A/N: Literally everything in this story is mine. There are some Twilight characters, but not many.
Posted: August 19th, 2016
"Cocoa?" Icar asked, picking up a tray of large cups and taking a pot off the fire they didn't notice burning in the back of the cave.
"Sure, why not?" Kate grumbled, "I've always wanted to sit and have cocoa with a dragon…"
Icar placed the tray on a low table near the cluster of chairs. He set several dark sticks in each mug before ladling out some hot water from the pot into the cups. The sticks melted and the water started to turn a dark brown when he pulled out another container and spooned out a dollop of white cream on top of the cocoa. "Drink drink," the dragon said, pulling out a much large mug, about twice the size of the other cups and prepared it in the same way. Bella happily picked up one of the mugs and stirred it using one of the provided mugs. Taking a tentative sip, the brunette hummed before picking up a few more sticks from the pile on the tray, one a brunt sienna color the other a light ash brown, placing them both in her cup and watching them melt with the cream.
The three blondes watched the ritual in fascination before looking at their own cups. "This is edible right?" Irina asked as Tanya picked hers up and took a sip.
"Wow, this is really good," the strawberry blonde said, taking larger sips but still careful about not burning her mouth. "I guess how to make good cocoa is one of the secrets of Drar."
Kate rolled her eyes and proceeded to drink her own cocoa, "Shut up Tanya."
"What are these stick things?" Tanya asked, ignoring her sister. "I've never seen them before."
"They're made in Drar," Bella explained, happily drinking her chocolate. "Drar processes the cocoa, cinnamon, sugar and a lot of other spices because of the cool temperatures. But while they sell them as powdered forms in the rest of Eleguard, in Drar the mould them into sticks." She picked up one of the reddish brown sticks and places it in Tanya's mug. "It's cinnamon, tastes really good."
Irina picked up one of the light brown sticks and looked at it curiously. "Brown sugar," Icar commented, seeing her confusion.
"Why sticks?" She asked the dragon, wondering how in Yore she was sitting in a cave on a nicely stuffed chair talking to a dragon.
"Multiple reasons," the dragon shrugged, calmly sipping at his cocoa. "The winds get pretty strong to so people got tired of their cocoa flying away, plus dragons, not nice."
"You're a dragon," Kate pointed out, placing another stick of cocoa in her drink, along with two sticks of brown sugar.
"I'm a frost dragon," Icar scoffed, "Don't confuse me with those uncultured ice dragons that live further up in the mountains."
"Ice dragons are bigger," Bella whispered, "He gets jealous." Icar reached over and knocked the brunette on the head.
"He was just gigantic, filling this entire room," Irina protested as she drank her own cocoa.
"An illusion," Icar replied, making another drink for himself. "We frost dragons are good at illusions and other similar magicks, and a lot more agreeable than ice dragons."
Kate hummed into her cup, enjoying the sweet chocolate flavor before a memory crossed her mind. "Wait, Icar is your friend, that means he's the one you deliver something to his cousin in Durr, which further means that his cousin is also a dragon."
"Who, Fira?" The dragon asked, letting out a chuckle, sparks of flame and smoke escaping his mouth. "I'll let that be a surprise."
"Some surprise, already read the end of the book," Kate grumbled, finishing her drink. "Not that I don't find the conversation enchanting, but how long are we going to stay in Drar?" It was clear in Kate's tone that she was thinking about the discomfort of the weather, seeing as the average temperature in Drar during the day was still below freezing.
"Day after tomorrow is when I'm leaving for Lochlorn, which as you know is only a day's walk down the normal trade route," Bella stated. "I've got to gather some materials and things tomorrow, but I can do that by myself if you guys want to head out."
"I'm staying with you, so I'm going to be helping you," Tanya said, gazing dreamily at the brunette.
"It's okay Tanya, you don't have to stay with me if you want to go with your sisters," Bella said, brown eyes peering into blue.
"No, I want to," the strawberry blonde pressed, reaching over and squeezing one of Bella's hands.
Kate and Irina made gagging noises while Icar looked on in amusement. "Dear Bella has always been a tad bit oblivious when someone is smitten with them. She tends to enchant people wherever she goes, usually hopeless idiots, but your sister seems promising." Icar sighed, "Bella's head is just so full of different things, potions, ideas, new things to try, that her mind tends to gloss over things around her. She'll catch on soon, either her mind will slow down or Tanya's persistence will catch up with her."
"You say adorable, I say both amusing and irritating," Kate grumbled, snapping her fingers. "Hey, guys, Irina and I will probably head out tomorrow if we can get some information on good bounties and quests in the tavern tonight."
"The tavern has good cocoa," Icar commented as Bella and Tanya looked over at them.
"Not gonna be what I'm drinking," the platinum blonde smirked, taking a large gulp of her drink.
Bella stood up and stretched before walking to another side of the cavern and pressed a rock, opening a hidden tunnel. "I'm going to spend the afternoon in the hot springs," she announced, striping off her clothes as she disappeared through the tunnel, giving Tanya a tantalizing view of her bare back before vanishing. "You guys can do whatever you want for the rest of the day," her voice called back, echoing slightly.
"What does she mean hot springs?" Tanya stuttered out, her mind wanting to follow the brunette while her body was frozen to her chair.
"Hot springs, only the best kept secret in Drar," Icar chuckled. "Just head down that passage way and you'll see what I mean." The strawberry blonde bolted across the room and into the passage, tripping slightly in her haste. She paused partway through the tunnel, her actions catching up with her mind.
"What are you doing?" She hissed out at herself in chastisement, "You're acting just like those oaf knights and warriors that stare and leer at you." She continued to berate herself for a few moments, willing her body to calm down but unable to stop its progression forward. The tunnel around her decreased as it turned into a type of funnel as she continued, pressing through the last bit to enter a larger cavern. It was smaller than Icar's cave but the room was more developed with carved stone and wooden walls erected on the stone floor. Tanya followed the wooden tunnel around to a changing room, gulping when she spots Bella's clothes in one of the baskets.
Steam filled the air as Tanya moved further through the room and came to a large pool of steaming water. "Getting in with clothes on reduces the pleasure obtained by the hot water," Bella's voice commented and Tanya located the girl. The heated air flooded out of her lungs as she took in long brunette hair piled on top of the other girl's head. She followed the line of her neck down to the light dotting of freckles on Bella's collarbone and then down to the smooth skin of the tops of her breasts before the rest of her body was obscured by the steaming water. "Tanya?"
"I wasn't staring," she prattled out, a confused look on her face. She took in the amused look on Bella's face, "What?"
"Clothes Tanya, I don't know how rogues do it, but us normal people like to soak in hot springs without our clothes. Saves time on having to wait for them to dry," Bella repeated, wondering slightly at the glazed look on Tanya's face. The brunette became concerned when the strawberry blonde continued to stand there unmoving. Bella turned around and took the steps out of the water and heard Tanya release a strangled gasp. She turned towards her friend again as she wrapped her bath cloth around herself and moved to the rogue, taking in her glazed and vacant expression. "Tanya, Tanya?" She patted the girl on the cheek a few times, nothing registering for the taller girl.
Bella led her back to the changing area and quickly pealed off the rogue's clothes, blushing as her fingers lightly brushed over soft skin and her eyes took in rock hard muscles. "Should've listened to Heidi more when she talked about this stuff," the brunette murmured, averting her eyes from the form in front of her. She grabbed another cloth for Tanya and led her back to the water, stripping hers off as they stepped in the pool.
Tanya slowly came to awareness as the warmth seeped into her skin and she let out a relaxed sigh, propping her elbows back on the ledge behind her. "Oh that feels nice," she sighed, allowing her mind to wander.
"Glad you're back with me," Bella smiled, smirking slightly when Tanya jerked away.
"What? Oh, oh right, did I do anything weird?"
Bella shrugged, "You were just staring at the wall and I slapped your face a few times, but still nothing so I undressed you and pulled you in here with me."
"You undressed me?" Tanya squeaked out, willing herself to calm down.
"I told you, it's hard to appreciate the full quality of the water with clothes on."
Tanya's mind wasn't quite sure what to do with that information so she ignored it in favor of focusing on the water… just the water… not the insanely attractive and very naked shopkeeper next to her… It wasn't working. She blinked, trying to clear her mind and looked away to regain her composure. "So how long have you known about these hot springs?" Tanya asked, her eyes still gazing around the room.
"I've known Icar for years, he was friends with my Dad, and since the hot springs are in his cave, I guess I've always known," Bella replied, sinking down into the water.
"And this is completely hidden from visitors to Drar?"
Bella looked at Tanya strangely, "Who in their right mind would visit a dragon's cave?"
Tanya gave the brunette a disbelieving look and was about to respond when Kate's voice interrupted them. "Shit, there really is a hot spring." The blonde gaped at the steaming spring and wiggled her eyebrows at her older sister when she spotted the naked women. "Enjoying the view sis?"
"Shut up Kate," Tanya growled.
"I would, but I just love the sound of my own voice, now move over, I'm coming in," Kate retorted, stripping off her clothes.
"Kate, no, there's a big pool-" Tanya was cut off by the tidal wave her sister made when she jumped in the hot spring, nearly landing on top of the older girl. Tanya blinked her eyes open under the water and glared at her grinning sister through the bubbles made by the splash. The older girl rolled her eyes when Kate stuck her tongue out her, and made her way back to the surface.
When Tanya surfaced, she spotted Irina leaning against the edge of the hot springs talking with Bella. Sometime after Kate jumped in the water, her middle sister had stripped and stepped down in the water. Tanya let out a growl at seeing her sister so close to Bella, sinking back down into the water so that her eyes were barely over the surface of the water. Irina heard her sister's growl and glanced over at her, winking at her in amusement.
Bella glanced over at Tanya when she heard Irina chuckling and saw the strawberry blonde glowering at her sister, steam rising from her head. "What's wrong with Tanya?" The brunette asked.
"Nothing, just some… personal thoughts she's dealing with," the dirty blonde commented. Definitely personal thoughts, probably revolving between ripping Irina's eyes out of her head and pressing the oblivious shopkeeper against the wall. Irina snickered again, causing the water in front of Tanya's face to bubble slightly as she no doubt growled again. She was about to pounce on her sister when Kate jumped on her again, submerging the both of them.
"Well, all right, I've got to talk with Icar a bit more, but I'll catch up with you guys at the tavern later," Bella said, stepping out of the water and back to the changing room.
Tanya surfaced again, noticing that Bella had left and caught a glimpse of her wrapping a cloth around her body and toweling out her wet hair. "Where's she going?"
"She's going back to talk with Icar. We'll meet up with her later and the tavern."
The strawberry blonde made to follow after the brunette when Kate grabbed her. "Oh no you don't Tanya, you don't have to follow her every where, and besides, this gives us the opportunity to discuss your intentions on this little trip."
"What do you mean my intentions?" Tanya narrowed her eyes at her sisters.
"Towards the delightfully oblivious shopkeeper of course," Kate stated. "Now are you going to wine and dine her or are you going to go in for the kill and have a quickie in her super amazing tent?"
Bella heard a loud splash followed by shrieking and gurgling and poked her head back into the hot springs' chamber. She glanced over at Irina curiously when she saw Tanya actively trying to drown Kate as she held her head underwater, while flailing limbs attempted to dislodge her. Irina waved her off when she shot her a questioning look and Bella shrugged before heading back to Icar's main room.
"Icar," she hissed out when she saw that the dragon was gone. Knowing that the dragon was around and would hear her, Bella started looking through the different side rooms for him.
"Over here," Icar called, his tail poking slightly out of one doorway and Bella followed it into another room. "I thought you were enjoying the hot springs with your new friends?"
"I wanted to show you something," Bella said. She had grabbed her bag on the way out of the main room and now started to rifle through it.
Icar watched in amusement for a while as Bella nearly disappeared a few times in the bag trying to sort through everything she kept in it. "You know, that strawberry blonde rough, Tanya? She has it bad."
"Has what bad?" Bella asked, her voice muffled by the bag.
"Sometimes your obliviousness is frustrating at times," Icar sighed, lounging slightly on his pile of rocks.
"Heidi has mentioned something similar, ahahaha," Bella cried, emerging from her bag holding her two ice daggers. "Take a gander at these."
Icar lifted up his head and peered closely at the daggers in Bella's hands. "What do we have here?" He murmured, taking on in a clawed hand to examine more closely. "Is this ice?"
"Yeah look," she said. She pulled a carrot out of her bag and stabbed it with the dagger and Icar watched in astonishment as the carrot turned to solid ice.
"Extraordinary, where did you find these?"
"I made them, using some old silver daggers I had and this new potion I was working on." Bella bounced a little as she spoke. "I carved some ruins in the blade to alter the appearance and efficiency, but aren't they amazing!"
"They are indeed, I've never seen an elemental weapon imbued with powers that way before. Usually mages or enchanters use a spell to provide weapons power for a short amount of time, but you manage to change the weapon itself, make it permanent." Icar handed the dagger back to his young friend, "You father would be proud of you."
"I hope so," Bella murmured, stowing the daggers away. "But that's not the only thing, when I was making the potion, I accidentally knocked an ice dragon scale into it, which is how it got the power of ice, but… that was my last scale…"
Icar looked at the pleading face of the brunette in front of him. "No," he said, realizing what she wanted.
"Oh come on Icar, I need more scales," Bella huffed. "Please give me the map."
"I'm going to go up that mountain with or without your aid tomorrow so you might as well give me the map to help me," the brunette bit back, crossing her arms.
"Definitely just like your father," Icar muttered. He flicked open a chest in the corner of the room with his tail, fishing out a small roll of parchment before shutting it. "This is the map to the ice dragons' cave, don't say I didn't warn you though. If you end up at a Bella-cicle there's not going to be anything I can do for you."
Bella brushed off his concern, "I'll be fine, I managed to avoid getting turned into an ice sculpture by the condor."
"Yes, I heard you woke that thing up. What did you turn him into, I could hear his protests all the way up here."
"A frog," Bella shrugged, "I'm still not sure exactly what that potion does to be honest."
Icar rolled his eyes and huffed, "Of course you don't, was there anything else you needed or can I go back to sleep?" Bella sheepishly held up a collection bag and the dragon huffed out again. "In the corner." The brunette gleefully skipped to the corner of the room and started picking through the small pile of claws, teeth and fur.
Bella packed the collection bag in her sack and turned to thank her friend only to find the dragon snoring, sprawled out on his back. She giggled slightly at the drool falling slightly from his mouth and slipped out of the cave and headed back to town.
She stopped in a few of the shops around Drar, picking up some supplies for her journey and her quest up the mountain the next day. The sun was descending in the sky by the time she made her way to the tavern just off the main road.
"Bella!" The tavern keeper, an older blonde woman named Ingrid walked up to her. She enveloped the brunette in a hug, squashing the younger woman into her voluptuous bosom. "Were you the one that brought those rogues?" The older woman whispered into a reddening ear before releasing the girl.
Bella gasped, taking in a great lungful of air as she was released. "Rogues?" She questioned when her lungs recovered, "Oh, you mean Tanya, Irina and Kate? Yes, why?"
"Other than the fact that they're gorgeous? They're great for business," Ingrid chuckled, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and pointing with her free hand to the far corner. Bella saw Tanya sitting with her head in her hands, while Irina and Kate were sitting with some of the more burly patrons downing mug after mug of ale.
"Are they… are they having a drinking contest?" Bella asked Ingrid, looking at the two blondes in amazement.
"They are, like I said, great for business." Ingrid chuckled, "The three of them sauntered in, asking for a few rooms, I have yours ready for you by the way. Anyway, the strawberry blonde settled in for dinner while the other two wanted drink. The one with the pale blonde hair immediately started talking with Boris and a drinking contest started. She and the dirty blonde are actually giving he and Havel a challenge."
"And the other competitors?" Bella asked, noticing a few other men and women drinking along with Kate, Irina, Boris and Havel.
"They got pulled in from the excitement," Ingrid chuckled. "You want me to bring you some food? I've got some nice yak meat and cheese, and some mead stashed away just for you."
Bella clapped her hands gleefully, "Thanks Ingrid, yak cheese is one of my favorites and Drar is the only place you can really find it."
"That's because we're the only ones that really appreciate it," the older woman replied. "Now go sit down hun, I'll bring your food out to you."
The brunette made her way over to where Tanya was sitting. The rogue had progressed from holding her head to banging it on the table out of frustration. "You okay?" Bella asked, sitting down next to the strawberry blonde.
Tanya's head popped up off the table, a slice of cheese stuck to her forehead. She brushed the cheese off, glancing over at her sisters when she heard a riotous cheer come from their table. "I've been better," she groaned, propping her elbow on the table. "Kate and Irina are annoying when they drink."
"Ingrid loves them," Bella commented, turning to look at the boisterous group. "She's selling a lot of ale because of them."
The rogue snorted, "I'm not surprised, they always get like this when someone challenges their prowess in drinking. They're both children really."
Ingrid approached Bella and placed a steaming plate in front of her with a piece of bread with a slab of meat with melted cheese on top of it and a mug of mead. Bella squealed and dug into her meal, moaning as the flavor of the cheese hit her tongue.
"How can you eat that?" Tanya asked, scrunching her nose. "It smells terrible."
"It's delicious," Bella groaned, downing some of the mead. "Some people just don't appreciate how good yak cheese is."
Tanya took another swig out of her mug of ale and watched in morbid fascination as the brunette devoured the meat and cheese mixture. Bella looked down at the plate mournfully as she finished off the rest of the food when Ingrid set another plate of food down in front of her. "Bella here has always been easy to please," Ingrid chuckled when she spotted the disgust on Tanya's face. "Can I get you some more ale?"
"I'm going to need it," Tanya answered, finishing the last of her mug and handing it to the woman.
The woman returned quickly with another mug for Tanya and Bella finished off her food, patting her stomach with a sigh. "So good," she let out a big sigh and downed the rest of her mead. "I think I'm going to head for bed, I've got a long day tomorrow."
"What are you going to be doing?" The alcohol in the ale started to fuzz her mind slightly, enough to relax her but not enough to make her tipsy. She hadn't consumed near the amount that her sisters have.
"Oh, uh, well, you know, collecting things," Bella said, trying to brush away the conversation.
Tanya looked at Bella curiously and opened her mouth to question the shopkeeper further but a loud shout drew her attention. They both looked over to the table where Kate and Irina were drinking with Boris, Havel and a few other patrons. Boris and Havel were twins; large, burly, hairy craftsmen that ventured down to the forests down the mountain near Lochlorn to return with wood to build houses, furniture and to provide firewood to the townspeople of Drar. It was a rough but lucrative business, allowing the men to drink their weight in ale, which, according to them, helped maintain their large frames.
The two men were standing, looking at Tanya's sisters furiously while the two women just smirked and continued to drink their ale. More words between the group were exchanged and mugs, tables and chairs started flying as the burly men lunged at the two blondes in anger. Kate and Irina stood up, jumping head first in the fight. Kate wrapped her legs around Havel's neck, slamming him into the ground and breaking a few of the chairs in the process. Irina grabbed Boris's arm when he lashed out and flipped him into the table, breaking it in half. The rest of the patrons in the bar joined in on the fight, throwing punches and breaking mugs. Tanya and Bella watched in disbelief as Irina and Kate threw themselves into the fight, using broken chair legs and whatever else they could grab to hit with.
"I'm too tired to deal with this," Tanya sighed. "I bailed them out of trouble with Cain, I'm not even going to bother this time. You had the right idea, bed sounds good."
"Yeah, this is getting a little scary," Bella said. She and Tanya bolted out of the room, running into Ingrid on the way out. "Oh, um, Ingrid hi?"
"Are Boris and Havel fighting again?" Ingrid sighed out, glancing into the room. "Along with your sisters," she commented to Tanya.
Tanya winced, "I'm really sorry Ingrid, I can pay for the damage…"
Ingrid waved away her words. "Don't worry about it. I made Boris and Havel sign a contract that if they wanted to drink here, if they got into fights, they would fix whatever they broke. I've been wanting new tables and chairs, so I'm kind of glad. If you feel you need to pay me back, just send me a new shipment of mugs from the capital next time you're there."
"Deal," the strawberry blonde agreed before heading up the stairs.
Bella was about to follow after her when Ingrid called out. "Bella honey, wait a second." The young woman turned to look at the older woman who just stared at her pensively. "This is your yearly trek to gather ingredients isn't it?" Bella nodded, wondering where the woman was going. "Are you going south?"
"You're not the first person to ask me that but yes I'm going south…"
"There are dangerous things happening down south," Ingrid warned. "Dangerous and mysterious things. You have to be extra careful when you venture that way."
The brunette stared at the tavern keeper curiously but nodded her head before making her way to her room. Her mind kept running over Ingrid's words. What did she mean mysterious and dangerous things?
A/N: Sorry this is late, I've been working and then the Olympics happened which is pretty much my life every two years. I prefer the winter Olympics, but summer olympics are awesome as well. Equestrian is my favorite, but swimming, gymnastics and all of the canoe/kayak sports are some of my favorites as well. So, I say this, no matter what country you're from, be proud of your athletes, be proud of other country's athletes. Unless they do stupid, rude or illegal type stuff, then you can shake your head at them. And I know that some of you don't like sports and stuff, which is fine, I'm not a super big fan either, but still have to give them props for what they manage to do.
Right so, hopefully next chapter will be out next month *fingers crossed*