We run our way through the foliage, so quick I’m surprised by my own speed. Being a mouse was surprisingly efficient. Although the fact I was such a small, squishable, vulnerable thing made me go a little crazy on the inside.
Mice were detestable even to humans.
Now I was insignificant, in a literal sense. However, I could not discredit Shai’s genius. We were hidden well enough to evade capture.
We travel for quite a while, following a scent trail of food and bones. Shai was leading us the whole way and eventually she takes us up a tree of scaly bark. It is easy to maneuver and we reach a high enough branch with a clear safe hollow to dwell in.
A couple of times, wandering Dragons had walked or ran by, but none had paid any attention to the petty little mice scavenging about.
It’s not until the three of us are settled at the top of our tree that I realize that Shai has chosen a tree overlooking a field of burnt grass, piles of bones and little huts and tents.
The air smelt of Dragons and this seemed like the most obvious place the fledglings had set up camp.
It looked like they had some sort of hierarchy around a fire pit in the middle. Small huts and one huge hut. These were for the fledglings when human, but there was also plenty of space for Dragons to sleep and lounge about in their truest forms.
It’s best we stay as mice until tomorrow morning, Luvenia, Shai speaks to me quietly and I slowly sit back on my haunches, sending her my best mouse glare.
And why is that a good idea? I ask, whiskers twitching.
They will get sick of searching so hastily, bunker down in this tree hollow for the rest of the day and night, Shai is set for this decision and I just silently sit in annoyance.
I’m keen for cuddles all night if you are, Roi speaks to Shai, jokingly.
I watch her slap him with a tiny mouse paw and he lands back on his haunches like me, staring shocked at her backside as she disappears into the tree hollow.
Women, Roi speaks, dumbfounded.
Shut it, I snarl back at him and he just looks more mentally wounded.
My heart, he whispers, putting a paw over it and dropping down to three paws.
I stay where I am, watching the camp and keeping an eye out for large birds that perhaps want to snap me up in their beaks for a quick meal.
I had never thought I’d be looking out for birds to eat me.
Yet here I was.
And here I stay, calculatingly looking over the camp for the next seven hours.
When night rolls in, and the chill sets over the forest, Roi and Shai curl up in the hollow together, begrudgingly. I volunteer to stay out on the branch, where I continue to watch the camp.
My eyes have been feasting on the events that have played out before me. For hours, female Dragons in human form, were dancing and laughing around the fire, shaking their asses, trying to grab the princes’ attention after returning to their camp. This bothered me, more than it should. For some reason I wanted to punch ever girl in the face. As far as I was concerned – they were lucky I was a mouse.
Not to mention, I was high strung because of what I had witnessed before their dancing and partying began.
My fathers had arrived a few hours prior. Hael and Lochness had both consulted the camp about where I was hiding. Everyone answered truthfully – saying they had no idea. What irritated me beyond reason was how compliant every Dragon behaved towards Thaddeus and Sylvan, just before the arrival of my fathers. The princes took control and told no one to speak a word unless spoken to. All had listened. I had witnessed this particular event unfold felt like it was an unspoken mutiny on the Requiem Dragon Lords. Simply because no one mentioned the hunt they were all compelled into, or that I had flown down in this area.
Which meant their loyalty clearly lay with the young princes – not the Requiem Horde they were born into.
No wonder they had been kicked out.
I watch as everyone finally calms down and they all make their way to their huts to sleep, a couple choose to sleep in their Dragon forms. Such as the princes, of course. Thaddeus and Sylvan turn into their Dragons and curl up close to one another, both facing outwards but with their tails flopped over each others.
As I watch, Ethne comes running out towards them, eager to grab their attention one last time.
She was the only fledgling still wandering about at this stage.
I watch with narrowed eyes as she slows and approaches their resting Dragon forms. Her mouth rattles off with her nervous feet and I watch with sick satisfaction when first Thad swipes her back with his tail – and so does Sylvan, when she tries to approach again.
I hear a loud whine from Ethne in response and then a low vibrating growl from Thad, who thumps his tail with impatience.
The princes both look exhausted by being surrounded by chatty females all day.
Ethne storms off, sitting on a log by the fire with her elbows on her knees and her chin in her hands. Good riddance.
I narrow my eyes as I search the camp one last time for my brother. I hadn’t spotted Lex at all today, I wasn’t sure where my twin was. In a hut? No. In the forest, alone? Maybe; but he wasn’t a Rogue, so I didn’t know why he wasn’t here... but then I figure... of course. Lex could barely stand talking to the female fledglings; why would he bother staying with them? He was more interested in Thaddeus and Sylvan’s slave girl! He had probably taken a selfish interest in her and snuck his way back into the mountain... of course Lex had to follow in Hael’s footsteps and be interested in a slave. It simply confused me. But I do remember spotting her a couple of times around, she was always housed at the Requiem mountains, assigned to help guests settle in.
I eventually focus back on the camp and rest my eyes on the unmoving forms of the princes; now fast asleep.
I find myself quietly making my way down the tree.
I scout around on the lonely cold grass. I couldn’t stay the rest of the night on that damn branch. I needed to release my anger and my emotion. Just thinking about the princes and their petty followers, provides me with more fury with every step I take as I search for some sort of weapon.
Just when I’m about to give up – there isn’t much a mouse can do – I finally spot what I had hoped to find.
I see some red bulbs, not many, but there is one big enough for the purpose I have in mind. I happily tug it off a small branch, and carry it under my front paw.
I hop my way straight into the camp, straight towards Sylvan and Thaddeus.
My little mouse nose twitches in delight as I’m now close to the heavy breathing princes. They look far too content for my liking. I gaze at Thaddeus and decide to spare him the torture.
I scuttle over to Sylvan’s nostrils, where I happily sit back on my feet and gaze up to his head which now looks a thousand times bigger than my tiny form. Not that it mattered.
Now I had the advantage.
Sitting before him nearly blows me over, though, every time he exhales. However, I manage to keep my footing. I plop my chilli swiftly before me and slice it open with my two front teeth, careful to avoid the seeds underneath. Once the skin is broken I pull apart the flesh and it pops as I open it.
I run my paw through the middle, dislodging the seeds.
Everyone knew the seeds burned. To a Dragon, the pain was far worse because our senses were heightened. Especially our sense of smell and taste... why else would we like raw meat so much?
Once the seeds are completely dislodged, I wait for Sylvan to exhale and then I move quickly.
I grab the chilli, I lift it in my paws, above me, waiting for Sylvan to inhale–
But I have completely forgotten about my surroundings. A scraping noise comes towards my left and I drop the chilli, turning my nose just at the wrong moment. A huge cobalt blue tail comes swiping at me. It hits me and I’m winded as I’m flung into the hair, my little paws stretched out in shock as I tumble back down.
A blue claw swipes out and catches me.
I squeak as I barely miss the sharpest point, but I end up sliding down the claw and landing on the scaled hand of Thaddeus.
He had snuck up on me while I had been so engrossed in my prank.
He looks at me for a moment, huffing in disbelief as he suddenly closes his claw gently and heads off towards the edge of the forest.
I am not squished between closed claws, and I’m not sure if Thaddeus is planning to do so. I am simply imprisoned between his sharp claws and I clutch on to them desperately like they are the bars to my cage.
My frustration and fear is so much worse because I’m a bloody mouse.
Eventually he comes to a stop and opens his claw, upturning it to drop me on the grass.
Oh my gosh, freedom. Freedom!
I am seeing things... leather on a mouse? Thaddeus growls to himself, his eyes inspecting me as he lowers his head to my level and sniffs me, it even smells like her...
I just sit back and stare at him, bewildered. I didn’t know whether or not to run, because would he chase?
Thaddeus narrows his eyes and suddenly snaps his sharp teeth together, testing out my reaction. I’m sad to say, I literally fall back on my fur, playing dead. I can’t move. I’m trapped on my side, paws stuck out as anxiety consumes me. What the hell was I doing?
It was like a natural mouse instinct or something.
I am so utterly embarrassed.
Thaddeus growls under his breath, as if very confused.
I hear a familiar spark – inside Thaddeus’ throat.
Oh no, he was going to breathe fire! He probably wanted to scorch me to see what would happen!
I can’t move, but I know I can project. I have no choice.
Don’t! I yell out, giving the game away.
Thaddeus instantly rears right up, lifting his head.
My beady eyes look up in fright as it seems like he is ready to snap down and crush me in one bite.
I just stare, unblinking.
In a moment, he had gone from half asleep to fully alert.
Mouse? he asks, for reassurance.
Luvenia, I admit, suddenly finding some ability to move, I roll to my front and stand back up on my four paws.
I cringe when Thaddeus slams his tail down into the ground, consumed with anger at my admission.
Magic, he snarls as his mind plays catch up, the spell caster did this to you, the prisoner, that you stole.
I saved someone from being caged and tortured, I did the right thing, I nervously wait for Thaddeus to wake up the whole camp. No doubt he’d decide humiliating me in front of everyone would be a good idea. Except, he just watches me, unappeased.
What are you doing? Sylvan suddenly connects to the mind channel with Thad and I as he wakes. Not long after, I hear him start slinking his way over to his brother’s side.
Thaddeus looks over his shoulder, just for a moment.
I don’t hesitate.
I take my opportunity to run.
I scatter into the trees, under the leaves, through the dirt.
Luvenia is a mouse, Thaddeus explains, amused.
Silence from Sylvan.
I look over my shoulder as I escape to see if they have seen me disappear. It is at that moment that Thaddeus turns back to where he just left me, coming face to face with my vanishing act.
What the –? She’s gone! Thaddeus snarls.
She is a half-blood Dragon, idiot, Sylvan connects to Thaddeus as he sits down beside him, you must be seeing dreams with your eyes open.
I stopped her from shoving chilli seeds up your nose with her tiny little paws, be grateful that I saved you from such pain, Thaddeus growls.
...are you actually being serious? Sylvan asks, sounding unsure but half swayed to believe him.
I know what I saw, how else do you think she disappeared so quickly today with an injured prisoner? Our mate is intelligent, she got the spell-caster to change her form, as Thaddeus explains, I eventually climb a tree and hide between the leaves, to watch from above.
They are slowly searching the bush, stepping with utmost care as if they are walking on eggshells.
It is amusing for me as I stay hidden nearby, watching from above.
How do we catch a mouse? I need to see this with my own eyes to believe it, Sylvan eventually gives in, sounding only a little apprehensive.
Keep a keen eye, the scent is too small and faint to trace but I know how to stop her moving, Thaddeus then makes a direct link with me, little princess... a mouse or no, we’ll find you eventually. You may as well come to us before you regret your constant attempts to attack us.
I hear her mother was uncontrollable, that is why she is always on a leash, perhaps that’s what we’ll do to you, Luvenia, Sylvan adds, sounding far more confident now that he can feel my mind link.
The only regret I have is not shoving those seeds up your nose, I squeak back, so angry I actually squeak out loud.
I freeze on the branch as two large Dragon heads snap towards my direction.
Did you hear that? Thaddeus asks Sylvan.
Her squeak? Yes. Perhaps talking about her mother is a raw nerve with our willful Rogue princess...you see, Luv, we’re getting to know you better with every interaction, perhaps you aren’t so tough after all... does the threat of being on a leash scare you? Sylvan is sliding his way carefully between the trees, his head getting precariously closer to where I am hiding. Thaddeus is right next to him, typical twin Dragons slinking through the trees together.
I do not answer, incase I accidentally squeak again.
Thaddeus freezes, spotting something behind my tree.
I am so focused on the princes I hadn’t thought to look behind me for any danger.
However, I feel a sudden rush of hot breath, like a gale that nearly has me flying off the branch.
My paws and nails dig in to the bark while my feet fly out. My eyes focus in on a white Dragon head as I’m flung around in the wave of her hot breath.
Found the mouse, Ethne sounds so damn smug, her eyes completely focused in on my small form. Eventually she lowers her nostrils. However, I’m stuck in my spot as the two princes close the gap and also look in on me with their overly large heads on the other side of my branch.
I just sit back, overwhelmed.
Well done, Sylvan congratulates Ethne and I find the will to spin around and glare at him, even as a disgraceful mouse, perhaps you can be at my side tomorrow, young Dragon –
It’s Ethne, stop referring to me as ‘young Dragon’, she snaps, you never remember my name. Thad does. You never do.
It’s called excessive arrogance, I reassure Ethne, while glaring at Sylvan.
However, she literally falls back on her hind legs from the shock of hearing me speak with her directly.
Oh my gosh, Luvenia! she screams out, worried, You’re actually a mouse, oh my gosh, I thought this was a prank... are you okay? We’ve been looking for you all day, worried about you.
Worried? I rest my paws on my hips and turn to glare at her, You were all hunting me down!
No! Ethne has the audacity to sound shocked, that’s not what Sylvan and Thad said, Luv, don’t be silly, Ethne eventually moves her head in closer again and I find myself being silently scrutinized by the three Dragons.
You’re so puny and small, princess, Sylvan rubs it in.
I don’t like it, Thaddeus growls.
It’s somewhat demeaning for a princess, Ethne adds, how will we change her back?
Where is the spell caster? Sylvan asks me, you will tell us, Luvenia, or you’ll be stuck as a mouse forever.
Don’t say that, Ethne sounds hurt for my sake and I’m glad I’ve got back up. Perhaps I had been too harsh on her before.
You. Can’t. Be. Serious.
I pause, my little mouse ears perk up despite it being a mental link. It was a private connection just for me.
Could it be?
Is that you? I whisper, hoping so badly that –
Of course it’s me, Lex snarls in unison with the branches cracking in the distance form large Dragon claws, why would I let these two brutes corner you and threaten you with a leash? I heard everything, the way they talked about Madeline, the way they talked to our fathers. I was watching all day, Luvenia.
I can hear other Dragons approaching, we probably woke up the sleeping fledglings, Thaddeus mutters, but he does not look behind him and Ethne is focused completely on my tiny form, so she does not notice Lex either.
How about we – Sylvan is about to work out what to do, when I watch in satisfaction at what my twin does next.
I can see green scales in the trees; I know instantly that Lex has learnt how to transform. He is looming in the trees, fangs bared as he grabs Sylvan’s tail with his claw and jerks him backwards.
A mini-Hael, my brother is ruthless as he then jumps on top of Sylvan’s dropped form, holding him down with a hind leg and claw. He snarls at Thad and breathes fire across his neck to get him to back off from my branch.
Thaddeus ducks down and Lex lunges for the tree, dipping his head below the branch, I know what he wants me to do. I jump down, sliding along his neck and grabbing onto a scale for leverage.
Challenge me again by threatening my sister and watch your selves be disgraced as Twin Leading Breeds, Lex snarls as he turns and stalks off into the forest, nearly biting onto Thad’s neck as he tries to rise back up against him, don’t try it, prince, I’m trained by the best Dragon Lord that lived.
We are born to rule, Sylvan comes back with a confident reply, I watch as he gets back to his feet with a keen eye on my tiny brown form, Two of us. One of you, Lex. Your sister doesn’t count... she is our mate.
Are you deluded? Lex freezes and looks over his shoulder and wing, glaring at the princes, You cannot beat me. You’re the offspring of a Leading Breed who died of sickness, too weak to even stay around for his heavily pregnant wife; you could have had two parents, two guides; but oh no, your mother wasn’t strong enough either.
You know nothing about Zayda, come back here and tell me your opinions to my face...you can not talk about disgraceful parents, offspring of the Blackhearted Dragon, Sylvan snarls from behind, not chasing but looking ready to fight.
That would be Luvenia you’re speaking of, Lex rolls his eyes and so do I, As for Zayda... what happened to her is common knowledge. She died giving birth to twins– a show of great weakness. My mother bore two healthy half-bloods and lived to rise another day. So if you dare to talk of my sister, touch her, or care to be around her; consider your wings broken. You will be dead when I tell my fathers of your games with her.
Luvenia is our mate, Thaddeus growls.
Once again, delusions spoken from another mouth of a failed Leading Breed, the parents you are both bred from have permanently tainted your reputations, for the rest of your pathetic lives, Lex is extremely harsh as he turns and then begins to pick up speed so he can take off.
I am speechless at his cruel words but none the less, happy I am away.
I just hoped Shai and Roi stayed out of harm’s way as well.
Tell me, Luvenia, Lex calms as he speaks to me and I smack my tail against him.
Tell you what? I ask.
Tell me what? Are you serious? Don’t avoid it. Tell me, sister... why the hell are you a mouse?
Of course, in this moment?
Nothing seemed to offend him greater.