Threads of Fire

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Ochalla, Jun 28, 2012.

  1. Omnia vincit amor

    Deep within one of the many mountains in the Great Southern Range laid a cave. It was of an altitude that normal creatures of land would not go out of their way to get to and entrance was of great size. It was in fact a sleeping volcano and it's labyrinth of caverns were warmer then the air outside.

    Something besides the volcano slept there.

    Over the centuries a handful of dragons had found the cave and considered taking up residency there, but one and all found sleeping there impossible. There was a great sadness in the place. As though the very cave wept. It was a subtle presence, but noticeable enough that not one wished to try a second night. It was better to find a cave that didn't seem to hold onto its past.

    And so it laid empty. No one to curious enough to find out what ghosts walked the mountain, nor why such an unnatural rock stood in one corner, a strange rose quartz that should have been the prize in someone's treasure hoard to amplify magic. Though with all the soot on it, it only appeared grey and unattractive.

    There was an anticipation. Something soon would change, and destiny would. It be easy this second time around. Yet there might yet be a reward.
  2. Spring was peeking through the snow that lined the upper meadows, a few crocuses making their debut through the patches of melting accumulation as Ny'v'thalnosan swept through the lightly clouded predawn, his wings cutting sharp troughs in the banks of clouds. For days, the young male had been searching for a new home, his old compromised by hunting parties that had taken to traipsing through the nearby forest. The comfort of his small cavern and the safety of his hoard had been undermined by their very presence and he'd been forced to seek out new lodgings. Of course, this was not so simple for a dragon as it was for a human, and he was no small specimen.

    The large blue stood twice the size of a human at the shoulder, that height nearly doubling when he held his well muscled neck upright. Silvery blue plates covered his chest and throat, protecting usually vulnerable areas that would be dragonhunters might aim a lance at. With wings extended, the male was the size of a small barn. It was no small wonder that the humans he encountered feared him, and he had learned from experience that fear led to action and mob mentality, aimed against a hungry, but harmless, dragon. And so, with humanity encroaching upon his hunting grounds and den, he'd taken his small hoard of precious gems, buoyed aloft behind him with a web of magic, and sought out a new place to live.

    He'd been flying for three days, stopping to roost in the high mountain peaks and once in a long dry and abandoned well. That had been a necessary risk, and a near mistake. It turned out that a group intent upon reclaiming the use of the settlement the natural well sat near had chosen that very morning to lead an expedition to his night's nest. He'd managed to get aloft and out of sight, but it had been a near miss and only the blessing of low hanging clouds had saved the male.

    Now, as he came nearer the peaks of the Great Southern Range, he was growing desperate. His wings ached and light would soon illuminate him to all but the most weak eyed traveler. He'd no choice but to gain altitude and try to find a place to sleep for the day. It was of paramount importance that he also settle his treasure, for the magical weave that kept it trailing after him was in need of repair after he'd encountered a rather surprised flock of birds. The cave, when sighted, was a blessing. He dropped cautiously, fearing some other great beast, be it wyvern, dragon, or roc, had made their home here. But there was no fresh scent but for that of small, nonsentient animals. There were old dragon smells, but this cave had been long abandoned. What should have warned him away was brushed aside by necessity as Ny'v'thalnosan stalked into the cave, tail accidentally cracking against the roof of the entrance. His footfalls were near silent, the only sound the occasional scrape of steely scales upon rock walls as he hugged the left side of the cave, still slightly wary that something large enough to harm him might have masked it's scent and magical presence. Old enough dragons could often hide from the younger adults, though most chose to at least leave a magical calling card to alert intruders to stay away.

    But nothing happened and, aside from startling a small nest of packrats, he encountered no living creature other than fungus that glowed with a soft golden phosphorescence. As he rounded a turn, he found himself in a tall, arching cavern, vast enough to have housed ten of him without problem. Here and there, a stray stone marred the otherwise slick, scalesmoothed floor, a sure sign that other dragons had inhabited this place before. He crossed to the far end, checking for escapes. There was a smaller hall that lead off to one side, but the far back was without exit, and he found it a perfect place the squirrel away his myriad treasures. The web of magic unraveled, the dragon who'd been holding it together by sheer force of will for several tens of miles exhaling a sigh of relief. Here, he could curl up and rest. Ignoring the ugly rock formation in the corner with his hoard, he curled up.

    The only problem was the aura of sadness about this place, a feeling that, the more he ignored it, seemed to get under his scales. Still, he could not go further. His muscles ached and he'd not had a good, safe sleep in too long and, sad as the cave was, it was secure. If nothing else, perhaps the sorrow warded it from most intruders. If he could just fall asleep, he would have a better day's rest than since he fled his former home. Thus, he curled up near the side exit, a lava tube that likely led inward to the volcano's cauldera, and slept.
  3. The sound was a little like the tinkling of bells, as though light metal was ruffled and then hitting one another. It was musical more then just noise. That was the sound that woke the great blue dragon some hours after he landed. The sadness that perminated the cavern was there. It was impossible to hide from because it seemed to seep into the bones. This wasn't insane despair that dictated there was nothing left to live for. The type that would become destructive and either destroy all around or work internally. This was sadness, and loss. It was a meloncoly of the heart as though the question of "now what do I do?" could be asked or "where do I go from here?". This sadness was the bitterness of life, but where was the balance, where was the sweet?

    When one thought of a haunting, they usually thought of a ghost, or spector or demon that resided in a dwelling. Yet, nothing stirred in this cavern. It was the very walls it seemd to almost weep, the stones sighing, the floor in a state of shock and confussion. Today though there was a difference, and that difference was the almost bell like sound.

    The soot covered pillar like rock didn't look any different, and while the sound did bounce lightly in the cavern, echoing a few times, closer inspection would find its source. Was the stone trying to sing? Nay. Something inside of it knew what heart bestowed it a spirit and purpose. Beyond the soot, deep within the crystal, though no eyes could perceive it, a small charm bracelet vibrated.
  4. Ny'v'thalnosan stirred slowly, trying at first to ignore the sound, to ignore the insistence of the sorrow. But it was no good, and something within him seemed to stir. Though he fought against it, he found himself on his feet, crossing to the stone without thought. The impetus that carried him was sheer insistence that this was important. This stone, soot covered and plain, carried that sound, issued it and drew the dragon's curiosity.

    He wanted to will himself back to sleep, but the chiming seemed oddly familiar, and the male knew he would never rest with it continuing to issue. He snorted softly, warm air flowing from his nostrils to knock some of the soot from the standing stone. That did nothing to stop the sound. Frowning, he uttered phrases in several languages, magical key words that should dispel any simple magic. They did not work. Growing irritable, he reared up on his hind legs and wrapped his forepaws around the stone, trying to rip it from its very matrix, but to no avail. He raked his claws over it, for the sound was maddening by this point, but all this accomplished was to leave grooves in the soot where his talons had passed.

    For many long moments he stalked the cave, circling the stone and wondering if this noise was the reason so many others had abandoned the cave in the past, not the sense of sorrow after all. Each pass he made, he lashed the thing with his armored tail, still hoping to uproot it so he could toss it out. But, more and more, this seemed like the wrong thing to be doing. He sat before the stone, watching it with dark, quicksilver eyes. His tail, curled around his front feet like the tail of a housecat, twitched ever so slightly. The more he looked at the infernal thing, the more he felt drawn to it, as if the sorrow found a home in him, called him close, and bade him to protect it.

    It was such that, moments later when a small bit of rock came loose, he threw himself atop the stone, the pebbles bouncing harmlessly off his scales. He choked on the dust for a moment, berating himself for showing such human sentimentality over a bit of stone. And yet... and yet he could not force himself to turn away. Crouching, he again eyed the stone, narrowing his gaze and peering at where his claws and scales had scraped away enough soot to reveal bits of rose color in tiny patches. So it wasn't just a plain rock, but something better. Something his dragon's eye saw as treasure. Now more than ever, he felt a surge of protective nature, but wrote it off as simple draconic greed. Here was a prize to be had, perhaps only semiprecious, but larger still than anything he had seen in the hoard of another beast.

    Once again, he put his forepaws upon the stone, but this time it was in an active attempt to clean it, channeling his magic into a web similar to that he had carried his own treasure within. This time, however, the magical spidersilk was used to peel away centuries of grime, leaving the pink stone standing relatively devoid of its erstwhile covering. Disappointment welled up in his heart. This was not the flawless stone he had hoped for. In fact, it had a rather large inclusion taking up most of the stone. He was about to turn away and gather his things to leave when something seemed to pull at him. There was always the chance that a large gold vein could be in quartz of that size. At least, that was what he told himself, trying to ignore the strong, sad pull the stone had on him. He should open it, should see if that was what colored it so. It certainly wasn't some romantic feeling of wonder and sorrow, he thought to himself. But his best efforts had not managed to break the stone or prize it loose, and he doubted his normal flame would affect it, either, judging by the soot that had been. Someone had tried fire before, or, at the very least, flame had been present.

    He had one last option, however. Stepping back, he inhaled deeply, focusing on the spark of magic that dwelt deep within his being. Activating it, he laced the power through his own fire and sent flames forth through his mouth to splash against the surface of the gem, curving around it, trying to find any tiny crack or flaw to pry apart. There was the sound of stone exploding, some of it bouncing off of his own face. He let the flame fade, brushed his eyes against his shoulder to clear them and looked. The dragon did not move, for what stood before his eyes was no prize of gold or silver at all, but indeed something completely different.
  5. The shock of what just happened was too much. A whimper escaped her lips as she went from standing to kneeling. She started to put her hands to her face as great tears poured down her face. Her white linen robe was dirty and torn in many places. Her strawberry blonde hair, braided down to her waist, had many strands that had escape. "Calden, no, Calden," she said in a throbbing voice as if she had watched her own heart stomped on.

    Sabelle paused, her bracelet jingling as the charms moved. The horrible dragon had shot fire, why was there now only dust all around her? Lowering her hands, she lifted her head. Trembling not from fear but from shock. The looming shadow she feared was there and she quickly scrambled to her feet. Yet even as she tried to bring about her magic, magic she had no energy to direct or wield properly she knew it was not that horrible beast that had called himself their master. The shape was wrong, the coloring was wrong, the eyes....

    Still it was a dragon and as feeble as the attempt would be she had to defend herself, she had to escape. Sabelle took only one step back and she stumbled, her own legs giving out on her. Sitting on the grown, her arms behind her to keep her from laying completely on the ground, one leg stretched out, the other under her, she looked at the dragon in fear and awe and hope and dread.
  6. Human, she was human. She also had the unmistakable scent of magic about her, and his scales tightened down around his body to protect him from any spells she might throw his way. But she was also weak. He knew better to approach a wounded animal. They were likely to lash out more dangerously than an intact one, and humans were no different, so the dragon kept his distance. But as the dust settled and he got his first good look at her, his heart gave a strange lurch. He looked over his shoulder in imagined alarm, for there was no threat. But it felt as though there should be, as though he should be protecting this wild, fragile being with the smell of magic.

    He turned to face her again, slowly leaning closer. His breath was warm against her skin, ruffling her robes slightly as he brought one great eye around to peer at her. Unlike the great reds who stoked their furnaces with brimstone and oil, his sort existed purely on magic, and even his mundane flames were controlled by a small gemstone tucked deep within his inner workings. Thus, he did not smell of sulfur, instead having a sharp, cool ozone smell. But, smell or no, he was still a dragon and those long, pointed teeth were getting close to the girl.

    Still, his curiosity drove him closer and he inhaled deeply before speaking in a rumbling baritone. He had no idea how he knew which language to employ to communicate with her, for humans had so many and they were arranged not by scale color or magical attunement but by strange boundaries that followed rules dragons couldn't quite comprehend. Yet somehow, he plucked a language like a human plucking an apple and began to speak.

    "Don't fear, small one. I will not harm you. It seems that I have freed you, though from the fear you exhibit, I am unsure that you wished to be freed. I implore you, do not cast your magics in this space, for I fear that, were you to somehow miss me, they would still rebound and cause one of us harm. Now, will you allow me to help you to your feet? I can take you out of this cave and deposit you within walking distance of a village as soon as the sun sets, but regrettably I fear you must remain with me until then, for I cannot be seen so near a village. They would take exception to my being there, you see." He did his best to twist his mouth into the approximation of a human smile, not really recognizing just how many of those deadly teeth this showed.
  7. His actions were slow, which was perhaps the only thing keeping Sabelle from making another attempt to flee. If he was to strike, wouldn't he do so suddenly? Not that she felt safe, but her panic was lessening to allow her to think. As he lowered his head, she was able to realize he was not getting ready to snack on her, but was observing her. This might have been distressing except it gave her a chance to ease the tension in her arms by moving a little so she was now merely sitting with her legs curled beside her.

    As he exhaled she felt warmer, and only then realized how cold it was sitting on the stone floor. It was then she was able to make another observation, she could no longer smell the horrid sulfuric burning. At one pions not all that long ago she seemed to be choking on it, but now it was completely gone! It didn't seem right or possible. Where was that horrible beast? Where was Calden, or at the very least what remained.

    She blinked backed the tears, her searching eyes returning to this new dragon as he spoke. His voice, though not loud, still vibrated in her own chest. Not all dragons were evil. She knew that, had been taught that, but when her first encounter, her only one, had been so frightening, and that he had persuaded her endlessly, she was having a hard time trusting the one that was before her now.

    But she wanted to trust him. Something inside of her wanted to cry out all her fear and sorrow to him, but she held back, waring feelings battling and so her logic for the time being took over. "I fear sir that I am at a lost as to what has happen to me. I know what feels like moments before could not be so, for the evidence is not here. I would be grateful to any hospitality you might show me until I am less unsure."

    It was much more flowery then anything she would normally had said, but it seemed important to show the dragon some respect. Even though much was still unclear, Sabelle doubted she would have all her answers before night fell.
  8. The smile slipped and he lowered himself fully to the ground, giving her his muzzle. He spoke carefully as he did so, still doing his utmost to not frighten her.

    "Take ahold of my muzzle, but be careful of the scale edges. The smaller ones especially are sharp to human flesh, and I do not wish to harm you." It was true. He had no ill will toward this girl and, in fact, found a strange and strong desire to protect her. He wondered if it was the strange feeling of the cave. The thought occurred to him that she herself might be the source of the sorrow and he found himself wondering just what tragedy had befallen her to induce such tears as he felt embedded in the land's soul. He did not know who this Calden she spoke of was, but it was clear she'd had feelings for the bearer of the name.

    If she accepted his aid, he would draw her carefully to her feet before stepping back. "Such a sweet child should not sit on the floor of a cold cave. As for hospitality, I fear that I have little to offer, for I am newly arrived today and found the cave long barren of any others save a few rodents." He tilted his head to one side, then the other, observing her. "I fear that I am the softest and warmest thing within these walls and I am very little of either. However..." He retreated as far as he could across the room, hunching himself up against the wall. He was tired, overwhelmed, and very confused as to why a human girl had been trapped within a rock in a crying cave. Therefor, he was unsure of his spell. He was not the best at conjuring, but he thought perhaps he could manage something this small.

    For a moment, he stared intently at the floor between them, trying to ignore her and ignore the remnants of feeling within the cave. He had to concentrate, or what he was conjuring would be flawed at best and something entirely else at worst. He'd hate to summon a buffalo into the cave instead. Summoning and conjuring were so similar for dragons and he was so much better at the former than the latter that it became an easy mistake. Thankfully, though, the spell seemed to be taking. A human feather mattress was forming out of coalescing lines of magic in the middle of the floor, it's velvet cover reflecting the light that its own creation was blossoming with. Just a bit more... just a bit...

    There was a loud popfwoof! noise and suddenly there were feathers everywhere. Shreds and scraps of velvet fluttered down to rain over the cave and feathers caught in her hair and on his scales. That had not been the intended effect.

  9. It was odd, but if a dragon could be called a gentleman, then this dragon truly was. She took his offer and with care took a hold of his muzzle unlit she was standing upon her own two feet. She gave him a smile and nod of gratitude. If the smile was small and the nod slight both could likely be explained away by exhaustion that even a dragon might have been able to pick up on.

    As he spoke, her eyes wandered the cavern again, memory of evens overlaying on this place. It was the same place, she had no doubt, but that it was a long time since it had been used worried her. It worried her more when she recalled dragons were long lived compared to humans. How much time could have passed? With a shiver she put her arms around her. The cold which he spoke of was only half her problem though.

    Then she felt it, the start of a spell. She watched, wondering what her was conjuring to deal with the problem of her lack of warmth. Her mouth made a small O shape as she saw what looked like a mattress. A real, honest to goodness mattress. She had heard of them, but had never seen one herself. Then suddenly there was an explosion of feathers. Being reasonably skittish she took several steps back, her eyes wide. One of the feathers slowly descended in front of her and she lifted a hand and took hold of it. She then looked at it, then the dragon, then back at the feather again. A soft chuckle came from her throat. But even though she was laughing, even though she was smiling, her tears were not that of joy.
  10. Upon witnessing her tears, he was immediately remorseful. If there was one spell he wished he'd managed to master, it would be the one that would allow him to comfort her in a form she might find less frightening. But being able to polymorph was a difficult skill that came with age, and he'd only just started to learn. Snorting softly at the mess he made, he began to pull the feathers together with another magic web, using it to hold the whole pile together. Next came the velvet, sewn together with magic until there was just enough to barely cover the top of the pile.

    "I am afraid it will be far from what it should have been, but I do hope it brings you comfort, m'lady. I promise you, I shall not give you harm while you dwell here." He tried to be soothing, but his voice was edged in panic. Being attack by fire and pitchforks, other dragons, or even being chased by crazed mothers was one thing. He could handle that. However, attempting to calm a sobbing woman was something beyond his expertise. He felt tendrils of fear lace through him. What was he to do? Surely he could find some way to calm her.

    He slowly edged around the precarious pile of feathers, careful not to breathe on them. His tail snaked around her, giving her a very gentle, careful hug.

    "Small one, I may not look it, but I am a great listener. If you have anything to speak of, anything you wish to know that has happened in the past three hundred years, please, I shall do my best to listen and answer. I do admit, though, I was not the most scholarly whelp. Oh, please do not shed tears. What has you so sorrow filled that the cave cries your tears?" He leaned close, looking up at her from just beneath the height of her chin with those quicksilver eyes, his own chin resting on his forepaws.
  11. The dragon tried to remedy the mess that had almost been a bed. Sabelle, watched as he created something that still looked not only comfortable, but luxurious too. It was more then she ever had after all, though she had never had been wanting growing up, it was just that things were much simpler. He was trying to put her at ease with his words, and she vaguely got the impression he was struggling, but she was in no state to kow for sure. She was startled however for a moment when his tail came around her, until she realized the pressure around her was light, light but strangely reassuring. When she closed her eyes she could almost imagine it to be a hug.

    When she opened her eyes again the dragon seemed very close to her. It was very intense being the object of a dragon's attention. Tough she did not find herself afraid, Sabelle was very self conscious. She looked at him for a long moment. Finally it was too much and she looked down at her hands, her braclette jingling softly as she held them out for her to examine, as though something was in her hands. There was nothing there and she sighed looking at the dragon again. "I fear sir dragon to tell you my sorrow will bring more tears, for I am finding it hard not to cry as we speak. I would not bother you with this tale unless you wish to hear it. Though if you do, or if you don't, I think I shall use the comfort of the bed you provided me." Again she smiled, trying to show her gratitude, without the small and dwindling fear, without the growing confussion, without the ever present sorrow.
  12. "As you wish. One moment." He stood slowly, careful not to knock her over with his muzzle, and retreated back across the room, allowing her a path to the bed. There, he curled up, eyes darting for a moment to the pile of treasure in the corner. As nice as he was being, he didn't want her seeing that. The hoard belonged to him, and if she were to approach it, he would have to dissuade her. Still, she did not seem in a state to be a thief, and thus he reasoned that his treasure was safe for the moment.

    "If you wish to tell me, I will listen," he reassured her once he was curled up, head resting on his tail. "I do not wish to cause you pain, but I do wonder what troubles you so. You are a magic user. You do not smell like a new magic user; indeed, you seem to have experience. I would like to know what was of enough power to trap you in the stone. If there is some danger lurking unseen, I should know to protect you." Why did he feel this urge to take care of her? It extended into a need to make her comfortable, something he should not be expending energy for. He was still unrested and every moment holding the web together on so many tiny things was a bit taxing. If he could just... there! He tied to web off, letting it be its own bit of magic. Thankfully, it seemed to work this time. He wouldn't have to pay attention to the magic until day's end.

    But that did not explain the need to protect and care for her, a need that unsettled
    Ny'v'thalnosan and left him wanting to pace instead of lie still. Something was wrong, something was off, and he had the feeling he was in incredible danger. But how? The cave was empty but for them and the packrats. He sniffed the air, checking for any new scents of danger or magic, but aside from hers, there were none.
  13. Curled up on the make shift bed, Sabelle sighed. She felt exhausted and she knew why, but she could not relax completely. Not yet. Especially with what he said.

    "In stone?" She asked and then gulped. "I... I think it was my own spell. At least in part," she looked paler but she did not look away from the dragon. "For now I will just tell you the short version, because I'm afraid there are too many questions and I...." she took a deep breath. She wanted to tell the dragon the story, needed to. "Calden and I were entrapped. In deed we had been chased for some time. But he brought us here." Closing her eyes she fought back not the tears so much as the memories. The demand, the ultimatum, the screams. "There was a dragon, almost as big as you are. Red, red like anger, with a green stipe down his back. He wanted me. He wanted my magic. And when he tried to get me. When he tied to use his magic..." While her voice had started off soft, the fear started to come into her voice, fear, and panic, and anxiety.

    The tears now flowed down and she didn't care. She picked up her narrative after but a breath. "Calden, Calden who was such a good man, such a blessed soul, he stood in front of me when the dragon's magic started to break apart my shields and wards. I could feel the heat and I tried to grab his hand. Please believe me I tried, but then everything was flames, the taste of brimstone not only in my mouth and nose but my lungs. I... I saw him fall..." at this point she couldn't look at the dragon any longer, her voice broke as did her heart, and she covered her face with her hands.

    Through the sobbing she continued. "I just wanted one more chance. I tried to bring my magic around. Tried to pray to anyone that would hear me." It was difficult to descer what she said between gulps of air. "It was for nothing though. He is gone and I woke up now and I do not know what to do next." She uncovered her eyes for a moment and looked at the blue dragon, in a cracked voice she tried to yell. "I should have saved him! He shouldn't have died for me!"
  14. The dragon sat there, listening. He didn't move, not because he didn't want, didn't need to. No, rather, he found himself held immobile by her words. There was so much sorry, so much passion. She'd loved deeply, lost greatly, and was sitting here in this moment as though it had just happened the moment before. The moment before. Her moment before was hundreds of years ago, for that much magical residue would have taken centuries to fade away. He closed his eyes, inhaling to tell her.

    It was as though he was sharply dragged sideways, brought into the scene she had just described. He saw her, saw the dragon she spoke of, saw the fire and felt the heat. Yet it was only for the span of his blink, and when he opened his eyes, he found he was still in the present day, watching a girl on a feather bed. He became aware that his scales had all raised, standing on end to make him look huge. He coaxed them back down, not sure where the fear had come from, nor wanting to know.

    As far has he knew, he didn't have the gift of the seer, so what had that been? His scales rustled softly and he grumbled, the dragon equivalent to throat clearing.

    "You saved yourself, which is surely what he would have wanted. That is, if I understand humans. We dragons do things a bit differently. I do dare say that--" he paused, thought, and started again. "If he is gone, then we should remember him. Is that not human custom, to have a memorial? To speak of the good of the dead?" He knew he'd said something wrong the instant he did, but he wasn't sure exactly what. The only thing he knew is some inner instinct was in panic again and that he needed to fix this. "Miss, please. Do not cry. You will chill yourself." He moved to her side, carefully extending a wing to drape over her. The leathery wing was warmer than the scales, almost a blanket.
  15. Her hands were in balls. She looked down at them, unsure when she had turn them into fists. Her nails bit into her palms. Slowly she unclinched them and put her hands to her face. She did not want to think anymore, or talk. All Sabelle wanted to do was lie there. Maybe forever. She did not know.

    The dragon's words barely touched her. Memorial? It didn't make any sense. Curled up into herself she tried to be silent in her sobbing. Wailing would do no good, and her throat was raw from yelling a moment ago. Then she felt less cold. Blinking back tears she looked and saw the wing extended over her. Even as broken as she was the gesture still touched her.

    "I... I'm sorry. I just find myself having a hard time right now. Would you think it rude of me to sleep for a little while?" Sabelle was surprised at herself. Not for her need for sleep, after the events that had happened she was exhausted, not just emotionall, but physically, mentally and magically. What she was surprised at was how easily she was relaxing. As though she knew that no matter what, with this large dragon here she would be okay. It was only a few moments ago she was afraid of him, and even leery as she had gotten on the bed.
  16. Sinking down beside her, he kept her blanketed with the wing. His long tail curled around the bed, a protective ring of dragonscales and ozone scent between her and the rest of the world. He breathed a tired sigh.

    "To be honest, I need to sleep, as well. Fret not, small one. I will sleep lightly and protect you from anything that might threaten." Thinking for a moment, he yawned, then spoke again. "You shall never need fear while I'm near." The words were simple, something he remembered from he knew not when. However, they seemed the right thing to say and the dragon could not find better phrasing, try as he might. Again, he grew curious. Why did he feel the need to help her, defend her, protect her? Humans were more likely to kill dragons than to thank them.

    He should have felt relief that she'd been here so long it was unlikely her people would come for her. She'd been here since before he was born, if the magical residue was anything to go by. And that meant that she was older than him. A human older than a dragon? He rumbled a soft chuckle. A quicksilver eye gave one last glance to his treasure before he let himself close it and fall asleep. The dreams came immediately.

    They were fragmented. His dream body did not feel like his own, clumsy and not tall enough, yet far too tall all at the same time. His magic had left him in the dream and he found himself without purchase in the skies. He was landbound, magicless, small. Was this what it was like to be human? But the images made no sense, and his scales rustled as he slept, toes curling and twitching with the odd, incomprehensible stream of images in his dreaming world.
  17. A weak smile was all the thanks she could muster at first as the dragon said he was tired as well. His last words jarred her though and her head shot up from where she had just laid it down on her arms, looking at the dragon. That he didn't notice was only because he had looked away at something else before closing his eyes. Why? Why had he said that phrase. It was not the promise of protection that worried her, though that should have been odd enough even if he was being hospitable. No it was the words themselves. How many times had Calden said those words to her as they had run. No, even before, when life had been so much simpler he had promised her such.

    "You shall never need fear while I'm near."

    It was a silly, over romantic utterance when life had been peaceful. It was a reassuring reminder when things had become harsh. Now, now she shouldn't have been hearing those words, and not from a dragon no less. Yet there was no mistaking the phrase, it had not been sort of odd wishful thanking on her part.

    As she closed her tired, redden eyes, Sabelle tried to think, but it was so hard and sleep finally stoled her away. It was dark when Sabelle opened her eyes. Not completely dark, for the phosphorous fungus glowed with their eerie green light, but the light that had shown in from the cave entrance had now extinguished. For a long moment she laid there blinking, listening to the sounds of the cave, which while there were a few distinct sounds, the only one she was really paying attention to was the sound of the dragon breathing, his wing still over her, keeping her warm, protecting her. As she aid there listening, relaxed, she found herself puzzled. There were so many questions about what had happened to her that her head started to swim. She then glanced over at the dragon and smiled.
  18. It was a restless sleep, and when his eyes parted as the light faded away and night took hold, he felt more exhausted than when he'd fallen asleep. Of course, he'd been at high alert the whole time, occasionally stirring from his dreams at the slightest rustle of wind in the scraggly trees outside the cave mouth. Even had the light not faded, it was clear to him that it was evening. Everything smelled sharper, the air was cooler, and a soft breeze was rushing out of the cave as temperatures equalized for the night. With the evening, though, came the risk of the weakened, shocked woman becoming very ill with cold.

    Slowly, he rose to his feet, tucking a now painfully stiff wing up against the side of his body. He would have to risk leaving his treasure here for, as much as he wished to move on, he knew he'd have to stay here another day. He was simply too exhausted to find a new home tonight, and it would take some time, even as fast as he could fly, to get the girl to a settlement large enough that they would accept a woman from the wrong time and yet small enough that he wouldn't be hunted once he left their territory. That woman... what was her name, anyway? Had he asked? And why did he care? It wasn't as if she were an elder dragon; no, she was simply a girl who would be dropped off and forgotten about soon enough. A girl important enough to him, his mind whispered, that he was willing to leave his treasure unguarded to see her safely down the mountain.

    That was not normal.

    Slowly, he turned to look at her, only to find she was looking at him right at the moment. He knew he shouldn't but he allowed himself a look directly into her eyes with both of his fully unlidded. If he was quick enough, perhaps the mesmerizing powers of his gaze would not captivate her. He did not wish to enthrall her, and so his look was the most fleeting of glances before he turned to watch her sidelong again, eyes back to their normal halflidded state. A normal dragon would not have had to worry about an accidental mesmirization. A normal dragon could also polymorph themself by now and tie off all their spells even when distressed. Once again, he bemoaned his lack of magical learning. He knew he had power, but the uncontrolled nature of it worried him more than ever. It was a risk to the girl. The girl. What WAS her name? Hoping desperately that she was still well aware of her surroundings, he spoke to her.

    "I do hope that I am not pushing the boundaries of our friendship by inquiring this of you, but what may I call you?"
  19. As the dragon moved his wing away, she sat up, brining her knees to her chest. She was fascinated with how he moved. It was something she didn't take much notice of when she first met him. Her nerves were raw and she felt as though she might jump out of her skin at any moment. But she was rested enough to no longer physically hurt from the tension and stress. She also felt that if she had to she could bring about her powers with control for a time, though she prayed she would not have to learn for sure.

    Then he looked at her, directly, and she felt a lurch that she could not understand. It was but a moment but it had been there. When he looked away she was almost relieved, and yet she almost would welcome it again. It was confusing. Yet he spoke to her and she tilted her head at his words.

    "You'd like to know my name?" she asked her throat still feeling a touch scratchy when she spoke. "It's Sabelle." Now Sabelle was no fool and knew that names could be powerful things, but she also knew many things could be used by a crafty enough magic user. Fabric, hair, even a song. Names were important, but they were only useful if used and so she used hers freely so that she had power over her name, not anyone else.

    Her philosophy was unique she knew and so she was polite in her own inquiry. "And what might I call you sir dragon?"
  20. Now, he hadn't been expecting that, and he supposed that he should have. Of course she was going to reply with a question of her own. As a dragon, he guarded his full name with his life, but he supposed he could reveal to her the most minor syllable. She had been kind enough to give him the option to spin a lie, should he so choose, but he could not bring himself to be complete in any fabrication.

    "I am often called Ny, though that is in conjunction with many other syllables which I fear your lips would have a hard time pronouncing. Sabelle, I do thank you for the kindness of your name. I am honored to be permitted to speak it." He drew his head back, curling his neck slightly before straightening it again, a draconic gesture of respect. "I do believe that we should make our descent to the lands below. I must find you a safe village and return here before dawn begins to kiss the sky. I shall do my best to keep you warm in transit." Turning carefully to avoid hitting her with his tail, he began to stalk toward the entryway.

    It was a sudden realization that brought him up short. She likely had no clue how much time had passed, and were he to set her down in a strange world she didn't recognize...

    "I am afraid I have a rather crucial and shocking revelation that I must speak before we venture downward, one which you may find hard to accept." He turned to face her sidelong again. "Are you prepared to hear it?"