He waitedOnce more Arcantos found himself at the bottom of the cliffs. Once more he felt the knowledge that at the top of the mountain, he waited, and once more Arcantos knew that he could not just turn back and walk away. He had to find out who he was, and why he was invading his dreams. So like the previous times before, Arcantos started up the cliff.However, this time, it was different. This time, he felt like he knew what was necessary to be done in order to scale the cliffs. This time, Arcantos realized that he had learned, and grown over the fortnight since he had last been to this mountain. Where once his limbs began to ache and strain, the bipedal dragon climbed easily and smoothly up the rockface. What once took him an hour to reach, took half the unit in order to ascend.At this point, the winds picked up once more, howling fiercely and surging to pluck Arcantos from the cliffs and send him plummeting to his doom once more. But Arcantos was ready, and had been preparing since he began climbing. Charged with energy, Arcantos drove his left claw into the rockface, ignoring the agony and pain that erupted as his scales were shredded and bones broken. Anchoring himself to the sheer cliffs and refusing to allow the winds to take him.After five minutes of agonizing waiting, the winds seemed to realize they were not getting anywhere, and died down... so much so, that Arcantos could not feel a single hint of breeze. Cautious, he waited another few minutes, ensuring that it was not a trick from the near-sentient wind in order to rip him soon as he started climbing once more... yet, there was nary and breeze and he started climbing once more.With one claw broken and shredded, the ascent was slow and agonizing. Yet now the top of the cliffs was in sight, now Arcantos could see it coming closer as he continued to climb upwards and onwards pushing past his pain. An hour after he drove his claw into the cliff, the bipedal dragon heaved himself up onto the top. Rolling onto the ground, panting to recover his breath.'Well done'. The sudden voice startled Arcantos, and he scrambled to his feet, seeing a dragon there having been waiting for him. The dragon was small, but muscular. Compact seemed to be the right word for him. His scales were a shining silver, and he examined Arcantos with a serious expression. But most noticeable of all, was how he had no right fore-leg at all 'You have learned that progress requires sacrifice to happen. You sacrificed your blades and your hand in order to talk to the Duke, who sacrificed his emotional satisfaction to set Valerem free... and now Valerem sacrifices his desire to return to his old life, in order to forge a new one along with his son.'"Who are you?" Arcantos wondered, half surprised to realize that he could actually speak within this dream world he was in. Though he soon noticed that there was a distinct difference between their voices. The bipedal dragon couldn't put his finger down on what exactly this difference was... but it was most noticeably there.'My name is Sindol. I am a blacksmith. A forger from the time of Genghis. The loss of my arm as punishment for working for an army that opposed him forced me to adapt and relearning the forging process, and in turn I learned an entire new way to forge. A method that was never passed on, as the shinobi of Genghis found and slew me for fear I create powerful weapons for their enemies.""And... you're going to be teaching me this?" Arcantos wondered, curious to hear about this story from Sindol... he had discovered an entirely new way to forge? A manner that no one else had ever learned...? No... more like one that was never made public... "Are you sure that it is wise to do so? Especially as others would question how I learned it."'You are not going to be taught anything.' Sindol replied, shaking his head in response to Arcantos' first question, with the second being ignored as the silver dragon went on to share. 'Instead, I am simply going to allow you to gain access to my memories whilst you are awake, as well as when you are asleep.' Well, that was curious to hear. 'From now on, when you return here. You shall start on top of the cliffs, but you have many lessons and trails left to go young one, and many of them dangerous. Be careful, and ensure that you continue to adapt and learn. Otherwise those more experienced than you shall end you before you can blink.' And it was with that grim warning, the world around Arcantos faded out. First the colours of this dreamscape became muted and gray, than the shapes of the world lost form, Sindol vanishing from view as the realm became naught but an empty gray space. A space, that Arcantos knew was infinite... and had power beyond anything he could ever imagine... and it was this thought that he carried with him whilst he woke* * * * * * *He knew... no, it was more like... he remembered... when Arcantos woke up, not only was his newest dream still stuck fresh in his head. But the mechanics and workings of Sindol's forging process was left at the forefront of his mind. There wasn't much to it, just the bare basics of how it worked, and Arcantos figured it was due to Sindol not having time to explore it before he was murdered. Yet what it told Arcantos, the information now inside of his head... it was revolutionary. "And we have a master blacksmith very willing to do as I ask of him to do." Arcantos murmured under his breath, thinking back to the previous days... the meeting between Kornarok, Valerem and Naremiren. How overjoyed they all were to meet one another again... how Naremiren wouldn't let her brother go, and refused to allow him to leave her sight for the night... how they managed to tease out how he had been freed... and Kornarok privately swearing to Arcantos to be in his service beyond Temeraire for freeing his old friend.That being said, this wasn't something Arcantos was going to keep secret from Temeraire... though he didn't see any reasons in delaying either. So, first things first... "Tep, wake up." Arcantos said, a little louder than normal, but he didn't think the stirring earth dragoness would mind as he carefully extracted himself from his cat, trying not to wake the snoozing ball of furr."Arc? Another dream?" Teprogia asked softly as she woke, fangs showing as she let out a loud yawn before rubbing her eyes, blinking as Arcantos slipped to the door. The bipedal dragon shoved it open, but paused at the doorway, turning and smiling as he friend as he answered he question."Not just another dream, but a breakthrough. Do you mind going to fetch Temeraire and meet me at Kornarok's Workshop?" Question's sprung up in Teprogia's eyes, but she silenced her tongue. Instead nodding and clambering out of bed herself. Not waiting for the dragoness, Arcantos hurried on ahead in order to catch Kornarok.During his short stay in Temeraire's place, Arc had learned that Kornarok got up at midday and went to sleep at midnight. Preferring to work after dark where things had quieted down, and he was less likely to disturb dragons with the loud noise of his workshop. Plus - as he admitted quietly - it meant he didn't have to deal with his hyperactive grandkids in the morning. A smile flickered on Arcantos' face as he recalled Valerem's stunned expression to hear he was a great-uncle... and how he reacted meeting his grand niece and nephews. Made Arc wonder how Val was going to react when he met his grandkid...Taking a roundabout route in order to intercept the green dragon's possible route, Arcantos was for his haste, as he nearly missed Kornarok turned round a corner. Quickly, Arc hurried after him, calling out to the dragon, though trying to keep his voice down so that he didn't wake another. "Kornarok! Wait up!" Luckily, it seemed he had heard, as when Arcantos turned to corner, Kornarok was waiting for him with a curious expression. "Arcantos? What are you doing up awake at this hour?""I need to use your forge for something, and I need your help to do it. Mind the delay on your sleep? I'll tell you what's going on as we work." Arcantos said, not wanting to explain things to Kornarok, and then having to repeat it again to everyone else once they turned up. Arcantos wanting to explain it to both Temeraire and Teprogia as well. "Best be not just wanting to forge your blades right now, I won't exactly be impressed if you were just struck with sword-longing." Kornarok warned, though Arcantos knew that the green dragon didn't mind too much, especially now when he was so curious, and moved passed Arc in order to head back to his forge. "Its a pity you didn't catch me earlier, I just put the forge out and getting it back up will take a while.""Actually I'm not going to need the forge, at least not in a traditional sense." Arcantos said with a shake of his head, ignoring the curious look that his comment earned. Instead, simply following after the green dragon as he continued talking. "In fact, any coal or fire crystals in the forge will have to be removed for what I have in mind. So I would like you to do that whilst I prepare my blades.""Okay, now you have my interest. You're intending to reforge your swords that much is clear, but you're not going to be doing it though fire? What, have you learned how to use your magnetism for forging?" The last bit was an obvious jest from Kornarok, especially as he rolled his eyes making it. However Arcantos simply casually shrugged his shoulders, replying simply."Something like that." This time, Arcantos had to hide his smile as he got a shocked look from Kornarok, deciding not to tease him too much, the bipedal dragon sooned followed up, saying. "Its more elemental energy than actual magnetism however, and I'm not entirely sure I'll be able to get it to work, hence why I need your help for the forging process." "I'll do my best Arcantos, but I'm not entirely sure what I'll be able to do, especially if you're not telling me the whole idea." Kornarok said as they reached his workshop. The green dragon clasping the heavy iron key he wore around his neck and slotted it into the lock. With a great clunk, he unlocked the heavy iron door and took his key out before heaving the door open, admitting Arcantos and himself through. "Sorry, its just that the entire thing is complicated, and I want to wait until Teprogia and Temeraire get here... and before you criticize me for waking them. Temeraire would be upset if I left him out of this, and Teprogia... is a dragoness." Arcantos said in reply as he went over to where the broken parts of his two hookswords were, gathering them up as Kornarok nodded his understanding. "Gotcha. Shouldn't be long." The blacksmith said as he carefully cleared out his forge, knowing that his choke was still hot even though the forger had been put out about ten minutes ago now. At the same time, he kept an eye on Arcantos, watching curiously as he doused the broken blades in oil, preparing them for elemental energy absorption... yet that was done afterwards a forging process, when the metal was still hot to allow them to properly absorb the oil. Still, he didn't have to long to wait..."So Arc, you have another dream of yours?" Temeraire questioned when he arrived only five minutes after Kornarok and Arcantos had gotten to the workshop, and yawn splitting out his muzzle as Teprogia slipped into the room as well, Arcantos nodded as Kornarok looked confused at this question."Yeah, another Quasi-dream... but this one's different from before." Arcantos said, as now a look of understanding came of the green dragon's face at Arcantos' words. "Its odd, but its like my connect to the aether plane where I get the memories from have strengthened significantly. Instead of every seven weeks like I used to get them, I get Quasi-dreams once every fortnight now, and they aren't different, they're repetitive... changing depending on how I act in the dreams.""Wait, you used to get Quasi-dreams one every seven weeks?" Kornarok broke in, shocked at this, and for good reason. "I've heard of dragons have very strong connections... I mean, Valerem has one every seven months, but I thought that was the strongest connection to the aether plane that was possible... anything more, and when you sleep, your connection to it will be so strong that it sucks you out of your body.""That's the thing, no one really knows for sure." Temeraire said, taking over the speaking so Arcantos could continue setting up, fishing out a crate of used up fire crystals. "Quasi-dreams as so hard to research, as the aether plane and dreams themselves are lacking so much in our understanding. But if I was to hazard a calculated guess. It makes sense that the tolerance for the connection, as well as the standard connection strength is something that changes per dragon to dragon. Like our individual resistances to the elements fluctuates, even though there is a general pattern amongst elements." "Right... like Val has a high affinity to darkness and a strong resistance to it, despite the fact that he's pure blooded fire, and those two elements don't normally get along." Kornarok said with a nod, catching on to what Temeraire was talking about. "But our resistances can change over time in response to our surroundings. Are you suggesting that our connection to the Aether plane can strengthen or wane?" "Don't see why not. Aether is an element just like the rest. Just because we don't understand it as well as the others, doesn't mean it hasn't been categorized without an element." Temeraire pointed out, forcing the emerald dragon to concede to the point with a nod. Satisfied that conversation was complete, the eastern dragon turned to his apprentice who was busy putting the drained crystals into the furnace. "So Arc. You were saying that the dreams have become repetitive?" "Yeah, I'm put at the base of a mountain, with someone... or something waiting for me at the top. I couldn't get past the cliffs as the wind kept ripping me off bout halfway up... but well, after I broke my claw slamming it into the rockface I got to the top. Where I encountered a smith. Sindol, silver earth dragon. Lost his arm for making weapons against Ghengis, but came up with a method of smithing still... one that got him killed for its potency.""And he told you what this smithing technique was?" Was the follow up question as Arcantos stood back from the forge, turning round to address the three curious dragons properly as he shook his head."No, not told... its more like I remembered it... that I had known it all along, and he just jolted my memories." Being that this was very strange and almost disturbing, Arcantos didn't let everyone dwell on it, and moved smoothly one. "Basically, instead of infusing elemental energy into a weapon at the end, he used elemental energy to straight out melt and hammer the metal into shape before doing the normal water dosing. I don't really have the smithing experience to do the same, but I think I can use the elemental energy to melt my blades, which would make them completely saturated in my energy." "Wouldn't the hammer and water dilute the elemental energy? Wouldn't it be best to douse it in elemental energy as well?" Kornarok questioned, even as the blacksmith stepped in, gathering the remains of Arcantos' hook swords in preparation for the forging process. The question got a shake of the head from Arc, as he explained."Using the elemental energy for both the melting and dousing will create a sharp dissonance and a following detonation. Whilst the hammer and water will dilute the elemental energy, the metal will absorb a lot more elemental energy than usual, especially if oiled before hand. So much so, that its actually possible for the weapons to take on the signature of the smelter... or the provider of the elemental energy that is." "And if an item has the same signature as its user, that its catalytic properties for them with be increased tenfold... if this process works the way you say it does, no wonder this Sindol dragon was slain, it's incredibly powerful." Even as he spoke, Kornarok dragged out a large barrel from underneath his desk, opening up to reveal a shimmering silver liquid. The oil that Arcantos spoke of which the broken swords were plunged into."Which means we have to be incredibly careful with this. If our enemy gains access to it, their resources will allow them to produce weapons on a much larger scale, which not only will accelerate the state of the world to war, but the damage caused won't just be to us, but the world itself." Arcantos said solemnly, dousing the excitement just as his blades were doused in oil."You have a good point there... we should make these as proof of concept, but afterwards it might be best to tightly regulate who will be able to get their hands on such items. Likely with a hard limit on the amount of times that should be made... seven is always a good number to have." Temeraire said, speaking with all of his authority as a noble and Captain of the Z?w?xiàn Vexillatio, a proclamation that got no arguments from anyone else in the workshop."We are treading very dangerous territory after all... not just because this power can be abused in the wrong hands... but the temptation the power offers to everyone involved... as well as the moral questions it brings up." Arcantos summarized, even though this didn't stop him from focusing his energy into the empty crystals in order to get the working once more. "Who has the right to decide who gets such power and who doesn't? Who even has the right to such power in the first place? Who's at fault if the wielder loses control of their power and causes more harm than good." "I'll leave that to you smart dragons to argue about." Kornarok said, shaking his head with a small huff of annoyance, waiting for the forge to get to the right heat for the meta to melt. "I'm just a blacksmith whose good with his hands. All this high-minded discussion passes right over my head.""Actually, its important that dragons like us take part in these discussions, despite not being able to follow all of the concepts." Teprogia spoke now, even as the crystals light up, a faint translucent wave rising up from the crystals, and it was this that showed Kornarok it was time to add the swords to the forge. "Admittedly, I understand them more than most, but simple dragons like use not only are a valuable voice representing the mentality of the general public, but we help keep them grounded in reality and sensibility." "Trust me, without Teprogia around, the mag-rail would've taken another several years to develop." Arcantos said, his brow furrowed in concentration as he focused on keep the crystals alight and emitting the powerful heat that was turning the blades red. "I got the idea from a Quasi-Dream, and Temeraire had the experience in order to properly flesh it out. But it was Teprogia that could deduce what was too impractical and pointed out many of the flaws of the system that we had to iron out. Though we didn't get all of them of course." "Even if I wasn't needed at the ball at all." The earth dragoness said with an angry huff, startling Arcantos by the venom in her voice, though Temeraire just smiled to himself at it. "I made a good impression with Zayin sure, but the Duke didn't even bring Lady Sayath into the discussion about whenever or not he should commit or not... so it was just a load of wasted time!""Actually, all the Duke did was agree to let Val go. Any further commitment to support us and our secret war for peace wasn't confirmed." Arcantos said, turning his head to face Teprogia as best he could, even whilst focusing intently on making sure the forge stayed up and hot. "You didn't waste your time Tep, you relationship with Zayin is important... and even if it wasn't, have you really wasted time making a dragoness friend you can write to?""It still feels like I wasted my time!" Teprogia snapped angrily, only to jerk in surprise when Temeraire gently placed his wing over her back, rubbing her back gently the eastern dragon said calmly. "Easy there little miss magma. Why don't you step outside for a few moments and calm down? Arcantos is rather busy at the moment, and he can't probably talk with you until he's finished. So why don't you calm now, and then Arc address your problems?" The earth dragoness looked up at Temeraire for a few moments of silence, before huffing and whirling round. The noble wincing slightly as her tail whacked against his legs as Teprogia stormed out... but shut the door quietly behind her."Good thing about getting up in the middle of the night, your emotions are lot rawer than usual so you're more likely to speak your mind." Temeraire said cheerfully as he turned to face the stunned Arcantos. "I wouldn't worry about Teprogia too much Arc, she's feeling a bit overshadowed by Ace currently. A little talk should hopefully solve that issue."That got Arc pursuing his muzzle, thinking over what his old friend just said before slowly saying. "Teprogia has been rather quiet recently during the planning sessions... and she's been uninvolved in quite a few as well..." Shaking his head, Arcantos sighed, saying. "I'm an idiot, no wonder she's angry at me... I shouldn't of even been excluding her in the first place." The eastern dragon just hid his smile once more as Arcantos turned to the forge, determined to get this done as soon as possible so he could talk to Teprogia.Of course, merging the snapped halves of two swords back together was hardly a swift and easy process at the best of times. Add in the complications of Arcantos having to fuel the heat being used to melt them, and it took several hours of smelting, forging and quenching before the process was complete. By this time, Temeraire had left the two for their work, taking Teprogia with him to get some more sleep, though tell the two that once the swords were done, they should be woken up for testing. Neither Arcantos nor Kornarok were in any shape to wake the others right after they were done however, nor were they in a hurry. Collapsing in the coolest place of Korn's workshop, for quite a while they stayed silent, simply cooling down with big mugs of water. Eventually however, Arcantos sat up a bit straighter, turning to the now black and green dragon."Do you think we'll be able to convince Kelaren to work with us?" The sudden question was surprisingly for the blacksmith, almost as much as the unfiltered anxiousness and worry that was voiced with the question, and Kornarok realized that the hard work and early rise had made Arcantos more emotional than usual... similar to why Teprogia had her outburst earlier."To work with you directly... no, I don't." Kornarok said honestly, knowing that Arcantos needed an honest answer currently. Seeing how crestfallen that made the young dragon however, he hurriedly added. "But that doesn't mean your idea is bad. You're just planning a bit too big to start with. Its an easy mistake for younglings to make, but you need to take things in steps. If you and Valerem try to make a truce between Death In The Night and the Duke of Kuvine, you should be able to convince Kelaren to agree.""A truce? All that will do is ensure that Death In The Night won't attack Kuvine's territories, which is useless because their real interest is Aron'olia and if a war starts they won't need to attack Kuvine at all, as the easterns will do it for them." Arcantos said with a snort and a shake of his head, only for Kornarok to sigh at this reply, prompting."Look at the big picture." Whilst Arcantos frowned uncomprehendingly, Kornarok resisted the urge to roll his eyes as he explained. "The truce is the first important step. Kuvine and the Duke are the ones who imprisoned Valerem for so long. If Death In The Night is willing to make a truce, then it shows just how willing they are to put past grievances behind them. Once a truce is in place, then the relationship can be built on, going out of our way to help and trade with them, big and small... until one day, they're our allies, without even having to ask for them to be.""That's.... I didn't think of that..." The bipedal dragon said, slowly realizing that Kornarok was completely and utterly right... that they needed to take it slow and steady, shaking his head with a ruful grin, Arcantos said. "See what I mean? We need dragons like you to keep us high-minded dragons grounded in reality." "Thank you... in fact, why don't you bring up the issue with your girlfriend?" Kornarok suggested, not noticing how Arcantos blanched and blush at Kornarok's casual 'girlfriend' drop. "If she is as grounded as you say, then she should be able to come up with something similar, and that will really help her regain her confidence.""Thanks." Arcantos mumbled, not really looking at the green dragon as he spoke now. "I'll be sure to do that. For the record however, she's not my girlfriend." As he had suspected, that got a startled look from the blacksmith."Really? You aren't in a relationship?" Kornarok said, blinking at Arcantos in complete astonishment. "Seriously? I mean, I have absolutely nothing wrong with males and females being tight friends, I was a good friend with Kelaren, yet I never had any interest in her beyond that. But you and Teprogia... if you two weren't so disciplined, I honestly would of been expecting you two to be staying up rather late at night, what with your room sharing and all that..." Now THAT got Arcantos blushing bright red and unable to say anything at all as he shifted uncomfortably in place. Kornarok examined him for a few moments longer, before shrugging his shoulders. "Well, if you two prefer being friends, that's your choice." Then, thankfully he changed the subject after a swig of water. "Tracking back a bit however, Kelaren isn't actually going to be the toughest issue in your attempt to make a truce with Death In The Night. Though this is no fault of your own as you probably don't know them.""What are you talking about?" Arcantos asked, though not quite being willing to turn and look at the blacksmith quite yet, still recovering his composure from the sudden shift of conversation. Still, Arc's question was enough for Kornarok to sight, saying softly."You main problem will be Kelera and Vosker... they are Kelaren's younger children... whilst Valaronex has rejected Blood for Blood, and made a peaceful life for himself, Kelaren's other children follow their mother and agree with their views... Voskalar raised them both alongside her, and is Vosker's father.""And who is Kelera's father?" Was the obvious follow up question, but Arcantos had an inkling as to who it possible could be... and from the heavy sigh from Kornarok, it was confirmed almost before he began speaking."Valerem. He lay with Kelaren before he left on his quest, on the start of heat season... and his seed took route... I doubt Valerem even knows that's she is alive... and I couldn't bring myself to tell him... as it would break his heart.""Because they don't love him, do they?""Kelera hates him." Kornarok said softly, almost as if the gentleness in which he spoke would lessen the impact of his words... but he and Arcantos knew it wouldn't. "She hates him for abandoning Kelaren, for impregnating her and then leaving her to raise their daughter alone. For abandoning Valaronex and leaving him to bear the weight of his father's sins... and the hate could utterly destroy Valerem." "He can't go in there unprepared then..." Arcantos said, knowing it was true, even as he knew it would hurt Valerem immensely... the other thing that would hurt him more, is if Valaronex reject him rejected him, refused him a second chance and allow him to make up for his mistakes... "Valar should be the one to tell him." Arc said finally, something that got a solemn nod from Kornarok before the blacksmith spoke again."Vosker won't hate Valerem, but he's only seen dragons pained by his actions, so he doesn't have a positive view of him either. Not only that however, but he's a very aggressive young dragon. He's impulsive, reckless and raring for a fight. He won't be willing to make a truce with anyone, let alone the Duke of Kuvine. Combine that, and with the fact they're the main two advisors of Kelaren, and we will be having a difficult time ahead.""What about Voskalar?" Arcantos questioned, having noticed there was a rather pressing lack of a certain important dragon... come to think of it, Valar hadn't really talked much about the bronze dragon... and with how Kornarok sighed, there was good reason for that."He joined the Meridian Battalion." That got Arcantos to wince, as nothing more needed to be said... not only that, but it meant they couldn't reveal Temerarie's secret so easily, as it meant they likely would have resentment towards him for surviving... in the end, it was Arcantos who sighed himself, muttering."This conversation has not gone the way I had been hoping." Before finishing his water in a few rapid gulps and standing up, though as he did so, a thought came to him and he said. "You know... whilst Valerem has a lot of pain to come... he had great happiness as well. Not only will he be able to see Valar, to see his son fly. But he'll be able to meet Aeleren and Aelenaren. Valaerem has survived fifty years of isolation, clinging to the memories of his loved ones, and the hope that his son would make a great life for himself, that he would one day fly... the hatred of a daughter he never knew... I know for sure he will be able to survive it, as he now can make it right." "I do believe you are right." Kornarok said, a smile on his lips at Arcantos' optimization, the green dragon finishing his own water before clambering up onto his feet. "That's a nice note to leave things on as well. Lets go and fetch Temeraire and Teprogia, and see what these blades of yours can do!"