During dinner, all sat around the fire eating and joking. One by one the noise makers silence abruptly to listen. A high-pitched humming emanated from the darkness behind Genie. Sam turned and peered. He reached slowly into his pack for his flashlight and pointed it in the direction of the sound. Two glowing blue eyes gleamed in the light. There was a flying lizard perched on a stone several yards away. Genie turned to see it, but out of the corner of her eye, she saw Sanndin loading his bow.
“No, Sanndin,” she snapped. She had the feeling the lizard would do them no harm. No, it just stood there, perched, with its wings neatly folded and neck stretched straight forward as it made a dark, high-pitched, ringing humming that attracted Genie. “It’s hungry, Sammy,” she said. “Can I feed him?”
“Sure,” Sam replied, knowing that she would regardless of his answer. “But use your glove, and be careful.”
“Okay,” she agreed. Pausing, she puzzled a bit and asked, “What does it eat?”
“Bring him a piece or two of that dried meat,” Kemann suggested. “That is what they like, according to the Book of Travel.”
She got three chunks of meat and approached the creature slowly, slipping her hands into her gauntlets. The tiny dragon looked very wary of her approach, but did not move. His hum did intensify, however. Genie held out a piece of the meat, which the animal eyed carefully. Suddenly the head moved up and snatched the meat with snapping jaws and gulped it down. Genie was startled.
“Mind your manners, dragon,” she scolded, and he cowered back. She held out the second piece, and the dragon slowly reached his head to it, delicately gripping it, and gulped it down. “Hey, I think this little guy is intelligent,” she informed the group. She turned slowly and extended her forearm before the flying lizard’s feet and touched them. Calmly, the creature stepped onto her arm and begged for another piece of meat, which Genie triumphantly fed him. “Sam, you bring him a piece.”
Sam slowly brought two little pieces over to her. “So, what’s his name?” he asked playfully.
“I don’t know. Feed him.” Sam took a piece in his gloved hand and held it out to him. He took it gently and gulped it down. He took the last piece from Sam.
“That’s it, fella,” Sam said softly, as he stroked the lizard’s neck. The humming resumed, and the little dragon move its head close to Sam’s ear and rubbed his hair, and then did the same with Genie. She tried to carry him over to the fire, but he squeaked and took to the air, back to the rock. So, Sam and Genie continued to play with him back there where he was comfortable. The Company resumed their conversations.
As they played, Terry (short for pterodactyl) would hum and flap his wings, sometimes swing his tail, and always, his head would be down, going from side to side. He was very playful and loved to be scratched for his skin was dry and flaky. Genie went to her pack for the small bottle of hand lotion she had, and left Sam alone with Terry, who was humming. Sam started to hum harmony with him and the creature matched his pitches. Sam sang a major fifth lower, and Terry instantly dropped with him. As Sam sang an arpeggio, Terry hit each note as he did, simultaneously. So naturally, Sam started to sing “Satisfaction” to him, and he suddenly had a duet, his voice and a cooing background dragon. Genie laughed at the two of them singing together.
“Try singing melody with him,” suggested Sam. “I’ll sing harmony and teach him to do it. I wonder if he can.”
Genie started the song over, and Terry joined in with her immediately, his voice blending with hers. Then Sam began singing a harmony, and Terry was very confused, sometimes singing harmony and sometimes melody, but the trio had a very pleasant quality to it. The group around the fire was all watching and listening to the new song with a flying lizard cooing along.
The song ended, and the others begged them for another. While they were trying to decide a song, “Greensleeves!” was requested by several. Sam shrugged, and soon the Skadivers and the flying lizard began to sing in three-part harmony (at times). The proud ‘parents’ looked at each other with amusement. Terry had really caught on to the concept of harmony. There was little doubt as to the animal’s intelligence. As the song ended, everyone sighed and showed their appreciation for the beautiful new rendition, and the Skadivers rubbed Terry’s neck in praise.
As other Company members began to do songs, Genie listened while rubbing the hand lotion into Terry’s skin. Soon the creature was soft and smooth as it sat quietly listening to the songs. Soon everyone tired, and the bedrolls were filled, with Johamann at watch. Terry remained perched on the rock, asleep.
Near the middle of the second watch, about two hours before dawn, Genie awoke restless and leaned up to see Sam asleep beside her. As if awakened by her stare, Sam opened his eyes and drew Genie’s face into focus. She was smiling at him, and he smiled back. She scooted closer and lowered herself onto his lips, kissing him with an obvious goal. After several minutes, she released him and looked back deeply into Sam’s blue eyes glistening in the twilight. Quietly, though observed by Bowmann, the second watch, they slipped away in their dark cloaks into the rocks beyond the camp’s perimeter.
A hundred yards, or so, from the others, they became aware of the flying dragon’s presence; Terry was hovering above them, his eyes glowing deep red. Sam spotted a clear flat place that they spread their cloaks upon and lay. Terry found a perch nearby, and overhearing their passions, he hummed quietly, though audibly. Genie mentioned that maybe Mrs. O’Leary had sent Terry as her replacement.
The three of them returned to camp at dawn and joined in on the morning meal already in progress. Sam and Genie were hungry, but had to share some of their rations with Terry.
The Company moved quickly out of camp and resumed the hard-driven pace of the day before. Terry perched on Genie’s pack, looking over her shoulder. With the Hordannic Sun on Terry, his color became more definite, as neither Sam nor Genie had been able to tell exactly what his coloration really was in the darkness the night before. He was a deep bronze color, beautiful as if absorbing the morning light; evidently, Genie’s hand lotion had done wonders for the little guy. From wingtip to wingtip, he was about three feet across, as Sam estimated, and his body about the size of a young rooster. He had sharp little talons and thick reptile jaws with tiny pointed teeth and the lizard equivalent to dog’s canine fangs in front. At present, he was quiet and relaxed on the top of Genie’s pack.
Hours passed slowly as the way became increasingly difficult. Every step of the walk was up and frequent rest stops were needed. Often, sheer bluffs would need to be climbed, and packs roped up. The physical exertion of the morning left the Company rather quiet, as far as chatter is concerned. At the midday meal, Dextmann said that the hard half of the climb was over, but the next would test their skill and courage, for the Pass Mountain had passable ridges, which was an easier way than scaling a thousand -foot precipice. Some of the ways were narrow, however, and the drop severe.
Dextmann led the way up the winding trail that hugged the side of Pass Mountain and looked down at the bottom to the plateau where they had camped. Sam began to ponder the existence of Hordann. Dorsea had said that it was logical to assume that Rent was an interdimensional passage. That could mean that Hordann was in another universe entirely. With its own star systems that reached out to infinity, the concept was almost unfathomable. How, then could Rent be explained? It was an ‘entrance’ to this universe, and it was also a coincidental ‘exit’ on the same planet? Why should the exit be on the same planet as the entrance unless it was purposefully formed? Who could possibly form it—between dimensions? How? Sam was fairly well-read in the Sci-Fi genre, but this was blowing his mind.
The group slowed. The ledge that they were walking had become very narrow, under two feet in places, with crumbled areas that had to be jumped across. With the fall some hundreds of feet below to the smooth rock slopes, Sam figured he had better get his head in the game again. After an hour or so of everyone eking by several such impasses, the way began to open up for them, and they were once again making good time ascending to the top of the pass.
It was another couple of hours before they reached a ‘V’ in the top of the ridge. The actual pass of Passway Mountain. They could have continued on and started down the path leading east down the Sanguin Mountains, but they were tired, and some of their nerves had been shot on the perilous hike up.
Hannegelt decided that they would try to make camp up there, if they could find a spot that wasn’t overly exposed. So, they did begin to go down the eastern side in search of a good site. It wasn’t too far before they came across a flat-ish spot surrounded by boulders. The steep slope of the north side of the bluff above the pass made up the west side of their home for the night. It was several hundred yards from the ‘path’ they had been hiking. It was decided that they would have no fire at this camp, because smoke would be visible for many miles. That would mean more dried meat and fruit yet again.
Genie had been letting Terry eat some of the meat, and Diedra came over and asked if she could feed him. Terry didn’t seem to mind her approach, and even hummed as the Princess held out little chunks of meat for him. Terry was very intelligent, and apparently liked women—and Sam, but maybe that was because he could sense Genie’s affection for Sam. They played some new games with the flying lizard after the evening’s rations had been shared. Fetch with a flying lizard? Sure, why not?