“Aurelia, I brought some snacks—“
Phos nimbly slid his way down the edge of the quarry, but fell silent when he saw the white dragoness. In his arms were an assortment of foods he’d thought a dragon might enjoy; primarily fish and meat, as Terra was too cold to grow most fruits or vegetables other than spiceberries or snow yams. He dropped all of them when he saw the state of her.
“Bwah! You’re injured again? Seriously?!”
Aurelia was curled up in a tight ball, her head peeking out over her tail. Her body was covered in small gashes, as well as twin punctures that Phos could only surmise to be bite marks. She opened her eyes when he approached and stilled her breathing, almost as if she were startled. The idea of a tiny human like him surprising a dragon made a ghost of a smirk cross his face, and he covered his lips with his hands.
“...Oh. You’re back. Hello, human.” Aurelia stated simply, closing her eyes again.
What’s with that reaction?
Phos could tell immediately that she was upset about something, even though he had great difficulty reading her body language and facial expressions. Dragons did a lot of things to communicate that humans didn’t, or couldn’t, do— like swiveling or pinning their long ears, or even dilating their pupils. The book his Uncle had given him went into great detail on the language of dragons, but it was still hard to pick up on in conversations.
Phos sat down next to Aurelia, the snacks he brought forgotten on the cold stone floor. He opened his bag and began treating her wounds once more, just like he had on the night they first met. Aurelia kept her eyes closed, but the tip of her tail was slowly moving back and forth.
“I’m sorry for not coming sooner, Aurelia. The town is in an uproar. I think our Chief knows what happened to your home, up in Aether— or at least, he suspects. And... I know too. The island you came from is destroyed, isn’t it?”
Aurelia sighed, finally opening her eyes and looking back at Phos. He hadn’t had the chance to look at her eyes this closely before. They were enormous, beautiful red eyes, with shimmering streaks of pink scattered throughout. They reminded him of the eyes of a large feline, predatory and graceful, yet with a reptilian distinction. He stared. Deep within his mind, that bizarre spark of light returned, making his head reel painfully.
Aurelia perked her ears.
“You figured it out, huh? Well, I guess it wasn’t really a mystery to begin with...” She speared a chunk of dried meat on the ground with one of her claws, popping it into her mouth with a foul look. “The island is... Was called Azmanthus. I can’t say it was particularly unique compared to other kingdoms, other islands. But... It was a warm place. Much, much warmer than here.”
Phos rubbed salve into the deeper wounds in her hide as she spoke. “Did you have family up there, in Azmanthus?”
“I do,” she corrected. “I have a father. I know he’s alright. He has to be.”
“And your mother?”
“She lives in one of the lower islands. I don’t see her often— but she’s alive.”
Phos ran his hand over Aurelia’s scales, patted her side thoughtfully. She hissed at him. “Your turn now, Phos. Do you have family? And stop petting me like that. I’m not a dog!”
Laughing now, he withdrew his hands. “Sorry, sorry. Your scales are surprisingly smooth, it’s fun to touch them... And my family? I have a sister, she’s a year younger than me. She’s about this tall,” Phos motioned with his hands to his chin, to give Aurelia a better idea. “And she’s... Energetic. Talkative. A bit overbearing, maybe? But everyone loves her. She always finds a way to brighten the room up and share her happiness with the people around her.”
“She sounds like an interesting human, if you can speak so highly of her.”
Phos had finished treating her wounds. This time, he only used up half of his ointment. The town herbalist had given him a thorough lecture for burning through his previous jar so quickly, and would definitely do so again if he wasn’t careful.
“I’ll introduce you to her sometime. I think you two would be good friends.” he mused.
Aurelia stood now, striding out of the quarry. Phos scrambled after her to keep up, having to jog to match her pace. She looked back at him.
“Are we friends, Phos?” the dragoness asked, eyes shining despite her demeanor.
“Of course we are. Unless you don’t want to be, that is.”
Aurelia trilled, picking him up gently in one of her paws. Phos wriggled. “Wha—What?!”
What the hell is she doing?
Aurelia had placed him on top of her head. He slid on her smooth scales before grabbing on to one of her horns, steadying himself. He was higher up in the air than he’d ever been, but her scales radiated a warmth that was strangely relaxing.
“I do. You’re an odd little human, you know? You look like a griffin chick, with all that fluffy gray hair, and those big eyebrows...”
Phos replied by bonking her forehead with his furred boots, but it didn’t so much as tickle her.
Aurelia looked up at the sky, spreading her wings. They were perfect, like twin crescent moons rippling in the wind. “Won’t you come with me to Aether, Phos? I must search for those precious to me, who I have lost. The sky calls to me, and it is my duty to respond.”
Phos’s grip faltered. An invitation to the homeland of Flighted beings was unheard of, a once in a lifetime opportunity. Hundreds of thoughts flooded his mind, of the discoveries he could make, the sights he could see, places he could go and foods he could try eating. He felt like a stray cat being offered a tour of the finest cities in Terra; if he had a tail like one, it would be wagging.
“I’m sorry, Aurelia. I can’t leave my family behind. Just as you have your duty, I have mine as well...”
Voice faltering, he coughed awkwardly.
“I see,” Aurelia huffed. Phos couldn’t see the mischievous draconian grin spread across her face, but he got the feeling she was up to something. The sparks in his mind flickered once more.
Just what is this? Damn it. My head...
“Then just fly with me for now, Phos!”
His trance was broken by the white dragoness’s sudden movement. She leapt into the air, sending him backwards, grabbing onto her horn for dear life as the wind launched them both into the sky violently.