Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I used the following prompt: “Time to choose.”
“Time to choose,” Silvion said.
“Huh?” I blinked at him, trying my best to comprehend his words. “Choose what?”
“Whether you're going to put your life on the line or not.”
Shane rubbed his head against my face, yipping softly. I transferred my gaze from Silvion to the spectacle in the sky. Two gigantic dragons met high in the air, their large wings gleaming in the sunlight. Both of them threw back their sinuous necks and roared.
This time I didn't stay on my feet. I staggered against a tree, pressing my back against the rough bark, to somehow tether me to reality. When the deafening sounds tapered off, Shane tugged at my pants leg.
On shaky legs, I straightened up and drew in a deep breath. “All right, let's do this.”
Silvion's eyes clouded, but he said nothing. He held out my backpack, and I shouldered into it. Another roar rang through the air, causing me to fall to my knees. Above us, the two dragons seemed to dance around each other.
“You don't have much time,” Silvion said.
I nodded. Shane leaped ahead, and I fell into a trot beside him. I wished Silvion would accompany us. I didn't know him well—no, scratch that, I didn't know him at all—but I still felt safer with him hanging around.
Shane lengthened his leaps, and I increased my own speed. After a short distance, I was puffing and my lungs burned. The last months had drained me of any kind of endurance I'd ever possessed. I forced myself to forge ahead anyway. This was our only chance.
The occasional roars from the dragons interrupted our progress. Neither of us managed to stand on our feet when they thundered their welcome or desire or whatever it was dragons told each other.
Dragons. There were dragons. Hysterical laughter bubbled up inside me, making it even harder to get enough air into my lungs.
The outer walls of the charcoal castle popped into our way and, without thinking, I vaulted the wall. Shane sailed over it as well, and we both landed on rubble and blood-drenched earth. The stench assaulted my olfactory system, and my stomach heaved. It barely left me enough time to bend forward and empty myself.
Shane yowled and emitted the same gagging noises. When I was done, I wiped my mouth on my sleeve and turned around to look for Shane. His little body trembled as he pushed his nose through the debris.
Thousands of dragon scales littered the ground. A cascade of red and black shimmered in the sun. My stomach churned again. The sight reminded me of a bloodbath.
Shane lifted his head and barked. I asked, “What? There are thousands of scales! Just eat one of each!”
He stamped his right forepaw on the ground. When I came closer I realized none of the scales were intact. Swallowing, I squatted down and brushed torn scales aside, hoping to find an unharmed one.
A high-pitched keening sound resounded from the sky. I dared a glance upward and grimaced. The dragons were locked together, only their wings flapped rhythmically.
“I guess they don't need much time to mate,” I muttered.
Anxiety had a firm grip on me, and it was all I could do not to let it develop into a full-blown panic attack. I lowered myself to my knees and shoved aside a high pile of scales. A ray of sunlight illuminated a scarlet scale. My breath caught in my throat as I carefully picked it up.
“Shane,” I whispered. “I got one.”
When he didn't answer, I looked over at him. He lifted his head, a black scale held securely between his lips.