Upon Ashen Wings
Part Three: The Next Step
An orange dragon, covered in numerous slashes and scorches marks, sat crouched below the copper dragon and its rider. "Sssir." It said softly, a swollen and scorched jaw affecting its speech. "There are sssurviorss. And Her dragon, Dussskirlan hasss broken free from hisss bondsss." It said, and the man looked at the pathetic creature with a growl.
"What? He should be bound for much longer, that blasted Oath must've shortened the time." The man snapped, and his dragon rumbled angrily. The orange dragon twisted its head, exposing its neck in a sign of submission. Korfaz whirled on the dragon, hissing dangerously, "We can't let them reach the Ashwings. Take them out as soon as you can, or your life will be the price." Mivrana the copper dragon growled in warning, closing her teeth around the dragon's neck. It was soft enough not to kill, but hard enough to draw blood and cause the orange dragon to quake with fear. "Ssssir!" It called, and Korfaz nodded. Mivrana let go, and the orange dragon quickly flew away, calling up several of its brethren and flying off into the night.
They had been flying for a while now, and Duskirlan finally dropped onto the ground, furling his wings. Akiralos stretched, and then promptly collapsed as her muscles cried out in protest after the long flight. They weren't used to that position, and hard scale was extremely uncomfortable. Duskirlan looked at the girl with a critical eye, stating, "We should get you a saddle. And a weapon. Always wondered how you humans can properly defend yourselves."
Akiralos looked up at Duskirlan. "Where do we go, then?" She inquired, and Duskirlan sat on his haunches, looking thoughtful. "Well, our destination is Hazrim Woods. That's unfortunately a long flight from here, over the Azuram Ocean, which no dragon has been able to fly across. Luckily, the Ashwings found a way around that and created the Mourning Portal. It allows you to travel across the two landmasses with ease."
Akiralos swallowed, "Why is it called the Mourning Portal?" The dragon studied her, replying casually, "A lot of people died in its creation. There are reports that ghosts haunt the portal and prey on the innocent and unwary. Fortunately, we're neither." Akiralos didn't look convince by that at all, and looked at the dragon like he was absolutely insane. Duskirlan seemed baffled, and then realized what she was worried about. "Right, you humans get worried over so many little things. Relax, we'll be fine. Probably."
He scraped the ground around him clean off of forest debris, and took one of his claws and starting drawing in the dirt. "Okay," He said, "We're here, and this is where we want to go." He scribbled these marks in the soil, then added several more, a mountain range, the Azuram Ocean, a few rivers, the Mourning Portal, and a desert. "This is what's in our way
" He added, then continued with his map and added a couple of times, scattered sparingly across the land. "And those are the towns we can stop at. Out of all of them, last time I checked, these three-" He indicated one near the Hazrim Forest, their destination, one close to them, and one closer to the Azuram Ocean, "-are safe and Ashwing controlled."
Akiralos tilted her head, looking at the sketched map, and asked, "And these?" She pointed to the other towns that Duskirlan didn't indicate. "Controlled by the Drakafell. It's in our best interest to avoid those, for safety." Akiralos nodded slowly, then said, "So what's the plan?"
Duskirlan pointed to the closest town, called Marin's Crossing. "That's where we start. Go there; get you a saddle and some weapons, some information, and a place to rest for a bit." Akiralos nodded. That seemed reasonable enough.
"First of all, though, we're going to sleep." Duskirlan muttered, shuffling his wings and stretching them briefly. "Long trip ahead of us, get it while you can. You'll start to wish you could sleep all the time, once we're through with this adventure." He said, with a mischievous grin. Akiralos shuddered, that was a very toothy grin that made her rather nervous.
Duskirlan tilted his head, and shook it. "Don't worry, Ralos. I'll always be your protector. I'd never hurt you." Akiralos looked at him, and slowly inched closer to the large dragon. "Right, time for sleep," He said, and the young girl curled up near his large paws. He tented his wings around himself and her, forming a warm cocoon. He watched the forest quietly as her breathing slowed.
The forest hadn't been disturbed, which was a relief. They had escaped quickly enough to avoid detection. Aside from the occasional whisper from the trees and the flash of eyes from nocturnal hunters, all was still. Duskirlan rested his head on his paws, close to Akiralos, and closed his eyes. His senses still listened and kept vigil, but otherwise he fell into a light sleep.
Three dragons were hanging in the sky, an orange, a green, and a dark blue. They watched the other sleeping dragon briefly, then flew off.