The mystery man. Weeks of talking I started to recognize names, gestures unknown to me which by their context could only imply such, some she even explained. There was one along those which was shrouded by the most convoluted combinations, expressions of confusion, which I so referred as such, feeling him being the central point of her story.
I realized she was scared. After a few talk sessions, even after reassuring each other of our trust, in the evening she hugged me, almost like clinging on me for comfort, for safety, which was bewilderingly odd by how her mere presence protected me from the perils of the wilderness. She wasn't shy. She wasn't a coward. If she had to, she even chased off elephants, maybe five times her weight each or more, by repeatedly snapping out her wings, towering on her hind legs hissing down, even leaping in the air to rake their backs! They could trample her fragile wings, maybe even crush her body. Her memories however filled her with dreadful confusion hurting her spirit.
It took me a while to understand that she had some concept on lying, even gestures. The book had absolutely nothing on these, she had to laboriously explain everything. Dragons apparently despised lies and dishonesty deeply. "Dragons talk help. Dragon talk trust. Dragon talk friend", she kept on insisting in agitated confusion along these sessions.
There were a group of people in her stories, at least some individuals who she killed and probably ate. She referred to them as "bad people" at one time, another time, "good people", which took me a while to figure out, to understand how the language could express conveying sentences told in the past by someone else, which again wasn't described in my linguistic book. I got that the "mystery man" told her those people being bad.
- Why you trust mystery man past?
- My friend tell past, me trust mystery man.
- Why he tell past?
- He tell past, he friend mystery man. He tell past then, mystery man nonexistent.
- Do you meet mystery man past?
- Me meet mystery man past. Me lie. Mystery man nonexistent. Me lie. Me lie. Do you trust? Me lie.
She sunk deep, again, every time. I didn't initiate all of these conversations. She brought those painful memories of her up, seemingly wanting to seek comfort in me, my understanding, but I couldn't decipher what was behind. I could only stroke her muzzle to reassure her, unable to really help.
It was something reaching very deep, seemingly some intricate method of horrid mass murder executed by her, but I couldn't be sure. Once she told it one way, then she denied those happening. She not only killed those people who she even told she trusted, but also his friend. She denied eating them, but then condemned herself for lying. When I asked, she was clear on not killing, neither eating the mystery man, but I wasn't sure whether for that he didn't even exist. All the while she kept expressing how dragons use speech for their mutual benefit, almost condemning herself for lying, sinking deep in her misery.
There was nothing I could do except watching her, trying to untangle the mess, hoping I could at least get her out of it. She cared for me, sometimes to the degree of annoyance, and I got very attached to her, stopping me even caring for what the bloody hell she did those people. I just wanted to end it for her benefit. She needed support, serious mental help.
It was a small victory when I realized I can isolate two different periods of that convoluted past, and could steer her that way. It felt like she was put to a trial after her murders. Before that, the mystery man existed and she only killed those people, after, the man was gone, and she also ate them. She mauled his friend dead then. She seemed to believe the verdict as truth, but doubts let me feel that she wasn't confident in that. It bothered me to sway in the direction of accepting that maybe the judgment was bogus, but her innocence and the directness of her explanations tempted me hard.
Then, one day, all of sudden, it dawned on me that she referred most of the people she killed as ones who she trusted! If she trusted them, she had to know them personally, making me hope there was something, some clue in those connections which could answer why these happened!
I was careful to not stir her up, just when she wished to talk. One by one I asked about those, but to my dismay it turned out she got to know them by her friend rather recently to the murders, but all before the mystery man came in play. Then the fourth appeared to be someone who she knew since longer.
- Do you trust fourth man past?
- Me trust fourth man past. He trust lots-of dragons past. Some dragons friend him past.
- Why you kill him past?
- Mystery man tell past, he bad, he lie dragons past.
- Why you trust him? Why you not trust fourth man?
- My friend tell past, me trust mystery man. He tell past, Drino friend mystery man.
I cut her off as hastily as I could without stirring her, almost fainting for the realization! "Drino friend mystery man", meaning likely that the Antaran lords themselves had this man! I felt my heartbeat, shivering, so even there, they even dared to use dragons for such foul schemes! Such an innocent dragon like her who doesn't even understand well enough the concept of lies, how we keep tricking each other day to day with our language!
Calm down, I urged myself. While it was an explanation, I felt I couldn't accept it right away without more proof. So I kept talking with her on the subsequent days as she wished, exploring further the relation between that man and her friend. I couldn't make it out clear, but it felt like he was persuaded in this, to pass her over to that man's commands. I even made out that her friend didn't even knew what she was doing under his supervision. Then if the situation wasn't enough, they confused her in such a manner so she mauled his friend dead in a severe argument, cleaning up the last evidence which could unravel the nature of her murders.
I was furious. So such things were going on there! Land of wonders? All the same! Months ago Mark, the Protector with whom I traveled to Kort dropped a few words on the Antaran lords, that the dragons wouldn't likely want to go away from their land to wage a war against some other country or probably even our King. It didn't exactly connect, but maybe there were people siding with the dragons in this. Someone who knew lots of them might preferred their way. Maybe then the Lords themselves wanted to launch a war? Dave neither seemed someone who would have liked that. Maybe she killed him, too?
It didn't really matter then. The world was bad enough as it seemingly was. I wanted to help her, so I accepted this explanation to be able to untangle her past, just hers, without caring about whatever terrible things happened there. For days when we talked, I tried to straighten the threads the best I understood, honest and direct, telling her those she killed were the good people, but the same time insisting that the mystery man existed. She was relieved by these, relieved to have an explanation even though she did things which she shouldn't have done.
The case of her friend was the worst which I tried to avoid, suggesting that he was also tricked. If what I made out was right, it could have happened, he could have been a victim probably blackmailed into the act. She even seemed to accept how other dragons pounced on her for her actions, exiling her from Drino, although the details for me were uncertain. She might have been saved by them if by law she was sentenced to death.
Was I right to absolve her? Did I even absolve her? She seemed to be absolutely conscious of what she had done, expressing with deep sorrow that she shouldn't have killed them. Was I guilty for easing the life of a murderer? Could she even be judged like a human being? It was an insane situation. Likely someone planned out the murder, to be executed by her, and she did all the killing. Was she aware of what she was doing? She was. She never denied she killed those men only that she ate them. She was clearly not an animal, not even a wild wyvern.
I only saw a wrecked, confused, innocent being in her who was used without remorse to accomplish such a horrible deed ruining her life.
Then the disconcerted soul, her muzzle hanging low before my face, silently gestured "You friend", the "You" almost licking my nose as it was expressed by a long tongue flick. I just stared astounded for a moment until I realized what it meant, to release an elated reply "You friend!" before almost falling to hug her! We were bonded!
The thumps of her heart as I laid by her side in the night, wrapped in her wings got a different meaning, I felt we were one, the deep breaths, the twitches could be mine. I was hers, just as hers as she was mine, as she gently cuddled me to her warm scaly body. I was home.
Next morning after our routines, a long grooming as she let the rising sun heat her spread out magnificence, she got truly eager to move, marching up and down in front of me, shaking and spreading her wings, showing their entire splendor! Just like Xipa did for Messenger, calling him for flight!
She crouched down in her walk, almost nudging me with her shoulder, arching her head over me with a raised ridge of glee. With some worry, I clambered up, feeling her nudging me to help, then by my memories of the saddle, laid flat, gripping on the powerful deltoids. She turned back, and with the tip of her tongue, licked my face before straightening for the run.
I felt shivers running down myself, or maybe it was her, twitching her muscles in preparation for the launch. Then, suddenly my arms tensed taut as her powerful legs kicked forth, almost pressing me to her back before falling, meeting her spine with a thud as she jumped from a second stride, then snapping the huge wings open far forth, to extort a mighty flap down and behind to leave the ground!
My chest was a bit sore from the hit, but who cared as she was pushing higher, her entire body in motion, my palms feeling the massaging of the muscles as they pulled forth and forth again the arms, to work us even higher! Then it went all silent, the wings spread taut for serene soaring, the stark movements abating to nuances, tiny jolts and twitches under the skin as she effortlessly floated on the blue ocean of the endless sky.
I pulled a bit forth to look down by her shoulder, to see the scary amazing sight of the savanna deep below! If I weren't with her, I would have been terrified, but her presence, her confidence calmed me, it was her world to which she invited me. She was home, the magnificent queen of the heights, where nobody reached her!
People, countries, armies marching into wars, gruesome killing, foul politics and scheming all left behind, those were the ground, far, far away below! What were borders in the sky? She could soar over them with an effortless grace, forward and forth, leaving the entire rotten world to drown in itself!
The Trial of Dragon... We did it! We could fly and fly, forever and beyond, everywhere and anywhere until the wars end, the people at last come to peace, together, understanding. We were free!