Chapter 3

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Afraid of losing her balance and falling, Eva squeezed her knees to Mirthrog’s sides and wrapped both her hands around his spine. The smell of burned flesh hung in the air. She focused on his head. If she dared to look down at the fighting, would she lose her balance falling to certain death? Just one peak, she ventured. Red flashed on the ground like small cameras taking pictures of the fighting, marred the landscape, but behind every spark a fire blazed.

Mirthrog soared higher, until the people became little ants, then dots, soon they vanished.

“Eva, can you breathe?” The dragon’s voice thundered in her head.

The sudden sound jostling her brain startled her. She lost her balance, almost slipping off his back. A sleek twist of the dragon’s torso reseated her.

With a shaky and breathless voice, she answered, “The air is getting very thin.”

“It will be just a little longer. When we clear the battlefield, I’ll come down.” The voice echoed inside her head again.

Eva shook away the rattling sensation left behind by the indescribable feeling of pure thoughts translating in understandable fragments and pictures.

It didn’t take long, and Mirthrog dropped to lower altitudes, where she could breathe better and appreciate some of the scenery.

The warm wind against her face filled her with joy, and she settled between his wings, a bit more comfortable with the idea of flying on the back of a dragon. She lowered her lids to feel Mirthrog’s strong muscles flex under her. It felt good to be in the air again, even if not in space. Eva opened her eyes to look down, gazing upon a lush valley with the bluest river running down its middle. Deep green trees encircled the valley. Up ahead, they closed in on an ominous mountain chain whose peaks vanished into the clouds.

Mirthrog glided forward, his wings outstretched.

Eva tightened her grip on his spike. “Where are we headed?”

“To Saffron’s valley.”

“By the way, who is this Saffron, and why do I need to meet him?”

“You do not wish to meet my good friend Saffron?” He stretched his neck farther back, his eyes focused on her.

“Is he a white dragon also?” Feeling secure, she wiggled her bottom, getting more comfortable on his back.

“No, she is a shiny yellow-orange dragon.”

She cocked her head a bit overwhelmed by the knowledge. So dragons come in different colors. “Does she breathe fire also?”

“No, she does not breathe fire.”

“I don’t understand. Don’t all dragons breathe fire?” She lifted one hand, feeling the wind on her palm.

“That would be a misconception.”

“What?”

“Because of the things I eat, I can breathe fire as you have seen, but to breathe frost I need to change my diet. That is how I made the crystals in the cave.”

“You made the diamonds?” She brought her hand to her mouth, tilting her head. They were diamonds weren’t they? The crawling ants came back.

“No little one they are not diamonds, but they are considered precious stones on my planet.”

“When you breathe this frost, if it touches me, will it kill me like the fire would?”

He looked forward again. “Yes.”

Her thoughts drifted back to Saffron. A girl dragon. What if she doesn’t like me? Will he bring me back to his valley? Apprehension about meeting the dragoness brought a bit of a panic attack. She fought to control her breathing.

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