Feet kicking up stones and pebbles, she scrambled up the steep slope, fingers grabbing for a hold. Corra's fingernails bled, but she continued to pull herself above the rise. She cursed under her breath, wishing she'd woken up earlier.
She'd opened her eyes, hidden in the dense undergrowth, to see that it was bright and sunny. She was supposed to of left at dawn to meet with Koda at the ridge of the forest. Behind her Hethr and Brosk curled into a dappled pile of golden, rich scales.
Corra panted and crouched on a damp and mossy boulder, clutching her pack in her hands. She took a swig of her water, then leapt up another level. The wind tugged at the forest, bending the trees like fishing rods, and driving her hair to flag behind her. She grabbed a hair tie and tied it back, then continued climbing.
"Wier!" She cried out, staring at her grazed hands and the welts on her knees.
Brambles swarmed the top of the ridge, reaching down their thorny branches to taunt her. She wailed and rubbed her salty tears, leaving pale blood across her cheeks. Her rare silver dragon often slept up trees like a chrome snake, with curling goat horns.
"Wier, please! Can you hear me?"
She winced as she grabbed the edge, digging her fingers in and pulled herself onto the brambles, feeling them stab her bare flesh. Ripping their jagged teeth from her skin, she pressed an edge of her ragged shirt to her bleeding wound.
Corra collapsed and groaned; exausted, hungry, and sun-burnt. She sobbed quietly, then thought of Koda and the troops coming in soon. They could of been there now, in danger because she hadn't given them the clear to pass.
Corra... She looked up at the dragon curling down from a pine tree, blue eyes fixed on her. Her insides burned. As much love as she had for her dragon, it always seared her how it had no emotion.
Are you okay? Wier thought, flicking her forked tongue out to touch its rough edge at her forehead.
"No!" She screamed.
Wier flared her nostrils and made a clicking sound in her throat. She nudged Corra onto her side, then slid underneath her and carried her rider through the forest, silver scales cold against her skin.
Corra gripped on, breathing slowly. Her stomach whined, and she sniffed and stared at the leaf litter as they rushed between the trees. The light was getting brighter, and she wasn't sure whether she was dying or reaching the end of the forest. She closed her eyes, let out her breath, and let herself slip into darkness.
"Corra!" Koda shook her, shoving a hunk of bread in front of her face.
Corra blinked weakly. "Huh?" She reached out with pale fingers and grabbed it, pulling it to her mouth and pulling at it and chewing ferosiously.
Koda sat down on a stool beside her, staring at the younger rider, then glancing at the distance, the direction they had came. The battalion had made camp, with small fires in the center. The warriors were washing down and resting before the next trek to the next city.
"Wier... I need to talk to her." Corra said hoarsly.
Koda passed her a water skin. "I'm sorry, Wier had to go back into the forest. The Slayers are right on our tails. I need to know if we can go."
"Yes... go. I'll find Wier and ride her to you and Parruk at the town. Go on without me, I'll come in if you need help."
"No, Corra. You'll die out there. Travel with us, and we'll get the dragons for the last battle. We'll do this. We will win."