Fawn’s eyes closed delicately while I stared at her longingly. When was the last time I had been this close to another being? I couldn’t remember the last time I touched any other living them besides killing for food, fighting for gold, or defending myself. This woman is helpless, and she shows no fear in my disfigured body.
This wasn’t her world; she was stuck in a land where this was nothing but fairy tales to her. A strong feisty spirit must inhabit her body to have kept her alive this long. The journey into the mountains is not an easy one. There were rumors that humans had started to come into Bergarian; mates were being found by the different species. All the humans had come in willingly. However, this girl did not. She was forced; the anger built up inside me as I watched her sleep.
Her body was tiny, obviously starved, and given just enough food to survive for whatever purpose she was obtained for. I prayed to the gods that it was nothing too terrible. The way she ran, I believe it was appalling.
Picking up my leathers, bag, and game, I came back to her; I couldn’t very well leave her here out in the open; I had a responsibility to take care of her. My dragon even agreed, blowing smoke in my ear that this one was special. Special to me, how? I wasn’t even sure.
My dragon huffed again in my ear; he liked her spirit; she wasn’t afraid. Whether it be my face or false reputation, the pixies that tend to nature were fearful of me. That was saying a lot because they could be relatively dense of things.
Razak sniffed her hair, no doubt because she does smell of the wet soil and grime from the days of her travel. One arm under her legs and one behind her back, I cupped her head, so it laid on my hairy chest. Soft pants of her breath tickled me while her warm face nestled closer to me.
Instantly I felt her warmth, a feeling I hadn’t felt since my very own mother was taken from me by the gods. My nose immediately went into her hair; I shouldn’t be doing this, she is not mine, but my dragon demands it. A soft moan left her lips as her cheek warmed my breast.
Clicking my cheek to Razak, we headed back to the cave. No longer looking for game but going back to take care of a human. Passing by a nearby stream, I trudged through the water instead of jumping over, making sure she would stay dry and not wake her. The tatters in her dress drug behind restlessly while picking up the pace.
The cave was the same as I left it; upon entering, the cool breeze that came from it gave Fawn a chill on her skin. The caked mud and dirt would have to be cleaned, her wounds tended to, and food in her belly once she woke.
Gently laying her in my nest of furs, I make sure she is comfortable, so I may strip of my leather straps, weapons, and prey. The rabbit would make a fine stew with the stone fruit I had gathered but a week ago.
Walking further back into the cave, I light the way with a series of torches. This mountain held many secrets, one of which I found the day I moved out of the tribe. This cave keeps me warm in the winter and cools in the summer because of the spring that hides within.
Feeling the waters is warm, the perfect temperature to help bathe her to get her clean. Razak’s head poked around the rock, studying me, tilting his head in confusion since I left the little Fawn on my bed. Did he really think I would leave her to bathe myself? I scoffed, petted his head, and came back to her. Her body was the same I left it; her exhaustion from her journey had weakened her body.
My dragon growled at that.
Fresh furs were pulled from large baskets I had to weave with my own hands. Something a woman does, but when one doesn’t have the gold, you learn to make due. The fresh furs will be placed on the bed once she is fully clean.
Picking her up once more, I take her back to the hot spring. The steam rose steadily, the torchlight setting off our shadows on the wall. Her body unconsciously clung to mine; in a way, I felt a reasonable satisfaction in that. My dragon purred in my chest; it was deep, heavy with resonance. Wanting to rub my chest, to calm my beast, I shook my head to keep him at bay.
Fawn was trusting me in sleep even when my dragon called to her. Entering the small pool, keeping my leather leggings on my body relaxed. It came just up to my hips while standing. Sitting down lower, her body was submerged in the water while I kept her head afloat.
The mud melted away from her snow-white skin, yet scars appeared on her body. The soil had covered her body, hidden the memories of what she had been through. Dots on her arms, like teardrops, littered her left and right arms. Glancing at her neck, I sighed in relief.
The holes in her arm were vampires; luckily, no one had sexually used her. She may or may not have survived the ordeal. Either way, the emotional trauma afterward would have broken her. Judging by her attire, she ran just in time. My chest tightened at the thought of something happening to her; taking a woman by force was a despicable thing. Frowned on in the entire realm. Each royal family deemed it worthy of death by public execution.
My grip tightened, the thought of someone touching her.
I used the lythe soap from one of the storage baskets. It was odorless, but it would get the job done. Since her ankle was broken, Fawn would need some time to heal. My chest feels burdened; what if she decides I am a monster too?
Her once beautiful gown hung by mere threads. I couldn’t very well leave it on her body. Conflicted, I raised a claw and tore the tattered material away. Nudity was common in the shifter world, and it did not bother me. I had seen many women shifters and their parts. With Fawn being human, I’m not sure how she will react. Keeping my mind on the task at hand, I steadied her in my arms and washed her hair, using the best oils I had. If she decides to stay with me, I will get her better ones.
Once satisfied, Razak grabbed a large blanket, dragging it to the edge so I could cover her. Her body shone like the blue moon against the firelight; the scars on her body could not taint her beautiful skin. To me, she was the most beautiful woman I had ever encountered. If only she could be mine.
Razak pulled the dirty furs from my nest as the ever grateful companion. Laying out a few layers with Fawn in the crook of my arm, I laid her gently. Drying her hair and face, I took a closer inspection at the scratches. None of them were as fierce as the claw marks on her leg and her broken ankle. Tutting, I find old cloths to warp the ankle tightly to help keep the swelling down.
The large scratch on her leg was from a vampire, no doubt. It was probably an attempt to run away, which is a good thing she did. Otherwise, I would have never met the little Fawn. Spreading my healing salve I use for accidental burns, she moved her leg slightly. Backing up slowly, I grabbed one of my oversized white tunics. It was far too large for her, but I did not want her to be startled by her naked appearance once she woke.
Moving her carefully, I placed the tunic on her and pulled the furs up to her neck. Sighing contentedly, I appreciate the work I have done for her. My heart raced, thinking that maybe she would want to stay with me. Be a friend, someone to communicate with. I would protect her and keep her safe from whoever might hunt her. Once she is comfortable with me, I could use my voice. My dragon’s voice.
I rubbed my neck; the scar was leathery, hard, and tough. Different than the rest of my skin.
“Come on, Creed, can’t spar with your brother?” Adam’s voice rang through my ears. Adam was 10 while I was 11 years old and not ready to receive our dragons. Our bodies were still weak. We were still trying to become strong, so our dragons would be pleased with the body they inhabited. My eyes instantly brightened hearing my half-brother call me his actual brother and not the ‘unfortunate mistake.’ I took the timid route with him, not showing my true strength because he would find it threatening. He would be alpha one day, not me. Yet, me being his brother from another man still posed a threat to him.
I crouched to a defensive position, waiting for my brother to pounce until mother called for me. Her voice rang out like elven harps during Feasting Season. Before my voice could ring out to her call, a sharp claw ran right down my face and to my throat. The lashes became more brutal, hitting my throat harshly. Screaming was difficult; the blood spread to my throat. Gurgling a, ‘stop,’ and ‘please help,’ the lashing ceased. My ‘brother’ stood over me. His clawed hand dripped with my blood. The smirk on his face died when mother’s footsteps pounded the dirt. “Mom! I’m sorry! My claws came out!” Fake tears ran down his face.
My hand gripped my throat to stop the bleeding. Mother screamed in agony. Her knees hit the dirt, trying to take her skirt to wipe away the blood. Elders ran from the huts; some tried to console Adam while the healers tended to me.
Adam was ushered away while I lay in the dirt.
Being lifted from the ground, the world around me began to dim. The blood splattered to the ground. Mother’s hand was gripped tightly in mine before I fell asleep.
“How did this happen?” My mother’s angry voice floated through my ears. My eyes had felt heavy, with all my might, I tried to open them, but I was nothing but weak.
“Your son, Adam. His dragon is starting to appear, his claws came out unexpectedly,” one of the elders spoke lowly.
“That’s nothing but fairy dung. That doesn’t happen on a whim like that. There is pain involved when you first shift any part of your body. How could he just ‘accidentally’ swipe Creed?” Mother’s breath was breathing heavily; the sulfur could be smelled on her breath. Her dragon had always been very protective of me, even if I was considered a mistake.
“He is an alpha; it is very well it could have happened. Adam is strong.” Heat filled the room; my mother’s dragon was coming forth. She was strong, maybe stronger than her Alpha mate. She was an orphan, and no one knew the true origin of her parents. Mother kept that part secret; she didn’t want to cause rumors or doubt in her mate’s tribe.
“All I am saying. It was a mistake,” the elder stated flatly. “What’s done is done. Creed will heal, but it will take time. Now let me tend to him; I will come to get you as soon as I am done stitching him.” Mother patted my forehead, kissing it gently. An unfamiliar rumble purred in my chest. Stopping for a moment, she whispered in my ear.
“Heal swiftly, my little dragon, so you may fly amongst the gods.” Another tender kiss landed on my brow. My hand went to reach for her, but my body protested.
Rubbing the scar, I cleared my throat. Razak patted the floor with his slinky tail while he gazed on Fawn. Her face was so angelic, while mine was like a hideous monster. She would not want to stay here to hide. She will want to leave, go back to her Earth life. I’ll do my best to do what she wishes. Take her back to the Earth realm, or have her stay here even if it isn’t with me.
My dragon wouldn’t have anything less.