My little Fawn told me her name, Odessa.
Sweet sounding like the sirens of the blue waters of the East. Her laugh was inviting. Everything about her was perfect. If I was allowed to have a mate, it would be her. The epitome of perfection. My dragon thought so while she stroked our scars. Her fingers trembled at first, but as I relaxed, her fingers radiated warmth. My dragon purred silently, not to scare her. She didn’t know what I was; once she did, would she leave?
She commented on her scars while we both traced each other’s hardships. Odessa remained light and airy, pushing the memories away. My dragon was only outraged at the thought of someone hurting her.
Razak’s growl was a good distraction; any longer, I was afraid my beast would rear his ugly head.
Razak is a quiet creature when in the cave. It is his home and solitude. I taught him that when he was just a kit, he should respect the home or spend his nights outside the cave. It happened once and never again. One night alone was enough to reverse his behavior.
His growl could only mean someone was at the front entrance of the cave. Even with my excellent hearing, I was distracted. I was listening to Odessa’s breathing, checking for any rattles in her lungs. She had spent many days running; I know that now. Looking closely at her arm, I can certainly tell she was not just a blood bag for a vampire but for multiple vampires. Arms were littered in tares.
I had hoped against it, that she was fed on just by a rogue family, but this was extensive scarring. Not only that, they were rough with her, violent. The rips in her skin, her biceps, and her legs were full of gashes. Not once did they use their venom to help heal her. She may have bled for hours afterward because they didn’t seal the wound.
My grip tightened on my spear, running down the passage until I hit the gate. Razak was pulling, trying to get free on his own. Pulling it forward to leave, my mind continued to race back to Odessa. If I was to fight any intruder, I needed her off my mind, but my dragon wouldn’t allow it. He forced her face into my line of vision, unable to forget each curve of her cheek tear-stained cheek from two days ago.
Odessa should fear me, but her fingers traced my scars without fear. Above anything, she should fear me. I was grotesque. She didn’t fear the monster, the exiled. Odessa took me as I was, just another ordinary person, making my dragon purr. He wanted to feel included, to find a mate, but that was next to impossible. This had to be reminded to him daily; no woman would ever come to love a monster, not one that was born out of a bond. We were cursed and doomed because our mother couldn’t take our lives once we were birthed. Mother thought she did us a favor, perhaps not.
My dragon’s fangs leaked its venom. He had an attraction to Odessa, that was certain. He stirred every time she touched me. The hand that she let me nestle into my scarred face was proof of the warmth he craved. Odessa was everything we were not. Soft, small, warm as the two light sources in the sky, yet she was strong. She fought against many to be able to run to the mountains and just a human at that. Fearless, she was fearless.
My steps were hurried once the light hit my feet. Razak growled immediately, running around the bend of the cave. There stood two dark fairies. They were a rare sight to see, only coming out of the Southern Dark Wood to try and find their mates or to do bidding for vampires who are not allowed in the Northern mountains.
These fairies were in the enlarged form. Usually, fairies stand a foot tall, but using the bit of magic they have, they can remain taller for several hours of the day. “Hello there,” one spoke. His hands raised, showing no weapon. “We are searching for someone; we thought we caught her scent.” My steps slowed, reaching the light, bracing my spear. The light hit my face while the fairies gasped in shock. If these were to be dark fairies and know the monsters of the night, then the monsters near their home must not be as shocking as me.
Everyone is afraid. They will never know the real me by reputation or by my scars. They are too terrified to see the dragon that brought down ten fire breathers on their own. “It’s Creed,” one of them whispered to the other. The dark wings shook in fright.
“We have to ask; we have to find her. The Duke is furious.” My head tilted, my braids swayed to the left of my head when I approached. They both kneeled my mouth now in a thin line.
“Please, don’t hurt us,” one shook. “We are looking for a girl, purple gown. It is the Duke’s, future mate.” My dragon didn’t like it; he growled out of my mouth. The wind churned the leaves around them, knocking them over on their asses while my dragon snarled once more. Smoke infiltrated their lungs. “Leave,” he spoke. “Come again, and you’ll be minced meat.” Smells of urine wafted in the air, both grabbing hold of each other like hatchlings in a storm. Smoke escaped from my nostrils; the faires couldn’t fly due to their trembling; they lay sitting in their piss.
“Please!” the one on the left yelled. Pulling the speaking one up with one arm, he choked, returning to his original form of just a tiny fairy. “P-please. We will leave. We thought we smelled her.” Venom dripped from my fangs, brushing the scar on my lip.
“You smelled wrong.” My dragon spoke, the other hand gripped his wing, bending it in half vertically. Ear piercing scream scorched the air. My dragon closed our eardrums to not hear the pitiful cries. Once my hand let go, they scurried away, heading away from the cave and back down the mountain. My heart reverberated in my chest.
Odessa needed to be protected. She had no clue what she was in for, running from a Duke of all people that wanted her for a mate? My dragon’s tongue escaped my mouth, sniffing the air. It did smell like her. While she shook in the tree, she had no smell. It was void of anything alluring with the caked mud and sludge. She had her own fragrance, a soft hint of citrus since her bath.
Razak understood why I sniffed the air and began to follow. If a beast like him could smile, he would. He trotted back to the cave, waiting for me to follow, but I had other important things. Hiding the scent of Odessa so no other fairy or vampire could find her. She would hide within the walls of my cave until they stopped looking.
And they would stop looking, for the plan I had would make them think she was dead.
A Fernleaf Yellowcress was a plant that lived deep in the forest under wet and damp areas. Typically found in summer because of their love for humid climates, it would be difficult to find. We were approaching winter; none would be around this mountain area.
Once the Fernleaf Yellowcress is dried and ground into a fine powder, it can be spread around the primary source of the smell. She would be safe within ten wingspans. Many deer and bears rub the live plant into their furs to hide if they are lucky to know someone is hunting them.
Dragons and a well-trained werewolf would be able to pick up Odessa’s scent, but the vampires would not. Their smelling abilities were not as strong.
Leaving Odessa now would be foolish. She is still weak, but this would prove to be a wise choice in the long run. I couldn’t let the dark fairies return with more vampires. I was only one dragon; I could take them all, but what if one slipped by me and entered the cave? Odessa would be helpless. Razak’s abilities next to a vampire were not up for the challenge.
The quickest way to obtain the Yellowcress would be to fly to Moon Kingdom’s market. Even there, I wasn’t welcome. On top of it all, it would take me four hours round trip of flying. I wasn’t prepared to do that in Odessa’s state. Growling, Razak stepped away, whimpering. His ears pricked back, and he walked into the cave. His safe place. Odessa’s secure place.
There was one place I could go, but it hurts to think of it. I only go when I am called for battle and protect the tribe. Coming without proper reason, Adam, my brother, would see it as a threat. Cracking my knuckles, I throw my weapons to the ground, stripping my leather bags from around my waist. My furry boots were thrown to the side. Calling upon my dragon, he releases a mighty roar while the dark smoke gusts around the air. Razak withdraws into the cavern protecting the most precious treasure.
She was not my mate, but she was the closest I could consider one. If she could see past my scars, this face, and is willing to let me know her, that is all the love and companionship I would hope for.
My black wings stretched, my hind legs bolted forward into the sky; I would arrive in a few minutes instead of the hour walk into the wood. Hopefully, Adam would be drunk or visiting the Moon Kingdom to notice my stealth around the tribe.
Huts sat in a circle, the smoke trailing upwards from a large bonfire from the night before. Small male children run around with rocks and sticks, pretending to blow fire or ice. Quietly landing ten wingspans away, I changed back into my human appearance, securing my loincloth. Werewolves have it rough; they can shift quickly but are always naked. Primitive creatures in that aspect.
Amora, my childhood friend, likes to stay in her tent mostly. She is loved by all, but even the elders talk about how she is not a dragon. Once Amora and Adam have children, they would either be a fairy or a dragon, with no mixing of the two. That was how the goddess had allowed mixed races to bond. So far, all mixed-race bondings had produced the opposite of what the dragon race needed. Female dragons.
No female dragons in many blue moons had been born. The female dragon race was dying. All that was left now were males.
Many moons ago, there was a tribal argument over mates. The dragon shifters at the time had low numbers of unmated female dragons. Each hatchling born had been male for many cycles of the moons. Many dragons wished to have chosen mates to expand the prospect of more female dragons. A deal was made with a neighboring tribe once the last 18-year-old female was of age. She was to be delivered the next sundown promptly, for her offspring would guarantee nothing but dragon hatchlings. Unfortunately for the male receiving the female, she found her true mate along the way to our tribe. A non-dragon.
The selfish dragon held onto the agreement in his heart. He demanded that the female was his and the true mate bond didn’t matter. He wanted his woman and bear him his children. There was no guarantee she would deliver more female dragons; his ignorance proved futile.
A war broke out, many were lost, and with those dragons, my mother and father. The elders proclaimed that there had not been a battle so fierce for many centuries, but the hunt for women was becoming brutal. Women dragon shifters are now considered on the brink of extinction.
Many would not find this disturbing in other races, have the men take up the shifter title and continue to mate with their true bonded mates. With dragons, it was different. Dragons were a different breed than most shifters. Without a female dragon, the magic will die in a few generations. There is no more fire, ice, or acid breathing, no more clothes to cover our bodies after a shift. Our bodies would break into pieces, just like any other shifter.
Just a lizard with wings.
Recently, there have been many mixes of species along with the lands. Sirens to faes, Elves to wolves, the list goes on. A true mate knows no species; the goddess Selene does not discriminate. In fact, my half-brother was the first dragon to accept a mate of another species. Amora was a kind fae; her family lived at the bottom of the Dragon Shifter’s mountain and often visited to play with both of us. Adam swore to me that she should have been born a dragon, his love for her as children made me realize he could be the mate he had always wanted.
But Adam was a jealous dragon. He envied the relationship I had with Amora. She was nothing but a sister to me, the only other person that would even speak to the product of rape. I was the outcast, the unloved one of the tribe. Amora didn’t care; she cared for me like a sister to a brother.
The day that my mother and stepfather died, the dynamic between all of us changed. Rumors spread that I should be the next Alpha of the tribe, but I was quickly shot down since my father, the Alpha of the tribe, did not sire me, even if his mate bore a child before their mating. I did not care for any of this; I wanted a peaceful life, stay out of the spotlight and get my own mate one day because I would wait for her.
Even that was denied me.
Small hums came within Amora’s hut. The huts were small, built with sturdy mud and straw. Their ugly and weak appearance was only a mirage to the mear supernatural. On the inside, they were large and luxurious. Each dragon collects their own items they consider their treasure. Gold, silver, diamonds, rubies, much even barter to give their mates something beautiful. Amora was no different. Adam showered her with necklaces, rings, bracelets, and the best furniture in all the realm.
I tapped the door with my middle finger twice. Amora’s head shot up in surprise; a broad smile could be seen from the other side of the room. She lay her needle and leather down, running to me.
“Creed, it is so good to see you!” With a kiss on the cheek, she pulled me inside. “You came at a good time; Adam isn’t here. You can’t stay long though, your scent will get everywhere.” Amora grabbed a glass of wine from her table. “Drink this.”
I took it gladly; speaking to the dark fairies had only irritated my throat. “What brings you here?” Taking the glass from my hand, she motioned for me to sit. I would have to use my dragon voice once again. It only startles her after many tries to speak to her when we were younger.
“Yellowcress,” I spoke. My voice rumbled in my throat like gravel as I tried to whisper. Her brows furrowed, not understanding.
“You need Yellowcress?” I nodded. “What for?” I couldn’t communicate well with Amora, but we had a few hand signals. I could also draw pictures, but it would take time. She reached for parchment paper and a quill, urging me to draw.
Do I tell her about my Odessa? Would she be in danger? I do not want Amora to keep things from her mate; that wouldn’t be honest. If Adam does return and asks specifically if I came, she wouldn’t lie to him either.
I shook my head, pushing the parchment back into her hands.