Chapter IV: Company
Excited with my newly found ability to speak, I exited the shack, resuming my trek through my neighbor's backyard. I looked up. The sun was high in the sky. 'It's probably past noon. Glad I didn't sleep all day.' I climbed down the hill, towards the grass, careful to watch my step and my tail to prevent painful accidents. As I neared the grassy fields, I crouched to reduce the chance of being seen. I slowly crawled, until I reached a well. 'Good, I'm on the right track.' I veered slightly to the left. There was a wall on my right, bramble bushes to my left and the well hid me from behind. I was out of sight. After a last careful look around, I relented my crouching position and took off running. I raced through the dirt path that would end on a road. As I neared the latter, I slowed my pace to a trot, then to a walk, until I finally stopped.
I looked at the road. It looked really wide. 'The chicken crossed it, now it's the dragon's turn.' Suddenly I hear a faint buzz. I whip my head around, but there was nothing behind me. The buzz turned into a growl, which in turn became a roar. Realization dawned on me. 'It's a car!' I looked around for a place to hide, finding only the bramble bush. 'This is going to hurt...' I dashed towards the pointy plants and tried to hide as well as I could. I growled as I felt pricks all over my body. The roar increased in intesity up to a barely endurable level. For a split second, I saw the source of the noise. After that moment, its volume sharply decreased in a few seconds, slowing down its pace, but never stopping, until I could no longer hear the car.
I slowly left my hiding place, careful not to damage my body any further. I looked myself over and saw lots of tiny red spots, each one slowly oozing blood. It wasn't life threatening in any way, but it was still painful. Once again, I felt the urge to lick all those crimson specks, meeting no resistance on my part. My forked tongue moved towards the pain and began its job. I hissed as it stung my flesh, but soon the ache died down to a gentle throb. I repeated this process over my entire body, hissing each time my tongue touched an injured spot, particularly on my wings. After several minutes of tongue bathing, I decided to stop. I was thoroughly covered in dragon saliva, save from some spots I couldn't reach or see, such as my muzzle or my earfins. Hopefully all that drool would dry out soon.
I looked once again at the road. Hearing nothing, I slowly approached it. I strained my ears to their maximum, but there was nothing nearby. I looked to both sides just to be sure. After a brief moment, I started running as fast as my small legs would allow me. I crossed the road in a few seconds, although it felt like a few minutes, and reached the other side. Suddenly, I realized the ground dropped a few meters into a small river. I desperately tried to stop and turn back, but something, which I could now identify as instinct, took over. I felt myself jump and open my wings. I watched as I glided above the fast paced water and landed safely onto the riverside. On that instant, I regained control of my body. I breathed and trembled heavily, both from the exertion and from the adrenaline. I allowed myself a moment to rest, but alas, it wasn't meant to last, for I heard another annoying buzz. Before it grew too loud, I dropped to the ground and lay there still. Hopefully the gap would hide me from view. I heard the car passing by and sighed in relief. It didn't stop. When I could no longer hear the vehicle, I lifted myself up and resumed walking. Ahead of me was a large and steep hill, with a lot of trees and smaller plants. There were also a few houses, which I definitely wanted to avoid. I looked around to make sure no one had seen me, braced myself, and proceeded to climb.
"Ow!", I tried to say as I once again tripped over a plant and fell, but no more than a squeak came out of my muzzle. I growled with irritation and got up again. Suddenly, my earfins twitched as I heard a series of faint thuds coming from my right. As the noise became louder, I realized it was the sound of footsteps. I searched frantically for a place to hide, finding a small bush on my left. I dived towards it, half-expecting to be turned into a living pincushion again but thankfully, the shrub was thorn free. I watched as a man, maybe on his thirties, passed by. I shifted my position to make myself more comfortable. Unfortunately, I must've made a lot of noise, for the man stopped and looked around, trying to find its source. I froze. After a few excruciantingly long seconds, he shrugged and continued walking. I sighed in relief. 'I have to be more careful', I thought. As I stopped hearing footsteps, I came out of my hiding place. I looked behind me just to make sure the threat was gone and then I walked away.
'How much farther?' I asked myself. I wasn't tired, just impatient. I paused. 'Well, I guess I'll have to trade one thing for the other'. I took off running, dodging trees, bushes and the occasional nettle. As my stamina decreased, I noticed the same was happening to the incline. 'I must be near the top' I thought. Ignoring my tiredness, I ran with renewed vigor. After a few moments, I reached the top and noticed, with amusement, the old crooked tree I could see from my house was in front of me. 'I must've veered east.'. Panting heavily, I flopped down on the grass and rested. Strangely, I wasn't sweating. Instead I felt something on my wings and earfins and felt an urge to stretch the former. I did so and slowly, I began to cool down. 'My wings and earfins must be acting like an elephant's ears: cooling down the blood flowing through them. As that blood courses through the rest of my body, it freshens me up.'
When my breathing and heart beat slowed down to a comfortable rate, I got up and took a moment to admire the landscape before me. Not much was to be said. Basically, trees, mainly eucalyptus and pine trees, houses and a woman staring at me with bulging eyes. 'Wait, what?!' I blinked rapidly, as if to make sure it wasn't an illusion but she was still there. She started to back away, but I stayed put. When she was a considerable distance away, she turned and ran. I attempted a shrug, but stopped myself just in time. A crazy idea crossed my mind. I slowly tried to stand on my hindlegs, but found myself unable to. The strain was too much. 'I'll have to do it fast.' I crouched and readied myself for a burst of strength. 'Ungh!' I pushed as hard as I could and quickly found myself standing on two legs. As I attempted to shrug, I noticed I was losing my balance. I had put too much strength on my push. I desperately tried to regain equilibrium but it was of no use. I fell backwards with a painful thud. I growled and groaned. I tried to roll to the side, but a sharp pain on my wing made me stop. 'What?...' My wings were stopping me from rolling. 'Just great...'. I tried to heave myself up in the same way I did abdominals, with some success. As I rose more and more, it became more dificult to do so, and I soon found myself growling and trembling with the effort. Growing a bit desperate, I used my wings to ease the strain on my stomach. The combined might from those muscles hoisted me up and I quickly dropped back on all fours. I sighed in relief. 'I probably shouldn't do that again.' Still trembling a little, I laid down. Suddenly, my thoughts returned to the woman that saw me. 'What if she tells someone?'. If I were a human, I would've struck my face with my palm. As a dragon though, it probably wouldn't be a good idea, given the fact I had claws. 'Who will believe there's a blue lizard with wings out there? Save for me, of course...' As if to answer my question, between the myriad of scents around me, I detected one that stood out from all others. I darted my tongue rapidly in order to find the source, realizing I had been doing that the entire time without noticing, although at a slower rate. As I moved and the smell became stronger, strange signals started to course through my body. I soon found myself attracted and started running. Suddenly, my instinct figured out the origin of the alluring scent. One word rang clearly in my mind. My jaw dropped mid-sprint in disbelief. I had to see for myself. I forced myself to run even faster, barely dodging a tree due to my gawking. The smell became even stronger and I started to become intoxicated by it. Just when I couldn't bear it anymore, its source appeared. I skidded to a stop. There, in front of my very eyes, was the sight I least expected to see.