The Tale of Autumn

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Above is Jīviyannu. Don't worry she comes back.

After a break and several hours of traveling, the group entered the canyons of Grey Rock and made camp. Upon closer examination, Grey Rock was not a mountain formation as it appeared. It was a maze of canyons, ravines and gorges. Some were small, others were deep, and others long.

A fire was built in a short, shallow crevice of rock only a three hour walk from Gash Canyon. The crevice was about four feet deep, ten feet wide, and stretched at least thirty feet long, plenty of room for the six dragons. All of them shifted and dressed before preparing and eating what Sanna and Suruli had caught.

Everyone was tired, the ground was warm from being in the sun all day, and the fire added to that, making the body heavy with sleep. Śarat, however, was on edge. This was the closest she had gotten to her place of birth since she was eighteen. She had promised to never return, but she no longer had any choice.

Śarat looked at Kendra, a little sad that the smiling ignorance Kendra held about tomorrow would never be hers again. She knew that she should continue her story from the night before, and tell Kendra about Grey Rock City. She didn't mind telling her, but a part of her wondered if it would be kinder to let the fledgling bask in the bliss of not knowing what would come.

Śarat caught Nisvārtha's eye, his eyes seemed to read her mind and he nodded. Silently encouraging her.

Śarat sighed and put on a smile, "Hey, Kendra!" She called, drawing the girl's attention from Sanna. "Come here for a second."

Kendra gave her a wary look but came and sat down next to Śarat. "What's up?"

Śarat raised an eyebrow at the odd question, "Many things, why do you ask?"

Kendra laughed and shook her head, "It's an expression, pay it no mind. You've got something to tell me?"

Śarat smirked, "How could you tell?"

Kendra grinned, "Lucky guess, lass."

Śarat grinned back, "I was just thinking, I did not get the chance to tell you about Benki Clan last night." She looked across the fire to Nisvārtha, "Shade stole my thunder and put you to sleep."

Kendra laughed again, "Aye, that's true. Mind continuing?"

Śarat smirked. "Well, unlike the other clans, Grey Rock was never a great city." Her smirk turned to a grimace, "Warlord Kappu was a cruel man, ambitious, proud, and without mercy. He believed that fear was the only way to gain respect and control. So rather than building the city to be great, it was built on the backs of civilians."

She ran a hand through her long black hair, "The few that Warlord Kappu favored, they became the wealthy generals, each controlling a portion of Grey Rock city, but reporting to the Warlord."

Kendra let the story stew in her head for a moment. "I'm guessing you had to live there for a while, huh?"

Śarat smirked, "Where else would I have become so amazing? I lived in Grey Rock City for the first eighteen years of my life before I had to leave."

"Why did you leave?" her golden eyes were round and filled with curiosity.

"Because I was one of the greatest thieves in the city!" she bragged with a grin. "My partner and I were so good that others would ask us to steal for them in return for payment." Her face turned sad, "My partner always had us refuse." She shook her head to clear away the memories, "We only stole from the wealthy and corrupt," she smirked, "our little way of spitting in their faces."

Her smirk turned sheepish and she rubbed the back of her neck, "Then I may have caused a tinsy bit of, well, trouble. I had to get away fast or I would have joined my parents in the spirit world. Anyways, I lived on my own in the wild for about...Oh, six months before Shade here found me and offered to help."

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