34 First Impressions
Anya's mind was in disarray. The prospect of a painful fiery death had seemed quite certain until someone intervened. Who or what it was, she could not determine from where she had collapsed.
And before she could think to escape, a blinding flash of light robbed her of her most important sense.
In her blinded confusion, Anya felt something grab her, and for a terrible moment, she felt certain she was about to be crushed between the massive jaws of the fiery drake.
Instead however, Anya felt herself uncomfortably thrown onto something that was running at high speeds, forcing her to grab hold of the nearest object to prevent herself from falling off.
When her fingers grabbed hold of the closest available purchase, she gasped at the sensation of warm smooth scales beneath her fingers.
Still blind with tears running down her face, she could only hold on for dear life as whatever was carrying her continued to race away.
Gradually, her vision returned as the breeze from the high speed movement whipped past her body, drying the sweat from her hair.
When she could finally make out the figure that had carried her away, she nearly let go of its neck in surprise and terror.
She would have shrieked if the wind wasn't forcing her mouth shut.
It's another drake! Anya felt the trauma from three years ago swing back in full force. A drake had destroyed her home, and now she was on top of one!
If she wasn't so exhausted, Anya would have attempted to jump off and run away from the creature that had been haunting her nightmares for so long.
Unfortunately for her, giving her all to defend against the fire drake meant that she was running on fumes.
Not really understanding what was happening, it took all of her concentration to prevent herself from falling off. She couldn't even gather the ambient wind energy to replenish herself.
All she knew was that she was moving away from the terrible fire drake, and the more away she was from it, the better.
Two hours past like this until Finn finally came to a halt. An hour ago, Finn felt the last traces of the inferno beast fade away, which likely meant it wasn't pursuing them. To be extra safe, Finn ran further than what was probably necessary.
I guess it decided we were too much trouble to chase down? Finn was actually surprised that it gave up on following them. As he looked back in the direction where they came, he felt the girl collapse off his back.
Turning around in surprise, Finn saw her backing away quickly, holding her shield between herself and him. She backed herself up to a tree, pulling out her shortsword and pointing it at him in the process, as if she expected him to attack.
Finn titled his head in confusion, before he again realized that he was in fact not a very old man, but instead a large magical lizard beast. Any other type of reaction except hers would have been abnormal in most circumstances, the thought making Finn sigh internally.
Anya held her shield and sword defensively against the drake across from her. There were too many questions, the main one being...
Why did it save me? Having grown up in the Kurugo Woods, Anya had been taught by her father how to hunt and observe magical beasts. Their behaviors were now very predictable to her, and hunting them was simply a way of life.
Although Anya's father had mentioned before that magical beasts of higher ranks were usually more intelligent, even the fire drake only had a basic level of intelligence. If it had been smarter, it wouldn't have been so easily baited into following her.
However, even with all her accumulated experience on the subject of magical beasts, Anya could not explain why the white scaled drake across from her had essentially saved her life.
Her first instinct was to think it was a trick or trap of some kind, but that possibility was quickly ruled out due to the fact that it was a magical beast. What ulterior motives could a beast possibly have?
If it wanted to kill me, why is it simply watching me? Anya could see this drake's golden irises watching her as she adjusted her position.
For some baffling reason, she didn't feel any sense of malice or hunger in its gaze. From the way its head was titled and its sitting position, it actually looked more curious than anything.
What? Although much less common, Anya knew of magical beasts that had docile and even friendly natures, but drake's were notorious for being highly aggressive and short tempered, regardless of their elemental affinity.
In one of his many stories, her father had explained that it was due to their immense pride. They were partial descendants of the infamous dragon race, who were one of the most powerful creatures that existed.
Unlike actual dragons however, drakes were land bound and never grew wings. Because of this they were sometimes referred to as land dragons.
Even having only traces of a dragon's bloodline made drake's incredibly strong and arrogant, which made them very aggressive.
This one however, did not seem hostile in the least. There was an intense contradiction in front of her that Anya had no answer or response for.
Standing up from her sitting position, Anya cautiously spoke while readjusting her shield protectively. "What do you want beast?"
Finn's utter joy at finally hearing another person's voice was countered by the fact that he couldn't understand what she was saying.
Another language! Of course she speaks in another language! Why wouldn't she speak in another language? Finn felt his frustrations explode after recalling how long it had taken to learn Bryn's language when he first arrived here.
It was like starting back at square one, and now it was going to take that much longer to explain that he needed her help.
Anya's breath caught in her throat. For a scary moment, she thought she angered the beast by speaking to it from how it was growling and swinging its head around in apparent displeasure, but then it simply plopped down onto the ground and huffed.
Anya's eyebrow twitched. This massive and dangerous drake that could tear her apart easily just threw what looked like a childish temper tantrum. She was at a loss for words.
After Finn vented his frustration, he laid upon the ground and started thinking about how he was going to get her help. Examining the girl closer, he confirmed that she was indeed burned in several places.
Finn felt his frustration dissipate as his concern grew. From those burns, Finn could tell that she was likely in pain.
Poor thing... the girl didn't look that much older than Bryn, and yet Finn had watched her bravely fight a creature she was no match for. Hell, even he was no match for such a beast.
Finn knew what he needed to do. Standing up, he slowly crept towards the girl, one step at a time. Naturally, she became extremely wary at his sudden approach.
Finn only now realized how much he had grown, for now he was looking down at the girl that was taller than Bryn as she looked up at him in fear. She held her shield tightly to her body, ready for any sudden attack.
Do I really look that scary... Her reaction made him slightly depressed. Deep down he was just an old man. Helping her would be the only way to earn goodwill.
That being said, Finn remained cautious of her shield. He had seen the miraculous way it created wind storms when she powered it with her energy.
Standing over the girl, Finn opened his mouth and began channeling energy down a familiar path.
Anya was truly frightened. Looking up, she could see the white scales drake open its mouth to reveal razor sharp teeth that could bite her in half.
What's it doing? Is it going to bite me? Burn me to a crisp? Anya listed the possibilities as she prepared for the worst. Drained of energy, she felt weak and powerless.
Closing her eyes Anya prepared for the end. Only... the end never came like she imagined. All of a sudden, she felt an unbelievably soothing sensation coming from all the burns on her pale skin.
Opening her eyes in surprise, Anya looked up to see golden mist-like energy pouring out of the drake's mouth. As it fell upon her, all the pain she only just now realized she was in began to fade away. A wave of relief flooded her body as she unwittingly slid to the ground.
Anya watched as the burnt skin on her arms regrew at a rate visible to the naked eye, leaving nothing behind but unblemished pale skin. Even her physical fatigue began to fade, it was a wonderful feeling.
Without even realizing it, Anya began to close her eyes as she dropped her sword to the ground. The accumulated stress and tension in her body were unwinding due to the soothing effects of the healing mist, and she felt warm and comfortable.
Finn continued to provide healing energy to the poor girl as she slowly sank to the ground. He was satisfied to see her wounds and burns were healing beautifully, just as he'd hoped.
After a few minutes passed, Finn ceased his flow of energy. All her visible wounds were now gone, and Finn was shocked to see that the girl had actually fallen asleep in the shade of the tree.
Looking around, Finn decided he didn't have it in him to wake the poor girl up. I can wait till tomorrow... The sun was still up and Finn decided he would simply sunbath and sleep to the next day.
Finn curled himself protectively around the girl as he laid upon the ground. Closing his eyes, he began channeling sunlight.
Without noticing, the golden aura Finn emitted while sunbathing continued to wash over the girl, providing her with continuous warmth and comfort.
The rest of the day past by peacefully, and the duo slept soundly through the night.
Anya dreamed of her village. Of the times she fought with her brother over who got to practice with dad's bow. Of the times she snuck into berries into her friend's shoes as a prank. Of the times she was scolded by her father for her pranks.
All happy memories that filtered though her mind as she slept soundly. As sunlight from a new day began shining into her eyes, Anya finally stirred.
When she finally opened her eyes, Anya sat up and stretched, feeling completely rejuvenated. What great sleep... For a precious moment, Anya remained blissfully unaware as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes, her hair disheveled from sleeping on the ground.
Then, reality came knocking with the subtlety of a war hammer. All at once, memories of the day prior flashed back. Anya remembered everything.
Anya jumped to her feet in confusion and found herself face to face with a certain white scaled drake, who was looking at her with a questioning glance.
"Ah!" Anya yelped in surprise as she backed up into the tree and bumped her head painfully. Crouching low, she rubbed her sore spot while muttering curses.
What in the world is this girl doing? Internally, Finn was laughing at her amusing display.
When she finally regained her bearings, Anya found herself lost in thought. I almost died, and yet, you saved and helped me. Anya looked up at the drake, who titled its head back in a questioning manner.
Anya grit her teeth. Gathering her courage, she stood up and reached her hand out, slowly creeping towards the white scaled drake.
As Finn was laying down, his head was just about at her eye level, and he watched her actions with interest.
Anya still felt fear towards this creature, for it reminded her too much of the fire drake, but it did save her life. There was no denying that.
As she inched closer, Finn found himself holding his breath, not really understanding her intentions. When she was right in front of him, she reached out.
Finn didn't move a muscle, not so much as a twitch as the girl touched the side of his face. A second that felt like an eternity passed, and then he heard the girl laugh before saying something he couldn't understand.
"You are a gentle and kind beast, aren't you? That's why you saved me?" Anya giggled a bit as she grabbed the drake's head with both hands. To her, the situation was almost surreal. By all accounts I should be dead...
Finn felt dumbfounded as the girl hugged his head. He was further stunned when he smelled salt. The girl had started crying as she hugged him while whispering something.
Anya felt tears build in her eyes as she thought about what could have been. Hugging the beast that had saved her she whispered softly, "Thank you for saving my life."
Although Finn still didn't understand her, he could make a guess. Deciding to let the poor girl vent her sorrow, he relaxed his head into her hug.