I looked at Aero, he had tilted his head to the side by way of a question. He seemed eager to investigate but I sensed we would need human assistance. I gently pressed my snout into the back of 'T-4' and indicated the direction in which I had heard the noise.
As if on cue I heard the sound again, 'T-4' (Who I had heard the other man call Terron) stopped and faced the doorway.
"You go ahead, and get Crissie, and get everyone else out too..." He sounded cautious, but not afraid.
I crept toward the doorway with him and heard the others leave. The sound became louder as we approched the door, it sounded almost like a chirrup... Torren clicked the door open.
She was laying still on the ground in the small closet, her paws on her head, she was whimpering in pain.
When I called her name she raised her head slightly to look me in the eye.
I felt her mind touch mine for a second before she grabbed her face again and began to writhe in pain! Torren reached out and rubbed her cheek.
"You're ok I promise Carla! We just need to get you out of here, can you help me?" She nodded, wetting him with the fat tears that slid down her scales and got shakily to her feet.
Soon we were half running half falling down the wide corridors, I knew that people from ADVENT were following us, yet Torren just waved his death stick and I saw them all fall away. I recognised that their forces were scrambled, they seemed less deadly without a leader. But I knew in my heart it wouldn't be long before they got a new leader, prehaps even stronger that Tobias...
Eventually we hit the golden sunlight and with my sharp vision I made out my friends and the other man that had been with Torren, far away on a large hill. The thought of them all there, happy and safe away from ADVENT for the moment filled my heart with joy. I bent my head down and motioned for Torren to climb aboard, and it was with joy in our hearts (and a slight ringing still lingering in our heads) that Carla and I soared into the sky together and temporarily left our troubles on the ground far below.
It didn't take long to reach the others, and it appeared ADVENT weren't going to give chase for the time being, so me and Torren made small talk for a bit.
"Thank you for coming to our aid, things were looking rather bleak for a moment there..."
"Any time my friend, any time!" He grinned and patted my neck playfully but it seemed to throw him off balance, so he quickly grabbed my horns again.
"I'm Torren by the way! The other guy is Will but he's not quite as interesting."
The conversation dissolved somewhat after that until we joined up with the others. When we greeted our friends they all seemed so happy and filled with life, I marvelled at how humans, dogs, dragons, griffins... People, were able to spring back and have fun after the worst hour of their lives. After everyone had hugged and triple checked that we were all ok Will and Torren annouced that they wouldn't be able to travel with us...
"Sorry guys but we have day jobs! It's alright though, here is my mobile number, if you need us we will be there instantainiously!" He gave Crissie a hug and ruffled her hair. I turned to Will, curious as to why he hadn't spoken..
"Oh he doesn't speak! Don't ask me why, I reckon he's just bad with people..." Torren seemed to read my mind before giving us one final wave and dragging Will away with him.
I sub-conciously checked that we were all here, we were! And right before my eyes, Jeepers turned into a dragon again.
"So where do we go from here?"
"Away!" Everybody seemed satisfied with Jeepers response so we got onto his back and flew to where ever his idea of 'away' was.
The sun had dyed the sky a rich orange before we landed. We had spent the whole flight celebrating nothing in particular other than the fact that we were all alive! My parents had circled above our heads and blown jets of flame into the sky above to part the white clouds, and Ivan had told stories about his adventures, (which would have been mind numbing if Steve hadn't been doing impressions of him behind his back). Eventually Jeepers began to decend.
"So what is this place? It looks like a beach!"
"Well that would be a beach then wouldn't it Carla? Yes. There is a cave in this beach. No-one else knows about it. This place brings many a memory back to me."
The hint of sadness in his voice was unlike the Jeepers we knew, with his cutting sarcasm and crushing bluntness. So no questions were raised and we remained quiet until we landed.
We dismounted Jeepers and followed him into the 'cave'. I saw that the entrance was very small, with just enough room for my father to wriggle inside (Jeepers had to turn back into a cat), so I worried that the inside would be matching in scale. How wrong I was! When we entered the walls seemed to open out and they glistened with turquise and purple light and there was the gentle sound of running water trickling from a small stream at the back of the cave.
It seemed however that everyone was exhausted from the day's festivities, and soon they all fell asleep. My mother and father curled up together near the entrace, with Aero spread eagled opposite, a dog under each wing. Ivan gripped Jeepers as they slept (I smiled at the look on the poor cat's face) and Crissie and Steve slept under Carla's nose. I smiled with contentment. Having already been drugged to sleep many times that day I decided to instead, walk along the 'beach'.
As I strolled, snapping playfully at the waves, I noticed something, it was shining and red in the sugary sand and I picked it up gently in my paw. It was rock solid and almost transparent. I saw as I lifted it that it was attached to a very long strip of 'leather' almost large enough to fit around my neck! I held the beautiful stone in my claw and continued my walk.
As the sky began to turn from red to purple, I stroed back to the cave, on my way however I saw a large red dragon sat by the waters edge. I almost didn't recognise Carla, her scales shone brighter under the crimson sky and her blue eyes appeared lavender. I approached and sat with her, trying not to disturb the peace.
"Hey Tam!" She had an air of elegance and calm about her that for some reason made me smile.
"So what are you doing? Walking?"
"Yep! What are you up to?"
"Thinking..." She continued to smile but I sensed there was a small amount of sadness in her last words...
"It's just that... I never realised... Today's my human birthday." (A quick scan of her mind told me what a birthday was.)
"Well I hope you had a nice day!" I smiled and laughed a little, in the hopes she would too. I got my wish.
"Actually yes! Yes I have!" The sound of her laughter was like music too me, I realised that I was still holding onto the rock in my hand and instictivly I held it out to her.
"Happy birthday!" She gasped, and held her breath and it shone in her elegant paw.
"Oh my goodness... Tam! Is this a ruby?!" She reached out her neck and nuzzled her face into mine, her warmth filled my body and it seemed like all of my blood was rushing to the surface. All too soon she moved away and asked me to put it around her neck. I obliged and it shone like a star beneath her charming face. We then just sat and watched the sunset together, before joining our friends in the cave.