"Sal?"

" . . . Don't call me that."

"We've known each other for a long time, sometimes it feels like too long. But . . . I don't know you."

"What's your point?"

"I want to. I want to know about your home, your parents, how you became you. There aren't many religions that have monks like you."

" . . . Go to sleep, rat."

"Amarant, if you don't tell me I'll spend the next half moon at Fratley's."

" . . . "

----------------------------------

'Half an hour', Ipsen thought to himself moodily, while twisting through the air to land his feet on the shoulders of an Alexandrian soldier. 'Half an hour ago I was being an old man in the garden, carving tits out of the bushes and happily ignoring summer solstice duties.' The merciless kick-off sent them both flying out of the way of the mother dragon's thundaga spell.

"Fucking Alexandrians!" He yelled compulsively, the foul-mouthed monk grunting as he lifted and launched a piece of timber from the airship wreckage. He didn't even bother to watch the beam fly - straight through the fragile wing membrane of the mother - instead grabbing the nearest soldier by the throat and lifting her up to his own level. "Who the bloody hell pisses off a Grand Dragon that's got kids? Fucking idiots!"

The soldier let out a painful gasp, grabbing in vain at his wrist as it began to draw backwards. Ipsen's anger dipped at the noise, regaining enough sense to not use her as his next javelin. Instead, he turned back to the wreckage to find a replacement weapon. "The Queen." The soldier managed to rasp, shakily rising back to her feet.

Ipsen froze, already halfway through ripping the steering wheel off of the Red Rose's helm. "You're taking the Michael. The bloody Royals are here?"

The soldier nodded, blinking back a few tears as she massaged feeling back into her throat. "She was carried off by the dragons. The King went after her."

"I don't believe this!" He roared, flinging the parted wheel straight into the neck of an airborne dragon, watching in cruel, vindictive satisfaction as the corpse hit the ground. That was two down, leaving one child and the mother. It was a blessing that Grand Dragon females killed their mates for baby food, or the number of human bodies littering the plains would be double. "Where are they?"

The girl – no older than 25 and far too young to be fighting Mist creatures – pointed at the woods barely three hundred metres away, backed onto the cliff base. She was also pointing straight at the mother dragon.

"Damn," Ipsen sighed. Pushing the girl out of his way, he started running.

The fight was too fast in the coming, too slow in the making. Ipsen had barely enough time to cast Aura before the dragon had hit - tail just grazing his chest. His left hand wrapped around as much of the thick limb as it could before it went out of range. It swung upwards and he was airborne, flipping high into the air as he lost his purchase, and the circling child was headed straight for him. Its teeth snapped, and missed. His wrist curved, and hit. The duel claws strapped tightly to his right hand came away dripping in blood that steamed with cold in the summer sun, even as Ipsen still flew upwards. Another hit, and both the bodies started to fall while the monk desperately tried to free his claws from the beast's hard skull.

The mother was waiting right below, her rage burning brighter at the death of another youngling, jaw wide open to rip the old man in half. With the claw still stuck, the monk did the only thing he could: pull the corpse beneath his own body. The Grand Dragon's teeth clamped on the limp sack, and he escaped using the extra leverage. His whole body ached liked hell and his arthritis was certainly not in the best of moods, yet still he managed to keep his speed going. Jumping down on the neck, he again used his left hand to get purchase, and swung himself under the dragon's chin. The claws flashed up, ripping into the soft skin under the jaw, and he used the last of his aura-induced adrenalin rush to unleash the most powerful No Mercy he could muster.

The dragon roared, all her muscles wracked with spasms. After a couple of heartbeats - still shaking from the non-elemental remnants coursing through her veins - she fell. Trapping the monk in the process. The remaining few soldiers rushed over to push the heavy body off the swearing monk.

"How many more?" he asked, managing a seating position as he ran out of curses.

One of the women offered him her hand. Ipsen grabbed it, wincing as he pulled himself up. It was the same soldier he had almost thrown across the field. "Three. Some of my troops were there too, so it could be less."

"Oh, you looked like you were doing bloody marvellous when I arrived . . . Wait, your troops?" Ipsen asked with sarcasm still playing on his tongue, finding it hard to believe someone so young could be in command – despite the markings of Colonel on her shoulder.

She didn't answer, instead turning towards the forest. "Are you going to help us?"

Nodding his head, the monk started moving, keeping pace with the Colonel. That is, until the first screams reached his ears, and his feet began to pound faster out of their own accord.

The realisation that he was alone refused to hit until the first dragon had. Even the youngling's weighed nearly a ton, all the muscle mass driving its wing with the force of a smith's hammer. Immediately winded, Ipsen keeled forwards, glancing up in time to see three rows of painfully sharp, pointed, spiky teeth. Top and bottom.

He braced himself as well as he could manage, wondering how the hell you prepare yourself for non-consensual vorarephilia. Instead of the bite he expected, he felt a hot blast throw him backwards. Again, he hit the ground, managing to use the shock to gasp the blistering air into his lungs. One of the soldiers had unleashed a fira spell upon the dragon, just missing Ipsen to hit the monster's upper torso and head. The changes in air pressure had been what had blown the monk backwards. The troops took the advantage to catch up, all falling upon the dragon in a flurry of steel.

"The hell's the Queen?" He gasped, having recovered enough to manage a few words. The screams came back into focus as his adrenalin diminished, the voice far too brash to belong to one of the rake-like figured guards. Ipsen cursed again, sloping into a staggering run with the other soldiers following. They all crashed through the bushes together, stopping dead in their tracks as they saw the Queen. Brahne was pressed up against a tree, a youngling in front of her hissing softly.

Ipsen spared no time for thought. Being winded did not stop him using his arms, and he deftly wrenched the sword from the nearest soldier. His muscles rippled upwards, almost shrinking his arm as he tensed for the throw. It snapped like a bowstring, the sword leaving at the apex of the arc, spiralling straight towards the dragon. His arm was already bunched again as it smashed through the creature's leg. Three more hits cracked in quick succession before it fell. Even after this, Ipsen made sure to secure the kill with the duel claws.

Wiping away blood and sweat from his forehead, he took a step back, allowing the soldiers to check on the Queen. "Did you say there were three, Colonel?"

A different voice rang out in pain, this time from outside the forest. "Dammit, now you're just fucking with me!" Ipsen cried, staring at the sky. He pushed his tired thighs into a sprint, alone as the soldiers stayed with their Queen. The different route he thrashed took him past the remains of Alexandria's King, and took him outside the leaves just in time to see the fledgling beat into the sky, the Colonel dangling from one arm.

He grunted, pulled a small bottle from the pouch at his belt and quaffing it as he gave pursuit. The distilled potion worked immediately, relieving his chest pains, fatigue and the constant aching pressure in his joints. The dragon was half way up the cliff and Ipsen was only just reaching the base, jumping as high as he could to grab a handhold. He swarmed upwards, using the claws to grab extra purchase wherever he could - attacking the cliff as if it was another spawn of the mist. Even as the effects of the potion began to be negated by his failing body, the screams drove him upwards, their intensity building and rippling around, penetrating his head from all sides. The cause was gruesome. They had stopped moments before the monk reached the nest, replaced by a soft whimpering only heard as he flipped over the ledge's lip.

She lay in the nest, her clothes and body torn by claws and teeth; red blood mingling with brown wool. The male youngling stood over, jaws open above her skull, penis just flaccid and slick. It was if a switch tripped in Ipsen's mind, righteous anger translating into a shimmering golden aura. He dove forward, his now-blond hair flying behind him as he hit the youngling, sending them both rolling out of the nest and onto the ledge. It lunged, exposing the soft area of the neck. His claws flashed, slicing the mist creature's throat. His other fist followed, hitting the beast's head with such force that its neck broke. The red eyes dimmed, and Ipsen's trance followed.

His clothes returned to normal, his dreadlocks shortened and regained their normal grey. The soldier still whimpered, crying out as Ipsen lifted her over his shoulder to carry her back down the cliff. Someone had found the Red Rose's communication crystal, he noted; a Lindblum ship had already made it through South Gate. The girl cried out again as he shifted her weight, and he finally noticed the fearful state of her leg. "Bloody hell," Ipsen exclaimed, carefully lowering her back to the floor and ripping his shirt to use as a tourniquet and bandages.

"Looks like you're bunking with me, sunshine. You're not going anywhere with that."

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AN: Very much WIP. Centric on Ipsen and Amarant all the way up to the beginning of the game, and possibly after. Later chapters should be longer than this, and have more Amarant filled goodness.

(insert disclaimer here kthxbai)