Watchful shadows lurk on the fringe of consciousness, peeking into windows, cocking an ear to conversations within the small dwelling, waiting for the right moment to spring the trap. Nidhgoth busies himself deep within the jungle watching a perplexing display by a coven of spinners that are creating a dragonsized trap. Autmun's ice is stayed by ocean's perpetual warmth on this haunted island that dwells somewhere within Istan territory.
Wrapped in a blanket, Quorra is no more than a mutlicolored bundle on the stone landing just outside the door to the little cottage. The house itself is quiet, though smoke curls up from the chimney to fade into the overcast sky. Her belly one more bump in the blanket, she's leaning up against the door, eyes closed.
The coast has been cleared, leaving a wide opening for a broad man who inches his way onto the landscape. A sudden rush of movement has N'tan up close and personal, large hand not only cutting off chances of a scream, but green stained finger and thumb pinching off Quorra's air supply as well. The scent of spicy masculinity and fermented grapes mingles with an overpowering presence of crushed fellis leaves. Hissing words warn, "Say a word and -they- will die." Something in the tone rings vehemently true.
Quorra's struggle is brief, cut short by lack of air and the realization of futility. Her body is rigid, tension coiled tightly like a spring waiting to release, but she only nods once, shortly, eyes snapping vivid fire and temper in dark depths.
More whispering passes warm breath into Quorra's ear, "Get up and walk with me. Move!" The hand remains, fingers tight and giving her a very brief amount of time to react before she will pass out. N'tan is prepared to support her weight if needed.
Quorra struggles heavily to her feet, ungainly and unbalanced and leaning purposefully against N'tan in the vain hope that it'll make him let go quicker. As soon as she's up, she's straining as far away from him as she can, shaking her head while one hand pries frantically at the fingers around her nose and mouth.
Not really interested in knocking her unconscious, N'tan releases the fingers just enough to let in a small trickle of air, and then promises, "Into the jungle and I will let go." Hurried steps are abbreviated in length to accommodate the awkwardness of the situation.
Quorra takes a desperate gasping breath, and though she follows N'tan obediantly, protest is written in every awkward, dragging step and screamed from the mutinous set of her face. She's well aware that he could cut off her air again at any moment, so into the jungle she will go. But she doesn't have to like it.
Into the densest part of the surrounding jungle they go evading possible detection almost instantly. The deeper they are, the looser the pinching digits get until only the hand remains. Nearby coils the serpent brown who now divides his attention between the pair of humans and the industrious colony. Quorra is finally released with a shove that sends her right into the belly of the beast. "Nidhgoth isn't like others. He -will- harm you if I ask." The card is played, but is it a bluff?
Whether it's a bluff or not, Quorra is uncertain enough to be wary. She stumbles on the uneven ground, catches herself just before she falls into Nidhgoth, and turns. She's panting heavily, face twisted into a snarl as her arms wrap protectively around her belly, the blanket a forgotten weight about her shoulders. "What do you want?" She demands, eyes already darting between the trees to assess escape routes.
The brown tail snakes about Quorra's legs, curling firmly until they are pulled together. Once she is solidly ensconced, N'tan stalks up beside her too loom menacingly. "Liar!" comes the one word accusation, followed up with a wicked grinning, "Lady Holder."
The sudden desire to spit in N'tan's face shows in the tightening of Quorra's lips, the flash of intention in her eyes, but the baby chooses that moment to kick out and remind her of its presence. It's this, then, coupled with N'tan's looming presence, that causes the narrowing of her gaze. "How much do you want?" Her voice is rough and low, each word bitten off at the end like it only just managed to escape destruction.
"How much? Won't be that easy, princess," N'tan informs, greed-lust tainting the already murky pools. Much like he did before, the man stabs at the protruding stomach, heedless of the presence within, "That's mine. I claim it!," and everything that will come his way because of it. One careless night and Quorra will forever be strapped to this ugly green monster.
"What good will that do?" Quorra asks, in disgust. "You think I'm here on vacation?" Her gesture takes in the jungle, the island, the back of nowhere expanse of land. "/I'm/ not claiming it. She won't even know who her mother is," and for once, she makes no pretense of hiding the bitter pain that causes.
"Everyone will," N'tan threatens, grin so frigid that cracks might appear across the narrow lips any time now. Nidhgoth rumbles, puffing out a breath toward the spinner nest to watch the gossamer home flutter, sending all the occupants scattering in nervousness - he too likes to torture.
"Just tell me what you want from me. If it's not money, what?" Quorra can't quite get the demanding edge from her tone, though mostly she just sounds tired. She sags visibly, clutching her blanket around her like it's a shield between her and N'tan, instead of only flimsy cloth.
Demanding is exactly what N'tan is when he starts flinging words out, "Sangua will be with you every moment. You will tell me where the child is going. You will pay me monthly to keep this information to myself and away from you and the baby. If I make a wish down the road, you will grant it. Got it?" In this he gives her an out of his life, while maintaining a grasp on Quorra's purse strings and future.
Quorra doesn't answer right away. She stares at a spot over N'tan's shoulder, the silence lengthening uncomfortably. When she finally speaks, she sounds remote and detached, defeat a lingering bitter taste in the back of her throat. "Fine. But you /will/ stay away from us." Again, her hand clutches briefly at her belly, pressing palm-flat, possessive and protective.
"Yesss," N'tan answers, flicking out a low whistle that calls the tiny green to him. "You hurt her, and I will kill you." There is no dragon keeping him from doing so. Sangua drifts from the jungle by way of the path they took and lands on the broad man's shoulder. A sigh and a couple delicate scritches later, he displaces the firelizard onto Quorra's, and charges her with, "Take care of her. She's kind, even if -I- am not."
The weight of dread that settles onto Quorra's shoulders is disproportionate to the negligible mass of the firelizard, but N'tan might as well be placing shackles about her wrists. She doesn't respond to his charge, just stares pointedly down at Nidhgoth's tail, still wrapped about her ankle.
"Let her go," N'tan says out loud for her benefit, and then while the dragon's tail unwinds the scowling man sucks Quorra in for a wrenching kiss that is purely dominating and meant to disgustingly portend of his everlasting presence and power over her. An omen for her to chew on once his lofty presence is only a revolting memory. Sangua churrs soft and sad, wanting to go with the brownrider when he releases the woman and leaps to his dragon's neck. "Be good, -Quorra-," using her name to drive home that he knows all about her now - there is nowhere to hide.
Quorra endures that kiss with a passivity that speaks more to her frame of mind than even a struggle could, and as soon as she's released she wipes her mouth with the hem of the blanket and spits onto the ground. Then she sets off back towards the cottage, dislodging Sangua with an impatient shake of her shoulders to fly behind her as the trees swallow her up, tears making silent tracks down her face, still but for the tightly folded line of her lips that seek to keep so much inside.
Laughter has a dense echo that chases Quorra back to the cothold, which is swallowed by the compaction of air beneath wings as they drift aloft, tearing the spinner-web into a thousand disjointed tiny threads with a carefully placed onslaught of wind. Dragon and rider are both immensely pleased by this day.