This is a collab with Lone Wolf, go check out her side once it's out!
It was beautiful. The delicate swaying of the leaves, the soft dirt beneath my bare feet. I liked walking through the woods, admiring nature, imagining what animal I would hunt down for lunch. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my hunting supplies, so a few lucky rabbits can continue to live another day. For now.
I heard the snap of a branch and whipped my head around, grabbing a rock from the ground as a weapon.
I raised the rock in my hand, then dropped it when I recognized the blonde hair peeking through the leaves.
"Hey Rayla!" she shouted, running over to me, a twig sticking out of her hair.
"What's up, Mia!" I said. "What are you doing out here?"
"You know, just spending time in nature like I always am. How have you been?"
"I've been doing okay. Just roaming around, trying to figure out what I'm gonna eat later.” I walked beside her as we talked, flipping my brown hair behind my back.
"Wanna come to the library with me?" Mia asked. "That's where I'm headed now."
"I guess so. But only because the librarian always gives us cookies. Let's go, I'm starving."
"It's a beautiful day to be in nature today," commented Mia after a bit of silence, smiling as we walked.
I scoffed. "More like a beautiful day to hunt in nature. I wish I had my bow and arrow today."
Mia rolled her eyes, playfully punching me in the arm.
"I wonder what makes the sky blue," mumbled Mia and we strode along.
I gazed up into the blue horizon, listening to the steady chirps and trills of the birds above. I heard a low whistling voice and I jumped, grasping Mia's arm.
“Did you hear that?” I asked tentatively.
“Yeah,” responded Mia.
The whistling stopped, the chirping birds above continuing their song.
“I wonder what that was,” I said, letting go of Mia’s arm.
“Probably a bird of some sort. Or maybe a porcupine. Or a… dragon.”
“A dragon? Please, Mia. They aren’t even… real…” I turned around to find Mia gazing straight into the face of a green dragon, previously camouflage into the dark interior of the forest. The strange whistling sound pierced the air once again.
I gaped at the strange creature. Its dark green scales blended in with the forest, it's bright green eyes matching mine.
"Easy, big guy, we didn't mean to startle you,” said Mia, slowly raising her arms. “We just want to get by you to the library. Are you okay with that?"
The dragon huffed, squinting its green eyes, lowering its head to reveal a long scar reaching from its snout to it’s eye.
"Mia," I whispered. "I think it's the lost dragon from the legends."
“But he went missing over 100 years ago,” she whispered back nervously. "Do you really think it's him?"
I hesitated. "It could be. See his scar? It looks exactly like the one described in the books.”
Mia gasped, her blue eyes widening in amazement. “It really is the lost dragon.”
"What do we do?" I whispered.
"Well, for starters, don't make any harsh movements, that will spook him," Mia whispered, her experience with animals coming into play. "Then, approach with confidence and don't show your weakness. They say that animals can smell your emotions."
"Confidence is my middle name," I whispered with a smile, straightening my back and slowly walking towards the towering beast.
Mia straightened up as well, walking beside me. "Hey, pal, listen up.” she said, trying to sound confident. “We need to get by you and we don't mean any trouble. May we have the right of passage?"
The beast lifts his head and spreads his wings, but I don't back down. I don't show any fear as it leaned forward, it's snout inches from my face, the low whistling sound getting quieter and quieter.
"See? We are friends. We don't want to hurt you,” said Mia, watching closely as I got closer to the beast.
He leaned in close, as if inspecting us to see if it's true, his green eyes gazing into mine.
I slowly reached out my hand, praying I won't walk out of this missing a limb, feeling his scaly skin beneath my fingers.
Mia followed suit, closing her eyes and scrunching her nose as if she was concentrating.
"I think Elliot would be a good name for you, what do you think?" said Maya, opening her eyes. The dragon stomped his feet lightly and gave a little snorting sound.
"Mia, do you realize what this means?" I asked, snapping myself back into reality. "If the lost dragon- Elliot, I mean- is still alive, that means they might still be tracking him. What do we do with him? Do we hide him?"
"I think it would be wise to keep him hidden somewhere.” replied Mia, rubbing her hands on Elliot’s snout. “But the problem with that is where do you hide a dragon? A cargo boat? The sky?"
I looked back up at Elliot, no longer afraid of this gentle creature. I balled up my fists. "We have to help him." I turned to Mia. "We can't leave him out here. The sky has too many planes and satellites, the ground is risky enough. Unless..." I widened my eyes. "We hid him under the ground."
"How would we do that? We can't just blast a hole in the ground, and digging takes too long."
She turned to Elliot. “You got any ideas, big guy?”
"Didn't all of the dragons have elemental powers?" I glanced back up at Elliot. "What if he's an Earth Dragon?"
"That's a possibility, I-"
Before Mia could finish, the ground began to shake beneath our feet. I whipped my head around to see Elliot rapidly digging a tunnel into the ground. He turned towards me and gave a low snort.
"I think he wants us to follow him," said Mia.
"Well, what are we waiting for?" I asked, following after Elliot. "Let's go!"
"Alright, I'm coming."
We descended into the tunnel, travelling farther and farther from the surface.
"We're going to run out of light soon," Mia commented.
"I knew I should've brought my hunting supplies," I muttered. Elliot stopped and huffed at me, and I raised my hands in surrender. "Not for you, of course." I breathed a sigh of relief as he turned his head back around to continue digging the tunnel.
"Oh well. Elliot seems to know what he's doing.” said Mia, groping in the darkness for my hand. “I just hope we don't fall in a hole or anything."
"I hope we can find our way back," I replied, squinting my eyes. "I can't see a thing."
I gasped. "What if there's spiders here?!" I shivered just at the thought. Those hairy legs and beady eyes that stare straight into your soul...
"I think spiders are at the bottom of the worry list” replied Mia. “We don't even know where we’re going. We put our trust in a dragon's hands...or talons, I guess."
Up ahead, Elliot stopped his digging.
“Elliot?” I called out. “What’s wrong buddy?”
The low whistling sound returned, but this time, it sounded more… hesitant.
"If he's worried about something... then you know it's gotta be bad," I whisper. "Elliot! What's wrong?" He doesn't respond, simply stares ahead into the darkness.
I moved aside to look around him. My eyes adjusted to the dark, and up ahead, there was a small cavern littered with leaves and rocks.
"Is this your home, boy?" asked Mia. Elliot wiggled his body and happily jumped around in the cavern.
"Mia!" I hissed. "We can't just walk in there. One, who knows what's in there. Two, we need to get back. Our parents will kill us if we aren't home before sunset. Besides, how do we know we can trust him?"
"Well, where is your sense of adventure?” replied Mia. She turned her amber eyes to me, a look of determination on her face. “My parents won't miss me, that much I can tell you. If you want to go back, then by all means, I'm not holding you back. If I die down here, I will at least know what the underground is like. I will at least have one friend to die with me. I know I may be crazy, and that may be true, but I am going to find out what is down there." I marched forward behind Elliot.
"Are you kidding me? I'm not about to leave you behind! If you're going, I'm going to. We do this together." I marched next to her, my previous worries disappearing.
"Alright, then. Elliot, lead the way."
We walked into the cavern, large leaves carefully placed on the floor. I felt small vibrations on the ground, but thought nothing of it. Probably Elliot getting excited again. I turned to see Elliot standing still, hesitating, listening. The vibrations were becoming more and more prominent, and they seemed to be coming from all directions.
The walls of the cavern collapsed, revealing 6 men with spears and facepaint alike. Their dark skin blended in with the ground, their shaggy hair littered with dirt.
"What do we do now?" whispered Mia, grasping my arm.
"No sudden moves?" I suggested hesitantly. Mia and I stood back to back against the strange people.
"Don't speak, any of you," one of the men said.
"Who are you guys?" asked Mia.
"I said no talking!”
Elliot made a low whistling sound, his pupils dilating in fear.
"Just stop making noise! Geez, who knew instructions were so hard to follow."
A strange figure stepped out of the shadows. His dark complexion matched those around him, his black hair twisted into a braid.
Elliot growled at the men, lowering his head and stepping in front of us.
“Back off, you stupid dragon!” shouted one of the men, pointing his spear at Elliot.
"Hey, you don't yell at Elliot!" I shouted, heat flooding my face. "Who are you anyway? What are you doing here?"
He threw his head back in exasperation. "Oh my God... what part of NO TALKING do you NOT UNDERSTAND?!" He walked closer, pointing a dagger in my face. The one in the shadows lifted his hand, and the guy backed off, scowling at me.
I scowled back.
"I am sorry for the behavior of my comrade," the man from the shadows said. "He is foolish in his thinking, threatening two young girls and their dragon. We mean no harm, honest. We just wanted to take a look at your dragon there. Do you mind?"
"Yes, we do mind, he isn't any ol' dragon..." Mia’s voice trailed off, realizing what she just said.
"Mia!" I hissed.
"What do you mean?" asked the man. "Could this be the great dragon from the legends? Could this be the last of its kind, the rest hunted and killed?"
I didn't dare say anything.
"Come on, girl, go ahead and tell us before I threaten you again," hissed the comrade, raising his spear.
"Uh, I...well...no, I won't tell you, not in a million years,” said Maya.
"Fine then. Boss, who do I kill first, the dragon, or the girls?" he asked.
"You lay a hand on either one of them and you'll have to deal with me," I hissed. I grabbed a sharp rock from the ground to use as a weapon, once again wishing I had my bow and arrows with me. These idiots wouldn’t stand a chance.
"We said that we mean no harm, again I apologize for his behavior. He tends to attack first, ask questions later. Please, we only wish to see the dragon in all its magnificence."
A small part of me wanted to trust this strange man… but one look in his deep brown eyes and I knew his intentions were not just to see the dragon.
"If you want to see Elliot, you are going to have to get through us first,” said Maya, stepping in front of Elliot. I followed suit, handing Mia another rock in case this got messy.
"Well, is that how you want to go about it then?" sneered the strange man.
Mia nodded, raising the rock I gave her, a look of determination on her face.
"Alright, this shall be fun." He snapped his fingers and 10 more men appeared from the shadows, all armed with spears and daggers.
I raised my rock again, then remembered the small whistle in my pocket I kept for emergencies. I slowly reached into my pocket as I spoke.
"Mia, when I tell you to, turn and run. Take Elliot with you. Run, don't look back, I have a plan. I'll be right behind you."
I turned towards Mia. "Ok?"
"Uh, okay...I guess..."
"Ok... now!" she turned and ran behind Eliot as I took the whistle out of my pocket. The men charged as I blew into it, barely any noise coming out. The dirt walls surrounding the men started to crumble, revealing an army of wolves with a blind woman in front of them. I smiled at the familiar face.
"You called?" she asked, a smile on her face, her spear raised.
"Awesome! Hold them off for me!" I turned and ran towards Mia as the wolf army charged on the men.
I caught up to Mia. "Keep going!" I yelled. "I got some old friends to help us," I said, smiling. "Elliot, get us out of here!"
"That's great," huffed out Mia. "The opening is up ahead, just keep going!"
"Come on, Elliot!" I shouted. The man from the shadows suddenly appeared in front of us, his spear facing us. Sweat dripped down his face as he breathed heavily, anger in his eyes.
"I tried to be nice," he huffed. "Give us the dragon or else."
"Or else what?” said Mia. “If you want the dragon, you will have to take me also. Elliot and Rayla are my friends, and friends stick together." I nodded in agreement, staring daggers at the man.
He sneered. "I'm afraid I'm only taking the dragon, miss."
He lunged forward towards Mia, spear aimed towards her. I dashed in front of her to protect her when a wolf came out of nowhere, the blind rider smiling. The wolf jumped on top of the man, disarming him.
“Thanks!” I said to the blind rider. She smiled, her faded grey eyes seemingly staring off into the distance.
"We need to get out of here, I think the ground is caving in," said Mia, pointing at the falling dirt around us.
"I agree," I said. "Elliot?"
Elliot snorted and ran forward with Mia and I following behind. Clumps of dirt and rocks crumpled from the ceiling, kicking up large amounts of dust. I coughed and used my shirt to cover my nose as we ran through the tunnel.
Mia did the same as she grabbed onto Elliot’s back for support.
The dust clogged my lungs as I gasped for air. My vision went blurry as I ran, trying to keep up with Mia and Elliot. I kept coughing, unable to take a breath, my lungs burning for air.
"Mia..." I squeezed out before my legs buckled beneath me.
“Rayla!” I heard her shout. I could feel her hand on my shoulder, trying to lift me up.
“Don’t give up on me now!” she shouted, her eyes blurring with tears.
More and more dust clouded around us, suffocating us, depriving us of air. I floated in and out of consciousness, barely able to make out Mia’s voice before the world went dark.
I opened my eyes, dirt caked on my skin. I looked up to see Elliot towering over me, wings wrapped protectively over me, growling at some unknown threat. The clouds of dust receded slightly, and I could barely make out through a gap between Elliot’s wings the comrade, the one who threatened to kill us, with Mia thrown over his shoulder.
“Let go of her!” I choked out, my throat hoarse and dry.
“Make me,” the comrade sneered. Elliot let out a large bellowing roar and lunged at the man. His face was one of true terror as the beast charged at him. He instantly dropped Mia and ran as Elliot chased after him. I crawled towards Mia, more and more dirt falling from the ceiling. “Mia!” I shouted, tears blurring my eyes. Suddenly, a large mound of dirt and rocks fell from the ceiling. Elliot dodged forward and raised his wings above me, protecting me from the sudden avalanche.
“NO!” I shouted, shoving my way through Elliot’s wings. I cried out in desperation, crawling towards her as fast as I could.
I clawed my way through the dirt, calling Mia’s name. I felt something soft and smooth through the dirt. I grabbed it and yanked it out, pulling the rest of her body with her. I dragged her away from the dirt mound and knelt down next to her. I ran my hand over her cold skin, gazing into her closed eyes, praying for them to open one more time. Fresh tears streamed down my cheek as I called her name, over and over between coughs and gasps of air, my voice echoing in the cave. I felt a presence behind me, and Elliot’s familiar whistle pierced the air.
"Elliot!" I cried out, my brain fogging up from lack of oxygen, pulling my shirt over my nose. "Get us out of here!"
I clung to consciousness as I climbed onto Elliot's back. When we emerged from the cave, I immediately dropped from his back, clinging to Mia's cold and lifeless body. Layers of dust covered her pale skin. Silent tears streamed down my cheeks as I held her closer, whispering her name one last time...