I woke up to the sound of a blackbird singing his morning song and Arelia moaning. I hoped that she hadn’t had The Dream. She wasn’t ready for it yet. Stretching, I stood up and glanced around the now green clearing, the sudden colour change startling me as I saw details that I had missed, the spotted ladybirds on the red roses and Lamai surrounding us. This was a special place. Wherever the Lamai grow, there is a sanctuary. The flowers heal when they are chewed and spat on a wound; the leaves of the plant ease pain but the white flowers lose their power when blood gets into the earth on which they grow. The silvery leaves turn blood red and fall off, the same happens to the flowers. Nothing should ever be hurt here; it was like Arelia’s waterhole. Only humans would ever dream of purposely breaching it. Looking at the deer’s blood on the leaf floor, I knew that soon this sanctuary would die. It had already begun. As Arelia also stood up, she gasped at the sheer beauty of the scene surrounding us. Scowling, she looked at the blood and the broken trap and whispered “I will kill them for breaching this sanctuary.” Looking at her, I enquired whether that meant that she would go to the human camp then. She looked taken aback before the anger returned and she nodded grimly. I winced as I limped my way over to her, and seeing this, she grabbed a few Lamai and started chewing the flowers. Once they were a messy pulp, she spat it into her hand and then ordered me to lie down as she rubbed the pulp into my wounded thigh. I ripped a few leaves off in my mouth and started chewing them, hoping it would help my bruised shoulder. I smiled, glad that I hadn’t spilt blood in Arelia’s sanctuary which would have killed the flowers helping me and that I had I had put the cairn there for forgiveness from the Light One before saying “lets go then.” Arelia paled, sighing I changed my mind and went on a different choice, “on second thought, why don’t we go and see your Bruce the Hermit first?” She smiled, relived, “Sure”
She lead the way around the human encampment, darting behind rocks on the mountainside as the forest ended. Climbing upwards, we came to a cave. Looking back out over the forest and the valley, I spotted my hatching location on the other side. Arelia stopped and grabbed me by the scruff of my neck, attempting to help me up. Hissing, I half turned around and coughed on her hand. A small tongue of flame came out and burnt her wrist. “Don’t do that!” I growled. Looking at me and cradling her wrist, she muttered an apology. She twirled around and ran off up the mountainside. Swearing as I realised I had mucked up again, I bounded after her, just in time to see her enter a cave hidden by the rocks. Cautiously I crept forwards, through the mountain stream that she had already splashed through.
In the cave, there were clay pots on shelves at the back and a glowing campfire in the middle, casting a glow over everything, including the dead plants that the humans considered food and the meat hanging from the roof. As I entered the cave, I spotted Arelia being hugged by a giant bear of a man wearing rags who was wiping tears from her eyes and asking her to tell him what was wrong. This was Bruce I supposed. Sighing, I crept into the cave and curled up by Arelia’s feet. Bruce, suddenly noticing me, leapt back in fright and pulled Arelia behind him, his long white hair swinging furiously. Innocently looking up at them, I begged Arelia to forgive me for hurting her. She nodded and, for the first time, replied using human language. Bruce leapt back from her too. “Who are you talking to?” he asked her
“Alroth” she replied, startled, “didn’t you hear him?”
“Oh…well he asked me to forgive him”
“For what?” Bruce asked, glaring at me
“For burning her wrist,” I said, this time in human, out loud.
Bruce looked at Arelia’s wrist for the first time. “Oh” he said, “let’s get that fixed up” Then he realised that I had spoken not Arelia. He looked at me closer and noticed the wings. Shaking his head, he got some salve from a jar and rubbed it on Arelia’s wrist before wrapping a leaf around it and securing it with a vine. Taking her out of any normal creature’s range of hearing, he asked her what I was and how I had burnt her, was it with a campfire that I had startled her into or was it something else? Smiling at him, she explained that he had underestimated my hearing. Frowning at the treachery, I wandered forwards and explained that I was a dragon and had hurt Arelia by breathing fire on her wrist when she had assaulted me by grabbing me by my neck and dragging me upwards. I also explained that I had acted without thought and on my instincts, which were in this case wrong, and offered my sincerest apologies to Arelia again, which she accepted with her saying I owed her. Bruce nodded. “So why are you here?” he asked. Quickly I explained about needing to find my brethren and saving the world (for some reason he laughed at that) and also about getting the Ifacle out of the world again and in needing to get human contact and to get them to rebel.
“Ah…so you will be going against Scethrog then?”. I nodded slowly.
“But…?” he asked
“But Arelia doesn’t want to go near humans, or leave the valley.”
Arelia looked surprised, she hadn’t told me about not wanting to leave the valley and her home. Immediately, I picked up anger from her. She was going to leave the valley, and now she wanted to. I smiled. She was going to try to defy me and pretend she always wanted to leave the valley. Catching my expression, and correctly reading it, Bruce laughed. “Arelia will go into the human camp and she wants to leave the valley!” he said, “maybe you don’t know her well enough!” Smiling, we left, Arelia following me this time.