by Than Pence
Dhava is waiting on a buyer for her beloved Pony. But he's late!
|She walked around the beast, admiring the smooth scales. She could feel deep, rhythmic breathes. Dhava felt a tingle as she realized this might be the last time she saw her glorious mount.
Pony, her shimmering flying drake, was about to be purchased by a man Dhava had never met. Growing anxious, she checked her timepiece and chewed her lip. Her eyes began to water, but not from emotions. It was part of the reason for having to give up Pony: her eyes were degrading by the day. By the hour, she thought.
Looking at the night sky, Dhava wiped her tears and contemplated the time. This perfect stranger, Cordon Pullups, was supposed to be here. Numerous messages had been shared with some involving pigeons or conventional ConnecStones.
In the end, a price and pick-up time had been set: today, the fourth of Polaytra. But the time had lapsed. Dhava tapped her timepiece and wondered if the charm had faded. Charmed artifacts tended to drain quickly when operating near dragons. “But that doesn’t explain why he’s not here.” She looked to the sky again. They had agreed that Cordon would arrive within the first hour of moonlight. Now midnight was fast approaching and Dhava needed sleep soon.
Her new job at the mucking stalls started tomorrow. Pony breathed deep again. Dhava could feel it in the soles of her feet this time.
She hated having to give up her mount, but Dhava knew that she’d seen many Riders clutch to the reins when their vision had succumbed to Skelton’s Sight. “I’ll not be another statistic, Pony. I can’t ‘Ride ‘til I die’, as the saying goes.” The dragon raised part of it’s brow at her voice. Dhava sighed again and sat on the ground, her hand instinctively finding the spot behind his right head ridge.
Her mind raced, thinking of how it’d come to this: selling her prized dragon the night before she was to muck out pig stalls in a low-paying, disgraceful job. “There’s no disgrace in working!” her mother would say. “Job’s a job when ya got mouths to feed and hubby to keep happy!”
But Dhava had none of that. She’d fallen in love with flying. She’d gotten bitten by the thrill of guiding your drake through a tight spiral and nearly passing out from the exhilaration. She—
She screamed. Pony, equally startled, turned toward the man. Unfortunately, his tail accidently swiped the man and knocked him back with a hearty “Ooomph”.
“W-who’re you?” She brushed long strands of black hair from her face to get a better look. He didn’t look like a Cordon. He looked like a letch. Or an idiot. “Are you…?”
She let the question dangle as the stranger rolled onto his side, paused, then stood. He dusted himself off and rubbed what was probably a soreness introduced by Pony’s stout tail. Finally, he answered. “I’m Cordon Pullups.”
“I’m waitin’ for a Pull-ups, guy.”
Smiling, the man stretched out his hand. “I should’ve clarified the pronunciation during our final ConnecStone transmission. I’m Cordon Pull-u. I’m here about…” He gestured.
He raised his eyebrows at the name. “And why call him…?”
“He likes ponies..”
“Yes, indeed. You have the gems?”
Cordon frowned, squinting at Pony. Dhava noticed he wasn’t carrying a satchel of any kind that might house four thousand dings worth of gems. Her pulse began to quicken. “Pony,” he began. “What’s his breed?”
“What do you mean? He’s a shimmering drake. A flier.”
“I mean his race. What race his he?”
Dhava was becoming incredulous over the questions. “What difference does it make? A dragon like Pony comes along once in a lifetime. He’s quick, fast—”
“Those are the same…”
“—and…! He’s amazing! I’ve never seen such a genuinely tender and beautiful mount. Not ever.” She met Cordon’s eyes, wiping her own in the process. “And his race has nothing to do with it, Mister Pullups!.
“I know what you said!” she moved close to Pony, who had determined the man to be harmless and was back on the ground, watching Dhava. Finally, she looked at Cordon and asked, “Where are the gems?”
“Ah.” He gulped. “That’s… That is where your generosity comes into play.”
She rolled her eyes. “No.” She gathered Pony’s reins to guide him back to the stable.
“Just hear me out! I’m entered into a race two days from now. I don’t have a mount but the fee is nonrefundable.”
“Would this fee happen to be the same amount of money that is owed to me for this darling dragon?”
“Figures,” she snorted.
“Look, I’m well-off. But my financials aren’t exactly liquid. Once I win, I’ll buy P-Pony. Outright.”
His eyes rolled. “How much interest could accumulate in two days? The wheat germ index in Gordeg was less than one-tenth of one per—”
“Twenty-five percent interest. And I’m the jockey!”
Cordon’s eyes widened again. “But you… Skelton’s…”
Dhava looked at Pony, the dragon meeting her gaze. His eye color was a deep red that folded in on itself in a wondrous pattern. Like blooming roses in a complex garden. “This’ll be my last,” she said low, sniffling.
“What’s that?” asked Cordon. “I’m… I’m not sure…”
“I said it’ll be my last!” She huffed. “I’m not ready to say goodbye. Not yet.”
Cordon smiled. “Alright, then. I’ll see you on the sixth.”
“Bring a pony.” She slapped Pony on the flank. “He likes to digest while he’s racing.”
Cordon’s face turned a shade of green as he nodded and walked down the other side of hill. Dhava saw what she thought were servicemen down there, and some small horses. Pony caught sight: he began to pad his paws into the earth and salivate.
She cooed into the drake’s ear. “I’ll make sure you get his best one, Pony.” The dragon nodded. Dhava wiped her tears one more time. “The very best, for a nice goodbye.”
Word Count: 998