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Xethonteror stirred. He cracked one large, luminous fuscia eye and peered at the small Falcon-Headed Phoenix framed in his bedroom door. "What's wrong?"

The Falcon-Head strode up to the great black dragon's couch and gestured with his wingclaw. "Come -- hurry, Swalecain has taken Lord Arex'fay's daughters --"

Xen shot to his feet, triangular tailblade scything through the air. "Where? Take me!"

Swiftly, the Phoenix bounded out the lair, taking to wing as quickly as he moved on two feet, the dragon hurling himself to the winds not too far behind. A thousand thoughts ran throught Xen's mind as he pumped furiously, silver undersails straining. The breeze whistled past his blown-open nostrils, cutting through his nasal spines and tugging at his silver throat membrane. Kaevonteror's son arced with the Falcon-Head, who was slicing through the air as keen as a knife.

Suddenly, he dove straight down, spinning on an inner pinion towards a large circle of Phoenixes and dragons. There, in the middle, was the trecherous sea-green Swalecain, grown to outlandous proportions for a Vahazayi. He was standing over the prone bodies of two human girls, King's daughters by his half-human, half-Vahazayi wife, Jacquelyn.

The ground shuddered as the furious wyrm landed, all four feet splayed out, claws gripping the turf in massive hand- and foot-fulls. Throwing his head up, he uttered an ear-splitting roar that shook his throat membrane. "What is the meaning of this!"

Creatures scattered as the tailblade slashed back and forth in Xethonteror's anger. The great, sharp blade jutted over three feet in the air from the tip of his prehensile black tail, keen as a diamond and able to cut through almost anything with one fell swoop.

The eagle-head of Swalecain swung around, pinned Xen with a murderous glare. "So," he hissed, "the son of the Red Terror has decided to join this calvalcade." His gaze fixed on King. "Could not face me by yourself, my Lord? Sought to send your pets to do your dirty work?"

Oily black smoke poured from the white-red Phoenix Lord's nares, curling around his flattened crest. He took one step forward, but jerked his foot back as Swalecain made a move towards his daughters.

"Stalemate, King."

Xethonteror could see the emotions swimming in the Vahazayi Lord's dark grey eyes. His own fuscia-colored irises were expanding in his sockets, blotting out sclera and black pupil, til there was nothing save the bright red-purple, stamp of his in/famous sire. Kaevonteror marked his children well, gifting each with a tailblade for unparalleled offense and defense, as well as a legacy.

Someone gripped his upper arm, pulling him back to a sitting position. "What do you think you are doing?" growled another Falcon-Headed Vahazayi, wingclaw set into his bicep. "This matter is none of your concern -- it is between Lord Arex'fay and the khairachas Swalecain."

It took Xen a moment to recognize the scornful visage of King's own Second-in-Command, Vagan Vershandi'fay. The General's face was contorted into a miasma of pain and anger, the distinct malar-markings around his eyes pale. "Helping, of course," Xen shot back. Vagan's tongue was legendary, even to the dragons; he was not above (or below) a vile barb to put someone in their place. "I don't see you by Arex'fay's side."

"Very, very astute of you. I can see that the receeding of your eyeballs has not affected your optical sensors." Vagan flicked his crest in aggitation and cast a quick glance at the two combatants. "I heed orders, just as you will, son of Kaevonteror. Do your esteemed sire the honor and sit your scaled ass on the grass. If King is of need of your help, he will let you know. We are here as witnesses to a traitor, nothing more."

"Even if you wish to do different?"

The look Vagan shot him was full of fear and uncertainty. He quickly turned away. "Even if I wish to do differently," he replied quietly, almost subdued. "They are my neices, Xethonteror. My heart is not of stone as many believe."

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