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Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Red Sinfonia, Jun 1, 2016.
A Girl and Her Dragon
For Roose & Red
It had been early in the morning, when the bruised indigo sky was still kissing the horizon, that Kolda had managed to nestle herself, still dressed, among the bunched furs that were strewn across her cot. The burnt orange of a fox pelt blended with the wild tresses of sun-kissed hair and golden skin, the clever features of her face buried in the soft strands with a distinct sigh of contentment. It was serenely quiet, save for the warbling of the morning birds in their joust for mates, and she found herself being lulled by the simplicity of the sounds. Their chirrups fused to make a melodic lullaby, whispering against the halo of her mane on the bed. Refusing, if only for a moment, to be so taken by it that she disappeared into a world of dreams too quickly, Kolda used one leather boot to push at the other, attempting to get them off with minimal effort. The furs beneath her whispered against one another, rustling as she worked to free herself; so consumed had she been in the task that she'd almost noticed the sudden silence outside. Almost.
Eyes of crushed summer leaves slowly opened and turned, gazing out into the shack that she called home. A lone candle flickered at her bedside table, seated in a copper lantern. Its bronze light washed over her workspace, accentuating the partial curves of her most recent commission with admiration, along with the dusty hearth, the drying herbs hanging from the stones, and two wooden dressers - one of which was slightly lopsided. From the window, which watched outward towards the woods, a dark lavender filtered through the looming trees. But all was too quiet. Until she heard the voices, so soft and gentle.
Before Kolda's hands could so much as work to lift herself, the wood of her door burst open, causing her to audibly shout.
A man, flanked by as many other men and women who could stuff themselves within the small space of her home, stood before her, with a disconcerting gaze. A man that she had seen many times before. A man, whose aura of ale and strangeness came as no surprise to herself, who lead the sad village of Vree. A crazed man, Iawar, and all the village followed at his heels. Kolda glared upon recognition, the candle alighting the invader. "You," she hissed. "I don't know what you think you're doing, you son of a heaving pig, but by Neis, I hope that Tanoh himself shoves his boot right up your-"
Despite the quickness with which her mouth could move, Iawar - with the help of the others - managed to gag her quicker. "Kolda, there is no need to blaspheme!" He exclaimed, his eyes wide with true indignation, his words pleading in and of themselves.
"We are on a mission from the gods themselves," an older woman informed her as she worked on binding Kolda's hands. Kolda recognized her too. 'You... you toad scum! I gave you that poultice for your son for free. Do you know how hard it is to collect lizard teeth!?' The words would have meant nothing, she knew, as she muffled her protestations against the cloth in her mouth and wriggled against their bindings. In truth, she still could hardly believe that it was happening at all. She knew that the villagers had lost minds ages ago, moving and talking in a constant stupor if only because that's what their bodies were trained to do, but this... this, whatever the hell it was. This was beyond them.
They bustled Kolda out of her shack and the cold of the morning bled through her muslin shirt, a soft wind dazzling the field of hyssops that surrounded them. By the grace of all that was unholy, the entire village seemed to stand before her, a sea of stupidly smiling faces and... were those tears? Tears that topped grins. They looked more than mad. They looked like a bunch of sadistic goblins. That feeling was not dampened by the large, oaken stake plunged into the ground amidst them all, one that they half-formed around. Were they going to burn her? The fear began to settle, the panic. Everyone would die sometime, but Kolda didn't imagine death by burning. She imagined being eaten by a bear or accidentally stabbing herself with her own carving knife, but the slow theater of a burning? What had she done? Surely, she'd messed with the villagers many times. She'd slipped buckthorn into a poultice and told her victim that the constant bathroom trips were necessary to the healing process. She'd made fake gods from the fabled west just to see how many phallic carvings she could sell. Was this her due?
"Kolda, you are a blessing from the gods themselves," Iawar announced. "You have bravely accepted your fate as a sacrifice to the Dragon of Vree!"
So that was what this was about. Kolda rolled her eyes and shut them tight. Of course it was. Of course, after seeing a winged beast in the sky once or twice, they'd name it after the village. Of course, after glimpsing such a thing, they decided that it wanted to destroy the village and one measly sacrifice would satiate it. Of course, after considering this, they decided that the stand-up citizen of their village to face the loathsome beast would be the woman who lived just outside its borders, the woman with no family name to speak up, Kolda of Vree. 'The fairies have eaten your brains and left you with cotton instead, you... you...' That was it. Possibly her last moments to face them and think of a proper curse for the wretches and she couldn't even come up with one. Too angry, too shocked.
The plan wasn't a burning then. It was being slow roasted and eaten. Or just eaten. Or the dragon wouldn't care and she'd just starve to death. At least she had a lovely view of the village in her final moments.
The goodbyes began, nauseatingly, as Kolda was hoisted onto the stake. Hyssops and weeds were woven through her hair, because the gods had a sick sense of humor, worthless trinkets left at her feet. The villagers that had pillaged her home moments before thanked her for her sacrifice, for her things; she was given her own fur mantled cloak, a sarcastic thank you tongued against her gag with a face of faux gratefulness. It took too long for the people of Vree to clear, to kiss her cheeks goodbye and bid themselves a successful day. They weren't even going to stay and watch. No, they were going to leave her there, away to the comfort of their own homes. To their lit hearths and their blasphemous jolly. Damn them.
When the bruised indigo sky was still kissing the horizon.......
Early morning was the best time for fishing. Also the best time for swimming. And flying. Though flying around sunset also gave Roughshod warm feelings. His mate Kirin loved sunsets. He always missed her when out on his Outings, but as GateKeeper, it was his duty to explore. To build experience. Since old Codger had died, leaving him the sole GateKeeper, everything depended on his Strength with the Gates. He would have no one else's... no, no, not true. All back on Home would give him support, when his time came to Feed the Suns. To keep his Home alive.
But for now, he fished for breakfast. And after, went hunting for some fruit. He'd found a grove of apple trees. Some blackberry bushes. Not Skyfruit, but it would do. This world's tiny trees couldn't provide better.
Rising sun on golden hide, fish and fruit turned hunger to contentment. So he returned to the lake, stretched out on the shore, spread his wings to this single yellow sun as it rose, dark amber eyes closed, pale golden mane ruffled by wind off the water. Mindstone's blue glow lighting the middle of his forehead as it pulsed and wavered to his thoughts.
He stayed like this for some time, sun well up, before he roused himself... stretched out the kinks from jaw on down to tail's tip... then took to air again.
It only happened to be pure chance his regular flightpath had carried him over Vree the last few days. He never camped for long in any one place. So much to see. To learn, even at his age. Bonding with a mate and fathering a child didn't stop the need to learn. To explore Life. To grow.......
....... well now.
Something odd caught his attentions as he passed over Vree. Something new. Out of sorts. Peculiar. He circled about, just to make sure he'd seen what he'd seen and...
... sure enough.
So. He landed, a gust of wind as he lightly touched down... approached... sniffed... walked around... then settled his twenty-one foot length before this human female tied to a stake...
... "Good morning..." His voice, deep, metallic accent, very much non-human, though his "English" was perfect... "I see the natives have been restless today."
His breath smelled of fish and apples.
As the morning wind danced across the violet tongues of the budding flowers, Kolda shivered against her cloak, an odd sensation when crossed with the soft warmth of the sun against her face. Time had become distorted for her, waiting for death with uncertainty; wondering how It would be dressed, if It would choose to feast upon her flesh or starve her. Either way, the villagers would not return until they were sure the face of their guilt was without a light in her eyes, so she could not count on them for her survival. Her cottage was a ways off from any well-worn road and she doubly doubted anyone happening to 'find' her lashed to that stake. So she waited, counting the hyssops at her feet, her eyes begging her to shut and sleep, but her mind too curious, or fearful to do anything but stay awake.
Moments later, maybe hours, the rays of the sun were cut, and a dark figure overshadowed the purple meadow. Kolda's heart caught in her stomach and she wondered if the dragon did care afterall, if the gods were truly that angry with her to give her such wretched look. She looked up, the best she could into the sky, and gazed at the golden creature in all its glory, flush against the sunlight that snaked down in plumes. It was closer than she had seen it before, keying her in that it most likely saw her. More than anything, she noticed the size of the great thing, no longer a blot against the clouds.
"Please, don't be hungry," she uttered underneath her breath as the dragon landed, the wind twirling her hair against her face. She turned her head and shut her eyes, shielding herself from the debris that flung itself up in a flurry.
The dragon sniffed about, but she knew that it knew she was there. It didn't appear to be stalking, unless dragon's knew the inferiority of their prey and was just giving her a false sense of hope.
That was when it spoke. He spoke. Good morning? Out of all the things that she suspected a dragon may say to her, she could not have predicted that. Maybe she was too used to the vitriol of Vree or the marketmean that passed through the village, but still. "Restless is an understatement," her mouth let loose before she could get a hold of herself. 'What's the point holding back? You're already tied to a stake.' True. "If, of course, by restless you mean tit-flinging mad. Any moment now, they'll probably pop over the hill and throw their screaming newborns at you until they convince you to eat me... Are you planning to eat me?"
The "dragon" raised an eyebrow he didn't have, his expression dressed in the same bare naked honesty as his body. Clear to see he was surprised, in a "Did I just hear what I thought I heard?" kind of way. No, he'd never expected this morning to contain such an interesting encounter. He raised what passed for a hand, to rub the end of his muzzle... wiped his palm over his nostrils as he snorted, battish ears turned back...
... "Tit-flinging mad? Throw their screaming newborns? Eat you?"
When he was younger, Roughshod wouldn't have understood half of what this human female said. There were still human concepts that had no translation into his natal language. Or were just so... alien. Yes, so different, only age and the experience gained with age, gained in his travels, allowed him to communicate on more than a basic level. This... woman. So interesting! So...
... "I've already eaten. And I don't care for red meat, anyway."
He moved closer, sat down on his haunches again, wings neatly folded as he set the end of his just-rubbed muzzle inches from her face. She couldn't avoid his fishy-fruity breath, even if she tried...
... "It's also my understanding primates fling poo, not newborns. Or...tits." His mane ruffled as he leaned back... "Newborns are too precious." Both forelimbs lifted from the ground, hands touching low on his belly... "Take too much effort to make to just throw away..."
And no, he wasn't pregnant. But...
... "Kirin would not like to hear such talk, so close to giving birth."
But yes, this whole "throwing of newborns" talk had amped up his expectant father nerves. And made him miss his mate even more.......
Even before he spoke, Kolda exhaled a sigh of relief, as she watched the dragon's face furrowed and morphed into a shocked expression, as though he'd never. Maybe he didn't eat talking things, she wondered, until he openly admitted that he didn't like red meat. That was certainly allayed any concerns of death, as long as he wasn't sadistic enough to leave her lashed to the stake for the rest of her existence.
As he settled closer, the gale of his breath swept over her face and confirmed what he'd said. The fish was the strongest scent, a pungent mix of flesh and river water, but she caught the fruity undercurrent. Plums, peaches? No, apples. It was definitely apples. She turned her face just slightly from the combination, but caught herself before she came off as rude. "I see."
"It's also my understanding primates fling poo, not newborns."
Kolda watched him with amusement before she snorted, attempting to stop herself from flinging face-first into a fit of laughter. "Then you have not ever met the people of Vree."
Kirin? By the way that he spoke, his sentimentality, she wondered if that was his love.
The ties were digging into her hands, raw now, and they momentarily stole her attention. "I don't mean to interrupt your train of thought, but would you mind helping me down?"
No, Roughshod had never met the people of Vree. He hadn't even known the name of this village, up till now. And he tended to avoid "people" because... well, they tended to run and scream and otherwise make a fuss. Or they tried to catch you, throw you in a lab, stick you with needles and wave other sharp things around... all depended on just how "advanced" they happened to be. Here, not so much. Though he had visited worlds where his own appearance was in no way remarkable. Places where creatures like him, and unlike him, were considered "people" just as much as humans. All one big happy family.......
....... or not.
As for Kirin, yes, his Love. Not just his mate. Love, very important in the bonding process. Bonding... synchronizing body, mind and spirit... required love to produce offspring. Everything had to mesh just right. Kirin's so far successful pregnancy was proof they made a perfect pair.......
....... and yes, this human female's words did interrupt his train of thought.
Roughshod dropped to all fours, intent and intense eyes on her. Then he did his walk-around again. Head up. Head down. Head tilted one way, then the other. Yes, to be honest, he was making a production of it, because he'd already seen everything before. And it was interesting to watch this female's reactions. But time came to do what she'd asked... as he passed again behind her, even in the daylight, she may have caught the flare of light, felt the poof as her bonds came apart all at once. She may also have noted his walk-around had brought him very close, the length of his body "wrapped" around the pole...
... so, if her legs were weak, if she fell, she'd fall on him. One way to catch her that didn't involve claws or teeth, just smooth, firm hide over muscle. To be even more sure she wouldn't miss, just in case, given his hind-quarters stood in just the right position, he raised his tail as a block...
... "I will try to avoid these people of Vree. I would guess you also wish to avoid them."
There. He'd given her two things to grab.......
There was utter excitement when the creature came to life at Kolda's request, animating himself about the situation at hand, observing and calculating as he circled her. After a moment of watching it, her eyes narrowed, her brows furrowed - one eventually raising higher than the other - and she wondered if the dragon was toying with her. Making a joke out the situation. She didn't really know if she blamed him, the lines on her face relaxing as she considered it. It was a humorous situation, she supposed, now that she was no longer downrange of Death's arrow, and she was sure she'd be laughing about it many years from now. She glanced over to her cottage, a frown dipped onto her lips. Now that she was alive, she had to think about a life after all this. She couldn't stay in Vree. Not when the people there should the propensity to end her life. Today it was death by dragon, tomorrow it could be death by giants. Whatever reason they could find to be rid of the woman with no family name.
It was in this line of thought that there was a brief flash of light and Kolda's wrists were warm, though no longer heavy with the bonds that had lashed her to the stake. Her initial reaction was to bring them around, to look at the damage they had done, and to decide what poultice would quickly help with the raw skin. The initial reaction was also a dumb reaction, as she completely lost her balance. It was to her sheer gratefulness that the dragon foresaw this complication, as she collapsed across the length of his tail.
The creature's skin was smoother than she expected; she'd seen dragon scales in market before, and had personally deemed them rocks. Maybe she was not wrong about them after all.
'Suck it, Vree,' was her first thought as she realized her arms were free. It was as though she had tasted this freedom for the first time in ages, even if she'd only been slung up for a few hours. Hands on the creature's tail, she pushed herself to her feet and made herself steady. "Ha!" She laughed mirthfully, for she could not have predicted her luck. Maybe the gods had a sense of humor after all. She turned to face the dragon and nodded, a smile curved onto her lips. "I am going to work to avoid them for the rest of my life. You've been around up there," she said, glancing at the sky. "Any town that you've seen around? I suppose I'm going to have to find somewhere to buy a horse. I've never really traveled far," she spoke with a tad misery mixed in the tone. She should have traveled. Should have left. There was a sudden revelation and she gasped, a blush mixing with her freckles apologetically. "How rude of me, I forgot to thank you. Thank you very much. I don't think I have anything I can give you except my name. I'm Kolda."
Name to Face...
The "dragon" also glanced at the sky. But he "glanced" quite further than Kolda could have imagined. Through the sky and out into the stars. Human touch to his sensitive hide felt so odd, not like touching another of his kind. Human skin. Human clothing. So different. Just as he was different from any "dragon" Kolda may have heard of. Or seen the scales of. Since he had no scales. Though perhaps she'd noted, draped over his tail, eyes so close, the roughness on his hind feet, almost like scales, but not quite...
... "I call myself Roughshod."
Because he was, indeed, roughly "shod".
Again, as his eyes met hers, that intent, intense amber brightness, that glow from his Mindstone, as if Roughshod looked into her very soul...
... "Perhaps a horse. Perhaps just me."
His muzzle broke into a toothy grin... "Two gifts for the price of one." And though he used the word "price", such a concept was one of those alien things he had a very hard time grasping. In his own thoughts, he used the concept of value, something he well understood. But yes, he'd given her the gift of his name, just as she had given to him. And the extra gift... the offer to be her "horse".
"Roughshod," Kolda repeated, nodding her head lightly. That was easy enough to remember, and it wasn't as complicated as some of the names of dragons in local folklore. Such examples were Denobanskellyeoct of the West Sun and Rodranraytherrothyn of the Dappled Mountain; both of which she'd had to carve before. Once, she did it on a request, but the buyer had lost his avenue of money - he was an infamous gambler - and she'd had to try to sell it at the markets. She didn't know how many times she said the name wrong, but her potential buyers said it incorrectly right back. Yes, Roughshod was a much easier name to remember. Maybe the local humans just really did know very little about dragons to begin with. Worked for her, regardless.
"You?" This took her aback slightly. Deep down, she supposed that she'd wanted to - she'd entertained the idea of riding a dragon, of being up in the sky, but she'd thought it might be rude to ask. It was probably rude to ride horses without their permission as well, but they didn't have a voice to announce their concerns, so it hadn't crossed her mind beforehand.
Kolda tapped an idle finger on her lips, imagining the view of Vree and all its tiny, insignificant idiots far, far below. The possibilities opened themselves. She could leave this place. She really could. No chance of getting a day away and finding nowhere to go. "Yes!" She said quickly, realizing that her hesitation may mean the opposite of her true desires. She leaned forward, fingers ringing together. "Please, take me away from here! Wait... wait, hold on!"
Climbing over Roughshod's tail, Kolda tightened her cloak around her neck and took a quick jog to her cottage.
It had been pillaged, which she hadn't doubted, but some things were left, and they hadn't found the hatch that went a short ways down into the earth beneath, hiding in the mud in case the house burnt. She had considered them trying to burn the house. Kolda found an oiled leather bag and threw supplies in, such as some threading for wicks, jars of tallow, some supplies for hunting small game, a few small wood works to sell for coin, what was left of her herbs, and a few bottles of poultices. The rest of the space, which wasn't much, was dedicated to the last of her clothing. After that, she kissed the doorway - a traveler's goodluck - and left her home for good. The only one she'd known.
Kolda approached Roughshod, knowing full well that she was just barely acquainted with the dragon and now she was asking something else of him, something besides letting her down and thereby saving her life. "Thank you, Roughshod," she said with a grateful smile. "I don't know how I can repay you, but I'll try however I can. I don't know where to ask you to take me. I don't really know anything of this world beyond Vree."
Making Further Acquaintances...
While Kolda busied herself with packing, Roughshod busied himself with a bit of personal grooming. Rubbed the end of his muzzle over his wing membranes, like a very large roll-on deodorant, oil glands on the end of his muzzle, between his nostrils, serving to condition his skin. Brought a whole new meaning to the phrase "getting a facial". Yes, if he was going to transport a "passenger", he needed to make sure his wings... and the rest of his body... remained in top condition.
Having offered his services, Roughshod also had things to take stock of... to ponder. Though he had no home on this world, no belongings to gather, yes, having offered his services, he had to consider just how this "relationship" would work. Just how far he could take this human. He meant her no harm, but he was curious to see just how she would react to the universe he knew...
... if she could learn and grow in their mutual travels, just as he had in his own. If she could handle knowledge. Truths. See with new eyes.
Of course, he was also quite curious about her from a personal perspective. Since this partnership would keep them close...
... "Ahhh..." Roughshod licked excess oil from between his nostrils, stretched out and settled on his belly as he took in what she said, mane ruffled, ears up and forwards, alert, wings relaxed... "Pay me with your company. And as for asking? I've only been on this world for a few days, so I don't know much more than you." He looked about, then turned his attentions back on Kolda... "If we stay on this world, we will both learn together."
While she didn't think that the payment matched the product, Kolda wasn't going to argue a criminally good deal. He had saved her life by allowing her down from the death trap that the people of Vree had trapped her against and now he was going to help her flee this miserable place. If all he wanted in return was her companionship, she would give it heartily and without argument.
That was when what Roughshod said fully clicked in. "Been on this world?" She repeated, wracking her mind for what that could possibly mean. It also made the wording of his final comments even stranger - "If we stay on this world."
"Were you just born a few days ago?" Kolda asked curiously, though that in itself seemed strange. Her eyes strayed over the length of the dragon, but she couldn't imagine him being only a couple days old. That just didn't seem right. She'd been wrong about everything else with dragons, but that seemed too outlandish.
"You don't look wet behind the ears to me," she said, her expression inquisitive as she shifted her weight to one hip. "Are you from... somewhere else?" That assumption seemed just as crazy, but more reasonable than anything else. Was he from the land of the gods? Or even the land of the devils? She doubted that even more. Was there something else out there? Kolda gazed up at the sky and felt the weight of how little she knew.
Somewhere Out There...
Roughshod gave Kolda another raised eyebrow look. He hadn't forgotten mentioning Kirin and their child-to-be. So, quite obvious he hadn't been born yesterday. Or the day or days before that. A quite fully mature adult, in his very early prime. So, he simply gave Kolda that expression, till she asked that last, important question. Indeed, she seemed quite intelligent. He felt quite hopeful she would, indeed, learn and grow...
... "I am over one hundred of your years old. I am quite dry. And yes, I am not from here." Wings folded tighter to his sides, tail curled around, tip waving between them... "I come from what you call the stars."
He looked up, sighed, huffed and shot out a burst of blue flame...
... "Long way from Home. Long way from mate and family."
Roughshod reached out and "caught" his tail, turned his muzzle in her direction and sniffed long and deep, ears back, eyes bright... "You have no mate? No family? I scent no sign you have been with a male of your kind."
Indeed, very honest. Not afraid to dig into what humans might consider "sensitive" subject matter. And yes, presently in a questioning mood, not yet ready himself to go. To be honest again, as rushed as Kolda may have felt, Roughshod's sense of time differed quite a bit from hers.
"The... the stars? Really?" Kolda gasped, though she knew the dragon plainly had no reason to lie, unless he was delusional and that was truly why he hadn't tried to eat her. But she sincerely doubted that. Instead, she gandered at the sky and smirked slightly. She never thought it would be her luck that on the day she was 'sacrificed', she'd meet a creature from the stars, even far beyond the heavens themselves. She'd supposed that some god had sent him to her, but she didn't know of any that lived on those twinkling little dots against the dark canvas.
That was when she heard the somber tone in Roughshod's voice and Kolda's attention returned to him. Her lips turned into a frown. How do you console someone far away from home? She had never had the experience, either of consoling or of being far away from the people she loved.
The question sparked a bit of red across her cheeks and Kolda's brow knit together, but the tension dissipated with a snort, which evolved into a musical laugh. "No, no. A couple times when I was hardly a woman, with some adventurer's son, but I've no 'mate' to speak of. Think, Roughshod... the only 'mates' I could possibly take up would be from there," she said, gesturing over the hill towards the madhouse that was Vree. "I would have let a bear eat me before I permanently laid myself to bed with one of them." The loneliness was saddening, it was true, and she'd been bereft of the physical attention that humans were apt to want, but there were too many factors to finding someone, to love, and to life itself for her to bother with such intricacies. For the moment, for the time, she was happy to be without a mate to speak of.
"As for family," she said, her voice slipping low. "I have none. Haven't in a long time. I am Kolda, the woman with no family name."
Roughshod took in Kolda's reaction, forelimbs crossed, ears up, head tilted one way then the other. Ever curious. Mind rapidly working with strange concepts and other ways of thinking, so he could translate this alien language into something he could grasp. But what Kolda said... about the difficulty of finding a mate... yes, he didn't need translation to understand such universal concepts. He'd yet to meet a sentient species that hadn't experienced such issues, one way or another.
So yes, indeed, he did think, very long and deep...
... "I have no family name... I know my parents. That is all I need." He'd released his tail when he'd crossed forelimbs, so it was free to reach out, to touch its tip to Kolda's shoulder, light and careful... "I understand humans are different. I understand the difficulty finding a mate." Indeed, Kirin had not been an easy "catch"...
... "Life is forever a challenge."
His tail withdrew as he stood up, stretched, opened his wings to their full glory, then gave Kolda an ears back, mane ruffled look, eyes very deep, Mindstone's glow subdued...
... "Life is also a risk. Before I take you anywhere, understand... I will do what I can to protect you, but I cannot guarantee your safety."
The mention of parents was a soft blow to the heart, one that Kolda felt the pain of when she inhaled, creating an otherwise ignored lump in her throat. The sensitive topic was not one that she would bring up, as there was hardly a story to tell, but the tail, whose touch surprised her, was a comfort that she smiled at. It was simple, gentle, but caring for such a brief acquaintance. The 'life is forever a challenge' she laughed at, as it couldn't possibly have been any more accurate. How lovely, how true, how incredible that she found herself relating entirely to a creature from beyond the stars. It certainly grounded her.
Counsel ended, Roughshod stretched his body, and Kolda was reminded of his stark, golden beauty beneath the glow of the sun. Even there, wings stretched and mane slightly tossed in the breeze, he seemed otherwordly.
The warning was responded to with a snort. "I couldn't even guarantee my own safety with the way that I've lived for however long," she said, eyes rolling to the village over the hill. Truly, their madness had spread itself to her brain if she ever thought she would be able to have a life here.
Either way, she shrugged. "The people of Vree determined today that I would die, but just because I didn't doesn't mean I expect to get lucky all the time. Besides..." She paused and pulled the dagger out that she'd shoved into the sheath in her boot, gazing at the simplicity of its sharp edge. "I've got this mean thing to pick my teeth with. I'm sure it could also do some sort of damage should I need it." Sliding it back, she adjusted her cloak and drew it closer. "I think I'll be okay, Roughshod. And if not, well... at least I didn't die here."
An amused hrrr escaped Roughshod's throat. Yes... he very much liked this female. She had spunk! And of course, obvious, what with being tied to a stake as a "sacrifice". But still, he had to give his warning. Had to make sure she understood. Traveling with him would be a very great risk... if he took her off this planet, no telling how she'd respond to the Gateway Paths. Or to what she found on the other side. Humans, so fragile, no matter how tough and world-worn they happened to be...
... "Even immortals die, some time within their eternal lives."
Roughshod spoke the words as if they came from some rare Book of Wisdom. Even though his kind had no books.
And yes, they had indeed related, despite the wide differences between their respective species. Ah, the simple ways Life worked! Relationships... friendships... understanding. That is where things could get complex. But still, "dragon" and human breathed the same air. Everything came down to that. At least in Roughshod's philosophy.
... done with pokes and questions, satisfied, Roughshod finished his stretch, each hind leg held out and back in turn, clawed toes spread, as he balanced on threes. Then dropped again belly to ground... throat and jaws also... a clear invite with his deep bright eyes and flick of ears.
Him, ready to leave.
The words were sage, and true, for Kolda had once been told that even stars die, but when the night came and they shined their brightest, it was so hard for her to comprehend that they could be felled at all. It reminded her of the wisdom that had been whispered from the trees when she'd been hardly a child. The familiarity was comforting, but she shrugged off the mantle of reverie when she watched Roughshood stretch and then lower himself, proffering her a seat upon his back.
The excitement returned, burning trails through her blood as she was reminded that there was a world beyond this place. No longer would she look at the same meadow of hyssops, the same rolling hill, the same village, the same mountains in the distance. There would be other places to see, a scenery to change. Kolda checked over her shoulder, briefly, to kiss the solemn imagery a happy goodbye, and then approached Roughshod.
Kolda had ridden horses before, but she was positive, staring at the dragon's back, that this would not be the same. Horses did not have wings or fly. Roughshod also did not have reins, like she was used to, and she knew it would be incredibly rude to even consider. Re-positioning her pack so that she was sure she had a good hold of it, Kolda used her hands to steady her and swung her leg around his back. Already, it felt strange, his smooth skin beneath her fingertips, a tousled mane along his neck. She stared at the locks for a moment and bit her lip.
"Mm... Roughshod... would it bother or hurt you if I had to hold onto your hair?" That was certainly not a question that Kolda ever thought she would be asking. It truly didn't feel like it should sit right with her, but that was the best wording she was going to be able to give without dancing around the issue.
No Horsing Around...
Roughshod also felt a tinge of excitement. In all his travels, he'd never considered offering anyone a ride, human or otherwise. This would also be a new experience for him. As for how it felt when Kolda touched him... when her weight fell on his back? A ripple of sensation passed through his body, a sudden twitch of his deep physical senses, where he could feel every organ and part. Touch his insides as vividly as Kolda touched his outsides. More so. Every part, every function. At this moment, every organ and part in perfect health. No injuries to report.
First time he'd felt this natural feedback without first being hurt. Short. Intense. Unexpected. He twitched a little... huffed. Ruffled his mane...
... "No, it would not. It is my understanding Little One's grab hold all the time. As I said... Kirin is yet to give birth. Our first......."
Again, that touch of longing. But with pride, this time. Contained joy. His understanding, soon to be experience. "Soon" being relative, given how long gestation took for one of his kind. Still... a chance his and Kolda's adventure would last long enough, he would need to return with her "in tow". Because he would not miss Kirin's "moment"... their Bond. He would never dance around this issue...
... however, when he arose, Kolda on his back, he moved as if ready to begin a dance. Poised. Wings out and lifted, membranes tight. Mindstone, flared.......
....... What Kolda could only call waves passed through her body, energy radiated from deep within Roughshod's "center". A leap. A downbeat. Airborne. Wind through mane fur and over bare hide. Shift and roll of muscle underneath. Power. Raw power. Grace. Lightness. Yes, Kolda felt herself floating, even though she also felt herself firmly held to his back...
... "Please... no screaming! No flailing! No jumping off!"
No, Roughshod didn't expect she would do any of those things. He'd simply spoken with a grin, his love of flight leaking out.......
....... as he leveled out, five thousand feet up.
Watching Roughshod's wings stretch out only intensified the tumultuous excitement that flared within Kolda's breast, her heartbeat quickening with every movement of the sheer muscle beneath her. Carefully, she twined her fingers against the mane, leaned forward against his neck, quickly reached up to tighten her pack. Fear tingled the back of her neck, tickled her senses, but she forced it down and away. That was when she felt the flush of energy, the waves that sent power through the pores of her skin. She gasped from its suddenness, from the unexpected feeling, and then her heart took a dive as Roughshod pushed off into the air.
There was no feeling like it, never had been, as far as Kolda was concerned. The earth dropped away from them quickly and every powerful beat of wings in the air was felt up along her legs and flourished to her chest. She gave a happy shout, laughing slightly at the mad elation that came from it.
The experience was surreal, so much so that not even glancing down at the earth below scared her. Kolda felt a freedom from this, a freedom in general. She laughed again when Roughshod playfully stated his rules, her arms tightening down against his muscle to further secure herself.
When he leveled out, the freedom and the elation remained, but the intoxicating joy gave way to a happy sober. Kolda cautiously sat up, still slightly leaning forward, and gazed out into the sky, the clouds so close she felt as though she could stand on Roughshod's back and collect them. Would be amusing to claim she had a cloud poultice, collected from the sky while flying with her friend; even more amusing if she made serious coin off of it.
In the thought of him, Kolda looked down at her golden companion. "I don't know where it is... or even if we'll find it in the direction we're going, but let's see if we can find the ocean, Roughshod. I've never been. Unless you passed by more interesting places on your way in!" She called out over the currents of wind that tossed her hair against its stream.