Monday, July 11, 2011

Ch14: Bury The Tooth Of The Hydra And The Skeleton Army Will Arise

When we finish eating, Azzen takes me out dancing.  He says it would be a shame to waste our outfits.  I agree, even though it really didn’t really take any effort to get them on.  Dancing just sounds fun.
    Of all the places to go, Azzen takes me to a massive, back-alley rave club.  The bouncer seems to know him and opens the rope to let us in, but who can tell if that’s real or if Azzen just implanted a memory.  Oh well.
    At first, it seems like a normal dimly lit dance club with flashing lights and booming music.  But then we take stairs down to the lower dance floor and the craziness begins.  The foam bubbles raining down like snow collect on the floor and we wade through three feet of wetness.  I’d be mad about ruining my dress if I had paid for it. 
    Where the foam ends, the fog begins, and seeing farther than ten feet of it is nearly impossible.  Hundreds of laser lights cut through the fog and outline the packed dancers like sonar waves.  Everybody jumps and howls and twists to the daft techno beats.  Glitter cannons boom at random, blasting flavors of shiny flakes and neon paint into the crowd.  They all revel in it.
    I don’t waste my time feeling awkward.  I whoop and twirl, pulling Azzen with me.  He lifts me and tosses me into a spin in the air, catching me expertly as I come down.  I whip my stole off and wrap it around him.  We dance close for a while, getting intimate and arrogant. 
    He moves his body in perfect rhythm with mine and we gyrate deeper into the middle of the mobbish crowd.  The hooligans of the rave swarm us and press us even closer, laughing and shouting with us.  I scream at the top of my lungs, just to be heard.  Azzen howls like a wolf.  We all become a single mass of madness and mayhem, knocking each other around, beating, weaving, and breathing as one.
    The songs never end.  They bleed and blend into each other and keep the spirit alive for an unearthly amount of time.  The music gives us life and I shriek along to the repetitive lyrics like everybody else and press my body tightly against Azzen’s to make sure all the other guys know I’m not up for the taking.
    After I lose track of the hours, my legs become tired and my voice is leaving me, so Azzen starts pulling me through the mosh maze of madmen towards an escape.  We slowly squeeze through and I collapse on the stairs in ecstatic exhaustion.  Azzen heaves me up by the waist and then lifts me right off the ground, carrying me like he’s taking a prize wife to her honeymoon sweet.
    I don’t complain, soaked in sweat and covered in foam.  I snuggle into his chest, about ready to pass out.  I wonder where he’s taking me and why we don’t just swirly-mist home.  I think I really did pass out for a moment, because the next thing I know, Azzen’s setting me down in a comfy leather couch.  I look around and see that we’re in a dark room about four stories above the dance floor.  I can see the pit of ravers below us through paneled glass floor.
    I look around and notice that it’s much more quiet up here.  There aren’t that many people around.  Maybe about twenty of us all-together.  Most are in groups of threes or fours.  There are a couple couples and a single larger group that’s making the most noise, laughing raucously over the quiet conversations of the rest.
    I look at the large group and see the center of attention.  She’s a lanky woman, tall and slim.  Her head was bald, but it was hard to tell due to all the tattoos that covered her scalp and ran back down her neck, proceding along her shoulders, arms and hands.  Colorful dragons, butterflies, flowers, and demons were scattered across every visible part of her.
    Her dress is violet, skimpy, lacey, and cut in that way that shows one side of her trim stomach while covering the other side.  It shows a lot of her, and willowy though she is, there’s a lot to show off.  The woman waves a champagne glass animatedly and seems to be telling a hilarious story.
    She sits in the arm of a large large man.  I’m reminded of Azzen’s tale of the Master.  The man’s size is immense and every bit of him seems to be pure muscle.  He’s laid back and casual in his demeanor.  He wears a tight wife-beater and is tattooed as well, though his are a mesh of tribal vines and calligraphical verses.  The two words, “Right Sight,” are inked under his left eye and he winks at me when I catch his gaze.
    He removes his massive arm from the tall woman, which seems to startle her, but when he rises to leave the group, she stays and doesn’t follow him.  I’m not sure why, but the big man walks directly towards me.
    His muscles ripple with each step, and his wood-tan skin tone compliments his dark tats and jet back hair.  He passes through a light beam and several rings and studs glisten in his ears and eyebrows.  He gives me a smirking smile that is dangerously attractive.  I tear my eyes away to glance at Azzen nervously as this large man strides purposely for me.  But my boyfriend, that’s right I said it, is just smiling pleasantly at the big man.
    As he nears, Azzen stands up and spreads his arms out, raising one high.  The big dark man grins broadly at him.
    “Tey’Go!” Azzen exclaims.  “Good to see ya!”
    The man catches his raised hand and clasps it and they bring each other into a broad friendly embrace.
    “Azzohn!” the big man’s voice boomed with a thick accent that wasn’t exactly Italian.  “It has been too long.”
    “Definitely,” Azzen says.  “And you’ll never guess who this is!”  He reaches out and grabs my hand, pulling me up to my feet.
    “How could I not recognize the beautiful Fel!” the man practically shouts.  “You grace us with your stunning presence, My Lady.”
    I am definitely not used to being greeted like that.  “Uh, thanks,” I say.  “The pleasure’s all mine.”
    “She’s having a sleight case of amnesia,” Azzen explains.
    “Oh my!” the man exclaims.  “Is she quite alright?”
    “She will be,” Azzen says.  “Fel, this is Tey’Go.  He’s an Angel.  You knew him in your last life, though he wasn’t an Angel back then.”
    “An Angel?” I ask, then not wanting to sound ignorant, I ask another question quickly.  “What were you before that?”
    “I was the Charmer, of course,” Tey’Go smiles.
    Azzen laughs heartily.  “Aha!  That you were!”  He adds to me on the side.  “He’ll come in later in the story, I’ll let you know when he does.”
    Tey’Go gives me another wink and I notice he has a tattoo on his eyelid, but I don’t catch what it is.
    “Fel…” sneers a voice from behind the large man.  Long fingers snake around him, over his shoulder and across his waist.  The tall willowy woman appears from the shadows.  I didn’t see her approach and that disturbs me.  But more alarming than her appearance is her tone of voice.  It’s snide and I can tell from her first words that she doesn’t like me.  “So kind of you to grace our abode with your magnificence…”
    It looks nice on paper, but trust me, the way this lady said it made me want to punch her right in the face.  And I hadn’t even known her for five seconds.
    “Suki!” Azzen exclaims happily.  “So nice to see you.”
    “Hey Azzohhhh!” she sings back.  “I’ve missed you…”
    “Missed him?” I ask defensively.
    “This is Suki,” Azzen introduces her.  “Suki, you already know Fel.  She’s having amnesia right now.  Suki’s a Demon.”
    “Angels and Demons,” I mutter.  “Did you meet her in Hell?” I ask sarcastically.
    “Yes I did, actually,” Azzen replies chipperly.  “She helped me out quite a lot.”
    Bastard, I think to myself.
    “Let us sit,” Tey’Go offers, indicating to the couch I had already been sitting at.  We oblige and I nuzzle closer to Azzen than is usually appropriate in public, keeping a close eye on the Demon woman.
    She just smirks at me and settles into Tey’Go’s arm.  The angel snaps his finger and a waiter walks over with a tray of drinks.  I take one, not wanting to be impolite.
    I’m glad I took it so that I have something to occupy my time while everyone else is talking.  Azzen and Tey’Go catch up, asking about old acquaintances and new enterprises. 
    “I like what you’ve done with the place,” Azzen compliments.
    “Thanks,” Tey’Go says.  “I mostly leave the design ideas up to Suki.  She’s quite a genius at attracting attention.”
    “I bet she is,” I mutter.
    Suki gives me a smug eye but ignores my comment.  Instead, she adds some stupid thought to the conversation.  Bitch.
    Azzen and Tey’Go continue to converse with Suki chiming in now and then.  After about ten minutes, Azzen apologizes for the shortness of the visit, but says he has to go.
    “I was just checking in on you,” He said.  “Making sure you still remembered me.  By the way, do you still have that gem of yours?”
    Tey’Go suddenly looks solemn.  “Yah.  Of course.”  He taps his chest.  “I would never lose it.”
    “That’s good to hear,” Azzen says casually with a smile.  “And one more thing.  Have you heard from Blue lately?  I seem to have lost contact with her.”
    Tey’Go eyes Azzen suspiciously, as though he knows he’s not being told the whole truth.  I can sympathize.  I know how that feels.  “I have not,” he responds simply, not asking any prying questions.
    “That’s bothersome,” Azzen replies in the same casual tone.  “But no worries.  I’m sure she’ll pop up sooner or later.  After all, she was the smartest out of all of us.”
    I catch the very subtle syntax of Azzen’s last phrase.  “She was.” That wasn’t just a meaningless observation about this “Blue” woman.  It was a warning.
    After short goodbyes, we depart.  And the next moment, I’m back home in my room.  Seeing my bed reminds me how tired I am.  I take a step towards it and collapse into my covers on my belly.
    “Hey Azzen,” I mumble.  “Do that magic thing and put me in jammies.”
    Azzen obliges me with a swish of his finger.  Suddenly, I‘m in silk P.J.’s.  I’ve never worn pure silk to bed before and it feels funny to me.  I giggle and crawl up to my pillow.  I’m also cleaned off from the sweat and foaminess, but for some reason, it don’t feel as refreshed as I do coming out of a shower.  Oh well.  I’ll deal.
    “Sorry about that,” Azzen said.  “I wanted to talk to them, but I tried not to stay too long.  I know it must have been boring for you.”
    “It’s fine,” I say through both my pillow and a yawn.  “I don’t like that Demon girl though.”
    Azzen chuckles.  “You never did.”
    “I knew her?” I ask lazily.
    “Yes, quite well.”
    “Who was she?” I ask and hope to get a better response than “The Charmer.”
    Azzen hesitates for one moment, but then seems to decide to tell me.
    “She was your sister,” he says.
    “What?  I had a sister?!”
    “Half sister,” Azzen clarifies.  “On your father’s side.  Which is very common for Prias.  You had many.  And you never knew her for very long.  You two did not like each other at all.”
    “Oh,” I say sleepily.  “Why?”
    “I don’t entirely know,” Azzen replies.  “Something about your mother.  That little episode, you’ll have to remember on your own.  I wasn’t even there.”
    “Oh,” I say.  Then pause.  Then say, “Tell me some story while I fall asleep.
    “Okay, Sugar,” Azzen replies with a warm smile.
    I don’t even have to ask him to stay until I fall asleep because I know he already will.  I smile too and close my eyes.

    Azzen woke up in a dank dark cave.  He sat up quickly and looked around for Fel.  His memories of the attack were hazy at best.  Everything about it had happened so suddenly and going Berserk always left him feeling like he had a throbbing hangover.  Fel was nowhere to be seen and he immediately worried about her.  He scrambled to his feet, ignoring the ache in his body and mind.
    “FELLLL?!” he shouted, glancing at his surroundings.  He had been sleeping on a crunchy bed of leaves and there were remnants of a small fire smoldering near the entrance of the cave.  He was shirtless and parts of him were wrapped in torn cloth bandages.  Water dripped somewhere in the back.  He could hear it after the echoes of his call died away and he listened in silence.  The boy stumbled towards the bright light of the entrance, worrying about his friend.
    “FE-  Oh,” he began to shout, but stopped as he got to the entrance and found the girl crouched over, working with something on the ground.  He approached and saw that she was defeathering a bird that looked vaguely familiar to Azzen, but he couldn’t quite place it.  She remained quiet in her work.  A flick of her ear towards him was the only indication that she was even aware of his presence.
    “Hey,” he said, walking up and sitting near her.
    “Ehy,” she replied.
    “What’s that?” he asked waving a hand to the bird.
    “Breakfast for you.  Lunch for me,” she said.  “You lucky I caught already.  You scare all game away.”
    “Oh, sorry,” he apologized.
    Azzen could tell the girl was in a funk.  He didn’t know why and he didn’t know what had happened, but decided he could ask later.  Right now, he was just relieved that she was safe.
    “What kind of bird is it?” Azzen asked, restating his question.  Fel tended to give him divergent replies to some of the things he said.  He was never sure if this was because she didn’t understand his meaning or because it was a form of ambiguous teasing.
    “Dodo,” the girl said.
    Azzen now remembered that he had only seen the bird in historical textbooks.
    “But those are…” he exclaimed suddenly, and then remembered where he was.  Fel raised an eyebrow at his outburst.  “Uh,” Azzen stuttered.  “Probably delicious…”
    “Taste like Chickhen,” Fel stated blandly.
    “Mmm, can’t wait.  I’m starving.  How long was I asleep?”
    “Two day,” Fel said.
    “Two days?!” Azzen exclaimed.  He hadn’t really expected it to have been that long.
    “What uh, what have you been doing this whole time?”
    “Just been here.  Keep you clean so heal.”
    “Oh, thank you,” Azzen said, inspecting his arms and rubbing his face where he thought he remember getting hurt.  Some spots were sore, but he felt like he should be hurting worse.
    “Did you use some of that healing salve?”
    Fel looked at him curiously again.  “Noh.  You were okay.  We save for emergency.”
    Her accent seemed thicker than usual, though Azzen could still easily understand her speech.  And her demeanor seemed more feral than usual, reminding Azzen of the statue of Pria.  He figured it must have been from living in the cave for two days.  She eyed him with intensity, as though trying to pick out a lie. 
    “Why you heal fast?” she blurted out in an accusing tone.
    “I don’t know,” Azzen replied.  “I was just wondering that myself.”
    “So this not normal?”
    “I don’t know, you tell me.”
    “Noh.  Where you from.  This not normal?”
    “Noh,” Azzen admitted.  “It’s not.  I thought my arm got stabbed.  It shouldn’t be healed yet.  Definitely not.”
    “What you doing?”
    “You doing something.  You different.  You weird.  What you doing?”
    “I honestly don’t know.”
    Fel studied him carefully.  Azzen hoped she was reading the truth on his face.  The catgirl seemed to reach no conclusion and returned her attention to the bird.
    “Even if you say so,”  she said as she worked.  “Every day you change.  Every day you different.  You get strong.  You go Berserk.  You don’t get hurt.  You give too much blood.  You heal too fast.  Every day something new.  Wasn’t always like this.  You used to be weak.  You used to get hurt.  Why you change?” she asked.
    Azzen had nothing to say for a moment, but then, suddenly inspired, he spoke up.  “In my world, there’s this story about a guy.  They call him Superman.  And where he’s from, he’s just a regular guy, but when he came to our planet, he got special powers because of the way the sun affected him.  Maybe it’s something like that,” he offered.  “Maybe something here is giving me energy.”
    Fel stopped working again and squinted up at the bright noon sun.  “You no wizard?” she asked.
    “No.  I’m not a wizard.  I swear it.  I don’t know any magic.  Except the going Berserk thing.  And I don’t even know why that happens.  I don’t even remember it when it does, except that I wake up with a headache,” Azzen said.  “Is that what happened last- er, the other, night?”
    “I donnoh,” the catgirl said and then paused.  “Yah,” she said.
    “Oh,” Azzen said.  Maybe that was why she was upset.  He hoped he hadn’t hurt her.  “So did you, ah, have to use the sleeping powder then?”
    “Noh,” Fel replied flatly.
    “Oh,” Azzen said surprised.  “Well, what happened then?”  He just had to know.
    Fel’s mutter was barely audible, “you change again.”
    She didn’t seem to want to say anything more and just when Azzen was figuring he should let it go, she added, “how much you going to change, Azzo?”
    Azzen sighed.  “I don’t know,” he said.  “But I don’t really change.  People don’t just change overnight.”
    Fel’s ear twitched.
    “Yah,” she agreed.  “Except you.”
    “Noh,” Azzen stated, not only using the common enunciation, but adopting her accent.  “I stay the same.  Things about me change.  But same me inside.”
    He looked over to the girl and stared until he caught her eye, then winked when she looked up.
    “Okay,” she agreed.
    “See Scout?  Nothing to worry about.  I’ll stay crazy about you, and you’ll just stay crazy.”
    Azzen grinned expectantly at the girl and then had to dive out of the way as she launched at him.
    The catgirl grabbed the dead Dodo bird by the neck and proceeded to chase Azzen around her campsite, beating him with it repeatedly as he tried to block and dodge.  Eventually the bird’s head popped off from all the repeated swinging and Fel grumbled that they would have to make soup now that the meat was all mashed up.
    She backed off the boy who had escaped the encounter fairly unscathed.  “Not like I can hurt you nayways,” she complained.  “You’ll probably sprout wings and fly away.”
    “That would be nice,” Azzen said, “I could carry you and sing A Whole New World.”
    “Forget it.  It would save us the walking though,” he said as he picked up a knife and started helping Fel cut the bird into chunks of meat.  It was obvious that the girl had gone back and looted the dead bodies after she had moved him to the cave.  There was a stockpile of weapons, some or the finer armor and cloaks and several other trinkets.  Plus, a pile of “purses” that looked like it would tide the two over for a good while.
    “Where to next?” the boy asked.
    “New town,” said Fel.  This seemed to be a routine for her.  “Trade for horse,” she said.
    “Now that sounds great,” Azzen said, smiling brightly.
    Fel grinned back and the two joked around and debated about the wildest things they could buy with their new pile of gold and treasures.

Fel decided she should go to the town alone while Azzen stayed behind and watched the loot.  It would have taken a few trips to carry it all and Fel said it wasn’t safe to trade with that much gold on them anyways.  The girl told Azzen she had another Dodo to eat in the cave and showed him where a stream was, in case it took her longer than a day.
    “But I don’t think it should,” she said.  “All I do is see how much horse is and then come back.  We can load packs on horse after and go together.”
    Azzen agreed and told her to be safe.  Fel gave him a kiss on the cheek and blazed off.  The speed at which she could move still amazed Azzen.  He realized again that she must be greatly holding back when she ran with him.  It wasn’t long before she was out of sight into the distance.  Azzen was instantly bored.
    To pass the time, he decided to check out what she’d looted.  The boy had little interested in the metal coins, not knowing what any of it was worth, so he began sifting through the pile of armor and weapons.  He found that Fel had already cleaned them all off, in fact, some cloaks were still hanging in the branches of a nearby tree where she had left them to dry.  His own shirt and hoodie were also hung up and clean.  Azzen was reminded that his clothing was outlandish here, and considered donning something more natural.  Later.  It was hot out anyways.
    The young boy pulled out a big sword.  It was a broadsword that was tempered black, save for the shining silver edges of the blade.  Down the center were golden runes, or maybe they were simply designs, Azzen wasn’t sure.  Either way, he thought the sword looked particularly nice.  It’s hilt was a primer black that twisted in the hand-guard and spiked up like demon claws.  There was a large yellow gem encased at the end, which Azzen figured was a topaz.  He lifted the sword and twirled it around for a bit.
    He liked the balance.  He liked the length.  He liked how it looked.  And though he was strong enough to wave it around with one hand, he liked that there was enough weight behind it to do some heavy damage.  He decided that if Fel let him keep any of the weapons, this was the one that suited him.  He wished there was something around to kill with it.  Too bad the Dodo was already dead.
    The young boy set that one aside and went back to the pile.  Among other things, there was the spear that Fel had used and the axe that he had.  He found the first knife Fel had given him and gladly pocketed it.  There were daggers and shields and to his smiling surprise, he found the scabbard that must have been meant for the sword he liked.  He also noticed the mace that had smashed him in the face.  He rubbed his cheek, where he had been hit.  It felt smooth and there was no irregularities in the bone.
    Fel must have used some of that salve after all, he thought.  There was no way he could have healed that fast and perfectly from a blow like that.
    Ignoring the thought as unimportant, Azzen began to play with his new toys.  Most of them were familiar from his training with the Master, he and Fel had played around with them from time to time.  He whipped them back and forth expertly.  But a couple were still awkward to him.  After smacking himself in the back a few times with a spiky flail, he decided to leave that one alone.  And after smashing his toe with a maul, he decided, that too, was not his choice weapon.  Those aside, he still felt most comfortable, and coolest, with the fine sword he had picked out. 
    Maybe he was imagining things, but he felt like he was channeling power into it and translating that energy with precise swings and powerful thrusts.  He really wished there was something around with a beating heart to poke it into.  The boy reluctantly sheathed it and placed it near the fire as he prepared to wind down and make some more stew.  He figured that Fel ought to be back shortly, and wanted a meal to be ready for her.
    A large dark shadow swiftly passed over him.  Azzen instinctively ducked down.  He gazed up, searching for what had caused the passing shade.  To his horror, he identified it quickly, and it was swooping back around towards him.
    Azzen had thought he’d come to expect the unexpected in a place like this.  And he was getting used to the idea of the Fantasy Genre coming to life.  But sighting a full-sized, no joke, scaly, fire-spouting, Dragon still managed to scare the piss out of him.  He darted for the cave and hid inside, but as swooshing gusts from the large flapping wings came nearer, he realized this may have been a mistake.  When the Dragon landed and peered a big luminous eye into the cave at the boy, he felt for certain it was.  Now
he had no way out.
    The Dragon looked just how he’d imagined it.  Just how it looked in the paintings.  Scaly, green, and everything.  Big bat wings.  Long swishing tail that whipped like a flail.  Spikes, rolling from its nose to its back.  Azzen stood ready, poised for attack.  The yellow eyes stared him down and he stared it right back.  And then the dragon let out, what Azzen thought was a laugh.  Spoofs of fire puffed out of his nose.  Azzen admired his imposing form.  The dragon was twice the size of a barn.  All rippling muscle from his tail to his horns.  Azzen was forlorn but he held onto some faith.  Because the Dragon couldn’t even fit his head in the cave.
    “What’s so funny?” Azzen indignantly asked.
    “You’re scared as a bunny,” the Dragon smokily laughed.
    Azzen was only a little thrown off that the Dragon could actually talk.
    “Well you’re pretty big,” he stated.  “And all I’ve got is this little sword.  I’ve never seen a Dragon before.”
    The Dragon snorted, causing jets of flame to shoot from his nostrils.  Azzen had to leap aside and roll on the ground to dodge them.  This caused the Dragon to bellow with fiery laughter.  Azzen had to take cover in the back of the cave behind a large rock.
    “What’s the matter?!” the Dragon asked.  “Afraid of a little burn?!”  His voice was booming and shook the walls of the cave, but Azzen was sure this was just his normal talking volume.  He wasn’t exactly shouting.
    “A little burn, Noh!,” Azzen shouted from behind the boulder.  “But being engulfed in searing flames isn’t my idea of a joke!”
    “BWAHAHAH,” the Dragon guffawed.  “I can’t believe it’s You!  The six brothers will be glad to know for sure!“  The cave lit up with golden light as the green Dragon cocked its head sideways to peer inside with a glowing eye.  Its eyeball was as large as Azzen was tall.  The boy thought about throwing his knife at it, but figured all that would do is piss the beast off.  For now, he was fairly safe, other than the option of being roasted alive.
    After getting a good look, the Dragon reeled its head back and roared with laughter once more, shooting billows of fire through the cave door.
    “CUT THAT OUT!” Azzen shouted over the laughter.
    The Dragon’s hilarity died down to weepy chuckles.  “I can’t,” he gasped out, puffing bursts of flame into the cave.  “It’s too funny.  If they could see you now!”
    “What’s so FUNNY?!” Azzen demanded.
    “Seeing you…” the Dragon explained “…cower like this.”
    “It’s just too rich.  You’re actually afraid  of me.”
    Azzen clearly did not understand the Dragon’s logic, but was at least happy that he had stopped laughing, because the ground of the cave was steaming and the entrance was glowing red in spots.
    “I’m sorry.  But from my point of view, this seems like a perfectly reasonable reaction.”
    Azzen wasn’t sure how to get the Dragon to leave, but he was certain Fel would be returning soon, and if she came back with the Dragon around…  Azzen just didn’t want to ponder the possibilities.
    “Get out of here!” he shouted.  “You’re not gonna eat me.”
    “Eat you?!” the Dragon exclaimed incredulously.  “Eat a scrawny little runt like you?  Look at the size of me, Boy.  You’d be like a berry to me.  I eat Griffons and Ogres!  Wyverns and Krakens!  I am the mightiest beast in the land, sea or sky!  I’m not going to eat you!  I just smelled you, so I wanted to see you.  But I my nose must have been mistaken.”  The Dragon seemed to smile and its massive eyelid dipped down into a wink.
    The Dragon sniffed heavily through its nose.  Azzen could feel the wind rushing by him.  The force pulled him forward and he had to grasp onto side of the rock to hold his position.  “Mmmmmm…” the Dragon huffed.  “Smells wonderful.”
    The big, green, scaly, Dragon snorted its breath out, shooting enough fire to fill the cave.  Azzen had to dance back and huddle at the base of the large rock while flames roared all around him. 
    “Where did you get those pants?!” the Dragon demanded.  “They’re horrible.  Where have you been?”
    “These are my pants,” Azzen said hastily.  “And you‘re horrible.  My pants are great!”
    The Dragon sniffed again, and then suddenly reared its head back and jerked it around, looking backwards and sniffing again, several more times.
    “AND SHE’S HERE?!” the Dragon exclaimed, really shouting this time.
    Azzen knew he must have smelled Fel in the distance.  He needed to
get the Dragon’s attention back.  The young boy whipped out his knife and charged out from behind the rock.
    The Dragon swung its attention back towards Azzen.  “YOU’RE WITH HER?!?!?!” it shouted.  The force of his voice knocked the boy off of his feet.
    Azzen scrambled back up.  “Don’t even think about touching her!” he shouted, charging forward again.
    The Dragon ignored him.  “Oh now that‘s something,” he bellowed.  “The brothers should know about this.  Truly crafty you are, Boy”
    And with that, the Dragon lifted his massive wings and pumped them in the air as he leapt upwards with his massive hind legs.  Azzen ran out after him, hoping he wasn’t flying towards Fel. 
    The boy watched the Dragon depart and it became obvious that the beast was heading in a different direction.  And after a few minutes, Azzen could see Fel in the distance, running towards him.  He slumped down, relieved and confused.  Finally deciding to just count himself as lucky.

Fel walked up waving her arms in surprise and Azzen said, “What?”
“OOHMatraStrayeenAzzeen?!  What!? What you mean, Wut? You think I didn’t seeyen Big Dragon flew up?!”
“Oh that,” Azzen sighed,
“Yeah that,” Fel replied.  “What did he say?”
“Um, something about six brothers.  We should be on our way.”
“No, we should stay.”
“I don’t know about that.  What makes you say…”
“The Dragons are on our side.  Okay?”
“Uh, sure… If you say so.  But I think I was lucky to get away”
“Why?  Was he mad?”
“Maybe a little, I’m not sure he was glad…”
“What?! Wait! What? I don’t know!  It was kind of hard to tell.”
“Well did you fight him?”
“I guess that makes sense.  So you hid in the cave?”
“Yes.  And the Dragon behaved.  He seemed quite nice.”
“I can’t believe you pissed off the Dragon.”
“That’s not what I said!”
“Azzon.  If anybody ask, we friends with the Dragon.  Okay?”
“Good.  You go hide stuff now, I brought food.”

That night, Fel snuggled into Azzen’s arms without asking.  The boy gladly wrapped her up and enjoyed the soft warmth of her body while his steady breathing lulled her to sleep.

“Mmmm… that sounds nice,” I say dreamily.  I’m about to fall asleep.
    “What does?” Azzen asks.
    “The part where you wrap me up in your arms and we fall asleep together…”
    Azzen takes the hint and nestles in beside me.  He slides an arm under my back and gently pulls me around to rest my head on his chest.  I sigh comfortably and then yawn and continue to drift off to sleep.
    In one of those foolish, tired, giggles, I mumble, “You were going to fight a Dragon for me…”
    “I’d hold the sun down if you wanted the moon to keep shining,” Azzen says with a kiss on my forehead.
    I smile through my eyelids.  “That sounds nice… but the world would end…”
    “Hmmm?  Why?” he whispers.
    I’m talking in my sleep at this point.  “…the rotational pull and… stuff like that…”
    “Don’t be silly,” Azzen replies.  “I’m magic…”
    If he says anything else, I don’t catch it.  But that night, he does something amazing.  I don’t know how, but while I sleep, I dream of my story.  Only instead of hearing it, I’m living it.  I see through my own eyes and think my own thoughts.  I even hear through my own cat ears and swish my tail back and forth…

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bleed by E.A. Skanchy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.