Chapter 5: Brone- Purple Poison Flowing
I stayed by the girls’ side all through the night; her condition worsened with each passing hour, and there was nothing I could do to help her except trickle spare soup into her mouth (I had to heat it up slightly with my fire) and lay cool rags on her forehead. But somehow, the girl held on- even though her heartbeat was faint, it kept beating. I’ve got to get her to the village, I thought with finality. That’s not up for debate any longer. As the first minuscule rays of sun flowed through the treetops, I began to pack mine and Vrey’s things. When I was finished packing I went to wake Vrey up. “We’re going back to the village,” I said to him after he’d rubbed the sleep from his eyes.
“That’s not up for debate anymore.” He sat up and raised an eyebrow at me. “I know I can’t change your mind,” he said with an irritated air. “But how are you gonna get her into the village without her being attacked the minuet a drake or dragonet sees her?” I paused. “I don’t know,” I said finally. “I’ll think about it on the way there, okay?”
As Vrey and I flew through the sky, I tried to think of a plan to help the girl lying limp in my arms; I’d insisted that we flew in our drakeman forms as to not jostle her with turbulence that would’ve been more severe in our dragon forms. We flew in silence. I shifted the girl into a more comfortable position and glanced down at her. What I saw made my blood freeze- purple veins that were filled with poison had spread up her neck to the back edge of her cheek (well, the one that was facing me, anyway). She shook like she had hypothermia and her eyelids were a blushing red. She was so hot it was like she was made of smoldering coals.
Her fever’s reached an impossible high for a human, I thought in a panic. How is she still alive?! “Vrey,” I shouted to the right of me, where he was flying. “I’m shifting into my dragon form and flying ahead. She won’t make it at this rate!” “Fine,” he shouted back. I nodded and shifted. I grew bigger, my wings larger, my tail longer; soon I was in my dragon form and flying as fast as I could. Eventually I saw the village, about three miles ahead of us, and I flew upwards. I flew as high as I could, keeping in mind that the human in my talons wouldn’t be able to breathe in the altitudes that I would normally be able to fly into, and dove in a straight diagonal line the second I reached my cresting rise (what we dragons describe when we stop flying in a straight upwards line and curve to a stop).
I shielded her from the ripping wind that was trying to snatch her from my claws. I knew that with every passing moment, the girl’s life was leaving her. I won’t let her die, I thought with determination. I WON’T! With the village so close, I felt a glimmer of hope. “Just hang on, girl,” I muttered to her. “We’re almost there.”
She was struggling to breathe now. Almost there, I thought as I tucked my wings as close to my body as I could. Almost... there! Finally, after what felt like an eternity, I came crashing through the tree’s canopy, landing in an awkward position on my back legs in a thick cloud of dust and leaves. There was yelling as a crowd of drakes and dragonets in their drakeman forms quickly gathered around me. Vaguely, I could hear someone shouting at me, but my mind was fixated on the dying girl in my claws.
“I need a Healer!” I shouted frantically, looking wildly around the place I’d landed. A white and gold winged dragonet rushed forward, hands at the ready to tend to my nonexistent wounds. “Not for me,” I said, panicked. “For her!” I held out the human to the healer. There was silence as the healer stopped dead in her tracks. “A… human?!?” She shouted in shock. “Help her,” I said, my panic mounting ever higher. “As the prince of Draconia, I’m asking- no, begging you to save her!” All the drakes and dragonets visibly shivered and took a step away from me, sensing my fury and panic.
“O-of course, Prince Brone!” The healing dragonet stammered, quickly rushing forwards and taking the human from my talons. I shifted into my drakeman form and felt a slight sense of relief wash over me. The healer gently held the human in her arms and began to glow, letting off a gentle golden-yellow aura, the color of the Healers. The violently shivering, fever-wrought human let out a small sigh and relaxed slightly, but was still shaking hard. “Will she make it?” I asked, still extremely and unreasonably worried. “It’s difficult to say, Prince Brone,” she said. “The poison has advanced rapidly and is still going strong. The Elder Nine will have to contribute to the healing in order to stop the poison and successfully draw it out.”
I sharply sucked in a breath; the Elder Nine are the oldest, most important, skilled drakes and dragonets in Draconia! I thought with shock. It’s going to take their skills to draw out the poison?! The healer turned and carried the human girl to the healer’s hut. “BRONE!” My mother, in her red and silver Windspeed dragon form, roared as she landed in the middle of the crowd, in which everyone knelt to one knee at the sight of the Queen of the Dragons. “Mother-!” I started with surprise. She started rambling off frantic motherly questions concerning me and Vrey. “Are you hurt?! Is everything okay? Is Vrey alright?!” “Mother I’m not hurt, everything’s more or less okay, and Vrey is coming,” I said in a soothing tone to reassure her. “But there’s something I’ve got to tell you.”
“What?! Did you get hurt after all?!” “No…” I said. “Just follow me.” She shifted into her drakeman form and followed me to the healers’ hut. I led her inside the dark interior, lit only by pink fire in a fireplace and the sounds of chanting, laced with the powers of life and healing, wafted through the air. I followed the smell of jasmine and rosemary, now almost overridden with the stench of rotting strawberries.
I pulled back the curtain that hid the humans’ figure, lying pale and shivering on the bed. My mother gasped and took a step back. “Brone,” she growled. “What were you THINKING?!?” She roared and glared at me with a look more deadly then Basilisk venom. “Mother-.” “She’s a HUMAN, Brone! HUMAN!!! Now she knows where we are and everything about our kingdom-!” “Please Listen to-!” “And what’s worse is you brought her right in the middle of our VILLAGE! What in the name of Thorfax were you think-?!” “MOTHER SHE’S DYING!” Right then, something in me snapped and I roared at her in furious anger. “She’s seriously wounded along with being poisoned and unconscious for probably three days! I couldn’t leave her in the Valley of Lost Songs, and she was soaked through from the River of Sapphire Scales!”
Mother stepped back in shock. “Brone, you-.” I was panting from my sudden outburst. When I’d regained my senses I knelt on one knee and bowed my head, feeling desperate. “Please, mother,” I whispered, my voice trembling. “Help her!” There was a long, stifling silence. My heart raced and I squeezed my eyes shut as if that would make it slow. “I need an infusion of Vagabond’s Tea Leaf and a sack of ground Timberwolf Seeds!” My mother’s voice rand out and I jerked my head up, looking at her with surprise. She looked back at me with a soft and loving smile. “Brone, you know I would never turn you away,” she said quietly. “I will help save her, but you must accept responsibility for her once we’ve done so. That means you must protect, guard, and be with her at all times through the duration that she’s recovering.”
I nodded and stood, letting out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. “Thank you mother,” I said smiling back at her. “I won’t let you down.”