2182 AD, Umber 1st
Jikana Enka had quickly become friends with everyone she met during her time as a rebel. It was through these friendships that she was able to learn from a Dragon Rider a few things about the Dragons and Dinosaurs. Although she couldn't understand Dragonspeech, her time studying the telepathic Verimagus arts had given her enough skill to roughly communicate with a Dragon. With their hierarchical societal structure, Jikana knew she would need to speak directly Queen Sdrankhn. At this time in her life, Sdrankhn* was maintaining a 50m long body, with a 60m wingspan. She was intensely intimidating, though legend spoke of a time thousands of years ago when she maintained an even larger bulk. Her current lair had been dug out of a small island on Tor Mta Lake in the Pset'na mountain range so that she could remain close to all of the major Omnistate dome cities, yet sufficiently remote as to remain undetected.
Jikana didn't know where the entrance to her lair would be, so she found a resting place in the top of a tree near the edge of the island from which she could observe and search for any movement. She slowed her personal passage of time, so that she could quickly observe all the activity of a 25 hour period in 25 seconds. In such a sped up view, it became clear from the flights of many pterangels† that the entrance was in a deceptive crevice on a cliff face on the western side of the island.
Jikana then sped her flow of time, and jumped as hard as she could, propelling her body through the sloshing air and seemingly reduced gravity toward the cliff. Time shifted twice more, reducing her perception of the flight to a shorter time-span, and then allowing her to leisurely reach out to the cliff face to slow down and utilize her momentum by ascending toward the hidden entrance. She scrambled over the ledge hidden behind the crevice and quickly looked around. With time still flowing faster for her, she was able to avoid the attacks from the 2m tall Utahraptors, and make her way deeper into the lair. With there already being no light in the cave, the dimmed light of slow-paced time would have been far too little light to see by - which is why she carried flares. She ran along the cave floor, wall, and ceiling, uncertain which direction was up or down. The occasional wyrhm, pigon or guardian Dinosaur‡ were her only indications of true down. After exploring a few side chambers, she rounded one last blind curve and discovered her prize speaking to a small pterangel.
Right as the sound-waves from a guardian squawking an alert reached the room, Jikana knelt on a ledge just out of Sdrankhn's reach at her eye level, and began projecting her thoughts of peace and her identity as friend of the Dragon Riders. She returned to a normal flow of time and waited alert for the Queen's response.
Sdrankhn growled almost too deeply for human ears to perceive, and the alarm ceased. She dismissed the pterangel and turned her attention to the intruder. Jikana tensed. The queen sat on her hind legs and lazily folded her wings around them, tilting her head to the side in inquiry.
Jikana relaxed, and projected her thoughts as she said, "Please forgive the intrusion, Queen. I am a wizard of Unimagus, having studied directly under her highness, Hawkica. I have sworn to harm none, yet I have participated in the assassination of Kair. I am distressed by my participation, and wish to leave humanity for a time."
Sdrankhn nodded in acknowledgement that she understood. There is no corner of Poskaena which will likely remain untouched by your cousins for long. What would you have me do?
Jikana was completely surprised by her ability to understand, "If it pleases you, I would live on Drako."
You have sworn to harm none. Does this extend to my daughters and our slaves?
"Indeed. I will harm no multicellular organism with a nervous system. I eat only fruits, plants and fungus that I cultivate."
What if one of our slaves tries to eat you? Will you abandon your oath then, as you did with Kair?
Feeling pangs of guilt and a hint of anger which she quickly suppressed, Jikana replied, "Although I participated, I personally harmed none. Nevertheless I am more adamant tha-"
Suddenly an Eodromaeus leapt at Jikana's jugular with its sharp teeth flashing toward her death with lightning speed. Jikana reacted automatically, nearly stopping the flow of time compared to her perception. She grabbed the now harmless dinosaur gently by the ribcage, and allowed time to flow around the beast enough (though too slowly for it to react) as she gently guided its mass to the edge of the platform. She returned to her original spot and resumed regular time. The Eodromaeus slid unharmed off the edge and spun around as it grappled the drop-off skidding down the face of the rock to the floor below. Jikana resumed, "I am more adamant than ever that I will not harm a living creature."
Sdrankhn swiped her clawed wing at Jikana with speed that nearly broke the sound barrier. Jikana again reacted quickly enough to completely avoid harm, this time appearing in the same location moments after the negative air pressure subsided. I am convinced that you will survive without harming my daughters or our slaves. Do you have a preference for your temporary territory?
Jikana replied, "Indeed. I would like to live on the dark side of Mt. Drake."
The queen rose from her position, and made her way to the entrance while Jikana followed. Sdrankhn launched herself out from the cliff and circled around to land on the plateau above. Jikana leapt upward from the entrance and landed gracefully next to the queen. Sdrankhn gazed into the twilit sky above, I am unfamiliar with the names human astronomers grant the features of my planet. Which mountain would that be?
Jikana sought the mountain in the eastern edge of Drako, a mountain which was so tall that from Pskaena it appeared to be a deformation of the edge of the planet whose far side was never visible due to the tidal locking of the two planets. She pointed and mentally projected the image of the mountain.
You have my permission to live on the Mountain of ----- (this part was unintelligible to Jikana, she assumed it must be a word without translation). Though I cannot provide transport. In addition, we will require a favour from you at some time in the future, before you perish. We will not expect you to betray any of your principles so long as you remain true to your oath.
"Thank you, most benevolent queen. I accept your terms. I will not be needing transportation. If it pleases you, I will be on my way."
Curious how the tiny mage would find her own transportation to the neighbouring planet, Sdrankhn nodded.
Jikana closed her eyes and concentrated. Sdrankhn stared at her for a few moments, until a stray noise momentarily caught her attention. She flicked her eyes in the direction of the noise, and by the time her eyes darted back, Jikana had disappeared. Sdrankhn tasted the air, and glanced all around, unable to determine any direction Jikana might have gone, and not sensing any disturbances of air flow like she had in the cave. On a whim, she looked upward with her extremely enhanced vision at the mountain Jikana had called Mt. Drake. At first she didn't see anything unusual, but a few seconds later she saw a tiny humanoid figure rounding the pinnacle of the mountain and descending onto the far side.
Sdrankhn spread her wings and glided back to the room in her lair where she had been, summoning the pterangel she had been speaking to, and then resumed her regular correspondences.
~~~To be continued~~~
*Queen SDRAnKhn is the most powerful and skilled Dragon.
†Pterangels are pterodactyl-like creatures that Dragons use as messenger pigeons.
‡Wyrhms keep caves clear of organic decay, pigons consume wyrhms and are the primary source of protein for other Dragon Lair dwellers and guardian Dinosaurs are various carnivorous Dinosaurs whose sole role is to keep out intruders.