Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Friday Flash #35 - First Encounter

Ok so for the record, I can't believe I'm on #35!!!! Woohoo!

This story stands on its own as a flash, but it's also a continuation of the story I started "way back when" in flash #2... It also has two endings. The flash ending, here. And the alternate ending which just moves the story along a little. I'll include both -- let me know which you think works better!!!

BTW, if you want the back story:
The Next Step
The Watcher
The Survivor

Thanks for reading!


First Encounter:

As she followed well behind Kale, muttering to herself about the pace he was setting and questioning her sanity in staying with him, Jezina's internal monologue was interrupted by a whimpering not far off in the woods. She stopped to listen more carefully as Kale disappeared around a bend farther ahead.

There it was again. A sad sound. Like a cross between the mewling cry of a kitten and the high-pitched chirp of a young bird. Curious, she stepped off the trail toward the sound. For all that it was quiet, Jezina had thought the sound was nearby but as she found herself heading deeper into the woods she realized her senses had been somewhat distorted. She considered heading back, realizing it'd be smart to at least tell Kale where she'd gone, but was worried that whatever was crying was hurt. That and, she acknowledged to herself, she really didn't want Kale along. So she continued deeper into the woods, out of sight of the trail she'd been following.

She crossed the treeline and found herself in a meadow. There was something foreboding about the meadow; the scene was one of pastoral peace and Jezina could see no reason for her unease, but still she hesitated. The sound was noticeably louder and when she scanned the open area she saw it. An animal of some type, trapped by a log on the other side of the meadow.

Dismissing her fears as foolish, Jezina sprinted across the meadow towards the wounded animal, slowing to a walk when she got near so as not to scare it. When she approached it, murmuring gently, the animal looked at her with the most disconcertingly intelligent eyes.

The creature was unlike any Jezina had ever seen. The size of a large dog, it was blue and very fluffy. She felt a girl's need to hug it, although some instinct warned her that would be a very bad idea. It had tiny wings, too small for the body, that seemed to be made of crystal, and large amber eyes that looked at her quizzically. It looked pointedly at its trapped claw and then tilted its head sideways looking at Jezina as though to say "Well? Would you do something about this?" The look was so human and so indignant it instantly brought a smile to her face.

"Alright little one, let me see what I can do." Taking a closer look, Jezina could see that his claw had slipped through a knot hole in the fallen tree, and he couldn't twist it in any way that would let him pull it back out. She tried to move it gently, but he squawked and hit her with his little wing, scratching her face. She sat back and looked at him -- those wings may be small, but they were powerful! "Ok," she said softly, gentling him, "I'm trying to help here." Realizing she'd be unable to maneuver his claw out, Jezina set about trying to break the slightly rotting stump to widen the hole he'd gone through. It was hard work, especially as she had to keep the log stable or the critter screeched in pain. Jezina’s labours were rewarded as she heard a snap and the piece she was working on broke off, sending her comically tumbling backwards and the blue fluffball falling off the other side, free.

She laughed out loud as the critter bounced back up and over to her side as though saying "I meant to do that!" She sat and watched him play, leaping off the log and fluttering his tiny wings in a frantic and fairly unsuccessful attempt to hover. Enjoying the moment of sheer childish frivolity, Jezina climbed onto the log and mimicked the creature, jumping off and flapping her arms. He watched her do that once and then waited for her to join her on the log again -- his intentions clear. Both leapt at the same time, only the animal actually managed a hover of a second or two, landing well after Jezina. Sensing the "so there" in his eyes, she turned and performed a formal bow saying "You win, little one, that was pretty impressive."

Lost in the silliness of the moment, Jezina was happier and more relaxed than she'd been in a long time. Which meant the cold voice, when it interrupted, seemed that much harsher.

"Jezina!" At the sharp command, Jezina looked across the meadow to see Kale glaring at her with a level of hatred she'd hoped they were past. Sighing she looked at the little creature who at Kale's appearance had stopped bouncing around and moved to stand in front of Jezi -- seemingly protecting her from the intruder.

"It's ok little one," she said, feeling only half foolish for explaining things to this seemingly intelligent being, "he's a . . . friend," she picked for lack of a better word.

"Jezina you've got to get out of there NOW!" Kale stated adamantly.

"I'm fine Kale," she reassured him, "he's friendly."

"Jezina," Kale spoke very quietly one eye warily on the critter, "this is a dragon's lair, and that's a baby blue-wing. He looks harmless, but could kill both of us in an instant. And where there's a baby, there's a mother. We have to get out of here before she arrives." And Jezina knew she'd mistaken the hatred in his eyes. What she was really seeing was fear.

A closer look around their meadow confirmed what Kale was saying. The meadow in the middle of the forest was not a natural construct. The log the critter had been caught was obviously dragged from elsewhere, but there was no path through the woods. Jezina had taken the meadow at face value; dragons to her were magnificent mythical creatures -- certainly not cute blue fluffballs. But, she was learning, sometimes the myths were real. "Well little one, even though I'd much rather stay and play with you, it looks like I'd better be going. It seems your mum might not like me being here. Stay out of the logs ok?" she asked him with a quick pat on the head. She'd taken only one step across the meadow toward Kale when she heard a sound not even her nightmares could create. The roar was fierce, the ground shook underneath, and the temperature rose to nearly scalding. The little critter cowered behind her, and she instinctively put a hand on his head reassuringly. "Where was Kale's icy glare when you needed it?" the scarily logical part of her brain asked while the rest of her frantically tried to think of what to do next. She felt the temperature drop slightly as the roar faded, allowing her a slight reprieve as she quickly scanned the area for a hiding spot. She was considering whether or not she could hide in the log she'd just rescued the baby dragon from when she ran out of time.


Yikes! Momma's going to be angry.



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