The Neven Forest slowly disappeared behind the dragon and folf as they entered the new, unfamiliar part of Fir. A bright, sunny sky lit the massive plains in front of them, Galde. Pyren swung his sword recklessly, enjoying just how good it felt to finally be a swordsfolf. “We’re gonna have to stop soon to get some rest,” said Ark, as he and Pyren trudged on. “Finally, a little bit of real, uninterrupted sleep! We’ve been walking for AGES!” exclaimed Pyren, stretching his orange-furred arms. Ark held his book out as he walked, using it as a guide to their next location. “We’ve made it out of the forest. It looks like our destination is close to a town,” he said, comparing it to the more detailed map of Fir they had gotten from their mother. The map was written in the draconic language, but with Ark’s prior knowledge he understood the necessary bits and pieces. One thing Iris was vigilant on was education. “We still don’t have any money. It’s not like we can just give them another jewel, you know!” said Pyren, jokingly. “Hey, it was your idea! I was the one who wanted to hold onto it!” said Ark. “And starve?” laughed Pyren. The two made their way towards the town Ark mentioned, until Pyren had a curious idea. “Mom did say she’d be happy as long as it helped us, and it DID save our lives,” he said, shrugging. “I guess you’re right. We’ll figure something out once we get there,” said Ark, holding a claw up to his forehead in order to see what was ahead.
Up ahead on the path was the first sign of civilization Pyren and Ark had ever seen. It was quite grand compared to the quaint little abode they had resided in, with plenty of farms and travelers going in and out of the many entrances. According to the sign at the gate, it was a trading city called Andea. No opposition awaited them at the gate, no soldiers, nothing. Andea was totally open and welcome to all. Thinking carefully, Ark recalled his mother’s words from years prior. Despite his and Pyren’s close bond, he was on his guard. He brought his wings in to blend into the crowd. Perhaps no one would pay him any mind. Walking into the plaza, The brothers were met with something unlike anything they had ever seen before. Furs of all sorts and colors scampered about their daily lives, moving in and out of the many buildings that surrounded them. There were stalls all around the town square, each one advertising some amazing new food or commodity. The paved roads were filled with more people than they could have ever hoped to imagine in their tiny mountain home. Ark was cautious to not make any unwanted fuss, but Pyren, on the other paw, was totally blown away. To ask for directions, he tapped the first Fur he saw without any care as to the consequences. “Excuse me, but could you show us where the inn in this town is? We’re travelers,” he said in the most professional voice he could muster. The wolf he had hailed had light grey fur and a faint blue color in his shy looking eyes. “Umm… there’s an inn and some shops down that street over there,” he said nervously, before continuing on his way like nothing had happened at all. “What was his deal? He left before I could even say thank you...” mumbled Pyren, before following his brother down the path they were directed toward.
By the time they got there, the sun was beginning to set, placing a red undertone on the whole town. “T-this place is amazing!” said Pyren, gazing at the impressive assortment of shops and restaurants. “I’ve never seen anything like it!” Pyren ran up to each and every shop, staring through the windows of them all, before his tail was grabbed by his brother. “Waaaaah!” he cried like a little kid, as Ark dragged him towards the inn in the distance. “Awww, come on, I wanted to look at all the stuff!” whined the folf. “Hey, now you know how I felt when that automaton grabbed MY tail,” said Ark, snarkily, as Pyren struggled to break free of his grasp.
As the two brothers approached the inn, they marveled at the Fur craftsmanship. The place was relatively homey, not too old-fashioned, but still having style. There was a fully-stocked bar with no one manning it to the right of the counter, and stairs leading to the upper floor to the left. The wooden inn floor they laid their footpaws on creaked with every step the two took. Ark stayed close to the wall as to not attract attention, while Pyren laid a paw on the counter to ask for a room. “Welcome to The Crooked Door, how may I attempt to help you?” said the clerk, a very bored red panda girl, whose head was held up by her paw. Pyren squinted, confused at the odd naming. “H-how much is a room? I dunno how long we’re gonna be staying for, though...” he asked, confidence waning a bit. “It’s 3 Lans per person, 2 if you’re with a small child,” she said, putting a smoke in her mouth. Pyren looked to the side and rubbed his chin with his paw. “Well… we don’t exactly have any money on us right now…” he muttered, marking the second time the brothers were broke. The girl frowned. “I swear, people these days have no concept of courtesy. If you’re gonna take the time to walk up to the counter you better-” She was cut off by Ark walking forward and shooting her a glare. “Eep!” she yelped, losing the cool act and spitting out the spitting out her cigarette. The red panda scrambled to pick it up before quickly turning to the rack and handing Pyren the key. “R-room 19, up the stairs and to your left,” she said quickly, between breaths.
As the two walked up the wooden stairs to their room, Pyren edged close to Ark and gave him a confused look. “How’d you do that? You gave her one look and she flipped out!” he said. Ark distanced himself from his brother after this. “You haven't noticed how I’ve been acting since we got here?” Pyren tilted his head. “I don’t want to attract any attention. That is, if furs and dragons really aren't supposed to mix. I didn’t want to do that,” he said. Pyren rolled his eyes. “I’m sure it’ll be fine,” he said. Ark opened the door to Room 19 to reveal a nice looking apartment-like room. There was a single bed, a rudimentary bathroom, as well as a small window. Pyren leaped into bed with a sigh of relief. “You can take the extra pillow. My fur is soft enough,” he said to his brother. “Wait… you’re telling me on all these days we’ve been sleeping outside…. you’ve had a pillow the whole time!?” said Ark, slightly angered. The folf paused, contemplating. “I’ve never told anyone this, but I’ve never been cold, either. Like, ever. I don’t even know what cold feels like,” responded Pyren matter-of-factly. Ark raised an eye. “Hmm… I wonder...” he muttered, thinking back to all the stories their mother had told them, before climbing into bed.
Ark wrapped an arm around his brother, who was fast asleep. “Sweet dreams, little bro,” he muttered, before closing his eyes. It took him an hour to fall asleep. He couldn’t help but think about where they were going, and what the end of their quest would look like. The dragon drifted into a black void, the unconsciousness of sleep. All he saw was a faint image of an adult dragon, tall and grey. Not too faint as to blur the silhouette, but not sharp enough to make out any details. Ark’s dream self blinked. He couldn’t get a bearing on the situation. Everything was so blurry. Ark reached out a claw to the figure before the black overtook him and he fell into a dreamless nothingness. The morning came by like any other, but Ark’s vague dream about what must have been his father did little to calm his nerves. The dragon wanted nothing less but to protect his brother from harm, and sticking out like he did was no way to do that. Ark sighed as he sat up in the bed they were sleeping in and began to pull up his black jeans to get ready to set off once more.
“How are we gonna find whatever Dad left us in this huge town? It could be anywhere!” exclaimed Pyren as they walked down the street. Ark unlinked his tome from a strap he had attached to his pants. Turning the pages once more, he noticed something he hadn’t before. “Hey…. look at this,” he said, pointing at the glowing point they were standing in. “It’s still. But this one up here… It’s blinking,” noted Pyren. “Yeah… and if…” trailed off Ark, as he ran off. “A-Ark! Wait up!” cried a panicking Pyren. When he caught up, Ark was grinning like a madman. “The point blinks variably! Depending on how close we are to the relic, it’ll blink faster or slower! It’s ingenious!” exclaimed Ark, getting giddy just at the notion. He had always been interested in the kind of magic his kind practiced, and this book was no different. “Wish we knew that before we wandered through the wilderness aimlessly, for what, three days? Four?” said Pyren, sarcastically. “Well, better late than never,” responded Ark, scratching his head and shrugging.
The two approached a house which looked the same as all the others. Drab brown bricks. Grey shingled roof. A simple path and stairs leading to the doorway. Nothing special. “Here. It’s here,” said Ark. “How do you know?” asked Pyren, head darting in both directions to see if anyone was watching. Ark squinted and peeked into the window, with his brother doing the same. Neither of them saw anything worth noting. “It has to be in there! Unless this thing is lying, we’re in the exact spot. I trust our father’s judgment.” said an overconfident Ark. “Is that book really just as good as him?” asked the folf, doubtful. Ark looked down at the tome again and frowned. “Maybe… I...” he muttered to himself. Pyren stepped up to get in front of the door. “Okay, let’s say we’ve found it. What are we going to do now? We’re not going to break into the house!” he said, waving his arms in the air. “B-break into my house!?” screamed a voice coming from behind them. Ark gasped and dived into the bushes. “A-Ark! What are you…!?” exclaimed a now sweating Pyren, the owner of the voice approaching him rapidly.
The voice revealed itself as a lightly colored cat with lilac fur and vivid green eyes. Pyren could do nothing but stare as she marched up the stairs. “Well? S-say something!” she said, flustered, before gasping as she tripped on the last stair. The cat fell directly on top of him, and before they knew it, they were lying muzzle to muzzle, practically kissing. Pyren stared into her eyes as they lie. Time stood still for a good 10 seconds while the cat blushed intensely. She pushed herself back up, dusting herself off, and leaving Pyren on the ground. “Y-your eyes are really pretty,” he muttered, smiling awkwardly. The folf picked himself off of the ground, unaware of his compliment he had said spur-of-the-moment. Now she was the one staring. “Y-you still haven’t explained yourself!” she yelled at him, flustered. Pyren had his back to the door, cornered by this cat. “W-well…. I..I was looking for something… and I thought you might have it...” he stuttered. “Looking for something? Something you were gonna break into my house to get?” said the cat, sternly. “I-It’s not like that!” exclaimed Pyren. The cat frowned. “And I’m supposed to believe you?” she responded, calming down. “It’s true!” he cried. The cat looked away from the embarrassed folf, then looked back and sighed. “C-come on in...” she said, nervously. She unlocked the door, inviting a still shaken up Pyren in. He gave a quizzical look but accepted her offer. Ark merely watched from behind the house, knees deep in the surrounding shrubbery. “Maybe I shouldn’t have ditched him like that….” he whispered, scratching his black hair.
Pyren followed nervously into the simple home. The decor was similar to the inn’s, only clothes, papers, and other objects were strewn everywhere. The cat sat down on an unkempt bed and gestured for Pyren to do the same. “I should probably tell you my name,” she chuckled. “It’s Emerald. What’s yours?” Pyren was stunned at her change in tone. Just two minutes ago she was yelling at him, now she was acting like they were friends already! “Why’d you let me in?” he asked, still confused. “The truth is… I’m lonely,” she said, edging closer. Pyren squinted suspiciously. “R-right, my name!” he stuttered. “I’m Pyren. It’s, uh, nice to meet you,” he said.
The cat gave a soft smile. “L-look, I’m sorry I got all mad at you,” she said. “I-It wasn’t a very good first impression…” Pyren saw her face drop. “W-what’s wrong?” he asked, concerned. “I just wanted to converse like a normal person and I freaked out on you,” she muttered. Pyren grinned and rubbed his head. “W-well, to be fair, my brother and I might have actually broken in had you not invited me in,” he said, chuckling. Emerald smiled. “Well, what exactly is it you’re looking for?” she asked. “Well, that’s the thing. We don’t really know what it looks like, just that it’s all mystical and cool,” said Pyren. He scanned the room, seeing posters of unknown characters, a messy desk with pencils scattered all over, a closet with the door ajar, and a dresser with the drawers wide open. “I’m not seeing anything that looks mystical or cool,” he said. Emerald got up and strutted over to the closet. She dug around, her long, slender tail waving through the air as she threw around shirts and hangers. The cat returned with an intricately carved silver pendant shaped like a dragon, only with two heads wrapping around each other. “Is this it?” she asked. Pyren tilted his head. “I dunno. Seems mystical and cool enough,” he said. The folf tilted his head at the door and scanned for any signs of Ark. “I don’t suppose you’d be willing to part with it?” he asked her, nervous. Emerald clutched the pendant in her paw. “Well…” continued the cat. Pyren waited for her answer with anticipation. “I could give it to you if you were willing to keep me company for a little while…” she said, giving a shy smile.
The folf’s mouth hung wide open. “I-If that’s alright with you..” muttered Emerald. Pyren’s face flushed red. “Y-you want me to what?” he questioned. Emerald joined in on the blushing. “M-maybe just spend a bit more time here… just talking? Getting to know each other?” she responded, touching her paw-fingers together nervously. Pyren did a double take. Here they were, just sitting on the bed, and she was basically asking him out. “Am I being creepy? I’m being creepy, aren’t I...” Emerald sighed. “I’m sorry. I’m just really desperate, that’s all. You can leave if you want,” she said, dejected. The folf was unable to form words. “W-why do you want me to stay so badly? I-It’s not that I don’t want to, I’m just a little confused,” he managed to say. The cat laid back onto the bed and sighed again. “I grew up in an extremely poor family. My parents struggled to support me. They loved me, certainly, but they weren’t able to keep me fed. I had to abandon the slum where I lived and find somewhere I could be taken care of. Eventually, I came across Andea, where I’ve lived ever since. That’s all I’ve really done. Lived. Alone.” Emerald sat back up. “Geez… I didn’t expect your life story,” he said. The cat slid off of the bed from where she was sitting and picked up the pendant she had set down. “Here. I don’t really care,” she said, apathetically, presenting it to Pyren. He reluctantly held his paw out before quickly retracting it. “W-wait! I can’t take this just yet!” he exclaimed. The cat tilted her head. “Why’s that?” she asked, letting her paws fall to her sides. “You seem like you need a friend. I can’t let that need go unnoticed,” he said, smiling confidently.
Ark was peering into the window, spying on the blooming lovers. “I hope he’s doing okay in there…” he muttered. The dragon scanned his surroundings, checking for suspicious onlookers. When the coast was clear, he brushed the sweat off of his forehead. “Pyren can take care of himself. I can’t be hovering over him his whole life,” he said. Ark picked up his book and checked the map. On the page to the side of it he had jotted down some notes. ‘First relic found in cave, guarded by large automaton. Structure appeared dragon-made. Note further discoveries,’ read the first bit of writing. He glanced at the glowing markers and shut the tome, re-latching it to his pants. Before he walked away, he ran back to the window and checked one last time, just for good measure. The two were talking calmly, just as they had been minutes before. Ark gave a sigh of relief before heading off in the opposite direction.
Emerald opened her mouth with giddiness. “Thank you so much!” she cried, before wrapping her paws around the folf. “C-crushing!” he yelped, her grip being a little too tight. The lavender colored cat released Pyren from her grip and returned to her seat next to him. She closed her eyes and chuckled. “You know, I didn’t think about what we would actually talk about,” she laughed. Pyren joined in. The two laughed until they both had collapsed, laying back on the messy bed. Emerald tilted her head towards the folf. “You’re a lot of fun, Pyren,” she told him. His face turned red in response. “Well, since I already talked about myself, what about you? Where are you from?” asked the cat. “M-me? I-I grew up in the mountains with my brother,” he said, snapping out of his embarrassment. Emerald stretched out her arms. “The mountains? Aren't those, you know, cold?” she questioned. “I can’t exactly explain it, but I don’t get cold.” Emerald sat up. “Is it your Sign?” Pyren gave her a strange look. “My sign?” he asked. Then he remembered his mother’s words from when he was little. The cat held out her paw, which began to glow a faint purple. Pyren’s eyes drifted towards the pendant, which now shared that purple glow. He watched in awe as Emerald moved the necklace across the room without touching it once. “T-that’s amazing!” he exclaimed, as it dropped into her paw.
“I've been able to do that ever since I was little,” said Emerald. Pyren’s eyes widened. “Wait, you said… Does that mean I can do stuff like that?” exclaimed Pyren. “Everyone has a Sign. You probably haven't discovered yours yet,” she responded. The folf stared down at his paws. He hadn't ever really thought he had any special powers. His mother said something like that when he was little, but he always thought it was just a story! “Pyren?” asked Emerald. He snapped out of his daze. When he looked back up at her, he noticed all the little details about her appearance he had neglected. Her short, lilac colored muzzle, the shine her dazzling green eyes gave, her sweet little paws…. She was really pretty. “Uhh…” he stuttered. She tilted her head. “W-what do you like to do around here?” he said, quickly regaining his composure. The cat glanced over at her desk. “I do a little reading here and there, and I’m sort of an amateur artist,” she said, unconfidently. “I’m not very good at the latter.” Pyren squinted. “I’m sure you’re great!” he said, trying to comfort her. Emerald was taken aback by this. “You really think so?” she exclaimed. The cat ran over and snatched up a paper from her cluttered desk and handed it to Pyren. On the paper was a drawing of a cat just like herself, only with a different complexion and clothing. The sketch was quite nice and the shading was decent. She wasn’t professional but it was still pretty good. Pyren chuckled. “It’s definitely better than anything I could ever do…” he said, smiling and scratching his head. Emerald smiled as well, taking back the paper and sitting back down.
Ark sat alone in his and Pyren’s inn room. “I wonder if I can combine these two spells….” he wondered, studying a page of his tome. “Alcor...etan...vor…” he muttered, trying to translate. “Sehrey.. saht..” he continued. “Alcor….etan....vohrey...saht!” Nothing happened. “Now I need something to transfigure for it to work..” he said to himself, glancing around the room. He picked up the candle lying on the bedstand and said the spell aloud once more. Immediately the room went dark as the flame had changed to ice. “It worked!” he exclaimed. The dragon grinned at his own ingenuity, before the realization kicked in. “Now I’m gonna need a new candle….” he muttered bittersweetly, meandering towards the door with a chuckle.
“Thanks for that. I could never tell myself it was good, I always pointed out the flaws and couldn’t live them down,” she said. Her eyes opened wide as she had an idea. “What do YOU like to do, Pyren?” she asked. He didn’t exactly know what to answer. “I guess I’m an adventurer,” he stated. “You mean… like someone who goes out and kills monsters and finds treasure?” she said, astonished. “I GUESS you can say that…” he trailed off, looking towards the corner of the room. “Wow… your life seems so much more exciting than mine…” she muttered. Pyren put a paw on her shoulder. “It’s not as incredible as it sounds. My brother and I haven’t really found much. Just this bracelet thingy…” he told her. The cat brought her head up. “And you’re looking for this pendant?” she asked. “Uh-huh,” he responded. “I think it belonged to our dad. He left my big brother and I a map, but it kinda sucks. We pretty much have no idea where we’re going...” Pyren laughed nervously, his eyes closed joyfully. Emerald sighed. “What’s wrong?” asked the folf. “It sounds like once I give you this pendant, you’re just gonna leave and continue on your quest…” she muttered. Pyren gasped. “I-It doesn’t have to be just like that!” he exclaimed. He brought his paw up to his chin, searching his mind for a solution. “W-what if you come with us? You’ve got those awesome powers! You’ll be a great help to us!” he exclaimed. Emerald looked down at her paws. “C-come with you….?” she muttered, a thousand worries flowing into her headspace.
“I-It’s getting late… I’d better go. My brother’s probably worried sick,” said Pyren. Emerald gasped. “W-wait!” she exclaimed, startling him. She held out her paw with the pendant in it. “Here. I want you to have it,” said the cat. Pyren opened his mouth to respond, but nothing came out. The cat took his paw and placed the pendant in it. “You’re not gonna come?” he asked. She gave a soft, remorseful smile and looked down. “This place is my home. I might be alone… but I like it here,” she said. “I don’t think I have it in me to be an adventurer…” Pyren’s mouth hung open. “H-hey…” said Emerald. “Maybe… once you’re finished with your quest… you could come back and see me?” she asked. He tried his best to hold in his tears, before nodding. The folf placed his paw on the doorknob and looked back at Emerald. She gave him one last smile before he rushed out the door, ready to cry.
Pyren had tears streaming down his muzzle when he heard a voice. “Hey. Did you have a good time?” “A-Ark?” said Pyren, startled. “So, uh, how’d it go?” he asked his brother. Pyren wiped his tears and held up the pendant he got from Emerald. “Y-you got it!? What did you do for that girl!?” said Ark. “I made friends with her,” he responded. “That girl? The angry one who was yelling at you for saying you were going to break in?” asked Ark, confused. “I don’t think she was angry. Just a little lonely, that’s all,” said Pyren. The two walked down to the inn as the sun began to set. “Good for you, I guess. I’m glad my little brother has a girlfriend,” said Ark, sarcastically. “G-girlfriend? W-we were just talking!” said Pyren, blushing. “Riiiight,” teased the dragon. “It’s true!” said Pyren, embarrassed. “You’re expecting me to believe that you and that cat were being completely platonic in there when she gave you that pendant?” Pyren was sufficiently embarrassed, blushing harder than ever. “Come on Pyren… I’ve barely seen her and I can tell she likes you,” explained Ark, folding his grey-scaled arms. “Y-you really think so?” asked Pyren. “Yeah. I’d put money on it, if we had any,” he responded, chuckling. “Anyways, I came up with this awesome new spell! Do you wanna see?” he asked, as they entered the inn. “Sure!” exclaimed Pyren, excited at his brother’s improvement.
Emerald stared at the door for a good 15 minutes. What had she gained? Was that whole conversation with him meaningless if he was just going to leave? She sighed. She’d probably never see Pyren again, she thought. The cat floated over to her desk and sat down. Her paw reached for a piece of scratch paper lying in a haphazard stack. She drifted over to her desk and sat down. Emerald stared at the blank sheet of paper, and yet, nothing came to her. All she could think about was that folf. She shook her head and got up and back into bed. After sighing once more, she used her psychic powers to pick her blanket up off the ground and tried to fall asleep.
Pyren lounged on the bed in the inn room. “So what’s she like?” asked Ark. Pyren glared at his brother. “What?” asked Ark, grinning. Pyren rolled his eyes. “She was a little shy, but the more I talked to her the more she opened up,” he responded. “She seemed like a nice girl, from what I saw of you and her,” said the dragon. The folf gave him a skeptical look. “How did you see us talking?” he asked, curious. Ark gritted his teeth. “I… might have been watching you two through the window…” he muttered. Pyren’s embarrassment turned to anger. “W-why can’t you just let me do things on my own for once?” he exclaimed. His brother gasped. Pyren sighed. “Sorry. It’s just that… I really liked her… and since we always hang out together…. I didn’t want you to be upset that I wanted to hang out with someone else,” he said. Ark squinted. “Why would I get upset? I’m glad you have someone else to talk to,” he said, matter-of-factly. The folf looked down, dejected. “It doesn’t matter. We’re leaving tomorrow anyways,” he said. Ark frowned. “If you let all your friends go like that, you’ll never have anyone you can trust,” said Ark, stretching his wings. “I dunno, Ark...” muttered Pyren. “Don’t ever forget I’m looking after you, Pyren,” he responded. The folf ran to his brother and hugged his hugged him tightly.
Emerald woke up early the next morning. The cat yawned and stretched her arms. She fished a shirt out of the closet and walked up to her desk once more. She looked to the side at the blank piece of paper lying on the desk. She sighed as thoughts about Pyren’s quest, and how it must have been so full of excitement passed her mind. Emerald let her eyes drift to the window. It was at that moment that she decided. The cat gathered her useful belongings into a small satchel and opened the door with confidence. This was her choice. She was gonna be happy with it, even if it killed her.
Ark had procured some funds for food and water by doing a few small jobs for the terrified innkeeper. Sweeping, wiping down the windows, and putting up the glasses from last night’s drinking session was enough to get them a few Lans. “T-take it!” the innkeeper cried. “Just don’t hurt us!” The dragon frowned at this. “Geez… Are we really that bad...?” he mumbled to himself. Ark shook his head and banished the thought to the back of his mind. As he and Pyren prepared to leave town, Pyren managed to be downcast the whole morning. A new strap with a sheath to carry his sword was thrown over his back, wobbling a bit as he walked. “You know, if you’re gonna miss her that much, why don’t you ask her to come along?” said the dragon. “I-I did… She said she didn’t want to go…” he muttered, sadly. While the two walked down the street toward the gate, Pyren’s eyes naturally gravitated towards Emerald’s house. What he didn’t expect to see was her staring right at him. There she was, sitting on the porch, beckoning.
Pyren’s jaw dropped. “Hey,” she said, as casual as her attire. She got up and approached the folf, a soft smile on her face. He was speechless. “Am I really that stunning?” she asked. “Were you… waiting for me?” he asked, confused. “I-is that okay?” she responded, blushing. Pyren was still bewildered. “Y-yeah, but, why exactly were you waiting for me?” Emerald’s smile widened. “I changed my mind. I don’t want to stay here and be alone anymore,” she responded. Pyren became ecstatic. “Really? That’s awesome! What made you change your mind?” he asked, overcome with joy. “Well…. It’s just that… you….” she stuttered. Pyren merely stared at her as she struggled to form words. “Oh, goddess, Pyren... I think I Iove you!” The cat rushed towards him, arms outstretched. “W-whoa!” cried Pyren, quickly overtaken by her hug. Once again the folf was rendered unable to speak. “Y-you…what?” he muttered. Her silky lavender colored paws ran up and down his orange fur. She was enjoying the moment. “You’re the first person I’ve ever been able to share my feelings with…” Pyren reciprocated her affection, placing his paws on her. “I was really happy to have someone else to talk to, so having to leave like that was crushing,” he told her. “I just don’t know how to thank you…” she cried. “Just being my friend is thanks enough,” he responded, smiling with gratitude.
Emerald removed her head from being buried in Pyren’s yellow underbelly. “Hey, uh, where’s your brother? If we’re gonna be traveling together from now on, I should probably meet him,” she said, chuckling. Pyren let go of the cat and quickly darted around to look for his brother, who was nowhere to be found. “A-Ark?” he asked. “You can come out now!” The dragon walked forward from his position perched under a shady tree. One look was all it took to fill Emerald’s eyes with fear. “Y-you’re…. a dragon!” she exclaimed, her mouth wide open, eyes raised in shock. Pyren panicked, with Ark shooting him an ‘I told you so’ look. “I-it’s not what you think! Ark’s friendly!” exclaimed the folf. Ark shot him down. “You don’t need to defend me. If it’s my species that instills panic then she’s not in the wrong,” he said, sternly yet remorsefully. Emerald gasped. “I-I didn’t mean it like that!” she cried. Her paws were shaking. “I-I’ve never seen, let alone met a dragon before... All the stories I’ve heard said you were all cruel, merciless killers…” Ark sighed and looked down at the ground. “But that doesn’t mean it’s true! It’s not right to judge someone you’ve never met before!” she exclaimed. Now it was Ark’s turn to gasp. The cat gave a weak smile and held her paw out to shake. The dragon looked down at the quivering lavender colored paw. Maybe his and Pyren’s friendship didn’t have to be forbidden, he thought. Hope renewed, Ark reached for her paw in confidence. “Hey, uh, thanks for that,” he said. “I’m Ark.” Emerald was still a little uneasy. “I’m guessing you’re the one who my brother’s been crying over?” he asked. She looked back at Pyren, who feigned confusion over the comment. “Emerald,” she responded, although ignoring the question. Ark looked back at Pyren, who was relieved that the tension was gone. “So she’s coming with us?” asked the dragon. “Looks like it!” he said with excitement. All three turned to face the town gate. “Off we go then,” said Ark.
The night sky was overpowering. A blazing forge illuminated the surrounding mountainous area. A tall, grey-scaled dragon stands before a massive anvil, hammering away at a piece of metal. He works diligently, lifting the finished blade and examining it. “Too brittle. Unreliable,” he said, tossing it into a pile of unfinished swords. A servant scampered over to the discarded sword. “S-Sir Igneus! This blade is magnificent! How could you simply throw it away?” exclaimed the servant, a small, mousy dragon. “I will not allow a dragon to go into battle with a blade that will fail them,” he responded. The servant gave a nervous look before running off. “Hmm?” said the blacksmith, before reaching his claw into a fold in his armor. He pulled out an elaborately forged golden key. Its spirals and curves gave off a faint glow. “The key’s resonating. Does that mean another’s been found?” he said. The dragon shook his head, brushing it off as coincidence before putting it away and continuing his work.
Chapter 3 of Chosen of Fir: Mementos From a Distant Father.