The ceiling, walls and floor were all pure white stone with intricate carvings cut into them. Within those carvings lay a sapphire blue crystal that radiated light which faded and radiated with a steady rhythm but never went entirely dark. As he looked at the carvings Sam noted a few areas where the crystal had grown thick and now reached outside of the carving and began to cover the wall.
Sam would have been considered tall by most standards standing over two meters tall. However his height was quite average for his people with all who traveled with him having a similar build. What made him stand out in particular amongst their numbers was the large blue wings that sprouted from his back. Without paying much attention he spread his right wing touching it to the crystal and felt a slight thrill before withdrawing it. “This tunnel is going to need a quick chipping soon.”
To this Nate gave a nod. The man was of similar build to Sam though slightly taller. With black hair to Sam’s brown while both shared the same eyes that matched the crystal in the walls and with no wings to speak of. “I’m surprised to see the crystal that overgrown. Normally the chippers would never let it get that far.”
Towards the back Karen was a somewhat short woman for her people at only one hundred eighty centimeters. She might have been the least imposing of the group if it wasn’t for her hands that appeared as if they might want to become claws at any moment and could indeed become so. “I heard that the chippers are disputing the rights to harvest this tunnel and a few others.”
Karen, “Oh you know! If you don’t let us harvest this tunnel we’re going to stop doing this or that for you. Well if you stop doing that for us we’ll stop doing this for you.”
It was impossible for Sam to keep from rolling his eyes. The sound of the cart’s wheels behind him drew his attention for a moment. “Do you want to change places with the cart?”
Karen, “We’re good.”
As the group continued onward the light from the crystals became more and more intense yet it seemed to fade in the eyes of those that looked upon it as a new light source began to reveal itself. With this new light came a radiant energy that everyone could feel upon and sinking into their skin until over an hour later they finally stepped into the center of the structure. A massive cavern opened up before them. Molten rock flowed through several openings into a large luminescent blue lake of molten earth that made the crystals irrelevant with the light it radiated.
Stepping towards the edge Sam scanned the massive cavern. Soon he found what he was looking for. What appeared to be two large smooth pearly rocks rose up above the molten pool. The only substance within its molten contents that wasn't being melted down. Looking back to Nate Sam gave a nod.
Nate waited until Sam had stepped away from the edge before stepping forward. “Great Lady of the divine current we humbly.” Nate went silent as a low rumbling reached his ears sounding very much like a groan. The massive stones moved slightly and then began to rise revealing more and more of themselves. As the molten earth flowed harmlessly off them a massive expanse of gold was revealed mixed in with another shade of white.
Lucia couldn’t help but groan as she turned her radiant sapphire blue eyes on the group of a few dozen gathered before her. “Do not start that kind of talk. I hear it from more than enough people already and I don’t want to hear it from my neighbors.”
Massive blue feathered wings broke the surface of the molten earth as Lucia finished setting up. Stretching out behind her the wings shivered for a moment helping to clean them off and stretching her muscles. Submerging her hands back into the liquid she carefully scooted her powerfully built two hundred meter form towards the balcony her guest currently occupied paying no heed to how much of her breasts she exposed with each movement. “Wow. That’s a lot of guest. What brings everyone here today? I hope nothing happened to the festival preparations.”
Sam, “The preparations went well great.”
Lucia, “Sam I will spank you until you need to use those wings to protect your bottom if you keep talking to me that way. In front of everyone here. The same goes for the rest of you.”
A large grin formed on Sam’s face. “You missed the festival! We were worried we might have upset you.”
Immediately Lucia rose further out of the magma. “What! You can’t be.” Taking in a deep breath Lucia turned her attention towards the ceiling. As she looked upward her eyes flickered for a moment and a few tendrils of energy leaped from her horns. “Oh come on! It was just a little poison!”
Nate, “Poison? What’s this about poison?”
Sighing Lucia let herself slump back into the lava so that only her head, part of her wings and a portion of her breasts remained above it. “A little while ago some people showed up and tried to murder me so I ate them figuring hey breakfast in bed. I didn’t realize it until it began to affect me but they’d actually turned themselves into poison. It upset my stomach so I thought I’d just sleep it off and arrive at the festival fresh but I overslept. I apologize everyone. I fully intended to attend.”
Karen, “How does a poison effect you?”
Lucia, “They poured their lives into it. They probably didn’t even have a day left to live but the right rituals with a willing sacrifice can impart a lot of power. I suspect that the poison wasn’t a simple matter either. Goodness. I should have taken my time to examine them before just popping them into my mouth and swallowing. But mystically infused meat taste so good!”
As Nate spoke the anger was clear in his voice. “Do you have any idea who sent them? We can’t let them get away with.” Despite his anger Nate went silent as Lucia gently waved her hand.
Lucia, “Nate. Nate. These things aren’t worth getting upset over. Even with the willing sacrifices the poison must have cost its creators quite a lot and losing several dozen devoted and capable followers at once isn’t something to laugh at. Now my body will learn from the poison and become more resistant to such attempts. I’m just sad that I missed the festival. And you all came down here thinking I was upset with you! I should make that last part right.”
Karen, “What do you mean by make right?”
Moving her hands throughout the magma Lucia searched for a pocket where her energy was particularly dense. Fortunately this would be the earth that had remained closest to her body the longest such that it soaked up the most energy. As she lifted it to the surface she was careful to keep most of it from slipping between her fingers before forming her hands around it and breathing between her hands. A massive burst of flames erupted from between her fingers as she imparted yet more energy into the material before she began working it between her hands.
Sam didn’t turn to see who had stepped back but he’d heard several people do so as the energy rolled over them. His own skin was left tingling upon the release of energy. Turning from Lucia for a moment he looked off into the distance where the manga was allowed to flow back into the depths of the earth laiden with the energy that escaped Lucia much as warmth escapes a human. “I really don’t believe anyone expects anything from you.”
Lucia, “That’s mean! Do you all think of me as that unfair?”
Sam, “That is not what I meant and you know it. Everyone knows you love the festival. So we were worried when you didn’t attend and we didn’t receive any word.”
Lucia, “Exactly. And because I made you all worry so much I need to apologize properly. What’s in the wagon by the way?” As she spoke Lucia continued to work on the bit of molten earth between her hands occasionally breathing between her hands as she continued to shape the material.
Nate, “Fried chicken, cakes, juice, chips and some of your other favorite dishes.”
Immediately Lucia’s eye lit up. “Wonderful! Thank you all so much. Now I’m going to have to make sure this is a good one.” Even as she spoke Lucia’s fingers adjusted as the material within her hands grew more dense and solid being worked down into a smaller form.
When she’d spoken Lucia had reflexively scooted closer to the balcony. Everyone upon it had done more than see her movements they had felt them in the very air itself as the aura of power she radiated grew more intense both as she came closer and more of her body was exposed to the air. The air doing a poor job of soaking up the energy unlike the molten earth. It was a presence they’d missed from the festival as they felt their bodies being infused by that energy. It was however more difficult to enjoy with the molten earth serving as a reminder of what happened if one soaked up too much of that energy. The festival was a wonderful single day of the year where the people could bask in that energy and forget the danger and she could forget her presence alone was fatal to more delicate beings.
Opening her hand Lucia revealed a large tear shaped sapphire crystal roughly the size of a human between her fingers. “Tada! It’s a shielding stone. Just put this in the middle of your town and you’ll be protected from the harshest elements of winter and summer for twenty years.”
Nate, “Twenty years! I really think that’s going overboard. Everyone will just be relieved to know we haven’t offended you somehow.”
Extending her hand Lucia chose to offer the crystal first to Sam instead of Nate. Her lips parting into an open smile as she felt his little hands brush against the tips of her fingers. For a moment she continued to hold the crystal so the touch lingered before letting go. “A gesture this simple is the least I can do for causing my good neighbors distress in my ignorance. Especially upon truly smelling the gift you brought. That isn’t from last nights festival.”
Looking to the cart Nate suddenly felt very awkward. “No. It was made fresh just before we came here.”
Walking back towards the group Sam offered the crystal to Karen and the others. As they took it he turned and walked back towards Lucia. “I’m sure everyone will be delighted by your gift. Still, I believe they’d love it if you came to speak with them even a little while.”
“I will. But before that.” Moving through the magma Lucia gently rested her upper body against the balcony where the group had gathered. “Sam would you mind staying and telling me about the festival? Sense I missed it I at least want to live it indirectly.”
Grinning Sam nodded his head in the affirmative. “And should I toss handfuls of fried chicken and cakes into your mouth while telling you the story?”
For a moment Nate said nothing but was made to chuckle a moment later. “In that case we’ll be going.I hope to speak with you again.”
Lucia, “Absolutely! How about tomorrow?”
Nate, “I believe I can make that.”
Lucia, “Bring some more cakes maybe?”
Looking to the crystal for a moment Nate nodded his head. “That should not be a problem.” Everyone will be so glad she’s not upset with us that I could probably have everyone in town gladly bake her something and with that crystal.
Lucia, “Just a few cakes. No more than a person can comfortably transport.”
Now Nate was made to stop and look back at the smiling Lucia. He grinned himself a moment later. “I’ll have to choose them carefully then.”
Lucia, “I look forward to being surprised.” As the group proceeded out of her chamber Lucia turned her attention to Sam who had made his way over to the cart and began digging around. It was only a moment before he returned carrying a medium basket filled with fried chicken. As he neared the edge of the balcony she opened her mouth and extended her tongue slightly outside of it.
Lucia wasn’t human. Her size made that obvious. However, they were other traits that made it clear as well. Her wings and tail were obvious ones as well. A bit better hidden however was her teeth. Her front teeth had clearly been designed to slice through anything they encountered. Her massive canines seemed like they’d punch a hole in her tongue if she ever accidentally bit down upon it. Beyond those teeth however rested massive flat grinding teeth. She was an omnivore but not of the same type as a human was. “So. However did those attackers compare to the festival food?”
Lucia didn’t respond right away. She couldn’t or she might have missed the food Sam tossed into her mouth. As three chicken legs and a breast landed upon her tongue she closed her mouth and slid it around on her tongue coating it with the taste of the skin and teasing her taste buds before shifting it between her teeth and crushing it resulting in a burst of flavor. As she crushed the meat and bone she found the sweetest seasoning of all. The sauce used on the chicken had been imbued with a tiny bit of magic to tease her tongue. “It’s getting better! The cooks are doing a better job of imbuing the sauce with some magic.”
Sam, “So still not as good as eating a person?”
Lucia, “Nope! But the company is much better and it wasn’t worth missing the festival. So start talking.”
Sam, “It started off alright. The weather was just right to be comfortable and have some snow but unfortunately none came. I really feel a nice snowfall adds to the decorations. We tried to plan for all the people and widened the roads but it seems like everytime we do that more people show up to fill them. It wasn’t as bad as it was seven years ago though! I still remember needing fifteen minutes to get from the fried apple stand to the puffs. The music was really wonderful. It absolutely filled the air but I believe everyone missed hearing your voice.”
Puckering her lips for a moment Lucia looked up towards the ceiling of her chamber. “Perhaps I should spend some time outside singing. I could make it loud enough so that you could all hear me from in here but I don’t believe the chippers, smiths, merchants, weavers or well anyone in here would appreciate it.”
Sam, “I don’t believe the other dragons would mind.”
Immediately a sharp snort escaped Lucia sending out a massive blast of fire. “You’d think that! But they seem to complain the longest. It spoils some of the fun to. That is not having an audience to listen to me sing.”
Sam, “I could listen.”
Lucia, “Ah! Thanks. But you have to tell me more about the festival.”
Walking back to the cart Sam took his time and brought out several pastries. A crisp brown shell surrounded a creamy interior filled with baked fruit and sugar. Walking to the edge he waited for Lucia to open her mouth before tossing them inside. “The air was so sweet. Everytime I breathed in the air my legs wanted to turn me towards the food stalls. But my eyes were focused on the games. The races were lively and I could hear the dogs barking. Except they went silent when.”
Lucia. “No! Don’t say it.”
Sam, “You would.”
Lucia, “Sam! I don’t want to hear it.” Placing her hands over her ears Lucia turned away from Sam. “La. La. I am not listening.”
Sam, “You’d normally arrive.” Immediately he was made to laugh as Lucia dropped her hands from her ears and into the magma causing it to splash against the walls. The boom of the magma striking the walls being entirely engulfed by the sound of her hands hitting the magma.
Lucia, “Sam! I wanted you to cheer me up.”
Sam, “You didn’t say that. You said you wanted to hear about the festival and I believe even the dogs missed you.”
Crossing her arms over her chest Lucia turned her back towards Sam being careful not to disrupt the magma too much with her wings. “I missed their cute yipping as well. Who won this year?”
Sam, “I believe her name was Amy.”
Lucia, “Which one?”
To this Sam gave a snort. “I don’t know. She was a young girl who had to wear a tail cover. I think.”
Lucia, “Amy Brooks. She’s fourteen years old and at the age of ten her body began undergoing weaponization. Yeah, her tail is covered with spikes that could easily cut someone if she just brushed it against them.”
Sam, “Ten? Wow. Karen didn’t begin weaponization until she turned twelve and it was a few years before her claws became serious.”
Lucia, “You had your wings at six.”
To this Sam gave a nod. “Yeah but I’ve never undergone weaponization. The only thing that was ever in danger of my wings were any delicates they might knock over. She won though. I was surprised by how agilely she was jumping off the walls. We had a lot disqualify themselves when they went too high.”
Lucia, “Did she win by making it the furthest or did she manage to finish the race before being caught?”
Sam, “No! No one finished the race this year. Some managed to make it to the eleventh lap before the dogs caught them but no one finished the entire thing. The funniest thing is that this little brown ball of fluffy managed to eliminate the most by just waiting in place for them to come back around.”
Lucia, “That sounds like Muffin. His first race was last year but he was still a puppy. How was the dancing?”
Sam, “It was missing a lot of its old energy this year. A lot of people were wondering if we should even continue with the festival without you there so they couldn’t really put their all into it.”
Lucia, “Ah! That is awful. I hope that the crystal helps make up for the missed revilery.”
Sam, “You don’t have to worry about that! Twenty years of being spared the harshest aspects of winter and summer will do wonders for crop yields. Next year perhaps we can have two festivals to make up for the one you missed.”
For a moment Lucia rose up smiling but then lowered herself back down. “It sounds nice. But I would fear for the health of the unborn if they were exposed to my presence twice in one year for several hours. Still, I feel awake enough to move around now. Would you like to go to my setting room?”
Sam, “Don’t forget the cart.”
Lucia, “Of course not. Before we leave how about you toss a few blackberry pastries in here.” As she finished speaking Lucia opened her mouth wide and leaned forward as if she was going to devour the entire cart and possibly Sam in one bite. She’d hardly began to close the distance whenever she felt three pastries spaller against her tongue and was made to recoil. “You’re fast at that!”
Sam, “I helped pack the wagon.” Grinning Sam leaned against the wagon looking into it for a moment. “Would you like some of the wine.”
Lucia, “Only if you enjoy it with me. I don’t enjoy drinking alone.”
Straightening up Sam climbed onto the wagon so Lucia could more easily pick it up and him. “Okay but only a cup for me.”
Lucia, “I’m not certain if there is enough to fill an entire cup.”
Sam, “Not one of yours!”
Chuckling for a moment Lucia reached down and slipped the tips of her fingers underneath the cart while placing her fingers around Sam to better secure his position. As she rose up out of the magma a thunderous roar filled the air as the molten earth flowed off her body and splashed below. This grew even more intense as her wings were lifted fully from its depth. As she brought the cart closer to her body her free hand came up to rest underneath it to insure anything that fell out would end up in her hands.
With her fingers around him Sam took this chance to take in a deep breath taking in the scent of Lucia’s skin. With her fully awake now the feeling of the energy radiating from her had diminished greatly so the close proximity wouldn’t make his skin begin to tingle for awhile yet. “It was decided that we should continue with the festival since you’ve always insisted we should enjoy it to.”
With her hands busy Lucia brought her tail forward as she stepped out of the lake of magma and pressed it against the wall before her. A moment later it began to swing open and she hooked the tip of her tail around it to control its motion and prevent the massive structure from slamming into the wall. “I’m going to need to have a talk with everyone about how the notion of such good neighbors offending me is just silly. I’d let you all know if you managed to do that.”
Sam, “Hopefully verbally.”
Lucia, “I don’t know.. You’re all awfully delicate. It might be best if I wrote you all a letter. So you’d sooner believe that you’d managed to offend me so much I’d choose not to attend the festival over the notion I was occupied.”
Sam, “I think it’s human tendency to jump to the worst possible conclusion.”
Lucia, “Oh? So what about me being dead?” Lucia came to a stop as she heard Sam barely suppress his laughter. Looking at him she noted his body shaking as he covered his mouth to hide his grin. “Hey I’m capable of being killed.”
Despite her words Sam found himself struggling not to openly laugh. With her massive fingers surrounding him holding the entire cart as if it was a delicate toy the notion that she might be overcome seemed complete insanity. “So says the person who was just casually talking about shrugging off a poison that had been empowered by the willing sacrifice of several people.”
Once within the room Lucia gave the door a gentle nudge in the other direction and removed her tail from it. She had reached her guest stand well before she heard the door glide shut and sat Sam and the cart down upon it.
The room Sam found himself in was an absolutely massive dome. Several pillars of blue crystal rose up from the walls having been made from the cooled magma of the chamber they’d just left. Each pillar was worth more than the wealth of entire nations and it wasn’t the only such object within the room. Set on the far wall a massive expanse of white could be seen. He had learned that the silk came from a type of spider he hoped to never encounter and would have thought it Lucia’s bed if it wasn’t for the fact that even such material of strength would melt away in the presence of her uncontrolled aura.
Next to the bed a chair made from the interweaving of numerous steel beams and yet more of that blue crystal set in front of a similar desk that sported a mirror while a bit further from that were some handles that Lucia pulled upon to open a wardrobe that could have stored entire ships. On the opposite side of the bed stood a book shelf that looked more like a library and atop that shelf set numerous tools Lucia used to handle the comparatively tiny books.
Looking around the room it was easy for Sam to begin thinking of himself as the small one. Yet as large as everything appeared Lucia made it all look small. It was large enough for her to make use of but it clearly wasn’t built to the right scale.
Now outside of the magma Lucia’s body was on open display. Two sturdy white horns adorned her head curved backwards so that the tips pointed towards her back. Long golden hair that positively shimmered in the light surrounded each of those horns and flowed down to the small of her back. Her back was turned to him as she looked through her limited choice of clothing but he was very familiar with those radiant sapphire blue eyes with pupils that formed narrow vertical slits. Her lips were a soft pink that still managed to stand out sharply against her milky white skin.
Her lips did indeed look wonderfully kissable so long as one didn’t focus on the razor sharp teeth that rested beyond them or think too much about how she didn’t even need those teeth to eat a person whole. Moving his gaze downward he watched the muscles of her back expand and flex as she shifted through the same few outfits again and again. Whenever she’d pull something closer he could see her biceps swelling beneath her arm and even at full extension their presence was still plain to see at least when they weren’t blocked.
From time to time Lucia’s massive blue feathered wings would shift position obscuring or revealing part of her body. He often wondered if it was meant to be a tease but hadn’t asked her yet.
Had she been facing him he knew if his gaze traveled further down he’d see a wall of abdominal muscles so well defined one might think of them as armor. As things were he found himself focused on her tail. Gleaming blue scales decorated her tail which flicked about looking like it might strike the ground but never quite doing so. Along the edges of that tail several scales were clearly oriented to serve as cutting instruments.
Lucia, “Sam!” Looking over her shoulder Lucia focused her attention on the human. “I can’t decide what outfit to wear.”
Immediately Sam clamped his hand over his mouth as Lucia’s words absolutely dripped with concern. That a look of annoyance formed on her face shortly after only made the situation worse and insured that he wouldn’t be answering for a few moments more.
Lucia, “It’s not funny. I need to pick the clothes best suited to the situation to make the right impression.”
Still finding it hard to keep from laughing Sam did manage to nod his head in agreement and take in a few breaths of air without bursting into open laughter. “How about the star light one?”
Reaching into the closet Lucia lifted what appeared to be a small neatly folded square of fabric from within and walked over to her bed before setting it down in two piles. Placing her right hand under her chin she looked down examining the still folded garment. “Why this one?”
Sam, “You seem to want to show you feel bad about making everyone worry. A dark color would help convey that better than bright.”
For a moment Lucia said nothing but then nodded her head. “You humans do tend to do that! What do you think the odds of it being loose on me are?”
Lucia, “Hey! I’ll have you know that I’ve been improving on my human form and managed to reduce the amount of energy that escapes my body.”
Sam, “So by next year you’ll be walking into bakery’s yourself?”
Lucia, “That would be wonderful. I’d love to be able to take actually bites out of pastries and sip gently on tea. That won’t be happening next year but I believe by the end of the year I’ll have managed to reduce my height by an entire meter.”
Sam, “That’s great. But what about your mass?”
Lucia, “Oh sure spoil my fun. Yes I managed to achieve the reduction in height by shifting some of my mass around.” Instead of looking at Sam Lucia proceeded to pick up the top of her outfit and unfold it. The garment effectively amounted to a crop top that still left the sides of her breasts exposed. The material was tight against her skin due to the danger loose material would cause to others. Yet while the garment itself was simply the pattern of gleaming stones that had been woven into the material was not. They had been meant to give the impression of a starfield night and did their job wonderfully.
Lifting the garment over her head and letting it slide down her arms Lucia was careful as she began to pull it over her chest giving the material time to stretch and adapt. This made the process extremely slow and it wasn’t even a fifth on before she began speaking again. “I’m glad that there was plenty of food at the festival. Your fields seem to be doing very good this year.”
Sam, “I don’t believe we’ve ever had a bad year with your presence nurturing the land.”
Lucia, “How has your work been going?”
Sam, “It’s been fulfilling. A few months back there was an emergency delivery of thirty kilograms of medicine that required a twelve hour flight. I felt like my wings were going to fall off.”
Lucia, “You don’t normally have trouble with such loads.”
Sam, “Yeah but I also had to fly fast! It was an outbreak of the red fever.”
Lucia, “Huh?! How far away did you have to travel?” As she finished speaking Lucia finally finished slipping her top on and retrieved her bottom garment. The little bit of material barely covered her crotch and had she truly had a human build require some trimming. Much as with her top she moved carefully as she began to slide the garment on. Fortunately it didn’t need to cover her rear but rather the back disappeared between her glutes.
Reaching behind himself Sam rubbed the base of his wings remembering how sore they were. “I had to fly beyond the northern mountains. The fever was already in its third stage and I had to help give the medicine.” Yeah she would worry if the fever was showing up in her domain.
Looking to her bottom Lucia carefully observed it as it slide up her expanding thighs making certain not to move it too quickly. “Doesn’t Elif export a lot of scarlet fever vaccine?”
Sam, “They do! Apparently this town had never had an encounter with the scarlet fever and thought they were safe from it.”
It was impossible for Lucia to keep from rolling her eyes. “Well of course they never had an encounter with the fever before. If they had there wouldn’t have been a town there. It’s just not fair how quickly you humans can put on your clothes. If I want to see myself in different.”
Sam, “You can just use illusion magic.”
“Hey! I wanted to complain.” As she finished speaking Lucia gave Sam a massive toothy grin which he responded to by laughing. “I’m glad you were able to get there in time. For many the speed with which the fever kills was seen as a mercy as it meant the infected didn’t have time to spread it. I remember going to visit towns I’d visited in the past and finding them entirely wiped out.”
Sam, “It’s no wonder people thought of you as a goddess of healing when you delivered the first mass producible cure.”
Lucia, “Yeah but it made Hekket maddd when they started calling me that. Alright I’m dressed. Shall we go into town so I can make my official apology?”
Sam, “You should really give the others time to get back and spread the news around first. How about I feed you some more snacks from the cart and we chat a little longer?”
Lucia, “Good point. I often forget how slowly your legs carry you.”