A giant shadow glides through the firmament, revealing that Tanixalthas is stretching Her wings.
(Morsels): Tanixalthas says, "Morsel. Do you know the location of My hoard and My brood, mm?"
(Morsels): Tanixalthas says, "As promised, you and I will exchange words, yes?"
(Morsels): You say, "I believe I know the way. And we will."
[movement, arriving in Sky Dreaming]
You have emoted: Iazamat rumbles in consideration.
You have thought: "It's been too long, I can't find the way."
You have thought: "Found it."
A broad, searing expanse of stone and sand.
The tenebrous cavern ceiling looms ominously high overhead. Most of the eggs here are still intact, the near boiling sand keeping them warm and protected. Covered in dark scales that have a mottling of colors, the giant eggs are surrounded by fresh carcasses with trails in the sand suggesting that they are turned over frequently. By who though, is uncertain. Scattered throughout the scorched earth are smaller offerings to the unborn Dragons; mostly sparkling gems and gold coins with a few, embellished weapons. A crocodile-headed golem of lapis and gold looms here, its stance both regal and menacing. Tanixalthas, the Sun Drinker, broods here, filling the entire area with Her colossal, star-gilded bulk. A massive sandstorm threatens to choke out the life in this area. Dozens of huge, mottled eggs are scattered through the chamber, many half-buried in scorching sand.
You see exits leading north, east, south, and west.
She is an Immortal Dragon of ancient heritage, an immense mass of blue-black scales, dark hide and terrible malignance. Her craggy form is gargantuan, thirty feet tall and at least eighty in length, and every visible inch is armoured with natural plating fit for icebreaker's prow. Her serpentine bulk is supported by four powerful limbs, each one bearing claws capable of eviscerating an orgyuk, and Her four silver eyes burn beneath a raking crest of black bone that rears up from her brow. Her wingspan is immense, shadowing acres beneath it, and Her form glitters like the midwinter sky, all inky blue-black and shimmering white fire, as though a vast dragon-shaped tear in the world gapes open here. A pulsing, shifting mass of blue-white fire
burns in the heart of the dragon-god's chest, sending tendrils of power filtering out through Her body. Great spikes rip from Her spine, lining Her arched back and massive tail with wicked points, and Her wings are tipped with scything claws as long as a man's arm. The acrid stink of reptile billows in gusts from each movement of Her colossal bulk, bringing with it the faint tang of blood and the sharp taste of ice on the wind.
a mantle of eerie, blue-green fire : (gilding Her form)
The huge, Dragon sized, void-like hole in the searing nest moves as Tanixalthas swivels Her giant head towards you. One, two, three, four - each of Her eyes blink intermittently as She observes you. "Little morsel." The great Dragon greets on an icy hiss, Her head sweeping downwards and Her claw clutching the egg closer as She moves Her maw towards the tiny Idreth.
You have emoted: Iazamat comes into sight, a crocodile-headed golem at his heels. He makes it no more than several paces into the sandy expanse before Tanixalthas is staring him down, causing him to kneel immediately, both his knees digging into the earth as he plants his hands on his thighs and dips his head in reverence of the Dragon. "Sun Drinker," he says, returning the greeting.
You kneel down and release your hold upon your earthen form. Within moments the earth begins to separate from you.
Within moments the last of the earth has separated from your body, leaving you in your normal form.
A crocodile-headed golem falls back to the edge of the expanse.
You have thought: An alien desert flashes through his mind, briefly eliciting fear, before being bodily shoved aside.
Silence hangs around Tanixalthas for a second or three, the tension around Her creating small pinpricks of light that zap over Her scaled hide. Finally, She skims Her jaw through the sand in an attempt to bring Her head down and more level with you. Overall, She fails, given the size of Her skull, but none the less the chill in the air seems to subside with Her rumbling voice. "I have very little interest in mortals, overall." She begins to explain, the twinkling of Her eyes when She blinks almost as mesmerising as the patterns that whorl over Her dark bulk. "I was here before any of you and I will remain long after all of you. Yet." Her tongue clicks before the fork slips past those giant teeth in a familiar, reptilian tasting of the air. Her air. Her domain. "Some I enjoy the company of, and I definitely enjoy the tributes of the many." She pauses, obviously allowing a span of silence to settle to ensure the Idreth follows along with Her heavily accented Aetolian.
You have thought: "What do I say? What does one say to a god?"
You have emoted: Iazamat manages a nod and rips his attention from the surroundings, all without lifting his head higher than his initial display of respect, instead resting his attention on the Dragon Herself. "Ah, I hope my, ah... tributes have been well received?" he asks haltingly, as if having forgotten how to speak.
You have thought: "You fool."
Amusement settles on Tanixalthas and She obviously attempts to offer you a smile of reassurance, yet frankly, it only looks like a terrible, and terrifying, grimace. "Mm, mm." Comes the rumbling sound from within Her chest as a sign of acknowledgement. "Yes. I asked you hear for something more, yet." She states plainly before that egg is revealed again, though when Her claws lift away from their absently twirling of Her unborn hatchling, it seems to move itself, rocking back and forth. "Whispers, and shouts, of the Godling's influence have reached Me and, generally, I care little about Them, either. Only the deals I made with Them. A Dragon keeps all promises, after all." The giant, scaled tail of the Immortal sweeps forward, capturing you and shoving the mortal closer to Her mouth. "What is Mine should always be the mightiest. The most esteemed. The strongest." She whispers almost intimately.
Quieter still, irregardless of the unfortunate shoving of Her tail, Tanixalthas says, "So I offer a trade, little Idreth."
You have emoted: Iazamat is distracted briefly by the vibrations caused by Tanixalthas'' rumblings - it's far too late by the time he sees Her tail coming for him, but he offers no resistance as he's snatched up and slid forward, ever closer to the Dragon's maw. "A trade?" he asks, brow furrowing as he stares in turn at each reptilian eye.
You have thought: His mind's racing, dashing madly between the egg, Tanixalthas' mention of the 'Godlings', and the idea of a trade between himself and a Dragon.
"A trade." Tanixalthas confirms, Her head dipping deeper into the heated sands as She offers something of a nod. "What I ask will require creativity, pro-activity and a healthy understanding of balance." She states and the rancid smell of rotting buffalo meat washes of you as She huffs absently, as if piecing together the Aetolian tongue. "Yes. You will grow the influence of the Dragon-kin. In return, you will be gifted the status of the Dragon-kin and the gift I bestow on each of them." The sound of crushing shell and bones assaults your ears with the very sudden closing of the Immortal Dragon's claws around Her egg. The hard encasing that protected the hatchling proved no resistance beneath Her force and the tiny, scaled body of Her broodling splatters in a grotesque display of boiling blood, blue scales and fiery organs which all land with a squelching *thud* amidst the sands.
The heart is what Tanixalthas is after and although it is tiny between Her claws as She plucks it from the sand, the organ is still bigger than your head. "If you accept. Eat this. If you decline - then present a counter offer."
You have thought: Whatever storm previously raged inside the man's mind subsides in an instant, giving way to silence and the feeling of disbelief.
You have emoted: Iazamat simply stares at a small Dragon hatchling's heart, disbelieving. Moments pass, the silence hanging as heavy in the air as the Dragon's breath, his own laboured breathing inaudible. "Why me?" he finally responds, his voice quiet but firm, his question either acceptance or that of a counter offer. "Why choose me?" He lifts his gaze from the hatchling's heart to Tanixalthas, but it's clear he's unable to see past Her snout and is instead staring at Her nostrils.
Those nostrils flare as Tanixalthas considers your question. "You are clever with your wording, yet you keep it. You are driven, yet you do not speak over others. You have the guile of the serpent's, yet you are anchored by the earth. It reminds Me of My beloved in many ways." Her head turns to the left, allowing Her a glimpse of you again and also reveals Her silvery gaze to the mortal, allowing it to be met. "Many Dragon-kin have qualities I enjoy. Each picked to receive a heart for one reason or another. A purpose. A tool. Something to assist in My goals as well as their own. Yet, with My support, I believe you will help Me, and yourself, most of all."
On a soft, chilling hiss, Tanixalthas says, "I could be wrong. I am not so smug as to believe I am beyond being incorrect. I have misjudged hosts before and simply had to prove my dominance through violence for their not keeping their word. But in this, I do not believe I am."
You have thought: Like the sun rising over the desert, comprehension dawns on the Idreth. He understands he's not only being offered a gift, but a Dragon's trust, as well as a potential path forward through self-imposed darkness.
You have emoted: Iazamat looks from Tanixalthas to the hatchling's heart, his eyes deftly avoiding the grisly scene created by the Dragon. Wordlessly, he begins to scrape forward, reaching for the heart. Finding it still out of reach, he makes his way to his knees, his sands and those of the expanse's roiling away from him as he gets to his feet. "I accept," he answers as he bends down and retrieves the organ, scooping it up between his hands and bringing it to his face.
The weight of the heart is almost too daunting as you turn the still dripping organ over in your hands. As the almost burning heat of the heart begins to seep into your skin, you realize this is a step in the direction to obtaining transcendence and, with that conviction, you raise the organ to your mouth.
Chunk by slimy chunk, you tear the heart apart and consume it, the meaty muscle burning you from the inside out as it slides down into your chest where it seems to stop.
Blood drips from your chin as you fall to your knees and begin to claw at your chest. You just want - need - the pain to stop. The organ needs to come out. Out. Out. OUT. Again and again, you grab at your chest to try and relieve yourself of the pain. Instead, you momentarily lapse into unconsciousness.
It must have been only a few seconds that you were lost to the blackness, however, as you open your eyes, you realize the pain has stopped. Your trembling hands lower to hang limp at your sides and you whisper a fervent prayer to the Sun Drinker as the hatchling's heart claims its new home.
Tanixalthas grants you entrance into Her Order. Congratulations!
You have emoted: Iazamat lifts a still shaking hand and wipes it across his mouth, smearing the blood and viscera left there. He then reaches for his chest, placing a palm flat against his heart, surprise evident by the rise of his brows as he feels the heart - the hatchling's heart - beating there.
This is a small dragon's heart. Though, compartiviely, it is still a lot bigger than a human's heart. Corded veins decorate the outside, whilst the internal valves still gurgle with fresh blood, some of the claret liquid even dripping from its insides. It is warm - too warm, almost - to the touch.
With the deal struck, Tanixalthas' huge head lifts into the air above you and She simply leaves. The earth groans in protest as the darkness of the Dragon climbs out of the nest, some of the eggs getting buried as the sand falls from the departure of the Immortal. "I look forward to working with you, Dragon-kin." The Goddess growls back towards the pit of Her temple.
The whole temple shudders as the Dragon moves through it and after another few steps, you hear the distinct sound of Her wings beating. The sound eventually ebbs and you are left within the darkness of your thoughts - and the burning sensation that still lingers in your chest with the beating heart of a dragon.
You have emoted: Iazamat's legs finally give out, once again burying his knees in the sands. Short, bewildered breaths and an almost wild-eyed panic dominate the Idreth before reason begins settling in, allowing his usual, placid demeanor to reign again.
You have thought: "You have my thanks and gratitude for Your trust, Sun Drinker - and for not devouring me."
You have emoted: Suddenly spinning in place, his legs creating tracts in the sand, Iazamat scans the expanse's boundaries for a crocodile-headed golem. It's a moment before he sees it, but as soon as he does, he swiftly rises and makes hurriedly for it, sand trailing in his wake in an effort to rejoin him.
You have emoted: "We," Iazamat speaks aloud, breath misting in the chilly air as he addresses the golem knowing it won't respond. "Should head home."
You have thought: "Oh."
You use Relic Translocator.
You hold forth the translocator, and the needle within spins rapidly before fixing on a single point.
A murky fog arises from within the device, and you quickly walk into it.
Upon a small island.