A Big Shiny Blue Marble Ch. 37byTaLtos6©
***We last left our dragon rocketing down from the heavens toward an unsuspecting Rachel, who flew a little aimlessly, preoccupied as she was by the ache in her heart.
OK, I just had to start off like that. Thanks for putting up with it. 0_o
The trouble was that there was no murder in Yuan's heart.
At the beginning of her dive, Yuan had been thinking that one pass, and it would all be over, but then she had a thought that there wouldn't be much of the satisfaction that Copper seemed to want so much if she wasn't at least a pivotal part of this. As she came to within about a quarter mile, Yuan could pull enough detail from her view to see that this was quite obviously a female, so that changed her plan entirely.
She slowed a little, remaining hidden and shot by, turning across the demon's path from right to left a good distance in front of her to come around for another pass. The whole thing burned up a lot of the excess speed that Yuan had been carrying and it brought her dead behind the demon at her six o'clock, tucked in, slightly above and out of sight.
Rachel was flying aimlessly. She was spending more time blinking than thinking, but it felt better than walking this way. She was a little startled when she crossed the turbulence of the dragon's wake, but she hadn't seen anything, so she was a little puzzled. Before this, there hadn't even been a hint of a breeze.
And then it was past and the air was smooth and undisturbed again.
Yuan hung back far behind Rachel's tail, trying to think this through. There was supposed to be one male demon somewhere around here with a mane of this color. That there was a female changed a lot of matters from her point of view, because it complicated things. Could they know of each other? Were they related somehow? The thought brought another one up in Yuan's mind. On the wild assumption that the two might know each other, ...
She dropped a little and closed the distance, sliding underneath Rachel and looking up from about thirty feet below. What she saw was purely simple to say.
The demon was purely, ... lovely.
Yuan dropped a little so that she had the clearance to use her wings before she lost too much velocity and even so, she dropped back and moved out to the side about a hundred feet. She climbed enough to be at roughly the same altitude and paced the creature for a time. At this speed and this far away, the turbulence caused by the slow strokes of her wings would be behind the demon by the time that they'd rippled away that far and unless she made a sudden noise or flapped very hard, there was little sound to reach those pretty ears over the rush of the air past them. She flew on, not moving her head, only looking a little sideways.
Eventually, she decided that she'd allow herself to be seen. She was fairly confident of the result, but since she couldn't think of any other option, ...
Rachel saw something peripherally and looked over. There, on her right side a little way off, she saw something; she just wasn't sure what it was -- a shadow or something. Looking over while still keeping an eye on where she was going, she saw a moving blur which was growing more solid. Features began to coalesce and in a few seconds, she saw that there was definitely something there and it was flying by the same means that she was using -- though it was one hell of a lot larger. She could make out a head with a rather long and pointed 'beak' or whatever that was at the end of one long, long neck.
It startled her when she surmised that, whatever it was, she could see that it was regarding her, judging by the way that the one eye that she could see was moving a little.
She slowed then and the creature slid ahead, still flying at the same speed. Rachel saw the long wings then and had to speed up a little to stay ahead of the turbulence that was sure to be near to the tips of those long wings and behind them. When something that large flapped it wings, ...
That brought her neck and neck again, so to speak.
Rachel wondered briefly about her safety, but then she had the thought that since the creature had arrived unseen, then it could just as easily have used that ability to attack her, if that was what it wanted. Maybe it was curious and only wished to get a look at her to see if she was edible, but it didn't make sense to her either. It could do that while invisible just as easily.
It wasn't until the creature pulled ahead slowly that Rachel realized, and that was after moving out farther to stay clear of the upset air which had to lie just beyond the tips of those great wings. She saw the legs and feet and the small adjustments that their movements made to the overall stability of the thing's flight. This far back, she plainly heard the whoosh of each downstroke and she saw a glimpse of the pattern on the topsides of the wings when she had her first clue.
The animal picked up the pace then, beating its wings hard as it descended a little to gain speed. When it soared upwards and crossed in front of her in its climb, well ahead, Rachel's jaw dropped to see the pattern on its back and wings as it looked rather regal in its turn.
Rachel knew that this was a dragon then. It didn't look like one in the textbook sense, but she knew it anyway as it left her behind in fairly short order, but then tuned to come back. She didn't know what to expect really, and the possibility of a midair collision was a little disconcerting, but she held her course and just flew on as it came, well above her at about her eleven o'clock or fairly straight-on but a little to her left.
A few hundred yards out, she watched as it plunged, passing her as it dropped and rising again on the other side to barrel-roll right over her, looking down as she laughed a little and it passed over her upside down from left to right. She had a clue then that she was perfectly safe -- the dragon was playing.
Rachel looked back to see what the dragon was going to do next, but she felt a little sad to see that it just kept on, flying back the way that they'd come. She realized a couple of things then.
She'd actually seen a dragon. She'd flown with a, ... a real dragon.
Rachel shook her head.
Amazing. She even felt just a little bit better.
She reversed her course and flew the other way, telling herself that she had to be getting back anyway. She kept looking, but didn't see the creature again until she saw that she was getting within a few miles of Cheyenne Mountain. She saw it then, and wondered what it was doing, flying fairly low over some of the open sections of water out in the middle of a thawing lake. She was curious so, maintaining her altitude, she passed overhead, trying to figure it out.
Yuan noticed the shadow and doubled back before making another turn to come back, but climbing and gaining speed. It was a bit of work, but she could manage it with less effort than the demon.
Rachel was holding and looking down, but she saw only black water before she saw something else. The long snout of the dragon came into view and then she saw its head looking up at her from twenty feet below. She thought there was something wrong with her ears when she heard it the first time, but she was sure that the thing had made some sound directed at her.
"Did you say, 'fish'?" she called out.
That's when Rachel saw them, the silvery flashes of fish not far below the surface of the cold water below. She hadn't been looking past the surface. She hadn't tasted fish in so long it wasn't worth thinking about, not since the Drow came to her mountain looking for Azrael.
"Want some? I love fish," the dragon said.
"I love fish too," Rachel called down, "But how?"
"Shore," the dragon said in a deep voice, "Left side. Dock. Wait there."
Rachel looked over and she saw the snow-covered concrete pier. It was a thing left over from the days when humans towed pleasure craft behind their cars, back when the surface of these inland lakes were dotted with boats of all descriptions. She didn't know this -- she only saw the pier and knew what it was. There was a large lake near the town where she'd been once and men went out with their nets to fish and sell their catch in the market. In any event, her curiosity was peaked now, so she turned and headed there.
When she'd landed on the pier close to the shore, she saw the remains of many piers and old buildings, most fallen-in long ago with large trees growing around and through them. The nearest inhabited town was closer to Cheyenne Mountain, perched on the edge of the lake not far off. There were no inhabitants to these ruins. She looked out and watched as the dragon sailed lower over the surface.
In seconds, it was on its way back with a large fish in its mouth. The fish landed not far from Rachel - who almost lost it as it fought and wriggled, trying desperately to reach the water near the concrete pilings of the pier. A lot of the pier looked to be in bad shape and she didn't want to want to step there, so she was quick to grab the fish and toss it far back farther away from the water. Finding a good-sized piece of wood, she nailed the fish a few times and it was still.
By the time she'd done it, another fish landed nearby and she laughed as she looked up to wave. She chased that one down and beaned it too. When they had four, the dragon came in for its approach, and landed with a fifth large trout still in its mouth.
Rachel was in awe of the creature, and wondered if she was just supposed to eat the fish like this, but as she looked, the dragon tossed the fish into the air and Rachel followed it with her gaze, wondering if the dragon would just open its mouth and swallow when the fish came back down.
But that didn't happen.
The creature straightened up and grew smaller. As Rachel stared at the dragon -- who looked far more like a dragon now, she saw the fish come down to slip right through the dragon's outstretched arms and land flopping at its feet.
The dragon shrugged, "That is what happens if I try to show off."
Rachel found herself laughing to see the fish almost manage to get away, and that the dragon was little better at running after an escaping trout than she'd been. She clapped her hands in applause anyway.
"Thank you," the creature said with a grin, "My name is Yuan."
"I'm Rachel," she answered laughing, "What now? Do we just sit down and eat? These things are cold as anything."
"No," Yuan smiled, "I want to find a little deadwood and we can cook them."
"Like this?" Rachel asked holding her hand out to the fish at her feet.
"No again," Yuan chuckled, "I can eat them whole as I was there, but, ... well, here, ..." She got down on one knee and deftly gutted and filleted the trout in not much longer than three minutes for all of them, covering the innards and heads with snow and tramping it down to keep the smell from attracting too many noses. Rachel felt her jaw drop. Yuan was doing this with one long claw.
"You're too quick for me," Rachel said over her shoulder as she trotted away to grab some wood. Yuan watched her go and smiled.
She came back with an armful in only a minute and they laughed at each other, "I was hungry for fish before," Yuan said, "but with them here like this, I almost can't wait."
Rachel nodded and in seconds, it seemed, she had the wood arranged and cast on it to light it up as Yuan found sticks to cook them on and they stood watching as the flames did their work.
"Um, I've got to ask something a little stupid here," the demon said, "I've been trying not to be rude and look too hard, but, ... I think I'm a little confused."
Yuan nodded, "You see my chest and lower down, but I am not really made as what I look like?"
"Yeah," Rachel nodded, "I mean, I see girl parts, but the frame, ... your shoulders, ... a-and your face, well..."
She laughed feeling very foolish, "I can't decide if I'd call you beautiful or handsome. I'm sorry, I'm really not trying to make you feel badly here." She looked down, "Just like I'm not trying to sound like an idiot, thought I think I'm failing at that as well."
"It's alright," Yuan smiled, "I confuse many people. Thank you for your compliments anyway. What would you prefer to see in me?"
Rachel looked up at Yuan's face, "I'm not sure that I understand the question."
Yuan reached to turn the fish fillets a little and Rachel was still confused, but she did find that she could admire the dragon -- whatever it was.
"Yuan is a girl's name where I am from," she said, "and I am rather obviously a dragon. I am also part-human."
"I am too," Rachel smiled, "but since we moved here, I'm just usually like this these days. I do like the way that you look, I -- "
"Thank you again," Yuan smiled, "but, ... "
She sighed, looking down at the fish for a moment, "If you are half-human and half-demon, I would guess -- and I hope that I am not about to sound more foolish than I feel -- that you were born this way, which is fine and normal for what you are. I was born a completely human girl. It's a long tale, but I became this way when a full and very old dragon placed one of her eggs in me, next to my heart when I was little. Until then, I was mostly empty inside.
With the egg, I became a person, really. I could speak and be a normal little girl after that. But the egg was a male egg -- with a male dragon inside of it. This, ... affects things. So now, I am all grown up and I can be three things; the human, the dragon which you saw, and this -- what I am now. One is as female as she ever was and cannot be changed, the other is purely a male dragon and that cannot be changed either. Like this well, I can be both, though I look a perhaps a little more female this way. This shape can be changed for a time yet, I think."
She crouched down to carefully lift a fish fillet and offer it to Rachel, who accepted it with a smiling nod. "Thank you -- and thank you for catching the fish as well."
"My pleasure," Yuan smiled, "I am happy to meet someone like you. I expected that you would flutter away in terror when I decided to show myself. I am rather more than pleased that you didn't. It says a lot about you to me. You think before you act. I like that."
Rachel was cautiously trying to nibble at the fish without getting her lips too burned, since it was hot. "How can you change yourself? I didn't quite get that part."
Yuan laughed a little uncomfortably, "It is done using my will. It might say something about me, but until recently, I was always very lonely. I met a demon female and we became friends. She is from a world where there are demons and she is a full mountain demon -- or so they are called there. Quite by accident, we met a male, another from her world. They are the last of their kind and we both liked him, so I tried to make this shape to be as close to them as I could."
She smirked," But it didn't work out the way that I'd hoped it would, so when I left them, I changed this shape to be what I wanted -- with scales instead of smooth skin. With the right person, ... "
She chuckled at herself, shaking her head, "No, depending on what is wanted, what I have can become more, ... male in this shape. I didn't think of it then, but my choice was probably based on the temperature outside at the time. Like this, there's nothing to hang out in the wind, is there?"
Rachel laughed and nodded, "That was probably a wise choice, Yuan." Her smile was contagious and Yuan found herself returning it.
"Anyway," Rachel grinned, "I like the way you look. I was just confused, because I kept seeing things in you -- mannerisms and the way that you move. I think they're really what confused me. Everything that I saw was a dead split, right down the middle. It doesn't really matter to me. I like you. I think I liked you from the first look I got."
Yuan laughed, "Which look? What was I then? You see how even I am confused?"
Rachel shook her head grinning, "BOTH first looks, then. I keep hearing an accent in your voice. You're not from around here, are you?"
"No," Yuan said, shaking her head a little, "I am from China -- or what was China long ago."
Rachel was a little amazed, "How did you get here then?"
"I flew," Yuan said, "I can fly high, and if you wish to go from west to east, and you can reach it, there is almost always a tailwind to be had at these latitudes. I flew from the South China Sea to the Pacific Ocean and I stopped on some islands in the middle where I met Beyl'eth the demon. I carried her in my pack and flew here. Fortunately for her, her kind can take the cold as high as I fly. I am sure that almost anyone else would have died. Where are you from?"
Rachel held up one finger to get Yuan to wait as she finished her mouthful, "Sorry. "I'm from a ways northwest. I was born in some mountains and lived there for most of my life." She looked at Yuan a little searchingly, "Do dragons have some sort of ability to make people want to tell them everything?"
She chuckled a little nervously, looking at Yuan as the dragon ate, "I mean, we don't even know each other because we met like, twenty minutes ago and I like talking to you, but suddenly, I felt like telling you my darkest secrets."
Yuan laughed then and shook her head, "Dragons can see things in others to a varying degree. Sometimes, what we see is startling to say the least, but we cannot see everything and it depends on the other person. I can't see all that far into you, and I do NOT wish to try. I guess that some dragons long ago could word things in ways which might get others to tell the dragon far more than they wished." She grinned at the demon and wiggled her eyebrows up and down mischievously, "Some could manage a rather hypnotic gaze to do it."
She shrugged with a grin, "But I only asked you where you were from, Rachel."
"I know," Rachel nodded, "I guess I'm just feeling a little upset today. I ought to thank you, Yuan. You've been taking my mind off something for me."
Yuan held up her hand, "That part, I am happy about. The other -- what bothers you, ... I have things which bother me too; things which make no sense to me at all and that I find no answer for. So I know how you feel."
They kept talking as they ate, and even after the fish was eaten, Rachel added more wood to the fire and they kept talking. Eventually, it began to grow dark.
"I guess I'd better be thinking about getting home," Rachel said, "and I find that I don't want to go home tonight, for once. My son will be fine for dinner, since it's not my night to cook and he can stay over at his girlfriend's house any time."
Yuan looked over, "His girlfriend? Rachel, you don't look old enough -- "
"Yeah, well I guess I'm almost old enough for that. I had him when I was nineteen. I make it sound a little weird to say it like that. He's not even ten yet, and she's not even eight. They're just really tight friends and they do everything together. She sleeps over at our place often and he's over there just as much. They're just kids and they're the only ones there, so they just became really good buddies. You can't even call one of them without them both showing up." She looked over, "But yes, I guess I am that old."
She looked off into the flames for a moment and then she sighed, "I think that I can see some huge changes coming for Sariel and me."
Yuan looked and saw the wetness in Rachel's eyes.
"I was about to ask a question," she said, "but I think that it would upset you, so I will not. How will you get home? Do you know the way well? I know that you can likely see well in darkness, ..."
"Where will you go, Yuan?" Rachel asked after wiping her eyes.
"To my home," Yuan shrugged, "it will be a busy place now. There is a moose that is likely roasting, and all of my, ... family, I guess you could say will be waiting to eat. The little ones will grow tired after that and playing with my male or maybe Copper, and -"