The dragon swooped down and landed in front of us. Her scales gleamed crimson red, her eyes amber orange. She was small for a dragon, about five times my height, but still huge.
"Ahem," said the dragon. "Lord Drakor has sent me to question you two about the whereabouts of a certain shape-shifter.
"What if we don't share our information?" asked Ythakor.
"I will have to torture you over and over until you tell me," replied the dragon.
"Oh." Ythakor muttered something inaudible under his breath.
"Excuse me," said the dragon with a frown. "Did you just call me a dratted fire-breath lizard?"
(Here's a thing about dragons: they have better hearing than cats.)
The dragon started to whirl her tail in a circle, until it made a noise like--well, a whip.
(Another thing about dragons: their tail whips are even more painful than regular whips, because they have little barbs on their tail, and in some cases those barbs are venomous.)
"Okay, okay, I'll talk!" said Ythakor. "No need to be dramatic! I'm Ythakor. My lo--I mean friend here is Luna."
"Were you just about to say love?" I demanded.
The dragon snorted. "Get on with it!" She paused for a moment. "If you talk, I'll bring you meat! Lots of meat!"
"You haven't even introduced yourself yet," I pointed out.
"Lord Drakor told me that I'm not allowed to introduce myself," said the dragon. "I'm only allowed to request you two for information and torture you if I have to."
I turned to Ythakor and said, "Sign language to discuss our plan."
Ythakor nodded. He made the sign for bring out, sticking his snout into an imaginary hole, then taking it out. He then made the sign for mark, pretending to slice his own face with a claw.
I replied with: Mark. Scared. Dragon.
Ythakor them signed: Forge. Dragon. Fire. Special. Fly. Talk. Dragon. Free.
After lots of practice with sign language, I knew what Ythakor meant: Mark is forged by dragon fire, so he's special. He can fly up and threaten the dragon. She'll then have to set us free.
I shook my head. Not. Work. Dragon. Reinforcements.
Ythakor replied with: Take. Chances. Must.
Meanwhile, the dragon hissed. "You two done conspiring yet? Rember, I'll bring you food if you talk." Her tail swished back and forth dangerously.
I turned to Ythakor and made the sign for Lie, laying one paw on my head and bringing it down to my mouth.
I turned to the dragon and said, "Her name is Jo and she can only change into a mammal."
The dragon nodded. "Lord Drakor will be pleased." She flew out of the pit, and returned with a limp deer in her talons.
When the dragon set down the deer, we attacked it with such ferocity that a few minutes later, only several bits of bone scraps remained. I licked my lips.
"That was the fullest meal that I ever had in the last few days," I said.
Ythakor nodded. "Me too."
We both curled up and fell asleep as soon as we closed our eyes.
When we woke up, the dragon was gone.
Ythakor slid aside the rock slab on the ground and said to Mark, "We're safe now."
Mark flew up. "Not cool, man! You just woke me up from the best dream ever!"
"You say that all the time, Mark. By the way, do you know that dragon that came and asked us questions?"
"Oh, that dragon…" Mark went silent for a long while. "I was forged from her fire. I'm really scared of her, though."
"What's her name?" Ythakor asked.
"Her name is Flareon. [Present me: Yes, for real.] She has the hottest fire of all the dragons. I think that's because of how--"
"Just get to the point!" I said. (I know, that was bad.)
"Well," replied Mark, "Flareon is really small compared to the average dragon, but she is famous in the dragon world, second only to Drakor. She's good with tools and weapons, not to mention the fire-breath."
"What's her greatest weakness?" I asked.
Mark replied, "I'm not sure. It was either water or ice. Huh, water. There's a stream on the other side of the pit."
Ythakor turned to me and said, "Race you to the stream!"
Before my brain could process all that information, Ythakor was already halfway across. Man, he was fast.
I started bounding along, but it was too late. Ythakor had reached the stream and drank ferociously from it. I had no idea why he didn't realize that there was a stream--maybe he wasn't in the mood to explore previously.
When his turn was over, I drank from the stream. The water was sweet and fresh.
After I was finished, we raced back to Mark. This time, I won.
"C'mon, Mark." I coaxed Mark to get back into the niche.
"All right." With a yawn, Mark flew back into the niche and fell silent.
The sun was setting. It cast beautiful red and orannge rays across the horizon.
Yawning, I curled up and fell asleep.