We sat there, halfway up a rocky escarpment, watching four hefty thuggish humans and their helpless captive with our mouths open. What was the captive? It was something all our teachers had told us was no more than a myth. I looked at Aazba and he shrugged although there was anger in the back of his handsome eyes. He hates cruelty. And what we were looking at was certainly cruel. Tethered to the ground by chains around its limbs and barbed hooks through the membranes of its wings was what I realised had to be a dragon. It was about the size of a full-grown hell hound with a dull looking yellowish skin and leathery wings. It looked sick to me and I found myself thinking we couldn’t leave the poor creature to suffer.
Pity cranked up to killing rage as I got a glimpse inside its mind and heard it calling for its mother. Aazba obviously heard it too as his head came up and his nostrils flared. We were looking at each other in fury when the final straw ignited us into action. One of the thugs took a length of lead piping from amongst his clothing.
“Time to break the bones in its wings,” he said gleefully. “It don’t need to be able to fly to lay eggs. Plus. If we keep it hungry and teach it to be afraid, it’ll always do just what we tell it.”
He stepped towards the terrified creature and Aazba and I exploded from our hiding place. I took out three of the thugs with darts tipped with spider milk, and they fell in boneless heap. The one with the lead pipe didn’t get off so easy. Aazba was in one of his rare rages. While he beat the human senseless with its own lead pipe I carefully approached the cringing dragon. I cut the straps on the hooks and carefully eased them out of its wings. Impelled by some female emotion I’d normally be ashamed of cradled its lizard-like head in my arms.
“See mother soon,” I murmured, not expecting it to understand, just hoping the soothing tone of my voice may help it to feel less fearful. To my surprise I heard small voice inside my mind.
“I do. We’ll return you to your mother as soon as may be possible.”
The creature relaxed against me and, remembering my own Mother’s way of calming infant fears, I hummed gently to it. Aazba finished with the thug and walked towards us. The dragon shrank from him.
“Hush little one, Aazba won’t hurt you. He is not like them humans.” I turned my attention to my Partner. “This imp is hungry and sick. Will you see if you can find the keys to her shackles, then maybe sprint back through the portal and call for help.”
Aazba dangled a bunch of keys before my eyes then lit out as if all the demons of Hades were after him.
“He goes for help.” I explained as I unlocked the heavy chains. The infant sagged against me.
“Can you stand?”
She made a brave effort and I went over to the hut where the thugs had been living. I found a bucket of meat pieces. They were not the best quality, but the dragon was very hungry. I brought the bucket to where she swayed on her feet.
“Slow,” I warned. “You don’t want to be sick.”
I let her eat about half the bucket, then moved it.
She sighed. “Thirsty.”
I found another bucket, which her tormentors had been using for their drinking water, it was almost full. The dragon imp drank, but then she seemed too exhausted to do any more.
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