The winter breeze blew through the violet locks that adorned the head of the golden scaled individual. She wrapped her cloak tightly around her body as she moved quickly through the desert floor of Eowyn in the late evening. It was then that she heard the booming roar of a firani dragon in the distance. Her eyes quickly darted back and forth, trying to see if she could view the source of the sound even in the dusk of night
The khehorian took a detour to check out the reasoning behind the roar. On her way to check up on the sound, she caught eye of something completely different. A dovaa no more aged than an expert with brown hair and golden tips, fled with a small, kiandri orakoi. What was going on? Had the rumors been true after all? This was not a sight she was wanting to see. They had bonded at first sight, and this was the first time she had seen any bonded khehora with their partner. This was a devastatingly hard thing to see.
Violet hair began to fall out of the perfect bun she had created as she bounded through the desert, leaving the little dovaa to himself. She needed to seek out Rhazes, the leader of the town raids as he had become known as. His reputation as one of the fiercest khehorian alive preceeded him. She hadn't ever met the leader, but heard that he was very strong. Someone that would definitely be a formidable ally in trying to salvage what was left of the khehora race. Just maybe the two could work together? She too was well known for her renown healing abilities after all. Maybe he had heard of her? Either way, it didn't matter, after all, she just wanted peace within Magesc and hopefully with Rhazes help, at least some peace could be attained.
Rhazes let out a low growl as he stared at a map spread on the table before him. He was in his little office area, pouring over the latest reports his informants had passed along. The remoteness of Eowyn suited the reptilian khehorian perfectly, though he was known to travel occasionally to the other continents to follow up on leads in person or to lead a raid or two in an area that was struggling. Mostly a behind-the-scenes leader, Rhazes wasn't against getting his hands dirty when it was needed.
Even now, as he peered at the map, he was debating a trip once more. He'd gotten several disturbing reports in recently, including a few sightings of what was claimed to be a bonded khehora as well as a report on a smashed nest that was troubling several of the nesting khehora mothers.
These rumors popped up from time to time, but something told Rhazes that this time was different. Especially about that bonded...that rumor was the most extensive with several reported sightings which made it the most worrisome. The purple-scaled khehorian preferred to keep a claw upon the pulse of khehora-kind and when his race worried, he worried. He found it as his job to reassure those who followed him that the khehora were indeed a thriving race of their own and that meant squashing rumors such as these.
A noise at the entrance to the cave he'd settled in caused Rhazes to look up from the troublesome map. One of the lieutenants of his party was entering. "Yes?" He did not like being disturbed, a fact that was well known among his followers. Not unless they had a reason, which this young khehora had best have.
The young ysali orakoir stammered but got his message across quickly before Rhazes' temper could be raised. "A visitor hmmm? And a khehorian at that? Well, I best go greet them myself." With that he walked past the relieved ysali and out into the early evening, wrapping his cloak more tightly around him as the chilly breeze hit him. His keen eyes spotted what the young outlook had seen and he waited for his fellow khehorian to approach.
It was quite a sight to behold. This Rhazes character must be a bit more famous than she had first imagined. She worked her way closer towards the cave where a few guards stood watch over the entrance. One of the guards spotted her and quickly ran inside, only to have a tall, purple khehorian exit. That must be him.
"You must be Rhazes. I am Anodyne, the firani healer. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, though I am sorry to say it couldn't be under more pleasant circumstances." the khehorian raised a claw to the man before her. She had always heard his appearance was strange, but he looked much more like a khehora than that of a magescian.
"I need to speak with you about something I saw tonight. It can't wait." she urged, pulling her cloak tighter around her body as the wind picked up slightly.
Rhazes gave a toothy grin as he saw this other khehorian eying his appearance. Even among the rarer humanoid khehorian, he stood out. But he was quite proud of his appearance. After all, who wanted to look entirely like those fleshies? He was a khehora and proud of his heritage!
"Yes, I am Rhazes," the male replied, quickly thinking. He'd heard of Anodyne, quite a bit actually. She was well-known among the khehora as a great healer and someone to be respected. And if she had something of such importance as to have come to him and at such an hour, he'd be a fool to turn her away.
"Come. Let's talk in here." He gestured toward the cave behind him, stepping aside to allow her to pass by first. A quick glance at his guards got them to scatter and mind their own business.
Once inside, he stoked the fire and allowed his cloak to flow loosely about his body once more. Then Rhazes took a seat, offering an empty chair to Anodyne as well, waiting for her to speak. He was not one to push right away. It was best to let the information flow at its own pace.
Anodyne eyed the guards as they scattered. Rhazes definitely was a powerful being if they obeyed his orders as though they were his minions. That was a respectable thing, though she didn't think fear was the right way to earn that respect.
The golden khehorian felt the warmth of the fire, her blood was already hotter than most since she was of firani descent, but a heated room was nice. As Rhazes sat, she untied her cloak and swung it off, placing it neatly on the back of the empty chair she was about to settle into.
Anodyne took a breath and kept her eyes locked on her fellow khehorian as she began to speak. "I saw a bonded tonight. I had only ever heard the rumors that spread, though tonight, I saw a dovaa sneak off with one of our own. The orakoi did not make a sound, for it was soothed by the dovaa's touch. I could sense that much. Thus, I decided to seek you out. I just ask for peace, that is truly all I want. They see us as a threat unless we're bonded to them like slaves. Do you have any idea what we can do to stop this?"
Of all the things Rhazes had pondered over in his mind of what could have brought Anodyne to him, what she said came as a surprise. The purple khehorian gave a sigh, his shoulders slumping. Sure, there had been rumors but to have someone as well-known and trustworthy as Anodyne to state it, it had to be true. "What breed was the bonded?" Rhazes asked, though he was certain he already knew the answer. That, at least, had been consistent in the rumors he'd heard as well as the bonded being with a dovaa.
It seemed that Rhazes was going to have to go on his trip after all. If the races had found how to bond the khehora to them, then only trouble lay ahead. For, as Anodyne had stated, the bond reduced the khehora to nothing more than a slave. Their intelligence was reduced and they became fully dependent upon their bonded. They became nothing more than puppet pets as far as he was concerned.
Rhazes gave Anodyne a toothy grin. "Oh I have a few ideas..." Though his ideas ran far from being peaceful. If the races started bonding the khehora at a fast pace, they'd all be enslaved before they knew it. Perhaps it was time to find out a bit more about this bonded and the dovaa...
Knowing the rumors about Rhazes, she knew that that whatever he had planned was not going to end well for either side. She had hoped to find a better way to deal with the problem than to resort to violence. "As far as I could tell, the markings were consistent with that of a kiandri khehora." she said, her prim and proper state of sitting became more relaxed and she slumped a bit in her chair, crossing her arms, eyeing the khehorian before her.
An eyebrow rose as she saw that toothy grin. What was he planning? It couldn't be any good from the look of excitement on his face. "What kinds of ideas are they?" Anodyne asked, her eyebrow still raised to show suspicion. She didn't want anything to do with violence, she would much rather draw up a peace treaty between the races and take this down as peaceful as possible.
Rhazes nodded at Anodyne's comment about the youngster being a kiandri. That fit with the rumors and confirmed all that he'd heard. "Well, this isn't the first time I've heard of this bonded. And it's not the only thing that has me concerned. There are other rumors going around. It seems the races might have rediscovered the bonding..." And that was worrying if so.
He could sense the disapproval from Anodyne. "Well, it would start with some strong words... followed by some strong actions if those words weren't enough, which I doubt they will be." He was already mentally calculating how many of his usual raiders would be up for something a bit more confrontational. Their usual plans involved sneaking in and out and stealing, not facing against an actual opponent. Some would be up for it, but others might not be. He might have to recruit some more warriors and he had a feeling that these rumors would have several of the khehora ready to protect their race.
Rhazes turned his attention back upon the firani khehorian before him. "Did you have a better idea?"
Anodyne glared a bit, not liking one word that came from her fellow khehorian's mouth. Of course strong words wouldn't work, they would think of them as monsters and attack on sight. Plus, the fact that she was talking with this bandit leader didn't help anything. Anything he did would cause a strong reaction from the other races. They needed to show that they were equal, but not by force.
"I don't believe that violence is the answer. Of course, we can all go in and take down a small town or village by force. But with this matter, it will only make things much worse than they need to be. I fear you are right about the other races rediscovering the ways of bonding. I'm just afraid that if we go about this the wrong way, it will only end in bloodshed." she said, standing from her chair, grabbing her cloak, and swinging it back upon her body, strapping it with the gem.
Rhazes shrugged. "Seeing the history of this current war, I don't think asking nicely will exactly work. Each race wants a way to boost their own side and they might just see us as a means to that end. Add in that the bonded are nothing like a real khehora in mind or power and you have three races underestimating the power of our own as they slowly enslave us all."
He rose as well, shaking out his cloak and raising the hood. "I must see things for myself before anything is done. Perhaps things are not quite what they seem, though I fear that these rumors are for once based in truth. Fear will spread quickly through the khehora as word of the bond spreads. If we do not act soon, chaos will reign among us."
Anodyne grew weary as what Rhazes said rang true. If they weren't to act fast, the other races would surely outweigh their own and chaos would reign.
A deep sigh could be heard as Anodyne looked towards the ground. "I fear you are right, Rhazes. But I will not take the violent route. There has to be a simpler way to end this than by causing more chaos. If we are to work together to stop more bonding from occurring, than we must agree to meet that goal. We must also gather as many khehora and khehorian brethren as we can. I'm sure you have many followers, and I have mine. If we combine our forces, we will be much stronger. My only rule is that we first speak to the leaders of the magescians. We cannot, and I will not, barge into their territory and demand anything by force. Do I make myself clear?" she said, eyes narrowing towards the end. This was a serious threat to their khehora brethren. The bond was wiped out years ago until supposedly recently. Now these rumors were coming true. Bonding was occurring once again. This was not good for the khehora race. Not good at all.
Rhazes could see that while Anodyne saw the truth of his words, she was still reluctant to act violently. This he could read from her body language before she even spoke. And her words only confirmed what he'd already read about her. But he could concede to her rule. After all, he saw no reason not to. The leaders would not listen to them, this he was sure of.
"I can concede to your wish. We will speak to the leaders. But if they do not listen, I will not continue to throw words at them," he warned. "I will speak with Drago. He will be the least likely to listen to words and my forces are better prepared to fight now. You can speak with Aevah and Marcus. Then we can plan from there," Rhazes stated, fully anticipating having to draw up war plans upon their return.
The golden scaled khehorian nodded. She couldn't ask for anymore than his cooperation at this point. There was nothing more to do but follow up on the newly set plan.
"Agreed. We will return here when we have spoken to the other faction heads. Good luck, Rhazes. It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance." Anodyne spoke, lifting her hood and gently letting it fall atop her head. She then began to exit the cave, thinking of how to deal with both the dovaa and asarei leaders.
The darkness of the night abound in every direction the farther she moved from the cave, but if they were to follow through with their plans, things had to happen as quickly as possible.
My Fellow Asarei,
The raids of the asarei and raguati have since commenced, and many khehora eggs have been stolen. This left the khehora quite unhappy just as Marcus stated. Now, threats are beginning to pour in from all directions. A new race has been added to the Great Engagement. What side will you take?
Originally Written in January 2013