by Amanda Cast
“Hello,” the girls responded in unison and then looked at each other. The elf girl gave Pandora a large grin. Pandora just gave her a curious expression. The girl’s eyes were a strange blue green rimmed with a dark gray. Her eye lashes were black, not blond like her hair. Pandora thought it was startling, but gorgeous.
Her lips twitched into a small smile.
The dragon regarded them for a moment. “What are you two up to?”
“Hiding from my father,” the elf girl said with a mischievous giggle. Pandora could see those eyes of hers twinkling with glee.
“And you?” the dragon asked addressing Pandora.
“I got lost,” Pandora said, slowly rolling the words around in her mouth. They felt strange but natural all at the same time.
“Where did you get lost from?”
“The Temple District,” the Pandora said.
“Quite the plain spoken little girl, aren’t you?” the dragon mused. Her voice was large but gentle. It filled Pandora’s mind.
Pandora only blinked at it.
“Why are you in a cage?”
“Well,” the dragon said to the elf girl rearing back and posing, “I decided to do a little sight seeing, and one must be protected from humans.”
“But I can fit through the bars.”
“You’re very pretty,” Pandora said suddenly.
The dragon looked startled. “Why thank you.”
The dragon chuckled. “Would you girls like to do a little favor for me in exchange for a scale of mine?” it asked.
Pandora shrugged and then nodded.
“Do you see that blue dragon over there?”
Pandora frowned but the elf girl nodded enthusiastically.
“Why don’t you go over there and tell him that he smells like rotting fish and bullsh—I mean, poop.”
“Rotting fish and poop?” Pandora said skeptically.
“All right!” the said and gripped Pandora’s arm and tugged. She almost fell over when Pandora didn’t budge immediately, but Pandora got her feet moving and trotted after the elf girl.
It was a longer run than Pandora expected, but Pandora was in good shape. Her trainers made her run a lot harder than she was now for longer periods of time, but the elf girl was a sprinter by the looks. Even with Pandora pacing her she was incapable of speaking for a little while.
Pandora shuffled her feet uneasily while she waited for her companion to catch her breath. The dragon had been dozing and opened his eyes.
“Hello, Mister Dragon,” Pandora said with a small little wave. She ignored the quick blinking of his eyes. “The red dragon wanted us to tell you something.”
“And what would that be?” he drawled out slowly and yawned. His narrow tongue rubbed around his teeth and he shook his head.
“It doesn’t seem appropriate,” Pandora said.
“You…you…” the elf girl took a deep breath and stood up straight. “She said you smell like rotting first guts and poop.”
“Poop? That doesn’t sound like her. She must be censoring herself for your sakes.” He half closed his eyes lazily and regarded them for a moment. “Could you do me a favor?”
“What will you give us?” the elf girl asked slyly.
“What did she promise you?” he asked with the same tone, only his voice was deeper and wiser.
“Fine, little girl. I’ll give you both a scale apiece. Tell her that she’s a menopausal wreck that ruts like tepid water.”
“Menopausal? Rutting?” Pandora said with the same questioning skepticism. Pandora was familiar with both of those words, but she couldn’t quite figure out what any of it had to do with tepid water.
“Yes, will you remember that?”
Pandora shrugged but the elf girl nodded enthusiastically. She gripped Pandora’s wrist again and ran through the grounds with a little less enthusiasm than before. Pandora followed after her with an easy rolling gait.
“What does he have to say then?” the red dragon asked as they approached, causing people to jump and whimper away from the massive cage.
“Give her a moment,” Pandora said as the excitable girl struggled to catch her breath again.
“He said that you are a menopausal wreck who…”
“Ruts like tepid water,” Pandora completed after the uncertain pause went on for too long.
The red dragon looked thoughtful. It wasn’t quite the reaction that Pandora was expecting. That made it interesting and a small smile tugged at her lips.
“Well, then, I suppose he really is an idiot.” She gave a heavy sigh. Then she plucked with surprising precision a red scale from her shoulder. It resembled a tear shaped shield, only the tip had been shorn off. She lobbed it through the bars and it landed at the elf girl’s feet. She took a pouch off of her belt and opened it wide. Then she slid it over and under the scale and it was swallowed into the bag. When she was finished it looked like a normal money pouch.
Pandora saw gold threaded runes along the rim of the pouch. It was a dimensional bag. Those were very rare and supposedly hard to make. They were gifts given to royalty and often times stolen from tombs by adventurers who lacked a healthy respect for the dead.
The dragon lobbed another one to Pandora. She picked it up and it was warm to the touch and only got warmer. Pandora frowned and propped it against her leg and it cooled. She moved her pack and managed to force the scale inside. It wouldn’t due for her carry something that grew hot when her skin touched it.
“We should get our payment from the other dragon,” Pandora said slowly.
“Oh, he offered you a scale too.”
“I bartered for it,” the elf girl said smugly.
“Ah,” the dragon sounded, “Well, why don’t you tell me your names.”
“I’m Serene,” the elf girl said with a self satisfied twist of her hips and a little bend.
“Interesting set of names,” the dragon said with a pleased look. “I’m Amara.”
“Pretty name for a pretty dragon,” Pandora said with a satisfied nod.
“Oh, if only I could blush,” the dragon said with a toothy grin and a flick of the tip of her tail. “You two run along like good little girls and get that blue scale. Don’t let your curiosity get you into trouble.