The sweet morning chorus of birds was met with an irritated moan. The den's occupant was stretched out flat on her belly, one wing hiding her face. She'd been disturbed late last night and was now waking very, very reluctantly. The fragrant morning air that tried to sidle its way into the dragon's nostrils, in an attempt to get some fresh oxygen to her brain, was exhaled in a grumpy snort. Blaze blinked open her eyes, only to have them assailed by a gentle ray of sunlight, and quickly shut them before any damage could be done. Not ready to greet the day yet, she growled, rolled over and tried to get back to sleep. Sleep. That was what she wanted. It was a good twenty minutes before she realised sleeping on her right side wasn't going to improve things. She tried her left. No change. It was a painful realisation that she probably didn't need more sleep anyway, as she certainly wasn't going to get it. After toying with the idea of getting up, she managed to heave herself to standing and groggily decided that a good walk and a meal would do her good.
Half asleep, she didn't notice the prone form of Blade until she trod hard on her tail.
Blade jolted awake with a roar, unable to see the offender out of her left eye, which had begun to swell in the night.
Blaze swore and shot at least two feet into the air, cracking her head on the den roof.
Blade was unamused. "Next time, watch where you walk!!"
Pain had rendered her in a bad mood this morning. Blaze wobbled, managing to focus on her.
sorry about that." The dragon noticed something odd and stooped to peer closer at Blade.
"What are you doing?" the other asked.
not looking straight at me, Blade." She sounded a little worried.
I am looking at you!" Blade pouted. "I just can't open my left eye
Blaze tilted her head. Was she sick? Peering closer, she saw the blood around Blade's eye socket, and pointed it out.
Blade sighed. "Okay
I was out last night. Remember that noise? I saw something fly off, so I chased it, then it attacked me and disappeared."
She bit her lip, half expecting a reprimand from Blaze about going after unknown creatures in the dark. But the blue dragon wasn't in the mood for that.
"Come on," she made her way to the entrance hole, "we'll talk over breakfast."
After the meal, they went hunting. Blade enyoyed the quiet in the forest, but the fact that she couldn't open her left eye was really starting to bug her.
" She tried lifting the lid again. She succeeded in making it hurt. "Oww
it's still swollen. Oh well."
A sweet smell reached Blade's nostrils, making her salivate. Sniffing, the dragon wheeled around until she spotted the source; a small pack of deer concealed behind some bushes. She pointed them out to her companion.
Blaze's eyes lit up and she perked her ears, remaining careful not to move her head.
"Hungry?" she inquired.
"You bet!" Blade flashed her a devious grin, before crawling into the cover of the stunted shrubs, closer to her target.
Blaze picked up on her friend's plan and took her own route. Staying under cover, she circled slowly around, paws sliding cautiously forward and muffled in the soft dirt. It was a short journey, but a nerve-grinding one. Occasionally the deer would lift their heads to sniff the air and she'd hold her breath, terribly glad there was no breeze to give her scent away. It was a few minutes before she reached her vantage point- a spot directly opposite Blade's. Heart thumping, she sprang from her hiding place with teeth bared for the kill. The deer reared their heads, eyes rolling in shock as the predator drove into them. They bolted. Straight into the claws of the other hunter lying in wait for them.
Blaze skidded to a halt as a bloodchilling racket erupted inside the bushes, then silence. Blade poked her head out of the bush and grinned.
"Come on, then."
Her friend eyed her critically. "You have some blood on your lip."
They ate in companionable silence for a while, although Blaze kept stealing glances at the other, at increasingly frequent intervals. Blade could almost hear her mind ticking over, and had to grit her teeth over it. Blaze's unease was reaching squeamish point before she said what was on her mind.
"Your eye looks worse, Blade." she said quietly. Indeed, the eye was definitely more swollen than it had been before breakfast.
Blade sighed, finally understanding what was wrong. "Yeah, it feels pretty sore. I wonder if we won't have to amputate it
" She shuddered.
Blaze showed her bloody teeth in a grimace. "I wish I knew what did that." She growled under her breath. "I'd like to tear their eye out, see how they'd enjoy it!"
Blade bit her lip again. "Uh
about that." She turned to face the other seriously. "The creature...whatever it was
looked like you. Black scales, but it had your eyes. I know you'd never do that, though
" Her look turned uneasy at Blaze's reaction. The dragon's blue eyes flashed, and she uttered a furious curse under her breath, clearly upset.
"Wh-what's wrong?" Blade had not expected that reaction.
Blaze turned on her looking very agitated. "It was my sister! I don't know what she'd be doing here, but it was my sister! It must have been.
"She's your-? What the
Blaze faced her again, looking serious. "When I was young, I would see her appear, watching me. I didn't know why she was so interested in me, we'd never had any contact had we? Then one day she told me
but that's immaterial now. Question is, what's she doing here now?"
Blade shook her head, trying to digest the unsettling lump in her stomach. "I wonder if the leader knows, and the rest of the pack."
Blaze shrugged. "She's an introvert. She doesn't show herself in public. I doubt if anyone else has seen her."
Blade shook her head again, but the solemness was broken by a loud burp.
"Well, we should tell them then, but after a nap." The warm day was making her drowsy, and she let her eyes go half-lidded.
Blaze seemed wider awake. "We should at least have your eye checked first."
Her friend sighed, but conceded the point. "Alright. Maybe the medic will have something for it, if he's not looking after herbs today or something."
"You probably will need herbs on it. In fact, I can see it weeping now. It might be infected."
Blade tried not to think about what that must look like. "Well, we better move then. I'd be happy if I didn't wake up later and notice my eye is missing!" She fastened her jaws around the remaining kill, preparing for the journey back to the pack.
A voice rasped,
Nervously, Blade stepped into the darkened hollow, gripping the plump piece of meat tightly in her jaws. She hadn't been in the medics den for a long time, and the unpleasant herb smells once again stung her sinuses. It certainly wasn't her favourite place.
The pack's medic was awaiting her, sightless pale eyes glinting in the murky gloom. The eyes lit up on smelling Blade's offering, and he stepped forward to take the meat hungrily, tearing into it with apparent enthusiasm.
After eating a few bites, the medic's attention turned to his latest patient, studying the youngling with interest. Two silver orbs narrowed as he scented the air.
"I smell poison
" he said after a silence.