Chapter 8:



“...Can you move?”Bookmark here

Phos nervously asked. He couldn’t spare much time out of his shelter. They had to be fast. Bookmark here

The dragoness groaned. Bookmark here

“... Barely.”Bookmark here

“Good, then quickly, follow me,” he stepped back, pointing to his cave. “There’s shelter over here... Although, I’m not sure if you can fit...”Bookmark here

Shit. This might be a problem. What will I do if she’s too large? Bookmark here

No use worrying. Phos had to try. Bookmark here

The dragoness followed Phos back to safety, clumsily trodding through the snow, small droplets of bight red blood peppering the ground at her paws. Phos kept pace with her, despite his limbs and core screaming for warmth. He was positively freezing. She grimaced when they arrived, then peeked her head in. Bookmark here

“This is the place? I think I can fit.” Bookmark here

“Can you really? Do it quick, please... I need to get warm, too.”Bookmark here

Phos waited while the dragoness, who was so much larger than him, tucked her wings as close to her body as she could, and slipped inside the cave. Bookmark here

Just barely. She just barely fit through the entrance like that. Luckily, the interior was spacious enough to fit the two of them, although it would be an uncomfortably tight squeeze.Bookmark here

Phos quickly followed her, taking care not to trip over her tail or claws. Firelight illuminated the dragoness’s scales, and they shone beautifully. She watched him silently as he plopped down next to his fire, as close as he could sit without the flames licking his feet. All the strength left his body. He had a moment to reflect on the craziness of the day, at last. Bookmark here

Ahhh... So warm... Bookmark here

I thought I was done for. Between this blizzard, that strange eruption, and now this dragon... Nothing makes sense. Just what is happening here?Bookmark here

He was exhausted, but his curiosity and concern outweighed that. Phos could hear the labored breathing of the great beast before him, her lips curled in pain. Despite of this, she still watched him like a hawk. Bookmark here

“Err... Dragon? You are a dragon, right?”Bookmark here

“Indeed,” She rumbled, irritation lacing her voice. It had an odd accent to it, serpentine yet filled with pride. “And you are human. That I already know. T—“ she broke off into a fit of coughing that rattled the cave. Bookmark here

“It’s fine, it’s fine!” Phos waved his hands. “You’re hurt, please just lay down.” Bookmark here

“...”Bookmark here

“I don’t have nearly enough, but hold still. I’ll apply some ointment to your wounds, and clean you up.” Bookmark here

“...!”Bookmark here

The dragoness glared daggers at him, but made no effort to stop Phos as he took out a small jar of medicine and cloth bandage wraps from his pack. Bookmark here

Or perhaps she just lacks the strength to reject me. But still... I don’t think she’s a threat. Bookmark here

He started at her tail, rubbing small dollops of ointment on her cuts and dabbing away blood and grit with his cloth. Her scales were incredibly smooth, each moon-white and reflective, and Phos felt a little sad seeing them tarnished by blood and dirt. He moved his way slowly but surely up to her back, where he used his fingers to deftly pull splinters of chipped stone from a shallow gash on her shoulders, where the joints of her wings connected. The dragoness flinched in pain, digging her claws into the ground. Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, I had to get them out...”Bookmark here

“It’s... Fine.”Bookmark here

Phos finally was at her face, after what felt like hours. He could feel her hot breath every time she exhaled. Bookmark here

It’s a little intimidating to be so close to her jaws...Bookmark here

Phos gulped.Bookmark here

His ointment was depleted, and his cloth bandages— which he has been using as rags, since they were far too short to wrap around a beast as large as a dragon— were disgustingly bloody and dirtied. He tossed both away. 
Bookmark here

“I don’t have anything left for your head and face, but I think it’ll be okay.”Bookmark here

It didn’t look as bad as the rest of her body. The dragoness looked like she was feeling somewhat better already... Or maybe she was just less tense. She curled her tail around herself, and Phos returned to his spot by the fire. Her breathing was still strained; he guessed she had inhaled dust or smoke, but he could do nothing to help with that.Bookmark here

“... You have my thanks. For a human, you are surprisingly helpful. Those tiny little hands of yours are useful.” Bookmark here

Phos grinned. “I’m glad I could help. And I’ve gotta say, it’s my first time being complimented by a dragon.”Bookmark here

She trilled at his quip. It was an odd sound, like the warbling of a songbird. Bookmark here

Is that how dragons laugh? Ah, but... Bookmark here

“... My name isn’t human. It’s Phos.” Bookmark here

The dragoness tilted her head curiously. “I am Aurelia, daughter of Veskar. Well met, hu... Phos.” Bookmark here

“Nice to meet you, Aurelia.”Bookmark here

The spark of light was once again present in his mind as he spoke to this dragoness. It twinkled, and Phos shook his head to dispel the odd sensation. Aurelia perked her ears at his antics.Bookmark here

 “...Hm? A link?”Bookmark here

“What do you mean?”Bookmark here

 Phos had snuggled into himself, using his long hair as extra insulation. The coldcoal would keep his fire going for at least a day, and he felt his eyelids drooping in sheer exhaustion. He needed rest. Bookmark here

“... It’s nothing. Just sleep, Phos.”Bookmark here

“Mm... Right...” Bookmark here

Aurelia laid her head on the floor and closed her eyes, too. The last thing Phos saw before his consciousness drifted into the realm of dreams was her crimson eyes. Bookmark here

How pretty... he thought. Bookmark here

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