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== Lessons ==

Ferrous stood in the doorway, frozen by both shock and indecision. The first thing he wanted to do was attack and protect his wife. However, with him outmanned four to one he knew he would lose, so he then thought to escape. He would just slam the door, run upstairs, and fly off with Pyrrha. But she was asleep and tired, and they still had their children to worry about. The guards would easily catch them. So he planned to fight them off! But there was no way he could win, or really even slow them down… Soon, his mind was stuck in a loop, unable to decide on a course of action. That was, until he remembered the laws. Anyone who attacked or interfered with a royal guard preforming his or her duty would be considered a traitor and executed, immediately if need be. With a sigh, he let them in and offered them a seat and a drink. Only the messenger accepted anything, that that was just a small glass of water.

After he got a drink for both himself and the messenger he sat down and, with a heavy voice, asked what was to be her payment. The messenger's reply did little to lift his spirits.

"I can only say what it is in front of the payer. Where is Pyrrha?"

"She's upstairs, but right now she is asleep and dreadfully tired. Can you please just tell me?"

The messenger shook his head. "No, you'll have to wake her up. Please, lead us to her room." Ferrous let out an annoyed sigh and, after putting his cup down, slowly started up the stairs. When he came to the room into their room, he paused a moment, reconsidering the possibility of fighting off the guards. He quickly dismissed the idea though, and slowly opened the door. The guards and the messenger quietly filed in behind him. After a glance at the messenger, who just game him a confirmatory nod, Ferrous knelt down next to Pyrrha and slowly shook her, waking her up.

As Pyrrha's sleepy mind woke up the first thing she saw was Ferrous, kneeling next to her. Then she noticed her eggs, which she was protectively curled around. The next thing she saw left her rather confused. There were four other people in the room, and, despite not recognizing any of them, she could not help but feel as if they were familiar. When she finally recognized them a spike of fear hit her heart, as the last time she had seen guards she had expected to die. She jolted upright, fearing once again for her life. On her way up, she bumped into Ferrous, who quickly tried to calm her down. He placed his arm across her back and she quickly calmed down. Once she had settled down, Ferrous explained the situation to her.

"Pyrrha, I was down stairs preparing some breakfast when our visitors arrived. They're here to collect your life debt." Pyrrha made an audible gulping sound as she faced the messenger. Ferrous put his arms on her, hoping to calm her down.  The messenger pulled out a scroll, tied with a purple and red ribbon, from his belt. He quickly unfurled it and, with the tone of someone who has read a similar message many times before, he read out what she owned King Henry and Queen Anne for saving her life.

"Pyrrha Flarewing, in order to repay your life the debt, you are required to submit any payment which the king and queen desire. This may be demanded at any time, with or without notice, and will immediately be handed over. Resistance will result in an immediate count of treason against you, and your execution will be carried out by the King himself. From you, our regents require a simple payment: all the eggs in your first clutch, minus one. The egg not collected is to be raised by you, while the payment will be raised by our regents. I'm sorry." The final sentence spoken by the messenger was clearly added, but no one could hear it over the roar of Pyrrha's maternal fury. She launched herself at the messenger and the guards when her payment was named - or she tried to, but she found herself restrained. She turned to slash at whoever was preventing her from tearing out the guards' throat and found that it was the last dragon she would have expected - her mate, Ferrous.

Pyrrha tried to break away, but Ferrous had wrapped his arms, strong from working the anvil day in and day out, around her waist, and was not planning on letting her go for a while. As a guard reached for an egg she started to flail even harder, no longer caring if she hurt her mate, as she shouted, "Ferrous, stop them!"

"I am not going to let you hurt them!" The other guard decided that now was a good time to retrieve the other egg, and darted in to grab it while they struggled. Pyrrha was not happy.

"Let me at them, you… you traitor!"

"I can't!" he shouted back, his voice only giving the slightest hint of the pain he was feeling in his chest. Still, this hint was enough for Pyrrha to notice. As the guards and messenger ran out of the house at fast and faster speeds, the words between the lovers became more and more hurtful. It was not until Ferrous heard the beating of wings that he even considered letting Pyrrha go, and even then he refused to release her until, surprisingly, the messenger returned.

"You can let her go now," he instructed, an instruction Ferrous followed out of both surprise and obedience. Pyrrha leapt from where she was standing towards the door, but was met by the messenger's arm in the doorway. She fell, rubbing her neck to relieve the pain and ensure that she could breathe. Soon she stood up and delivered a hard slap to the offender's muzzle. When her hand came back to deliver a second slap though, it was caught in the messenger's paw.

"That was your one free slap. Hit me again, and I will kill you where you stand." Now that even the furious mother was intimidated, he let her go. "Now, if you want your eggs back, you'll follow these instructions. I'll warn you now, I have never seen anyone be successful at this," he said as he pulled out a new piece of parchment out of his uniform. He handed it over to Pyrrha, who quickly read it aloud.

"Pyrrha Flarewing, if you wish to negotiate for the retrieval of your eggs, please meet us at three o'clock in our private meeting chamber. If you show this message to a guard, he will escort you to our chambers. Signed, King Henry and Queen Anne." As Pyrrha finished the note, she let out a sigh. Ferrous came over to her, in an attempt to comfort her, but he was met by a slash to the chest. "Both of you, GET OUT! NOW!" she roared, as her anger at Ferrous boiled over into rage. Both of the men quickly started heading for the front door, but the messenger, had one last thing to say.

At the bottom of the stairs, he turned and warned, "One last message: if either of you tell anyone what a life debt means, you'll soon find your head separated from your neck, along with whomever you told what a life debt means." He did not get to stand for long, as Ferrous quickly knocked him over on his way out, fleeing from a pursuing Pyrrha. They soon picked each other up, and raced out the doorway onto the front porch. Pyrrha then slammed to door on them, and they were left in the quiet street. The messenger soon spoke.

"Thank you for your help. I'm surprised you were able to hold her back; most males can't stop their mate when she is enraged like that. You saved one of the guards a lot of work." Ferrous grunted. "Now come on, you need to get taken care of. Do you have somewhere you can stay?" For the first time since the guards had arrived, Ferrous looked himself over. His shirt was shredded, and he had several cuts on his chest from Pyrrha clawing at him. His shoulders were only a little bit better, and, while none of the cuts were very deep or likely to scar, they bleed quite a bit, making his torso a bloody mess. The effects of blood loss kicked in then and he stumbled, falling so that the messenger could support him. Wordlessly, Ferrous directed him to his father's bakery as Pyrrha's wails began to fill the street.

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At three o'clock sharp, Pyrrha found herself in the private meeting chambers of her rulers. She suppressed a shudder, as she still had very unpleasant memories of the last time she was here. At least this time it was bright inside due to the sunlight coming though the slits that they called windows and there was no puddle of blood in the middle of the room. Hopefully today's meeting would not end with her being dragged out of the room, naked.

Pyrrha cast a glance at the thrones in the back of the hall, and was surprised to see that they were empty. They tell me to meet them at three, but can't even be here on time? she thought as she let out an annoyed snort. Being too agitated to sit and wait, she decided to walk around the hall, and see if there was anything interesting in there. She walked over to the wall on her left and started walking clockwise around the room. She immediately noticed that the stones around the windows were a lighter color, as if they were newer. Dismissing this as something caused by age, she continued her survey, and found nothing of interest until she got to the area behind the thrones. There, the entire wall was a lighter color, indicating that it was a new addition, along with the stone around the windows. Before she could really consider this more in depth though the doors opened and King Henry entered the room. She turned and, after recognizing the new arrival, focused her attention on him.

"Give me my eggs back!" she roared.

"No," King Henry replied in a completely calm tone. Considering he was talking to a furious mother dragon, it was a rather impressive feat. Pyrrha, of course, was not going to give up so easily.

"Give. Them. Back!" This time, Henry completely ignored her demand.

After a moment, he simply said, "Come take a walk with me," and turned to leave. Pyrrha, knowing that she had to talk to him in order to reclaim her eggs, followed him. As soon as she caught up to him, she prepared to pester him again.

"Give m-"

"Shut up." The king's swift (and rather rude) reaction surprised Pyrrha, to the point that she actually followed his command. They walked in uncomfortable silence until they came to a rather large pair of doors. As King Henry pushed the doors open, he gave Pyrrha a challenge.

"If you want me to even consider the possibility of giving your eggs back to you, you'll follow my directions and behave today. So tell me, Pyrrha, what do all living people in the room have in common?" After the door was opened Pyrrha looked around the room carefully. It was a large room, much like that of the regent's private meeting room, but that clearly was not this room's purpose. Inside were several long tables, with pairs of benches on both sides. There was a substantial number of dragons inside, each of whom was either eating or going to a spot on the side of the room which was blocked from Pyrrha's view. It did not take her long to conclude that this was the banquet room, and where most people ate their meals.

As she walked into the room Pyrrha tried to see what everyone in the room had in common. Her first guess was that they were all dragons. As she walked farther down the table though, she saw that this was not the case; there was a small group of humans at one of the tables. Her next guess was that they were all males, but this was proven wrong when she noticed a few female guards inter mixed with everyone else. Her last guess was that they were all guards, but this was shown to be false when she passes the spot that people were heading towards. There, a few cooks and their servants were handing out food to anyone with an empty stomach. She turned around and headed back, unable to figure out what the one commonality they shared was. I hope this wasn't some sort of test, she thought was she made her way through the crowd, because if it is, I just failed it. When she was back to the entrance, she walked back to the king's side and, with a slumped head, said, "I don't know."

With just a hint of a snicker, he let the door close, and turned to continue their walk. When the door closed and Pyrrha was by his side, he explained the riddle. "All of the people in there are someone's payment of a life debt." He let his words settle in Pyrrha's head for a minute as their walk continued. Her head needed that time as she tried to comprehend the full impact of his words. There were hundreds of people in there! Why in our ancestors' name does he have so many? As if he could read her thoughts, he answered, "We'll go over it when we meet up with Anne." Pyrrha's mind was silenced, at least in part, and for a time they continued in silence.

So, their walk came full circle, and they walked back into the private meeting room. There, Queen Anne was waiting for them. When King Henry took his seat on his throne, Pyrrha was uncomfortably reminded of her first experience in this room. Before she could finish her thought though, King Henry broke in.

"Pyrrha, why do you think you were given a life debt in the first place?" After a moment of consideration, she replied.

"Because you saved my life?" Some hesitation in her voice indicated that she was unsure of her answer, but a simple nod from her king relieved those fears.

"So tell me, what do you think would be an acceptable payment for that debt?"

Pyrrha remained silent.

"Perhaps a life of servitude to your savior would be an appropriate payment? But wait, I don't really trust you enough for you to be my servant, and besides, you have a life to live, people to see, things to do… People to love." As he had talked his words had come faster and faster, but now at the word "love" he slowed once again. After a pause, he resumed. "So… perhaps someone else should pay. Someone who I know I can trust, because they depend on me for everything. Someone who is trusting… moldable… teachable… and young. Yes, someone very, very young…" His words hung in the air. "Does this sound crazy to you?"

Pyrrha wanted to say yes. Oh, how much she wanted to say yes! But she knew that, despite how much she hated to admit it, what he was saying made sense. Still…

"Why don't you trust me?" A sly smile came onto the demon dragons' face; they knew they had won once again.

"Because you don't know everything that happens in this house. Some of the things that we do would make you, and most other dragons, vomit in disgust and flee in terror. You have only seen a faction of what we must do." Pyrrha was silent for a few more moments before she asked another question.

"Why didn't you tell me what was going to happen?"

King Henry let out a snort of ridicule. "Could you honestly say you would have had children if you knew they were going to be taken away?" Once again, Pyrrha was silent.

"What if I offered my life in servitude?" she asked.

"Honestly? We would have you do some simple tasks, and keep you as far away from us as possible. We might even assign a guard or two to you, just so I would know that you couldn't do anything rash. But in two months, you'd be in heat again." A malicious glint came into his expression, and Pyrrha started to become afraid of what he would say next. "Like I said, we don't trust you, but we know that we can train your children to be guards. Now, you would be a servant to us, practically a slave, forced to carry out our will no matter how much you despise it. Any eggs you lay would also become our property." He paused. "I think you can tell what would happen." Pyrrha wanted to nod her understanding, but fear had frozen her muscles stiff. "We would ensure you would lay us a clutch. We might just let one guard who performed well mate with you, or we might let every guard use you. You might even be forced to mate with me." Now Pyrrha began to tremble where she stood, her imagination conjuring scenes of her imagined servitude in front of her. "And if we found your first clutch to be too small, we would just wait for you to be in heat again. Once we have received a number of eggs, you would be released from your debt. Now, would you like to offer yourself in place of your eggs?" Pyrrha shook her head furiously to signal no, and the evil part of her lord's expression faded, although the part of it in his mate's stayed.

After a while Pyrrha recovered from her numbing fear and asked another question. "What will you do to my children, exactly?"

Kindness now entered King Henry's expression. "We'll raise them as if they were our own. They'll be well taken care of and, when the time comes, be trained to help us a guard. The only thing they will miss out on is children." Answering Pyrrha's unasked question, he added, "We don't let our servants take on mates. Sure, they can mate with someone of their choosing, but they may not have children from it without our express permission. It helps them stay focused."

The room was silent again as Pyrrha tried to think of another question but, try as she might, she could only come up with one. "May I see my eggs now, and my children when they hatch?" she asked, voicing her final question.

"Of course you may. Here, I'll even take you to them." Thus King Henry and Pyrrha left the chamber and headed to the hatchery and nursery. It was not actually all that far away; they walked pass a few doors, turned down a hallway, walked a little farther, and there it was. At first, Pyrrha was too nervous to go in, fearing that this was some sort of trap or test. After waiting a moment, King Henry forced her to go in when he opened the door and pushed her in.

When Pyrrha took a look around the room she was amazed. Along one wall were shelves full of eggs in warming kilns, a small structure of rock around the egg which could keep it warm while the mother was away. Pyrrha had built one around her remaining egg before she had left. A quick count revealed there were fifty eggs there. Two of them were hers. The rest of the room seemed to be a nursery for the dragons hatch would hatch from the eggs. There were blankets curled around in nests and even a few beds, all centered on a circular carpet. Standing in the middle of the circle was an older dragon, obviously the caretaker. The caretaker's back was turned, focusing on the array of nests and beds in front of it. When Pyrrha took a closer look she soon realized that quite a few of them were occupied by young hatchlings.

Getting back to the task at hand, Pyrrha walked over to the caretaker, in order to find out which of the eggs were hers. She tapped the caretaker on the shoulder- and received a surprising reaction. She – Pyrrha could now tell that it was a female – spun around to face her and took a step back, falling into a defensive stance with her teeth barred and a growl emanating from her throat. Pyrrha, for her part, threw her arms up in self-defense and to indicate that she posed no threat. For a moment, the room was completely still, minus the crackling of the kilns' fires. Then, both of the dragons recognized each other.

"Aqua!"

"Pyrrha…"

Now that the threat of a fight was out of the way, Pyrrha was over-joyed to see Aqua again. She moved closer to give Aqua a hug, but soon found that Aqua squirmed and struggled her way out of it. Concerned, she gave Aqua a closer visual inspection, and soon realized that something was indeed very, very wrong. Aqua's eyes were red and blood-shot, like she had been awake for far too long. Her face now had some of the features of a dragon Thyme's age, and her posture was that of someone who had been injured - but Pyrrha could find no visible signs of any injury.

"Aqua, what's wrong?"

"What makes you ask that question? I'm fine."

"Don't you dare lie to me! I can tell something is wrong, so let me help you," she snarled.

"It's… It's… It's none of your business."

"If you're going to be taking care of my children then it is my business! Now what happened?"

"I don't want to talk about it."

"Well then, who will tell me what happened?"

"No one will! It's my secret, and I'll take it to the grave if I have to!" Exasperated, Pyrrha gave up on her current line of questioning.

"Well then, can you show me where my eggs are?"

"I a- oh, sure. They're on the shelf, bottom row, I think. Just read the nameplate under the kiln. They're all inscribed with the name of their mother and the date the eggs were laid."

"Thank you."

Pyrrha walked over to the shelf and started to browse through its bottom shelf. Eventually she found her eggs and started to tend to them. Of course, since they were in the kiln they did not need much tending, so Pyrrha started to just look around. Looking a little farther down the shelf she noticed something she found rather humorous. Turning to look at Aqua, she said, "Hey Aqua, look! The mother of two of these eggs has the same name as you! Isn't that funny?"

Aqua's reaction to this interesting little tidbit of information was rather odd. Pyrrha had expected a quick little chuckle or some laughter. At the very least, she thought that Aqua would smirk at the news. Instead, Aqua jerked her body a little and responded by nervously saying, "Yeah… Isn't that funny?" followed by a tiny, nervous giggle. Now, Pyrrha was suspicious. She took a closer look at the nameplate, and more importantly, the date the eggs were laid. They were not laid recently, but they were still laid a few weeks after Pyrrha's first visit to the manor.

"Aqua… These are your eggs, aren't they?"

"No, they aren't," she quickly responded.

"Yes, they are."

"No–" A growl from Pyrrha stopped her midsentence. After a sigh, she relented. "Yes, they're mine, alright? Now will you please stop pestering me?" After a moment Pyrrha asked a different question.

"I thought that servants, held as payment for a life-debt, were not allowed to have children." Now it was Aqua's turn to growl.

"We aren't… unless they get involved…"

"Unless…" Suddenly, the metaphorical gears in Pyrrha's head turned, and she understood that had happened. Enraged, she let out a roar of anger, waking up all the children in the room, and practically flew out the door. She ran back to the chamber and forced her way in. Luckily, the king and queen were not in the middle of something; in fact, they seemed to be waiting. Furious, she pointed an accusing finger at the royal couple.

"You!" she roared. "How could you do that to one of your servants! You're supposed to raise my children, but you do that to one of the servants you plan to raise them to be? You are terrible rulers, and even worse people! I would bet that anyone would make a better ruler than you!"

"Really? You would bet that anyone would make a better ruler?" The reaction she received was not anything close to what she expected. King Henry was not angry now; in fact, he and Queen Ann seemed rather… amused. Still, she stood by her word, and nodded. Henry smiled one of his wicked smiles.

"I think I'll take you up on that bet." Pyrrha's surprise was so severe that she could not move. "How about this: Four years from today, you come back. We'll teach you about our species and what we do as rulers. We'll show you the signs of a good ruler, give you some training… and then let you explore. In a year, if you don't return, we'll assume that you are dead. If you return, we'll expect you to bring a champion; someone who you think would make a good ruler. We'll test him and, if he passes our test, we will give him our throne without a fight, and give you your children back. If he fails… oh, ho, ho, if he fails we will personally make your life a living hell, starting by putting another life debt on your head. What do you say?"

Pyrrha was silent as she considered the offer. It seemed perfect. She could imagine tons of people who would be better rulers, excluding her. However… the price of failure was step… but she was confident that she would easily succeed. She nodded in agreement.

"Good… if you don't come back in four years, the bet will be called off, but you'll be free to live your life without penalty." Pyrrha nodded her understanding, but soon realized she had a question.

"Wait, why in four years? Why not now?" Henry chuckled a little.

"Because you have a child to rise." Pyrrha blushed at her forgetfulness. "In four years, it will live if you left it. But if you left now, it would die. Thus, the bet will also be called off if you conceive another set of children." Embarrassed, Pyrrha bowed and turned to leave.

"Hold on, we haven't given you permission to leave just yet." Further embarrassed, she stopped and turned again.

"Yes, King Henry?" Henry let out a sigh.

"First of all, just call us Henry and Anne." Pyrrha blinked back her surprise. "Secondly, we have never even touched Aqua." Pyrrha started to hold her breath unconsciously. "Also, will you please politely tell our servant tending to your egg back home that he is free to return from caring for your egg for three hours when you get there?" Pyrrha blushed, having lost track of time and just now realizing that her only remaining child would have died if it were not for her ruler's foresight. "Now, about your husband-" Pyrrha's fury, which had died down to embers, came back with just the mention of the male she had wed.

"Don't you dare talk to me about him!" Henry continued, unabashed.

"Did you ever consider what he was thinking?" Pyrrha gave him a confused look. "He wasn't betraying you. Don't you know what the law is if you hurt a one of our guards? The guard is allowed to kill you where you stand." Pyrrha looked down at the floor. "He decided that it was more important to him that you live than you stay in love with him. If that isn't love, then I don't know what is." Pyrrha slumped, ashamed of herself. "Just so you know, he's staying with his parents right now." She didn't respond.

"One last thing Pyrrha: Good luck." With that, he gave her permission to leave, and she slowed walked her way out of the room, out of the manor, and back on to the streets. She intended to return to her egg, but in her confusion and embarrassment she found herself at the bakery instead. She sighed and, after a moment of hesitation, walked in.

The store was oddly empty, with no one at the counter. Hearing some sounds upstairs, she walked up the stairs until she met Thyme on the stairs. Thyme, surprised to see her there, did not move.

"Thyme, where is Ferrous?" she asked in a quiet and sad voice.

"In our room, recovering," Thyme responded. Pyrrha flinched. Had she really hurt him that badly?

"Can… Can I see him?"

"…Yes…" Pyrrha quickly climbed the stairs and walked into the master bedroom. There, Ferrous lay in bed, covered in bandages. There were quite a few over his belly and chest, and a few more over his muzzle. Pyrrha knew why they were there; those were where she had caused the most damage and placed most of her bites and slashes.

When Pyrrha came through the doorway Ferrous turned to look at her. She had hoped that he would apologize or just look at her lovingly. Instead, there was fear in his eyes as he looked at her. Finally, she found that this was too much. With a loud cry, she ran over the Ferrous… and started to sob and as for forgiveness. After a moment of hesitation, he gave in and held her tightly.

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A lot can happen in four years' time, and a lot did happen. That day, Pyrrha helped Ferrous move back in with her and sent a rather bored servant back home. He quickly recovered making the only remaining evidence of their fight was a light scar on his chest. As time passed, their life continued as if nothing had happened, so it should come as no surprise what eventually happened.

About nine months later, as they lay protectively around their remaining egg before falling asleep, they heard the tiniest of sounds come from the egg. Then there was another, and another. They turned and watched as, slowly, a rip emerged, through which there was a tiny horn. Within the hour, their child made a sizable tear in its egg and worked its way out. Their family of two now contained three members. Having just hatched the child was hungry and tired, costing its parents a sleepless night. When morning finally came it had just fallen asleep.

Realizing that the other two eggs had probably hatched as well, both Ferrous and Pyrrha headed off to the manor where their other two children were, with their other child in Ferrous's arms. They were free to visit their children, so they had no trouble getting into the nursery. There, a tired Aqua pointed them to one of the beds in the room where two little lumps were fast asleep. Ferrous laid their freeborn child next to the other two hatchlings and the proud parents watched them sleep.

"So, what are you going to name them?" Aqua's question surprised both Pyrrha and Ferrous.

"Honestly… I don't think we have given much thought to it at all…" Pyrrha admitted. Aqua gave a silent nod of acceptance. Just then Pyrrha realized something. "Oh my gosh, I completely forgot! Aqua, this is Ferrous. Ferrous, Aqua." Ferrous offered her a handshake, which Aqua declined.

"Thanks for being there when Pyrrha needed someone to be with-" Aqua held up a hand to stop him midsentence.

"I was doing my job. Now, what are you going to name them?" Both parents were silent as they considered the problem. As the silence grew uncomfortably long, she added, "Normally, the child's name describes them." Now that they had a heading, Pyrrha turned to closely look over her children.

First, she looked over her freeborn child. The first thing she tried to do was determine its gender and, based on the shape of the tail blade, she could tell that it was male. Next, she turned her attention to the head.  It was normal, mostly lacking in ornamentation save for the tiny stubs of a pair of horns. Their final shape would be revealed as the hatchling aged. Thus, her attention fell to the most interesting aspect of her child: his coloration. While his wings seemed to take after Pyrrha, being a nice shade of orange, the rest of his body was golden in color. Having also inherited his father's trait of metallic scales, her child seemed to be literally made of gold. A name soon came to mind, so she turned her attention to her children held in bondage.

A quick glance at the children’s tail blades indicated a male and a female, so Pyrrha focused on the one in the middle, the female. Just like her freeborn brother her wings were orange in hue and her scales were metallic, however she was a feminine pink in color. Her horns were also slightly different, as she still had her egg horn, which most hatchlings lost as soon as they were free from their egg. As Pyrrha looked on the hatchling yawned and rolled around in bed. Pyrrha chuckled at her daughter’s cute antics as she chose a name for her.

With only one child left to name Pyrrha turned her attention to her remaining son. Just like his brother and sister he had metallic scales and orange wings. His main hue was a deep blue though, making Pyrrha wonder for a moment if this was Aqua’s child instead of hers. Chuckling to herself at the ridiculous idea, she looked closely at his face, and noted something unusual. While he had the tiny nubs on his head which would eventually become horns, he also had a few lumps on the back of his jaw. These Pyrrha knew would develop into a line of small spikes; a rather uncommon trait, but nothing too out of the ordinary. Soon enough a final name was chosen and, after running the names by Ferrous, she happily informed Aqua of their choices.

“We’ve decided to name our freeborn child Aurum, the other male Cobalt, and the female Amethyst.” Aqua smiled, and gave a nod of approval.

“I like your name choices.” Both the parents quickly settled down to watch over their children as they slept and, for a while, everyone was content. Then Aqua broached a new subject. “Pyrrha, I can’t believe you took up the bet.”

“What bet?” Pyrrha groaned at Ferrous’s confusion. Curses! I forgot to tell Ferrous about the wager! she thought.

“Ferrous, I made a small bet with Henry and Anne. If I win, we get our children back.”

“But if you lose?”

“Then I pick up the life debt again,” she acknowledged sadly.

With worry Etched across his forehead, Ferrous asked, “So, what is the bet?”

With a gulp, she summarized the wager. “The bet starts four years to the day I laid my eggs. If I come back that day, and have not conceived another set of children, they will start to teach me and train me. When they finish, they’ll set me out for a year with the goal to find a dragon who will replace them as ruler. They’ll test my champion and, if he succeeds, he’ll take over as ruler and I will have won the bet. If I don’t come back that day the wager will be called off.” For a moment, Ferrous was silent as he contemplated the situation.

“I don’t like this. No one would make that offer unless they’re sure they would win, and even then…” He sighed. “But you’re still going to take it, aren’t you.”

Pyrrha answered with a snort. “It’s better than the other options.”

“Which are?” An uncomfortable silence fell until Aqua answered the question.

“She can either give up and leave Cobalt and Amethyst in the king’s care or offer herself as payment and try to pay off their life debt.” Once again, Ferrous was silent as he thought.

“I really wish you could give them up. I know they will be well cared for here, but since you are so determined to have them back I guess you have no choice save to accept the challenge.” Pyrrha nodded solemnly, then gave him a sad smile. Eventually, he grinned back, and gave her a kiss on the head. Before Pyrrha could respond a hatchling started to cry. Before long all the children were awake and all three adults were busy taking care of them. When the day came to a close Ferrous and Pyrrha left for home with a resting Aurum after saying their good-byes to Aqua.

Soon a daily pattern emerged. Ferrous and Pyrrha got up at the same time and started to prepare for the day. They would share a breakfast, but after Ferrous left for the smithy Pyrrha took care of some house work. When Aurum woke up, she would prepare him for the day, and then head over to the manor and Aqua. There, Aurum would play with Cobalt and Amethyst, along with all the other children. In the meantime Pyrrha and Aqua would talk, with Pyrrha also trying to help Aqua get better. Even after four years of daily visits Aqua would still flinch whenever someone touched her.

Sometimes Henry or Anne would come by and, despite her misgivings towards them, Pyrrha started to converse with them. They would talk about things ranging from the weather to raising children. Sometimes the reagents even brought their own children to the nursery. Pyrrha was rather surprised to meet Prince Peirce and Princess Spark as she knew that both of them had been born before her, but it seemed that she was older than them.

These conversations had an effect on Pyrrha. Eventually, Pyrrha realized that she had come to consider the royal couple as friends, much to her annoyance.

When it was time for dinner Pyrrha and Aurum would head home and prepare supper for the family. After dinner they might go out or simply stay at home and, when the time for sleep came, Pyrrha and Ferrous would first take care of their son before heading off to bed, much like any mated couple.

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

On the fourth anniversary of her egg-laying, Pyrrha arrived at Fire Manor with the rising sun. She was rapidly admitted to the Manor and headed to the meeting room. Aqua greeted her at the door and, after a few encouraging words and a hug, admitted her into the room before heading off for her morning duties. Inside, Pyrrha was greeted by all four members of the royal family and a scribe.

“I’ve heard that you’ve had no more eggs,” said Henry, “and since you are here, I can only assume you mean to accept the wager. Correct?”

“I do, my lord.”

“Very well then. Thus I declare: If you, Pyrrha Flarewing, shall find a champion after receiving our training, and if I find him or her fully acceptable as my heir, I will set this champion as my heir, marry one of my children to him, surrender the throne to him within a year, and return your children to you. If you should fail and return to the city, your life will be forfeit and turned over to our ownership.” In a seemingly unconscious movement, he licked his lips. “The allotted time span for you to find your champion is one year, post training completion. Do you accept these terms?”

“I do, sir.”

“As do I. Scribe, prepare a transcript, and I’ll affix my seal on the morrow. Now then, we’ll need to start your training immediately Pyrrha. Did your husband teach you to read and write?”

Pyrrha stumbled over her tongue for a moment, before giving an affirmative nod.

“Good. Scribe, hand her the journal, ink, and pen.”

At this, the old scribe waddled over with the required instruments, to Pyrrha’s great amusement. As she turned her attention to the journal, her mind began to run free. What was inside? The laws of the land? Ancient secrets? The keys to success? When she opened it, she found it disappointingly blank.

Henry dismissed the scribe before he continued. “This is to be your journal Pyrrha. You are to record everything we teach you in here, so you have it available during your travels. Later, I want you to use it as a diary and record everything that happens to you during your journey in it, lest you forget.” He shifted in his seat, readjusting himself into a more comfortable position. “Now tell me Pyrrha… What do you know about Demon Dragons? How are we different from normal dragons?”

Pyrrha rifled through her memories. “Well, you’re larger than other dragons and… I think you age differently too. You know everything that is going on in the towns you rule and… well, you do have that strange hoof-claw on your hind leg.” Remembering to whom she was speaking, she quickly added, “No offense intended, sir.”

The king scowled before waving his family out of the room. He sighed. “We normally get a good laugh out of that. Some people have the oddest ideas about what we are capable off. Unfortunately, your ideas are quite accurate.” He paused. “Are you writing this down?”

Pyrrha scrambled for the quill and ink as he continued, “We do indeed age differently from normal dragons. We simply live twice as long. For us, the age of ten is equal to your five; your twenty-five is our fifty. This is why we are larger than other dragons. With all the extra time in our life we grow more. When we reach adulthood, a normal adult is fifty percent the size of a regular adult dragon. We even continue to grow as an adult, although much more slowly.”

Pyrrha glanced up at King Henry, who was much more than twice her size. “How old are you then?”

He gave her a wicked grin as he continued. “These are only guidelines though, as rogues and musth can throw this off. And before you ask, that will be a topic for another day.”

Pyrrha closed her mouth.

“You named another one of our interesting characteristics.” He shifted his posture so that most of his leg was clearly visible. “Our legs always have hoof-claws. Also, we have this scale-hair on our legs,” he added as his claws combed through his brown hair, “the color of which I’ve seen range from brown to grey to black and to rowan, although I do recall seeing one pie-bald rogue. And yes, the scale-hair runs all the way up our legs, although it stops short of our loins.”

Pyrrha blushed as she wrote the last part down… before realizing something had been forgotten.

“Lastly, you mentioned that we always seem to know what is going on in the cities we rule. In truth, we don’t; however, we have a few weak powers which let us give that impression. You see Pyrrha, we have some weak psychic abilities. For instance, we can read someone’s mind if they do not try to block us, which is what we use to quickly judge crimes. However,” he caitioned, “this is only within a city under our control and only for the ruler. Since blocking it is as simple as wishing for it to fail, we keep this secret. The ability takes time to set up too. If I took over a city, it could take over a year before I could read the people’s minds. We can also keep track of those important to us by using these abilities, as well as send mental messages between each other, with some difficulty, and, rarely, get hints as to the future.”

He breathed out. “I… think that is enough for today. Did you get everything?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Collect your things, and then you are dismissed for the day. I’ll expect you in the courtyard tomorrow for some physical training, and remember: you may not breathe a word of this to anyone outside the manor. Understood?”

“Yes sir.”

“Then you may leave. Good day Pyrrha.”

“And a good day to you, Henry.” With those final words, she left and headed home. Suddenly, she felt rather tired.
So... This is as much of Part Three as I have written. Since college is started back up again I probably won't get much farther until quarter break in eleven weeks. So... here you go!

The chapter title refers to a part that I have yet to write. Also, this was 13 pages long in Word 2012. I might break this section into two parts, with this being a newly named section and "Lessons" being Part IV.

Also, I need names! I could really re-name the prince and princess, and I need to name Pyrrha's parents still. There are three characters I need to name too! Leave a comment if you have any suggestions! I'm really out of name ideas!

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

Edit: Well, I've finally finished this thing. There's a few changes along with a page or two of text added to the bottom. Either jump to the bottom or skip until you find something new. The next part should come out... eventually.
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:iconserpion5:
serpion5 Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
In some paragraphs, you have one character speak and then the rest follows someone else. eg:

"I guess you have no choice then." Pyrrha solemnly nodded, then gave him a grin in an attempt to lighten the mood.


The words are spoken by Ferrous, yet Pyrrha acts for the rest of the paragraph immediately following.

It should read:

Once again, Ferrous was silent. "I guess you have no choice then." He said at last.

Pyrrha solemnly nodded, then gave him a grin in an attempt to lighten the mood.


Each time a new character speaks or acts during dialogue you begin a new paragraph. Not half of one then the other. If one character does something while another is talking it's usually okay, so long as you make it apparent that it's the same character speaking.

All in all this is one of those things you toy with until you find a style that suits you and is easy for you. At the moment however I think it could be cleaned up a little. :)

Also, never use brackets. They have no place in fiction and I cringe whenever I see them. Just use commas instead, or a separate small sentence between or out of the way.

I wouldn't worry about mature content unless you plan on getting more descriptive with the bed scenes or violence. But again that depends on your own opinion.

You have a great story going. :)
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:iconcombak:
Combak Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2012
I thought the rule was you only started a new paragraph when someone else spoke... This is going to be a lot of editing...

And thank you for the review! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
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:iconserpion5:
serpion5 Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Most will say that, but all the best books I've read apply it to actions as well. After a while you'll find it does flow tidier. :)
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:iconcombak:
Combak Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2012
That much is definitely true.
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