Once Adam’s smell left the area, I went back to the narrow clearing where I chopped wood. The trees that I had selected t o discard for fire were barely holding up. This would leave fresh new trees to grow in its place. I pulled on my spare cloak, my cloth covering my nakedness was still around my hips, but my leathers to cover my legs were gone. I was not expecting to shift while hiding in the small ravine cutting down trees. This proved to be a terrible mistake. I will be sure to always be prepared when my Fawn is with me. Even with my warm body and my comfortableness walking around in just my cloth, Odessa would always become flustered, becoming a bright shade of pink.
Maybe I should just forget my leathers. My dragon agreed whole heartedly.
Hoping that the search for Odessa had slowed, I was mistaken again. The Duke was set on having Odessa and the next steps would be futile to make him believe she was dead. I still held onto the rags of her dress from the first night, unable to part with it. It was to be a reminder to me of the life she once had and that I needed to give her everything she would ever want, along with my protection. With those rags, I will now have to leave them in a nearby stream for some poor soul to find. Once they bring it back to the Duke, the searching could cease.
Throwing my bag over my shoulder, I kept my footsteps light crossing into the snow filled forest. The snow had grown heavy, faster than what I expected even with all the signs from the mountain it was coming. The snow had dulled Odessa’s smell, but not enough that I could not find her. Razak had taken her in a series of paths leading away from the scuffle. The animal would have to be rewarded for his endeavors.
Unfortunately, their smell hit the edge of the forest just past the mountainous terrain. Kneeling to the ground, my hand rubbed the dirt, and I brought it to my nose. She had fallen off into the mud. It was too warm down below the mountain and now heavy drifts of fog and rain had washed away her smell. Now running into a jog, the quickness of the turn of their aromas headed back towards the forest foothills. Running faster, now losing more of her smell, it stopped suddenly again. Razak’s body odor was buried deep into the fallen leaves and that was when I smelled it. The faint smell of tinged blood. It was not Razak’s. I had smelled him time and time again. This was my Fawns, the same smell that came from her the night we first met. It was not much, maybe a scratch. Even so, my Fawn was hurt.
Gripping my fist, pounding the ground with my fist, I abruptly landed on a dart like device. A sharp needle with properly groomed feathers on a small stake. Sniffing the needle, I knew exactly what it was. Klotrotoxin, a poison found only in mixing two leaves that are only found in the Elven Territories.
My Fawn was taken by the Elves.
My dragon growled low, his claws reaching to the forefront of my mind. Elves believed every gossiping fairy traveler of my supposed transgressions. If Odessa had brought up my name, they could take her from me, or worse, take her to Adam, who looks like a golden dragon to all the nations. He when would gain the reward that I’m sure he wants to take from the Duke.
Taking off into a sprint, my dragon waited no longer. We shifted quickly. He would fight to the death of anyone that put us between our Fawn and us. We wove through the trees, leaving them unscathed and flamed free. Preserving our home, even their own home of the innocent children and women who had no part in taking Odessa, would be harmed. I wasn’t heartless. I wouldn’t hurt the innocent.
That doesn’t go to say for the ones that laid a hand on her.
Fast as the black smoke of the campfire fleeting into the night, I arrived at the border of the village that laid deep within the Elven forest. Not one scout detected me, not yet, anyway. That is, until I let the beat of my own heart become loud and my claw pinched the dirt between my clawed toes as I entered the clearing. Smoke trails came out of my nostrils, my tongue sniffing the air. Ruminants of Odessa were still fleeting around the area but no powerful sense of where she could be.
Screams from children and women pierced my ears, causing a slight shake of my horns. The black feather-like fluff that trailed down my neck stiffened, standing straight up. A loud
roar ripped through my throat as the warriors of the Elven tribe gathered with their pathetic spears, laced with the poison they had touched my Odessa with.
My slithering neck pulsed downwards, looking for the tribal leader, Zaos. The warriors parted as he came to the front of the lined warriors. “Black Dragon, we mean no harm,” his hands u p in surrender. “Please spare the women and children,” his voice shook. Lifting my head, one eye glaring at him from above.
“I would not harm the innocent,” I growled out. Many warriors stood back with their spears. “Only those who have touched what is mine.” Three warriors shook uncontrollably, backing away from the others. My body snaked around to the back of the crowd. My dragon hissed while they stood still. Sniffing them from above, one in particular smelled like my Fawn. My jaws snapped, picking the Elf from the ground, screaming like a helpless rabbit.
Warriors threw their darts, only to be reflected by my scales.“ Stop! Please!” Zaos waved his hands. “She’s alright, really. She is being bathed, she was covered in mud…”
“Creed!” The small, timid voice I had heard from the first time we met tickled my ears. Her voice was faint, but her footsteps became so much stronger. “Creed!” Turning my head, I see m y Fawn, clean and dressed in a beautiful yellow gown with flowers adorning the bottom. The slightly puffed sleeves and squared neck showed off her slender pale neck. Hair adorned with a large, beautiful braid coming over her left shoulder. Her feet were bare, but that didn’t deter her from running through the grass towards me.
“Creed!” her voice yelled, her smile widening and her eyes glittering with excitement. Immediately dropping the elf from ten feet in the air, he landed with a thump. Whining, I left him, my dragon shifting back into human form, causing the black smoke to rise around me as I ran to her. Her arms opened wide, throwing them around my neck as I picked her u
Burying my face into her neck, I inhaled her sweet smell. She was cleaned, her hair was soft and my dragon purred enough t o shake the ground below us. “You’re okay!” She whispered into my neck, hoping she was taking in my scent as well. My chest vibrated, while holding her close to my heart. My forehead went to touch hers, but her hands cupped my face and planted a slow kiss on my lips.
Gasps and murmurs went through the crowd, but her grip only grew tighter. My little Fawn.
“That’s the Black Dragon,” one little boy stood up on a log near the bone fire. “Why isn’t he eating her and why aren’t we on fire?” The mother of the boy slapped her hand over his mouth, pulling him away. Odessa huffed in annoyance, reluctantly letting me go.
“You all are wrong.” Her arms were still wrapped around my waist, afraid I would disappear. “I don’t know where you learned such things, but Creed isn’t like that. He would hurt n
o one unless being threatened.”
“He just tried to eat me!” The elf, still rubbing his rear, spoke. Other elves tried to quiet him, pushing him back into the
“Well, you deserved it. You shot me with a dart and slung me over your shoulder.” Odessa’s bravery shone brightly as she talked about me defending her honor. I couldn’t help but huff my chest out, wanting to kiss her senseless. She was noticing the little things I could do to show her I cared, not even chastising me about it.
My hand encompassed her waist, pulling her closer to me. My bare chest felt the nakedness at the top of the back of her dress. Her stiff body instantly softened, holding her hand over mine.
“Is this him?!” A scrawny elf with too many colors decorated o n his body came close to Odessa. I pulled her back, baring my teeth.
“Damn girl, you like them rough and tough, don’t you?” He eyed me up and down, a smirk playing on his lips. “He certainly is barbaric. How is he in the sack? Is he rough there too?” Odessa gasped, her face buried in my chest.
“Daine, you don’t say such things!” She scolded through the muffled sounds of her lips pressed to my chest. Daine laughed, who was being pulled back by Zaos.
“Odessa vouches for you,” Zaos spoke. “She speaks the truth.
I can feel it in her voice.” Zaos was fae before he mated to an elven woman. Each fae has a gift they keep hidden, but it was n o secret that Zaos had the gift of truth. He could figure out if a person was lying if he concentrated hard enough. That was why he was elected tribal leader so long ago. Not for his physical qualities, but his ability to rule the people honestly.
“Of course I am telling the truth! Why would I lie?! He found m e in the forest, scared and alone, and took me back to his cave and helped me heal. All the terrible things you said about him are false. I know it. Just because you listen to stupid gossip doesn’t make you a good leader, now does it?”
Zaos grimaced, looking at his mate. She put her hand in his, nodding for him to speak. “I have heard people talk yes. I could not tell if they were lying or telling the truth because they had not witnessed it. In a world like this, you assume the worse. Would the Black Dragon be willing to speak to clear his name?” Odessa pursed her lips and looked to me.
I shook my head. “But what about in your dragon form? You can speak then.” Zaos sighed audibly.
“I cannot find truth or fault in a shifter’s animal. It must be the human. You speak with passion and believe so strongly. If you are speaking truth of him saving you, that is enough facts alone to make us reconsider his reputation.”
“A witch,…” Odessa mumbled. “Can Glinda make something t o help his throat? To heal his vocal cords? Witches can do that right?” Daine walked back towards Odessa, who stepped to take his hand. As much as I didn’t like it, I refrained from pulling her back. “Can she do it?” Daine scratched his head.
“She is no longer a full witch anymore, but it should be a potion. I don’t see why not…”
“No,” a deep woman’s voice came from the ever-increasing crowd. Odessa went back into my arms to shield herself as she realized the crowd was now staring at us.
“There is a plant, but it is said to be extinct. I have not seen it i n decades. If the Fortuna flower were to grow, it should be here in the Elven territory where nature is taken care of by the Elven magic.”
Odessa crossed her arms, visibly upset. I pulled her to me, wiping a stray tear from her face. “Does everyone think you have done those things? Tried to challenge your brother, hurt innocent people and all that?” I nodded. Her face softened.“ Why? Who started these rumors? Who would do such a thing t
The crowd dispersed, not sure what to think of the Black Dragon in their territory or the new information that I saved a helpless human. Odessa and I stood idly as Zaos and the witch conversed. I should listen to what they have to say, but my concern was the woman in front of me. “Do you have problems with someone in your tribe that spread these lies?” Nodding, she let out a breath. “Your brother,” she whispered.“ Your brother would have to spread rumors, otherwise he would tell everyone it wasn’t true.”
My Fawn was smart.
My thumb trailed under her eye. Her dampened lashes were meant for me. As much as I didn’t want to see her cry, it made me feel loved she would care to shed her tears because of me.
“Black Dragon,” Zaos came forward. “You both are welcome t o stay here. Glinda has told me about the vampires and as much as I want to believe Odessa that she is safe with you, I have to abide by Queen Sadie and look after her welfare.” I growled, gripping her tightly. I was to protect my Fawn, not some elf who couldn’t lift a sword properly.
“Please, Black Dragon, just for a few days. It would give us all ease to know she is safe. It will also do much wonders for your reputation if what Odessa says to be true.” My arms clung to Odessa. No one would take her from me.
“It’s alright,” Odessa petted my arm. “We have this really cool tree house we get to stay in. If we traveled back now it will be dark.” I had almost forgotten she didn’t like the dark, even with me by her side. My forehead went to hers, agreeing that w e would stay.
“Aaaand! We are going to show them what an awesome, friendly dragon you are, right?” Odessa whispered and her eyes brightened. Her stroked the side of my face tenderly like she would scratched my toughened skin.
It was then I knew I would do anything she would ask of me, even if it meant staying in unknown territory.