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== Punishment ==

Pyrrha lay in her cell, thinking about her future, despite how short it seemed that would be. She had tried to sleep, but she could not find it, dooming her to stay awake as her end neared. At first, she tried to deny that her end seemed to be eminent. Soon, she moved on, becoming angry at the king, queen, guards, and anyone else who she could find. As she raged, she soon realized that her efforts were futile and broke down, knowing that her current efforts were useless. She then tried to bargain her way out, talking to the guards as they brought down other prisoners. All they did was laugh at her. They had all seen this before, and they knew that there was no hope for her. As night approached she stopped begging and just began to cry. She knew she was done for, but she still did not want to accept it. As the guards came to get her, she finally stopped her crying. The lead guard bent down to talk to give her some comfort before her death.

He asked her, "Are you ready?" It was a simple question, but it held a great depth of meaning to it.

"Yes, I am. I have no relatives, no friends, and no possessions, and thus no will to write… but please, can you make sure that my body is buried next to my father's body?"

"Of course I can. If you are ready, then follow me."

She finally looked up at his words. The guard was shocked at the vision in front of him now. While her eyes were red from her tears, but she had already dried her eyes. With her white dress and red scales, along with her orange wings, she was a vision of fiery beauty. Her inner strength only enhanced her appearance, leaving the guard in a bit of shock. Being a royal guard, he could not take a mate, and he was already in love with the beautiful Aqua, but even he had to question his affections when he saw Pyrrha. He sighed. It was too bad that she would soon be dead.

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As Pyrrha and the guard neared the room where the king and queen held their private meetings she was surprised to hear the sounds of shouting. A quick glance at the guard showed her that he too was surprised. At the door he indicated for her to stop.

"I'm going to see if they are ready for you," he said, with a noticeable edge of nervousness to it. As he entered the room Pyrrha was able to catch a snippet of the argument.

"But you said-"argued Queen Anne.

"I know I said so, but-"

"But what!? You agreed that we should have another-"

"Yes, but-"

The door slammed close, cutting the king's last sentence short. At the sound of the door closing the argument also ended, making the silence in the hall complete and rather unnerving. This silence was short lived though, as the guard soon exited the room.

"They will personally call you in when they are ready for you," he announced as he headed back the way they had come from. Soon Pyrrha was once again alone in the silence. As she sat the wait seemed to stretch on until the next day, despite the fact that she knew that only minutes had passed. After a full hour of waiting the door finally opened and the king's voice called out, beckoning for her to enter the room.

When she entered the room Pyrrha took the time to observe the room that would be the last one she ever saw. As she expected, the room was large, but it was even larger than she had expected. The room was ten times taller than her, twice as long as it was tall, and half as wide as it was tall. The room was so large that Pyrrha could have flown in it, despite the numerous columns in the room for ceiling support. As she looked around she noticed that the only windows in the stone room were tall, vertical slits, necessitating the use of torches in the room, even during the day.

As she approached the chairs in which the king and queen were seated, she noticed something on the floor, directly in the center of the room. As she drew closer to the glittering shape she realized that it was a pool of some liquid. As she came closer still she realized what it was; a pool of blood from the night's earlier executions was spread upon the ground. She skirted the edge of the pool, trying not to anger the royal couple. She wanted the execution to be quick and painless, and angering her executioners would only make this less likely. Soon she was directly in front of the king and queen.
King Henry was the first to speak.

"Pyrrha, do you know why you are here?"

"I am here to be executed," she replied, mildly confused.

"Is that what you want to happen?"

"What? No! Of course it isn't! I would rather just receive the normal punishment!"

"Really? But wouldn't that be the same thing for you?" Now Pyrrha was in shock, and her face showed it. When King Henry saw her expression his laughter filled the room. As he regained his composure he explained that, as a demon dragon, he could sense strong emotions, and her emotions on the way into the court room had been so strong he could make words out of them. As he concluded his explanation he returned to the topic at hand.

"Pyrrha, I have a way for you to live, so I offer you this choice: You can either die here tonight or you can accept my offer, accept a life debt, and live."

"Can I ask one question first?"

"You already have, so yes."

"Why are you helping me like this?"

After a moment of contemplation he replied, "Because I feel sorry for you. Now, with you take the deal?"

"Yes."

"Good," said Henry, as smile spreading across his muzzle.

Pyrrha felt a heavy weight descend upon her as he added, "Now we just have the matter of your punishment for your thievery. You are losing that paw."

The moment Pyrrha had accepted Henry's deal Queen Anne leapt into action- literally. As Henry and Pyrrha had talked she had circled around Pyrrha's back, waiting until a decision was struck to act. When Pyrrha had accepted the offer Anne leapt at her, pinning her to the ground.

"Extend your left paw," Anne hissed. When Pyrrha hesitated she shifted her weight and began to crush Pyrrha. She quickly extended her paw and Anne stopped. Pyrrha was force to watch as Henry raised his claw and – began to breathe fire on it? Soon Pyrrha understood what he was doing; by breathing fire on his claw he could cauterize and seal her wound before she bleed to death in the same blow as her paw was removed. Pyrrha tried to shut her eyes but Anne began to crush her again. "Open your eyes and watch," she growled, taking some pleasure in harming Pyrrha. As she opened her eyes she saw the Henry's claw was now white-hot.

"Extend you paw as far as possible unless you want me to cut into your arm by accident," warned Henry as he raised his claw. Pyrrha watched as it came down in a blur of black and white. Pyrrha's world burst into one of pain as her left forepaw was severed from her body, causing her to release a roar of agony. The roar soon twisted into a shriek as the white-hot claw cauterized the stump that was now at the end of her arm. When he finally moved his claw away from her arm Pyrrha was nearly unconscious.

As Pyrrha regained her consciousness she worried about what the king and queen had in mind for her. What job is there that I can do with one paw? I can't fight, so I know I won't become a solider. Maybe they want me to be a cook? But I have no skills in the kitchen. So what will happen to me now?

She did not have to wait long for her answer. As soon as she was back on her feet, the king addressed her with their solution.

"Pyrrha, as you entered the court room to be judged you considered ways you could survive after your punishment. You considered going back to your old life, asking Rye for help, and returning to the orphanage. Seeing none of these as a viable option, you conceded yourself to death. However, you did not consider the one asset you have left." He paused and turned to face Pyrrha, as if he needed to increase the tension that was already present. "You still have your body."

Pyrrha was stunned by this development. What the king said was true, but it violated her conscious on so many levels and for many different reasons. However, she knew that if she wanted to live she would have to take want life dished out to her, and this is what it was currently serving. As King Henry and Queen Anne watched Pyrrha's inner turmoil play out across her face as plain as day, a smile appeared on Henry's muzzle. He knew she would accept her new job and had already made the appropriate arrangements. As someone knocked on the grand doors into the room, he shouted "Come in!"

Everyone in the room besides Pyrrha watched as the newcomer came into the room. She was an older dragon, perhaps twice Pyrrha's age, but due to the way she held herself she looked five years younger, and her dress subtracted another ten years. It was the way she moved though that truly made her a spectacle to the eye. Whether it was a natural born talent or a skill she had been trained in so well she could use it without making an effort was anyone's guess, but most males who saw her soon had a strong desire to mate. Even the king, with his wife beside him, had to exert more self-control than he normally would. Her erotic walk finally came to a stop when she was standing next to Pyrrha.

"Is this my new courtesan?" Pyrrha shuddered. While she had already suspected what her new job would be finally hearing it out loud still shook her to her core. The king's response did little to improve her mood.

"Yes, Rose, this is your newest courtesan, Pyrrha." Rose soon began to look Pyrrha over, like an expert craftsman preparing to purchase another's crafts. She soon realized that her situation was closer to her simile than she would like. When Rose observed that Pyrrha only one hand she stopped and gave King Henry a withering glare.

"You seriously expect me to take in someone with one hand as a courtesan!?" Pyrrha's heart skipped a beat, remembering that if she wasn't taken in she would die.

"She is a young, healthy, attractive female, and the fact that she has only one hand has no bearing on her ability to work for you," replied the king with an equal withering tone. After a moment, he added, "And you could place a discount on her if it actually does affect her performance."

This seemed to satisfy Rose, and thus she resumed her inspection. After going around Pyrrha once she stopped in front of Pyrrha, taking a closer look at her face.

"Take off your clothes."

Rose's command was so unexpected that, at first, Pyrrha just stared at her. When Rose repeated her command a second time Pyrrha found her limbs and began to undress herself. She stopped at her undergarments, but Rose told her to take those off as well. Pyrrha glanced at the king, hoping for him to tell her not to continue undressing herself, but instead she found him nodding to Rose's command. As Pyrrha resumed she shuddered. The lust had returned to King Henry's eyes.

When Pyrrha finished exposing herself Rose resumed her inspection. Pyrrha found herself blushing uncontrollably, although considering the attention being given to her it was understandable. Finally Rose finished her inspection and made her decision.

"Fine, I'll take her." Pyrrha's heart skipped a beat again. She would live, but at what cost to her?
The king nodded his head in acknowledgement, and then added, "By the way, she'll be in heat by the end of the week, so for her first two weeks you'll have to teach her and have her do cleaner duties." Pyrrha's already deep blush became even deeper as Rose growled in anger. Rose then grabbed the still naked Pyrrha and headed for the door. As she and Rose walked to the exit she heard a groan come from the king, followed by a loud slap. Evidently, Rose was even more attractive from behind.

As she neared the door Pyrrha remembered one last important detail. "Wait, what's a life debt!?" she shouted.

Queen Anne replied to her, as King Henry was still nursing his muzzle. "You'll find out when you have to pay it." Rose slammed the door shut as they finally reached the exit, cutting off any farther conversation. Pyrrha signed and tried to stand, expecting Rose to let her redress herself. Instead, she was once again dragged by Rose.

"Will you let me get dressed!?" Pyrrha roared, angered by Rose's odd behavior.

"No," came the stiff reply.

"And why not?"

"Because the Royal guards are some of our best customers, and it is always good for business to give the customers a sneak peek of the product."

As they met some guards on the way out Pyrrha soon found that she was blushing as much as possible.

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Pyrrha sat in silence, mentally preparing herself for her first night on the job. The other courtesans had trained her well during her first two weeks there, but now that she was off her seasonal heat it was time to work. She needed to work too; she had acquired a bit of debt in those two weeks. Those lessons were not free, and neither where her food and lodging when she could not work. Since she could only pay off her debt using the tips her customers gave her she had to work hard and ensure she got the best tip possible.

Pyrrha quickly went over her mental checklist one more time. She was sitting on her bed, a rather large thing which could easily fit two dragons in it, with some simple, white sheets on it. A brilliant red cover was laid on top of it, the only part of the whole thing which was not easy to clean. The bed had initially surprised Pyrrha, as she had assumed that most people slept on straw and sheets. This bed was different, and seemed to be made of some fabric. She was told that she actually had the worst bed, and that if she did well she might find her sleeping arrangements to suddenly improve. She actually was happy with her current bed though, as its softness had taken her some time to adjust to, something she did not favor the thought of doing again.

She checked over her clothes next. She was wearing a dress, which was like her bed sheets in that it was simple, white, and easy to clean. It was also rather thin and a little tight, leaving little to the imagination. It was buttoned up on her back, so she had to have someone else help her get it on and off. Underneath her dress she had a single piece of lingerie on, prefect for exciting males. This wasn't what she would normally wear, but Rose had instructed her to wear this outfit. She was supposed to wear it every night she worked.

Next Pyrrha looked over the rest of the room. The wooden floor was a little old, as were the plaster walls, but they showed few signs of their age. The dresser, where she stored her other clothes, was hidden away in a corner, along with a desk and chair. For tonight the chair was facing out, just in case the customer wanted to use it. The only other thing in the room was a divider, which had semi-opaque glass in it, preventing people from seeing in and giving Pyrrha another way to excite her customers.

Finally, someone knocked on the door. Pyrrha took in a deep breath and said, in her most seductive voice, "Come in love." As the door slowly opened Pyrrha fretted. Whoever came in was going to be the first person she mated with. While she had hoped that her first time would be with someone she loved she had given that thought up when she had joined the courtesans. Still, she was nervous, hoping that this would be pleasurable for both her and her customer. Pyrrha sighed and looked down at the floor. At the very least, she hoped that this would not be painful.

When the door closed Pyrrha began to look up at her customer, preparing to seduce him as soon as possible. First she noticed that he was only wearing a pair of pants. Next, she noticed that his scales were dark grey in color. After that, she noticed that his arms were very strong and muscular. Then she saw who her customer was.

"Ferrous? What are you doing here?"

Ferrous was equally surprised to find Pyrrha here but, to his credit, he answered her question. "I'm a thirty years old male who has yet to select a mate. What do you think I'm doing here?" he growled. Pyrrha blushed and, with a softer voice, he asked her the same question.

Pyrrha sighed and, looking down again, sadly replied, "I was sent here by King Henry and Queen Anne. They meet me for a private meeting and, since I would die if I didn't get a job, they offered me one. When I accepted their offer… they… they…" Pyrrha finally lost her composure and began to cry. She barely heard his steps, but soon Ferrous was sitting next to her, and embraced her in a hug. She embraced him back and then leaned back, so that they were lying next to each other on the bed, and began to cry harder. She cried for her hand. She cried for her lost opportunities. She cried for her father, long lost to her. She cried for her theft, Rye's kindness, and the kindness Ferrous was showing her now.

Ferrous, for his part, had no idea what to do, so he did the only thing he could think of doing. He kissed her, sweetly, on the cheek. This caused Pyrrha to stop her crying as she turned to look at Ferrous. She quickly saw kindness in him, along with some pity, desire, and something else. She looked at him closer, hoping to see what this unknown emotion was. She soon gave up though and asked him why he was being so nice to her, hoping to find out what this mysterious emotion was through his response.

"Pyrrha… I'm in love with you." At first she chuckled, thinking that he was playing with her. She soon realized that he was serious though as he gave her a glare when she laughed. She stopped and, after an awkward moment, asked when he had fallen for her.

"I think it happened the day you tried to rob my father's bakery," he replied. Ignoring Pyrrha's blush, he continued, "I'm not sure if it was seeing you under those shelves or if it was just talking to you, but for the past two weeks I can't stop dreaming about you."

Pyrrha blushed even deeper than before and lay there silently for a few moments, thinking about what he had said.  She then remembered what she was supposed to be doing and, fearing what would happen if she did not pleasure Ferrous, tried to get back on track. She put her hand on Ferrous's back and slowly started moving it down towards his britches. When her hand got down there she started to work on disrobing Ferrous, but he stopped her and forcefully removed his pants from her claws and held on to it as he gave Pyrrha an annoyed glare.

"Stop it!" he hissed, raising his voice so that it was just a bit louder than his whisper.

"Why?" replied Pyrrha as she stand up and turned her back. She was now annoyed at Ferrous. Why won't he let me do my job? she wondered.

Ferrous struggled for words for a few moments before he was able to reply.

"Pyrrha, I told you that I love you, and I meant every word of it. I want to spend my life with you and raise our children together. I want to mate with you. But right now, something feels… I don't know, wrong." As he spoke, he sat up as well, placing his hand on Pyrrha's shoulder. She shied away at his touch, leaving his hand to grab at thin air. After a brief silence, he asked Pyrrha a question in return.

"Why do you stay here?"

Pyrrha's head drooped as she responded, "Because this is the only job I can perform." She let her words hang in the air for a while and then added, "And because I have a debt to pay off."

"How much?" Pyrrha's head dropped even more, so that her head was now lower than her shoulders.

"A little bit short of 2000 pieces." Ferrous let out a low whistle as a grin secretly spread across his face.

"Pyrrha… I have enough money that I could help you get rid of your debt." At these seemingly magical words Pyrrha's body moved as fast as lightning so that, while she was still sitting at the edge of the bed, she was able to look Ferrous in the eyes. Seeing that he was serious she dropped her head as she debated her options. Soon though, she asked one of the world's greatest questions.

"Why?"

"I'm offering because I love you. Because I want to be your mate. Because I want you to be my mate. Because this is not the right time, nor the right place, nor the right mood for this." As he answered her question Ferrous kissed her neck, using every pause to its full potential. By the end of his bold proclamation of love he was rubbing his neck against her neck, trying to show Pyrrha his passion. She swooned under his passion, but uncertainty prevented her from fully feeling his heated love.

"What if I just take the money and run?"

Ferrous stopped his caressing as he sadly replied, "Then I'll be lonely again, as will you. I'll have lost some money, but I'll survive. But what would you do? I know you don't want to work here, but few other places will take you. I suppose my father would hire you, but could you bear the embarrassment and fear?"

Pyrrha gave him as sad smile. "No, I don't think I could." She fell silent for a few moments of contemplation, but then she asked one last question. "When could you pay off the debt?"

Ferrous smiled. "Tomorrow." Before Pyrrha could even say yes he wrapped his arms around her and, with his strong arms, pulled her down onto the bed onto of him as he smothered her with kisses. She soon broke into a fit of giggling as they continued to play.

An hour later they were lying side by side in bed, still fully clothed, with Pyrrha's hand playfully but sleepily playing on Ferrous's neck scales. As she drew a circle with her claws she noticed something interesting happening. Wherever her claw went it left the scale a shade lighter and left a black residue on her claws. Remembering that Ferrous was a blacksmith, she realized that he was covered in soot. Out of curiosity, she started to clean off a few or his scales. When she was finished, the scales were a much lighter shade of grey. When Ferrous turned his head to see what Pyrrha was doing she let out a gasp of surprise. Ferrous was not a grey dragon; he was a silver dragon.

Noting her expression, Ferrous smiled. "Do you like my little secret?" Pyrrha breathlessly nodded her head in agreement. She had never seen someone with metallic scales, although she had heard some stories about it. It was supposedly an extremely rare trait, and those who had it were normally great heroes. Or at least, that was what they were in the stories she had heard.

Ferrous leaned up to give her another light kiss, then leaned back and rested his head in his hands. "Everyone has a secret Pyrrha." Pyrrha shifted her body around and rested her head on his chest before she added, "Well then, I'm glad I know your secret, my little silver." Ferrous chuckled and then replied in kind. "And I'm perfectly happy to not know your secret, my little flame." They lay like that for a while longer, each of them thinking about each other. Ferrous thought about how beautiful she was, and positively glowed under her admiration, while Pyrrha thought about how strong he was and tried to imagine what he would look like cleaned up.

Sooner than either of them would have liked, someone knocked on the door. Ferrous sighed, knowing that he had to leave now. He stood up, but found that Pyrrha was trying to hold him back, a pleading expression painted across her face. Ferrous sat her down on the bed and gripped her in a tight hug. He reminded her that he would be back for her tomorrow, and then he left.

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Ferrous closed his smithy at about three o'clock, several hours earlier than normal, but he had to get home early today. It had been a season since he had "rescued" Pyrrha and brought her into his home, although Rose had done everything in her power to prevent it. Since then, their relationship had changed from a simple infatuation with each other into actual love. The simple daily routine they had fallen into made this much easier. While he worked in the smithy Pyrrha would work around the home, making sure the house was clean, food was stocked, and laundry done. She also helped him with his work, gong to various merchants and purchasing raw materials for Ferrous to work when they arrived at the smithy. When she finished, she did whatever she pleased, whether that be going on a walk around the city or going to see a competition. Before he returned home, she would have a dinner prepared. After dinner, during which they could discuss the day's activities, they would go do something together, often times attending a play. Afterwards, they would bed down together and, after a little snuggling, sleep.

Ferrous dodged a puddle of slush as he thought of the days plans. Winter was leaving, giving way to spring and new life. Ferrous's thoughts turned from the past to the future as he mentally prepare for tonight. He knew that Pyrrha was in heat and, if she let him, he planned to finally mate with her tonight. He had withheld himself until tonight, finally sensing that the time was right. After a dinner out at a restaurant that he knew Pyrrha would love he planned for a long night of fun; with her consent, of course.

As he finally reached home he took the opportunity to view his home. It was a simple house, much like the other buildings on the street. It was two-stories tall, and constructed out of stone for the lower portions while the higher ones were made from wood, with a thatch roof. It was a simple place, but it was home to him. Of course, it only had a few rooms, so if he had children he would have to move. It was a problem he hoped he would soon have to face.

When he went in, he was pleasantly surprised to find that he had beaten Pyrrha home. This was perfect for him though. He quickly went up the stairs to their room and started to change his clothes, getting out of his sooty work outfit and into something much nicer and more formal. When he finished putting on the last piece of his outfit he heard the door open down stairs. Pyrrha was home. He quickly, but quietly, ran down the stairs, planning on intercepting Pyrrha before she could get started on preparing dinner. He found her at the bottom of the stairs and, before she could react, he pulled her into a hug. After a few moments Pyrrha pulled back, so that she could face Ferrous when they talked but still hug him.

"So, why are you home early?"

"I thought that you might want to do something special tonight." A mischievous smile was spread across Ferrous's muzzle and another soon found its way onto Pyrrha's muzzle as she realized the full meaning of his words.

"You realize that you don't have to be romantic with me, right? I already love you."

"But I want to." The smile on Pyrrha's muzzle grew even larger.

"So, what are we doing?"

"I was thinking of going to a restaurant in town. Have you heard of the Amore Inn?" Pyrrha let out a small gasp of surprise. She had indeed heard of the Amore Inn, as had most dragons in the city. It was one of the most romantic, highly rated, and expensive places to eat in town. She had expected that he was going to take her somewhere nice, but this was above and beyond what she had been expecting. Of course, Ferrous had asked the question with a hint of smugness, as he already expected a positive response. When Pyrrha could speak again she had one question on her mind.

"How did you manage to get a reservation in there?"

"I was the person they asked to make all the metal work in the inn. As a bit of a thank you gift they moved up my reservation."

"So… How long until dinner?" Ferrous broke out of their hug in order to quickly check the sundial outside. When he came back in, Pyrrha was sitting in one of the chairs at their dining table.

"We've got about an hour and a half until we have to go."

"I had better start changing into something nicer then." Ferrous suppressed a chuckle at her comment. Since Pyrrha had only one hand changing clothes was a really challenge for her, especially if the outfit had any button in it. However, today Pyrrha would take a while for a completely different reason. She already knew that she wanted to wear the dress Aqua had given her, which would require Ferrous's help to put on. She planned on using the time to do something else entirely. Since Ferrous planned to romance her with the meal she planned to romance him with something special. When she got into their shared bedroom she locked the door and quietly opened the window. She crawled out of the window, closed it silently behind her, and took off for her destination.

It wasn't a long flight, and she soon landed. I had hoped I would never come back here when I left… Oh well, she thought as she turned to walk into the courtesans' house. She had barely taken ten steps into the building before she was accosted by a harsh and loud voice that she had hoped to avoid.

"So, you're back from the smithy, eh? Crawling back and hoping to be accepted again? Well think again you whore! I might have accepted you once, but now I most certainly won't accept you back. I told you he just wanted to use you and save some money, but nooo you thought it was love. Well, how does it fell to have spread your legs for that ass at night? Does it hurt? I hope it does, because that's what you'll have to deal with from now on!" Pyrrha threw her hands up and backed off to the side, surprised by the venom in Rose's attack. Her words had also drawn in a crowd, something she had hoped to avoid. She knew she needed to end this fast, but she could only get a few words in while Rose drew another breath.

"What are you talking about?" Rose, surprised by the response, paused her rant to reassess the situation. At length, she once again spoke, but in a much more pleasant and subdued tone.

"When he brought you home, didn't he… hurt you?"

"What? No, he treated me just I liked to be treated!" Pyrrha shook her head to add some emphasis to the words.

"Oh… Well then I'm sorry. I was just worried, especially since this has happened once or twice before, but when the lucky lady came back she was worse for wear. But you are obviously fine." Noting the crowd her rage had caused, Rose added, "Everyone, back to your stations. This is a private discussion."
After everyone left, she asked, "So, why are you back?"

"Ferrous invited me to dinner tonight at the Amore. If you haven't notice, I'm in heat and… I was hoping a few acquaintances of mine could come back to the house after we left and make it look… appealing to him, as a thank you gift." Rose was silent as she considered what to do.

"I'll do it."

"Thank you! Tell Ili-"

"No, I will do it." Pyrrha was flushed by this twist to her plans, but she soon realized that there was no alterative solution.

"Fine. The bedroom window will be open, and we leave in about one hour. But I must ask why are you doing this?"

Rose's eyes became unfocused as she simply replied, "For old memories sake." After a lengthy pause, she added, "You can go. I'm not going to make you pay for this. Consider it an apology for my behavior when you came in." She turned to walk back to her position, but after only a few steps she said, "And Pyrrha? Be good to him."

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Pyrrha silently closed the window behind her and started getting undressed. Within ten minutes she managed to take everything but her undergarment off. She moved over to her dresser and began to search through it for a particular outfit. It did not take her long to find it: the dress Aqua had given her. She stuck her legs and tail into it, pulled it up, and then called for Ferrous to help her finish getting dressed, as even with two hands she had not been able to get into it without assistance. She could hear his thumps as he quickly climbed the stairs, eager to help his mate.

The door creaked open and Ferrous let out a low whistle. He found Pyrrha to be beautiful, but with that outfit on she could stun him with just a glance. He even knew the story behind the outfit, making him appreciate her selection ever more. Remembering why he was up there, he quickly moved over to Pyrrha and helped button up the back of the dress. Just as he finished buttoning the dress he laid his paws on her shoulders and gave the back of her neck a kiss.

"You look beautiful," he whispered lovingly. Pyrrha blushed, but she leaned back, enjoying the feel of his paws on her back; however, she soon broke the embrace to face him.

"So, dinner is when again?" Ferrous looked out the window, using the sun to estimate the time of day.

"I think we have about thirty minutes until we need to be there, which is just enough time for a pre-meal flight. Would you care to join me?" he asked, stretching out a hand for her to grasp.

"I would love to," she replied as she took his hand. He closed the window, and quickly led her down the stairs. He reached the door first and opened it for her.

"After you, my dear," he said, with a polite gesture to boot. Pyrrha went through the door and was soon followed by Ferrous as he locked the door. Then he held her hand again and, after a quick countdown, they took off simultaneously.

While they initial stayed together as they flew, Pyrrha soon decided to have some fun during the flight. She broke off and started to ascend into the sky. When she reached a high enough point she dived, quickly accelerating. When she was going fast enough she shifted her wings, causing her to level out and then start to flip. Soon enough, she was back upright and had executed a well-done loop. Ferrous soon joined her and they played in the air, doing aerial stunts ranging from a simple dive to a complex corkscrew. Despite their shenanigans they slowly made their way to the Amore Inn.

Eventually they reached their destination, with Ferrous being the first one to spot it. He motioned for Pyrrha to follow him as he descended to the entrance of the Inn and landed, quickly followed by his soon-to-be mate. As soon as she landed he linked arms with her, being a proper gentle-dragon. As they entered Pyrrha let out a gasp, although she did her best to stifle it. Of course, no one could blame her for being amazed. The Amore Inn was beautifully decorated with pieces of art, crystal, and marble. While she looked around a host came up to speak with them. Ferrous quickly gave the host his reservation and they were seated at a fairly private table near a back window. After receiving their drinks and ordering their food they were left alone, to simply play lovers' games.

Pyrrha broke the silence first.

"Ferrous, are you sure you want to do this? I mean, you could pick anyone to be your mate…" Ferrous held her hand.

"Pyrrha, I have never, ever felt what I feel for you. I love you, no matter what." She blushed and glanced at her feet.

"Even with this life debt hung around my neck?" Ferrous exhaled softly.

"We've been over this before. I still don't care about that, and it will never change my feelings for you." Pyrrha smiled and looked up again, relieved that he had re-affirmed his previous statement. "Now I have a question for you, Pyrrha. Do you want to have children? We could simply have a romantic evening tonight and love each other closely another time, or we could go for it tonight- I'm perfectly happy either way." Pyrrha had to think for a moment before she could respond to his question.

"Ferrous… I want to have children. I may have barely known my own mother, but can feel the desire to raise some of my own children in me. What about you?" He smiled softly.

"I feel the same way." For a moment, neither of them spoke as they mulled over the possibility of raising a family.

"Ferrous, have one… condition… before we mate." She glanced down as she spoke.

"Yes?" He leaned forward a bit.

"I want you to promise me that… you'll marry me." Ferrous sat back, mouth slightly agape, unable to respond. Pyrrha smiled a bit at his obvious discomfort. "What? I know it isn't exactly a common thing… but I want the world to know that you're mine… and that you won't leave me." As she added the last bit she looked at him with puppy dog eyes; however, this soon turned into giggles as Ferrous regained his motor controls and instantly grabbed his drink. She moved her chair next to his before she added, "I don't mean tonight, tomorrow, or even this week. I just want it to happen before our children hatch." Ferrous still could not make his mouth listen to his head, but he put his glass down and turned to face her as he tried to form words; but still, they failed him. Pyrrha smirked. "Is my big, strong, blacksmith afraid of a little commitment?" Finally, he could speech again.

"Yes, he is." There was a hint of sadness to his voice. "But for you, I will to anything. I promise you, I'll be ready before the week is through."

Pyrrha smiled and moved over to muzzle him. "Thank you," she whispered.

They stayed like that until their food arrived in a few minutes. Soon they were busy with their food, but they still stole glances at each other as they ate. After they finished eating and paid their bill, they flew home, moving as quickly as possible, despite their heavy stomachs. Ferrous was the first one to get home, but since he opened the door Pyrrha got into their bedroom before him. Ferrous locked the door behind him and hurried up the stairs only moments after her. When he entered the master bedroom he was pleasantly surprised. A dozen candles were lit and placed around the room, lighting the room with their flicking glow. A new scent also lingered in the room, but Ferrous was not quite able to place it, despite the fact that it felt familiar. The bed had some new sheets on it, and a few roses were placed around the bedroom. Pyrrha was sitting on the edge of the bed, but he had startled her when he came into the room. After calming herself down she stood up and seemingly glided over to him as he shuffled into the room, still surprised at the changes to the room.

Pyrrha smiled sweetly at him before she asked, "Ferrous, could you please help me out of this dress?" A grin lit up his face as she turned around and he worked furiously to unbutton the dress. Just as he finished the last button she twirled around to face him, took a step back, and began to work the rest of the dress off without his assistance. Ferrous was mesmerized by her body as she worked her sinuous and supple body out of her clothes. She managed to catch his stare as she finished and a smirk appeared on her face. She walked over to the bed and laid down on it before turning to look a Ferrous.

"You need to strip down too, you know." Ferrous wasted no time getting started on disrobing himself, but he fumbled with the buttons on his shirt, thoughts of Pyrrha still racing behind his eyes. Just as he finished taking off his shirt Pyrrha made a coughing noise, causing him to stop and look at her. A slightly disapproving look was now evident in her mischievous smile.

"You expect to get with me when you're so dirty!? Go get a bath! I'll wait." Ferrous grumbled as he trudged down the stairs, annoyed at this new delay.

After Ferrous left the room Pyrrha pulled out the note that she had hide from Rose and started mentally checking off the list. So far, things were going according to plan, and now she just needed for Ferrous to start his bath. Soon enough she picked up the sounds of Ferrous cleaning himself off in the bathtub. She silently worked her way over to the bathroom, picking up her scrub brush at the door. She opened the door and snuck up behind Ferrous, who had closed his eyes to enjoy the warm water Rose had left. Rose knew he could not turn down a warm bath. She carefully moved so that she was directly behind him and then approached his back.

Ferrous nearly jumped out of the bath and attacked when Pyrrha grabbed his shoulders. Only her laughter made him stop and relax as she dipped her scrub brush into the soapy water. Soon she started to help scrub him down, making what was normally a rather difficult process faster. Soot tends to stick to scales, especially if the wearer of those scales does not bathe enough. Not only did it get him clean, but it felt good – really, really good. Whether it was Pyrrha occasionally brushing up against him or just how well she scrubbed him down he could not say, especially since Pyrrha signaled for him to be silent when he tried to speak. She ended up doing his entire back – wings, head, and both sides of his tail included. They both finished doing their side of his body at about the same time, so she gave him a playful push and rushed back up the stairs, with him right behind her, towel in hand.

Pyrrha, being in the lead, was the first one to get to their room. She quickly grabbed the door and nearly slammed it on Ferrous's muzzle, but he stopped a mere claw length from the door. He considering going straight in, but he remembered that he was still dripping wet. He decided to towel himself off and let her sweat a little, in fear that she may have offended him. Once he was dry he slowly opened the door.

Pyrrha was quite happy when the door finally opened. As Ferrous slowly stalked over to the bed she attempted to assume a more provocative position to urge him forward. When the door closed behind him, she let out a small gasp. Ferrous gave her a quizzical look as she continued to stare, but all she could do was point and murmur "Your scales…" Now that he had cleaned himself up each of Ferrous's scales acted as a little mirror, reflecting the light of the candles around the room. When he finally understood this, he smiled and did a tiny twirl, lighting up the room with a multitude of dancing lights. Once again Pyrrha gasped, but now he quickly got in bed with her, instead of just standing there like a fool. He gave her a kiss, held her tight, and let his body speak for him. That night, two became one, and when morning came they were still in each other's grasp.

------===------===------===------===------===------

Pyrrha suddenly awoke from her sleep, rather confused. She had no clue why she had woken up, and thus tried to return to sleep. However, sleep avoided her, and when she noticed that some of the sun's earliest rays were making their way into the room she decided to just stay awake and think. The first thing her mind turned to was what had happened in the month since she and Ferrous had mated.

Ferrous had been true to his word, but their marriage took longer than a week to arrange. The main delay was caused by a simple problem: Pyrrha did not have a finger for the wedding ring to go on. When Ferrous first brought it up, they had a few solutions, including putting the ring on the other hand and using a bracelet. Ferrous eventually came up with a solution, but he decided to make it a surprise for their wedding day, which would have to be postponed until next week while he worked on it.

There was another thing Ferrous had to do though: he wanted to get his father's blessing on their marriage, and for that he needed to formally introduce them to his mate. Pyrrha was nervous as they approached the door to the bakery. Last time she had been here she had come as a thief; now, she was coming as their son's mate and future wife. How would they react, especially Rye? Would he kick them out or would he attack her? Ferrous stopped at the door.

"Are you ready?" She gave him a weak smile.

"I'm as ready as I'll ever be." He gave her a grin and a comforting hug.

"Trust me, we're going to be fine," he reassured her as he opened the door. Inside, Rye and his wife, Thyme, were seated, awaiting the arrival of their son. When they walked in, his parents came over and wrapped him in a hug. Then Rye walked over to Pyrrha, and she began to fear the worst. She was thus surprised when he gave her a hug too. As he let go he grabbed the stump of her arm and began to look it over.

"I take it this was your punishment?" he asked. Pyrrha looked down, ashamed, but she still managed to whisper a yes. Rye gave her another hug.

"I'm sorry." Pyrrha began to cry, and it soon turned into a group hug as Ferrous joined them. The rest of the visit went without incident, and when Ferrous asked for his father's blessing he gladly gave it.

The wedding was planned to be a small event, just Pyrrha, Ferrous, Rye, Thyme, and a notary. For some reason, Ferrous insisted that it be held at his forge. When the wedding finally occurred, Ferrous revealed his surprise solution and presented her with neither a ring nor a bracelet. Instead, he presented Pyrrha with a thick necklace, made of silver and inscribed with his name, as her wedding band. He also had a necklace for himself, but his was made of gold and was blank. During the ceremony, Ferrous used his forge to heat up the gold so that Pyrrha could write her name in his necklace, just as he had done for her wedding band. While Pyrrha normally did not like such a large piece of jewelry, she agreed: this was a perfect solution.

Now, about three weeks after their wedding, she was deeply pregnant, to the point where she could barely even leave the bed. Ferrous had stayed home once she got close to this stage of the pregnancy, getting her everything she needed or wanted. She felt a movement in her belly at these thoughts. It seemed as if their child was reacting to her thoughts now! She grinned at the thought, finding it both amusing and comforting. Still, she was more than ready for this stage of the pregnancy to be over. She desperately wanted to go outside and to fly, all things she simply could not do right now. Suddenly, a great pain shook her body.

Scared out of her wits, she woke up Ferrous. He groggily listened as she explained what she had just felt, but he pushed it aside as a part of her pregnancy. It was true that she had felt some pains before, but this felt different, she explained. Still, Ferrous would not listen, and tried to go back to sleep. However, another spasm of pain racked her body, and she woke up Ferrous again. This time he listened to her, and, after a third spasm came and went, realized what was happening.

"Pyrrha, your body is laying the egg," he whispered, a hint of fear in his tone. This, Pyrrha understood. Her egg should not come for another week, but it coming now instead. Pushing aside her fears, she began to get up and, with the help of Ferrous, made her way over to a nest she had made a couple weeks ago, acting on instinct.

Ferrous did what he could to help her, mostly getting some moist towels for her, but they both knew that this was really her struggle now. All he could do was be by her side and provide support, in both the emotional and physical sense, despite whatever curses or threats she might throw at him. Still, he was relieved when he began to see a tan, leathery egg emerge from his mate's vent. To him, it looked healthy, easing his worst fear, aside from losing his mate. Eventually it slid out completely, letting Pyrrha relax as she turned to investigate her newest responsibility. She let her mothering instincts take over… until a new spasm of pain came over her, similar to that of the first egg. She cried out to Ferrous, both cursing him and asking him for help. Just as the sun finally cleared the horizon she laid not her second egg, but her third, as her contractions finally stopped. Now she let her instincts take over completely as she sniffed her eggs, cleaned them off, and then curled up beside them, exhausted from her efforts.

Ferrous grabbed a shirt and pants and then silently left the room, a huge smile on his muzzle. He was going to be the father of not just one child, but three! There were so many things he had to do, so many things that had to be changed before the children were running around the house! Still, nothing that could happen would be able to shake the happy feeling from him as he looked to the future with glee…

Except for the one thing that did.

As he was making something warm to drink that morning a knock came from the front door. When he answered it he was surprised to find three guards and a royal messenger on his porch.

"We are here to collect on Pyrrha's life debt."
First and Previous- [link]

Give me your criticisms! Is it too stiff and formal? (Curse you college essays!) Is it too weird? Are the characters believable? Should I put this under strict mature content? Did Word miss some grammar or sentence structure problems? Did I misspell something so badly that Word replaced it with something else? Am I descriptive enough? Am I too descriptive? Am I describing something for no good reason? Go Grammar Nazi crazy, since would do the same to you!

A note on the names of the characters: Yes, I'm horrible at coming up with names. So please, give me some name suggestions! I've got... five characters left to name. Also, all the character's names are currently rather symbolic. Can you guess the meaning behind Pyrrha's name?

A note on the ending: Sorry for the cliffhanger!

A note on length: This is eighteen pages in Word 2010 with the default settings.

EDIT: By the way, the plot finally gets started now. Also, please tell me if you know of a word that I could swap "marriage" out for. It doesn't really seem right in this context...

And now, the comments!
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:iconserpion5:
serpion5 Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
You had everything going for them. They were happy, they had a brilliant future ahead of them and a love for each other that couldn't be beaten.

Then that kick in the teeth at the end? That was a hell of a twist that put a damp on everything that had gone before.


In short? Excellent writing! I approve! I approve very much! :D
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:iconcombak:
Combak Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2012
Thank you!

Like I said in the descriptions, most of the names of the main characters have a fairly obvious origin.
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:iconserpion5:
serpion5 Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Yea, I'm not so methodical with names so I don't know how much help I can be.
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:iconcombak:
Combak Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2012
...Er, try re-reading my original comment. I'm just saying there was a hint.
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