Chapter 6

The sound of birds made me unwillingly open my eyes. When I was fully awake, I looked around. Tanith was already gone. Ladon was still sleeping on the other bed. His hair was in flat spikes and his body was spread out all over the bed. I laughed silently and went to get dressed.

My dress was covered in mud and grass stains. I went outside to wash it in the river. My nightdress was dirty as well, so I decided to wash that and take a bath myself. I scrubbed my dresses clean and hung them on a branch to dry in the sun.

When I was done washing, I floated around the river waiting for my clothes to dry. It was a warm day. Fall was coming soon so I relished the warmth. Birds were singing in the trees above the river. It was one of those almost perfect days, even a deer or two came by to get a drink. I sadly swan to the edge of the water and climbed out. My dress was dry and I had to meet the dragons. Maybe if we finished early enough I could come back out.

I slowly dressed and walked over to the castle. I would stop every few minutes to look at a flower I had never seen before, or an animal that came into the opening. By the time I made it to the castle it was midday. The castle loomed up over me, blocking out the sky, as I knocked hesitantly on the door. It swung open with a groan, revealing a dark room. I walked in and waited for my eyes to adjust to the sudden change.

"You are here earlier than expected. The other two are probably still sleeping so you will have to wait for them," The voice came from behind me. I spun around to face the door. A giant red dragon loomed up over me, his eyes were black.

"I don't mind, but it's already midday. You were expecting me later?" I was confused by that. They said after I had woken up.

"We expected you to try to drag it out. My name is Ryuu." I blushed at what he said. Normally, I would have tried to wait before meeting them.

"Wait, I remember you. The night I was first brought here you came. When I was looking at the village!" My eyes widened as I remembered. How could I forget something like that?

He chucked, "I am surprised you remembered. I fixed it so you wouldn't, your mind must be strong, Amani. Moreover, your village is another matter. I have heard a few rumors about that village, full of dragon hunters and witch killers. You know, in some places people treat dragons as gods."

"Some people worship gods only out of fear," I shot back.

"Ahh, that is a very good point. So what are your beliefs?"

I thought about the question before I answered, "I do not know about witches, you are the first dragons I met but based on past experience's I do not like them. Gods however, I haven't given much thought to, they might be real they might not. For now it doesn't concern me." He thought about my answer while I looked around the room. There were no lights in the room but many windows. The windows were covered with a thick cloth so no light would come in. The ceiling was higher than I could see and the stairs were broken. I was curious too how Tanith and Ladon went up to clean. Maybe they rode on the back of the dragons.

The stairs looked like they originally wrapped wound the whole circular room. I was in awe at the whole place and briefly thought about how much Peter would love exploring. His expression during my trial flashed through my mind and I furrowed my eyebrows. I felt like he had been trying to tell me something I just couldn't figure out what. It was dancing outside my reach, teasing me. I growled in irritation before pushing it back into my head. I would figure it out later, now wasn't the time.

I looked at Ryuu when he cleared his throat. He looked slightly uncomfortable and I walked closer. He asked me for a favor and I nodded.

"Could you scratch right behind my right ear? It's the only place I can't reach and it's always itchy." I laughed was scratched behind his ear. His eyes rolled backwards and his tongue lolled out. When the itch went away, I stepped back again. He thanked me and lay down on the floor. I looked around again and sat against a wall. My thoughts were running around now and I couldn't stop them.

If witches did exist, then I probably was one. If they don't, that means a dragon killed my sister on purpose. These dragons don't look like they would kill her and Ladon seemed angry when I accused them. Does that mean another dragon lives nearby? If I am not a witch and a dragon did it by itself, does that mean it will do it again? What will the villagers do then? I groaned and put my head in my hands. How am I supposed to figure this out, how am I going to prove myself innocent? I leaned back against the wall and closed my eyes.

"She looks tired Ryuu, what did you do to her." I opened my eyes to see the green dragon. He flashed me a smile, I think, and turned back to Ryuu.

"I didn't do anything, she just went over there and starting groaning. Maybe you should ask her."

I blushed, "I'm sorry I am just trying to adjust to everything." He nodded as the other dragon came up from out of the shadows. Her purple scales glittered even in the dark. They all turned to look at me. Ryuu asked me to explain why I was up here and what happened with my sister. They also wanted facts about the rumors of dragons. I told them as much as I could about the first two. They seemed to be sad when I mentioned my being accused as a witch. That caused me to hurry that part and move on to something else.

"Well let's see... There is not any of the usual stuff about how we killed all of the evil doers and saved a princess. It's more just what you can do. You come to villages, destroy them, and kill everyone, sometimes you even take people as hostages. If a person is killed in a village, either a witch put you up to it or you want a sacrifice. Way, someone either becomes either killed or given to the nearby dragons. That is about all I know." I looked up at them. They were whispering among one another about what I had said.

"Thank you Amani, you can leave now. Thank you for talking with us," The purple dragon gave me a small smile on my way out and I smiled back.

"Wait, one more thing, you seem calmer around us than before. I would say you are becoming used to us but it was so sudden. Want to explain?”

“I guess I am starting to believe the villagers are right.” I closed the door behind me and walked back to the river. My tears were coming back when I felt something nudge me in the back. I turned around to see a bear sitting behind me. I couldn’t see Ladon around anywhere so the bear must have ran off again. He sat next to me and I rubbed his head absently. My thoughts drifted back to the village.

I wonder if anyone missed me as much as I missed them. What if the dragon had attacked again? Would they be ready for it? Did they let their guards down because they thought I was dead? If they knew I was still alive, would they blame that on me too? I wasn’t mad, more sad. I didn’t want a dragon to attack the villagers. If I was a witch, all the dragons should stay away from them forever.

A crunch pulled me away from my thoughts. Ladon walked over next to me and sat down. He told Coda that next time he should stay wear he could be found. Then he sent me a smile filled with pity. I glared at him and shook my head. I didn’t want to be pitied, I was fine. He nodded and gave me a real smile. That caused me to smile as well.

Coda stood up and knocked Ladon off the rock. That caused us both to break out laughing. Coda stood above him looking high and mighty. Ladon knocked the bear down and they started wrestling. They fought for about half an hour before Ladon pushed Coda off and stood up. His eyes were dark and he looked angry.

“Someone is here.”

The End

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