"Now, now, now, that's no way for a lady to talk... You've been on that island too long, I see." Ace smirked and walked over to her, taking a rope from the desk and gagging her with it. "Ah, that's better. Golden silence." He walked over to the bed and laid down, falling asleep quickly.
Ace dreamed about his sister. She was chained to a boulder, struggling with all her might. A dragon flew down and growled. He sniffed her, and was about to eat her when Ace shot an arrow. The dragon turned to him, and arrow sticking out from one of his eyes. With one great swoop, the dragon grabbed both Ace and his sister in its mouth. Ace clung to the roof of the creature's mouth, watching as his sister was chewed to bits, her blood splashing him. A moment later, Ace and his sister's remains were spat onto a beach, where Asharda was. She stroked the dragon's nose, saying "Good dragon."
Ace sat bolt upright, cold sweat dripping down his face, gasping for air. He looked at the girl and stood. He walked over to her and cut the ropes, even the one that gagged her.
"Dragon-lover," he snarled, punching her jaw. He punched her again, then he picked her up and threw her on the ground, kicking her repeatedly.
Asharda growled at him a bit as he forced a rope between her teeth, gagging her. She glared at him as he laid on the bed, falling asleep quickly. She pulled on the ropes, trying to free herself while he slept, but having no success. She glanced over at him as he tossed a bit in his sleep....probably having a nightmare. She tried once more to free herself, still having no success. He bolted up in his bed, his face dripping sweat. He glared at her, walking over and cutting her bonds. He then began beating her, calling her a dragon-lover. She curled up as he began kicking her, trying to protect the more sensitive areas. She had about enough of this....she kicked out at him, scrambling to her feet and making a dash for the door.
Ace fell, but grabbed her waist as he did so. He rolled over and pinned her ankles to the ground. He slowly stood, locking her ankles in between his. He finally came to his senses and relaxed. He grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet, trying to be gentle. He led her to the bed and sat her down, beginning to treat her wounds. "I'm sorry,"Ace sighed. He looked at Asharda,"Please forgive me,"
Asharda flinched as he helped her up, setting her on the bed. Her chest hurt and she was pretty sure he had cracked a rib or two. She jumped and pulled away from him as he began to treat her injuries. He asked her for forgiveness, but she was still mad at him. "Why should I? You kidnap me from my home, tie me up, bring me MILES away and then beat me" she snapped. She looked away from him, focusing on the wall. "It's going to take a little more than this for me to forgive you."
"What will it take?"Ace asked. He closed his eyes, willing to pay any price for what he did. "I am truly sorry." He hugged her gently, releasing her after a moment. He walked to the desk and began packing his things, using extra caution with the dragon's head. He slung his bag over his shoulder and turned to her. "We should leave soon. The capitol is about a week's journey. We either travel as friends, or enemies. You have seen my strength. Which would you prefer?"
Asharda flinched as pressure was put on her chest. She thought about what he asked....what it would take for her to forgive him. She wasn't entirely sure of that herself. He told her they were still going to the capitol and he could either be her friend or her enemy. "Well, it seems I have no choice then, do I" she said, sighing. He told her that they should leave....she would probably fall asleep on the way there, seeing has how she hadn't slept yet.
"There's always a choice, though the choice is not always clear,"Ace said, recalling a saying his mentor had often used. He took Asharda by the hand and led her to the door. He locked the room when they were outside and walked down to the lobby. He tossed the key to the innkeeper and walked to the stables. He let go of Asharda's hand and walked over to his horse. The white stallion whinnied happily as he stroked its nose. "It's a good horse," the stablehand commented. "Yes, he is, aren't you, Snowfire?"He led the horse into a courtyard, snapping his fingers instead of using a rope. Snowfire followed, prancing around him. He laughed and chased the horse around, grabbing at the horse's mane. He eventually caught hold of the animal's hair and swung his body over the horse's back. He smiled and rode the horse over to Asharda. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name," he said, offering his hand out to her.
Asharda followed him out, but if he thought she was going to the capitol with him, he was crazy. She waited until he was distracted with the horse before making her move. She slipped off into the woods, running as fast as her legs would carry her. She hit a clearing close to a cliff...perfect. She jumped off, changing quickly and stretching her wings to catch the air. It felt good to have wind under her wings again. She flew out to open sea, heading towards home.
Ash glared and kicked his horse. Snowfire shot off, heading into the woods. Ace yanked on the horse's hair and barely stopped before he ran off the cliff. He stared off at a dragon which flew off. Of course, it was the dragon, stealing back the girl, he decided. He jumped off the horse and into the water, swimming in the general direction of the dragon. He swam until his lungs burned, and he was forced to simply float in the water. He hoped a shark didn't decide to eat him. Just as he was about to give himself over to death and the sea, he heard a call. He looked around and saw a sailboat.
"I know you!" the man in the boat shouted, "You're that Ace fellow, the dragon hunter!"
"That's me, sir!" Ace called. Ace swam to the boat and the man hauled him aboard.
"I'll trade you passage to anywhere for a story, Ace," he said. Ace agreed and told him about the island where he met the girl. The man listened intently, then they were on their way. It was night by the time they made it to the island, and the man stayed in the boat, waiting for Ace to return.
Ace leaped out of the boat and walked towards the woods, aiming for the mountain the dragon lived in.
Asharda landed in her cave, glancing over her hoard. She had missed it more than she had thought. She ran her claws over it, enjoying the sound of the coins and other treasures running together. She knew Ace would be coming, if he wasn't already here. She would show him what she truly was, whether he liked it or not.
Ace reached the slightly rotted corpse of the dragon he had killed. He wondered if the girl had kept it as a pet. No doubt a dragon-lover like her would. He kicked the body before moving on to the mountain. He climbed to his perch, where he had shot the baby dragon. He turned and looked to the beach. The old man who had given him a ride waved, and Ace waved back, feeling like a small child. From this great distance, he could easily imagine that it was his father on the beach, beckoning him to join him and his sister in collecting shells or making sandcastles.
Collecting shells, Ace decided, that's what they were doing. His sister was down the shore a ways, diving to find the biggest and best shells. His mother's voice, faint due to to distance, called for him to come down, and to be careful not to fall. Ace smiled mischievously and turned to the mountain. He gripped the face, closing his eyes and climbing by touch instead of sight. He knew his mother would be furious at him for closing his eyes, but he didn't care. He climbed up until he felt an emptiness with his hands. He then opened his eyes and found himself at the summit. He smiled and sat on the somewhat rounded, but mostly flat, top of the peak. He got on his feet and looked around, his mother's warnings lost in the wind. He looked at the beach, and saw a shape that could have been his sister. Then he saw his father, or the old man who could have been his father. Screaming and waving for Ace, frantically. Ace's illusion failed, and he no longer saw his sister, but a dragon. A small dragon, but a dragon nonetheless. He jumped off the peak, aiming for the forest, and he landed on his perch, his toes dangling over. He lost his balance and fell, grabbing the branch of a tree. He felt like his arm was being ripped from his body, and this pain caused him to let go. He fell a few feet and landed on his back. He used the tree's trunk to help him stand, and he slowly walked through the woods, trying to shake the pain from his body. When he reached the dragon corpse, he was fully recovered and he ran, as fast as possible, to the beach.
The old man screamed as the dragon approached, and Ace reached for an arrow, only to find his quiver missing. He cursed himself and refused to be helpless. He came up behind the dragon and wrapped his arms around its neck, digging the heels of his boots, which had silver spikes, into the dragon's shoulders. The dragon screamed in either annoyance or pain, Ace didn't know which, and attempted to toss Ace from itself. Ace held on tight and thrashed against the dragon, forcing it to turn. He controlled the dragon in this way until they were far away from the man. Ace then kicked the dragon, somewhat gently, where its wings connected to its body. The dragon unfolded its wings and instinctively began to run. Ace clung to it for dear life, and then the dragon leaped.
The dragon dipped a little under Ace's weight, but then it gained strength and began to fly normally. Ace lay flat on the dragon's back, in between the wings, holding on to the crest, his knuckles white. He shuddered as the dragon flew higher, the cold air flowing over his body. Ace looked down and saw the ocean, and he remembered his childhood dream, which he had chased after until his family was killed. To fly. To fly on the back of a dragon. The dragon flew over the mountain, but Ace couldn't make it land.
The dragon flew to the mainland, and Ace yanked on it's neck harshly to make it turn away. He turned it back towards the island, and it flew back. He saw the cave in the mountain and tried to steer the dragon towards it.
The dragon, used to Ace at this point, landed when Ace applied a small amount of pressure to a soft scale on the dragon's neck. Ace slid off of the dragon, his body shaking. He had to lean against the dragon in order to stand, and he realized how beautiful its green scales were. He smiled at the thought and walked into the cave, the dragon following.
"Can you breathe fire?" Ace whispered to the dragon. As if in response, the dragon let out a stream of fire. Ace smiled and climbed onto its back. He rode the dragon deep into the cave, stopping when he reached the hoard. He ignored the feeling of betrayal that sank into him when he realized that he had let a dragon live. He had betrayed his sister. He shook this feeling off and slid off the dragon. He smiled and walked around the cavern, followed closely by the little green dragon.
Asharda growled at both of them as they entered her hoard. She felt extremely protective of it now that she was in her dragon form, and now she had another dragon in her territory. She had seen this one around the island a few times and she didn't really like it. She tucked in her wings and made the spines on her back and tail look bigger than they actually were, growling menacingly at the dragon. They charged each other, their hard bodies colliding like two boulders, echoing like thunder. They clawed at each other, each one trying to gain the upper hand. She could tell this dragon had never been in a serious fight as it was very inexperienced and left itself open for attacks. It snapped at her leg and she took the opportunity to strike, locking her jaws around its neck and biting down hard, crushing its windpipe and breaking its neck. She let go of it and let it collapse to the cave floor in a heap, she would remove it later. She rushed at Ace and pinned him carefully under her foot, making sure not to crush him. She leaned closer towards him, puffing warm air out her nose at him. 'You really thought following me was a good idea, didn't you? You should have just went on to the capital by yourself...saved us all a headache' she said inside his head. He should be able to recognize the voice and realize that she was the one he kidnapped from here.
Ace was dumbstruck. He had just seen two dragons fight. He had never seen anything like that before. He had seen dragons die, but never at the fault of another dragon. The dragon who killed his dragon then turned to him. Ace had no weapons. He was dead if the dragon attacked. The dragon attacked. Ace didn't have time to scream before he was under its foot, not being crushed, but still in danger of being so. He looked up at the dragon as it spoke, He was shocked that the dragon could speak, he expected dragons to be like giant, flying lizards, silent, only thinking of their next meal or their hoard. He hadn't expected the voice, which he felt he should recognize. "Y-y-you killed my d-d-dragon!" he stammered.
Asharda growled at Ace when he complained about her killing his dragon. She put a little more pressure on her foot, still not enough to crush him, but just enough to make him nervous. 'YOU shouldn't have brought it here!' she snapped at him. She lifted her foot from him and walked back over by her hoard. 'You should know better than to bring a dragon into another dragon's hoard. That was stupidity on your part' she told him. She was still debating on whether to change back or not...for now she'd stay like this.
"I'm sorry,"Ace said, standing. He shook like a water droplet about to fall from a thread of a spider's web. He walked to a pile of gold coins and jewelry, careful not to touch the treasure for fear of the dragon,"I'm not experienced with tame dragon. If that thing was tame.Ace walked to the corpse and nudged it with his toe, seeing not a dragon, but his own sister lying there, torn practically to shreds. Oddly, though memories of his sister always made him emotional, there was no emotion in Ace. He had become colder, he discovered."Was it tame?"Ace turned to face the dragon, looking around for a weapon in case it decided to attack again.