She drunk in the site of the old dragon, something few people could still lay claim to having done. He was easily ten times the size of the more domesticated dragons of late. His scales were grand. Grey, with white and icey blue streaks that caught the light and reflected it prizmatically. His muzzle was long and and his nostrils huge, beneath his mouth his scaley skin hung down like a old gnomes beard. His long claws were sharp and curled inward. His massive tail looked like a burden. The fatty soft underbelly of the old master glistened with the moisture of ... sweat? Did dragons sweat? She quickly jogged her memory of all the dragons she knew.... maybe they did.
A massive flame of heat was thrown from the dragon in a sudden burst.
The woman quickly held her sword high up over head in defense. The fire burned between them. HEAT singed her skin. The dragon seeing her sword roared in anger - red - his eyes narrowed upon her and he crouched ready to pounce upon the ignorant child in his midst.
"I have not come here to kill you!" She said defensively. "I did not come here to die either! I have come because everything within my very being has tormented me to come here. Why does the Ancient White return to my homeland? Why does he call me into his lair? If its the *grandness* of killing the ruler of Jewel," she mocked "The then Ancient White is an old fool!".
Then she snickered softly, scarcastically, lightly, defiantly.
There was silence and then it was broken by a mighting roaring laugh.
"You are cold, I made a fire. I am old. My bones ache from the cold, it is night." It is dark in here and I wish to see you better." The dragon said slyly. "I did not call you here, I was called home by my dreams."
Solitaire held her grip on her sword. She saw the fire die down into a warming glow. The firelight danced in the old ones eyes.
The dragon realized he was the elder here. Something important was to be accomplished this night. All his insight told him one of them would die soon, he saw no need to share that right now. "Your thoughts wander on and off to your horse outside and although he would make a tasty dinner you and I have a long night ahead of us. I am hungry, but not for horse or humankind.". The large dragon circled behind the fire and looked at the woman before him. "Bring your horse and packs inside... I will be back shortly.". The dragon strode towards the back entrance to the cavern. He hesitated and turned. "Do NOT leave my lair while I am gone, I have no tolerance for humankind that waste my time." he demanded, "I *will* hunt you down and torment your kind if you do."
With that he left.
Her belly was full of freshly roasted rabbit. She sat upon her furs, no longer nervous in the presense of the Ancient White. Her horse would not enter the liar. She couldn't very much blame him. The dragon has returned promptly his nuzzle full of blood and his smile foretelling his content with his quick meal. She wondered how the two fat rabbits must have felt when the great beast plucked them from their den. Dragons eating rabbits!
The Ancient White made an effort to share the meal with her. Almost comically nibbling away at one like a squirrel eating a nut. She realized her host was painstakenly trying to make her comfortable. Over the meal he made references to a land far away, where rabbits grew to great heights and lizards were men and other oddities that made her smile.
The old one suddenly winced. Ahhh, he has a toothache. "Open your mouth." she said getting up and moving closer to the dragon. Annoyed and in pain he said "Just give me a minute, it will pass.".
"OPEN your mouth" the woman insisted. "I am not a proper healer, but I do know some of the healing arts, open your mouth and let me see.". The dragon opened his mouth and let the young woman stick her head inside.
She walked over to the fire and selected a long thin branch. Still hot she took out a hunting knife and whittled the charred bark away. The dragon sat watching her. She reached into her packs and removed some tiny packets of herb. She took out two shiny stones from another of her packs and placed them within the embers of the fire. A wooden bowl was filled with water from a bladder.
The woman worked quickly, stirring the mixture of herbs and water. Then she stuck the whittled branch into the fire slowly turning it in the heart of the flames till it was a glowing red. She looked at the dragon hesitantly at first, but then smiled. "If I die fixing some old dragons absessed tooth, then *I* will be famed as the stupid old fool.".
"This will hurt, but it will feel much better quickly and not bother you again." she told the dragon. He opened up hoping she was right. She took the hot poker and stuck it into the tooth peircing the infectious boil and cauterizing the wound. She almost lost her balance with the dragons flinch but she saw the release of pressure and quickly soaked the gums in the tingling numbing potion she had made. She said a quick paladin prayer over the tooth, not sure if the gods would approve or disapprove and returned to her place by the fire.
The woman slept.
The old dragon feeling much better was now in the mood to continue their talk. She was obviously exhausted and perhaps found the resolve to sleep. Afterall no dragon kills its prey without a decent fight. What fun would that be? She obviously knew the ways of dragons. The dragon drew closer to her, careful not to alarm her. After a few moments of careful thought he reached over and gently snipped a small hair from the end of her long braid. He settled backdown on his side of the fire.
Beneath the fith secondary scale on his right side, he kept a small red stone. He took the stone and held it over the hot fire. He placed the hair from the woman upon the top of the stone and gently breathed upon it, fusing it to the stone. The he waited. Patiently.
The scary stone turned a bright orange as it started to sizzle. The old dragon watched as the stone revealed the childs short life. Much of what he had already deduced, was confirmed. She was a leader that never wanted to lead, a slayer that never wanted to slay. She was a crusader for a people she felt an obligation to. She longed to be close to a sister but the paths led in different directions. The only man she chose to love, was not a man at all. He was a teacher, a scholar, with no heart, no lifeforce of his own. He was cruel, yet he could not see this mans face. She had recently chosen her sucsessor and without explaination turned over all of her monarchy to another woman. Why had she chosen another woman? He could not see all the answers. Inspite of the scalding sting pentrating his clawed hand he moved the hot stone closer to the fire, wanting to find more answers. Too hot the stone shattered sending fragments of the gem flying in all directions. The woman tossed in her sleeep but did not wake.
The dragon considered using another of the precious stones, but felt he had probably learned all he could that way. He decided to see if the dream would come again this night and fell asleep.