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    Cia
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Broken Path, Starless Tail - 14. Chapter 14

Sorry for the delay. I've been sick, and it's been the last 2 weeks of school. BAD timing! Fortunately, today is our last day finally! Woot! Enjoy the chapter.

He would have been nervous to sleep out in the open of the meadow they were in when night fell, but Valrinda curled around Beckett like a living wall that radiated heat to combat the chill of the air. He blended into the darkness of the night, other than the glow of his large eyes and the gleam of heat whenever he opened his mouth to talk.

Plus he’d started a tiny fire for Beckett to warm his dinner, blowing a stream of fire with deadly accuracy onto the pile of sticks inside a ring of rocks already left behind by other travelers.

The deep purple sky overhead was dotted with stars that twinkled. They seemed so close, like could reach out and grab one and then this whole darn quest would be over. Beckett shifted, shivering and then stretching his feet toward the glowing coals of his fire.

“Are your feet okay?”

Beckett had pulled off his socks earlier and examined his feet by the fire’s light. The path was growing more rocky, and he’d stepped on one that felt like it bruised his instep.

“I need shoes.”

“Hmm, you do. What were you thinking, going on a quest without shoes? Humans don’t have tough feet.”

“I didn’t know I was going on a quest. It just sort of happened.”

The rumble against his back tickled, and Beckett squirmed against Valrinda’s smooth side. He was covered in scales, but they felt more like a pliable leather than hardened armor. “Parallax is a tricky one.”

“Well, my dad did want me to keep my feet on the ground., and my head out of the clouds.”

“Your head in the clouds? That is a terrible way to fly. You never know when a mountain might come right out of nowhere, then splat! No more flying.” Valrinda turned and looked right at him, his eye shining in the dark.

“I didn’t mean it literally. I can’t fly.”

“Well of course not. You don’t have wings.” Valrinda rumbled his laugh again. “Do you really think I wouldn’t sense a mountain through some clouds?” He cocked his head, raising one eyebrow ridge.

“Oh. Um, no?” Beckett said hesitantly.

“Of course I would. I am an excellent flier with the most amazing senses.”

“Humble, too.”

Valrinda huffed, actually blowing a ball of flame in the air.

“Hey, watch it!”

“I was. It was nowhere near you.” If nowhere near him was less than two feet from his face. “I have no need to be humble. I am Valrinda, and I am your amazing guide. We will find Parallax’s missing star, and everyone will know and revere our names.”

Beckett frowned. “I thought your name was a secret.”

“Well, yeah… unless I’m a hero! Then everyone should know it. And we’re going to be heroes!” Valrinda sounded so very sure of himself, well, them.

“This hero needs shoes.”

“There’s a small town you might reach in the afternoon, if you keep walking at the pace you are.” Valrinda cocked his head. “Or we could reach it in an hour if you rode on my back.”

“If… I… rode on your back. Are you saying that was even an option?”

“Sure, if you want to. Most humans are too scared to fly. And you said you were walking in the vision, so I didn’t think I should offer when you didn’t ask earlier.”

“I didn’t think you could carry me!”

“Me, carry you? You’re tiny, and I’m Valrinda the amazing! Of course I can carry you.”

Beckett could not believe what he was hearing, and he wanted to smack his dragon guide. He’d spent all day walking, exhausting himself, when he could have ridden on his dragon’s back? “The bruise on my foot is all your fault,” he said darkly.

“What?” Valrinda’s voice was indignant. “You stepped on the rock.”

“You made me walk when I could have flown with you. Oh my god. I cannot believe you. Tomorrow you’re flying me.”

“Sure, I’d love to!” chirped Valrinda.

Beckett closed his eyes. He was going to kill Parallax.

 

Flying was cold. Beckett plastered himself to Valrinda’s back to get as much of his warmth as possible, but the droplets of water in the clouds they burst through clung to him, making him damp and the air up in the sky was much colder than the air by the ground.

It was much faster though, and Valrinda dropped them just outside the small town. It had wide streets, and creatures of all sorts were coming and going. Beckett tried not to stare, but he failed. “How am I going to get shoes?”

He didn’t have any money.

“Trade something. Why not those pants you have on. Those are strange, and I bet someone would probably pay handsomely for that fabric.”

His jeans? They weren’t anything special. “Where, though?”

“Come on. I’ll help you find a general store or tailor. One or the other will work.”

They found a general store, and it turned out Valrinda was right. As soon as Beckett got over his shock at the tiny gnome perched on a stool behind the counter, he was able to barter with him for his jeans.

He came out of the deal with two pairs of leather pants, two shirts, a pair of scaly hide new boots that came up to mid-calf, and a handful of travel ration bars. The gnome let him change in his back room so he could give him the jeans. Beckett even folded them up nicely before he headed outside where Valrinda waited.

Shouldering his much fuller pack, Beckett glanced down at himself then up at his dragon guide. “Okay, now I belong on a fantasy book cover.”

Copyright © 2023 Cia; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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I'm sure the gnome will make a great profit on the deal.  I agree that a long coat would have been great, especially if it were waterproof.  Leather pants don't sound like a good idea.  The leather would become stiff and brittle after a while.  At least the transportation will be less of a problem and much faster now that Valrinda has let Beckett know that flying is an option.  

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On 6/21/2023 at 10:08 PM, raven1 said:

I'm sure the gnome will make a great profit on the deal.  I agree that a long coat would have been great, especially if it were waterproof.  Leather pants don't sound like a good idea.  The leather would become stiff and brittle after a while.  At least the transportation will be less of a problem and much faster now that Valrinda has let Beckett know that flying is an option.  

Treat them right and leather pants will last forever. I have a pair I’ve owned since the 90’s. Been through more bikes than pants! Zippers are the only thing that break on leather pants and I expect the gnome used laces instead of zippers.

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