A Dragon’s Hunt
This is chapter two of A Dragon’s Perspective. To read chapter 1, click HERE
Kehfre. Focus through the sound of the rain. Listen to the animals of the forest. Find your target, find your kill.Kehfre’s Father
A dark fantasy short story featuring Kehfre, a mixed breed dragon living in isolation with her family. With the flying lesson done, she must hunt for food to bring back to her mother. Only in this forest, if one is not careful, the hunter can become the hunted.
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A Dragon’s Battle–Kehfre chapter 2
[The wind will die down when we are under trees.] Kehfre knew this, but her father’s thoughts still calmed her racing heart. The mighty trees ahead swayed in resistance to the storm’s gales. Her legs burned from their squatted movements. Kehfre’s shoulders ached, threatening to release her tightly packed wings. Strong winds and rain assaulted her every move. Her heart lurched, a powerful gust of wind lifted her front half from the ground, threatening to carry her away from the mountain. She closed her eyes, breathing heavily against her father, who held her against the wind.
Despite the severity of the storm, and the focus required to press forward, images of her falling helplessly plagued her every thought. Her heart raced as she again pictured her broken form lying in a muddy crater. [Can’t you just remove the memory from my mind,] Kehfre thought to her father. [Every time the images flash through my mind, I feel like curling up into a ball, never to fly again.]
[No. You need to remember these events, Kehfre. You cannot learn from and correct your mistakes, if you do not remember them.] Kehfre could feel the sorrow in her father’s thoughts. He regretted underestimating the storm. But he did not regret allowing Kehfre to fly through it. [Every dragon must learn to do it. But I will try to find a calmer storm next time.]
True to her father’s prediction, the wind died down once the two of them were safely under cover of the forest trees. Both Kehfre and her father fell to the forest floor. Their chests heaving as they relaxed their wings. Their folded forms to sank partially into the mud. The misty breeze tugged at them, but wasn’t nearly enough to pose a risk.
They dredged through the sodden underbrush, snaking through the wide gaps between the tall, thick tree trunks. Whatever noise they made was masked by the roar of the rain. Kehfre’s father stopped and kneeled on all fours. [Kehfre. There are several animals nearby large enough to take home for you and your mother. Focus on your hearing, just like I taught you, and try to find them. Focus through the rain.] Her father’s thoughts were calm and instructive, but Kehfre’s were racing. She shuffled her stance, muscles twitching, rippling in anticipation of the hunt. Her mouth watered at the memory of her first taste of blood. Kehfre adjusted her stance, struggling to contain the twitching of her tail. [I will not help you in your hunt. You will be on your own this time. Remember what I have taught you.] — Kehfre’s blood pumped hot through her veins. She took a deep breath, closing off her other senses while focusing on the sound of the rain. Visions of herself dashing through the trees in pursuit of deer or green hounds highlighted the emptiness of her belly. A deep gurgle of hunger echoed over the sound of the rain.
[Calm yourself; save that excitement for just before you strike.] Her father’s thoughts echoed through Kehfre. She growled, struggling to focus past the sound of her own heartbeat, let along the rain. She abandoned the effort for the moment. Instead, Kehfre focused on calming herself and slowing her heartbeat. She pictured the mineral pools of their cave. The damp, metallic smell of soaking gold. The sweet scent of the herbs her mother cultivated in the nest. She took a deep breath.
Several creatures were nearby, but their location was indiscernible through the rain. Then the rain slowed, and the sounds grew clearer. A fox was digging into a rabbit hole nearby. She marveled for a moment at the fox not fearing two dragons; perhaps it knew it was too small to be their prey. Kehfre focused harder, moving past the fox, when she heard a twig snap. Another sound—a step from something of substantial weight. The fox stopped digging. There was a sizeable four-legged creature sneaking toward the fox.
The fox bolted. A blood-curdling cry echoed from the larger beast. The beast’s steps were loud and fast. It was large enough for Kehfre. She launched into the air. He partially allowed her to glide between the trees. She touched down, then launched again. With each bound, she gained on the beast. Then she saw it. The creature looked like a giant black cat with short silk hair. It had two long tails, each with sharp scorpion-like barbs at the end.
Kehfre pounced on the creature. Her claws sunk into the mud. The creature had vanished. Where the animal had been was nothing. Kehfre tilted her head, watching the frightened fox dart under a bush. Had she imagined the beast? Kehfre again closed her eyes, expanding her senses in search of her prey.
[Move!] The urgent roar of her father’s thoughts assaulted her clouded mind. Kehfre leaped to the side. The beast hit the ground where she had been. Its sharp claws dug deep into the earth, cracking a bit of rock under the shallow mud.
The creature howled, lunging at Kehfre. Kehfre rolled to the side, swiping at the creature. All Kehfre felt beneath her claws was air. The creature landed and spun toward her. Kehfre stood and eyed the monster. Heat pooled in her chest, threatening to break free. Kehfre and the creature circled one another. A faint orange glow grew in Kehfre’s chest. Kehfre shuttered as the pleasant warmth of new flames spread through her. Her tail twitched; her legs tensed, ready to pounce. The beast vanished. Kehfre growled, allowing the flames to die down.
Kehfre leaped forward, preemptively dodging an attack from above, but none came. She snarled, swaying her gaze over the small clearing. Something raked against the scales along Kehfre’s side. She turned, snapping her jaws. Instead of the air she had expected, Kehfre felt fur in her mouth. A thick warm liquid and a sweet metallic taste soon accompanied the sensation.
The creature thrashing, screeching in pain. Kehfre bit down hard, slinging the creature from side to side. Kehfre heard something inside the creature snap. The creature yelped, franticly fighting to free its self. A sharp pain erupted in the side of Kehfre’s neck. She tried to bite down harder to finish the creature. Instead, her jaw relaxed, and the animal pulled free. The beast attempted to walk away, but its hind legs crumpled. Blood was oozing from several holes in the creature’s back. A large section of bone had broken through a torn away section of flesh.
Kehfre moved forward, but her movements were slow. Her muscles rebelled, refusing to follow commands. The side of her neck was numb. The creature crawled away from Kehfre, stopping just out of her reach. Kehfre kneeled to the ground. Her heart rate slowed, her vision blurred. She was tired. She didn’t feel the need to go further. Kehfre’s father walked toward her through the trees.
[A little clumsy, but well done, Kehfre.] Her father’s proud thoughts were warm and intoxicating to Kehfre. She closed her eyes and allowed her head to fall into the muck that was the forest floor, causing a drop of mud to land on her father’s muzzle.
Kehfre snickered at the sight of her father’s mud-covered snout. She winced at a sharp pain in her neck. [Something’s—wrong.] Kehfre’s thoughts were sluggish and slurred, as though she had not slept in days.
[You fought what the ancients called a Racwä’sëva; we call them jumpers. They possess a powerful magic that creates illusions in the minds of their prey.] Her father looked at the beast, now unconscious in a small pool of its own blood. [The barbs on their tails contain a potent toxin. No need to worry though, the toxin’s effects do not—]
Kehfre opened her eyes sometime later. She looked up through the treetops into the clear sky. The smell of scorched meat brushed against Kehfre’s nostrils. She groaned, her stomach roaring in hunger. She looked over the field. The jumper’s corps was cooked thoroughly and was resting in a patch of scorched earth. [Father must have seared the beast,] she thought. [He knows I don’t like it when he cooks with his breath. At least it’s no longer raining.]
[Good, you’re finally awake.] Kehfre stood when her father’s thoughts reached her. Her muscles were still stiff, but she could move again.
[Where are you?] Kehfre moved toward the warm meal in front of her.
[I am nearby; I have been stalking a bear, waiting for you to wake. The jumper is yours. I cooked it while you slept to prevent it from spoiling.] Her father’s thoughts went silent for a moment. Kehfre shivered. The warm feeling of the bear’s blood in her father’s mouth bled into her mind, accompanied by a satisfying rush of blood to her limbs. [You should eat; you will need your strength for the journey home.]
Kehfre moved to the jumper and ate; the meat was tough but rich in flavor. Kehfre turned her head, attempting to examine the wound on her neck. It stabbed at her with every movement. Her attempts were in vain. The injury was too close to her. Flustered, Kehfre returned to her meal. She was only half done when her father arrived with a decently large bear hanging from his mouth. Kehfre paused, marveling at his strength. The bear was nearly as large as her and he held it effortlessly in his jaws. She groaned, taking another bite.
[You’ll get there one day.] Her father responded to the unvoiced question and admiration for his strength.
[stop reading my thoughts,] Kehfre growled.
[Finish quickly; we need to be air born before nightfall.] This wasn’t a suggestion. Kehfre knew the lower forests were not safe after dark, especially for a young, wounded dragon. [And your mother will need to tend to your neck before it festers.]