Temeraire glanced over at the other Celestial – he was perhaps a bit larger than most of the other Celestials he'd seen. Certainly he was more muscular. Hasshin lounged not too far away from him, his odd rig standing out against his hide in a beautiful harmony with his eyes and markings. The leather – Temeraire couldn't help noticing – was unlike any he'd ever seen before. The workmanship was superb the straps were thin and streamline and molded so that they looked very much like vines of ivy. And the tooling was well …delicate; there could be no other word for it. The carabineer hooks he noted were made of an odd metal that flashed several different colors as the dragon moved. They looked like small circular rainbows.
He noted the finery that decorated the other dragon's ruff, and felt a hint of longing for the days before he'd talked his own Laurence into saving the dragons of France from the English - the direct results being their banishment to Australia and the loss of Laurence's capital. While it was true that there time in Australia had not at first been too bad, Rankin and Ceaser had of late been beginning to make things rather unbearable. Rakin – the abusive scrub – had taken over their small Convert and things had digressed from there. The man seemed to see Laurence as nothing more than a convenient bargaining chip to be used to endear him in the eyes of the haplessly idiotic new governor that England had sent to Australia. The end result was that Rankin frequently given his captain less food then a marlin could subsist upon and frequently had the man doing hard manual labors. Temeraire often found himself sharing a portion of his own dinner with his captain – not that it was any burden the man didn't need much to begin with.
Hasshin shifted slightly as Laurence came down into the clearing. "Laurence," Temeraire said calmly as the man walked over to him. He lowered his head to his Laurence and leaned into his Captain's hand as the man stroked his cheek. He knew that the man was worried, Rankin was making their live hell in Australia and Ceasar - the upstart little runt - was becoming a royal pain. Particularly since Rankin had decided to change some of the ways a convert was run. The most notable being that the Dragon with the highest ranked Captain ate first and ate heavily. Ceasar took every chance to lord it over the few dragons in their Convert.
Temeraire shifted his wings, when Laurence said, "You must be curious, there must be so much you could learn from another Celestial."
"He is … interesting. His harness is unlike any I've ever seen." He replied.
Laurence opened his mouth to respond but Berkley entered the clearing, easily supporting Hasshin's smaller Captain.
"Conrart," Hasshin enquired at the sight of his rider. "Are you quite alright?"
The man offered his dragon a smile, "I'm fine my dear, I simply need to brace this ankle."
Hasshin said something in a language Temeraire had never heard before. Conrart's tone was long suffering – as if they'd had this argument many times before. Hasshin flattened his ruff briefly, and then made a noise that sounded like water hitting white hot stone. It was a noise Temeraire had never heard another Celestial make.
The other Celestial turned his head toward a group of young cadets that were running across the grounds. "Prey excuse me Young Ones, but would one of you be so kind as to fetch something for my Companion?"
"Hasshin," The other dragon's captain said a little sharply, his cheeks flushing.
"I will not have you fall to your death because you are too stubborn to except help." Hasshin replied firmly before turning his attention back to the cadets. "Would one of you be kind enough to climb up and bring down my companion's bag?"
The children swarmed Hasshin, clambering up his strange harness and came back down with his packs. Conrart chuckled though he was a bit red and kindly thanked the children for their help when they gravely presented him with his packs.
Conrart sighed as the children ran off again and shook his head slightly as he limped with Berkley's help over to Hasshin and settled himself down onto the great dragon's foreleg. He pulled off his boots and set it down upon the ground before digging through his pack in search of his ankle brace. It didn't take him long to find the metal braced, toe and heelless, molded leather ankle boot. He pulled off his still damp socks and traded them for a fresh dry pair before pulling on his left boot. That done he set himself to the task of unlacing his ankle brace – at least enough that he could slide his foot into place.
The brace was one of the few inventions of Annisina's that actually did what it had been invented to do. She'd made him two, the one he was currently wearing had been designed for him to use post injury until the break had a chance to finish healing and the ankle could better tolerate the task of bearing his weight. At first he'd had to wear it at all times, even to sleep. The only times it had come off was when he bathed and before he went to bed when Yozak rubbed healing salves into the abused flesh and cradled him in his arms when he'd cried from the pain. He'd gotten the second softer brace only a month ago, Gisela had ordered him to spend an hour or two a day without any brace at all.
She'd ordered him to spend an hour swimming in an attempt to recover the strength in the limb without straining it too much. Then he was supposed to put his brace back on. For now he only slept in the softer brace, which had been reinforced so that when the time came, he'd have free movement of his foot but be spared the risk and embarrassment of having his ankle roll either in or out. Gisela had assured him that within the next year or two all he would need was the softer brace.
Slowly he rose to his feet after he pulled his other boot back on. He sighed and inclined his head in thanks to Berkley, "thank you for the help." He said softly, his English gently accented.
"Hasshin," he said mildly in his own language. "We must speak."
The great dragon lowered his head so they could talk face to face, and he petted the great muzzle more to comfort himself then his beloved Temeraire. "How long will it take your younger self to lean Mazoku?" he enquired after a second.
Temeraire sighed, and his hot breath ruffled Conrart's hair. He silently reminded himself that it was important to remember that for now at least the great dragon could not be Temeraire. He had to remember that he was Hasshin now.
"I, Conrart, I do not believe we will have very long before he starts to learn our language. We will have to use it only when we need to whenever my younger self is in earshot."
Conrart nodded, "Shinou sent us here, and said we had a task to complete. Though I have little idea what that could possibly be."
Hasshin sighed, "I cannot say what that task is either." He replied in a tone that Conrart had learned meant it was more likely he wouldn't say.
Conrart ignored the unavoidable implications, personally he had few memories from this time in Laurence's life, but it was likely something that Hasshin remembered vividly. "Admiral Roland has requested that we aid Britten in their war against Napoleon." He said softly in English.
Hasshin tilted his head slightly and Conrart stroked his cheek softly, "What answer have you given?" he replied in the same language.
"I have not," Conrart replied mildly. "I will not commit you to a war that is not yours to fight without first consulting you. Shin Makoku is not involved in this dispute, and will not be pulled into it regardless of my participation. I leave the final decision to you."
"I think we have no choice but to help." Hasshin replied slowly, and then added in the Mazoku tongue. "We fought in it before, we cannot risk changing things. Much as I may wish to change the fate of the past I cannot risk the present.
Laurence sighed, he was glad to be back from Australia but he was tired of all the fighting. Truth be told he wanted out. If he could just settle down somewhere else, just him and his beloved Temeraire, forget the war, and live a simple life – he would.
He was well aware of the fact that the only reason he was here was because Brittan could not afford to be without its only Celestial. Now that Lord Weller was here with Hesshin he didn't know what would happen to him and Temeraire.
The Young man was interesting though, he cared himself like any high ranked man of the military, but were most high ranked officers carried themselves with pride and arrogance, this young man carried himself with dignity and an oddly quiet self-assurance. It was hard to imagine him as anything other then what his dragon claimed he was despite his quiet dignity.
But he had to wonder, just what a foreign prince was doing in Brittan and why in the hell couldn't the man use a gun?
He nodded to the servant when she brought him his meal and struck up a conversation with Berkley, Harcourt and Granby. There weren't many Aviators who would even speak to him anymore so he enjoyed the company and conversation where he could get it.
Weller wandered into the dining room then, if his ankle was troubling him the man gave no indication of it. He glanced around the room before making his way over to the table and quietly enquiring after where he could go to serve himself some food.
"You want to serve yourself?" Harcourt asked incredulously.
Weller raised an eyebrow, "why wouldn't I serve myself?" he asked curiously.
Harcourt gaped at him for a moment along with the rest of the Captains who'd been present when he and his dragon had come in that very morning. "Your Hesshin introduced you as a prince," she said softly after a moment. "I thought -"
Lord Weller laughed, "You assumed I've never seen to my own needs?" he asked gently. "An understandable assumption, given my rank. My father loved to travel however, and he preferred to do it without the …'pomp and circumstance' of my mother's rank. He saw to it that I knew how to take care of myself."
Laurence smiled slightly at the young man, noting and not for the first time the sword at his hip. The young man moved as if he didn't notice its weights, as if the sword was a part of him. "The cooks serve us here." He said softly.
The Young man nodded and took the only open seat next to Berkley.
Harcourt smiled a slight flush on her face, as the food was served. "So Weller, how did you come to be Captain to Hesshin?" she enquired.
Conrart smiled, "My Godson wished to see the Dragon Preserve, so I went with him and Murata, and Hesshin simply dropped out of the sky on us – we have been inseparable since."
Soon after their talk turned to family, dragons and crew.
Conrart cursed as his shot went wide. He'd been the subject of several incredulous stares when he'd admitted he'd never even held a gun before. He hadn't bothered trying to explain the fact that his culture didn't have guns at all. His culture was one of honor and of the sword –
And he liked it just fine that way, thank you very much!
His people had no use for guns when their Demonic gifts would serve them well in their own territory and the human's were convinced that the best way to handle Demons was with Esserteric stones and magic so neither race was likely to ever develop the things anyway.
Still he did wish he'd learned at least a little bit about them during his time on Earth, then at least he wouldn't be in the truly awkward situation of having his previous self (Laurence) getting frustrated with his lack of progress.
Frankly he thought he was lucky he hadn't shot himself by accident yet.
He was fairly certain Laurence would agree with that assessment, seeing how the man had not let him even touch the gun until he could name every part of the gun and had seen fit to instruct him on the loading and cleaning of the weapon before he'd taught him how to fire it. Not that he could blame the man he tended to teach his own students how to care for their sword long before he let them handle a live blade.
Still this was an exercise in embarrassment he could have done without.
"Again," Laurence said firmly, "and this time keep both eyes open when you aim."
So there you have it another chapter, sorry it took so long to come out but I've had a horrid case of writer's block and this still has not turned out the way I want it.