Reading and Writing
Odessa continued to sleep; I lay in waiting. Her breaths came i n steadily; her eyelashes twitched as her sleep’s cycles shifted. Laying here for hours, feeling parts of my body go numb, was but little suffering I endured while holding her. My dragon lulled her back to sleep with the deep rumbling within my body every shift in movement.
Odessa griped my vest tightly each time her body turned restless, the would rumbling began and she would sighed lulling her back to sleep. My rough fingers trailed her cheeks, her pouty dry lips, and back into her hair. Her hair was fanned entirely out onto the furs. Her smell had seeped into the deepest part of my nest. The citrus and now lilac scent radiating off her gave me deep pleasure. For once, my dragon was sated. No rage had built in my gut; no need to shift to let the beast take control for the day.
It had been many days since I had shifted; my dragon spirit was old and needed his time to be free. This time, since Odessa had stayed in our home for three days and had no signs of her leaving, he was content. Sighing, I played more with her hair until the Razak stood up from the base of the nest. His hair stood upon his neck and back, soft growls radiated, not to disturb Odessa.
My dragon vibrated in my chest. Sitting up on my elbow, I tightened the furs around my Fawn, my treasure, and climbed gently from the bed. Grabbing a spear, I gently clicked my tongue for Razak to follow. I couldn’t have him waking Odessa, not when she was finally healing, sleeping.
The sun was close to setting. We spent the majority day in bed, and not once did I feel guilty about not getting any work done around the cave. Even with winter coming, there was much to d 0. Finding enough furs to cover the cave was one but being with Odessa as close as we were was much more gratifying.
“Ho!” A loud voice yelled through the cave. Gritting my teeth, tightening the hold on my spear, I finally emerged in just my loincloth and vest. My feet were bare, not that it mattered to the cold ground; my beast kept me warm. My dragon growled, deep enough to shake the ground.
A young dragon, thirteen hands high, stood outside my cave. H e was just in his cloth, no weapons or shields in his possession. Not a single scar on his body; his dragon was not old in the slightest. Adam must have sent him because no other dragon would dare come here to deliver a message. Not to the monster.
The young dragon cleared his throat, backed up two paces as I strode forward. My dragon didn’t like the threat; I didn’t either. Odessa was on the opposite side of the cave, oblivious o f the danger. This young male would have nothing on me; I could snap him with my two fingers. As I advanced, the dragon hit his back to the tree, eyes darting away from me, his neck in clear view.
Growling, my dragon’s tongue escaped my lips, tasting the little fledglings neck. His breathing sputtered, trying to hold still. One short leaf’s blade in either direction, and my fangs would have sliced through his throat.
“P-please, I only bring a m-message.” My tongue stopped; stepping back, I stood at least two heads taller than the dragon. Was this overkill? Maybe? But my potential mate was too close for his own good.
“From Alpha Adam, Toboki Dragon tribe?” Snarling, I pushed him back into the tree.
“Speak,” My dragon growled. The cursed name haunted my dreams, too many nights, I dreamed of the hell hole where I grew up. Out of all the tribes, the Toboki tribe was stuck in its old ways. If I had grown up anywhere but here, I would have been treated as an equal. However, Toboki was one of the largest and most influential; no one wanted to fight against Adam.
“Alpha Adam, he wishes you to attend the tribe meeting regarding the safety of the Dragon Shifters. It will be at the next new moon,” he rushed. Before I could reply with my teeth gnashing together, he was gone, shifted into a serpent like dragon, already in the sky.
Adam had not invited me to a tribe meeting since the request that King Orion have the dragon’s help with the spat of his nobles and later vampires. Adam, being a dragon with a whole tree up his ass, only sent the bare minimum and the dragons that dare question him in any of his abilities. I stayed, protecting a tribe that didn’t consider me part of.
Adam used me because of our mother. She told Adam never to banish me on her death bed, but Adam did something worse. H e exiled me and only used me when he needed me-knowing that Mother made me give the same promise to keep the tribe safe. Not to abandon each other or the tribe. I knew I was not a part of the tribe once our parents died. Mother wanted me to live and coexist with everyone, to protect what Mother had loved or claimed to love until the tribe elders told her to have m e killed. Did she mean it? Or was it just words in the back of her mind wanting, longing for the tribe to be whole again? She tried to see the good even in the most evilest of our kind, unfortunately one of them being her own son. It had been too many years for me even to remember the emotions.
My eyes dropped back to the ground; I had two days until the new moon, the meeting most likely held when the second light source was high in the sky.
I would be gone for most of the day, alone, without Odessa. What could that fool want now? What more suffering does he want to instill upon me?
Razak followed behind me, still sniffing the air for unwanted predators until he heard something fall within the cave. Racing inside, I find Odessa sitting at the small table in her new chair, sipping on some water. “Hi, Prince Charming,” she chirped. “Sorry, I was thirsty. I figured you were out hunting o ir doing other manly stuff,” she laughed. Coming over to the table, she had not only drunk water but pulled scraps of leather, laying them on the table. An old, sharpened quill laid at the side. Scratches made into the leather formed into letters. They looked familiar to me, but not sure where to place them.
“I think it’s time we work on communicating better. I don’t know sign language, and it would take me forever to come up with something. Writing is what I did before I came here and what I do. So, I’m teaching you how to read and write,” Odessa beamed. My forehead instantly went down to hers, her eyes closed until I pulled away, taking the heat with me. “That’s okay, right?” I nodded, now taking a better look at what she wrote. She wants to communicate with m so badly and I feel just the same, I’d do anything for her.
“These are the first three letters of my alphabet,” Odessa pointed. “I’m not sure what this world uses, but this is what w e will use. This is ‘A,’ ‘B,’ and ‘C.'” She pointed.
While Odessa talked about her “letters,” I actually recalled my mother teaching me to read. She didn’t teach me the typical dragon symbols of writing; I was banned from knowing. Being the product of rape had cursed me. Since I was not disposed of, I didn’t deserve the more acceptable quality of education. Just the ability to fight
To appease the elders, my stepfather told my Mother I couldn’t go to the primary gathering school that was held a few days a week to learn history and writing. My Mother, being a stubborn woman and wanted me to learn, taught me completely different symbols but had the same sounds.
“What I am teaching you cannot be repeated, do you understand, Creed?” My Mother hovered over the parchment; several letters written insignificant, bold type. It was different than what Adam would come home with. This seemed much more straightforward, easier to understand.
“Yes, mother,” I picked up my quill, dipping it into the darkened ink.
“Not even my mate, do you understand?” I nodded my head again, concentrating heavily. I wanted to please my Mother, and she deemed this important. Not only reading but numbers, hunting, making things from scratch such as baskets, scraping leathers to make cloth. I enjoyed every moment with her and completed my duties with a happy song. Mother always gave me the attention that I wanted; she was the only person in the entire tribe that cared for me. Not because I was just her son, but because I was innocent in all the terrible things that had happened to her. It was just an unfortunate outcome. Mother made it known it was not my fault, that I was just the product of something terrible that happened, but I was a blessing from the gods themselves. She conceived me even though she was not the mate of her attacker. It was infrequent for such an occurrence to happen.
Even with mothers blessing to learn everyday activities that the women usually partook in, I was made fun of when Adam came home from his studies. He even asked when I was to lay my first egg. Anger would fill me; the ‘non-existent’ dragon hiding in my soul would even stir. I dare not tell a single dragon, even Mother, that I felt him for fear I would cast out even further than I already was.
Mother hummed and rubbed my back once I created my first word after listening to all the sounds each ‘letter’ made.
“This is perfect, Creed. You just wrote your name in writing called ‘English.’ It is from another realm but has the same sounds as we do in our dragon tongue. Just different symbols.”
My eyes grew wide. “Another realm? What is it like there?” My curiosity became the best of me as I listened intently. My hand gripped the quill causing it to break.
“Long ago, Dragons used to live in a place called Earth.” My Mother began. “These dragons were eventually hunted, killed for the hide and their hordes of treasure. Humans didn’t understand that we were just like them, had families, loved, and cared for one another. We were seen as monsters. Until one day, the gods made this realm, Bergarian. Our land is cared for here, the sky is clear, the world is untarnished by the wicked ways some humans abuse their world.”
“Mother, why did the gods let the humans live if they are so evil?” Mother tutted, picking up a clean piece of parchment.
“Not all humans are evil; one evil human can outshine even the purest of souls. One day, I believe that humans will be able to step over this world, step over the barrier that witches and warlocks have shielded to protect us. One day we will be in harmony; the purest of humans will be granted entrance and b e gifted with something special.” Mother’s hand petted my unrulily black hair. “That is why I think it is important that you learn this. I feel like you need this.” Mother clutched her chest to her dress tunic. Tears whelped in her eyes.
Smiling at my Mother, I continued my studies with her. Each day we practiced, ‘English writing.’ In contrast, Adam and dragons my age practiced the dragon’s symbols, history, and ways of the elders. I wanted to please my Mother, but more importantly, I had hoped to use this language one day and see i fmy Mother said it was true. That humans would come here, the purest ones, and mingle with the supernaturals that didn’t fit in at all. Writing to them if they could not hear well from one of the many ailments that humans could catch with their weak bodies.
Little did I know, it would be me that could not use my voice.
Once my Mother died, I stopped practicing. I began to lose what I had learned-losing hope that I would ever have a companion dragon or some other creature. Now that Odessa was here, I could understand why my Mother wanted me to learn. She knew something I didn’t; maybe she saw I needed a skill like this in a dream. This was how I would communicate with Odessa until I could fix my voice, so she could hear me and not the strain of my dragon’s cords on my own ruined ones. “And that’s the whole alphabet!” Odessa smiled, holding up the long piece of old leather. Her handwriting was perfect, more so than my Mother’s. Many of the letters looked familiar to me, and I even knew the sounds. Odessa would find me intelligent since I had told her I never learned to read or write. Well, I didn’t learn to read or write in dragon symbols, but she didn’t need to know that. Not yet anyway.