I’m not sure what possessed me this time to head north.
Shortly after my joining the Alliance to destroy Auzorm’tvorl, I had traveled with a group of Alliance members at the behest of the silver dragon Tsakchanar to find a white dragon in the far north and convince him to aid us in the upcoming battle by acting as a mount to one of those who would ultimately do battle with the construct housing the being that was Auzorm’tvorl.
We trekked to the north, Lady Teej, my guild sister Tida, the young mage Sonon and myself. We met others along the way, the shaman Duna, the knight Delmair, and were joined by the master of undead Lintral, and my former guild leader Axater. Upon arrival, it was discovered that Cirath, yes he who would later become one of the banes of my existence, had scouted ahead and was with the dragon.
During the bartering, bluffing, and blustering that encompassed our meeting with that proud, mighty creature, we managed to bribe him into an agreement to aid in the final battle. As a gesture of faith, Quanenthur had offered lessons in the art of dragon riding. Shaking, I clambered up onto his massive back, and experienced a headiness that I had never experienced before as I guided him through the caves. This feeling has only ever been eclipsed by the camaraderie and wonder I had shared with Baludeorrogauna and Lenehezha during the battle against the Vile One.
Deals formed, we took our leave, the drake’s words echoing in our ears, “If any fail their promise, then I will show them what a mighty dragon I am.”
The battle was done and we were victorious. Since that time I have traveled many times to the northlands in search of the white drake I had promised payment to. Of him, not a trace could be found in the cavern where we had met and cajoled him into helping us. Finding myself at loose ends, and attempting to push off the result of another promise extracted by someone against my better judgment, I decided to head north once more.
When I mentioned to Ticarios my intention, he decided to accompany me, lending his blade to ward off bandits and other undesirables that prey on travelers heading north. Glad to have his company, we headed to the stables to grab our mounts. Late in my travels for the alliance I had purchased a fine Arabian mount because of the company I kept, for it was difficult to talk to Lady Teej or Ticarios when one has to crane their neck up constantly to be heard. That and the sun does get into ones eyes. But I digress.
As we led our mounts to the north gates, we bumped into Axater during one of his rare appearances in the light of day, and remembering his debt to the drake, told him of our destination. He said he would join us in a few days, for he had to gather the gold owed. His magic would carry him to us.
Being in no hurry, Ticarios and I headed north and reached the Mirar Ferry two days later. Grateful for the chance to dismount and stretch my legs, I roamed the deck of the ferry, wincing with every step. Just because I own a horse doesn’t mean I ride it all the time. I pay the stable in Waterdeep a handsome fee to have the mare exercised and kept in training. Glancing over at Ticarios, I swear I saw a glimmer of amusement in his eyes. Great, he was laughing at me. I flashed a rueful grin his way. His face merely remained neutral. I sighed inwardly, apparently I was mistaken and wondered if I should just give up trying to get some humor out of the man. Did he _ever_ laugh?
The ferry docked and we disembarked, pulling over to the side so that I could stiffly mount my horse, before heading north. As we reached the magical well that marked the turn off into the Tarsellian Forest, a silver pool appeared before us. Ticarios quickly drew his blade and placed himself in front of me. My hand went to the hilt of my glaive but I did not draw it, waiting to see who came through.
Eyes dancing with mischief, Sotana stepped out of the pool. I scrambled out of the saddle and threw myself at her.
“Tana!” I cried enthusiastically. She had been absent for some time on a quest of her own and it had seemed forever since I’d seen her.
Laughing, she braced herself for my hug. “Lilira, it’s good to see you. I had to see what kind of trouble you have been getting into.” I glanced back at Ticarios to see an odd expression on his face, before meeting my gaze and changing it back to his normal rigid appearance. Thrown off guard for a moment, I looked back at Sotana and caught her knowing grin, which caused me to blush. I cleared my throat.
“Sotana, you remember Ticarios?”
“Ah yes, here is the man who has taken over the difficult task of keeping you out of trouble?” Sotana teased, making me blush all the harder. Ticarios raised an eyebrow, and bowed to Sotana over his saddle horn.
“Lady Sotana,” he intoned. I cleared my throat again.
“’Tana, we’re heading up north to find a dragon I owe payment to,” I told her. Sotana frowned.
“Why would you owe anything to a dragon?” she asked me.
“Well, it’s a long story, but to cut it short, Quanenthur, the white drake that helped in the final battle had to be, well, cajoled.” I told her.
“Bribed Lady Bard,” Ticarios interjected, “use the right term.” I rolled my eyes and turned back to him.
“I was attempting to be diplomatic.” I retorted.
“He’s not here that I can see. Speak plainly.” that maddening man replied before returning his regard to the surrounding area for danger.
“I’ve traveled to the place we met him twice before,” I continued, “But there was no trace. My feet got itchy again, so I thought I’d try once more. I’d really rather that he not come looking for me.”
Sotana nodded in agreement. “Well, perhaps I should accompany you,” she offered.
“We’d enjoy the company, if it won’t interfere with your own business. I am sure Ticarios will be pleased with the knowledge that there is someone else here I can tease,” I said, ears burning. She smothered a chuckle. I glanced back up at Ticarios who merely met my gaze impassively.
Sotana offered to scout ahead, so once more we traveled north until we reached the footsteps of the Spine of the World. From there we continued north, with me quietly leading the way.
As we got closer to the cave I had first seen the drake in I quietly told the other two about the bears.
“There are three ice bears here. We had to go through them to speak with him last time.” Sotana quietly chanted under her breath touching me, Ticarios and herself.
“We can now safely pass them,” she told us.
We wandered the caves, eyeing the bears cautiously, only to find no trace of the dragon. Cautiously we headed back to the spine to begin our journey back to Waterdeep, considering the merits of a stop in Ice Crag castle.
Without warning, the shadows before us coalesced, darkening to surround a hidden form. Sotana and I had our hands on our weapons; Ticarios reined his mount between us and the figure. Stepping out of the shadows was a familiar sight. Ticarios bowed stiffly in Axater’s direction.
“Ah there you are,” I said as the mage recovered his equilibrium. “The dragon was not where we last met him.” Axater nodded.
“I thought we could travel back in the direction of home, but Ticarios expressed an interest in heading up the cliffs to Ice Crag.”
As these words left my lips, the ground shook abruptly as a shadow fell over us. My horse danced skittishly, and I grunted with the effort to hold her still.
Quanenthur grumbled sullenly 'MY GOLD!'
I almost grinned with relief, but not wishing to offend him, I released my hold on the mare's reins and sighed softly as she ran south. Quanenthur growled menacingly, returning my attention to him.
Axater bowed deeply before the white drake. Ticarios and Sotana looked at Quanenthur, Sotana with a tinge of awe, Ticarios with his normal impassive expression.
I stepped forward. “I have your gold majestic one. The mask I promised.” I pulled the glittering golden mask out of my vault, and held it out. He reached out a foreclaw and accepted my payment.
Quanenthur grumbled sullenly, “Good. What about him?” nudging Axater with a claw, staggering the mage slightly.
Axater replied in his gentle voice after recovering his balance, “I have your gold mighty one, as promised.” He pulled out several small bags of coin, carefully dropping them at the dragon’s feet.
Quanenthur, the white drake swished his tail in agitation during the exchange. To distract him for a moment, while Axater finished pulling bag after bag out, I spoke once more to the dragon. “Thank you for your aid in the battle.”
“Yes thank you greatly,” Axater added after pulling out the last bag.
He would not be deterred, and grumbled sullenly “Well where is it? I want my gold.”
Axater gestured to the small pile of bags before him, “5000 gold pieces as promised.” I thought he had already paid 2000 of it, but I certainly wasn’t going to correct him right in front of the dragon.
The drake scooped them up with a greedy grumble, “Good, good. More gold is good.”
I asked, "Our bargain is complete Majestic one?"
“Where are those other heroes? They've made off with my gold, haven't they?”
“I am sure Tida will hold her promise as well,” Axater was quick to soothe. Now the dragon’s tail was twitching in irritation again. We needed to finish and leave soon before he decided it was dinner time.
“She BETTER!” he growled, “That paladin can't keep that city safe if they don't give me my gold.”
“I am sure she will mighty one… her quest to find her father and mother have been keeping her busy,” Axater told him.
The dragon stomped around in agitation.
“I'm sure they have not forgotten their promises,” I tried to reassure, “I will take it upon myself to remind those I see.”
“I realize I was not privy to the original bargain, but what will the consequences of non-payment be?” Sotana asked. The dragon stopped in its movement and glared at her before beginning to cast a spell. Ticarios’s mount shuddered beneath the onslaught of three force missiles. The destrier reeled from the blows, and reared, Ticarios leaping from the saddle, before collapsing. Ticarios glared at the dragon and went to work trying to stop the bleeding. Sotana rushed over to it and began calling upon nature to heal the poor thing.
I sighed quietly and asked the dragon, “Was that really necessary?” before beginning my healing song. Quanenthur grumbled incoherently.
“Are you hungry great one?” Axater asked, just as the dragon grumbled sullenly, “I'm hungry.”
After the destrier was healed, it sidled anxiously away from the dragon. Ticarios remounted, and calmed him down.
“It would be simple enough to locate you some meat, please do not take it out on his destrier,” I gently scolded.
“You would think Tsakchanar would have enlightened more of the sleepers with manners,” Ticarios drawled.
“Who is the mouthy one?” Quanenthur inquired, “Maybe I eat him and his horse.” Ticarios responded immediately by unsheathing his silverish two-handed longsword. I sighed inwardly even as I recognized it, having witnessed his graceful play with it in battle where I had seen him wielding it almost as if in a dance, sundering foes in half. I had also helped battle the Knights of Githyanki who sought its return.
“No mighty one leave him be please,” Axater cajoled.
I went for the jovial method to break the ice. “I hope you wouldn't.”
Sotana interjected, “I'm sure this need not come to battle.”
A caribou, stupid creature, wandered in from the south, heedless of the great predator crouched on the path.
Quanenthur grumbled sullenly, “He is impudent.”
I continued, “I would hate to spread tales of how the Magnificent Quanenthur felt the need to attack one of my companions. Besides, I have use for him still.” The white drake began chanting again, and we all tensed, waiting to see what would happen next.
With a cry, three force missiles tore the life from the caribou that had stupidly stood watching.
“Maybe I eat you too. Then you don't talk to anybody.”
I cringed inwardly. Silver tongue, don’t fail me now. “If you ate me, great one, who would remind the others of their debt to you? If you arrived at Waterdeep yourself looking for them, there would be the inconvenience of dodging arrows, and those pesky soldiers that would feel obligated to defend the city, not to mention all the adventurers, magic users…”
Quanenthur grumbled sullenly “Little morsels with their magics, I'll eat all of them too. They probably have gold too.”
“Never claimed they wouldn't have gold Magnificent One, but why inconvenience yourself, when I am heading home anyway. Let us go unmolested, and I promise to remind the others of their debt to you as I meet them. Why work so hard for the gold that is owed to you anyway? I repaid my debt as I vowed I would, so you know my promise is valid.” The dragon considered me for a moment, and I felt like a side of beef. I felt the others tense as the wait dragged on. Finally the dragon nodded.
“Go back, tell them I want my gold!” he grumbled before turning to eat the caribou he had killed. I turned to the others frantically motioning for them to move, and we headed south. A few miles away, I started my song, slightly out of breath so we could continue. My horse had stopped at the well, I collected her and we continued south without mishap until we reached Waterdeep where we parted ways.
So now I remind those who gave their vows, of the debt owed to the white drake Quanenthur. I also suggest they remember their manners and carry food to ease the transaction.
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