” Versodel spoke as he bowed his head to both presidents. “I’m sorry for my language, I do not know well Imaadudish yet.”
“Is there some other language you would prefer we communicated in?” The right Tumenzarian spoke up. “We can accommodate to avoid miscommunication.”
“No, it fine,” he reassured them. “I understand well. I just speak no good.”
A short glance was shared between the two Ebonscales after which the blue one spoke up. “If I may ask, Dres Ruimkom, with all due respect, how well can you understand us, if you are unable to formulate sentences properly?”
“Very well. Imaadudish easy language, just grammar is troubling.”
“Continuing off of that question,” the other ebonscale started before Rowin could say anything more, “how come you do not speak Imaadudish, or any other language or dialect, fluently at your age?”
“Parents died in war, and I had to live in woods. I no remember why, but I spent life in the foot of the Purret mountains, with no other draqui around. Vinett stumbled on me on a trek, and brought me back.”
“And this Vinett,” the same Ebonscale continued, “have they helped you any more?”
“Yes, yes! She very kind. Went through application process with me. Let me live with her. After a year I got the ID card, I can show,” Versodel reached up to the pouch on his neck to take it out, but stopped as the elder in the center lifted his paw.
“No need, we have a copy,” he said, showing a small rectangular card between his claws. “Republic of Tumenzar, proof of citizenship. Surname: Ruimkom. Name: Versodel. Parents: Unknown. Date of Birth: Unknown. Sex: M. ID: 180000006089398. Class: N/A. Nationality: Tumenzarian. Place of Birth: Unknown. Issuing Authority: Mayor of Weterklif. ID Card Number: XAS 482391.” Is all of the information here correct?”
The elder in the center looked over at the other Tumenzarian on his left, who silently shook his head. “Let us get to the core issue then, Dres Ruimkom. Do you know anything about the energy readings recorded in the close proximity of your area of residence? They happen during storms, yet they were not recorded before these past few years. What can you tell us about this phenomena?”
“I don’t know what you measure with, but I may know where it comes from. I am working on a thing. Got a workshop for myself you see. I want thank Vinett with gift, so I work during storms not to alert her.”
“A kind gesture,” the orange elder spoke. “That would explain the unusual readings, thus we can move on to the second matter at hand: Your advanced ability.”
“I have one?” Versodel asked in surprise. “How you know if I don’t?”
“Firstly, your mind is extremely well protected, such that we cannot even feel it,” the elder continued. “I, and other members of the council, find it odd that a dragon with no schooling is able to block Archmages with centuries of experience.”
“So my ability… let’s me hide myself?”
“It would seem so, yet there is a further issue,” the Tumenzarian stepped out of the semi-circle of elders and presidents. “I would explain with an illusion, but your mind is unable to receive them and so words will have to suffice. This room has a specifically designed structure, which distributes any energy coming in from the outside along its exterior, not allowing any to go inside. In short, the only way for energy to come in is for it to be carried in by someone.
“Now as I’m sure you are aware, an advanced ability will drain the user of energy, as will any other spell. In the outside world, that loss can be miniscule enough for one to recharge instantly, yet in here that is not possible. But against all odds, your mental barricade holds.”
“Maybe it uses less energy?”
“While theoretically plausible, we would’ve expected a block of this strength to already start diminishing, yet there are no signs it does. I would like to check your energy levels,” he stopped in front of Versodel and lifted his paw, towards which a small device floated from where he previously stood.
“I don’t… like that idea…” Versodel said, taking a step back.
“Not to worry, the measurement will not hurt. And I am afraid it’s a necessity,” the elder pointed the device at the dragon in front of him and flipped the switch, to which the device responded with a sizzle, small flash, and smoke coming out of it. “Did… did you do that?”
“No,” the amber dragon responded. “At least not on purpose, sir.”
“Strange…” there was a whisper shared between the two Ebonscales as the Scriven came up to the two dragons, walking on three legs as she held something in the fourth.
“Perhaps it was malfunctioning,” she said in a hushed tone. “I have tested this on myself, and am certain it works properly,” Odaya pointed his device at Versodel and flipped the switch, to the same results. “That’s strange indeed…”
“Drei, please return to your stands, give Versodel some space,” the elder in the center spoke to the two that pondered their faulty devices. “Perhaps he would be able to give an explanation himself?” He asked, looking at Versodel with a piercing sight, as if he was certain that the younger dragon knew the answer.
“I…” he mumbled, looking at the retreating dragons and the standing elders with a slightly panicked gaze. “I no…” he started, but paused not sure what he even wanted to say.
“We have seen this sort of occurrence before, Versodel Ruimkom,” Rowin spoke up, seeing the dragon in the center wasn’t going to say anything more. “Back then we have put it off as machine malfunction, seeing as these were fresh technology, but those days are long behind us now. And with time we learned that this was no mere malfunction.”
“Okay, fine.” A voice sounded within all of the elders minds as Versodel started to emit a glow equivalent to that of the shiridan crystals below the ceiling. “I am no normal dragon. There, I said it, happy?” He lowered his head with a sigh and a gentle shake. “I mean no harm,” he spoke after a short moment of silence. “I only seek a calm place to live in for a bit. Is that so much to ask for? A couple of centuries without a government peering into my life, is that really so hard?”
The elders were taken aback by the sudden blast of energy emanating from the dragon, with the two dragons that barely returned to their spots taking a step back in surprise. “Knew it,” the elder in the center said with a smirk of someone who solved a criminal before it got to the reveal. “We do not wish to do any harm to you, Dres Ruimkom. Or would you prefer us to use a different name?”
“My name here is Versodel Ruimkom, period.”
“Very well. Then dear Versodel, if you don’t have foul intentions, then I expect you to abide by the laws of our lands. I’m sure you’re familiar with the classification system for advanced abilities?”
“Good. Then we assign you a class 6 physical-energy,” the elder in the center spoke, to which the orange and white dragons on his left turned their heads in surprise, while the purple and blue dragons on his right stood calmly.
“Does… Does the scale not go up to 5?” Versodel cocked his head with curiosity.
“It does, technically,” as he looked over to the female by the entrance, who quietly used a small contraption at the side of her desk to press all the details into a pre-prepared card template. “However, you are amongst the few unspoken special cases.” The card flew across the room and stopped in front of Versodel, until he grabbed a hold of it.
“But…” he started, looking at the card. “This says 5?”
“Officially, that’s where the scale ends,” Rowin explained. “All laws applicable to class 5 are the ones you should follow. The 6 is merely an internal number… to be used in special cases.”
“I see…” Versodel turned the card around, making sure everything is proper on the front and back. “Wait. That means I cannot use my energy, even in private?”
“So it does,” the elder in the middle spoke again, “We deem it too dangerous for frivolous use.”
“Can I at least have a permit to use it within my workplace? I do not want to break the law by continuing my work as I did, and I have not disturbed anyone, have I?”
“You have not, however we do not want to risk that knowledge about you and your energy-manipulating ability would leak. You have plenty of options to work with by using skills that normal draqui are capable of, especially with your energy capacity.”
Seeing that he would not have more luck, Versodel sighed in resignation, put his card away and turned around towards the entrance.
“Am back!” Versodel shouted as the door closed shut behind him.
“Finally!” Vinett exclaimed, coming into the hallway to greet him. They rubbed the sides of their heads together before moving further into the house. “So, how did it go?”
“Ehh…” Versodel started, opening his pouch and taking out the card. “They knew.”
“Tsk, Tsk,” the dras poked him slightly on the snout with her paw, before taking the card for herself. “No using that language. You gotta learn Imaadudish, and you won’t if you don’t use it.”
“Sorry,” he put his head down, taking a paper out of his bag.
“And what’s that?” Vinett asked curiously, letting the card float towards the counter behind her.
“Oh, just some trash,” he responded, fittingly throwing the paper into the nearby trash bin. “I was looking for this,” he continued, taking out a neatly folded sheet of paper and handing it to the other dragon.
“Oh, they gave you a permit? How nice of them.”
“Very limited, but I can continue with work,” he said with an uneasy smile. “Speaking of, I said I’d show you what I work on, right?”
“Ah, yes!” She responded excitedly, putting the permit besides the card. “Let’s see what it was that got you into this fine mess.”
Versodel lead Vinett into his workshop: a well organized mess, in which he knew precisely where everything was, while she couldn’t tell where one bundle of cables and metal ended and another started. “I hid it, so you not see it until ready,” Versodel said as they stopped by a work table that looked no different to the other three that lined the walls.
“But Vers, I never come in here,” Vinett said with a slight smile, watching the other dragon take a key out of his pouch. “And even if I did, I would not know what I’m looking at.”
“Still, safety,” he said in a matter-of-fact tone, opening a large shelf underneath the countertop. Inside the shallow space was a rectangular metallic box, with two antennas coming out of the side, as well as three dials, an array of four meters and a large black-and-white display on its front.
“What?” Versodel blinked in surprise before noticing what was lying in the shelf he had just revealed. “Oh no. Not this,” he explained, kneeling down and putting the key into a keyhole hidden underneath the drawer. A mechanism inside clicked, allowing Versodel to slowly lower the sheet of metal, which pulled down a series of unfolding wooden boards that acted as a back wall to the newly revealed area. Just in front of the boards, a handful of amber crystals of various sizes and shapes floated, trapped in a magnetic field between the top and bottom of their containment space. “Don’t mind experiments on sides,” he quickly stated, grabbing the large tear-shaped crystal in the center. “This one should be perfect.”
“Are those… shiridan crystals?” Vinett asked as she carefully took a crystal that looked like an imperfect cube. “You made these?”
“A lot of tinkering. A lot of work, but yes,” Versodel said with a proud smile. “Artificial crystals. We can sell them or keep them but this one’s for you. Now give tail.”
“Wha-?” Vinett quickly turned, nearly dropping the crystal she was holding.
“Give me your tail. It won’t hurt, promise.” Uncertain of what he needed her tail for, Vinett reluctantly obliged and moved it towards Versodel, who grabbed it gently right before the tail blade. Carefully, he put the crystal in the opening between the two fin-like structures that emerged at the end of Vinett’s yellow tail, attaching its bottom to the very tip of her tail and letting it gently situate itself in place. “See, perfect fit.”
Vinett lifted her tail towards her to get a better look. “A little heavy,” she said, waving it up and down to judge how much of an impact the crystal’s weight would have on general movement.
“That’s because no energy,” the dres spoke, to which the crystal instantly lit up, suddenly fully charged. “Will make them less heavy. This one’s heavy because it can store a lot.”
“I see…” she moved the tail up and down again, noticing how it no longer felt like it had anything on top of it. “I heard of artificial crystals being experimented on, didn’t think I’d have them made in my own house…”
“You like it?” Versodel’s green snout lit up with a childish smile.
“Yes, it’s great, fits right in!” Vinett quickly reassured him, stretching the tail as much as the garage allowed for, looking at her reflection in the window. “But it does bring up a question,” she relaxed her muscles and went to the living room, picking up the permit that was calmly lying on the counter. “They gave you this knowing you’re making the exact thing they’ve spent many years trying to develop?”
“Uhm…” Versodel stared at the back of the permit as he followed Vinett into the room. “I not tell them what exactly I do…”
“So you’re saying they gave you a permit to continue your work, without knowing what said work is, even though they know what you are?”
“Well…” Versodel’s eyes darted to the trashcan before returning to the Vinett’s deathly stare. “There may have been extra steps. But it’s all good, I made sure it is!”
“You can’t just manipulate law like that, Vers,” she focused on the small piece of paper, setting it aflame, letting the resulting ashes fall down on the ground. “Live in our lands, live by our laws.”
“I just want what’s best…” he responded with a sad sigh, head dropping slightly. “For now enjoy the gift, yes?”
“I sure will,” she smiled at him, the crystal on her tail lighting up as the ashes floated from the ground towards the trash-bin by the wall.