The rediscovery of an unfamiliar scent. An unexpected ally in a land that's unforgiving.
| A river stretched off into the distance with magnificent mountains craddling the valley in it's bosom. Beautiful hues of purple, blue, and green etched every part of the valley. The cliffs of the river gorge echoed the granite glow of it's walls. The chorus of a distant eagle, the rushing river rapids and the blowing wind, serenaded the graceful beast upon the cliffs. A creature, unlike anything else in the valley, was enjoying the mid afternoon sun on a rocky ledge. The sun's rays bounced along the shining scales sending it's radiant warmth to it's core.
It stretched it's long, scaled neck into the warm breeze;enjoying the consistent supply grazing her jaw. It traveled along her expanse and made her wings flutter a bit. She nestled into it, allowing it to comfort and hold her in it’s warm embrace. This was her kingdom, number one prederator and nothing to worry about. Rest was peaceful and undisturbed for this beast.
It rose powerfully to it's legs. As you would see a lazy housecat raise from a blissful slumber, this beast stretched itself along the ledge. Taking a few minutes in the afternoon sun, it quickly preened a bothersome feather out of it's right shoulder. There was never a need for unnecessary duty. The valley was a paradise in animal terms. The valley was kept mostly safe by it's mountain scapes, the river never fully dried thanks to melting mountain ice caps, and the wildlife was abundant. This was a place any prederator of her calibre would be graced to call it's territory.
Like an eagle her eyes focused on a distant meadow movement. There, in the distance, began to graze a healthy large herd of deer. The beast, who's name was Tharga, felt her mouth water and stomach rumble with the desire for a delicious meal. She spied her targets and slid off the cliff in a silent, prederatory soar. Before the poor does knew what to do, Tharga had already bore her monstrous teeth into one of the herd. Her jaws dripped with the blood from her killer maul. She hovered over her kill, breathing heavily from the effort of the quick descent and the adrenaline. She raised her head instinctually to smell for nearby creatures who would dare attempt such a foolish overtake of her meal.
She lazily ripped a hunk of flesh from the kill and surveyed the field edges. Stopping to take check of the smells she stiffened. This time she rose to her feet, desperately trying to catch that scent again. Unfamiliar. A warm breeze brought the startling reality. Something of her kind was coming on the wind. All survival need in her sprang into action and her flanks started to twitch with nervousness. Caught between her hunger and her internal responses, she stood there testing the air once again.
Tharga reluctantly abandoned her meal, and started a trot across the field slowly building into a full run. At that she stretched out her wings and allowed the wind to catch and raise her up off the ground, folding her front paws under and her hind legs back flush with her tail. This scent was getting stronger and stronger with every breathe of wind, and she needed to find a safe place. She needed it now.
A quick turn of her wings and she flew with great haste to the ridge where she had been resting. She landed with a quick step and fearfully retreated to the part of the ridge where the rocks protruded Taking only a moments time to expose her head to view the field. A form came to shape over the trees of the distant mountain scape. Her eyes like an eagles, her pupils focused unpon the shape. Large, huge wings, the sway of a long tail. Tharga cocked her head behind her cover, processing the bring she just witnessed over the valley wall. A roar in the distance; Tharge's body stiffened.
Long wings, murderous looking talons and a deadly force of muscles and brute size landed harshly in the field not far from where Tharga had only just recently fed. This dragon worked it's way, as if drawn, to the nearby stream and drank for what seemed an eternity to the frightened Tharga. As the strange creature finished it's exhausting drink, it raised it's head; nostrils flaring with a slight ferocity. It took in many breathes as it assessed the air before casually walking over to the fresh kill. It circled a few times checking the ground and grasses before diving into the fresh carcass. Only a few bites and anything worth a quick snatch had disappeared. The creature surveyed the field, darting from the left to the right he spent several seconds staring in one spot before finally swallowing the massive chews to then move focus to another corner of the area. He was unstoppable.
Tharga moved closer to the rocks, never moving her eyes from the figure searching her out. She rested like a cat poised in it's stealth. She watched as the figure double and triple checked the expanse of the area. She observed as it rapidly devoured her meal. Lucky enough for her, for on this day, the winds would bare in her favor. She was down wind; he couldn’t sense her but she knew well enough what he was doing, or more accurately, trying to do. She glanced around the rocky outcrop she was on. She assessed each option. Nothing that would distract her movements. The left was a near straight drop and would leave her exposed in the skies. The right was a long slope where she would be instantly seen upon it's face, and the rear was dense bush would bring uninvited attention to her whereabouts. She was purely and unarguably trapped. And as she returned focus to the new visitor she would suddenly notice that the creature was facing her direction, purely focused on her and the seemingly odd movements of her seeking a safe escape.
Instinct took over and Tharga's flight or fight kicked into full force; she used every muscle in her body to launch herself left off the cliff. She sailed with little effort, catching the warm breezes which carried her upwards and through the valley. At the same moment she took off, the creature in the field did the same; speeding across the field and using quick thermal rises to bring himself closer to the beast he was tracking. Nostrils flared and wings beat the air. Pulses thumped rhythmically with the intense motions of it's creator. The valley narrowed into a funnel with a small stream running within it's bosom and the beings raced along it's winding path. No way up, only straight ahead. Neither would admit defeat as they traveled effortlessly using the running breeze of the valley. Slowly but surely the other draconic began to make up distance.
Rock and trees disappeared alongside the drying riverbed with great speed. Tharga after a few minutes began to lose energy drastically. Even cheetas must stop after a time and this was Tharga's. Her vision began to blur at the edges and her wings became increasingly difficult for her to raise. She faltered and the next turn proved too difficult; Tharga bounced her rear thigh off a protruding edge which caused her to suddenly descend to a near by shore line.
This is it, she thought frighteningly. Tharga turned in half circles like a trapped animal. The hit to the cliff wall had injured her hind leg, and she gingerly hopped around not putting weight on her aching limb. All she could do was wait for the dragon that was pursuing her, all she could do was prepare herself for the worst. The smell of pine and spruce trees, along with damp moss with the running water, mixed with the cooled ground breeze.
The massive beast saw the impact to the cliff wall and had slowed his flight. As he rounded the corner of the gorge he saw her descend. Quick and into the bushes she scurried, like a fox in a hunt, he saw her hide. He quickly landed down the shoreline, among the polished riverbed rocks and sand bars. His bulk caused the rocks to shift which made him extend his wings and raise his tail for balance. This beast stood with equine grace, and a retriever like curiousity. It slinked down the beach to the area where the injured dragonness laid in wait.
A small lining of sapplings blocked view of each of the creatures. As the large pursuer sniffed around the trunks he could distinctly hear the sound of territorial fear stomps from Tharga. With the knowing of the chances it was taking, he lowered his head and submissively brought his muzzle through the trees. No attacks yet. He then pressed forward until his head was clear out of the trees when he got his first glimpse of Tharga. She was frightened and injured, dangerous for her to be cornered but necessity pushed him beyond his normal comforts.
The mysterious dragon entered into the small clearing as Tharga still continued her defensive stance. Each on ready to launch a vicious assault, they stared. The one with neck lowered and submissive and the other hunched and threatening. Her injury was throbbing and beginning to burn. His wings were stiff and exhausted from many days of flight. Both were a sad sight to behold, even in all their majesty.
The one dragon bore a body of extremely large wings, and a body with brown and shale variations throughout. Deep scars marred the hide with the odd missing patch of scale. Wings displayed large muscles of tools built for long distance flight and battle. The looks of the creature was that of one having survived many fantastic battles and may have well been once prominent member of a clan. Tharga herself held the image of a slender delicate creature meant for grace and subtley within the dragon kin. Her brood was meant for hiding and quick escape, nothing like this intruder. This meeting ran as smoothly as any power for dominance or acceptance in a wolf's hierachy. He made one step too close and Tharge lunged at the creature, beating him back with quick bites and furious talons. He submitted and she agonizingly took off down the river, bellowing a long and warning shout of anger and pain down the river gorge. Rainyiis just stood and contemplated his first encounter with the timid, injured female.
Managing to only fly a kilometer down stream, Tharga reluctantly took means to find a place where she would nurse her injured hind leg. She landed and painfully hobbled to a sanded, sunny spot on the shoreline. She nuzzled the leg with great tenderness and licked the damaged scales of the point of impact. Mostly bruising and a small cut with some muscle strain, it would heal. But for the next while she would continue to rest and allow the injury to heal. With no warning a large buck slammed into the rock bed a few feet from the dragonnes. Hopping to her feet she growled deeply before seeing a shadow over top. From a high perch Rainyiis calmly kept his eyes upon the dragonness as he watched her suspiciously and anxiously slithered to the dropped buck. She cautiously smelled the carcass before taking a few hurried rips of flesh from the creature. It would be reduced to bones within a few minutes. The whole time Tharga would be watched by Rainyiis from his cliffside seat.