Julia the Dreamer

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Chapter 5
You're a Dreamer

“It’s not my fault,” she complained as she sat back. How could he know? Julia’s cheeks reddened again.

“You’re a Dreamer,” Cordyr repeated and shook his head several times. “You’re a Dreamer.”

“Yes, I have dreams.” She was becoming angry. “Everyone has dreams.”

“No. You’re a Dreamer,” he laughed. “You…You.” He pressed his lips together tightly as if frustrated. Cordyr finally found the right words, “You’re a Dreamer. You can Scry.”

Scry. To use divination to discover hidden knowledge, places, or future events. The definition swept through her mind and the meaning shocked her. This was like hearing a dreaded diagnosis.

She stood and backed away, her voice shaky as she said, “You’re mistaken. I can’t do that.”

“You don’t see things in your dreams that come true?” His head tilted.

She shook her head vigorously, “No, I never…” Julia stopped, bit her lower lip, and wrapped her arms tightly around herself as she looked down at her feet. She couldn’t deny what was right in front of her.

“Then you are a Dreamer,” Cordyr said excitedly.

Julia turned around, her back to him. Her whole body trembled, and she could feel her eyes welling as she fought to keep from crying. I must be going insane. This can’t be true.

Finally, after taking several deep breaths, she said softly, “I don’t know. What’s a Dreamer?”

“You truly don’t know?” Cordyr stated, his tone tinted with disbelief. When she didn’t answer, he continued in a sympathetic voice, “From time to time, a Dreamer is born among the Wolf People. Dreamers have the Sight and…well a lot of other abilities. At least that is what I’ve been told. I don’t know a lot about the Wolf People.” He paused, then added apprehensively, “Your people and mine don’t get along very well.”

The revelation that the Dragon People weren’t friendly with the Wolf People surprised her. He seemed friendly when he first woke, which made no sense if they were at odds with each other. She wiped a sleeve across her nose as she spun around.

His wide grin and raised eyebrows made her smile.

“They don’t?” His greenish-blue eyes appeared to sparkle under the full brows.

“I mean we’re not at war,” he tried to soften his comment. “But Frore Heights is an obstacle to trade. There is little contact.” He looked askance at her. “You really don’t know any of this, do you?”

Julia frowned and shook her head. “I was picking berries on my aunt’s farm and then this forest appeared…” She waved her hands at the trees around them. “And now I’m here. You’re here. Giants in red armor riding even bigger hawks. This isn’t possible.”

Cordyr’s lips twisted as he tried to accept what she was trying to explain.

She grew quiet and stood there at a loss as to what else to do or say.

“Possible or not, we’re both here and we need to get moving before the Maynes return.” He grimaced but managed to stand without her assistance. “Maybe Celestral will know more.” He walked toward the clearing.

Julia automatically followed; her options limited. “Is Celestral your dragon?” She thought it was the name of a woman when he called it out earlier.

“Not mine. No one owns a dragon,” he laughed without looking back.

He came to the edge of the clearing and turned back to Julia. “My guess is Celestral took my sword to draw the Maynes away.”

“The dragon did have a sword when she flew toward the mountains.” Julia had no idea why the sword was so important but decided now wasn’t the time to ask.

Cordyr drew a second sword, a much shorter one, from a scabbard at his side and stepped out into the clearing. “She’ll come back to get me once she’s lost the hawks. We’ll be safe then.”

Julia was still rattled by the last few hours and had no idea of what was going to happen next. She could either stick with Cordyr or…Or what?

She walked quickly and caught up with him a dozen steps into the meadow. Julia gazed up as he scanned the sky, but the dragon wasn’t in sight. They looked at each other and smiled.

A screech startled Julia and her eyes focused on the talons of a hawk that dropped like a stone toward her. A frantic thought raced through her mind; They must have been lying in wait for us.

Cordyr pushed Julia out of the way as the hawk landed with a thud between them as she fell.

Julia’s back hurt where she had landed on the quiver, but she still managed to scramble away from the hawk and get to her feet. She was amazed she hadn’t drop the bow in the process.

The hawk was now riderless.

Probably attacking Cordyr.

The hawk peered at her, its eyes flicked and tracked her movements as she continued to slowly back away from it. Armor coated its chest and ran up over the neck. Something resembling a helmet wrapped around the hawk’s head. There wasn’t any armor over the wings. Besides the eyes and beak, the only other exposed area was a space between the throat and body, along the side, which allowed the neck to move.

With a little hop, the hawk turned toward her, its head jerked from side to side, then thrust forward and back as if it was examining her.

With the hawk facing her, Julia could see Cordyr. He stood opposite the much larger Maynes. They circled, but his short sword seemed trivial against the Maynes’ halberd. The hawk rider swung the pole down and around horizontally.

Cordyr managed to jump back, the axe blade barely missing him.

The hawk screeched, opened its wings, and hopped once in Julia’s direction. The movement blocked her view of the battle on the other side.

It’s trying to intimidate me.

She drew an arrow from the quiver and fumbled as she tried to get the dart nocked.

It’s working.

The hawk hopped forward again.

Julia stepped another five feet backward and drew the bowstring tight. She lined up the arrow as details ran through her brain and guided her. Her hand shook even though sweat poured down the back of her neck as she aimed at the hawk’s left eye.  Knowing is not the same as doing.

When the hawk sprang forward, landing not fifteen feet from her, Julia released the arrow. It missed the eye by a few inches and bounced off the armored helmet to strike in the exposed spot between the neck and body.

“Damn.” She reached for another arrow as the hawk nipped at the shaft, seeming only irritated, not gravely wounded as she had hoped.

The hawk’s head swung toward her, and it screeched angrily.

“It’s pissed,” she muttered while lining up the arrow again. Her hand was steady. She wasn’t going to miss this time.

A loud roar filled the air above the clearing and a pair of imposing talons snagged the hawk. The bird screeched as it was wrenched violently off the ground.

The dragon lifted the hawk as the giant bird struggled unsuccessfully to break free. Celestral rose fifty feet or more over the forest, folded her wings and dropped, with the hawk still secured underneath it.

The hawk squawked in terror then let out a shrill scream as the dragon impaled the bird on the tops of several trees.

The hawk’s rider squealed loudly.

Cordyr! Julia’s head spun around to locate him and the Maynes.

The Maynes had evidently watched the attack as it stood shaking its halberd at the dragon.

Julia feared the red-armored rider had already killed Cordyr. She couldn’t see him.

The hawk rider turned in her direction as it had followed Celestral’s attack and the death of its mount.

Julia jumped as the tip of a blade thrust out of the front of the hawk rider’s neck, a stream of black blood spurted out with it. The blade disappeared, withdrawn.

The Maynes turned, even as blood ran down its chest, and lifted the halberd above its head.

It was then that Julia saw Cordyr, a shocked expression on his face, as he held the bloody sword with both hands ready to try and deflect the axe blade.

Rather than swing the long poled blade, the Maynes stood for a moment, then dropped to both knees and finally fell forward onto its face.

Cordyr’s body relaxed, and he exhaled. The sword dipped to rest at his side.

Julia looped the bow over her back and ran over to throw her arms around him. She put her head against his chest and squeezed tightly. “You’re alright.” At some point, she wasn’t sure when Julia had come to trust the dragon rider. And there was something else, a new, different feeling in her stomach. A tightness, but it didn’t feel bad.

At first, he put one arm around her. “Yes.” Then he put the other one around and her heart quickened.

They stayed like that until he asked, “You seem to be safe.”

“Yes,” she answered with a smile, then realized what she was doing and pulled out of his grasp. She’d only just met this man. I don’t know anything about him. Grow up Julia!  She rationalized that having been near death might be the cause of these sudden emotions.

“I…I.” Before she could come up with an excuse, the flapping of giant wings sounded, and wind swept over the meadow. Her head jerked to the side as Celestral landed and filled much of the clearing.

Once on the ground, the dragon took several steps toward them. Julia noticed it walked quietly on the front of its paws like a cat. She had glimpsed the dragon in her dreams, but this was the first time she had seen it this close. Short horns rose like antlers from its head and a raised spine ridge ran down the back of its neck. The wings were bat-like, attached nearer the bottom of the back, close to the thighs.

Julia’s mind quickly did an anatomical and air dynamic analysis, concluding that it was the optimal construct to allow the dragon to fly horizontally. It would provide for greater maneuverability with the head and tail as a rudder, and a greater surface for the wings to capture the wind. The data that flowed through her head also calculated that it should be impossible for the dragon to fly, considering its size. She smiled. This dragon should be impossible to begin with.

Its head swung in her direction, its eyes narrowed as if scrutinizing her before it shifted to Cordyr.

Julia stepped closer to the man.

A claw appeared from under the wing and held out Cordyr’s longsword, the same one that had looked as if afire in her dream.

“Dragon’s Fire.” A wide grin spread across Cordyr’s face as he took the sword. He inspected it as he turned it over before he slid it into the scabbard on his back.

A low-pitched voice entered her head, ‘Did the female hurt you?’

Somehow, she knew the voice violating her mind was that of the dragon talking to Cordyr.

“I didn’t hurt him.” She was offended by the dragon’s accusation.

The dragon’s head snapped toward her, ending with its snout only a few feet from her.

Julia jumped.

‘The female heard me.’

“Yes. I guess I did.” Julia didn’t feel as bold with the dragon’s fangs so close.

Celestral’s head jutted closer; the dragon sniffed, then pulled back. “I don’t like the smell of this female,” the dragon spoke clearly, in a voice that wasn’t much different from what Julia had heard in her mind.

I don’t stink. Her anger was building again. She’d never met a dragon before but was beginning to take a definite dislike to this one.

“She may have been sent by the Red Witch, Asmerilda.” Celestral’s mouth opened wider so her long fangs were prominent.

Julia felt her heart jump when the dragon added, “Should I kill her?”

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