The state of Olivia’s nauseousness because of anxiety was an understatement despite agreeing and staring down the mountain edge, perched on the dragon shifter’s back. Though his back felt like a warm fire that Olivia could huddle in front of, the only coldness she felt was the rushing hair through her hair and face.
The girl continued staring down the edge and saw its enormous rough form. The dominating mountain expanded vastly before it disappeared into a sea of white, a sea of nothingness. Olivia’s heart thumped wildly and she didn’t know if she was regretting taking Rykal’s offer. Letting him come along was dangerous for her, she didn’t even know why he was with them in the first place, or why he rescued them. The dragon shifter could quite easily kill her off and he could say he lost his grip.
A number of assumptions invaded her mind and Olivia knew she had trust issues give her past, but she wasn’t about to trust a suspicious creature just because he saved her. For all she knew, he might’ve been looking for his next meal.
Rykal remained silent, looking ahead into the distance. Olivia felt a little stupid sitting on his back and clinging to him like a leech; it wasn’t her fault nor her idea. Though being on his back did give Olivia extra warmth and undeniably soothed the back and neck aches with soft tingles.
Finally, he tilted his head in her direction. “Are you ready?”
Olivia shook her head, far from ready. Rykal sighed thoughtfully before he spread out his wings. Olivia’s stomach twisted in knots and she did her best to stay calm by taking deep breaths. It didn’t do much of anything as she wasn’t fond of heights. The highest she could tolerate was her old bedroom at the orphanage and she knew Lady Ola put her at the highest point of the cottage to torment her. It worked the first few times she was living there but after a while, she got used to it, much to Lady Ola’s disappointment.
But to be so high up, standing at the edge of a mountain was terrifying, to say the least. Just looking down to an endless white made Olivia want to crawl back into the cave and never come out. She hated heights.
Without realizing it, she was trembling and tightening her grip on Rykal. Though, the dragon shifter didn’t seem to mind. He leaned forward and dove down. Cold air rushed around the two and Olivia screamed in fright. She clutched onto Rykal, her heart beating violently with panic while all the air got sucked out of her. It felt like her stomach was being twisted inside out and tied into knots. She squeezed her eyes shut and buried her head into Rykal’s shoulder.
Suddenly, she was brought back up. Tears glazed over her eyes and a squeal left her lips. Small whimpers left her mouth as she felt herself bounce up and down. She could hear the dragon shifter’s wings beating heavily, meaning he was flying higher; she dreaded it. A lump formed in her throat, bile rising into her mouth and Olivia struggled to keep it down.
The bouncing of her body stopped. The gentle breeze drifted past them but it seemed too good to be true. Olivia didn’t want to open her eyes and imagine falling to her death. She shook her head and kept her face buried firmly into his shoulder, keeping a tight grip on his body. Chills touched her cheeks and sent a shiver crawling up her skin.
“Dragella,” Rykal called again.
Olivia thought it was a trick and shook her head, she knew they were high up and she refused to budge. Though, it seemed so familiar, so secure. Was it the fact that it felt like running freely? Not having a care in the world? Olivia wondered what freedom felt like. Certainly better than the lifestyle she had, a childhood of death and misery and the current life of slavery.
The dragon shifter stayed quiet and moved his hands on her thighs to give her a sense of secureness and comfort, she found it strange and didn’t like it. The wind rushed through her brown hair, the braid she’d done the other day had gone messy and knotted. Her mind was telling her to squeeze her eyes shut and keep them shut until they landed. Her heart was telling her a different thing.
Olivia didn’t know which to listen to. Her mind or her heart? Her mind thought logically while her heart thought freely. Usually, she would ignore her heart because of how dangerously close she came to getting whipped in front of the village twice. Thinking with her mind was the safest thing to do. Listening to her heart was reckless and impulsive and yet she loved tasting even a drop of freedom.
The girl took a shaky breath and loosened her grip around the dragon shifter’s neck, ever so slightly. She, as calmly as she could, lifted up her head. The cold wind blew against her face, urging her to open her eyes. Olivia rejected the urge at first, she was petrified to the bone and yet she was giving in to the desire to listen to her heart and open her eyes.
“Open your eyes, Dragella,” Rykal breathed.
Her eyes squeezed tighter, trying to fight against the urge and go with her mind but the craving, the longing to taste true freedom nibbled at her, it was practically in front of her and all she needed to do was open her eyes. Olivia took another deep breath and exhaled shakily. Slowly, she cracked her eyes open, hesitant at first. She saw whiteness, a few patches of grey and blue. Olivia opened her eyes fully and blinked to adjust to the brightness.
Her heart immediately hammered achingly. Shallow, rapid breaths left her lips and she instantly looked down, her eyes widening in horror at the clouds beneath her. “So high. So high up.”
She started panicking, suddenly clutching dearly onto the dragon shifter’s body. She buried her face into his shoulder again and screwed her eyes shut as tight as she could. She was terrified to the bone of falling through the airless clouds to whatever was waiting beneath her, mountains, ocean, forest, who knew what.
“Please. . .” she whispered. “Please, take me down,”
Rykal didn’t reply but Olivia felt the change in the once calm breeze to a sudden racing wind. Her stomach dropped again like knots were tying her insides together. Icy air blasted against her face and through her hair, sending constant shivers down the back of her neck. The racing of the wind intensified and it was harder to hold onto Rykal, he was going too fast.
She couldn’t breathe properly like all the air was being squeezed out of her. Her head started spinning and darkness began circling in the corners of her eyes. Before she could react, gravity knocked the air out of her, Rykal came to a crashing stop. Olivia couldn’t hold on any longer. Her body shook from the amount of energy she had used to hold onto the dragon shifter and it proved to be too much for her to handle all at once. Olivia hoped Rykal landed on solid land as she slipped off.
Frosty snow met her, its coldness prickled her bare skin. It took a second before Olivia reacted to it and shot up. Snow gathered in her hair and dress and a deathly shiver met her skin; all her warmth disappearing with each shiver. She didn’t realize the dragon shifter was beside her until he turned her around to face him. The girl stared at him as he gave her a quick once over with a sharp gaze. Olivia’s cheeks went a shade darker, her ears prickling with heat, as she crossed her arms and looked down. She didn’t like how he was looking at her as his prey, it made her feel insecure and ashamed.
Without realizing it, the dragon shifter stepped closer and took her chin with two fingers. Warm sparks fluttered through her face but Olivia shook her head and stepped back. The winter morning set into her flesh and sunk to her bones. Her teeth chattered, goosebumps rose along her arms and the dragon shifter sighed.
“I’m no fool, Dragella, I can see you’re not handling the coldness very well,” he said in a tone of he knew he was right.
But Olivia didn’t meet his look. “Why do you call me that? My name is Olivia,”
The dragon shifter fell silent. Strangely, it was calm around the two and Olivia didn’t notice how quiet it was before, she didn’t even know where the dragon shifter had taken her. Standing out in the cold in nothing but a pathetic rag of a dress wasn’t helping her conserve warmth as her teeth chattered violently. Cold hands were wrapping their icy white fingers around the bareness of her skin. Olivia couldn’t help but shiver horribly, already feeling her lips turned blue.
“W-Where have you taken me?”
She met the dragon shifter’s gaze as he looked at her for a second. He looked around him, his nose twitched weirdly in Olivia’s opinion but made no comment. By then she couldn’t feel her feet, they’d gone numb from the chill. Olivia frowned when the dragon shifter didn’t answer her. Why did he take her out in the middle of a clear patch in the forest with nothing to see for miles but white?
She thought for a moment, perplexed before her eyes widened and she stepped back. It made sense. He didn’t want to help her, he didn’t care about her. She was a fool to think he even cared about her existence. Why would such a great and mighty myth such as himself want anything to do with a low-life scrawny slave such as herself? She stepped back again and the dragon shifter looked at her with dark eyes. His piercing look confirmed it.
“Y-You’re going to kill me,”
More assumptions flashed before her and she could barely scream for help as her voice nothing but a cracked whisper. She was going to die in the middle of a forest, the only colour that would be seen in the pristine white would be her red blood. Olivia did her best to stay strong but she knew she wasn’t. She was pathetic and weak, Lady Ola and Quinstella told her so.
Olivia quickly shook her head, she didn’t want her last thoughts to be of the two most horrible beings that made her life a living hell. The slightest movement from the dragon shifter — him reaching out for her — made Olivia stumble back, fear taking hold of her. A fraction of emotion glazed over the dragon shifter before he masked it. His eyes remained cold and empty and it only spoke out to her that she was right.
Terrified for her life, the girl spun around and ran. Even though it was pointless, she didn’t want to feel completely helpless. She barely dodged trees as her feet throbbed at the chilly numbness and her back swelled with waves of pain. She panted for air fast and short, knowing it was the best way to keep her pace for a while. Olivia then heard something crunch behind her and she looked over her shoulder. Her eyes widened in horror, the dragon shifter was gone.
It felt like her heart jumped into her throat as she heard the flapping of wings above her. She already knew where he was and was unwillingly giving him the thrill of chasing her. Panic burrowed into the pit of her stomach and tears glossed her eyes. Her feet ached and she couldn’t control her breathing as it grew heavy and rushed; her panic levels were rising.
Her mind raced and flooded with scrambled words but nothing made sense to her. All she could do was run yet she could hear death knocking at her door, ready to pick up the remains of her soon to be mangled body. She couldn’t help but sob at the thought. She didn’t want to die. She was too young, too naive, too inexperienced.
A thud was heard. Olivia staggered to a halt. Her heart pounded as she looked around frantically. Another thud was heard, louder than before. Olivia searched in the direction and found a speck of civilization in the distance. Olivia’s eyes widened and she took off into the direction. A glimmer of hope fluttered into her and the girl ran as fast as she could. The thudding got louder and louder and Olivia could hear muffled chatter in the air. A village. She could see it poking through the trees. She stumbled past trees, using them to keep herself balance whilst seeing people walking around in winter clothes.
Olivia quickly looked over her shoulder and saw no one, the dragon shifter was nowhere in sight, much to her relief. She stumbled and emerged through the forest, huffing, and puffing and bent over on her knees. After being able to catch her breath, Olivia glanced up with a heaving chest. It took her a few seconds before she noticed something horribly wrong. Her breath hitched in her throat, she stepped back while staring into the eyes of glowing green.
“A-Another one?” she gasped in disbelief. Hisses sounded around her and the girl swallowed apprehensively. Dread sunk in as the Snakes slithered around her.