The cloaked figure walked into the tavern in midday. A small vixen followed her in. As she sat down at the barstool and ordered ale; the vixen laid down beside her master's feet.
"What do ya think laddies?" A man at a table behind her said. Eyeing her has she drank.
"I can smell another bounty hunter." Another said. "I do believe she's moving in your territory Wolf."
"Arr.. I say we have a chat with her aye?" The big burly man stood up. His stubbly face grinned and the patch over his right eye moved with the wrinkles. His beer belly protruded from his tight pants and the two sword scabbard behind fit one around his waist and the other over his shoulder. The small satchel of gold chingled with every step.
"Hey there lassie." The man said as he sat beside her. The vixen perked her head up. Sensing. Her master remained silent and stared at her ale.
"Lassie do ya know it's polite to respect yer elders. Why don't you speak up? You know you're on Wolfie's territory don't ya?"
"There's no such thing as a territory for someone like you." The stern voice said.
Wolf laughed heartily. "Is that a challenge? Want to muscle me out do ya?" The other crowd laughed behind him.
The figure smiled secret behind the cloak. "If that's how you want to see it. I can challenge you or you could just quit while you are ahead and leave."
The laughter stopped.
Wolf chuckled. "I'll stick to yer challenge. Name yer terms lassie."
"Since I know everyone else here has some sort of bounty the two biggest ones must remain here." She pointed to a scraggly old man with one gold tooth, "And the and the man behind you Wolf."
The man choked on his drink. "I do not have a bounty on me! Wolf would have already gotten me if I did."
"I don't think so Filcher. You are wanted on the recent charge of stealing from a winery and thieving."
"What winery?! I didn't thief from no one!"
"That bottle in your hands fool. And I've seen cutting gold satchels."
He looked at the bottle. "I don see nothing that says I stole this here bottle of fine wine."
"Do you have the cork?"
"I don't see what a cork would have to do with me." He pulled it out of his pocket and handed it to the figure.
She studied it. "Hmm...Fine wine indeed seeing how it is from the royal chambers."
The crowd gasped. The man stuttered. "I...I...How do ya knows that?"
"Simple. They put the royal coat of arms on the bottom of the cork. And only the royal winery does this."
Wolf shrugged. "You brought it upon yourself laddie. Anyways so these two stay for the winner aye? Is that all?"
"No. The loser of the battle must give up his weapon used in the battle, gold in possession and bounty hunting. Seeing how most do not live or they surrender."
Wolf laughed again. "Big terms for a small woman. Show yerself I'd like to know who I'm crushing beneath me."
She removed the hood from her head. Her long blonde hair was pulled into a ponytail. Wolf viewed her from the side. She was at the corner of the bar where wall meets wall and there was no one else at her other side.
"Ahh... A lovely woman indeed. The yellow hair of the fields and the green eyes of a fighter. 'Tis a lovely woman indeed. Thin but not bone thin and ready to fight. But lass it looks like you have not seen many fights like I have. You need scars milady in order to prove yer point. I'm sure when this fight is over you may rethink about yer young and beautiful body that is going to marred when I beat you."
"And you sir need to look a lady over more fully. I have seen many fights, but I have always been the victor. To my count I have lost only one fight. And I have eighteen years behind me. And I do carry a scar sir."
Wolf asked in a more serious tone, "For someone as young as you milady... Who may I ask defeated you?"
"...My father. He trained me in swordplay and before he left me for my own at sixteen we fought, and he won. He scarred me for me to remember that I always have one better."
"A lovely tale milady. Where be yer scar?"
She turned to face him fully.
Wolf's eyes became wide has he saw what she was talking about. Her left eye was a golden yellow color around the iris and just below that was a scar shaped like an "X". One line curved from in front of her ear down her jaw and ended just before her chin. The other was one her cheek just below her golden eye and crossed the first and ended below ear lobe.
The woman watched his reaction. She chuckled, "Here you are talking about your manly scars. Does a woman with a scar disgust you?"
Wolf gathered himself. "Ahem. Err...no lassie but you said you only have one scar."
"But uh...What about yer eye there... That be no natural color."
"It is too me. I've always these colored eyes. But enough with the talk." She grew stern. "You are prolonging your death."
Wolf laughed heartily. "Arr...Lass we have a challenge to complete." He gulped his ale. "I will use one sword of mine. Err...I saw now visible weapon on you lass."
"I've got mine. In fact I'll let you pick my weapon."
She removed her cloak completely. Revealing that she was in a warrior's battle dress. She wore an armor plate on her right shoulder and a metal band around her right wrist. A leather belt with a dagger scabbard held the animal skin skirt she wore which was short. She glared at the gawking men. Her midriff was exposed. Her top was also sewn animal skin. She wore leather boots. Leather gloves were worn and broken in. The fingers cut out for a better feel of a sword. The left glove extended to half of her forearm composed of leather straps and buckles.
Her weapons her dagger at the side, a leather whip behind her and a broadsword strapped to her back.
"Quite an assortment there lassie. You said yer papa trained you in swordplay."
"I did and he did teach me. But...I've picked up a thing or two along my travels. Take your pick. I'll even fight you barehanded against your sword."
Wolf laughed again. "Har har har... You may be a good warrior, but I will see. I'll not let ye die by yer own hands." He looked at the weapons, and saw his opportunity to gain the upper hand with a weapon. "Take yer whip. I'll cut through it with me sword. You'll see what a real battle is lassie."
"Fine. I'll fight with the whip. I'll disarm my other weapons." She noticed the two theives she selected earlier slinking away. "Hey you two... You're part of the bargain. You're not going anywhere."
"Try and stop us." Filcher said and broke into a run leaving the old man behind him.
"Vixen!" the woman called.
Instantly the fox woke up and bounded in front of the man. She curled her lip, raised her hackles and stood in front of the door.
"You expect your fox to stop me?" Filcher said.
"No I don't. But she can track anything better than I know. I'll find you myself. You may want to stay after the fight." She said, smiling.
"Stay there Filcher." Wolf commanded. "If this lass is right and I win. I'll be taking you and that walking mummy in." She began to unbuckle the dagger from her waist.
"Ahem...Ya never did tell me yer name lass." Wolf said.
She froze. Her name... she thought. I never have told my opponents my name...Why does this one care? She fixed her odd colored gaze on him. She narrowed her eyes on him. His back was turned to friends of his. Her internal voice slipped into a serpent sounding voice. Rasping internally. He is cold. I shall end him here. Humans are sad creatures. She shook her head of the conversation.
"Eh?" Wolf said turning to her.
"My name...It's Haku." She said blankly.
"Haku? Hmm...What part of the country are ya from. That's not a name heard around these parts."
"Oh...The North eh?"
"I from the mountains...My mother moved my father there for her health and being expectant with me."
"That's a harsh living..."
"Enough stalling you bastard."
"Aye. Let's go."
The vixen watched her master go outside. There was a flat clearing in front of the bar. The village was still a while away. The people left eyed her warily. Wolf was unaware of what the stare was about for he was walking in front of her.
They faced each other a good distance again. His sword drawn; her whip in her right hand.
"...Ready." She glared.
Wolf charged taking is sword in both hands. He planned an uppercut for a quick kill. Haku easily dodged it and wrapped her whip around his right leg and pulling it out from beneath him. The crowd remained silent.
"Ya knock the wind out of me eh?" Wolf wheezed.
She continued her angry glare. Whip ready.
Suddenly, Wolf lept upwards into the trees. She ran to where he had been.
"You'll have to do better than that lass." His echo voice bellowed.
I lost him She extended her hearing into the very depths of the clearing and the forest surronding it. She stood as a statue. Eyes closed. Concentrating, hearing.
Wolf eyed her from the shrub he was behind. Surely he lost her. An ideal spot is behind her. He slipped into the growth amongst the trees.
She heard him. I hear the very breath he takes. She remained still. Eyes open waiting.
Further he crawled. Stowing his breath. No change from her. She still hasn't found me. The lass will regret the challenge given to me. He moved slower. slipping through the branches undisturbing them for fear of noise.
He froze. He found himself in the stare of a dragon. A red-eyed black dragon was permanently staring angrily. It's on her back. It resembles the markings the sailors come home with to gather the ladies. I ain't never heard of a woman with ink on her back. The dragon in flight glared angrily. Each of it's wings spread across her shoulder blades. It's strong forelegs dangled in flight with the menacing claws flexed to grasp something. The back legs were straight out against the black tail that ran down the right side of her back. Barbs ran from head to tail with a yellow under belly. Two slight curved horns came out in the back of the dragon's skull. Crocodilian teeth lined the closed jaw. Those eyes.
"They be death..." Wolf whispered without realizing.
Haku turned her head slightly. Wolf realized that she must have heard. Dragon or not...Nothing stops me. He charged once again out of the bushes.
Haku faced her oppenent and blade met her leather protected hands. Wolf knocked her down with his weight, but she was holding him back.
"What do you think lass? Old Wolf ain't bad for his age." He smiled and pressed harder on the sword. His sweat dripped from him. It landed on her neck, and ran off to the side.
She remained angry. It showed in her narrowed eyes.
She said nothing as the sword cut through the leather and her own red blood ran down her arm. She curled her lip revealing her teeth. Always white and straight.
She bent her elbows to flex gathering strength.. Pulling the putrid sweating man closer to her.
She got her legs underneath his bulk. She smilied under the strain.
Wolf has confused. But not for long. The next second he found himself in the air upside down and headed for a tree.
It worked. She said to herself looking at the dazed man at the foot of the tree.
Wolf brought himself back into reality. He reached about for his sword for a second. He found it a second later. Headed through the air. Aimed for his heart.
Haku felt the life ebb away from the victim. Cut down by his own blade. Classic. Growling voice in her head said. She shook it away.
The onlookers looked at Haku. She looked at them.
"What?" She asked meeting the gazes.
"You've won. Now what?" A man said.
"Well? What about his gold and weapon?" A younger man said.
"It is not honorable to rob a fellow dead or alive of his possessions." She said. "I'll take these two." Gesturing to the cowering figures. "It's the only thing I've rightfully won."
"But your terms..."
"He gave up his weapon, gold and bounty hunting upon his death. The terms of the battle are fullfilled." She bound the two theives together by their hands and put on her cloak. She left the hood off to enjoy another victorious day. She whistled for her vixen to follow her.
Victory comes too easy these days. She thought as she drug the theives to the nearest sheriff.
Her home was a cavern hidden by a waterfall. She stepped in and through her newly obtained gold pieces on her wooden round table and through the wet cloak over one of the chairs. The vixen curled up next to the fire pit in the center of the room. She took her other wet things and put them by the fire to dry. She put on her lengthy night shirt (Which was actually a man's short too long for her.) and laid down on her feather bed with animal skins for blankets. Another day another fight or outlaw to capture. Her last thought before her weariness took over.
The chase had seized her. Her hunting instincts taking over. Hot and sweaty she stopped for breath. She lost her vixen who was still tracking they prey. She bent over with her hands on her knees to still her breath. She felt the presences behind her. It was large. the shadow towering over her. She turned her head to meet the glowing red gaze of her own pursuer. The first time she felt fear was then. The shadow grew closer. The grounding shaking footsteps sent her into a blind run. "Vixen!" She called but she only was answered by the fox's yipping growing more distant. She tripped over an upraised tree root and she fell on her hands. She turned on her back and saw the long neck and head still in the shadows. The eyes still glowing red. She turned over to sprint away, but a large clawed foot came down and pinned her. The head drew closer. She could feel the hot breath upon her. She called her vixen again. Which was answered by nothing. The snout of the beast was beside her ear. It's smelling me. A breath was exhaled directly into her ear. The head moved away again. The paw moved away from her back. She turned her head to see the red eyes again, and the paw coming down again. The force and weight sunk her into the ground. Sticks and leaves poked her skin and her eyes. She was sure there were leaves in her hair which was halfway falling out. The muscles in the hand of the creature flexed and lifted a little above. Haku turned again to see the hand and claws hovering over her. She remained on her stomach. A small scratching sensation overcame her on her back. Slightly soothing. It slowly became harder she winced as the claws dug deeper not breaking the skin. Then two painful scratches were made behind her shoulder blades. The claws dug deeper in her flesh at the two long, deep gashes at her back. She could no longer bite the scream back as the tears rolled down her face.
She was in her room. Her vixen stared at her with her ears perked towards her. The fire was dying. Haku was damp with sweat. The blankets were violently tossed awry in the bed.
"It was just a dream." She said as she brought her legs towards her chest and hugged herself. The vixen leapt on the bed sensing her master's distress. Haku reached to pet her. She froze with her arm outstretched. She realized that the excruciating pain was still at her shoulder blades.
She winced all the way down to her hot springs for her bath. Aside from the pain shooting to and fro on her shoulder blades, she had sat so long on her bed on her bed that her knees and elbows were cramping too. Also, after having a rough night she also had a pounding headache. She growled, cursed, mumbled and moaned all the way down.
Her vixen dare not cross her master. She smartly followed a few steps behind.
Haku slid into the pool. The warmth slightly relieved her screaming pains. She brought a skin of tea to relieve her headache. Her vixen meticulously began cleaning her own fur. Haku let out a relieved sigh. Aside from the sulfuric smell the bath is what she needed. She took her bath oils and made a lather. She made a motion to go and wash her back. Haku met the stare of the dragon on her back, and instantly remembered her dream. The muscles around her back tingled and slowly became painful again. The claws of her darkness came again.
"Grrr..Fuck it." She growled hastily got out. She dried off and grabbed her night shirt and stomped back to her lair.
She sat at the barstool later that evening. Haku contemplated the meaning of her dream for many hours, and needless to say many drinks later. She sat thoroughly flushed and still staring at the same spot on the counter with her mug. She was the last of the costumers. "Do ye plan on letting me go home missie?" The bartender said leaning over his counter. She averted her stare to meet his. Obviously, her odd- colored stare gaze silenced him. It was he that turned first and sent another drunken man out of his fine establishment. Haku took her last swig and slid off of her stool and headed towards the door. Her dizziness caused her to steady herself with the doorframe.
"Are ye alright there lass?" The barkeep said. She turned her bloodshot glare on him again. Her cheeks flushed from drink, her hair quickly thrown back into a ponytail, and her own unsteady stance wavering clearly expressed herself. "Aye, then, off ye go. Good night to ye." And with that he sent her off with a friendly half-grin and a half-bow. She then turned her own gaze and staggered out the door. Her companion soon trailed after her.
Haku staggered around the wood nearby. Her soberness was coming very slowly and with a pounding headache. The dark of the night in front of her sent the mist swirling around her feet.
"Damn. Why do I go into those taverns and drink my sense away?" She swore at herself. She sat at the base of a tree. "I guess resting here won't be so bad. I won't make it back to my home. At dawn I'll continue home. Then I will rest fitfully."
Her vixen sidled against her. She reached out to coax the vixen closer. Her arm was fully extended until she noticed something different. What is this? Her fingernails were black, curved and pointed. They pushed through the tips of her gloves. The pain ran down her hand and dissipated.
Her vixen had pointed her ears fully at her master.
This is not drunkenness. What is happening to me? The pain returned at her left wrist and crawled up her fingers. She watched her hand change into the same. Some sensation crawled over her. She felt the tips of her ears pull and point. Her top jaw became painful. Haku felt her teeth shift and her canines lengthened. Pain came at her ankles her feet grew longer. She felt the toenails also grow. They pushed against the boots. A sudden headache hit her forehead. Pain shot down her neck and back. She put her head between her knees. Haku felt her ears point and lengthen; losing their normal shape. Her fingers swept her hair. She felt two budding horns. The middle and ring fingers lost their feeling momentarily. There was a painful knot forming at each of her elbows. She brought her hands down here she could see them around her lengthening muzzle. The two fingers were becoming one. The fingers and claws were becoming longer and bigger. Haku howled at the pain on her back. Each of the vertebrae were poking and cracking. A row of black barbs starting at the bridge of her muzzle began running down her back to the top of her pants. Her back pulled again it was making room for her tail that suddenly burst from the seat of her pants. She sat up and looked at her changing body. Her skin was changing a deep blue-black for the base of her claws and spreading across her hands and up her arms. The two horns were silver, long and slender. The knots at her elbows had become an extended claw. Another row of spines started at the base of her wrist and grew back to her elbow-claw. She noticed that her neck had lengthened. Haku turned to face the tree and stood up. She instantly lost her balance and leaned against the tree. She looked down and she saw three clawed toes. As she stood, she felt the bones of her foot pull and lengthen painfully. Haku groaned at the pain, but her groans of agony became growls. Her heel of her foot tingled it also grew a black claw. Haku shut her eyes away. Another slow wave of sensation crept over her. Slowly she felt her legs expand against her pants. Her calves bulged. The pants up to her knee burst at the sewn seams. Tears began to stream out of her eyes. Haku dug her claws into the tree; the wood snapped easily from the strength of her hand alone. With this action, her upper and forearms burned and bulged. She let out a howl of pain that carried along the mist unanswered. The seat of her pants ripped more with the widening tail that was giving more Haku more balance. She felt the tail finally touch the ground and rest there. Another wave fell over Haku. Relief washed over her. All of the previously tense muscles relaxed. Her left hand released itself for the tree and rested against it. The right also was let go and dangled idly. Instead of squeezing her eyes shut, they relaxed. Haku rested her muzzle against it. She felt not her long blonde hair, but small scales, the row of malleable barbs and the two horns. She began panting. Her elongated jaw slackened revealing long jagged pointed teeth within the jaws. Her tongue hung loosely. She drooled and her saliva dripped down and on to one of her feet. She half-opened her eyes. Her body rested for a while. Haku didn't move. She stared blankly at the canyons and ravines amongst the tree bark. Her line of sight eventually went to the front of her golden-yellow underbelly. Her horns grew to be as long as the lengths between her claw point and her elbow before the claw. Her bloodshot eyes were red now. The iris's the same color. Her new skin could not cover her scar across her cheek. Instead, it was a darker blue-black.
She felt the next change oncoming a fraction before it happened. Her draconic eyes widened in alarm. Her dream replayed in front of her eyes twice as fast as it was. She took in one gasp of air and rolled her shoulders forward. She squeezed her eyes shut again, clamped her crocodilian jaw shut. The dragon once again was scratching her back hard. She stood there cringing for a long moment. Then, in one fast motion she rolled the back and bent her back backwards. The claws dug in very painfully. It popped and a cracked. She released the air she taken in her first monstrous scream. It carried further than the first and surely to the surrounding towns and the tavern behind her. She lurched forward again and again the tree was victim to her claws. Haku dug them in and then slid to her knees pulling rows of bark with her. Two lumps formed on her back just below her shoulders. She then covered her face in her hands and pulled it just above the ground. The lumps grew in size and pulled at her back. The side of her face went into the ground. She was crying at the pain. Two small, deformed arms were at her back and still growing. A tiny, clawed thumb at top. Skin webbing formed between the long thin fingers. The bones broke and grew rapidly long towards the start of her tail. The longest finger just past the shorts she now had on past her thighs. The tips of the wing rested on the ground. It stopped. The sudden rush of pain was over. Haku panted again; dragon tears still running down her face. Her body demanded sleep. She heaved one great breath and shudder and shut her odd- colored eyes. The mist was her blanket.
The droplet held on to the leaf as long as it could. It later released its grip and plummeted. It landed on Haku's eyelid. She stirred and moaned. Another droplet landed on top of her head. Haku released a low growl. She pushed herself up onto her knees. She rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and opened them.
It was a dream. A painful one but it was a dream. Everything is normal. She turned and looked around at her surroundings. It must have rained last night. Everything is soaked. She stood and looked all the way around. It must have stormed. Lightning must have hit that tree. aren't burns. Those are. Haku looked down at her clawed hands. Another roar broke the silence of the woods. She put her back against the tree and slid down. She put her face in her arms. For the first time in a long time she sobbed.
The soaked vixen crept out from under the bush. She shook the loose water off of her fur. She laid eyes on her master by the tree from last night. She has never seen her master cry. She cocked her head to one side in disbelief. The thing by the tree was her master. Her scent never changed neither did her aura. The vixen remembered crawling under the bush when her master stopped making awful noises and changing. That's when the downpour started. The vixen shook herself of any more thoughts. She took a deep breath and walked towards her master.
Haku picked her head up. Her fox was there looking at her with almost concern for her. Haku reached out her clawed hand to put the fox. The vixen drew back for a moment but went forward and put her soft fur under her palm. Haku stroked the fox for a while.
They stayed there for a while. Haku got up and picked up her wet cloak from the ground. "Let's go Vixen. I want to see what the hell is wrong with me. First I need to buy a tunic or something." She put the cloak over herself and covered her head. She managed to learn how to fold her wings under her cloak.
The pair headed for the nearest town. The clothing vender stared at Haku for the longest time when she said she needed the biggest man's tunic available.
"But lassie I can see from under yer cloak ye don't need one that big." The confused woman said. Haku rolled her hidden eyes.
"Listen lady it's not my fault that my father got all fat as soon as my mother died." She growled as she made it up.
"Oh.I beg yer lass take it. No charge."
"Thank you." She snatched it quickly so the woman couldn't see her hands.
"First thing's first. It's time we visited Dad right?" She said to her partner with a snarl. "Tomorrow night." She turned for a while until she could find the most comfortable way for her to sleep
She got a room at the inn next to the market. The tavern tempted her with many crooks looking to get turned in. It was practically a gold mine with beer.
"Best not take their heads in. I'm likely to get my own cut off like I am now." Haku had a drink brought up to her room. When the maid was gone she removed her cloak and unfolded her wings. "That feels better. I was getting a cramp." She moved them about to stretch the muscles she wasn't accustomed to.
Her vixen cocked her head when she did this.
"It's okay. I'm still me." She said. She looked down at her claws. "Hopefully I won't have to stay like this forever." She took her dagger and cut the holes in her tunic. She had to cut away the remnants of the old shirt. She had to cut a larger head hole for her snout and she also had to cut off the sleeves. She cut the rest off up to her waist. "That's better." Haku yawned also stretching her jaw muscles. "But now it's time for all young dragons to go to sleep." She yawned once more and laid down on her stomach. Her tail draped over the side with her left hand and foot.
Her call came sooner than she thought. The banging on the door promptly threw her out of the bed and straight on the stone floor of the inn.
"Wake up in thar. Here's yer wake-up now an' get out!" The awful landlady said. Haku growled.
"Shut yer trap wench! I'm getting out of this hellhole."
Haku grumpily grabbed her cloak and threw it on over her wings again. She yanked open the door. The sun was setting and the evening crowd would be there soon.
"45 gold fer the room, drink and wake-up." The old woman said holding out a grubby hand.
"I owe you 15 and nothing more." Haku said make sure no one else was coming.
"It's robbery fer what you're charging for staying in this pit."
"45 gold is what I want"
Haku, in a rage, grabbed the woman by the neck and put her up against the wall. "Listen bitch, now you owe me your life for sparing it. Let me go in peace."
The woman unable to breathe looked at Haku's muscular, blue-black arm and into her red eyes. She nodded.
"That's what I thought." She dropped the woman and headed for the woods. "Stupid human." She muttered.
Haku took her time getting to her father's cabin in the woods. She wanted to make sure that it would be nice and dark. She walked up to the door. She could smell the warm fire and Dad's meat cooking. She took a deep breath through her nose and let it sigh through her mouth. "Here goes nothing."
She pounded on the door with her fist.
"I'm coming! Don't pound down my door!" He pulled the door open to the cloaked figure. "Who are you?"
"It's me Dad. Haku."
"Well, why didn't you take that silly cloak off so I would known it was you." Her father said lightly.
"I can't. At least not out here. Dad, I've changed and I need your help." Haku said pleadingly.
"Well if it's that serious come in then." He said more seriously. She came in the open door and he cautiously shut it behind the vixen. Well, what's all the fuss?" He looked at her figure through the cloak. "Well, you're taller than I remember. Is that what this is all about?" He laughed.
"I wish it were Dad. There's more to it than that." She said sorrowfully. She took her clawed hands out from their cover of the sleeves and pulled the hood away. Her wings unfolded automatically. Haku dreaded the sight of her father's face at that moment. After a long silence her father's face changed into a deep scowl.
"You are not my daughter. My Haku is human. A human girl!"
"Dad please it is me!"
"Shut up beast!" He charged her with the steak knife.
"Dad please!" She took a step backwards. She knew she could easily kill her own father. "Wait, Dad! Look at my eyes." She frantically said.
He paused. He glared at the draconic figure on its knees and then gazed deeply into its eyes with his deep green eyes. They were pleading but there was something familiar about them. One green, one gold. He still stood scowling at the dragon in his house.
Haku lost her hope as her father glared at her. She turned her head away when the tears came. Her vixen came close to her.
His eyes widened in what he saw. It is Haku. Those eyes and that's the scar I gave her. It can't be anyone else. Oh gods, why did it come now. I had hoped she would be spared. He dropped the knife. "Haku?" Haku lifted her head. " gods I had hoped it wasn't true." He said kneeling down next to her.
"What are you talking about?" Haku said. "What do you know?"
"Don't bother old fool." A haughty woman's voice said. Both Haku and her father turned to the doorway. Standing there was a woman dressed in fine clothes and two giants of men on either side. Haku got up and put herself between the grunts and her dad.
"What the hell are you talking about?" She said with a snarl.
"What a fine young beast, I knew you'd be perfect." The woman said stepping towards Haku.
Haku narrowed her red eyes. Even angrier, "What the fuck are you talking about?"
"Tsk, such language. She is perfect even with those eyes and that horrid scar you gave her."
"Back off Linette, I don't want to give her to you." Her father said from behind her.
"You know this bitch?!" Haku yelled at him.
"Yes, tell her. Tell her what I am to her Gan." Linette said with a wicked grin.
" is." Gan stuttered through.
"This is taking too long spit it out, human!" Linette yelled.
"Haku this is yer mother." Gan said remorsefully.
Haku turned to the woman. "How, you told me my mother died from sickness!"
"He only wishes it were true." Linette said again with the smile.
Haku wanted to claw it off her face. No, that's not what a human does. "What the hell do you want with me?"
"I want to help you."
"To hell you do you bitch!"
"Haku, please. I am like you. I made you the way you are. This is what you are supposed to be. I want to help you with your new body. And I don't want you to be this horrid, groveling creature on the ground. We are superior to the humans, and we are the ones that should be ruling over them. I can train you to use that body in the way that it is supposed to. You enjoy hunting right. Hunt like that. There's an even bigger enjoyment like that."
"Shut up already!" Haku roared and shook the house.
"Please, Haku, just go with her. She could help you with that body more than I could." Gan said quietly behind Haku.
"Please, Haku. I don't wanna see you in pain like that. Get what you need. You need to go with her. She's the one who caused you this distress; she's also the one who can fix it."
"I knew I'd win." Linette said smugly.
"Shut up already!" Haku and her father said in unison.
"C'mere." Gan said to Haku. She bent down to her father to give him hug. He kissed her scaly head careful to avoid the spines. "Watch her carefully Haku. Don let her hurt you. You are always welcome back here to yer home. I'll make sure that I visit to check up on you."
"If this disgusting ritual is over, we can leave now?"
"What about my vixen?" Haku said bending over to pet her.
"She can't go up in the air. It'll kill her." Linette said harshly.
"I'll bring her on my first trip to ya. I know she wants to be with ye. I'll message you before I come." Haku's father said.
"Alright. No harm will come to them, right?" Haku glared.
"As you wish Haku. May we leave now? The people want to meet my daughter."
"Alright. Let's go." Haku said sadly.
They walked out the door and into the open area in front of Gan's house.
"Let's go home." Linette said. Through the open back of her dress, came to large red and gold wings. A tail tip poked out from the bottom. The two large guards transformed fully into two green dragons. Haku noticed not once wince or gasp of pain. They just kind of melted into their new forms.
"What's the matter Haku?" Linette turned around to face her around her large wings. Haku gulped. "I'll never get used to that." She noticed that she was still larger than either of them.
"Well, up in the air you go."
"You haven't flown yet?" Linette asked.
"Well it's easy to learn. It's almost second nature." Linette said. "Jump and flap at the same time."
She demonstrated. The guards soon followed. "Now you try."
"Uhh." Haku attempted but her feet landed straight on the ground. She got frustrated. "Grrr." She stomped off a distance.
"Haku.?" Linette asked swooping down.
"Move!" Haku charged through and leapt into the air flapping her wings. She gained lift and passed her mother and the guards.
"Well, well..Nicely done."
"Are we going or what?" Haku said hovering.
"I told you it was second nature."
"Not mine. The first thing I'm learning in this body is how to change back like you. I hate this form." Haku snapped.
"Why? It's beautiful."
"Just shut up and lead."
They flew for miles. Haku got used to the air moving beneath her wings and blowing across her airstream body. It almost felt as if the very mountains were bowing to her.
"Look down Haku. There's your new home." Linette said pointing to a valley.
Haku couldn't see it even with her sharp new eyesight. Then the mists parted to reveal a grand city decorated in festival. They swooped lower. People were cheering, music playing. The streets were packed with bodies that seemed relatively human. Linette landed on a balcony. Her wings melted into her back. The two guards landed on either side of her. They stayed in their forms. Haku stayed in the air hovering over the people. Parents were pointing her out to their children, lifting them up to see her. The children waved to her. Haku nervously waved back. She turned to Linette. Linette motioned for her to land on the balcony. Haku glided down. She missed the balcony and skidded on all of her claws in the room behind it. She cursed and snarled. The maids in the room cowered from her angry glare. She heard her mother speak.
"Friends, I have returned." Linette said. The crowd roared. Haku stepped closer. "If you haven't guessed I brought my heir with me. My lost daughter, Haku. Welcome her." She motioned for Haku to step out onto the balcony. She shyly stepped out. Then the crowd threw flowers streamers and cheered until Haku thought they were hoarse. Linette raised her hand again.
"Please welcome Haku home when you see her closer. She wants to be with the people."
"I want to what?!" Haku whispered loudly. She snarled at the guard who was clearly younger and clearly looking at her tail end.
"If you didn't hear correctly, you are my heir to this kingdom."
"Now first, priestess, take Haku down to your chambers and teach her how to change."
"As you wish milady." The tall, skinny priestess dressed in all black grabbed Haku's arm and led her down a set of several staircases into a dark room with a beam of sunlight as it's source of light coming through a hole in the ceiling.
"I hope she didn't mean for you to teach me how to change my clothes like this. I'm not taking my clothes off in front of anyone."
The priestess laughed. "Good heavens no. She meant for me to teach how to change back into your human form." She said getting a book from the shelf.
"What a relief it is to know that. I was a afraid that I was going to be like this forever."
"The gods wouldn't be that cruel. Now, take a deep breath. Stand there. Now relax everything and concentrate on your human form."
Haku moved into the beam of sunlight. She shut her eyes and slacked everything. Her wings drooped. Her shoulders slacked, and her tail was lifeless. Minutes passed. She concentrated on her form for what seemed like forever.
"Is anything happening?" She opened one eye.
The priestess shook her head. "I don't understand. It usually happens so smoothly. Just like that."
"This doesn't happen often does it." Haku said.
"Not really. We haven't had somebody who couldn't change for. so long I don't even remember the last one."
"How's it coming down..here.." Linette said as she descended the staircase and saw Haku hasn't changed. "Why haven't you changed? Don't you want to appear to be human?"
"I want to get out of this leather bag body just as bad as you want me to! In fact, I don't even want to the hell I am! I blame all of this on you for making me a freak with a body that doesn't even work right!" Haku roared.
"Haku calm down, please." Linette said.
Haku snarled, wisps of smoke came from her nostrils that she took no notice of. "Why don't I just kill you right now?" She smiled wryly and grabbed Linette by the throat.
"Haku get a hold of yourself! You're letting the dragon take over your mind."
"Bullshit! You're doing this to me as some mind control shit! You're making me stay this way!" She snarled again. More smoke she ignored came.
" . 're hurting me!" Linette said.
"Good! I'll make you suffer like me!" She squeezed harder. Linette coughed.
"GET HER!" The priestess yelled to the two guards she ran and got. They leapt on Haku. She kicked and fought. She released Linette at the surprise attack. Haku roared. It shook the room. She shook loose of the guards grip. She leapt upwards at the hole letting in the sunlight. She plowed through the stone. She was in a room with huge open windows. More guards came through the door. Haku watched the curtain wave in the breeze. She smirked at the guards behind and ran through the open window and she took off. The guards changed into their forms and were ready to leave.
"Let her go!" Linette wheezed behind them.
"But your highness." One began.
"No. Let her. She's changing again. If she takes her full dragon form you two will be annihilated. Let me change. We'll follow her but not to attack. I want to make sure she doesn't hurt herself or this country."
"But Queen, can she escape the madness?"
"I hope so. She is my only daughter. She has been a bounty hunter in the human countries. Surely she can survive this."
Haku found a suitable area. It was large and clear of any trees or anyone for that matter. She landed on her knees and rested on her arms. Her nose and throat burned. Her wings hurt. Her remnants of the clothes before, felt strangely tight. The base of her two horns gave her a throbbing headache. Her neck hurt. It felt like it was being pulled. She had her eyes closed the whole time. Everything hurt. The base of her tail hurt. Her claws hurt. It was almost the same pain the first night. She felt tears run down her face. What is happening to me? Am I changing back? That can't be. It's taking too long! Hell, take me! She roared. It was louder than either one of her previous ones. She opened her eyes. Her perspective changed dramatically. What the hell? She made a series of growls as opposed to saying that out loud. She turned to her body. Same blue black color, but she had black stripes now. Down her forearms, down her neck and back. They continued down to her tail. She was standing on all fours. Her wings were folded against her sides. She pulled them out. They were huge. Those are at least 100 yards altogether. From that she guessed her size now was 200-250 yards long. Her neck longer and her tail rested on the ground and the tip twitched every so often. The spines were longer and pointer. Haku felt long dagger-like teeth pointing out downwards or upwards in between the scaly lips. Her throat still burned and something tickled in her nose. She shook her great head to rid herself of it. It didn't work, but tickled it worse. She sneezed and her mouth opened. A great column of fire exploded from her mouth. After, a great path of burned trees stood before Haku. A weird sensation passed over her. It felt like something giant hit her massive head. She stumbled for balance on her four legs. She spread her wings to aid. She collapsed and blacked out.
"There, her moment passed." Linette said from afar. She was hovering in her human form with her wings.
"Shall we go get her?" The priestess from before asked her.
"No, let's wait and see what happens. I want to see if she changes back or awakens as the dragon."
"Look your highness!" The priestess yelled.
Haku woke in a large fluffy bed. A warm, wet sensation was caressing her. Her vixen was licking her cheek. It almost seemed if the Vixen was smiling to her.
"Ugh." She managed to say. She propped herself up. The vixen hopped on the bed and into Haku's lap. "I missed you too." She reached to pet the vixen. She stopped. My hand. It was human. Fleshy colored. No scales, no black claws. But there were the stripes again. On her forearm. They were a tan brown contrast on her skin. She rolled up the nightshirt sleeve she found herself in. Her other arm had them too. Two familiar voices were outside her door.
"I'm just sayin the girl isn't ready." Her father's voice said.
"She's changed meaning she's of age." Her mother said.
"You said those things also can be brought about by different things."
"And those who do bring them out don't usually live to tell about it."
"And I would bet my life her temper brought it out. She may be my daughter but she sure as hell got a bull's temper. It may be yours Linette."
"Contrary to the human's belief. Not all of my kind has a temper."
"Your kind. Hah! You should see that girl when she is pissed. Could bring down a whole tavern if she fought enough!"
"Hell yes woman! She do anything fer those bounty heads. Hell, I heard the last one she caught got nailed to a tree with his own sword!"
"Oh Gods. She could have brought about her change. That would explain her inability to change back a few days ago, and her change into the full dragon form."
How long have I been asleep?
"She grew into a full dragon?!"
"Yes Gan. Our most powerful soldiers can't even do that. Not without a lot of pain, and even those who make it either go mad or die."
"Dear God help me. We have to find the nature of that night she changed. And how she hurled that man through the air. Big man two times the size of her."
"The superior strength is a sign, and the ruthlessness."
"Exactly, Haku's never killed a bounty-head in her life. She wants the gold on their heads."
"Gold and ruthlessness. This isn't looking very good for her. If she can't control that she'll-"
A loud scream halted Linette in mid-sentence.
Haku was dressed. She was trying to resist the oncoming change again. Her lips in a snarl. Red eyes glared angrily. Her fingernails black and slowly growing into points. The door burst open with both her parents shocked at the sight of her.
"Haku!" Linette said running over to her.
"It just started! I can't-" Haku struggled.
"You shouldn't Haku, don't hold it back! Let it come!"
"Why? The only thing I do is hurt others!"
"It will kill you if you hold it back! Let it go!"
"Fine!" Haku struggled and let out a giant sigh.
She released her body. Painfully everything happened again. Horns, scales, wings and tail. She noticed the clothes were tailored a little bit but not enough because the were still torn.
She panted, "Why does it hurt?" The tears ran down her face. Linette looked down at Haku. She suffered, she shuddered. Her wings shook.
"I don't know is out of my hands. C'mere." She opened her arms.
Haku still unaccustomed to hugging, shakily crawled to her mother. She hugged and Linette stroked the spines on her head. Haku was exhausted. She fell asleep with her arms around Linette.
"We have to find out what has cursed her. She may not hold out like this." Linette said, looking up at Gan.
"Does she still have the mark?" Gan asked. He squatted down to Linette.
"What mark?" Linette asked.
"A image appeared on her back before she left me. She left me to live on her own for a while. We had an argument about that too. Her anger is quite a force. Either way she left. I didn't want to confront her anymore so I let her go." Gan explained.
"What is it of?" Linette asked.
"A big, black dragon. It's not half-human either. It's a full black dragon with burning red eyes."
" doesn't resemble her does it?"
"No. It's black. Solid black. It has blue wings too. The webbing is blue. The horns are twisted. It covers her whole back. The underside of it is gold too."
"Hmm." Linette grabbed the shirt that Haku was wearing. She pulled it towards Haku's neck. Haku's iridescent scales glittered on her back. "Are you sure?"
"I swear it. I've seen it when she has been in her human form. Possibly, whenever she changes back, you can get a good look at it."
" ally of mine has notified me that he would like to have a meeting between our forces. If you haven't heard, there is a war on the west side of the country. He has heard that my daughter has returned and would like for her to meet his daughter. I owe him so much for protecting my country."
"I thought you didn't associate yourselves with humans anymore."
"This is different. He saved me from an almost certain death. I owe him deeply, personally and he has protected our kind from being found without asking for anything in return. Humans do not know that we exist here. Just his kingdom and they have sworn their allegiance to us."
"I hope it goes well then. I'll take my leave soon. I'm going to leave Haku's fox here. She's going to want her to be around. That little fox has been Haku's best friend for a long time. I think she may need one around for a while."
"Goodbye, Gan. I hope we still aren't on sour terms."
"Well, not sour terms between us. I don't know about her terms with us. Goodbye, Linette." Gan left the room.
* * * *
Haku woke again in her dragon form. She groaned. Linette came in.
"How are you feeling?" Linette asked. She came in with a steaming hot pot of tea.
" you know what's wrong with me?" Haku asked.
"Not yet but that will have to wait. We are leaving today for another kingdom. We must meet an ally of mine, and he has requested that my daughter come too. He has his own daughter and he wants you two to meet."
"And apparently I have to go looking like this." Haku said, bluntly.
"Well, you'll have to. Unless you suddenly change between now and the time we leave which isn't very long. The caravan has already left earlier today so it will be there in the evening."
Haku growled. "Fine, I'll go. I want a bath first at least and new clothes. Unless you'd rather me go with torn up clothes."
"I'll see what I can do. I'll send for your bath. The clothes are more difficult. You are a very large dragon. You are even bigger than the majority of the males. The clothing you had on prior was of my guards'."
"I hope he didn't want them back.I had probably better get ready to leave. You know where to find me."
Haku's bath felt good to her. The water ran off her scales and restored them to their lovely sheen. Even though she despised being the creature she was, she found some beauty in it. Each blue-black scale was iridescent and shimmered like a jewel. She scrubbed her filthy black claws until they shined like deadly ebony daggers. The golden scales of here underbelly were so small that they liked like a sheet of pure gold.
I shouldn't be enjoying thought. Her mother blocked out any other thoughts when she came in with a pile of clothes. Haku got out and dried off.
After playing dress-up and arguing with her mother. Haku was left in black pants with a belt, a white shirt with sleeves and black leather vest. She would have felt like a man if her mother hadn't made her wear the undergarments to bolster her bosom. Linette slipped some pairs of golden hoops into the delicate tissue of Haku's ears.
"There is no feeling there." as Linette said. "The tissue just helps you hear better. These earrings compliment your golden underside. There. Fit to be a called an heir at least. You can't wear a dress until you control your changes. Until then, pants it is."
No complaints here. Haku smiled at that thought.
Linette and Haku walked out together to meet their traveling party. Among them were some guards and couple of priestesses. One of which was the one that tried to help Haku earlier. Haku stepped nearer to her and waited to leave.
"Alright," Linette said. "We're going to be in Akanari by tonight. We will stop to hunt somewhere inbetween and rest. Are we ready?"
Everybody responded with some form of "yes" and they were off. Everybody at least shifted to form a pair of wings and a tail. Haku shifted in her skin at this. All of them retained a human form. At least until she looked at the priestess. The priestess had sky blue wings and scales. They shimmered in the late afternoon light. Small, white curved horns grew down the vertebrae that made her tail and along the spare arms of her wings. Around her human neck and head. Sparse blue scales formed and grew down her underside. An even lighter blue shade was around the front of her chest. Haku assumed this was the color of her underside when she is in her dragon form. The young priestess opened her eyes and looked into Haku's. Her eyes were deep purple with golden irises staring into Haku's odd- colored gaze. Haku dropped her gaze to the grass below her feet.
The priestess laughed lightly. "You still can't be used to that." Her voice had a heavenly tone added to it. As if one of the angels was speaking at the same time with her. Haku shook her head no. She couldn't meet her gaze again. "It's alright." Came the heavenly voice again. The group took off and the priestess sidled up to Haku in flight. "I know it is strange for you. Even to change for the first time outside in the human world. I felt outside of everyone else too. I changed in the city. Yet, nobody knew what I was."
"Well if you changed within the civilization surely they'd know that you were one of them." Haku said.
"Well, they knew I was one of them, yes. However the questions arose when they saw my eyes. Sky blue dragons are holy ones. They become priestess, bishops and other such things. However my eyes and ears are different when I am in dragon form. My ears fan out and become big. Unlike the slender form they usually take. They took forever to find out what was wrong. They almost took out my sight. Then I told them what happened before I changed for the first time. I had been hearing voices and seeing premonitions that eventually come true and apparitions floating about. Then it came to them after visiting an old wise dragon. The old creature sat upon his hoard of rusted metals and tarnished jewels. The true dragons know of our kind. He said that simply I had been touched by a god. Meaning I had been blessed before changing with such gifts. That is why I am so young for being a priestess in your mother's kingdom.
"You'll learn all the gods and goddesses that are in our temples. I will tell you now this. The major god is Karagaran. You need to know him first. He is the founder of our magnificent race. He bred with a human woman he loved."
" ?" Haku said. Her curiosity was aroused by the tale. "Wouldn't that be impossible?"
The priestess laughed again. "Not impossible but not easily done either. The woman was a mage. The dragon knew his own spells himself. They both changed into half of the other species and they mated. Except, Kargan retained his dragon blood so much that during another mating with the same woman he lost concentration of the spell and changed back into a dragon right at conception. This would produce our species. This is why the dragon-side does not dissipate with every generation. Everybody is always half-dragon. Do you understand?"
Haku nodded. "Sort of. Where is this kingdom that we are going to?"
"It's just over these upcoming range of mountains." Her mother answered without looking back at her.
"What kind of kingdom is it?" Haku asked.
"A human one but they are one of the few that have maintained a decent relationship with our kingdom. The kingdom itself is the only one that knows of our kingdom's existence and is an ally. The king has been a dear friend of mine for a very long time. He would like for you and his daughter to be the same way."
"Provided I don't frighten her with my first breath." Haku grumbled.
"I'm sure her father has warned her of our kind." Linette nonchalantly said.
"That's not what I meant. I meant of my spontaneous changes and me. I'm sure she's adjusted to you and your guards being there but you can control yourselves. I can't." Haku growled.
"Hush. You'll be just fine in either form." Linette curtly said.
There was silence between Haku and Linette for the rest of the flight over the jagged crags and snow-covered mountain tops.
When Haku saw the kingdom itself, she was still amazed. Everything looked so different from the sky. She didn't know she had ventured this far in her bounty hunts but she doubted it. The kingdom wasn't as magnificent as the one she had just come from, but still impressive either way. The palace had tall towers that the tops resembled colorful onions with spires. The palace was built of green marble.
A tall handsome man walked out of the gold double doors and waved to the flying group. He had a kind smile behind the long, fuzzy red beard and mustache. His equally red hair was tied back in a purple ribbon of royalty.
Linette dove first. She greeted the man with a hug and what looked like a serious kiss. Haku rolled her eyes and followed her mother's example of landing.
The landing wasn't as graceful by far, but Haku didn't crash into anything. She tried to stop on her hind legs but flipped over front wards and landed on her back, knocking the wind out of her. She rubbed her head and backside as she got up. She heard the man heartily laugh and her mother chuckle. Her mother was actually in his arms.
What is this.? Haku thought to herself.
Further thoughts were interrupted by the mans hearty voice.
"Welcome, Haku. You're one of the prettiest dragons I've ever seen."
Haku blushed to herself. She heard her mother clear her throat."
"Ah, yes. Next to your mother that is." They kissed again and Haku's stomach turned. "Ah." He promptly patted Linette's posterior with a sly grin.
"Anything wrong?" Linette asked. "No.I just..swallowed a bug." Haku coughed out.