Dragon of the East - Arc 2, Chapter 14

  • Falura

    ~ ~ ~

    Sundas, 5th of Hearthfire 4E 201                                                           

    It was snowing on the day of our battle. The clouds overhead were filled with holes like torn upholstery, through which the sun pierced rays of light. Rock spires and jagged terrain encompassed us as we trod along a path that climbed Mount Anthor. We were on the dragon’s scent, figuratively speaking. Aela found a trail of bodies that lead us to an alcove in the mountain’s northern side. As we approached a natural overhang of icy stone, she crouched down beside the bones of a large tusked creature.

    “Mammoth skull,” she said, inspecting the remains. “Large bite marks behind the eyes. Dragon must have killed it. Who knows how long it’s been dead…”

    “Aye. It must have had its fill. The bones are picked clean,” Reinhardt remarked.              

    “Local wildlife could have eaten the carcass,” I added. “It’s still unclear if dragons require nourishment.”

    Aela rose and peered up the path. “I see more ruins ahead. Let’s check it out.”

    We walked ahead under the overpass, glassy icicles hanging above our heads. I looked back across the snowy landscape disappearing out of view behind us. The Shrine of Azura stood in the distance, facing away to the east. Were I still a young and naïve Dunmer, I would have prayed for our safekeeping. I am not the praying sort anymore.

    The ruins Aela saw were a collection of stone arches that had crumbled away, looking more akin to columns or spires surrounded by rubble. Beneath the snow our boots felt man-made steps. They lead toward a T-fork in the path where the arches once encircled its intersection. Bluffs nearby stretched out toward a white valley below. There were three bodies lying in the snow clothed in black robes, crimson blood staining the ground.

    “Look here,” Vilkas said, peering at an old stone alter near the bodies. There were alchemical instruments and human bones lying on it. “More necromancy. This mountain is tied to dark rituals.”

    “Perhaps it has been of late,” I replied, coming closer to the bodies. “These mages look like the ones we saw earlier.”

    “Nevermind the mages,” Reinhardt whispered, nudging me. “Take a look at this…”

    He motioned toward a large flight of stairs. They climbed up to a tall curved wall in the face of the mountain. Considering the layout of the ruins, that wall must have once been its object of interest, a monument of some sort. It was huddled against the rocks of the mount and concealed from wind and weather. Swirled carvings were engraved in its stone. A flat sculpture of a dragon’s head appeared to be the crowning piece, above a smoothed surface covered in etched markings.

    “Fascinating… Would you look at that,” I marveled, walking to the base of the steps. I stared up at the wall. “What do you suppose it could it be?”

    “You’re asking the wrong man,” Reinhardt replied.

    We scaled the stairway together, buffeted by snowy winds. The others remained behind to look around. I nearly slipped on a patch of ice as we reached the top. Upon closer examination the etched markings on the wall seemed to have order and sequence. They looked as though a clawed creature had scrapped them into the rock. As for what kind creature, I had my suspicions.

    “This some kind of message? Don’t look any writing I’ve ever seen,” Reinhardt said, leaning against the wall with his arm.

    “This is certainly written language,” I replied. “If only we could decipher it…”

    I heard footsteps crunching in the snow. Aela had climbed up to reach us.

    “This is it. I think we’ve found where the dragon roosts. The signs are all over,” she said. “There are more human remains buried in the snow. Some look ancient.”

    “This does seem like a prime location, doesn’t it?” I said. “These ruins must possess some historic connection to the dragons. Merethic era, perhaps.”

    “But we don’t know what the connection is,” she replied.

    “Old legends say dragons were hoarders of treasure,” Reinhardt shrugged. “Think the dragon’s protecting these ruins?”

    “Protecting…?” I echoed. The thought had its merits. “Yes… that may be. The Imperials were attacked in a valley downwind of this mountain.” Maybe the mages of the college were right after all. Maybe the Imperials had wandered too close to a place the dragon didn’t want them.

     “Feh. Some treasure, then,” Reinhardt huffed, kicking a stone down the steps. “Bunch of rocks and snow.”

    “These ‘bunch of rocks’ could save our hides,” Aela said, scanning the area. “Lots of cover here, room to maneuver…”

    I raised a hand in objection. “We agreed to stage the fight on open ground. This terrain is too treacherous. The dragon has to be able to land.”

    “It can. There’s plenty of space.” She pointed up to the jagged mountain peaks high above us. “Those markings on the edges of the rocks – they’re claw marks. The dragon uses this mountain to perch. It doesn’t matter where it lands, as long as it stays in one place.”

    I considered her assessment and shifted my staff to my opposite hand, warming the other in the folds of my clothing. Gloves never seem to keep in enough heat when you need them to.

    “I see what you mean. I only hope these ruins have no surprises in store for us,” I said.    

    “They wouldn’t be surprises if we knew about them,” Reinhardt quipped.

    “We’re too exposed up here,” Aela pointed out, changing the subject. “Let’s lay low and wait to see if the dragon shows up.”

    The very moment Aela finished speaking, we heard a roar echo through the air. It sounded very far away.

    “I don’t think we’ll be waiting long!” Reinhardt growled, muscles tense.

    “Then it’s time… The reason we came here,” I whispered.

    “Keep the rocks between you and the dragon. Whatever happens, don’t let it catch you in the open,” Aela said, a smirk rising on her face. “We’ll have quite a tale to tell when this is over.”

    The two Nords drew their bows as we hurried back down the steps to take cover. Vilkas and Farkas were setting up near the crags, calling out to us, directing our attention to the sky. The outline of a large winged creature emerged from the clouds.

    “I hope you know how to use that,” Aela remarked, nodding at Reinhardt’s bow.

    “Relax. I got back into practice,” Reinhardt replied.

    “Just remember to–”

    “What, trail my shots? Correct for the wind? Keep my composure?” I could hear his smile in the words he spoke.

    “How about ‘stay alive?’”      

    “Oh, is that all? Sure. No pressure there.”

    Hearing their banter raised my morale. We had all come to this fight prepared. I had my instruments – fire staff, enchanted ring, and the summoning scroll still in my bag from the first dragon encounter. The storm atronach would be a final resort.

    At last we could see it. The silvery white dragon flew high above the mountains, roaring at us fearsomely. It glided through the sky, spine oscillating with every pitch and yaw. The visage of its spike bristled back and barbed tail lent the creature a threatening presence. I was left with a familiar mixture of dread and admiration. The dragon unleashed a breath of frost in the air as a show of force and bellowed at us in its mysterious tongue.

    “Zu'u mindok hin sahlon, mungrohiik! Dir fah hin Drogsenir!”                              

    I took shelter behind a crumbled column of rock. The Companions began their attack, arrows arcing through the air. Yet the dragon was agile. It could adjust the roll of its body to dodge missiles in flight. Fireballs from my staff would be even slower than arrows. I couldn’t contribute to the battle as I had hoped.

    Be patient. This is what we planned for, I thought, squinting against flurrying winds. You will attack when the dragon lands. Withhold nothing when it does.

    The dragon flew toward Vilkas and ushered another thunderous Shout, this time to kill.

    “FO… KRAH DIIN!!!”

    I remembered well those harrowing words, the same ones that had harkened a slaughter of soldiers. More frost breath streamed from the creature’s maw. Vilkas evaded and followed up with an arrow to the dragon’s thigh. Farkas aimed for the same mark but missed. Reinhardt ran between a set of boulders to gain better position. The Companions coordinated their movements admirably.

    Nonetheless, I could see the dragon was studying our tactics. It flew out of reach around the mountain, carefully considering which threat to focus on first. With a swift beat of its wings, the dragon swerved low to the ground and glided toward Farkas. The man timed a release of his bowstring, struck the dragon, and returned to cover before it could Shout at him.

    But the dragon didn’t Shout. Instead it passed over and pulled up high into the sky, commencing an aerial loop. Suddenly the winged beast ceased its loop on a nose dive, plunging toward Farkas with nothing overhead to protect him.

    “IIZ… SLEN NUS!!!”                                                                                   

    Different. Its Shout sounded different. I felt a shuddering fear of the unknown.

    Farkas jumped away but couldn’t fully dodge the dragon’s breath. It collided with the ground, leaving an icy crater behind like a frozen splash of water. The dragon swooped away. Farkas fell in the snow and struggled to stand back up. I couldn’t see what afflicted him. But as he repeatedly failed to rise on his feet, I looked closer and drew in a sharp breath.

    The man’s legs were encased in solid ice. He couldn’t move them.

    Oh no…

    Vilkas shouted his brother’s name and ran to him. Reinhardt did the same. Aela came out of cover to strike the dragon, only for it to perch upon the rocks above her. She narrowly escaped the beast’s breath and thrashing tail. Snow scattered into the air and clouded my view of the scene. I lost sight of her. The others, meanwhile, were dragging Farkas to safety. I was overtaken by how easily the dragon could disrupt our efforts.

    Just like the Imperial soldiers…

    Fear immobilized me. I even contemplated thoughts of retreat. But as I watched the Nords and their struggle to save Farkas, I knew I couldn’t afford a reluctance to act. We came to hunt the dragon together. If one died the rest might follow. Swallowing my dismay, I rushed out into the snow.

    Reinhardt stayed behind to cover the withdrawal of the two brothers. I came beside him, feet cold and numb, panting in the chill air.

    “I’ll keep this bastard busy,” he said, shooing me away. “Stick with the others!”               

    “You’ll do nothing of the sort,” I exclaimed, stepping past him. “See to your friend. I will fend the dragon off.”

    The Nord’s face knotted into a frown. “Don’t talk crazy! I’m not gonna be the one who gets lynched for letting you die!”

    “Go, Reinhardt! I cannot stop my magic from harming you if you keep this close!”


    There was a loud thud that shook the ground. The dragon’s plodding steps followed. It was approaching quickly. Reinhardt had not left my side.

    “Get back, you n’wah!” I cried.

    The man grudgingly obeyed and retreated to the ruins. I was left standing in the cold with only the dragon for company. How small and breakable I seemed before that wyrm, staring into blue lizard eyes that promised a painful death. It came nearer. With its size it could devour me whole. The dragon breathed in and commenced another incantation.


    I raised my hand out toward the beast, flicking my thumb across the band of my enchanted ring. Its runes lit aglow.

     “…KRAH DIIN!!!”                                     

    The ring’s spell activated. A ward flashed before me and blocked the dragon’s icy breath. Sharp cold winds blew against my cheeks. I remained standing as the Shout subsided.

    “Fax mindol,” the dragon bellowed. “Dir nizah lahzey!”

    “You will bring no harm upon these men,” I declared, masking my terror with an air of command. My fate from this moment onward hinged on skill and skill alone. I held up my staff in an outstretched arm.

    There is an unspoken belief among spellcasters. Though enchantments are powerful tools that manipulate the forces of magic, they can never compare to the raw control achieved by a mage’s own body. Someone who can cast with a staff but not their hands is no mage. She is a sham. An imitation of true talent.

    For decades I have rejected this.

    The crystal crowing my staff began to glow as I channeled its charge. Closer the dragon thumped, consuming my vision, until I could almost feel the moist warmth of its breath.

    There is only one thing that should define a caster of magic…        

    I struck my staff upon the ground.

    …and that is her mastery of the medium she employs.       

    Like a spark igniting a pool of oil, the ground burst into flame. An eruption of fire blew out across the frozen floor. The dragon flinched back, seared by the blast. I stood protected in a swirling fire storm the likes of which no creature would dare approach. The air around me quivered in the heat of its blaze. Snowfall evaporated. I pulled back my staff and readied another spell. Flames drew toward the tip of my staff until all the fire surrounding me amassed into its crystal, glowing blindingly hot.

    Then, as the staff reached its peak of welling, I thrust it toward the dragon and unleashed the magic within.

    A gout of fire twice the size of the dragon’s breath cascaded from my staff and swallowed the beast. It let out a roar of pain. Frantically the dragon beat its wings and rose up into the air out of my magic’s reach, bellowing as it soared away. I lowered my staff and leaned on it, reeling from the strain of mental exertion, coming on like a hot flash. The feeling departed quickly. Physical exhaustion is no worry for one who wields a staff, for it carries the burden of casting instead of the body.

    I tried to focus the staff’s energy again. There was none left. I felt a shock of awe.

    I depleted the entire charge… and it’s still flying…!         

    Nothing should have survived a spell like that. The dragon was resilient beyond my wildest imagination. It looked badly wounded from the fire, a slight teeter in its flight, but still very alive. I pulled a bright crystal from the satchel at my side. A soul gem. I raised the gem to my staff, which began absorbing the soul within, recharging its enchantments. Within seconds the transfer was complete. The soul gem lost its luster and crumbled into fragments, falling onto the warm dirt at my feet.

    I hadn’t expected to spend so much energy all in one instant. The gem I used to recharge the staff was of the second highest tier, ‘greater.’ The only other soul gems in my possession were of the lowest tier, ‘petty.’ I did not possess enough collective soul energy to recharge the staff back to full.

    But what I had was enough for the purposes I required. I was ready to face the dragon again. If I could burn it with another spell, even less powerful than the first one, surely the beast would have no strength left to fly. The Companions then could kill it. I watched the dragon swerve about, looking for an angle from which to strike.

    It knows the threat I pose. It will not attack recklessly.                                   

    I was proven otherwise. The dragon flew low to the ground straight toward me on a collision course.

    “Look out!” Reinhardt cried. He sounded nearby. The dragon uttered a Shout.

    “WULD… NAH KEST!!!”

    I felt something heavy knock me to the ground as the dragon flew its body into a spiral, wings folded at its side. With the power of its Shout it shot through the air over my head like the crack of a whip, trailing a tunnel of snow. Everything spun. The force of the wind it made blew the heavy weight off my back and rolled me onto my side.

    That ‘weight’ of course had been Reinhardt. If he hadn’t shoved me into the dirt, the dragon would have killed me by sheer force of impact. What a gruesome way to die… Imagine if such an attack were unleashed against an army. More snow settled over us as we slowly came to our feet.

    “How… How did you know it would do that?” I asked, breathlessly.

    “I didn’t,” Reinhardt groaned seemingly in pain.

    I watched the dragon as is soared away. This latest Shout destroyed any hope I had of finding a pattern in its abilities. Were there no depths to the creature’s vocal magic? What more forms could it manifest? Reinhardt heaved me up and brushed some of the snow off my clothes.

    “Pull it together,” he said. “You alright?”        

    “I underestimated it,” I whispered. “A being so formidable… We should have come more prepared…”

    “Hey, don’t get soft now!” Reinhardt rebuked, giving me a firm shake. “There’s no backing down. You hear me? We’re in it! Either the dragon dies, or we do!”

    I hadn’t a mind for battle like these Companions. But he was right. Our fight was far from over. This struggle needed to be worth something in the end. Together we rushed to the two Nord brothers taking shelter in a crook of mountain rock. They were off on the other side of the ruins. Vilkas looked up and saw our approach, along with the dragon on course to catch us.

    “Behind you!” he shouted.

    Reinhardt turned around and cursed. “Do something! He’s on us!”

    I brought up my ward to block the dragon’s frost breath. The flare of icy wind was blinding. Reinhardt ducked behind my cover and laughed as the beast flew off.

    “Haha! You’re a godsend, woman!” he whooped.

    “My ring has a very limited charge,” I snapped. “I cannot repel this dragon forever!”

    The man’s excitement abandoned him. We wasted no more time reaching Vilkas and his brother. I could hear their bickering from a ways away.

    “Rein it in, Farkas! We don’t need the blood,” Vilkas barked. “We can win this as men!”

    Coming to a halt, I bent down over Farkas and stared at his ice-encased legs. They needed to be thawed quickly to stop the cold from freezing them on the inside.

    “Stand back. I will try to melt away the ice,” I said, holding my staff over the man’s legs. The crystal radiated a glow of warmth. It would take some minutes for me to thaw through the ice completely.

    Farkas glared at his brother. “You’re gonna pay for this later,” he said.

    Vilkas ignored him. “Where’s Aela?” he asked. I shook my head, having not seen her for some time. Judging from Farkas’ anxious glare and the troubled look on Reinhardt’s face, it seemed no one knew where she was.

    “I saw her earlier… I know I did!” Reinhardt said, eyes darting about the landscape.

    “Aela wouldn’t run,” Farkas grunted. “She’s here somewhere.”

    Alive. She’s alive somewhere,” Vilkas retorted. Though his voice sounded sure, his expression spoke otherwise. Another booming thud announced the dragon’s landing. It was a mistake for us to gather together in a tight group. The beast marched toward us on its folded forelimbs. Reinhardt and Vilkas drew their swords and stepped out into the open.

    Fools. They had no protection from the dragon’s breath. They needed me with them.

    This ice is too thick! I can’t stay here any longer!

    Farkas’ legs were thawed out at the top but not enough to remove all the ice. It would have to do for the time being. I gave the helpless man my sincerest apologies and left him where he laid.

    “This is it,” Vilkas growled. The dragon walked closer.

    “You mean the part where we win?” Reinhardt chuckled nervously. “It’d better be.”

    “It has to be,” I said, stepping up behind them. They did not reject my presence. All hands were needed for this fight.

    Either the dragon dies… or we do…

    A howl rang out from the mountain tops. Everyone, even the dragon, threw their eyes at the sound. Upon the rocks high above stood a creature with thick dark fur, digitigrades dug in the snow, teeth and claws bared.

    It was a human with the guise of a wolf – a lycanthropic.

    “What!? A werewolf too!?” Reinhardt cried, raking a hand through his hair. “Ohhh, by Ysmir, this is some kinda nightmare!”

    “Wait, look!” I exclaimed.

    The dragon snarled at the werewolf as it leapt from the mountains and grappled onto its scaly back. It thrashed about and knocked the werewolf away. In an instant it sprang back on its legs and lunged at the dragon, drawing blood. The wyrm flinched away its forelimb and snapped back with its teeth. I watched the fight with bated breath.

    Why isn’t it flying away? Unless…

    “Its wing is torn,” I whispered, voice rising. “The dragon can’t fly! This is our chance!”

    There was sound like tearing flesh behind us. We turned back, seeing a hand with long claws clasping a boulder, the one Farkas had been lying near. His figure emerged, fur breaking out across his body, distorted in the process of transformation. Snout, forelimbs, and thick coat were all accounted for. The ice that had encased his legs broke away with a bulging of muscle mass.

    I hadn’t seen a transition to lycanthropic form before. The sight was… unsettling.

    “There he goes,” Vilkas sighed.

    “By the gods…!” Reinhardt staggered back.

    Change complete. Farkas let out a roar and charged toward the dragon on all four limbs. The winged beast snarled in surprise as it fought to repel the advance of two werewolves. They moved so quickly I could no longer tell which one was Farkas. Reinhardt was silent and dumbstruck. Vilkas gave him a shove and stared him in the eye.

    “You going to stand there while our shield siblings fight this battle for us?” he chided. The man rushed to join the fray.

    Reinhardt stood still. “Did he just say…?”

    “Go!” I barked. “Don’t question our fortune! We must win!”

    “Er… R- Right…!” He regained his composure and gripped the hilt of his sword with an angry scowl. “Argh, to Oblivion with this!!”

    Reinhardt led the way as we hurried to the action. The winged beast was in dire straits. It fought madly to keep its attackers at bay. Frost breath had little effect against the two werewolves, though they weren’t impervious to its sting. Their advantage was their speed – larger than humans but still smaller than the dragon, they could run circles around it with nimble athletics and strike with tremendous power. Reinhardt and Vilkas were dreadfully slow by comparison, but their swords were much sharper than claws. They skirted around the fight to find an opening for attack.

    What a tip of the scales! Still wounded from my magic, the dragon couldn’t fight at full strength. The only thing left was to deal a decisive blow.

    I tried to come closer. The wyrm volleyed a dense burst of its frost breath at me. My ward held against it, but the glow of the ring’s runes was fading. It was nearly out of charge. That winged beast was going to do anything and everything to keep me from coming near. I retreated behind a pillar of rock, infuriated at this setback. My fireballs had too great a risk of injuring allies amidst the scuttle. It was either up close or not at all.

    “IIZ… SLEN NUS!!!” The dragon shouted. One of the werewolves caught the brunt of the spell, the left half of its upper body frozen in ice. Yet just as the dragon seemed to gain an upper hand, the man beast roared and smashed its arm against a nearby rock column, shattering the ice away. It shook itself like a dog out of rain and resumed its attack with vigor.

    Reinhardt was able to come within striking range and swung at the dragon, grazing the joint where its wing met its torso. The dragon’s tail came spinning around. It slammed into Reinhardt’s chest and whisked him off of his feet, throwing the man hard against the mountain.

    I called out to him. He rolled over, visibly in pain. The steel plates on his armor must have saved his life. I was relieved but shocked he could still move. He retrieved his sword and used it to prop himself up on the rocks.

    At that moment I noticed the dragon being pushed back against the mountain by the relentless werewolves. Reinhardt saw this as well. With arduous effort he began to climb up the mountain’s side to reach a higher platform. Were the dragon not distracted, it could have easily shouted Reinhardt down. He was determined. He had a plan and I sensed what it was.

    I channeled one last spell and aimed my staff at Reinhardt.

    Let me be fast enough…!

    The dragon was shoved against the rocks by a combined tackle from the werewolves. Cornered and running out of room to fight back, it readied a Shout; a final effort to weasel its way out.

    “FUS… RO DAH!!!”

    A clap like thunder burst from the beast’s mouth and blew its attackers off their feet. The werewolves tumbled backwards into the snow and dirt. Vilkas seized the moment and thrust his sword through the dragon’s neck. It hollered out and knocked the Nord aside with a desperate beat of its wing. The sword remained lodged in the dragon, blood leaking from the puncture.

    With the scene unfolding below him, Reinhardt hoisted his weapon. My magic was ready. As the Nord made a running start I focused my staff and threw a spell. A band of red-orange light sailed through the air and met Reinhardt’s sword as he jumped.

    “Heads up!!” he hollered. The dragon lurched.

    At the peak of his two-handed swing, the blade of his weapon caught fire and came crashing down upon the dragon’s neck. The combination of heat and sharp edge cut clean through its scales, burying deep enough to sever its spinal cord. The great white dragon buckled its legs and slumped forward on its chest, wings folded halfway.

    Reinhardt fell back on his rump in surprise when he saw his sword inexplicably covered in flames. Then he burst out laughing – a loud, hardy, victorious laugh.

    Our battle was over.

    Vilkas emerged from behind the dragon and the two werewolves went to him. As I walked over to the man who dealt the final blow, he hoisted himself atop its head and turned to me with a smile big enough to see from yards away.

    “Did you see that!?” Reinhardt exclaimed.

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9 Comments   |   Fallout Night likes this.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  June 24, 2015
    Damn ning, cut me off. Though I still provide translations because my passages tend to be longer. It's pretty clear from the narrative that the characters don't understand and man, it takes a while to compose an extended passage in the language. I also wr...  more
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  June 24, 2015
    Good point. 
  • Okan-Zeeus
    Okan-Zeeus   ·  June 24, 2015
    I don't provide translations most of the time as a literary technique. The characters don't know what the dragons are saying, so neither should the reader. That's my reasoning for it.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  June 24, 2015
    Yes, I've used that website for quite some time now. It has helped me write some long passages in Dovahzul. I do provide translations when I do that, though, so people don't have to keep flipping between websites. 
    Dragons also use Drain vitality an...  more
  • LokaCola
    LokaCola   ·  June 24, 2015
    Now that is an epic dragon fight! Loved that you made the dragon use other shouts as well and not just the ice related ones, always found it a bit odd that with such a great variety of shouts, yet all the dragons only use the fire/ice breath ones.
  • Okan-Zeeus
    Okan-Zeeus   ·  June 24, 2015
    Actually, I recently discovered an awesome website! It's a Dovahzul translator. You can take any sentence in English and convert it into dragon language, or vice versa.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  June 24, 2015
    Well, good. Poor Argonian can't fall forever. 
    Quick question, you ever plan on translating the Dovahzul? Not that I need it, cause I write in it a lot for Albee's narrative, and I wouldn't say for the shouts cause we know those, but for the odd phr...  more
  • Okan-Zeeus
    Okan-Zeeus   ·  June 24, 2015
    You would be right, Lissette. If they want them to stay dead, it's Chases-The-Wind or bust.
    Speaking of whom... you'll find out how he's doing tomorrow. 
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  June 24, 2015
    Well done dragon battle, but I'm assuming it can still be resurrected as no one's there who can absorb the soul? And of course, I knew you'd not do Chases-the-Wind because why ease any of our tension. That is one long fall off that cliff. 
    Cool use ...  more