Chapter 12:

Blood on Fresh Snow (II)


It had been two days since the puny human boy had come to visit Aurelia. Two whole days. The dragoness was positively bored, and found her mood taking a sharp nose dive as she was left alone with only her thoughts to keep her company. Bookmark here

Where the hell did he go? Damn that human boy. Has he betrayed me? Is he bringing his entire human clan to kill me? Grrr...Bookmark here

 Aurelia gnashed her teeth, paced around the dark quarry she had been resting in. Bookmark here

Or... Has he abandoned me?Bookmark here

The thought caused an odd, twisting pain inside her stomach. Bookmark here

It was certainly possible he had forgotten about her. Aurelia didn’t know much about humans, and she’d never met one either. She found it difficult to read Phos’s facial expressions, and as a result, had a hard time understanding what he was thinking... If he were a dragon like her, or any Flighted creature with inherent magic, it would be as easy as connecting their minds together with a link.Bookmark here

“... No matter. I’m not some obedient little human pet.”Bookmark here

She grumbled to herself, then spread her wings.  They caught the wind easily, like silken curtains, and Aurelia flexed the strong bones the membranes connected to. There was no pain, although there was still some discomfort. Dragons healed fast, something she was especially thankful for this moment. Bookmark here

With that, Aurelia leapt into the air and took off. The sensation of wings catching air, being buoyed higher and higher into the sky, each flap empowering her movement, was thrilling no matter how many times Aurelia did it. Flight was magical. It was a gift, and as she elegantly swam through the sky, her foul mood began to calm. Bookmark here

A memory replaced it.Bookmark here

Only a few days ago, Veskar had flown alongside her in the sky, just like this. Had consoled her when she let her temper get the best of her, helped polish her scales for the laying ceremony. And what had she done? Bookmark here

Her heart sank.Bookmark here

I was embarrassed, so I acted coldly to him. I lost Queen Viridian’s precious, wonderful egg. And... I couldn’t find my father. I didn’t even try to find either of them.Bookmark here

Tears fell from her red eyes, growing cold as they rolled down her muzzle and were lost in the air. Aurelia climbed higher, breaking into puffy layers of clouds. Swiveling in the air, she got her bearings again.Bookmark here

Should be... Here. Down here.Bookmark here

She tucked her wings and dove, cracking them back out to glide and land at the last moment. Her paws left enormous tracks in the snow as she arrived at the area where she had crashed to Terra. Fresh snow had fallen since then, but it couldn’t fool the keen nose of a dragon. Bookmark here

Aurelia opened her mouth, inhaling cold air and rolling it off her tongue, over the roof of her mouth. She was searching for something, anything, anything at all to help her. Bookmark here

“Aha!”Bookmark here

A familiar scent hit her, faint and barely noticeable. Nose to the ground, she followed it, then plunged an arm into the snow, grabbing the object in her paw. Bookmark here

“...Oh? What do we have here?”Bookmark here

It was a small, round gemstone. As white as her own scales, opalescent and ethereal. The gift that Queen Viridian had given her. It was splattered with dried blood, some frozen to the jewel, adding small beads of crimson to the reflected colors. Aurelia held it gently, bringing it up to her face. Bookmark here

The blood on it was not her own. Nor was it her Queen’s, or Veskar’s— thank the gods. The odor was musky, smoky almost. It was definitely from a male dragon, but that was all the information she could glean. Bookmark here

“Hmm...”Bookmark here

She didn’t know how this dragon’s blood had gotten on her jewel, when she had it with her until she crashed. But she could smell no more of his scent or blood, so she ignored it and continued on, slinking through the snow and testing the air. Bookmark here

She could smell a thick, bovine-like scent in the distance. Aurelia recognized them as tritans. Their meat had been delicious, fatty and succulent.Bookmark here

“But I’m not hungry right now, so...”Bookmark here

She kept looking.Bookmark here

An odd smell nearby caught Aurelia’s attention. Forest leaves and dirt, an earthy odor that reminded her of the beautiful Azmanthus jungles. And yet, it had the unmistakable scent of a human mingled in so strongly that it made her freeze. Slowly, she crept forwards, ready to flee back to the sky if need be. Bookmark here

Phos had told her that most humans hated dragons. Most dragons didn’t like humans, either. In Azmanthus, some dragons had even acquired a taste for them, something that always turned her stomach. Bookmark here

Aurelia wasn’t scared of some oversized naked monkeys, but killing them was an entirely different story. And eating them? She held back a gag. Bookmark here

Even if they’re weird, they don’t deserve to die. And Phos had saved her, treated her kindly— she knew humans had more to them than dragons gave them credit for. Bookmark here

Aurelia braced herself as she drew closer to the scent. Scanning her surroundings, she realized she had wandered into a forest of pine trees, their needles tickling her as she moved. Craggy rocks were scattered around here and there, providing good coverage...Bookmark here

A long, hollow howl rang out.Bookmark here

Aurelia sprang into a crouch, sparks of blue fire popping and hissing from her mouth as she prepared to fight. Her pupils were sits as she spotted the source of the howl.Bookmark here

A large wolf leapt atop one of the boulders. Muscles flexed and rippled under its dark grey fur, and luminous amber eyes locked onto hers. Within them was an intelligence not befitting of a simple beast. It growled, gravelly and canine-like, and Aurelia responded with her own. Bookmark here

The wolf sprang off the rock, landing silently in the snow. It stood before her, without an ounce of fear in its eyes, despite being a fraction of her size. Bookmark here

“Winged One. Flighted. Devourer of Magic. You do not belong here.”Bookmark here

The wolf snarled, in a voice almost perfectly human. Aurelia was taken aback, but held her ground. Bookmark here

“What is this meaning of this? Tell me, wolf. Or should I say wolves?” She snapped angrily. “I can smell more of you. Don’t bother hiding.”Bookmark here

Yips of excitement were followed by a large number of wolves surfacing from their hiding places, and they formed a menacing circle around the dragoness. Aurelia thrashed her tail out when one got too close, knocking it over into the one beside it, eliciting both snickers and snarls from the other beasts. The grey wolf in front of Aurelia narrowed his eyes. Bookmark here

“You have a keen nose, Winged One. I thought you must be nose-blind for waltzing right into our territory unannounced,” He barked a dry laugh devoid of humor. “But it seems you are just stupid.”Bookmark here

Ah. So that’s what that smell had been. Bookmark here

“My apologies, but I don’t know what you are, wolf, and I didn’t mean to trespass.” Aurelia responded. One, two, three... There were about thirty wolves surrounding her. Some were smaller than others, but all of them were stiff and ready to fight when their leader— she labeled him as Big Grey in her mind— ordered it. Her heart beat wildly in her chest, adrenaline dizzying her in preparation for battle. Bookmark here

If they wanted a fight, they’d get one. And Aurelia wouldn’t lose.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.