He woke up some time later in his beg at May’s place. Night had fallen there was an odd smell in the air. From his back he felt a strange discomfort that almost felt like pain, but at the same time it felt like a normal occurrence, like a foot going to sleep. Looking over himself, his fit and strong body was naked under the blanket; a thought that triggered a skill level notice. Tucked behind him were two large folded red wings. They seemed to be folded with five joints and rather than bone, the hardened sections felt more like a mass of muscle. Observing his wings through mana, it seemed that the frame needed to be strengthened with mana to sustain flight. As an approximation, he felt that his wingspan was at least a couple meters.
To his side, he noticed a small, white scaled child sleeping against his bed. He face seemed more worried than relaxed, but he face eased when he stroked her hand. After a few moments of peaceful rest, Loralei suddenly woke up. She blinked a few times looking at him, then tackled him in a hug. She tried to speak, but pressed herself too tightly against his chest for any words to be audible. No words were needed to convey what she was saying, it was clear that she was worried when he fainted. Before long she noticed the large red wings. With shock clear on her face, the adorable appearance made Daniel give a sudden burst of laughter. After poking them a few times and getting him to move them around, she ran off to fetch her mother.
Before long, he could hear a playful laugh coming from the entrance. Sure enough, walking towards him with a mischievous grin was the silver matriarch May. With her hair every bit as silver as her scales and her creamy white skin, May was a truly unmistakable beauty. As she came closer, she looked him over with her icy blue eyes and started to speak.
“Young people these days are in such a hurry to grow up. Congratulations on reaching your mature stage.” She said that with a melodic and sweet voice. That didn’t last long, however, as she immediately became serious. “As a silver matriarch and a decedent of the Golden Den, I, May Isaksen, hereby command you, Daniel Selby, to take my daughter as a mate and member of your kin.”
He was shocked. There were many thing things there that he wanted to ask about and they all seemed to come up at once. He hadn’t heard her kin name before, and if he had he wouldn’t have dropped the formality even when asked to. The Isaksen were the most powerful kin in the Golden Den, which was in tern the most powerful den. It maintains its power by only allowing gold, silver, pink, obsidian and other rare variants join their kin, and any offspring that were born as lesser variants were sent to join a kin in other prominent dens to maintain relations. Obedience to the Golden Den was a blood instinct.
“Seeing how confused you look, I’ll grace you with some answers.” Her voice seemed to have turned cruel, filled with the contempt and pride her blood allowed. “Since the Draconian in this town have fooled themselves into acting human, once my Loralei undergoes the Rite of Ages she won’t have a kin to join. If she’s your mate however she can take your kin name and won’t be a disgrace to my line.”
For a while, she seemed to steep in anger. After taking in a deep breath and letting out a heavy sigh she seemed to have calmed somewhat. “I chose you because you managed to fill the precepts I decided on. Firstly, you didn’t treat her badly for being white scaled, even before meeting me; I’ll not have my daughter suffer from a cruel mate. Secondly, you traded shrewdly; I’ll not have any idiot decedents in my bloodline. Thirdly, you meet my requirements for physical strength, barely, and surpass my requirements for magical strength. Having reached the mature stage sealed the deal for me. Before then, I would have simply offered, but now it’s a demand.”
Through gritted teeth, he replied, “As… you… require.”
Despite his intentions to turn her down, the compulsion was simply too strong. Only once he gave his word did the pressure lessen.
“Good, make sure you take her with you when you leave town. I’ll start conducting the rite tonight, and you can leave once she’s done. I’ll even let you stay for free until then.” With a laugh that reeked of malice and control, she left the room. Apparently, Loralei had been listening through the door, as she bowed in apology before chasing after her mother.
The humans in the room seemed to be giving him strange looks. He understood that Humans had very different relationships to Draconian. For one thing they had a strange concept called marriage, where they pledge themselves to a mate before the gods they worshiped. They also seemed to dislike mating for the sake of powerful offspring. They also seemed to have problems with large age gaps, multiple mates, arranged parings and mating with those that they just met. There were so many rules he wondered how any Humans were ever born. It was much simpler for Draconian, at the age when claws grew, between seven and fifteen years after birth, they entered the adult stage. When an adult stage or older Draconian woman became sufficiently aroused, she could lay a clutch of one to three eggs. A male could then fertilise the eggs by covering them in semen. While their species was just as compatible as any other humanoid, Half-Draconian were a rare occurrence and usually infertile. Within a year of entering the adult age, a Draconian was required to undertake the Rite of Ages and join a kin; not doing so was seen as shaming the bloodline.
As a side note, from birth, Draconian could handle alcohol better than most humans. Only Dwarves, a race that developed a dependency that required them to drink it instead of water, could out-drink a matriarch stage Draconian.
Not caring to stick around to educate them about the inferiority of their biology, Daniel got up, dressed and went out to stretch his new wings. He had been sleeping for several hours and it was already late in the afternoon. There were people rushing about franticly, and at first he didn’t realise what they were doing. It wasn’t till he realised what the smell he had smelt in the air was, that he worked it out. There were dark coloured clouds approaching quickly from the east. Rain; rain was an incredibly dangerous occurrence. Directly after the rain, monster populations would rise, and during it, valuable soil would wash away.
Rain at night was especially dangerous; after becoming wet, the night’s cold would sap away any strength and leave only the dead. He had found it strange that they were trying to kill a Pink Draconian with exposure, but if it were going to rain it was an entirely different matter. Not only would it kill her, it would be one of the worst deaths a warrior like her could suffer. Her body would priorities her brain and heart, letting her limbs freeze and die off first, in an extremely painful process. Only once every other part of her body was dead, and she had suffered incredible pain at the hands of her own body, would her brain let her die. He wouldn’t wish that on his worst enemy, let alone an attractive, powerful woman.
He waited until the storm was about to hit and the guards went inside to escape the weather. Since the night was beginning, and darkness was spreading, there weren’t many people around. Furthermore, he made himself invisible with the spell he had used in Springhill and Locke. As things were, seeing him would be basically impossible from a distance. He moved silently over to the mana generator and pulled out his pocket tool kit. After confirming it didn’t have any kind of alarm he opened the catch and examined the crystal. It had 10cc in it, so he helped himself to 9.9cc. He then sealed the catch back up and tapped on the glass.
“The glass loses power in an hour,” he whispered, “fly out of town when that happens.” As he said that, he passed a small bag over the wall, into the cage, and walked off after casting a force and water spell to keep rain out of the cage.
Inside the bag was his spare radio and knife. It also contained two travel cakes, a water bottle and a loaded P9S with fifty spare rounds. The knife alone was probably enough for her to escape, but since she would be in the wasteland after rain, he didn’t think she would last long out there with only that.
Afterwards, while he was inside, he heard a commotion, as it appeared that the prisoner sentenced to death managed to escape. It seemed that some idiot forgot to recharge the generator and she flew out after ripping the chains out with pure force, the chains were also strengthened by the generator and without it, were like paper to her strength.
With the excuse that Loralei would be coming with him, the next day, he replaced the food and knife he gave away, plus a little extra to make it seem more natural. In the end he had to spend 5cc more. It was a small consolation that he was given a slight discount by the caring mother, worried about her child. At the time he was told that Loralei would be finished with the rite by that afternoon, so they could leave the next day.
That afternoon, Loralei walked up to him as he was doing some entirely voluntary modifications to his buggy. May noted that his vehicle didn’t have enough sun protection and suggested that he add some shade cloth. As she approached, he could see that she was completely warn out. The rite would normally take a minimum of three days, but it was somehow reduced to one. His remembered his own rite was very difficult and he took four days; he couldn’t imagine the kind of methods the silver witch used to make that much of a difference.
When she was close to him, she simply fell into his arms, not in a romantic sense, but almost entirely due to exhaustion. She wore the thick synthetic coat, which was much too large for her, over the top of a black dress that was made so that it wouldn’t impede movement. The heavy coat definitely didn’t help her overworked state, but it protected her delicate skin completely with its sleeves and hood. Before she fell asleep, she managed to weakly say her traditional first greeting. The first greeting was an important practice, as it was like a spoken signature that would be used as an introduction from then on.
“Loralei Selby, first mate of Daniel Selby, makes her greetings.”
It was a meaningful greeting. When Daniel said his greetings, he would introduce himself by way of his den, ‘Daniel Selby, from the Southernmost Den’. When she introduced herself by way of him, it was akin to saying that he was more important to her then her heritage. Doing so was called the ‘lover’s greeting’ and it wasn’t unheard of, it just wasn’t anywhere near as popular since the calamity that scorched the earth. On top of that, she added the variation, ‘first mate’. It was a possession name that told him that she expected him to have other permanent mates.
It was an odd combinations, the ‘lover’s greeting’ was an old world way of saying ‘this one is mine, back off’ but the ‘first mate’ was a way of saying ‘others mates are welcome’. He wondered if she had consulted with her mother before choosing that one. It was a little bit degrading to her ancestry, so the proud ‘silver born of gold’ May would probably have a fit if she heard it. Shrugging it off, he placed the sleeping Loralei in the passenger seat and lowered it so she could sleep comfortably as he finished installing the shade.
As he was finishing up, a group of five guards, fully armoured and armed with spears and pistols, came up to him. He looked curiously at the group while resting his hand on the f2000 within the car.
“What can I help you with?” he asked with a look of near sincere curiosity.
“You are required to come with us to be questioned regarding the escaped pink Draconian prisoner. If you don’t come with us we’ll kick you’re scaly hide to the sand and drag you back.”
He remembered that he gave his word not to fight unprovoked. He remembered that all too well. That was why he was almost glad that the ill-washed, fat and fleshy lump of human trash in front of him was trying to provoke him.
“Hurry up and come with us, we all know you stupid lizards like to look tough, but a prissy little pink lizard like you can’t do anything against the five us so just…”
Before he could even finish, Daniel had pushed himself forward, pulled his knife and imbedded it in the man’s throat. As he wasn’t wearing his armour, he kept the fat man’s body between him and the other’s before making his next move.
They couldn’t be sure if their friend was alive or not, so they couldn’t risk shooting him. Using that as an opening, he drew a spell that would prevent his gun from making sound for a few minutes. As they tried to move themselves into a position they wouldn’t, he made another sudden burst of speed and collided with one of the guards. As they tumbled to the ground, he imbedded the knife deeply through the left armpit, through the opening in the armour and into the heart. With the body on top of him, they couldn’t see the knife. With him moving the body and pretending to struggle, they couldn’t tell he was dead. As they moved closer to help their friend out, he lined up clear shots.
With the weapon being completely silent, the remaining guard, couldn’t tell that two more had been killed until they fell backwards, like dolls with strings cut. The final guy tried to run, but was shot in the foot and fell over. Before he could stand back up, Daniel was behind him with his knife.
After taking the time to steal their guns, bullets and money, he started up the car and sped towards the farm side wall. It was fair to say that he was annoyed with the town, though mainly with the silver woman and her human guards. Since they would probably never stop going after him, his only hope was to cause as much damage, make them look weak, and hope that the Norse Pantheon made a push north.
He drove across the farmland, destroying crops and getting people to follow him. They thought they were cornering him against a wall. As he got closer, they started running mana through the glass, hardening it beyond what his gun could damage.
Earlier, when he took the crystals of the dead guards, he gained a little over a hundred crystal charge. As he drove he forced all of that energy onto two bullets. The first one struck into the glass and overloaded the field; four or five sections of glass suddenly lost all their extra harness. The second bullet, however, wasn’t made to break fields. It was an explosive charge that shattered the glass with a satisfying sound.
Beside him, Loralei was woken by the blast and was shocked to find herself in a buggy, driving away from the town shooting at them. As she looked behind them, she suddenly yelled, “Look out!” as she pushed against the steering wheel. Daniel what trying to stop them from spinning out as a bolt of energy flared in the space they had been. It was bad. It was the energy weapon he had heard about.
Has he crossed the broken gate, he pushed the car to its limits, getting away from the town as fast as he could manage. It wasn’t just that everyone there now wanted him dead; it was also to do with the recent rain. After rain, the monsters of the wastes bread like crazy and existing populations got far more violent in order to attract a mate. Since the wall was broken near a source of food, namely the farmland, it wouldn’t be long before the town was inundated with beasts.
Once he put enough distance between him and the town to make them think they were headed west, he took a sharp turn and resumed his trip north.