Everything about who I am had changed. My monstrous hunter form, was totally bad ass. As a mortal, I was susceptible to vulnerable thoughts. As a Draconess, I had no vulnerable thoughts.
I stalk my way up the hill on all fours, my claws silently piercing the soil as my body remains low, eventually my head pops over the crest of the hill to see the little crack below.
From the red line growing from the split earth, came demons. Fully grown. Only three at a time. They’d sneak out as groups of centaurs, sometimes wicked fae, sometimes goblin monsters. They would shriek when they found the bones of their dead nearby, then I would swoop in and attack while they were distracted.
I watch now as one stray fae pokes their head up from the crack under an overcast sky which blocked out most of the sun. The creature is wisping up quickly into the air the first chance it gets with its long insect like wings; half the size of a mortal, they call to their friends. Two more pull up, covered in red tattoos.
They wear the skin of others, whether it was leather or reptilian scales or beaten dried skin off one another, they always had teeth as sharp as pin pricks and wide beautiful contrasting eyes. These three fae hold up their hands and cry out in disgust at the corpses around them.
We were in the middle of nowhere and no one could watch this show.
So, I had my fun while isolated; I had no worry of eyes.
I launch up into the air and swoop downward, inches from the grass, I head for the fairies.
Two of them see me coming and disappear in a mirage while I snap up the first unwitting fae between my jaws, crushing them easily in my mouth. My saliva acts like acid and they just melt across my tongue.
I spin around, growling and excited to kill more bad demons.
I find the remaining two fae holding up bones of their fallen, sharp centaur legs with the hoofs still attached by tendons. The ends are sharply broken across their knees and the fae throw the weapons at me.
I burn one to dust, but a sharp pain emanates from my chest area as the other makes contact. I ignore it and launch forward, breathing out a fire blast that completely cooks them both until the fae creatures explode in a mist of blood and magic. I snort out my disgust and take off.
After four weeks of living alone in the forest, this was my first real injury from a demon. I fly across a dense forest to a tall cliff. I land at the base and shift into my mortal form. I make my way into my cozy cave, where I have a basic set up.
A little bed, a fire place, a bone fruit basket, bowls from a few demon skulls, stone tools for cutting up meat and fruit, a cooking flat rock in the fire for my meals, rabbit bones for sewing and drawing up my plans on the walls and to remember spells through art. My white dress was ruined and I had replaced my clothes with a fur bra and ripped the dress to make a small skirt.
I sit naked by a skull of water and a cloth, and I look at my chest wound that stretches to my collar bone. It’s not deep so I clean it roughly, I lie down on the floor and I decide to sleep. Until it healed.
I dream of nothing and I sleep lightly.
Many hours later I wake up to the smell of smoke in the middle of the night.
Not my smoke.
It’s someone else and it’s more than a small one. It’s more akin to a party of soldiers cooking meat with a bon fire.
I sit up quickly, glad to find I’m still alone. However, the pain in my chest is quite phenomenal for a wound that should have healed by now with my natural pull on demonic power. When I glance down, the wound is bleeding lightly, barely healed.
Cursed horse shit.
I feel light headed and I grab some dried fruit.
I chew on that and slowly stand up.
I may require a potion from a nearby sun priestess to fix this kind of ailment.
“Who the hell is in my forest?” I growl under my breath as I stumble out of the cliff edge to gaze for the fire.
I see a few blazes in the far distance, many miles away, but from many small fires. The glow of the camp is bright enough to suggest it’s a big convoy.
I don’t risk shifting, I slowly walk up the hill by the cliff, knowing from the top I’ll get a good view.
Once on top of the world, I can see everything of the sparse forest below.
Dipped in a valley by a river, a camp settles. Maybe a hundred soldiers. Not many more.
It wasn’t as large as I first thought.
I can’t tell who, or why, but I know the only way I can check is if I shift and improve my vision.
I turn into my Dragon form upon the cliff top and keep low, my nostrils flaring in annoyance at the close intruders.
I had become protective of my little slice of Eden. I enjoyed the freedom, the absolute disconnect from the place I had previously escaped from.
I had barely thought of them while I had been surviving, learning, growing and becoming my true self.
A Draconess that was powerful, independent and totally liberated from leaning on or assuming protection from anyone.
I didn’t need… anyone… at all.
I was happy on my own.
I was happy in my cave.
I was happy killing demons, making spells and eating raw.
I was happy.
I shake my head – delaying this whole time – what I had to do next.
I focus my eyes and my vision magnifies a hundred times until I see every movement, every man, every tent, every fire.
A small portion of Rey’s army was here.
And I knew who led them.
For a good half hour, I scan everyone looking for a familiar face.
For twenty minutes after I’ve found him, I stare for too long.
Zarcar is looking into the biggest fire after finishing a soldier’s dinner, looking focused but clearly acting short with anyone who approaches him. Lixar leans back on a log all to himself, sharpening a knife while a fine young maiden sits by him and combs his hair while murmuring into his ear. Andoll is there too, sitting behind Zarcar on another log, looking irate as usual. She snarls if any soldier tries to approach her.
I do not see Torrent.
I watch without movement, wondering why a hundred soldiers are here in the first place.
At first I thought it was for me, it was definitely for me. Until I realise they were probably here for the same reason I was.
Cracks in the ground. This was the first place demons were coming back into the realm. They were here to contain the first outbreak. I was not too far from Swendula.
The Surge of Hemon was already beginning. I guess this would be practice for the small army and I guess that’s why Zarcar looked so focused.
I wonder if I was on his mind, or if he was past me running. He could have any woman, just like Lix, if he wanted.
But then Zarcar looks over his shoulder, murmurs something to Lixar, who laughs and Zar snarls. My Warlord is angry. And then he turns to the forest and moves his large belt across his pants, getting ready… to take a piss.
He leaves the camp and he doesn’t stop.
It’s a walk to clear his head.
I find my body slowly rising all on its own accord until I’m no longer lying flat on the cliff edge.
I wanted to form my Venatores, properly...
And I can’t stop those initial instincts.
I’m moving before I can stop myself.I’m moving to intercept Zarcar; while he’s alone.