Sadly for the Mandate, except for Kadath and Baen – both of whom were, as slaves, magically bound to obey their masters – the rest of the dragons who were willing too come along all seemed to be completely unable to stand each other. They acted like a bunch of squabbling, jealous, and demanding children. Of course, they were children by immortal dragon standards, but they were still all at least seven or eight hundred years old. They should know better by NOW.
Anyway, Chi’an had said that he was too busy working on the magical second line of defense, and had refused to send any of his bonded subordinates other than Baen – but Ilarian Drake, Lohikaarme (F), Zheng Yi Sao (F), Kanmari, Jamathial (F), Apheriol, Xaliotl, and Wyvern (F) had all shown up. Roughly evenly divided between boys and girls. Even closer to even if you remembered that Baen had been neutered – and exactly even if you discounted Kadath. Dammit! Were they treating this as a SOCIAL EVENT!?! OK, so the Bane Mummies were only after human beings, but you’d think that they’d recognize the scale of the menace!
Oh. They were adolescents. They thought they were more-or-less invincible. At least they had more grounds for that belief than most human adolescents did.
Sadly, actually getting the expedition organized took hour upon hour upon hour. Ionstorm didn’t get along with half the dragons, the dragons were virtually all either showing off, pointedly ignoring each other, making snide remarks, hitting on each other, or otherwise being troublesome (it would have been outright war if both Ionstorm and the Dragons didn’t all treat blasting each other with vast bolts of raw cosmic power as the equivalent of a pie fight). The kids and werewolves kept getting involved (or at least wanting to be), the White Necromancer had to imbue all the hero’s and the Racaf’s weapons, armor, and gear with life energy to protect it all against the Ru’Kahl’s entropic spells, there were other protections to raise, supplies to lay in, people to say goodbye to, special awards to discuss with the Racaf, teary scenes of “sending our boys off to war”, having to recover Zachary (who’d obeyed the prompting of chaos and run off to enchant the farm animals downstate in weird and wonderful ways; bringing him back did not help with the ongoing arguments however), debates over the lunch menu, a debate over whether it was RIGHT to involve the Racaf, and plenty of sheer random chaos. If it wasn’t for the fact that it would be virtually impossible to handle matters without nonhuman assistance, most of the heroes would have voted for just throwing them all out.
At least Stranglevine was quiet. Of course, the fact that it was a plant and had no known modes of communication might have something to do with that.
Eventually the Mandate managed to get them all pointed in the same direction and headed into the gate, but it took a RIDICULOUS amount of work to pull it off.