Lucy found herself unable to sleep for the rest of the day. With every slight sound similar to knocking, she would look straight to the door, certain Ariss had returned to slay her. She was reminded of the decaying body of the dragon, turning to dust for some reason. A shiver ran down her spine, and she decided she had to get out.
It was a quiet night once again. Lucy walked with considerable more hesitation. Each step she took she calculated carefully. She took every corner slowly, peeking around first before committing to the route. At every street she mapped out a variety of escape routes, and thought about where she would go if Ariss managed to follow her again. Paranoia ruled every moment of her time out in the open, and set her on edge. The slightest sound made her jump, and she watched other creatures suspiciously.
All of her preparation was in vain. He had caught her trail, whilst out on a patrol.
Ariss tracked the dragon carefully, determined not to let it run free this time. His sword was drawn, and he kept a keen eye out. He had figured out which direction it was headed, and was moving to cut it off. It had a house at some point earlier, walking along the back and out onto the street. It seemed to know he was looking for it, and was proving a lot harder to stay hidden from. Unease weighed him down, as he couldn’t put his finger on what seemed so wrong with his hunt.
He tried to smother his feelings of doubt with his hatred for dragons, burying it deep within layer and layers of pent up rage. It still managed to rise, slowly but surely, to the surface of his mind. He found it to be a mild annoyance.
It didn’t take him long to reach his planned ambush point, and he waited silently in a dark alley, a few meters away from where he was certain the creature was going to turn out onto the road. His back was pressed against a damp wall, as a misty drizzle decorated the air. It was a menace, clouding his vision ever so slightly, making it harder for him to keep an eye out for his prey.
At last, it turned the corner, peering around.
Lucy saw nothing, and so took a careful step into the road, turning to her left and starting to walk.
Ariss readied himself, his sword shaking slightly in his hand. He counted to five, and stepped out, raising his sword, ready to strike. The dragon froze in its tracks, and fear clouded its eyes. A faint smile crossed his face- the foolish creature had given him an opening. He built the momentum, hauling the sword with two hands, directly toward its neck. Their eyes locked, and for a second, he saw something different.
The tall man stopped mid-swing, and he twisted his hands at an angle, so the leftover momentum instead carried it into his shoulder. He grimaced as the steel blade dug into his flesh, breaking eye contact as he strained to pull it out. The wound let out a pathetic ooze of dark blood, blood that was far, far older than it should be.
He let the sword fall to the ground, putting one hand to the new hole in his coat, and the injury beneath. He pulled away his hand, examining the blood on it, before shrugging.
Over these few minutes, Lucy regained herself and stood there, still rooted to the spot, but in curiosity rather than fear.
Looking back up at the dragon’s muzzle, he spoke. “You’re… you’re not quite like the others, are you?”
She stood still, unable to move.
His smile had melted into a cold stare. “You can understand me, can you not? If you were the others, you would have tried to eat me.”
Lucy managed to shake her head a little from side to side, lifting one of her paws.
“I’ve seen something similar to you before,” stated the man, as they locked gaze again. “Many, many years ago. I was hired to kill it.”
She shuddered, taking a step backwards.
“Don’t. Start running and I’ll cut you down.” He crossed his arms, spreading his feet a little further apart. At the current moment, she was larger than him, and at least ten times longer. At the current moment, he was the scariest thing she had encountered in her life. There was something about his tone, something in his eyes. He had a cold, lifeless feel to him. She could feel his cold from where she stood- she hadn’t noticed it before. She raised her paw again, placing it behind the other. Ariss narrowed his eyes, lowering his head a little so. “You listen to my tone and tell me I won’t.” She flinched, replacing her paw where it was.
“Good.” He said, and kneeling down to retrieve his sword. “Follow me.” He turned around, setting the pace at a brisk walk.
Lucy followed behind, head low, walking quickly behind him. She was careful not to overstep, staying at least two meters behind at all times. His sword was still drawn, and beads of water shimmered like jewels in the streetlights on its shining blade.
Ariss wound through the streets, taking the most direct route he could think of back to where he called home. It wasn’t much of a home, really. He spent the time he had when he wasn’t out hunting, which tended to be most hours of daylight. People didn’t tend to take kindly to men walking around in heavy coats, or drawing swords and fighting what they thought was nothing. He’d learnt that the hard way, in his first week back above ground.
His threats worked on the creature. It stayed quiet and obedient the entire time, keeping constant eyes on the sharp edge of his sword. He twirled it every now and them, reminding it that he had the control of this situation. If it made a single move against him, he would not hesitate to attack.
Eventually they came to his small, dark house. He walked through the gate, which hung drearily on its hinges, rusted and broken. It looked forlorn coupled with the overgrown garden, and created a sense of abandonment.
Lucy looked nervously at the dark windows before her, shuddering at the thought of entering. She stepped over the low fence, treading on soaked grass, her paws sinking slightly in the soft mud beneath. She cringed as she walked across the grass, regretting her decision.
Ariss turned around, looking up at her with a critical eye. He looked back toward his house, and then back to her. “Stay here.” He said, shortly. He did not have to threaten her again, and his words had been short and simple. Lucy bowed her head, staying standing. Watching her closely, he entered his house. He left the front door open, and she heard quiet sounds of movement from within. Craning her head a little, she got a glimpse inside. The door opened into a dark corridor, with two doors leading off. A light came on in the front room, from the first door to the left. The front window was illuminated for a few minutes, her view of what was going on inside hidden by the drawn curtains. Ariss emerged a little while later, a rough leather bag hanging from his shoulder. Lucy tilted her head curiously as he walked through the threshold, closing the door and locking it behind him. He had sheathed his sword, and kept a keen eye on her.
He retreated through the gate, and beckoned to the dragon. “Come.” He said simply, and started to walk.