“Thank you,” Aldrynte said as we had a moment of pause, letting our horses rest.
“For what?” I asked while searching for something in my bag.
“You told them I’m a dragon, but you didn’t tell them that I can’t transform that easily, and fly,” Aldrynte murmured, looking at me, and standing in front of me.
I sighed. “Damn. You’re right. You can do that. Why didn’t I think of that?” I said, looking up at her.
“You can’t be serious. When it comes to making plans, you're a genius. You would be lying if you didn’t consider…”
There was a moment of silence until I chuckled. “You’re right. I did think of it. But I know your story. And we can’t let every dragon know that you exist, and where you are, can we? And to be fair, I don’t think they would even notice. But it would attract too much attention if a dragon was suddenly seen flying too close to the capital. It would be literally telling Qildor that we aren’t planning on going to the next town.”
Aldrynte sighed, sitting on my lap, each leg at a different side of my body, while also pushing her hands over my shoulders. She slowly got her head closer to mine, finally touching my forehead with her own. I could hear her breathing. Her skin was slightly hotter than any other skin I’ve touched. Not that there are many. “Aren’t you nervous?” she whispered, closing her eyes.
I slowly raised my hands, letting my bag fall down into the grass, hands slowly going around her waist. I closed my eyes as well, just listening to her breathing. “If I didn’t have such a sexy woman on my lap right now, I might vomit,” I whispered, making her chuckle. “Now that I think about it, it’s your first adventure, isn’t it? You’re finally away from your dad’s protection.”
I was expecting a lot from her, but not her silence. I could hear her heavy breathing. “Yeah. It’s my first adventure. But that doesn’t matter,” she whispered.
I opened my eyes, raising my hands and gently placing them on her chin, pushing her slightly away, caressing her cheeks. And as she opened her beautiful dragon eyes, I looked in She wasn’t her usual know-it-all who had a strong skin and could take anything. She was more like one scared girl.
“Then what is it?” I asked, tilting my head slightly. “What’s wrong, Aldrynte?” She breathed heavily, looking at me. “Talk to me. You can trust me. Anything!”
She finally released a sob. And that made her shiver. She looked as she was humiliated for crying. She wanted to look away, hide her tears, but she struggled not to. And as the tears were halfway down her cheek, they evaporated. I could feel her cheeks way unusually warm.
But she didn’t say anything. She just stared at me. I finally lowered my hands, and pulled her closer, hugging her. Aldrynte pushed her eyes against my shoulder. I could her occasional sobbing sounds. I could feel her hot tears touching my skin for a moment.
“According to the books, dragons are ultimate creatures. They are considered as the smartest, and greatest beings in the world. It's a bit funny how we praise dragons, almost as they have no faults,” I said, looking at the sky. Some clouds were going over us, while the sun was trying to lower itself down behind the horizon. It still had a long way to go.
“But in the end, you're you, Aldrynte. You're not what your father tells you. You aren't what dragons want you to be. In the end, you're just... you. And you're allowed to be different. You're even allowed to cry.” It was slightly funny. We were going to save Alwine, yet it was she who had told me those exact lines with slightly different wordings. And she wasn't even her normal self. “I think, besides the first time we met, I've never really seen you as a dragon. Only as a woman. After all, you’re not entirely a dragon. You’re a half-dragon. So, sometimes you can have those human moments as well.”
Aldrynte finally pushed herself away, shaking her head. “You don’t understand me at all,” she whispered, giving me a grin. “The problem isn’t me. I’m fine. I’m amazing. I’m magnificent. I’m aldrynte, the fire dragon, dammit. Don’t you dare to downgrade me.”
I sighed. “Then what is it? Tell me.”
She looked at me. She raised her hand, pushing it against my heart. “This week, I felt it for the first time.”
“Felt what?” I asked.
“Your presence. Your power.”
I looked at her, slightly confused. “I don’t understand. How’s that a bad thing?”
“Remember when I met you the first time? I told you that I’m not sure if you have no power, or you're just amazing at concealing it?”
“Yeah?” I murmured.
“Well, feeling your presence has given me the answer. You're not that great to conceal your power, after all.”
I finally realized what she meant. I immediately chuckled. “Aldrynte. I think you’ve misunderstood. I-”
“I don’t. I understand very well that you’re constantly using your magical pool, pushing it inside that sword. This is the exact power that I'm feeling.”
I raised my hands once more, taking softly hold of her chin once again, caressing her cheeks with my thumbs. “Then what is it? I don't understand.”
“I finally understand how weak you are. And you never were strong. Back then, you had nothing in you. I assume you didn’t even know how to use your magic. That’s why I never felt anything. Usually, every adventure always has something going on in them. Maybe it's simply magic recovery. But you had nothing. And now there's life inside you. I can feel it even now. You’ve learned to use your powers. And while this is fantastic, it's also terrifying. And... And...”
I sighed, taking hold of her hands. “Aldrynte. I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you. I didn't want anyone to worry our doubt in me. But now I got this. I’m dealing with this. I-”
“I know that you will. I even know that Alice knew it, somehow, and you both secretly worked on your magic, I assume. It hurts a bit that you didn't trust me.
"But none of this matters to me, Hiro. I'm not the jealous one. I understand why you didn't tell me.” Aldrynte sighed, grasping my hands, raising them against my cheeks once more. “Back then, I didn’t know you enough. Back then I thought that you were probably strong enough. How else did you become the hero? You even convinced my father that you're strong. But now that I know the truth...
“I’m afraid, Hiro. I'm afraid to lose you. I’m scared that you’ll do something reckless. I’m afraid that you’ll do something stupid, something that will cost you your life. I don’t want to lose you, Hiro. I love you. I’ve come to love you so much that it hurts. Yet you're taking all the risks, all the heavy burden. Even if that woman was just trying to kill you not that long time ago. Even if it's not even your battle.”
I looked at her, starting to laugh. “Aldrynte. My love. You got me worried!” I got one of my hand behind her, pulling her forehead against mine once more. I closed my eyes. “For a moment, I thought you got something serious. But you truly have the human side in you.”
“Hiro, please. I’m a fucking dragon. I’m billion times stronger than you’ll ever be," Aldrynte murmured, hand reaching behind my head as well, caressing my hair.
I kept laughing. “All of this just because you’re worried about me? I feel that even Alice can be more cold-hearted than you.”
“Shut up!” Aldrynte murmured. “Don’t you mention another woman name right now.”
Aldrynte pushed herself away from me, still sitting on my lap, though. “We get along. I’m even willing to share you with her. But right now I’m with you. It’s you and me. Idiot!”
I chuckled. "Aldrynte. I'm a hero. Risking my life for you, and many others, is my life. If I didn't do it, it wouldn't be me. I would hate myself. And even if I fail one day, falling to my death, I don't want to have any regrets. So, I'm sorry, but you have to keep worrying about me."
Aldrynte sighed, hands going around my neck. "Idiot. Fine. I'll do it. Until the end of your days," she whispered. Her lips touched mine, kissing me. I couldn’t help but kiss her back. I could feel one of her hand landing on my chest and slowly going down towards my belt. As a response, I grabbed that dragon’s ass, of course.
But before it could go any further, she slowly pushed herself away. “We can’t,” she murmured. "Not yet."
“You’re probably right,” I said calmly. “I need my strength before the battle.”
“Exactly. But that doesn’t mean we can’t kiss a bit more, right?” Aldrynte whispered close to my ear.
I nodded, very slightly. “Would increase my morale as well.”
She smiled, kissing me once more, while one of my hand stayed where it was, while the other was in her hair.
As we later got back on our horses, Aldrynte got next to mine. She then reached out her hand, touching my skin near the lips, cleaning something. “You got some make-up over there,” she said, smiling.
“I think I’m falling for you,” I mumbled, looking at her. “And not just because you’re really… hot.”
She chuckled. “Was about time,” she whispered. “I’ve been trying to seduce you for a while now.”
“If you continue like this, it won’t be a harem anymore,” I whispered.
Alice looked at me, eyes pleased. “Alice and I get along very well now. We have worked out our differences. But that doesn’t mean I’m not counting on that." She gave me one last flirtatious wink. But her expression changed. “You weren’t that truthful with Squeek, though."
I glanced at Aldrynte. “What do you mean?” I asked.
“We are too far from Alwine’s place. There’s no way we’ll make there in time. Qildor will act first,” she said.
I sighed. “But technically, I didn't lie either. I did say that I’ll do everything I can. And I will. Plus, I slightly doubt that Alwine will be easily defeated.”
Aldrynte looked at me. “It feels like you’re certain of that.”
“I have my reasons. I have my doubts,” I said. There was a moment of pause. “But until I know for sure, I won’t say anything.”
“Hiro, you can trust me.”
“And I do. But that doesn’t mean I should tell you everything, always. Sometimes the less you know, the better. And some words can't be taken back. I’ve learned from my mistakes, Aldrynte.”
Aldrynte sighed, but she gave me a smile afterward. “Fine. I'll trust you too. Now, let’s hurry!” And as she pushed forward, I took a potion from my bag quickly, drank it, placed the empty vial back into my bag, and pushed forward together with Aldrynte.
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- Matthew E. Damson
I'm someone whose pen-name is Matthew E. Damson. Some others know me as Elven. I'm also known as elf, elfie, elves, pointy ears, and some more. To be honest, I have no idea why they call me other names, but they create nicknames, not me.
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