The tranquility of the forest was suddenly broken, and the beast raised its head in quizzical surprise, disturbed during its midday nap.
The sun was shining brightly overhead but little light pierced through the canopy, making the forest floor dark and gloomy.
It smelled of rotting mosses and old coals, a dusty and smoky and earthy scent that clung in the nostrils, a smell of life and death entwined, the smell of eternity.
The beast sniffed the air carefully, evaluating the distance between itself and the creature. It was tired, wanted a rest: it had flown from the North all throughout the night, not taking rest in over a week to reach the ancient nesting grounds. Sleep was necessary to replenish itself and be ready for the reunion with the others...
It lay down its head on its paws and sighed deeply, letting a little smoke pour out of its nostrils. Really exhausted, all it wanted was to sleep.
But the sounds came again, irritating chirpings that prevented the beast from sleeping. Growling in annoyance, it rose on its front paws, making horrible creaking sounds as it deployed its attack fins.
Whatever was making that noise would regret ever seeing the light of day!
It didn't take very long to zero in on the noisemaker. The screechings were louder with every heavy step the beast took.
The forest now smelled of sulphur, an electric scent that could only spur one to run and hide, sensing imminent danger.
Any creature in its right mind would have run as quickly as its legs could carry it... but the noise-maker was staying put, only continuing with the irritating chirpings.
The beast rounded a huge tree that had been standing there for thousands of years, with roots spanning for hundreds of meters, roots that made near caverns with their intricate reseau of connection with the earth... and this was where the creature was hiding.
The beast could sense it now, see it in a blur of red and blue, huddling against the moss-covered roots, hugging itself, making those sounds and shedding water on itself.
For a long moment, the beast stared at the creature in puzzlement. Had it no instincts? Had it no senses?
It was not petrified in fear, it had not even noticed the beast. How could it not have noticed something 100 times its size, a thousand times its strength, capable of tearing it apart with a slash from its talons?
How could it not have that instinct to run, to be quiet, and hide while the enemy was on the prowl?
It smelled distress, the water it was shedding was a sure sign of it. Sadness poured out of its every pore, and fear, but not fear of immediate death, that visceral feeling that changed the scent of every being on this cursed earth.
The beast rocked back and forth as it tried to assess what to do now. Its eyelids were drooping on its yellow green eyes, it had trouble not collapsing in slumber right there and then.
The creature was pitiful and not even worth attention; the beast had much better things to do and ponder about, slumber being forefront on its mind.
Tiptoeing was not something you would expect from such a mastodont but it attempted just that, deciding to travel far away from the thing to have peace should it start its infernal whining again. It appeared to have fallen asleep, now was the time to get away and never set eyes on such a poor parody of a creature again.
The beast froze when the thing cooed loudly; it was awake and looking at the majestic being in front of it with wonder.
The scent had changed abruptly, no longer fear, no longer despair; it now reeked of happiness.
Fearless, it jumped on scratched legs ( the forest had huge areas of brambles even the beast would not dare go into) and extended a hand forward to touch the iridescent scales, attracted by the glow of colors that reflected the bit of light that filtered down.
It was fascinating and almost frightening, this thing felt no fear whatsoever. The beast recognized its species although it had never seen one so small, nor with that scent.
The only ones it had seen rode creatures of the land, fast runners and hard workers, aware of the order of things.
But those who rode them cared nothing for the laws of nature, were daunting and defying always. Some beasts had even fallen prey to their evil, and their horns now adorned the tents or dwellings of the hunters.
The beast had never encountered a hunting party, nor would it ever be so foolish as to let itself be caught by such puny creatures... But this thing was puzzling in its incredible trust, in its complete lack of fear. How could it not be aware of what such an encounter represented?
The beast was tired and not ready to wrap its mind around such a conundrum. Other creatures ran from it, cringed when it flew overhead, and the smell of the fear was the most pleasant it knew. Power, the order of things, the rule of nature.
The thing was staring at the beast with something that reeked of... the beast almost recoiled with fear when it identified the scent. What it associated with younglings with their mother; never in its life had that scent been directed towards a being like it. Mothers reared the offspring alone, fearing the males would find the nest the way, the true way of Nature.
This thing considered the beast its mother?
The thought was almost horrifying, what had happened to this pitiful creature so that it forget and forgo all convential laws?
Despite itself, pushed by curiosity it never knew it had, the beast lowered its head to look at the thing with its inner eyes. The outer coverings protected the orbs from damage, but it also blurred the images to see heat and movement only, while the inner eyes could detail objects and things much more clearly.
There was some danger to this exposition, the inner eyes were one of the most vulnerable spots on its body, but it had to see what the thing looked like.
A blurb of red with a fast-paced heart became a small biped with long flowing straw-colored hair, tiny eyes full of happiness now, not water. It seemed happy to see the beast's eyes from so close. A youngling female of the species, usually such things were protected, not left to fend for themselves...
Or maybe the world was changing much faster than the beast would have liked to acknowledge...
Its breath was on the youngling, smells of sulfur and fire and it giggled at the heat coming from the nostrils... and astonishing the beast, leaned forward to give it a sort of tap from its snout. From its scent, this seemed to be a measure of respect and adoration.
The beast was puzzled without bounds, especially when it rose back up and the youngling raised its tiny arms and started watering from the eyes again, making the insufferable chirpings of sadness.
The thing wanted it back, wanted to be close to it, needed its presence to feel... safe?
The beast felt a little off-balance, incapable of understanding such impossible behavior. This was simply incomprehensible.
It lowered its head again and the thing' s snout changed from a pout to a crack that showed white teeth, the smell was happy again... when it saw water falling from the beast' s eyes, its scent changed to puzzled.
It seemed to want to give the beast a hug, but it never had the chance to finish its movement.
Dragons' eyes watered when the fire rose from their lungs to be expulsed by the nostrils; it was physiological and had nothing to do with their emotions.
The fire was not very powerful, only meant to char the flesh as it tasted much better this way.
The beast finished chewing the thing in two chomps, as it was tiny, barely a morsel... and only served to make it realize how hungry it was.
Now it would have to go hunt... perhaps for more of those things, hopefully it would cause some fear in them, the meat always tasted better when it was properly seasoned by the twang of fear.
But first, it could now rest in peace...
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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Original narrative & well developed characters