The birch Dryad told them that her name was Seera. She offered to act as a guardian during their journey.
Although wary at her proposition, with coaxing from Dorr, Nika accepted.
Dorr led the way from the grove and the weary band departed.
Nika was amazed at the sight of the will o' wisps lighting their way. The floating jellyfish creatures tickled her with their feathery tentecles.
"They're beautiful!" She exclaimed, giggling, letting them hover over her open palms.
Ahead of Seera and Nika, Dorr smiled.
They had chosen a forest path coated in blue moss, birches growing all around.....to Seera's happiness.
Nika watched Dorr's wings glitter in the darkness, healed now, and almost reached out to touch them but drew back as a roar split the silence.
The three travelers halted and Dorr glanced up at the star filled sky with worry.
A dark shape passed over the moon and Nika shuddered.
Nika had always imagined the dragons of myth and legend to be peaceful, misunderstood creatures.
She was wrong.
Their were four of them, one a bright blood red, the other dark forest green, another as white as the moons - all seven of them on this strange world - and the last as black as death.
Leathery wings stirred the night air as the scaly beasts descended.
Finding his voice, Dorr gripped Nika's hand with a hoarse cry of, "Run!"
The red dragon swooped down upon the tallest of the treo, Seera, who screamed as yellowed claws dug into her bark-like flesh, sap oozing out from between them.
The black one emitted a cloud of smoke that swamped Nika's vision.
To her horror, Dorr's hand snaked out of her own in the choking, blinding smoke.
"Dorr? Where are you?!"
Nika clawed out blindly, eyes searching for his brown hair, dark green eyes or glittering dragonfly wings.
She wondered for an instant if she were dreaming, and, if she wasn't, how she got here...
A gleaming shape dropped sharply in front of her and an open maw with ebony teeth was displayed before her.
The jaw shut to reveal the red eyed face of the white dragon.
Nika was frozen stiff with fright. The creature tilted its head as though inspecting her.
Several more dark shapes dropped around her.
She was completely surrounded.
A single shape plummeted through the ash and with a lurch; Nika was soaring through the smoke, the angry roars of the dragons ringing in her ears.
She glanced up at her hero to see the fey face and garb of Dorr, gripping her tightly under her arms.
He looked down to grin at her, "You have a habit of getting in trouble."
Nika laughed weakly as they broke through the dark cloud into the moonlight cast from seven moons.
She gasped at the sight of the felled form of Seera far below.
Dorr circled before landing gently next to the birch Dryad.
Nika ran to her and knelt by her.
The tree opened her eyes and slowly stood, roots straining to bring her upright.
Eventually, with an almighty crack, she stood tall.
"A few layers of bark gone and I'm missing a pint of sap but otherwise, I'll be fine." She replied to Nika's imploring look.
Dorr glanced at the shifting shadows of the disoriented dragons in the smokey fog.
"Best to keep moving. The smoke will clear soon." He murmured, wings fluttering agitatedly.
Elissa tore through the briars, branches slapping her face.
Birds darted restlessly in the treetops as she stumbled by.
All she could think of was Goren.
Her sweet Goren.
She'd never gotten a chance to tell him she loved him.
Elissa heard her heart drumming away in her chest, so loud, she was sure Serena's forces would hear it.
A white shape stepped in front of her, causing her to scream.
The figure silenced her with a finger to his lips.
It was Kiidesh, the Druid.
"My lady. Fire-Flesh are approaching from the north. I suggest I acompany you on your journey, wherever you may be going."
Elissa had never considered a destination during her flight; if there had been one it would've been, away.
"The City of the Fallen is the only place on StarWorld or Aether that is safe for me."
As Kiidesh was about to reply, a sickening cross between a howl of a wolf and a man's cry of anguish split the sky.
Even werewolves could not hide from the mindless armies of Serena.
"We must hurry if we wish to reach the mountains....in one piece that is." Kiidesh murmured, taking Elissa's arm.
A wyvern in an old oak watched the two with a glowing moon white eye before tucking his head beneath leathery wing....