I've learned a lot about dragons in the last twenty-four hours. Perhaps more than I ever cared to know. Oh, Barrel, Evan knows more about you than you know about you.
We'll start with the important info: there's no sign of Libby. In his time off Evan enjoys wandering the five hundred-ish square miles worth of cloudy land that makes up Above The Sky, and he's seen no signs of human inhabitation beyond the wild dude who runs around and acts all nude. Evan is a seasoned tracker, and he knows when people are about. He also knows where Micro-Dragons tend to roost in the clouds, and three visits to high cliffs where he knows they live yielded no fruit.
These visits took us most of the day. In the meantime, Evan practically pelted our party with information on dragons. He smothered us.
Dragons, known scientifically as scalus hugus and breathus badus, comprise one of the most long-lived species on our fair planet. They existed before the rise of the groundling races, and though they live simply dragons are well known for their evolved brains and mystical abilities. They are big, they are smart, and they stay out of the affairs of those who live below.
Dragons live in large packs known as aeries. Each aerie is led by an alpha male and an omega female. The alpha male makes any decisions pertaining to war, hunting, and overall aggression; the omega female... well, she deals with everything else. Social interactions, aerie-to-aerie relations, even trade and economic policy. (Yes, dragons use money.) These positions are not inherited, nor must the alpha and the omega be romantic partners, but linked dragons tend to take on those roles anyway- and so do one of their children. Something about pack leaders having a better chance because they're raised with more privileges than the average dragon, and thus grow up stronger, smarter, and more capable.
Or something. Science.
Despite my experience with dragons... or dragons in the singular... I held back on peppering Evan with my own stories. The guy's nice enough, but he's an employee of the Imperium. Funded and accredited and housed and everything. Therefore, he's kind of an enemy. A potential enemy at the very least. Even if he helps us track down Libby, I want him to know as little about us as possible.
Which means I probably shouldn't have told him our real names. Doi.
We're back in Evan's home at the moment. It's a spacious, three-floor cabin with modern amenities and inventive gizmos that make up for some things that Above The Sky lacks. Apple trees stubbornly refuse to grow up here, for example, and Evan loves apples. So he's whipped up a contained growth dome for a small apple tree that receives greater amounts of oxygen than usual, uses soil from the surface world, and heats and cools much like the air would down on the planet. Seems decades ahead of its time, but, hell, so does the Dauphine. Some people are just plain clever.
In exchange for his help in tracking down Libby, Evan insists we accompany him to the nesting grounds of the dragons for their 'Contest' tomorrow. He's still willing to help us look, but there are, uh... opening ceremonies... which he refuses to miss. He further refuses to allow us to miss 'em, even though most of our party is not that interested in dragons.
Shrug. Who knows. If these things are so smart, maybe they've already found Libby. Maybe she's their guest. At the very least, maybe the 'greenback' and the 'purplehorn' can prove their worth by scouting from the air for us. Anything's possible.
Ah. Dragons. I'm not that interested, despite the inherent coolness of big scaly creatures, but all the crap Evan discusses... it sure makes me miss Barrel. I guess he's hanging out on a similar cloud somewhere...? I miss ya, buddy.
Too many people take off on me. It's just not right.
Dragomir the Wanderer