The Dawn Patrol


“Okay, go ahead.” Grakkus told his little brother. They were standing just outside camp in a clearing, opposite eachother.

Rikkus’ muscles began to bunch up as he began to empower himself. Grakkus stared hard at him in concentration, clearing his head and taking a deep breath. He imagined the air in his lungs changing, becoming something poisonous, something poisonous to magic.

“You really suck at this.” Rikkus was smirking at him, “Ironclaw was able to do it right away.”

“Shut up, lizard boy,” Grakkus growled at him, trying to stay calm, “give me some time.”

Rikkus just laughed, and Grakkus blew all the air out of his lungs in exasperation.

“Did it work?” Grakkus asked.

“You were doing something? I thought you were just squeezing out a fart.” Rikkus continued to chuckle at him.

“Alright, let’s go again, then.” Grakkus mumbled begrudgingly. Rikkus took in a breath and flexed again, empowering his muscles and bones. They’d been going at it for hours, Rikkus taunting ‘The Dragon’ the entire time.

Grakkus repeated the process, breathing deep and empowering his breath. A shroud of poison. A magic eating haze.

“Ponydicks, Grakkus. Should we get one of the Tabai over here? I feel like we could teach a kitten dragon magic and it would learn this faster than you.” Rikkus had his most gleeful shit-eating grin on his face, like he just had the greatest idea in the world. “Then the kitty-Tabai can teach YOU and we can get this over with!”

Grakkus didn’t immediately say anything. He just stood there, motionless for a moment. Still as stone. His empowered breath seeped from him like a rolling fog, slow and controlled.

Then he took a step forward and punched his brother in the face. It was very cinematic… whatever that means. But it definitely wasn’t going to miss.

Grakkus decided he didn’t need to empower to beat the bullshit out of Rikkus. So he didn’t, and he knew Rikkus would know the difference. Rikkus would know that the cuts and bruises and possible broken bones would have been delivered to his empowered body by his vastly superior, unempowered brother. This was the thought that made Grakkus smile as he followed his brother to the ground and delivered the kind of beating only family can give.

The Lady Phoenix took a casual glance out the window-flap of the recovery tent and mumbled, mostly to herself, “What on earth is that commotion?”

Cerlissa looked up from a soldier’s leg, where she had been concentrating on stitching up an Elf from Dren who had gotten his shield arm flayed. It was a relatively simple fix, if time consuming, which is why The Lady had assigned her to it. Cerlissa seemed to be remarkably awful at undoing damage. She tilted her head to one side, listening to what sounded like an incoming attack, though no one had raised any kind of alarm. Then she shrugged and looked down once more at her stitching. The Elf was scowling at her, but didn’t raise any kind of complaint.

None of her patients complained, as a matter of fact.

Cerlissa liked it that way.

“Whatever it is, it’s disturbing the rest of our wounded.” Lady Phoenix flicked the window flap closed and scowled over the rows of cots set up in the tent, each with a menagerie of wounded soldiers laying on them. Norscans lay beside Dragonkin, who chatted amiably with a nearby Cambion. Tabai, Dwarves, Elves and Humans were glared at equally by Orcs. If nothing else, this battle had brought the empire’s various races together in a way that only a common enemy could do. “When you’re done with that, could you find out what it is and let them know the trouble they’re causing?”

“All done.” Cerlissa cut the last of the thread and hopped up, proud of her work, “I’ll be right back then.”

Slipping past the flaps of cloth that served as the tent’s entrance, Cerlissa was thankful for the brief respite from the endless work she seemed to have. Every authority in the camp seemed to have teamed up to keep her busy. The minute she had nearly finished up one task, someone else desperately required her help in some new task that she was usually terrible at.

Her suddenly suspicious train of thought was interrupted by a loud clang and a furious string of curses in language she didn’t know. She didn’t need to know the words to know that they were curses. She brought her casual walk up to a lazy lope that ate up the few hundred feet to the woods at the edge of the camp in just a few minutes.

When she got there, all she heard was grunts, growls, and the occasional meaty thwap. She stepped out of the woods into a clearing to find two giant Dragonkin exchanging blows and attempting to grapple each other.

Cerlissa immediately recognized Grakkus, as he bellowed and flopped onto the other Dragonkin, whom she assumed was Rikkus. At first they were kicking up so much dust that only the occasional limb could be seen, but after Rikkus pinned and chomped down on Grakkus’ wing, Grakkus hopped up and shook him off in the same motion and they stood there panting at eachother.

“Hey guys.” Cerlissa called in the relative quiet.

Neither Dragon paid her any mind. Both decided to go for a right hook, and both connected

With a solid thunk, followed immediately by Grakkus sitting down, knocking the air out of his lungs, and Rikkus’ face hitting the dirt.

“Grakkus!” Cerlissa yelled, louder, “Shut the hell up!”

That time she got a grunt in reply, before he went after his brother again.

Cerlissa had a lot to do, and decided that she didn’t have time for this. She’d been practicing all day at not turning every flame into a firestorm, and now seemed like a good time to practice a little more. Focusing on the ground at the Dragonkin’s feet, Cerlissa moved to hurl a gob of fire at the dirt to get their attention, and was met with a bright flash of blue light and a startlingly lazy wisp of blue fire curled from her ring finger and died uselessly only a moment later.

“What the hell?” Cerlissa stared at her hand, bewildered.

Grakkus had just slammed Rikkus, who had jumped on his back and grabbed his neck, to the ground, and they were both staring at Cerlissa in shock, as if they had only just noticed her presence.

Cerlissa reached for the beacon of power within her again, and as she tapped it she knew that it was still there. Still strong. But when she extended her hand again to burn the air, there was more bright flashes of light, but no fire.

“YES!” Grakkus stood up and pumped both fists in the air as he walked in a triumphant circle. “I AM THE GREATEST DRAGON THE WORLD HAS EVER— wait, what?” Grakkus turned suddenly to glare incredulously at his little brother, who sat grinning in the dirt.

“I haven’t been able to empower in two hours, bro.” Rikkus shrugged and started to get up.

Grakkus punched his brother in the face.

Cerlissa threw a rock at Grakkus’ head.


Arikiba popefa

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