Author : Hannah F.

The man of Saiyen was small and nervous-looking, not nearly as mystical as I expected, wandering into these ancient strongholds; like a Peasant or maybe a half-blood Noble boy, the kind that spent the days with their faces in paper.

“Is that a crossbow? Fascinating,” he said hurriedly. This was a panic reaction; I let him go, knowing sooner or later he’d run out of chatter and shut his teeth. “Obviously the surveillance devices haven’t been working but we’d theorized that the environment lacked enough stability for your society to develop even this kind of basic automation in your projectile weapons…” He was sweating and I had to chew my tongue to avoid a grin. I’d only caught about half of that ‘cos of his accent, but I understood the important part. He didn’t know what I wanted, so he’d started to babble, hoping I’d latch onto some topic and get the bolt out of his face more quickly.

I took a careful step back and laid the weapon down, still drawn and dangerous. The Saiyentist looked at it blankly. He knew what it was and what it was for, could wager what it’d feel like if I used it, but didn’t seem eager to try wresting it from me.

Eyes on him I unlaced the hard-hide pouch at my belt and lifted the cloth-wrapped vial from it. The glass tube and its case were from my uncle, a gift after my Modding. He’d dug it from the ruins of a building like this one, an eerily smooth white shell he’d never been able to find again.

“I want more of this,” I said, and folded back the soft, thick wool, cupping the thing in my hand in case the small man tried to snatch it, or dash it to the floor. The crossbow, though, cautioned him and he merely regarded the light-blue liquid with wide eyes.

“Where did you get that?” he began, but changed his mind when he saw the look in my eyes. “Do you know what it is?”

“I’ve been told it’s a poison, but only to certain natures. Won’t slay a man, but it’ll break down a dragon to its elements in under an arc.”

“It’s an emergency denaturing solution. It works by breaking down the chemicals in the cells and-” I was curious as a kitten but I must’ve looked impatient. “The important thing is, it works the way you say it does. Which is why we’ve kept it here in Obbsreg. But if you brought back a significant amount- even if we had a significant amount- it would interfere with the Ancestral Plan. As much as I’d like to help you I’m as bound by my forebears as you are.” He frowned. “You shouldn’t even be here, of course…”

“Wait.” If I had understood what he just said, I was about to be very, very angry. “You mean your ancestors are responsible for keeping the drake-poison from my people?” I tied off the laces of my pouch and retrieved my crossbow. “And you just… what? Study us?”

The Saiyentist frowned at that, in spite of the terror that’d returned to his face. After a moment puzzling my assumption out, he began to laugh. I could do nothing but stare as he worked out his panic in a giggle-fit, wiping tears from eyes that were still wide ‘cos of the proximity of my crossbow to his gut.

“Who said anything about my ancestors being responsible for this?”

I was going to have one hell of a tale, whenever I got home. “Tell me everything.”