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RP:Once Upon a Skull

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Part of the What Dreams May Come Arc

Part of the Magic, Madness, and Mayhem Arc

Summary: The witch sisters, Lanara and Talyara, meet up with Encara and Meri in Enchantment. The unlikely group glance over a map, intent on finding one of the six crystal skulls in hopes of returning a fellow witch and friend from the afterlife. They band together and use hesitant team work and quick wits to face a dragon that guards the skull and decimates the town. Lanara pulls the skull from dark water as the rest of the team fend off the dragon. They leave, as the Enchantment Guard appears, victorious.

Crystal Clear Moat

The barrier moat has once again been restored to the clarity of its former glory. Scintillating shimmers of pixie dust dance lazily about the canal, reminiscent of the recent efforts to cleanse the stream that feeds the crystal clear body of water. The beauty of the waters beckon you to step into their refreshing flow, but as you step forth, a swarm of water sprites and fae surround you, making a clear point that this viscous barrier is here for a reason. A large wooden drawbridge leads to the Enchanted Castle in the south, the old timbers now reinforced with thick living vines which also spider lazily across the castle's aged brick veneer. The bridge lies currently in its downward position, suggesting the open invitation to peaceful visitors in these lands. Upon further examination you notice a single lily floating atop the sparkling waters, something tells you this solitary flower marks a memorial of some kind. You may travel south through the welcoming castle gate, or northward into the bustling market.

Lanara :: The Green Fairy is jumping at this hour, as inebriated patrons are bustling about, talking loudly and throwing back drink after drink. It was the start of the weekend, and everyone was excited to be free of their mundane jobs, at least for the promised two days of rest. In the far corner of the tavern, rests a large table, with a wrinkled map spread upon the wood. A glass holds the parchment in place at each corner, and a pretty brunette stands over it, her lips pursed, as though she’s deep in thought. Chocolate hues scan the map from top to bottom, her gaze poring over every small detail, before she grabs her fountain pen and circles what she considers to be a good marker. Capendor clears his throat and the woman looks up, smiling apologetically at the winged bartender. “Sorry. I didn’t see you there. I’ve been so busy studying this map that I sometimes tune out my surroundings.” Capendor flutters his glittering wings and hands her a glass of absinthe, shaking his head, dismissively. “Think nothing of it, Miss Lanara. We appreciate your business. If you need anything else, just give a shout.” Fluttering away and leaving Lana to her solace, she sighs heavily, and lowers herself into a chair. She’d been standing for hours, making marks here and there, and she had red ink all over her hands and arms, up to her elbows. Where was that blasted skull?!

Talyara :: The door of the Green Fairy was pushed open and a petite witch joined the throngs of the raucous patrons, weaving her way through bodies as she searched for her sister. Talyara was dressed rather casually this evening, sporting a pair of black leggings and an off the shoulder cotton shirt that hung closely to her body while her customary pair of worn leather ankle boots adorned her feet. Taly looked as if the wind had blown her into the establishment, her normally unruly looks looking windswept and her curls out of place as emerald hued eyes landed upon Lanara in the corner. Footfalls drowned out by the din of the merry patrons carry her towards the table and she plops in the seat beside her sister and helps herself to a swig of drink. Immediately Taly winces, choking on the liquid and sputtering as she wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. “Goddess that’s gross. It tastes like cleaning astringent.” Talyara coughs a few more times before she is able to speak again. “Sorry I’m a little late. I got held up."

Encara has never found a reason to visit Enchantment that outweighs her many reasons -not- to visit Enchantment, at least until today. The weekend finds the Green Fairy bustling and bursting at the seams with all manner of patrons, although only one of them is drow - at least with her hood drawn up to obscure her features, she is easily mistaken for a common ranger in her usual garb of leathers and armour. Slipping through the crowds, Encara arrives mere moments after Talyara, having unintentionally followed in the witch's footsteps, and pauses for a second to survey their surroundings with something close to disapproval. Is this really the appropriate location for artifact-searching? Ugh, it's all so… glittery. Her aunt would love it, she muses sourly. Unfortunately, the thick saturation of magic dust in the air is only giving Encara a headache. "Are you planning on coloring the entire map?" The drow asks Lanara with raised eyebrows as she studies the map in question, emerging from the shadows like she was crafted by them. Standing just behind and to the side of Talyara, she reaches over to take a swig of the absinthe in a similar fashion - without bothering to ask. Though her reaction is more subdued, a disgusted scrunch of the nose, she finds she has to agree with Talyara on the alcohol.

Meri was the last to make her entrance into the Green Fairy, but not because she has just arrived in Enchantment. Dedicating less time to her business, which is in the largely unpopular city of Larket, means that she has more free time on her hands, so Meri arrived the night before. Just because. While the others are arriving, Meri is holed up in her room ignoring the festivities that she would have been more than happy to participate in just a few months ago. She is not sulking though, she is preparing. It takes a bit of time to put armor on, m'kay. Lanara may understand this, given her relationship with Eirik. When Meri does exit her room, spots her search party, and approaches, the other women will not be greeted by a woman clad in her usual outfit. Today Meri has on a black armored vest, bracers to protect her tattoos -- at least on her forearms, and heavy armored boots to match. Strapped to her back is a shield, resting at her hip is a sword, blonde hair pulled back into a braid. Prepared. Meri arrives just in time to hear Encara's comment, the tall blonde wordlessly stepping close enough to take a lean over the table to spot the circled spot on the map. "Hello, ladies." A flash of a practiced smile is given to the others. "Shall we?" Meri reaches out to tap the spot on the map that Lanara has seems to have recently circled.

Lanara lifts the glass to her sangria-stained lips, about to take a sip, when she’s interrupted by none other than her little sister. Without missing a beat, she lowers the glass to the table, being careful of its placement so she didn’t spill anything on the map of Enchantment. “Taly! Thank you for meeting me here. I’m just waiting on a few others, before we begin our search. I’ve marked a few places on the map here…” Waving her hand, she motions to the map, scowling as the pen begins to leak, thus staining the mid-section of her white blouse. It was an imported fabric, from Kree’s shop, no less, and she knew that was a stain she wouldn’t get out. And now her sibling was sipping from her untouched glass! What a night this was turning out to be! Lana looks at her sister, half-annoyed at her lateness, though she can’t help but laugh at her description of the absinthe, as she disposes of the leaking pen, by tossing it into the glass of absinthe. Standing up now, she grabs a cloth napkin and proceeds to dab at the ink blotches above her navel, when Encara makes her appearance, and without warning, takes a sip of the ink-mixed absinthe. The drow doesn’t comment on the taste of the liquor, nor does she seem to spy the pen sitting in the glass, and Lana doesn’t think to mention it, either, not after her coloring comment. She’s unable to wipe the bemused grin on her face, though, and she merely exchanged a look with Taly, urging her to keep quiet. Encara was more than welcome to that beverage. A brow is lofted as a blonde appears at their table, and for a moment, Lana doesn’t recognize the woman, until she gives that smile and utters those two words. Meri?! The tattooist looked far different than when she had last seen her, a mere week before, though she gives a nod of approval at the armor. It was best to always be prepared, despite the fact that the two witches weren’t wearing anything in the form of protection. Lana gives up on cleaning her blouse, and responds to Meri with a warm smile. “Thank you all for coming! I’ve circled some good places where I think the skull could be hidden. Sadly, we’ll have to scout out each location, before we can rule anything out…. And there are…” A brief glance to the heavily marked map. “Twenty-seven possible spo-“She’s cut off, as a fairy flits into the tavern, panting and pointing, trying to catch her breath and garner everyone’s attention. “HELP! Something is wrong! The water is bubbling, and something is glowing! And… And…. He’s killing everyone!” No one seems to be paying attention, as they drink, dance, and act merry, though the elf listens keenly and looks to the three at the table. “A lead. Let’s go.”

Talyara startles as Encara suddenly appears behind her and her hand clutches her chest in surprise. Still, she opens her mouth to warn the ranger about the discarded, leaky pen in the glass of liquor, but one look from Lanara and she clamps her mouth shut, looking the other way lest the two sisters break into giggles. Meri’s arrival draws an arched brow on Talyara’s face. Huh, armor. Maybe this little witch should have considered that before meeting her sister here. Too late now. Green eyes focus back on the map but are quickly rolling when Lanara mentions over twenty locations they would have to scope out. However, the arrival of the anxious fairy throws all of that out of the way, and even as Lanara is saying ‘let’s go’, Talyara is on her feet and moving the glasses anchoring the map, rolling it up, and pushing it into her sister’s arms.

Encara would continue not to notice that pen, merely thinking it to be a straw, but perhaps it's for the best… drow have been known to kill over smaller slights than this, and that would just ruin everybody's weekend. Nobody here needs her holding a grudge against them, and the Green Fairy doesn't need to pay for the damages. Remaining blissfully unaware of both the inked drink and the small stain now painting her lower lip, Encara tilts her head to greet Meri with a nod - after taking an evaluating glance at the woman's gear, there's even the ghost of a smile. She seems pleased to see someone took the time to consider appropriate attire. Then again, do witches even need armour? Encara isn't wholly certain, but thinks that no matter who you are, it's never a bad idea to have at least some boiled leathers between yourself and a dagger. Lanara gets the drow's attention again and Encara's eyes drop back to the map, when their meeting is abruptly crashed by the appearance of a rather panicked pixie. Just like that, Lanara's urging them to move and she dutifully begins to make her way towards the door, stolen absinthe discarded as she reaches for the wickedly bladed bow slung across her back in preparation for a fight. "Everything is glowing here," she mutters to herself exasperatedly, before heading out into the canopy.

Meri was going to be the black sheep tonight, she wouldn’t be trying for any absinthe herself. Most know Meri as an artist, some have come to know her has a psion and a sober psion is probably preferable. Encara's nod is returned, echoing those same silent sentiments. Would Lanara and Talyara be okay? Do Witches need armor? Those blue eyes flit to the fairy whose cries go mostly ignored by the patrons, save for four women who are in need of a starting point anyway. Let's go. Meri did not need to hear those words twice but she was not the first to take action, intentionally. It was not fear that drives this decision but a calculated want to take up position as the rear of the group, with the two witch sisters presumably in their lead. The sword that rests at her hip is not drawn from it's metal scabbard at this moment, but a hand does come to rest upon the pommel of her weapon. Just in case.

Lanara shoves the map into her backpack, slips it over her slender shoulders, and quickly moves out of the double doors of the tavern. The wind, thankfully, keeps the doors ajar so that her companions can follow directly at her back, and she takes in the scene before them. The residents of Enchantment are running back and forth in a panicked frenzy, screaming and shouting, and pointing towards the south. Shielding her eyes from flying debris, the elf stands beside her sibling, alert and ready to defense her party, should something truly be amiss. A merchant stands to their left, attempting to sell his wares, seemingly oblivious to the chaos that had made up the streets of the enchanted city. Lana scowls as he attempts to sell a one-armed elf a hat doused in glitter, as though he didn’t notice the heavy flow of blood pouring out of the man’s missing limb, or his screams of discomfort. Dashing towards the injured stranger, her knee-high boots kick up dirt, as she arrives beside the stand, questions immediately pouring from her lips. “What happened? Who attacked you? Where? Show me…” She half expects him to point, and then remembers his arm is gone, and as his eyes glaze over, she catches him at the last moment. Great. The man faints from blood loss, and she closes her eyes for a moment, before placing her fingertips atop his damp forehead, dropping to her knees as he’s lowered to the ground. “Goddess above, show me the past. Make it true, make it fast.” An audible humming is heard, as a vision fills her head, and she gasps, before snatching her hand from the unconscious male’s head. The recoil is so fast, one would think she was electrified, as her eyes flicker open and she lifts her gaze to Encara and Meri. “Good thing you two have come prepared with weapons and armor. There’s a dragon ahead. He’s protecting something in the water… And he’s hungry!”

Talyara , naturally, is practically glued to her sister’s side as the group rushes from the tavern and skids to a halt at the limbless and bleeding man before them. Taly’s eyes go wide and just as Lanara drops her hand to the unconscious man’s forehead, the younger witch is reaching into a small bag at her hip. Only, it’s not what it seems for when she places her arm in, it goes almost to her elbow! Clearly, some magic has been cast upon the pouch. It looks like a spare shirt of Talyara’s is wielded and she quickly wraps it around his injury, working it into a tourniquette and staining her skin and clothes with his blood. “Someone grab me the bottle of blue liquid in my bag!” She barks at Encara and Meri. Assuming one of them obliges, Taly pulls the cork out with her teeth, spitting it on the ground, and tilting the contents into the unconscious man’s mouth. The druidic witch’s head snaps up at Lanara’s exclamation, her mouth falling open, before someone runs past her and she grabs him by the hand. “Please! Get this man inside the Fairy, there should be someone there who can help in healing. I’ve already given him a tincture for pain.” The accosted man grumbles in annoyance but at Talyara’s pleading look, eventually hoists the injured man up and angles him towards the tavern. Ignoring the blood on her arms Taly looks at her sister, her mouth set in a grim but determined expression. “Where is it?”

Encara bursts out of the tavern alongside the others, scanning the surrounding trees for any signs of an incoming attack. Chaos has engulfed the market, turning the place into a death trap of fire and wreckage— and yet there are people still cowering behind the remains of a stall, behind any scrap of cover they can find, as if simply waiting to die. Irritation prompts Encara to growl low in her throat before she shouts, "What are you idiots doing? Get to shelter!" With her following the witches, hood blown back by the wind to expose her face, the sight of an angry, armed drow approaching prompts several people into fleeing towards the buildings across the street. They have already left Encara's focus, however - she drops to a knee beside the wounded man and Talyara and at her insistence, jams her arm into that strange bag with no hesitation. The sensation is… weird, to say the least. "How do you find anything in this damn thing?" the ranger snaps back after yanking out several miscellaneous items, but eventually she finds the bottle Talyara's looking for and hands it over. Straightening upright while Taly gets the injured man to safety, Encara, still ink-stained, gives the witch's sister a hard look. "A dragon." It's stated flatly, but the androgynous drow's voice contains a distinct edge; the sharpness of anticipation and a violent kind of eagerness. She might be the only one here excited by the prospect of fighting such a beast. "This won't be as boring as I feared." Leonine eyes turn from Lanara to Meri and Encara gestures to the woman. "You've got a shield— feel like catching its attention? It's best if we keep its focus off them."

Meri :: There is a hard roll of her eyes when Lanara points out that the dragon that she has seen that resides ahead is hungry. Great. Thanks Lanara. It is good to know that she is more likely to be eaten alive over roasted to death. Doubt begins to creep into Meri's mind and she does not actually register Talyara's barked order, even though she is looking straight at the unconscious man who has lost his arm. This is probably not a tiny little dragon if it can take an arm off, but maybe it is not full-sized either. It did not swallow the man whole, that is known to happen. Once Rynvale was plagued with a dragon that had a bad gas problem because he ate an armored guard and that armor did not digest quite right...Encara's shouting does not register to Meri either. This moment of non-responsiveness passes once Encara enters her line of sight, bringing Talyara the items that were urgently needed. A stranger is enlisted for help to take the injured man to safety and by the time this transpires, Meri is back to an alert state. Encara's words are met with a loft of the brow and a grim smirk is cast to the drow in response. The shield that is strapped to Meri's back is removed and then shoved into the drow's hands. "Would you like to borrow it?" This is not an offer, Meri is being a little snarky and is not giving Encara much of a choice. Meri does not need Lanara's direction to determine where the dragon is coming from. South. The merchant may not have been able to indicate direction, but others are screaming and pointing to the south. Plus there is a trail of blood from this merchant for Meri to follow. As Meri stalks southward away from the ladies, seemingly without a shield to defend herself, her hand fully wraps about the hilt of her sword and her weapon is finally drawn free. There is the distinct sound of her metal sword scrapping against its scabbard, the blade of her weapon igniting into flame once it is drawn. Her fire sword is not at fancy as Eirik's or Lionel's, hers burns out after a certain amount of time and it is not magical in nature, unlike theirs. Now be very very quiet, we're hunting dragons. Or very least Meri is moving south with the hope of pulling its attention onto her.

Lanara is covered in the stranger’s blood, the crimson gore blending in with the ink from her fountain pen, which has turned her blouse a vivid shade of red, and a pale pink near her chest. The spatter of blood is enough to cause most young women turn the opposite direction, but this particular elf merely rises to her feet as her sister takes over, aiding in the healing of the unconscious man. “About five hundred footfalls… That way.” Lifting her arm, she points towards the south, her dark hues narrowing as a blood-curdling roar pierces her tapered ears. All four of them look in the direction of the dragon’s call, and Lana’s blood soaked hands ball into fists, clenched before her like she was prepared to brawl the scaled beast with her bare hands. Stalking forward with a purpose, her footfalls stomp against the grass, as she glances over her shoulder at Encara. “Stick around me. It’s always an adventure.” This was said in more than mere jest, as Lana was often finding trouble, or maybe trouble always found the witch. However, as the drow encourages poor Meri to play ‘bait’ she rolls her eyes. “I can handle myself. Trust me.” Could she really handle her own in a battle against a fearsome dragon?! Or was she merely bluffing, so that Meri didn’t feel the need to stick her neck out for her and her sister? They are about half way towards their destination, the fields around them are burning, and several fairy folk and elves lie dead upon the ground, their bodies burned to a crisp. The stench of burning flesh fills Lana’s nostrils, and as she turns away to vomit, she nearly stumbles over a small boy, holding a fistful of scorched cake in his hand, as an offering to the witch. He’s near death, and likely taking his last breath, and she swallows the bile in her throat, grimacing at the sight and smell of the child. She blinks, never one for having been maternal, and she merely shakes her head. He was past the point of saving. The rest of Enchantment, however, needed them. As Lana struggles to regain her composure, Meri hands off her shield to Encara, and she exchanges a look with the blonde. Yes, she remembered their discussion about the drow race, and her eyes narrow into slits, before the four continue to make their advance. Lana wasn’t worried about being sprayed with fire, as she often beckoned the elements, though she was concerned about being eaten. She was a rather tasty morsel, she assumed. At least that’s what the men were overheard saying, and Eirik would vouch, just as well. Her thoughts come to an abrupt halt as they arrive at the moat, and take in the wreckage of the drawbridge, the eerie pink glow that emanates from the water while bubbling amidst the center, and of course, the unmistakable sight of the cerulean and silver scaled dragon in the center of the pool. The dragon is large, somewhere between the point of juvenile and adulthood, and his wings are coated in a shimmering glitter coat, much like everything in this part of the lands. He immediately shifts to stand before the bubbling part of the sparkling water, as though he were protecting something valuable. Lana’s gaze remains glued on the glowing section, her head beginning to throb, as she feels herself being beckoned to enter the water. The pull is so strong, that she reaches out and latches onto Taly’s arm, catching her breath. “I think the skull…. Is near.” The majestic beast studies them a second, before he opens his mouth, and unleashes at first a warning roar, though the faint glowing embers in the back of his throat are visible. The next roar would be more than a mere warning.

Talyara takes hurried steps, falling behind Lanara and Encara as they follow the path of destruction towards the scaled beast. At her jesting comment, Taly rolls her eyes and mumbles a quick “that’s the understatement of the century.” Still, with all the screaming and roaring she’s unsure whether anyone in their group heard her. A quick glance is given to Meri as she unsheathes her sword; physical combat was not something Talyara had much experience with. Sure, she had a small stiletto blade strapped to her other hip but a lot of good that would do in the presence of a dragon! Talyara is so lost in thought she nearly stumbles over the fallen child whom Lanara has left. Despite being the younger of the two, her maternal instincts were much stronger and the witch is once more kneeling at the young boy’s side, brushing a few strands from his forehead and pressing a gentle kiss to his brow as he takes his last breath. Taly, closes his eyes gently with her finger tips and says a whispered prayer to the Goddess before forcing herself into a stand and trots after the others. The party is soon upon the moat and Talyara’s large eyes seem to widen further at the sight of the dragon, the bubbling, pink hued water lost on her. Only when Lanara grabs her arm do things start to connect in her mind. “The skull…” she says looking at Lanara with a scrunched nose before she suddenly clutches her back. “Lana! Dragons love shiny things right? What if…what if this one is protecting the skull?” Emerald eyes look towards Encara and Meri as she tries her best to formulate a plan. “Okay. I’ll distract the dragon,” she says matter-of-factly, dropping to her knee suddenly and rummaging through her magical bag once more. “Can you two protect Lana while she tries to get the skull? Where…the bloody hell…is it…”she mumbles as she begins to pull miscellaneous items from her pouch, searching for a very specific cloak.

Encara finds herself saddled with a shield she doesn't know what to do with - Meri gets a caustic smirk and a smooth, "Thank you," that is far too sickly saccharine to be genuine, but at least she doesn't slam the shield into the woman's face. It's slung over her back for safe-keeping instead, the weight of it not something the drow is used to as she jogs along with the others. "I wasn't suggesting you couldn't," she says to Lanara. "It's just the smartest course of action." Talyara's muttered comment earns her a stifled laugh, meanwhile, before they're leaving the ruined marketplace and heading south, following the cacophony of screams. Encara flows over the ground with the grace of a stalking tiger, silent steps carrying her past burned and blackened corpses - she does not look at them, does not appear to register either their presence nor the acrid stench of scorched flesh in her lungs, but her gauntleted left hand clenches into a tight fist all the same. She halts near the edge of the moat, a dry, hot wind rushing up from below to blast her silvery hair back as she stares down at the shimmering waters and the mighty beast crouched within. While meeting the dragon's roar with a feral grin of her own, Encara catches sight of a disturbance in the water and audibly inhales, her expression faltering. "I wouldn't doubt it," she murmurs in agreement with Talyara, turning to face the witch and raising an eyebrow. "I'll see better from above." That said, the drow vanishes - while most rangers draw upon natural magic to aid them in battle, Encara's manifests as something much darker and her affinity with shadows goes beyond what even most drow are capable of, allowing her to use them as a means of traversal. She reappears high above the enchanted moat, balanced precariously upon one of the thick vines that crawls along the castle's outer wall - the shield is jammed in between the bricks and plant life, creating a small but sturdy platform from which Encara can see everything, from the dragon below to the far side of the moat. Most importantly, she's out of the way. An arrow is drawn, a whisper prompting it to burst into flame and heat the steel tip to a white-hot sheen, and the drow waits for her opening to fire.

Meri is sticking up for more than just Lanara and Talyara in her mind. Valrae. She passed off her shield with the full knowledge that if she were to be sprayed with fire, the shield would only offer so much protection. Even were Meri to fall into a crouch before the flames were to hit her, the shield would easily be overpowered by the flames of a dragon sizable enough to bite a man's arm off. No objection comes when Lanara argues that she can handle herself, she has known witches to be more than capable and Lanara would have ample chance to demonstrate such, as would Talyara. However, Meri has reservations about either of them being the means to distract the dragon. "Sisters ought to stick together..." Said right as Encara disappears. Meri's blue eyes cut to Lanara, giving the blonde a pointed look with the hope the witch would recall their past discussion. Take your sister and get the skull! "Go." Meri's approach of the dragon continues, it is not a full-sprinted charge forward with her fiery weapon waving. It's a slow, calculated walk diagonally away from the witches, the blade of her weapon swung about so that the fire can catch the dragons attention on her and not the witches. But Meri is not suicidal, a frontal assault is not what she wants. It is the wreckage of the drawbridge that Meri seeks to use to her advantage. Those broken planks of wood that once formed the bridge begin to levitate up and out of the water or off the ground, quickly collecting together in a mass of debris that Meri is going to drop right on top of the young dragon. Though some of the wood perhaps is splintered and jagged, the dragon's scales offer sufficient protection from impalement. At best the beastie may be temporarily weighted down. Or it will just end up angry and shoot a torrent of flames off, hopefully at Meri. Strange to hope that she is the one that dragon wants to try and roast...

Lanara glances at Taly as though she had three heads, her eyes widening, and her head shaking in disagreement. “First of all! Why are you going to play as the bait? And why do –I- have to be the one to fetch the skull?! Yes, I may spend hours in the bathtub, but Taly, that’s a freaking dragon!” Taly rummages in her satchel, for heaven knows what, while Encara seems to vanish from their side after stating she wanted to get a better look. Snapping her head to Meri, the witch shrugs, unable to see where the drow had manifested from her angle. “Where did she go, now? We were supposed to be keeping an eye on her!” As Lana gesticulates with her hand, the dragon takes her movement as a threat, and takes a step towards her, mistaking the scent and sight of her blood-soaked body for a meal. The witch sees the look in his eyes, and as she turns to run out of the line of fire, should he breathe upon her, though she only runs about twenty feet. Stumbling, she nearly plunges headfirst into the water, though she breaks her fall by landing on her knees, and digging her fingers into the ground for balance. The reflection that stares back at her isn’t one she recognizes, as her hair is an unruly, and her face is covered in a blood that is not her own. Those captivating hues look haunted, and she somehow had split her lower lip since leaving the tavern. Lana blinks, and that’s when she hears a soft, soothing, lullaby, beckoning for her to come closer. As she’s gazing at her reflection in the water, and hearing music that only seems to be playing for her pointed ears alone, the dragon spins wildly and gives into the chase after Meri. A fierce roar emanates from his mouth, as fire sprays from his mouth, though the blonde warrior moves with such grace and purpose that she narrowly dodges the flames. The vibration of the beasts’ leaving the safety of the water, and his tail wildly smacking against the ground, causes Lana to topple into the pool with a soft splash. She yelps, not expecting the water to be so cold, and she takes in a mouthful of water, though she fights the urge to resurface to catch her breath. They were here for Valrae. If they didn’t get what they had come for, what good would Meri, Encara, and Talyara, have risked their lives for? As she swims nearer to the glowing orb at the base of the pool, she finds that the lullaby grows louder, the pull that of a magnet, until her hand latch onto the circular object. Extracting the pink quartz skull from the water, she resurfaces in the far right corner, gasping for air, and clutching the object to her chest. Chestnut locks are glued to her head, and beads of water cling to her face and arms as she wildly looks around for Meri, only to find her atop the drawbridge, and the dragon dangerously stalking nearer, intent on devouring his prey.

Talyara gives a loud exclamation of “Ah ha!” when her hand finally grasps the cloak she had been looking for. It was a gift from long ago, from a lost friend, and it was beautiful. It wasn’t just a fancy garment, it was literally layered with differently colored shards of crystals. It made her just as shiny, if not more so, than anything in the vicinity. Meri’s words are caught but Talyara hesitates. Her thought was to draw the dragon away from the other three so the focus would be on her as opposed to the skull. But the psion and ranger alike seem to have other plans, taking the offensive with bow and sword alike. So with a curt nod she motions to Lanara. “Okay, I’m with you. I’ll distract him with the cloak so you can grab the skull, okay?” But Lanara is already off and running, as if she were doing agilities like when they were young. Talyara breathes out a frustrated sigh and runs after her sister, literally reaching down and shaking her shoulder as she seems to be captivated by some type of spell. “Lana…Lana…what are you doing?!” It’s too late as the tail swings out and Taly dives out of the way only to see her sister topple into the water. The younger witch begins to crawl her way to the water’s edge as the dragon unleashes its hellish fire in Meri’s direction. Taly doesn’t know where Encara got off too and she cannot see from her vantage point if the psion successfully escapes the attack as her hands plunge into the cold water in an attempt to grab Lana. Suddenly, the dragon halts its attack, the glint of Taly’s cloak garnering its attention. It turns its head just as Lana surfaces with the skull. The druidic witch gives a mighty yank, pulling Lanara up on the bank and quickly stands, using her body as a shield over her sister as she unfastens the cloak at her throat, ready to hurl it towards the beast. Unfortunately, a clawed arm reaches out towards Talyara, whether to grab the witch or the cloak alone is anyone’s guess. Fortunately, the shiny garb is all he manages to grasp but not before digging a clawed digit in Talyara’s side, the witch yelping in pain. It wasn’t a life threatening wound, but it was enough to hurt and cause blood to pool from her side. Taly presses on hand against the gash while the other moves to pull Lana up to a standing position. “Let’s go, we have to move. We have to move!” Who knew how long the dragon’s attention would remain on the cloak instead of them?

Encara would be lying if she said she didn't think something was up, but whatever it is that keeps causing Lanara and Meri to exchange those sharp looks is of no concern to the drow. She is here for one reason - the doubt and suspicion do not matter, as they never do. Encara does not need any of these women to trust her, only to continue thinking of their friend, to continue letting that determination push them on, and allow her to back them up while they face fire and death all for a woman named Valrae. From her perch, the ranger sees everything— Lanara falling, then tumbling into the water face-first, Meri engaging the dragon with a power that does not manifest in her senses, Talyara and her glittering cloak keeping close by her sister. She focuses on the latter, as though drawn by the allure of the magnificent garment herself, but it's clear why when the dragon catches sight of the cloak as well. After spitting fire at Meri, the beast turns on the witches, and at that point Encara looses her arrow. It strikes the dragon on the crown of its horns and explodes in a great burst of flame, prompting it to turn with a pained roar and stare up at the high wall bordering the moat in search of the unseen assailant. Encara has already moved, however - a shadow-step takes her to the darkness cast by the dragon's own bulk and she fires off another arrow at the underside of the creature's throat, hoping to strike the softer scales there while its focus is elsewhere. Breathing harsh, she skips back a couple of paces to Talyara and Lanara, glancing at the pair and then at the skull held against her chest. She holds out her hand. "If you've got it, let's move. Take my hand," she urges. It would only take one sister to listen, so long as they're holding onto one another - Encara will then draw them through the shadows to a safer location, giving Lanara a precious moment to catch her breath and Talyara time to tend to her wound.

Meri would probably be muttering and grumbling and cursing up a storm were this the time and the place. It's not. It is the time to concentrate quite intensely for Talyara has managed to pull the dragon's attention away from the psion and back toward the sister's as the cloak glistens long enough for Talyara to be injured, but the cloak is given up and the dragon is only temporarily distracted. In the defense of this search party, none of the members had any idea what they would be facing so it is hard to come up with an organized plan. This disorganization was -barely- working. But Meri can't fret over that either, she has to deal with the flames being spewed her direction. The flames are redirected. It might seems strange to see the fire curve off course, but Meri's flames are still composed of mass and substance that can be manipulated, and those with the ability of psychokinesis have been known to manipulate energy as well. More debris from the drawbridge are pulled into Meri's telekinetic grasp as Encara fires at the dragon, dropping another weighted amount upon the dragon to allow for the women to escape. It was questionable if the dragon was dead, but it certainly was not rising from beneath the weight of the lumber this time. The women were calling to get out of here, Meri agreed and she felt no guilt in making her escape when she saw a number of pixie guards finally coming to investigate the trouble. They would finish the job that the women began. Take Encara's hand. Encara was right, there was a certain amount of mistrust for drow. Would Talyara and Lanara take the offer? However, there were only two hands for Encara to offer and three people, this lift did not seem to be offered to her and so Meri would find her own escape route by foot if need be.

Lanara accepts her sister’s help and as she is back upon the land, she clutches the skull so tightly to her chest that the crevices of the stone shred through the fabric of her stained shirt. A shiver runs through her body, and she looks up to see her little sister get snagged by one of the dragon’s talons, causing her to call out. “TALY!” Surprisingly, her sibling presses on, despite the odds stacked against her, and she hurls her gem-encrusted cloak at the face of the beast, before returning to her side, urging all of them to move on. Lana stands up, though her feet remain firmly planted on the ground, her heels pressing into the grass, as she fights her sibling. They couldn’t leave! Meri was amongst the wreckage, and though she had a sword, she was one warrior! And who knows where Encara had gone! Yes, she was a drow, and most deserved an untimely death, but she could still be here and would be in danger if they just left her behind. All of this remains unspoken, as she looks into Taly’s emerald hues, stubborn as a mule. The four of them arrived together, and they would leave together. The dragon shreds Taly’s cloak with its sharp claws, though as a chunk of its head explodes, it turns to retaliate against its new assailant, and that’s when the missing drow manifests before the sisters. Lana lifts her gaze to Encara, grateful for her fast thinking, though as that hand is offered, she hesitates. Drow were not to be trusted. It was a deeply rooted belief she held, along with some others. The pain is evident in her expression, as her memories haunt her, and though she wants to believe the dark-skinned ranger, she fights the urge to trust, with every fiber of her being. But this was for Valrae. Not for Lanara. The soft lullaby of the quartz skull enters her mind, and she lowers her gaze to it, lifting it with shaky hands as she focuses. What was it asking of her? It then hits her, and she gazes into Encara’s leonine gaze, her mind seeking the answer to an unspoken question. ‘What are your true intentions?’ Just like that, the skull vibrates in her hands, and she is granted a peek into the thoughts of the unsuspecting woman. Though her motives were sometimes questionable, she didn’t seek to steal the skull, or bring harm to anyone in regards to their findings. She also had a strong belief that resurrecting Valrae was a commendable effort. Lana smiles faintly, as Meri disables the dragon with the wreckage from the drawbridge in the distance, and she’s about to tell her that it’s all going to be alright, when the blonde turns on her heel and leaves the area. Pixie guard’s approach, ready to finish off the dying beast with spears, and the elf turns to speak to Encara, though she finds out that she’s unable to speak. Fear sets in, and then realization. Sometimes, to find what you seek, you must give to receive. And with that in mind, she slips her hand into Encara’s, and motions for her sister to take hold, as well. Their job here was done.