Ruby spit out a mouthful of dirt and propped herself on her shaky elbows. The adrenaline had yet to fade, she realized, as her nerves were still trembling. She rolled herself off of the petite girl, whose lungs she nearly crushed in effort to save her.

The small girl was quivering in fear and struggling for breath. A young man came rushing towards her. He embraced her in his arms. "Pen! You're alright, you're safe now."

Ruby staggered to her feet and her eyes Sought out Cole. He appeared to be safe in the embrace of princess Aira. Where had she even come from? Ruby's eyes narrowed in suspicion. Before she could make her way over to the pair, a low and rich voice released her from her trance. "I offer you my gratitude gracious human."

 She turned around and her eyes connected with those of a handsome male fairy. In spite of the stereotypes; he appeared masculine; well defined muscles peakec out from undetneath his tunic and his firm nose and mouth were complimented by a strong jawline. His eyes were as green as the pines in the forest, dark hair  framed his face and highlighted his features. His wings were bigger than the female's and textured with plush feathers the color of a raven's. 

Upon calming his sister down, his mouth quirked upwards into a wolffish grin as he noticed Ruby studying him. "You saved my little sister! I must repay you."

Before Ruby could protest the fairy released his sister and marched over toward her. He grasped her shoulders and without warning his mouth came down hard on her own. 
For a second Ruby allowed herself to indulge in the fullness of his mouth and sweetness of his kiss. Then, her wits quickly woke up and reeled her back to reality. She opened her eyes and pushed the man away. "I- I'm emotionally unavailable," she stammered. 

The male fairy laugh. "You are not from around here are you? Otherwise you would know it is custom for my race to show appreciation through a kiss."

It was Ruby's turn to grin." Well that's not conceited at all."
She ignored the fairy's confusion and turned her attention to his sister. The girl appeared to be about fourteen or so.

The female fairy smiled timidly. "My name is Pennelope Pendras, this is my brother Jace. I believe he was unsuccessfully thanking you, as I should be doing myself."

Ruby arched an eyebrow. "You aren't going to kiss me too, are you?" 

The fairy shook her head, her auburn tresses shook as she did so. " No, but I am in your debt human. I won't forget this. Come now Jace, I am sure mother worries after us"

The brother and sister took off toward the direction of their home and Ruby regrouped with Cole and Malachai. 

There were so many things she wanted to tell Cole, but with Aira hanging all over him it was near impossible. They made their way back to the castle, inspecting the damage done to the village as they did so. Houses had been stomped down and reduced to bits of timber and the dirt roads were plagued with holes the size of craters.

Ruby glanced at Malachai. "What provoked the dragon to attack Avelen?"

Malachai walked over to the dragon's large corpse and recollected his knives and Ruby's cutglass sword. "Its not a matter of what, but who."

The End

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